Deposition of Norman Geisler
Deposition of Norman Geisler - transcript paragraph formatted version. (Defendants Witness).
REV. BILL McLEAN, ET AL. *
* IN THE UNITED STATES
* DISTRICT COURT, EASTERN
THE STATE OF ARKANSAS, *
ET AL. * DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS,
Defendant * WESTERN DIVISION
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ORAL DEPOSITION OF DR. NORMAN GEISLER
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MR. ANTHONY SIANO, Esq., Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher
& Flom, 919 Third Avenue, New York, 10022
For the Plaintiffs
MR. RICK CAMPBELL, Esq., Assistant Attorney General,
Attorney General's Office, Justice Building, Little
Rock, Arkansas 72201
For the Defendants
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ANSWERS AND DEPOSITION OF DR. NORMAN GEISLER, a witness produced on behalf of the
Plaintiff, taken in the above styled and numbered cause on the 14th of November, 1981 before Elizabeth
S. Spitzer, a C.S.R. and Notary Public in and for Pulaski County, Arkansas at the office of Mr. Cearley,
1014 W. Third, Little Rock, Arkansas at 10:40 a.m. pursuant to the agreement thereinafter set forth.
I N D E X
[Index removed by editor]
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S T I P U L A T I O N S
IT IS STIPULATED AND AGREED by and between the parties through their respective counsel that the deposition of DR. NORMAN GEISLER, may be taken at the time and place for discovery purposes, and that all formalities with regard to the taking of said deposition are hereby waived, excluding presentation, reading, subscription by the witness, notice of filing, filing, etc; objections as to relevancy, materiality and competency are expressly reserved, except as to form of question, and may be raised if and when said deposition, or any part thereof, is so offered at the trial of this case.
DR. NORMAN GEISLER
The witness hereinbefore named, being first duly cautioned and sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, testified as follows:
MR. SIANO: The counsel for the State of Arkansas, and I have had a conversation off the record, in which it has been agreed that this is a discovery deposition; that all objections except as to form are preserved until the time of trial; that the Plaintiff will obtain from the reporter the original deposition transcript, and will convey it to the Attorney General's office, who will then send it to Dr. Geisler, and it will be returned to the counsel for the Plaintiffs within five days of receipt, and that we expect the deposition to be signed by the witness, but we would waive signing in front of this particular notary. We would also waive the sealing and filing.
MR. CAMPBELL: The only addition I would make to that statement would be that we will get it back to you all as quickly as possible, not necessarily within five days, but as quickly — perhaps it could be in less than five. We'll make every effort to, immediately upon receipt send the deposition to Dr. Geisler by Federal Express. He will send it back to us after he reads it and signs it, and we'll turn it over to Mr. Cearley here in Little Rock.
MR. SIANO: I understand what your saying, Mr. Campbell, is that you'll make an effort to return it in five days.
MR. CAMPBELL: Yes. Yes.
MR. SIANO: It's not so much the possibility of getting it sooner, but not getting it at all which concerns me.
MR. CAMPBELL: Oh, you'll get it. Certainly.
BY MR. SIANO:
Q. Good morning, Dr. Geisler.
A. Good morning.
Q. Is that the preferred form of address, is Dr. Geisler?
A. Norman is fine.
Q. Thank you, sir. Dr. Geisler, have you ever been deposed before?
A. Not to my knowledge.
Q. Do you understand, sir, that you're giving testimony under oath?
Q. And that this testimony is being taken down by this court reporter here?
Q. And that you will have an opportunity to review the transcript which she prepares, after it's been
Q. And that you will then be asked to sign the deposition in front of a notary and to return it to us?
Q. I'd ask that this be marked as Plaintiffs' Geisler Exhibit 1.
(Thereupon Plaintiffs' Geisler Exhibit 1 was marked for the record.)
Q. I have asked the reporter to mark as Geisler Exhibit 1 a two-page document captioned with the caption of the action and described as Plaintiffs' First Set of Interrogatories. Dr. Geisler, I would show you Exhibit 1, and ask you, have you ever seen this document before today?
A. No. I have not.
Q. Now, in connection with your appearance today as a witness, could you describe for me with whom you have spoken?
A. I believe just the two gentlemen from the Attorney General's Office, Tim Humphries and uh —
MR. CAMPBELL: Rick Campbell.
A. Rick Campbell. I talked to them on the phone a couple of times.
Q. So your contact with the Attorney General's Office has been limited to telephone conversations with these two, gentlemen?
A. And they sent me at least one letter. This is the letter right here, October 28th, 1981, I guess basically asking me if I would participate in this trial.
Q. And could you identify the number of the telephone conversations as a frame of reference for us today?
A. Well, where we actually talked — a number of them were conversations where they didn't get a hold of me, and they conveyed word by my secretary or something like your plane will be leaving in such and such a time. But I would gather maybe four roughly, plus or minus two in the last month.
Q. In the last —
A. Which is the total amount.
Q. So you have — your contact has been limited to the last month or so?
Q. Today being November 14th.
Q. In connection, sir, with your testimony here today, has anyone asked you to review a statement of the subject matter of your testimony?
A. Well, I was sent Act 590 — this also says Senate Bill 482, and I read that carefully a couple of times, and that's all the information I have, and all that I have looked at.
Q. Have you provided the summary of your testimony to anyone?
A. No, I have not.
Q. Have you reviewed the substance of the facts or opinions, about which you are going to testify, with anyone?
A. Well, first of all I don't know exactly the specific areas in which I'm going to be called upon to testify. I know the general area of religion and its relationship to science and creationism. And that I've discussed in a general way with Rick this morning at — on the way from the airport here. But other than that, no, I haven't
Q. So your testimony is that the substance of the general area in which you are about to testify was discussed this morning with Mr. Campbell for the first time.
