Lobster Man

From a strip-mall office on the Twin Cities fringe, a lab researcher-turned-Bible radio star lectures the nation

To him, it's the most compelling evidence that evolution is hogwash: "The ape has a bacculum, a bone in the penis. Man does not. If we really evolved from apes, that bone had to become a pneumatic device that worked right the first time--because you have to produce another generation."

Monkey genitalia isn't a topic a man of God can discuss at too great a length, so Ian Taylor closes the subject with a dismissive wave of the hand--"This is just an example that appeals to man's imagination"--and moves on to more pressing matters. Like the recent creationist victory in Kansas, where the state Board of Education voted in August to remove evolution from the state's recommended science curriculum; the decision, two months later, by the Kentucky Education Department to erase the word "evolution" from its guidelines in favor of "change over time;" and the move by a suburban Detroit school board to order library books that cast evolution in an unfavorable light. It's "an exciting time for us," Taylor concludes.

"Us" is Creation Moments Inc., which calls itself the oldest creationist organization in North America. Founded in 1964 as the Bible-Science Association by a Missouri Synod Lutheran pastor named Walter Lang, the group is headquartered an hour northwest of the Twin Cities in the tiny town of Zimmerman. To Christian-radio listeners around the nation, it is known as the originator of Creation Moments, a daily two-minute show heard in the Twin Cities at 8:20 p.m. on WCTS (1030 AM). Taylor is the show's vaguely leprechaunish voice, and the driving force behind Creation Moments Inc.

When the British native and naturalized Canadian citizen joined the organization in 1996, the show was being carried by only a few hundred stations. Today--thanks in part to his reputation as an author--the number is up to 1123. In creation circles, Taylor is known as the author of In the Minds of Men: Darwin and the New World Order. First published in 1984, the book is now in its seventh printing, with more than 20,000 copies sold.

For a time Taylor worked out of the Zimmerman offices, located in a small strip mall between a real estate agency and a hair salon. But in 1997 immigration regulations forced him to relocate to Toronto. "When Ian left, it was devastating," says Luann Strombeck, the office's manager and only full-time staffer. "We have no one else but him." But with the help of phone, e-mail, fax, and monthly CD pressings, Taylor was able to continue hosting Creation Moments and serve as the group's director. He still visits frequently; recently he combined a trip to Zimmerman with a speaking engagement at the convention of the Association of Christian Schools International, held at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center.

Taylor is a thin man with wavy white hair and eyebrows that slope precipitously toward his nose when at rest and seem to take on a life of their own when in motion. He's an animated talker whose mode of speaking is perfectly suited to a two-minute daily show; he darts from topic to topic at brief intervals, often with no noticeable transition.

First, of course, there's evolution, which Taylor calls "today's reigning paradigm," with the emphasis on "today's": He does not believe the theory will hold up much longer. It should not be taught in schools, he explains, because "it's really a religion based on faith, with its own book--Darwin's Origin of Species, and apostles like [writers and scientists] Stephen Jay Gould and Stephen Hawking."

In his radio show, Taylor relishes opportunities to point out Darwinism's weak spots--problems identified, he notes, by evolution scientists themselves. His preferred theory is called "irreducible complexity," a term popularized by Lehigh University professor Michael Behe's 1996 book Darwin's Black Box.

According to the theory, complex natural structures such as DNA, the human ear, or (a Taylor favorite) lobsters, are too intricate to have come about by accident: They must have been put together purposefully by an "intelligent designer," a.k.a. God. Taylor's radio show (with scriptwriting assistance from Minneapolis minister Paul Bartz) is based almost exclusively on Behe's postulates, notes Dr. Henry Morris, president emeritus of the San Diego-based Institute for Creation Research, the nation's largest creationist organization. "The program is primarily [about] evidence of complex design in various plants and animals."

A typical show poses the question "Are Giraffes Clothed in Anti-Gravity Suits?" and continues with a paean to the specific blood-vessel structure that allows the creatures to bend their necks without having blood back up in their heads. It sounds like a miniature National Geographic special--until the punch line: "If life owes its very existence to chance and genetic mistakes, why, there would be no giraffes today. What a wonder of God's design these stately creatures really are." Then a deeper voice announces the phone number of the Zimmerman office--(800) 42-BIBLE--and a brass fanfare concludes the show.

In his public talks, Taylor takes on topics such as "Can You Trust Your Textbook?," "Those Fascinating Dinosaurs," and "The Baconian Method of Science." The last is a history lecture that traces the evolution of science from the days when Renaissance-era English philosopher Francis Bacon first outlined a method of research--"a real swindle," interjects Taylor--that relied on observation and excluded preconceptions such as religious belief.

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