WUHAN, China, March 3 (UPI) -- The science journal PLOS ONE is being criticized for allowing several references to creationism to make it into publication.
But the scientists responsible for the offending paper say they are not creationists, and that the references are the result of their inexperience with the English language.
"We are sorry for drawing the debates about creationism," researcher Ming-Jin Liu told UPI in an email. "Our study has no relationship with creationism."
"English is not our native language," Liu said. "Our understanding of the word Creator was not actually as a native English speaker expected."
The original article, published in January, explored the biomechanical versatility of the human hand. Throughout, the study's authors refer to design "by the Creator."
What appeared to be a reference to the theory of intelligent design was picked up on by PLOS ONE readers and covered by several online news sites.
On Wednesday, PLOS ONE issued a statement in regards to the brewing controversy:
"A number of readers have concerns about sentences in the article that make references to a 'Creator.' The PLOS ONE editors apologize that this language was not addressed internally or by the Academic Editor during the evaluation of the manuscript. We are looking into the concerns raised about the article with priority and will take steps to correct the published record."
Corresponding author Ming-Jin Liu, a mechanical engineering researcher at Huazhong University of Science and Technology, has since reached out to PLOS ONE to address the confusion-turned-controversy.
"What we would like to express is that the biomechanical characteristic of tendious connective architecture between muscles and articulations is a proper 'design' by the Nature -- result of evolution -- to perform a multitude of daily grasping tasks," Liu told UPI, relaying his correspondence with the scientific journal.
"We will change the Creator to nature in the revised manuscript. We apologize for any troubles may have caused by this misunderstanding," Liu promised PLOS ONE.