A. Yeah. That's right.
Q. I would like — have you given anyone sir — Dr. Geisler, a summary of the grounds for every and each opinion you're going to give in this case?.
A. No. I haven't — I haven't even done that myself yet. In other words, I haven't gathered all of the material together since this is relatively new to me, and I am just in the process of thinking it through and gathering the relative material. So I don't even have it yet, let alone to give it to anyone.
Q. All right. I would like to make a statement for the record, Mr. Campbell. I have been informed this morning, by my co-counsel, that we have been told that the counsel for the State of Arkansas have filed an application of some kind with the Court in connection with Plaintiffs' first set of interrogatories. I would state for the record that a representative of counsel for the Plaintiffs was in the office of the Attorney General yesterday, when we have been told this application was mailed to Mr. Cearley's office.
No copy was provided to the representative of Plaintiffs' counsel at that time. I have now determined by inquiry of Dr. Geisler that the first substantive conversation he appears to have had with connection with his testimony was this morning. The interrogatories which have been marked in this instance were served 30 days ago on the counsel for the State of Arkansas. In fact, there, to my understanding, has been an agreement between counsel for the Plaintiffs and counsel for the State, that the answers to interrogatories would be accelerated and received by counsel for the Plaintiffs on Wednesday. There have been no responses whatsoever received to date, and this (a) disables the Plaintiff from adequately preparing, in connection with this deposition, and it is in our mind, not a proper course of action with regard to expert witness testimony. And I put you on notice that we are seeking appropriate relief from the Court.
MR. CAMPBELL: Mr. Siano, I certainly respect your opinion concerning that. Yesterday the state did file objections to the first set of interrogatories. Since those objections were to the fact that the information sought by the interrogatories had already been provided to you, in that we had identified the general area of testimony which Dr. Geisler and all other witnesses for the state would testify to at trial. In addition, we provided his educational background to you. Also over the past several weeks we have provided to local counsel for the Plaintiffs all vitae, resumes, a written list of all our expert witnesses, which we had in our possession. We have tried to fully cooperate with the Plaintiffs in this matter, and certainly we can take that up with the Court at sometime in the future.
MR. SIANO: I would obviously not want to clutter the record with the colloquy in this respect. I feel it appropriate to put you on notice with regard to our application at the earliest possible moment. And I have satisfied myself that it is appropriate to seek redress from the Court in this respect, and I merely mean to address that issue before we begin today. I'd like this marked as Geisler Exhibit 2.
(Thereupon Geisler Exhibit 2 was marked for the record.)
BY MR. SIANO:
Q. I have had marked as Plaintiffs' Geisler Exhibit 2, a six-page document with the caption of this action, entitled, Notice of Taking Depositions Upon Oral Examination. Dr. Geisler, I would direct your attention to the 4th, 5th, and 6th pages of this document. I would ask you sir, first, have —
A. You mean schedule A?
Q. Yes. Caption Schedule A. Thank you, sir. I would ask you sir, have you ever seen this document prior to today?
A. No, I have not. I'm looking at the 4th and 5th pages, 6th page — no, I have not seen that.
Q. All right. Now, in connection with your appearance here, before me today, have you had occasion to look through your files in order to bring any documents with you?
A. Yes, I have. Just briefly, though. I have not had adequate time to call every possible thing that I was asked for, because I received the information only yesterday. That is the request to call out of it, so — and I had an engagement last night, and had to leave at 5:30 this morning, so what I could pick up real quickly last night and this morning, I have brought with me.
Q. What is it that you brought with you?
A. Okay. I have brought — of course, my copy of the Bill, Act 590, the Senate Bill 482. It was sent to me by the Attorney General's Office. And then I brought with me the letter, October 28th, that requested — from Tim Humphries, requesting my participation in the Trial. I brought with me a copy of the Humanist Manifesto, to which I will be referring in my testimony. I brought with me my Personalia Sheet, which I've also provided a copy previously to the Attorney General's office, which gives my background, and writings and so forth. I brought with me a copy of the Secular Humanist Declaration, of 1981. I brought with me a paper entitled, Christianity VS. Humanism, which is the — my part of a dialogue at Rice University with a noted Humanist, Dr. Michael Kolenda, K O L E N D A. And then I brought with me two unpublished notes from sections of courses that I teach, with regard to — that touch on the topic of creation and evolution. And then I brought a bibliography that I sometimes hand out on the question of evolution, and then I brought out — I brought a one sheet comparison between humanism and Christianity on ethics. Then I brought with me also, a copy of three of my books that I could grab off of the shelves. Philosophy of Religion, which has material that I'll be using in my testimony. A book entitled, A Popular Survey of the Old Testament, which has some comments on creation, origins in. And then a book entitled, Christian Apologetics, that I wrote that has some relevant material. And I have many other books, but none of them were available. I was at the other office and I do have — I did bring a list — a copy of all of the books that I have written, and that's attached to my Personalia Sheet..
Q. That's the second page, I believe, or is that an additional page?
A. Well, it's on there, except that that page wasn't complete, but the list is complete. And the list has asterisks on the ones that aren't yet released; they're at publishers, and all the rest are published and available through bookstores and libraries. Those I have — the only thing I cannot leave today are my textbooks that I use to teach my classes out of, but you're welcome to copy the information from them.
Q. Okay. Thank you. And let the record reflect that Mr. Campbell has provided to me copies of certain of the documents, which Dr. Geisler has referred to. I would — I would suggest that the remainder of the shorter materials, i.e. other than the textbooks be copied at a break, unless there is some reason why we haven't been given certain things.
