AIG Research Paper Winner

Karin Hutson accepts her award.

Creationist wackos and creators of the giant creationism museum in Kentucky, Answers in Genesis, recently announced the winners of their creationism essay contest.

Homeschooler (of course!) Karin Hutson of Missouri (there’s a freakin’ surprise!) won the contest. The prize was a $50,000 scholarship to Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University.

Zeno at Halfway There has a good overview article. He sums up the winning entries:

While it’s not fair to expect teenagers to write purely original essays, all of the winning papers suffer from the suffocating effects of their reliance on recycled creationist propaganda. Time and again the writers make demonstrably untrue statements (and they probably don’t know any better). In this, of course, they simply mirror their elders.

I thought I would examine the grand prize-winning essay. I debated whether to do this, because I didn’t want to be seen as beating up on a high schooler. I decided to go ahead because:

  1. It’s actually a fairly sober essay and therefore doesn’t lend itself to my usual snide comments (read: It won’t be funny. Jump to the next article if you want funny.)
  2. It’s worth seeing what the creationists are teaching their kids. What is the content and curriculum that they would like to impose on the public schools, if they ever get their way?
  3. How good is it, from a writing perspective? In other words, how good is their home-schooling?

To answer that last question, it’s fairly well written, from a purely technical perspective. Its main flaw is that it’s saturated with the logical fallacies that all creationists are prone to. So let’s examine Karin Hutson’s winning essay:

Evolution of Ethics: How the Biology Class Undermines Morality 101

Can Darwinian evolution adequately account for and uphold human morality? This paper concludes it cannot. Within a naturalistic worldview that denies absolute truth, morality has no standards. Ethics then disintegrates into fickle opinions and conflicting preferences. Hence, evolution supports amorality, not morality!

Morality has no absolute standards, because societies change over time; they evolve, in a manner of speaking. The hope is that over time, we become more enlightened about what is moral.

It is not evolution that supports amorality. If anything, it creates morality. Altruism, which is one of the underpinnings of morality, has been proven to exist in some animal species. Furthermore, a society without morals does not long survive.

Instead, I would argue, that it is the misguided notion of “absolute truth” that creates amorality. This causes the believers of that particular “absolute truth” (and the world is full of many contradictory “absolute truths”) to blindly and rabidly adhere to a doctrine that is woefully out of date and grossly immoral by most objective standards. If you doubt this, just read the Letter to Dr. Laura.

When Evolution is Taught

In this section, she just parrots back the standard creationist lie that evolution didn’t happen. This is where she fulfills the essay contest’s requirement that she use the fundie-written “science” textbook Evolution Exposed as a source. The other book she cites in this section is the Bible! Oh yeah! There’s a reputable source! It’s a good thing she got accepted to Liberty University. With scholarship like this, she wouldn’t be accepted by a real school.

Because of those conflicting presuppositions, creationists and evolutionists interpret their observations differently. Creationists examine fossils and point back thousands of years to the worldwide flood explained in the Bible, while evolutionists look at the same fossils and point back millions of years.

That’s the problem with presuppositions. Creationists blindly accept the Bible, so they are forced to jump through a series of massively-convoluted hoops just to reach their foregone conclusion. Scientists follow the straight line of the data to whatever conclusion that data leads.

If creation offers just as valid answers for life’s origin as Darwin,…

But it doesn’t. Where does she get such a crazy idea?

…which Evolution Exposed reveals,…

Oh. Well that’s her problem!

…why is it banned from public schools?

I’ll tell you why:

  1. Creationism has no evidence to support it.
  2. It’s religion.

[T]wenty-first century school officials unfairly regulate evolution to the classroom as science and creation to the church as religion.

I think the word she wants here is “relegate”, not “regulate”. Home schooling. Woohoo!

…Morality is Undermined

She opens this section by quoting Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis. Oh yeah! Suck up to the judge!

In this section she claims that evolution creates moral relativism, which then creates violence and vice. If one society says it is OK to crash airplanes into skyscrapers, then another society can’t tell them that it’s wrong.