MR. CAMPBELL: You've been given everything that Dr. Geisler brought with him. I should say for the record also, Mr. Siano, that I think the testimony today will show — I don't mean to be testifying for Dr. Geisler, but all relevant information — all information concerning origins in Dr. Geisler's possession were presented to you today. His lifetime, obviously, has been spent in studying philosophy and religion, and that would be his entire library. But everything having to do with origins has been provided to you as you requested.
Q. I'm sure. You indicated some correspondence with the Attorney General's Office in your file?
A. That was just that one letter.
Q. Might I see a copy of that?
A. Sure. That's the original right there.
Q. Thank you. Could I have this marked as Geisler Exhibit 3?
(Thereupon Geisler Exhibit 3 was marked for the record.)
Q. Dr. Geisler, this is — Geisler Exhibit 3, which you have handed to me, is a letter on — a one-page letter on a letterhead of the State of Arkansas, Office of the Attorney General; is that correct?
A. That's correct.
Q. And it's dated October 28th.
A. That's correct. 1981.
Q. 1981. And the letter indicates that you and the author of the letter, Mr. Humphries, had a conversation on the phone, apparently within the week before the date of the letter?
A. That's correct.
Q. All right. Now, that would put that conversation somewhere in the period October 21 through October 28; is that correct?
A. I'm sure that's right.
Q. Now, prior to that conversation, sir, have you had any conversations with anyone whatsoever, in connection with the matter as to which you are appearing here now?
A. Absolutely none.
Q. All right. So the matter of the Action of McLean VS. Arkansas, and the action of the dispute between evolutionism and creation science in Arkansas, has not been discussed with you, other than in a context that we've described here, i.e. Mr. Humphries' letter?
A. That's correct.
Q. All right. Now, do you recall the substance of your telephone conversation with Mr. Humphries?
A. I think the substance of it was that your name has been recommended as a possible witness in the forthcoming trial in the State of Arkansas, regarding the balanced teaching of creation and evolution. And certain questions were asked me about my expertise in that area, and my interest to — if I had an interest in testifying. And I provided some general background information that would indicate that I did have expertise in that area, and indicated my willingness to testify.
Q. Now, did Mr. Humphries indicate to you who had recommended your name to him?
A. Yes, he did. He indicated that my name had been recommended to him by a fellow teacher at Dallas Theological Seminary, where I teach. His name is Dr. Charles Ryrie, R-Y-R-I-E.
Q. Now, did you — have you had occasion to discuss with — is it Dr. Ryrie?
A. Dr. Ryrie.
Q. Dr. Ryrie, the context of his conversations with Mr. Humphries?
A. No. In fact, I haven't talked at all to Dr. Ryrie about this since my first contact to the present time.
Q. So you haven't verified whether, in fact, that was the case or not?
A. No. I have not verified whether, in fact, that was the case. That's what — Tim Humphries, I believe, was the one that called me. I've received calls from both Tim and Rick, and sometimes — I didn't know their names and their voices, so I'm not sure which one. But either Tim or Rick called me, and that's what one of them told me when they called me, that Dr. Ryrie had recommended my name.
Q. Was there any other discussion as to what their background information about you was, said that they had heard X or Y about you?
Q. What questions did they ask you in that conversation? In other words, what did they say to you, and what did you say to them, about the possibility of your appearing as a witness, or about the substance of your testimony?
A. They just asked me — nothing about the substance of my testimony was asked, but they asked me if I was a — was interested in testifying after they had more or less, I guess, checked out from Dr. Ryrie — uh — his recommendation and then just some general qestions from me, whether I would indeed have any expertise in that area. So I think they were just trying to feel me out and see if I did; I have any expertise, and then to see if I was interested and they seemed to be satisfied on the first, and I told them, yes, on the second.
Q. What was the area of expertise?
A. Religion. The general area of religion as it relates to this topic of evolution and creation. I'm not a scientist. I'm a philosopher and — by training, and a student of religion and philosophy, but they touch on this topic and overlap. So therefore, by interest in philosophy and religion, I'm tangentially interested in this topic, and touch on it in my teachings and in my writings from time to time. And so I gathered the interest that they had was to testify to the point of the relation of religion, and creationism, evolution and so forth.
Q. Is it your testimony, sir, that based upon your teachings of philosophy and religion, you have some exposure to concepts like evolution and creation and those areas?
A. Yes. Yes, sir.
Q. I take it then, that you speak, when you speak in testimony here, as an expert in religion, an expert in philosophy?
A. An expert in philosophy; that's correct. I'm not an expert in science.
Q. Mr. Campbell, I would ask for a stipulation agreeing that Mr. Geisler if he — Dr. Geisler, if he appears in trial will be appearing solely in the capacity of a philosopher and theologian and not in any other capacity?
MR. CAMPBELL: Yes. I think that could be stipulated to.
Q. Did they ask you, sir, about your views substantively in connection with creation or evolution?
A. No. They did not.
Q. Subsequent to this phone conversation or series or conversations, which I'll describe as introductory, when was the next time you spoke to anyone from the Attorney General's Office about this case?
A. Just this morning, as I indicated earlier, on the way from the airport here.
Q. About how long was that conversation?
A. Well, we stopped for a cup of coffee at the restaurant, so I'm sure it probably wasn't over 20 minutes to a half hour.
Q. Between the time you agreed with Mr. Humphries to testify, had you spoken to anyone outside of the Attorney General's Office in connection with the case?
A. Uh, yes, I have. I've told several of my friends and students that I would be testifying in the case. I have mentioned that there was a trial coming up, and that I would be testifying, and that I was going to Arkansas today for a deposition, and later on, in the first part of December, sometime when they told me later, for the actual trial.
Q. Any discussion of the substance of your testimony?
A. The discussion of the substance of my testimony? No. No discussion at all on the substance of my testimony with anyone.
Q. Do you have anybody doing any research for you right now?
A. No, I do not.
Q. Have you written away for any materials from anyone?
A. No, I have not.
Q. Have you been shown anything by anybody in connection with your appearance as a witness?
A. No, I have not.
Q. Could you describe for me, sir, the substance of your communications this morning with Mr. Campbell?
A. We just talked generally about the areas of creation, evolution. I had the copy of the bill before me. I made a comment to the effect that it looked like the bill was quite detailed. I asked some questions as to why Section 7 was there, Legislative Finding of Facts. It seemed to me that that was supportive, but as a nonprofessional in the field of law, I wondered why that was necessary in a bill to have Section 7. I made some comments on the definition of creation-science and the sub-points of it. Just general, definitional, clarificational type of questions, regarding the bill, and the — We had some conversation with regard to the nature of the procedure — the — what is a deposition? That type of thing. Since I'd never been deposed before, I wondered what it meant.
Q. Could I have marked as Geisler Exhibit 4, this document?
(Thereupon Geisler Exhibit 4 was marked for the record.)
A. I mentioned one other thing to him on the way over here and that is that under membership in my Personalia Sheet, I joined, about a year ago, a scientific organization called the American Scientific Affiliation. Joined approximately 1980; it may have been the first part of '81. But I just — when I was looking at it, it wasn't written on there, but I do belong to a scientific — professional scientific organization, since around 1980, about a year ago.
Q. I have marked as Geisler Exhibit 4 a five-page document taken from Dr. Geisler's file, captioned Act 590, 1981, a bill, Senate Bill 482.
(Off the Record Discussion.)
BY MR. SIANO:
Q. I'd like that marked as Geisler Exhibit 5.
(Thereupon Geisler Exhibit 5 was marked for the record.)
Q. I have had marked as Geisler Exhibit 5, a five-page document bearing the caption of this case entitled, Defendants' Second List of Witnesses. And can we agree, Mr. Campbell, that the date of the service of this document, as indicated on the last page, is the 20th day of October, 1981?
MR. CAMPBELL: That might be the 26th of October.
MR. SIANO: Might be — that's what I'm trying to determine.
(Off the Record Discussion.)
BY MR. SIANO:
Q. Dr. Geisler, let me direct your attention to this document and particularly the 3rd — 4th page of it, paragraph 16. Now, you see your name there and a description about what you will testify about, and a little bit about your background. Is that a fair summary?
A. That's correct. Uh-huh.
Q. Okay. Did you earlier tell me that the first time you talked about the substance of my testimony was this morning?
A. I told you that the first time we had gone in detail about the substance of your testimony was this morning. This — if by substance of my testimony, you mean that I would be testifying about religion in a trial on creation evolution, that was of course from the very first phone conversations.
Q. All right. So the fact of your testimony was described to Mr. Humphries in that first —
A. The area of my testimony was described as is correctly stated here in point 16, that I would be testifying as to what constitutes religion, et cetera and secular thought, and that I'm a professor of Theology, and I have a Ph.D. in philosophy from Loyola University.
Q. So this is accurate as a —
A. This is accurate. This is accurate information.
Q. And there's no statement in there about the substance of your opinions though?
A. Oh, no. If you mean by — if you meant earlier by substance of my opinions, that was not discussed at all in those phone conversations, or in any correspondence between the Attorney General's Office and myself. The only time I gave anything that would even amount to an opinion would have been this
morning in our conversations.
Q. And there's no statement in there at all about the facts —
Q. — about which you are going to testify?
A. There's no statement in here about any facts. This is — they will testify as to what constitutes religion. The area — it seems to me this designates the area and the content, but not the supporting evidence.
Q. That's what I think too, Doctor.
Q. Is it a fair statement, Dr. Geisler, that if and when you appear at trial, you will testify about what constitutes religion?
A. That's true.
Q. And would you state for me, sir, what your view is of what religion is, without reference to any particular religion, at this point?
A. That's a very difficult question. And it's probably difficult because that's what I wrote my doctoral dissertation on, and the more you know about something, the harder it is to make it simple. Probably one of the simplest definitions is the definition given by Dr. Paul Tilloch (sic.) [probably: Paul Tillich (1886-1965), Ed.] of Harvard. Religion is an ultimate commitment; that someone is engaged in religion, or has a religious attitude, or has made a religious commitment; if he has something that he considers of ultimate value in life. Another way to put it, which is the way I really put it in my doctoral dissertation, was that religion involves a devotion to some transcendent value. That — uh — something that transcends the immediate experience of the individual, something that is more than, something that is worth pursuing, worth making a life commitment to. That's the essence of religion.
Q. I take it sir, to be a fair statement, that in different religions there are different additional components?
A. That's correct.
Q. The concept of a deity, is that a serious component in the definition of certain religions?
A. Of certain religions it is, but not all religions. You can — there are religions that do not believe in any specific kind of deity or religion as so defined by Paul Tilloch, which I concluded was correct, does not demand the belief in any kind of deity.