She’s wrong here. There are certain behaviors that can be agreed upon as bad by members within a society. You do have disagreements between societies. Her 9/11 example demonstrates this. Radical Islam hasn’t evolved to the same level of moral sophistication as the West. They’re still living in the moral Dark Ages. You don’t say “That’s OK! Their morality works for them, so we’ll let them kill us!” (For a good article on moral relativism and how it isn’t necessarily the default position of non-theists, see this article at Biblioblography.)

Response of Evolutionists

[N]aturalists either unabashedly glory in their liberation from absolute morality, trusting innate human goodness, or they stoically accept the pointlessness of existence.

I guess when mommy home-schooled Hutson, she didn’t cover the either-or fallacy. I don’t completely fit into either camp, and I don’t know anyone who does.

The Nihilist Approach

Nihilism, futile existence, is living life according to evolutionary philosophy.
Evidently, most evolutionists are not nihilists. According to evolutionary tenets, however, all should be.

No. She’s making the leap from “The data do not suggest a creator” to “Therefore, we should all just kill ourselves.” That’s ridiculous.

While evolution doesn’t directly cause sin,…

How nice of her to admit that!

…its naturalism presents a good excuse because it denies that morality is universal, that sin is sin, that a Judge will requite!

Maybe it’s a good thing that fundies have their moral code already created for them. They’re obviously incapable of the complex thought required to develop one on their own.

Hence, studies show moral decline among those who accept evolution.

Actually, the “studies” she refers to is something published by the Institute for Creation Research. I’m sure its scholarship is on the same level as Hutson’s essay.

The Creation Answer

This section is all about how wonderful God is and that people who believe in him blindly follow whatever is in the Bible. Somehow this is portrayed as a good thing.

Concluding with the Beginning

In order to share Christ with secular America, one must first confront the blinding worldview of evolution. This indoctrination begins in the classroom.

And that really sticks in the craw of fundies. In the “good old days”, they used to read the Bible in public schools. The only indoctrination in the schools that fundies want is their indoctrination.

[S]ome time may pass before creation science is allowed back in the public school system….

Remember, creationism is religion, so just swap those words in that sentence, and you’ll see the real fundie agenda:

[S]ome time may pass before religion is allowed back in the public school system….

My Conclusion

So that’s the end of her essay. I see why she won, and I have to admit that it’s a masterful piece of writing. She artfully managed to cite a variety of creationist propaganda pieces, numerous Bible passages, and she also sucked up to the judge! Throughout the essay, she told the fundies exactly what they want to hear.

But what have we learned about Karin Hutson? We’ve learned that she managed to write a 3000-word essay about the ethics and morality of “evolutionists” without one whit of understanding of their ethics and morality.

53 Responses to “AIG Research Paper Winner”

  1. Ron Britton Says:


    We give the pronoun “He” to God because he is our Father, Jesus himself prayed to the Father and through Jesus we have access to the Father; hence, he also is given the masculine pronoun. Also, throughout the Bible the writers place the pronouns that refer to God in the masculine tense.

    Actually, they don’t. The original Hebrew texts are ambiguous about God’s gender. Using “he” to refer to God is an invention of the English translators.

    No, society does not govern our morals. Society has been influenced by a higher power in deciphering what is right and what is wrong; therefore we are alternatively being governed by a much greater being.

    You need to support this claim. If you look at the development of societies throughout history, you will see that they pulled their moral codes from a variety of sources. There is no fountain stuck in the ground somewhere that spews forth moral wisdom from which every society on Earth has formed its laws.

    Take a look at Genesis 3:21 “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” So you see, God ordained that the human should be clothed.

    All that proves is that an ancient book of dubious provenance makes that claim. It doesn’t prove the claim.

    There are many evidences that God exists.

    This ought to be good.

    First of all, look at the world around you, really look-the more you study science the more you will become convinced that there MUST be intelligent design.

    The more people study science, the more they become convinced that there isn’t intelligent design.

    If you can’t see this as enough evidence, then I’m afraid you won’t hear what I have to say next.

    You just said “there are many evidences”, but you didn’t provide even one! The “look around” argument is just a touchy-feely excuse for a lack of critical thinking skills.

    I would strongly suggest studying Bible prophecy.

    I would strongly suggest not studying Bible prophecy.

    This subject is not something many like to hear about because the fact is, IT IS PROOF that God exists.

    No. It is merely proof that somebody can go into the Bible after the fact and data mine for sentences that they like and twist and conform the “evidence” into whatever shape they want.