Q. In what are known to laymen as western religions, is a deity an important concept?
A. In most of them it is, but not all of them.
Q. I take it Judeo-Christian religions have as an important element a deity?
A. Most branches of Judeo-Christian religions do.
Q. For our purposes, sir, what branches might not, so that I can have a frame of reference.
A. Oh, a Unitarian, for example. Humanistic religions would be another example of non-God religions.
Q. Would they fall within the broader category of Judeo-Christian religions, the Unitarian Church?
A. In terms of historic branches, yes.
Q. From a historical perspective?
A. Historically they came out of Judeo-Christian background.
Q. I take it that answer means they might not be today as a present tense matter, a Judeo-Christian religion?
A. They might not be, and some might be.
Q. All right. The Unitarian Church, for instance?
A. The Unitarian Church comes out of a Christian — Judeo-Christian heritage, but today, does not claim as a tenet of its religious commitment, a belief in God.
Q. Leaving aside what we've just described as non-theistic Judeo-Christian Sects, i.e. Unitarians, and I believe the other one was —
Q. — Humanists. My definition of Judeo-Christian, for the purpose of this deposition — we'll leave out those religions for the rest of the deposition. And I'd ask you, in Judeo-Christian religions is there any other core concept that you can identify?
A. In Judeo-Christian religions, they — other than the Humanistic, Unitarian types, there are — is a core concept of a belief in God, some kind of a supreme being beyond the world, who created the world.
Q. Is there any other element, like a community of worship that might be considered a core concept?
A. In most of those religions, with the rare exceptions of isolated individual manifestation of it, where some individual may have broken off, and it's almost always — community type belief, that is a community of believers that have gathered together around their core concept for the purpose of pursuing their ultimate object of devotion.
Q. How about the concept of dogma, is that a -
A. Uh, it's — it's a debatable term. Some like it; some don't. If by dogma you mean, something to which they are ultimately committed, then they all have a dogma. If by dogma you mean a specific list of X number of teachings then they vary. With respect to some would say, yes, there's a list of two, some five — you know, I'm just guessing arbitrary numbers, 12, 50, but there — really the argument is about how many, not whether. Because in one sense of the word of dogma, all have an irresolvable sine qua non, that without which not that they're committed to, and if you stated that in some kind of propositional form, one could call it a dogma.
Q. All right. Does that definition of dogma, i.e. a sine qua non of membership, if you will, is that sometimes described by a document?
A. Yes. In terms of creeds, which is the normal word — uh —
Q. Does the Bible form dogma in any Judeo-Christian Sect?
A. Yes. There are many people who — in Judeo-Christian Sects, who have no statement outside of the Bible. I heard of one recently, that when the Internal Revenue contacted them for their statement, they just sent them a copy of the Bible. So — and there are others who are very hesitant to put anything down on paper, whatsoever, but make the Bible their primary document of reference.
Q. Are there any other core concepts that —
A. To various Judeo-Christian religions, yes. The more precisely you define it, the less will be in that group. If the broad circle is religion, everyone who is ultimately committed to something — then a little narrower circle would be, everybody who is committed to something, including a supreme being. Then a little narrower circle, everyone who is committed to something, including a supreme being, who created the universe, and then you just keep — the circle gets narrower and narrower as you get to the center. The more specific you make the beliefs, the narrower the group of people are.
Q. What you have just described to me as — might be described as a denomination, if you will? Is that another word you might use on that?
A. Yeah. It's when you get into the inner circles of this, after you've left the outer circle of religion, committed to something, and the circle of a belief that there is some supreme being or creator. Then once you get into more specific beliefs like — uh — should we baptize or should we not? If we baptize, should we baptize by dunking them under water or sprinkling water on their head? Then you're getting into denominational differences.
Q. I see. Now, you listed, just at the beginning of that answer, Dr. Geisler, ultimate commitment and the existence of a supreme being, a creator. Is that ultimate existence of a supreme being or creator, is that a transcendent concept? Is that what you would list, in your opinion, as being beyond denominational limitations?
A. Yes. The commitment to a creator and the commitment to an ultimate, which is not described as the creator, are both beyond denominational limits.
Q. Is that within or without Judeo-Christian religions?
A. Uh, both. There are Judeo-Christians who are on both sides of this issue.
Q. Let me ask the question again, since I'm a little unclear now.
Q. If you started your description of what is religion, in your opinion, by describing for me an ultimate commitment, an ultimate value —
Q. Few moments ago in your testimony, you described to me, as a parallel concept to ultimate commitment and ultimate value, the concept of a supreme being. And I asked you if the concept of a supreme being or creator was on a par in your mind?
A. And I said, no.
Q. You said no. All right.
A. See, it's a smaller circle.
Q. It's a smaller circle.
A. That's right.
Q. So therefore there is in fact a definition of religion in your mind, which does not include a creator?
A. That's right. It goes beyond that.
Q. All right. Now, I'm clear. Could you, sir, as a statement from your background as an expert in religion, what your understanding of the term orthodox is?
A. Well, literally it means straight. Uh, that which holds to the fundamentals or essentials of that particular religion. It has a number of terms — a number of ways, that you can define it. You could define it historically by the original group that held that. You could define it doctrinally, in terms of the fundamentals or essentials of that group. Or you could define it — uh — what shall we say, sociologically as a group on the right as opposed to the group on the left. So it depends on how you slice the pie. If you're looking at it sociologically they're the ones — they're the conservative. They're the ones on the right as opposed to those on the left. If you're looking at it historically, they're the original founders or the closest to the original founders. And if you look at it doctrinally or theological they're the ones who say, "Here we stand. Here are the sine qua nons. Here are the essentials, and you deviate from these, and you're no longer orthodox.
Q. Going back, sir, to a discussion of what is religion, is there anything else that in your opinion would describe or define a religion in addition to this fundamental value and this ultimate concern?
A. Well, there are some other things that you could unpack from that. For example, there's an implication there that we as individual human beings are not ultimate, that there's something more than me in the universe. So if I'm making a commitment to something beyond me that is more than ultimate, that implies that I am not ultimate, otherwise, I would make that commitment to myself. Uh, so there is a sense of contingency, a sense of finitude, a sense of I am not the all; I am not the ultimate — along with this. And then, of course, implied in it, is that this ultimate is worth making a commitment to. There's a value judgment being made. It's an axiological commitment, having to do with value. There's a — this has — this is worthwhile me pursuing. It's not just an ultimate that's there. For example, one might say that the — uh — a mathematical infinite is ultimate, but very few, in fact I know of no one, who has made a religious commitment to a mathematical infinite you know. Prepare to meet thine Einstein or love = MC2 with all thy heart, soul, mind and strength, is not the tenet of any religion so far as I know. So it's a — because they see no ultimate value in that mathematical theorem. But somehow there is some ultimate value perceived in this moribund. (sic.) It is perceived that I am not of that, and that it is worth pursuing and giving my life to in some way.
I'd say those are probably the three essential elements, and you can go into sub-points from those. Some — some would define give my life to an involved prayer. Others would say, no, just involve some kind of meditation or recognition or admiration. Then you're getting into more specific differences. But as I studied all religions, it seemed to me that all of them had at least those three common denominators, and they would all transcend toward this ultimate in some direction. They transcend differently. Some would transcend backward. That is the more (sic.) or the transcendent would be back to the origin. Some would transcend up, some transcend down, some transcend forward. And I worked out a typology of transcendents, that there were some seven different ways to skin the religious cat to transcend, but everybody was transcending.
Q. Uh-huh. This — the typology, is that -
A. Typology, meaning that — uh — I tried to work out a comprehensive way to indicate how many different kinds of transcendents — if all religions involve a sense of the transcendent — how many different kinds of ways can people transcend? And I concluded there were about seven different ways, and that's spelled out in my Philosophy of Religion book, in the first part, which is really the distillation or the condensation of my dissertation.
Q. Could you identify those various ways for me here today in as I haven't —
A. Yes. Four of them I did, right there. Uh, transcending backward like Eliade, E-L-I-A-D-E, talks about transcending to myths of origin, that looking back to the ultimate origin in religious roots. Transcending downward to a depth of being. Paul Tilloch talked about the ground of being, and also Bishop Robinson, in his book Honest to God, talked about transcending downward. Someone satirized it by saying, "Well, maybe we shouldn't have steeples on our churches; we should have cisterns. Everybody look down into the depth, rather than looking up, but that's just indicating that they failed to recognize that there are different ways to transcend. You can think of God or your ultimate as down, or up, or back, or in some modern thoughts, after Hagel (sic.) there's a forward transcendence, looking forward to the end, that we call eschatological from the Greek word, eschaton, which means last things. Eltizer (sic.) who was famous in the death of and movement was a Christian atheist. He believed there was no God in the traditional sense, but that we should transcend forward. Then there are those who transcend toward a center — uh — of Chardin in his Teilhard de Chardin. And so that would be five ways there; up, down, back, forward and center.
Then there were — then there are those who talk about transcending in terms of the eternal recurrence of the same state of affairs. Negee (sic.) for example, said that he would will eternal recurrence of the same state of affairs, so even though he was an atheist in the traditional sense, I think he had a religious commitment. He — he was committed to willing the eternal recurrence, the eternal is more than time. Then there are those who just — you might say just kind of transcend outward rather than just upward. It's just that the transcendent is out. There are mystics, like Mystar Ekhart (sic.) who talked about God as being both the center and circumference of reality. And you could think of God by transcending towards the center where all lines meet in an infinity of transcendents or where they go on out forever an infinity. So as I saw it, there are seven different ways to transcend, at least, and all forms of religion can be put somewhere or other on this typology.
Q. Now, in-connection with your testifying in this case, you had occasion — did you have occasion, sir, to examine what I have marked as Geisler Exhibit #4?
A. Uh, Yes. That's the one I gave to you. I read it twice, at least, and looked over parts of it more than that.
Q. Now, for our purposes, sir, if I refer to this as Act 590, you'll understand what I'm talking about, won't you?
Q. All right. And did you examine anything else other than the documents you've brought with you today, including Act 590, and the formulation of your views of the Act?
A. Uh, no.
Q. all right.
A. By that, I mean, my whole life and research and everything is part of the formulation of my views, but not specifically, since in the last — if I — if I were contacted on October 26th, or whatever that date was, not since then.
Q. All right. What you're saying is, you're drawing on your experience?
A. That's right.
Q. Okay. Now, did you formulate any opinion, sir, about Act 590?
A. Yes , I did.
Q. All right. And are you going to testify at trial about any of these opinions?
A. Yes, sir. If I'm asked to.
Q. Okay. What opinions are you going to testify about?
A. Well, I — I think it's a good act. I think that it's constitutional. I think that it is a step forward in terms of academic freedom. I think that it is — uh — if I may use the term that's used in the bill, it is a balanced act about balanced treatment on the subjects of creation and evolution. And that it really seems to me to be a kind of model that ought to be emulated elsewhere.