    Most people who believe in Bible prophecy do not believe in the prophecies of Nostradamus, but they are effectively identical. In both cases, supporters take ambiguous statements and pair them with ambiguous historical events and say it’s a match.

    If you disbelieve Nostradamus, you must disbelieve Bible prophecy for the exact same reason!

    Yes, I am a Christian, and you can yell as many names at me as you want, but I stand for truth and I stand for Creation.

    The only “name” that applies to Christians is “deluded”.

  2. Tara Says:

    To Mr. Britton,
    I do apologize for not making myself clear about the pronouns of God. What I meant was that the English writers refer to God by using the masculine pronouns.
    I found this article about the Hebrew use of pronouns that I think might interest you and the others reading this:

    In the Hebrew Bible (and in translations to languages with a she/he dichotomy) God is referred to as “he”. God might be a ‘He’ in the Bible but non-Hebrew-literate individuals do not always know that in Hebrew language, grammatical gender is NOT an indicator of actual gender. Hebrew nouns have grammatical gender. Each object is masculine or feminine. There are no gender-neutral pronouns in Hebrew, i.e. there is no equivalent of the English “it”. Everything is a “he” or a “she”.

    The spirit of God Ruach Elohim (Genesis 1:2) is a feminine noun. So is the Shekhinah — the Presence of God. Does that mean the Spirit of God and the Presence of God are female?

    Take for example the word “animal” — hayyah in Hebrew. Hayyah is a feminine noun. Therefore, by the rules of Hebrew grammar, whenever people speak of a hayyah, they have to refer to it as “she”. This does not indicate that the animal in question is actually female.

    Since the titles for God in the Hebrew Bible (Elohim, El, Adonai) are masculine nouns, God is called “he”. A book sefer is a masculine noun too. So a book is also called “he”. God is no more male than a book is male.

    In Chinese, a language with gender-neutral pronouns, a special genderless pronoun is used in reference to Divinity (roughly equivalent to IT). When translating the Bible into Chinese, using “he” to reference God was out of the question because the Chinese character for “he” contained the character “human”. (Chinese characters are picture-words which may consist of other Chinese characters.) To bring God to the level of man was blasphemous.

    Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

    Too often, humans have projected their own image of oppressive manhood onto God. People in power (usually men) assume that God must think, act and feel the way they do, and less powerful minorities often respond by rejecting God when what they really have issue with is not God but the majority-sanctioned ideas of God. Insisting that God’s personality and preferences mirrors that of humans (or at least the men of more privileged classes), is at best, making the mistake that Luther believed Erasmus was making at the time he told Erasmus, “Your God is too human”, or worse, committing idolatry by casting God in man’s image.

    As far as Nastradamus is concerned; he was proven to be a hoax long ago. Actually, he took some prophecies from the Bible and claimed they were from him.

  3. Sarah Says:


    But say I didn’t WANT to believe the words written in a book thousands of years ago? THEN how would you go about proving that there is a God and that it is ‘He’? That is the question I was trying to get at: you have no proof outside of a book that was written by MEN!

    And why would I become more convinced of the existence of this higher power when I am surrounded by thoroughly explained theories? (To restate Ron’s reply) You claim that there is proof, but you are not saying anything really. Looking at the world around me isn’t solid evidence; it’s called Inductive reasoning, which isn’t precise.

    If you actually give me a completely solid theory that explains this, then I would humbly admit my mistake; until then, I will not buy into your frail arguments.

    Prophets, eh? I’ve never been much of a believer in those, but I do not doubt that there is possiblity for the strange and intriguing…as for God’s predictions: how do you know that they are from an actual God? People wrote the bible, not God and how do you know that these men long since dead were not simply altering ‘God’s Message?’ You don’t know that and there is no way you can possibly prove it unless you were there yourself. You can believe it, I have no qualms with that…but facts are not based on Faith alone.

    I am not yelling at you or calling you anything. I am not attacking you personally or your beliefs, just your lack of evidence and the way all religion forces itself into the minds of people who do not want it.

    To repeat my earlier message: our scientists don’t go to your churches and preach about evolution so can you please keep your priests and creationism out of our classrooms?

    PS Ron: You are indeed quite a skilled debater. Your Nostradamus example is very clever.