Q. What is the basis — are you going to testify about anything else about the bill; or just that?
A. Uh, well, I may testify to something else. It doesn't come to my mind now, other than what would be a subdivision of that, unless you ask me about some specific parts of the bill, as to whether I agree, for example, with everything that is said in specific parts. Uh, I think certain things should be taught, for example, creation, evolution, that I don't accept; and there are certain categories under the creation-science part that I think should be taught, in a sense of a student's exposed to that I personally don't hold to. For example, I am not personally committed — these don't have pages. Second page. Oh, Section 4(b) "Evolution-science" I am not personally committed, although it may be true, and I'm open to it, to believe that the earth is young, thousands of years old. I personally believe the earth is billions and billions of years old. I am not personally committed to believe that you can explain all of geology by flood-geology or catastrophism as it's called here. I personally — that's point 5 under 4, 4(b), 5. So — but those are —
Q. Is that — that might be 4(a), 5, might it not?
A. You're exactly right. It's 4(a), 5. I was looking under the right — in the wrong section. 4(a), 5. I personally do not believe either 4(a), 5 or 6. It might be true, but it's a viable model, and there are people with credible scientific credentials, and I'm open to be convinced by the evidence that those are true, and I think they ought to be taught. People ought to be exposed to them.
Q. Now, let me — let's go back to the beginning of the act, since there are some things that you agree with and some things you don't agree with. Now, first of all I want to ask you, are you going to give any other — any opinion as to anything else within the area of religion in connection with this act?
A. Yes. Yes. Anything other than what we've already talked about?
A. Oh, yes.
Q. All right. What are you going to testify about?
A. Well, I'm going to testify about the relation of religion and science. The area of the relation of religion and science. That seems to me to be an important issue, because, if indeed teaching a tenet of religion in a scientific way is teaching religion, then of course, it would be unconstitutional. So I'm going to testify to the fact that one can teach a tenet of religion in a scientific way without thereby teaching the religion. So that whole area of the relation of religion and science, I think is crucial, I'd testify to. The nature of religion we've already talked about. I'll testify to the nature of Humanism as a religion. That Humanism, at least certain forms of humanism — uh — is religious, and has religious beliefs that include areas that overlap with this bill. I'll testify about the nature of — of specific kinds of religion as they relate to this, like fundamentalism, et cetera. Let's see. Those are the only ones that come to mind right now.
Q. Have you talked to Mr. Campbell about any others, anybody else in this organization about any others?
A. Just in the 20 minutes we had this morning.
Q. Those four though?
A. I don't know if we touched on all those four. We may have touched on all of them, but just — you know, just brief conversations saying that it seems to me this is an area of interest, and I think that the crucial thing in the trial will be some statements — like the crucial thing in the trial will be, is re — is teaching a scientific thing that overlaps with religion a religious thing? I think I made some comments like — uh — if teaching any tenet of a religion in a scientific way is automatically religious, then both the teaching of creation and the teaching of evolution are wrong in schools.
Q. That goes to the second point you raised, and that is that one can teach a tenet of religion in a scientific way without teaching religion?
A. Yeah. Yeah.
Q. So we have — you are going to testify about what is religion. That's Point #1.
Q. And you'll testify about what one can teach tenets of religion without teaching —
A. The relation of religion and science.
Q. That's the relation of religion and science. #3 is that you're going to describe what Humanism is?
A. I'm going to testify that certain forms of Humanism are religious, are religions or are religious, both. And they're related beliefs to this topic, evolution and creation. And also, to the relation of fundamental religions to this topic, so called American Fundamentalism and their relation to it.
Q. And that's what I have listed as 4, 4th topic?
A. Yeah. Those seem to cover what I: can think of right now, unless I am asked specifically about my views. The data I gave you I do touch on and overlap with the scientific questions, Though I'm not an expert in science, I will testify to whatever I believe and teach about this in my own teaching and writings.
Q. You — you said you were going to testify about certain forms of Humanism are religious?
Q. Would you define Humanism as a religious movement, for me?
A. The document I gave you, the Humanist Manifesto, does that, for example, the Humanist Manifesto #1, written in 1933, and signed by the people in the back of it, says, in my copy here, which is from atheist books, 1973, says on page 8, "To establish such a religion" and such refers to Humanist, obviously there. It's the Humanist Manifesto. "Is a major necessity of the Present." And then they go on and talk about the first article, Religious Humanist Regard. And they talk several times through here about being religious humanists, and it's a necessity to establish a religion of Humanism. So that's one thing that — uh —
Q. Specifically, could you now sitting here, tell me, based on your scholarship and matter of opinion, what — how you would describe or define Humanism as a religion?
A. Just the way they do. I think the best thing to do is to take it from the horses mouth. Uh, the way they describe themselves as a religion, would be in the same sense in which I defined religion for you earlier. There is an ultimate commitment. There is a commitment; to some transcendent value, in this case the values of Humanism.
Q. So you would then by — in testifying would refer to the Humanist Manifesto?
A. Uh-huh. And other humanist writings; I gave-you also the Secular Humanist Declaration, and other writers — writings by the people who signed these. There are a number of signatures in the back — uh — refer to their writings and their belief that Humanism is a religion.
Q. And —
A. And others.
Q. What are you going to testify about in connection with the topic of fundamentalism?
A. Uh, try and define it, trying to distinguish different kinds of fundamentalists.
Q. Could you define it for me here?
A. Uh, yes, I think I could. Fundamentalism, defined historically by its founders, which is — as I told you before, you define things sociologically, doctrinally, and historically. If you define fundamentalism by the first two of those three things I told you, the original people who held it, the doctrines they held, rather than the sociological way, then fundamentalism means — the people in the late 1800's and the early 1900's, such as Charles Hodge, (sic.) A. A. Hodge, B. B. Warfield, who were in engaged in what was known as the fundamentalism liberalism debate. Most of these people taught at Princeton. And they said in essence, that certain people have deviated from historic biblical Christianity, which includes about five basic doctrines, and therefore they do not any longer deserve to be called orthodox, because they no longer hold these founding essential doctrines. And those essential doctrines were: the virgin birth of Christ, that Jesus was virgin born; the deity of Christ, that Jesus was God; the atonement of Christ, that Christ died on the cross for the sins of the world; the bodily resurrection, that Jesus bodily rose from the grave; and the inspiration of the Bible, that the Bible is the word of God. Now, some added a 6th one, but these were the five fundamentals. The 6th one that they added is that Jesus is going to return to this earth someday, the Second Coming of Christ. So there are either five or six. So historic fundamentalists were people who believed five or six basic doctrines, and if anyone denied one or more of those, they considered them unorthodox, and excommunicated them from their churches. If the minister denied them, he was — his ministerial license was taken away in that denomination, et cetera.
Q. So to use a phrase we've described earlier, fundamentalism as a historical concept is marked by strict doctrinal orthodox?
A. On these five or six at the most doctrines.
Q. On these five or six?
A. That's right.
Q. So these are, in your words, sine qua nons of participation in the —
A. Of fundamentalists.
Q. — fundamentalists.
A. That's right.
Q. All right.
A. Now, I should add this. Notice I only defined in terms of two of the three ways of defining it. You could define it sociologically in terms of contemporary phenomenon. Now if you define fundamentalism sociologically today, that is, those people today, who call themselves fundamentalists, and/or who are called fundamentalists by others, then we've got a different group.
Q. All right. As a matter of sociological determination, what is — will you be able to opine as to that?
A. It's a little harder to specify, but I — it can be done, and I will speak to that issue. Uh, of what — how do they differ from the historic fundamentalists, they obviously believe all those things, but they believe some more things to.
Q. So doctrinally they are synonymous with historical and doctrinal —
A. That's it — that's exactly right.
Q. All right. And at — where — in what manner do they differ, then?
A. They differ in that they have added some more things that they consider to be, if not fundamental, on the same level with those historic fundamentalists; very important, crucial, things that they also feel are defining characteristics of their movement, and if someone doesn't hold them, they do not wish someone to be identified with their movement.
Q. What items are those?
A. I think they would — well, they would include a number of things, and they would vary from group to group. They would include things like a more detailed doctrine of the future — uh — eschatology. They would include things like, when Christ is going to come back, before a thousand year reign, after a thousand year reign on the earth. These are called pre-millenarians or post-millenarians, and then there are the au-mills (sic.) who say there isn't going to be any thousand year reign at all. Au-mill, au-millenarian, meaning no millennium, or he's coming back before the millennium, and normally, though not universally, these fundamentalists will be pre-mills, although some of them are also au-mill, but they will make it a part of a defining essential of their group, so to speak.
Then another characteristic will be of — much of — and none of these are universally true. If I say it of one group of fundamentalists, then I can name another group that don't hold this, but many will hold as a defining characteristic of fundamentalism, that you must be separated from all non-fundamental churches and have no ecclesiastical ties, no religious ties with anyone who doesn't hold your belief. This is called — in their circles it's called separation from the world. And the world includes anyone who is apostate, and apostate means anybody who doesn't believe these doctrines. And therefore, they will not go to their churches, or have them come to their churches, there will be no reciprocation between the groups.
Another defining characteristic of much of contemporary fundamentalism is — are a number of political issues. Now, these are not on the same level as the five fundamentals, but they're kind of crucial, very important things. They are anti-abortionists, strong antiabortion is one of the defining characteristics. Most of them are very strong creationists. They believe in a literal creation in the book of Genesis, 24 hour day, God created the world in a 144 hours, 10,000 B.C. 4 to 10,000 B.C. There is — that's one of the things that they believe very strongly, and anyone who doesn't believe that and then sign the dotted line, isn't accepted as a part of their group.
Q. That's a — that concept of being very strongly creationist, is that also articulated as being very strongly anti-evolutionist?
A. Simultaneous. If you're for one side of the coin, you are against the other side.
Q. Is that from their perspective or is that your opinion?
A. No. I'm just describing what they believe, right now.
Q. So that is —
A. You haven't asked me about my opinion yet.
Q. Are there any other — any other aspects — now, you were in this subcategory of additional elements, talking about political issues?
A. Uh-huh. They define contemporary fundamentalism sociologically understood, those who either attribute the name to themselves, or it's attributed to them by others. Yes, there are — it's hard to know where to end that list — uh — some of — on political issues they would be generally conservative on most political issues; the homosexual issue, the ERA. They would be generally conservative. You'll find people in the churches — and that's not part usually of their doctrinal statements but the people as a whole in those contemporary fundamentalist groups are almost always conservative on almost all issues.
Q. Does this conservatism on social and political issues, which is a contemporary aspect of fundamentalism, does it have any analogue in the historical aspects of fundamentalism?
A. Uh, it has no one-to-one parallel. There are analogues, of course, but there are exceptions both in the contemporary scene, and more so in the ancient scene. For example, one characteristic of the contemporary fundamentalist up until about — uh — let's say roughly two years ago, was almost a political isolationism, until Jerry Falwell got these fundamentalists aroused, and said, "Hey, let's get in there and take care of this homosexual issue and abortion and ERA." They were basically political isolationists. Their personal beliefs might have been conservative, but they weren't political activists. But the difference in the last two years is that Jerry Falwell, and Tim LaHaye (sic.) and others have politically activated them. They've become a potent force in the political world.
Q. Historically, does the concept of anti-modernism have a place in the description of fundamentalism?
A. Oh, yes. Sure. Because if you were — historically that 1880 to 1930 period there, when this whole debate was going on at Princeton, and the split ultimately occurred. That was it, because liberalism theologically understood is synonymous of the term modernism. See, the modernists were those who denied one or more of the fundamentals. The orthodox or fundamentalists were those who affirmed all the fundamentals.