Deposition of William V. Mayer
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
WILLIAM McLEAN, et al., :
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE :
STATE OF ARKANSAS, et al.,
Deposition of WILLIAM V.
MAYER, held at the offices of Skadden
Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, Esqs., 919
Third Avenue, New York, New York, on
the 23rd day of November, 1981, at
10:20 o'clock a.m., pursuant to Notice,
before Thomas W. Murray, C.S.R., a
Notary Public of the State of New
CEARLEY, GITCHEL, MITCHELL and
Attorneys for Plaintiffs
P.O. Box 1510
Little Rock, Arkansas 72203
By: ROBERT M. CEARLEY, JR.,
STEVE CLARK, ESQ.
Attorney General of the State of ARkansas
Attorney for Defendant
Little Rock, Arkansas
W I L L I A M V. M A Y E R, called as
a witness, having been first duly sworn by
the Notary Public, was examined and
testified as follows:
Q. Dr. Mayer, if you would, please state
your full name and your address for the record.
A. It is William Vernon Mayer, *** ***
******, ******, ******** *****.
Q. Are you married?
Q. What is your wife's name?
Q. What is your occupation?
A. She is a housewife. She is the busiest
of us all.
Q. By the way, I think I noticed that you
will be celebrating your wedding anniversary in
A. Forty years.
Q. What day?
A. December 23rd.
Q. Do you have children, Dr. Mayer?
Q. Their names and ages?
A. William. He was born May 27, 1947.
Ann, May 5, 1945.
Q. What does William do?
A. He is the comptroller for Northwest
Paper Bag Company in Portland, Oregon.
Q. What does Ann do?
A. She teaches at the Wharton School in
Q. What does she teach?
A. She teaches law and Middle Eastern
history. She is a lawyer.
Q. What legal subject does she teach?
A. I know she teaches some introductory
law, but mostly her specialty is Middle Eastern
Q. Where did they attend schools, public
A. In Los Angeles, in Detroit, in Boulder,
Q. What about their undergraduate and
graduate education, at least in the case of Ann?
A. Ann went to the University of Michigan
and Princeton. She has a Ph.D from Michigan, law
degree from Princeton. And Bill did his
undergraduate work at the University of Colorado
Q. While they were in either secondary
schools or in their collegiate education or
graduate education, do you know what science
courses they took, if they took any?
A. They tool all the science courses
offered in high school and as electives in college
they had science.
Q. To your knowledge, was the subject of
origins ever discussed in any classes that either
one of them took?
Q. What classes were those?
A. They would be in the science classes,
in some of the classes in the social sciences, and
in the humanities classes. It is a pretty
Q. Where were those classes in the
structure of their education? In their secondary
education, collegiate education or graduate
A. I imagine it would permeate all three.
Q. Do you know if the creation theory of
origin was taught to them?
A. No, they were not. When they were
coming through this was just a recent thing.
Q. So the best you know that was never
discussed in those cases?
Q. Was the evolution model taught in any
of those classes?
Q. Do you have any idea of the manner in
which that was presented?
A. It would be presented as a scientific
theory. The exact attitudes and the exact method
of prejudices would be unknown to me.
Q. Do you, Dr. Mayer, distinguish between
scientific theory and a scientific model?
Q. What is the distinction?
A. A theory is a synthetic explanation of
the facts. It is a state of the art explanation
that is subject to change as we learn more about a
topic. We have had lots of theories. Science is
strewn with discarded theories. A model, strictly
speaking, is a construct or a representation.
This is simply a device for illuminating a problem
or giving you something to discuss. But it is not
the same as a theory.
Q. You said that your children were taught
the evolution theory of origin?
Q. Which is a state of the art explanation
subject to change as to discovery in science; is
Q. Are you a member of any organized
A. I have been a Christian Scientist, I
have been a Lutheran, I have been a Unitarian, I
have been an Episcopalian. At this particular
moment I am not a formal church member.
Q. Would you identify for me basically the
time frame in which you were a member of each of
these organized religious faiths? Christian
A. The Christian Science was the first one.
I remember going to Christian Science Sunday
schools as a youth when I was going to grammer
school. Then I switched. I think it had to do
with our moving and no longer being near a
Christian Science church. When I was in Los
Angeles I became involved with the Unitarian faith
and subsequently Episcopalian, and I would guess
for the last ten years I have not been formally
associated with a church.
Q. What do each of those faiths as they
were taught to you say about origin, Christian
Science for instance?
A. None of them made an issue of it. The
Genesis account to which most religions have
referred is largely regarded as allegorical in all
of these. If any of the groups with which I was
associated was more likely to be authoritarian on
this point, it would have been the Lutherans.
Q. Authoritarian in the sense of that
statement as to origin would have been what?
A. It wouldn't have changed the statement
so much as the status of the statement. That is,
it would say that this is an account that
supersedes all other accounts, it is a prime
explanation which covers all others.
Q. Do you believe that a religious person
can be a competent scientist?
Q. I would like to, Dr. Mayer, to go over
your employment history in terms of where you have
taught. If you would go over that for me, I would
appreciate it, where you taught, what capacity,
your basic duties there.
A. I first began collegiate teaching in
1948 at Stanford University, where I was a
lecturer and taught comparative anatomy. From
1949 to 1957 I was employed at the University of
Southern California in Los Angeles. My teaching
duties involved introductory biology, general
zoology, comparative anatomy, human and mammalian
anatomy, evolution, mammology, graduate seminars
of various kinds, not all at the same time
obviously. These were over a period of ten years.
I then went to the Wayne State
University in Detroit, Michigan, as head of the
department of biology there, was associate dean of
the college of liberal arts. While there I taught
primarily comparative anatomy. At the University
of Colorado, from roughly 1967 to date, I have
been professor of biology. I do mostly work with
graduate students, a few seminars, and teach a
class in the teaching of modern biology.
Q. A class in the teaching of modern
Q. In your teaching at the University of
Southern California, you said you taught
introduction to biology, zoology, and other
courses. You also mentioned you taught evolution.
A. That's right.
Q. Could you give me some background in
terms of synopsis, I suppose, of that evolution
course as it at least applies to the theory of
A. When I taught this, origins was not an
issue. As I say, origins is something that has
really come up in the last 10, 15 years. When we
taught evolution, we taught it from a classical
standpoint, beginning back with the Greeks, moving
up through Darwin and into the Twentieth Century
as ways people looked at this phenomenon and how
it developed. Origins themselves were not a major
Q. Did you teach origins in your
introductory to biology?
A. It would have taken at most no more
than an hour when we would talk about theories of
Q. What theories did you advance in that
A. There were a number. One of them, of
course, is the theory that life did not originate
on earth but, rather, originated elsewhere and
came to this planet through space. That is
sometimes spoken of as the cosmosoic theory.
Another is that this is not an issue at all,
simply because matter and life are eternal, there
is no beginning, there is no end, therefore the
subject of origins is moot.
The theory of spontaneous generation
that was held a hundred or so years ago, where
life was supposedly to arise from inanimate matter
at any point in time. The heterotroph hypothesis,
which postulates that at one time the conditions
on the planet were propitious for the origin of
life, and it so arose and has not done so since.
Those are a sampler of theories, as we would say,
held on this topic.
Q. But in your evolution class you did not
teach any theories of origin?
A. I would have mentioned those. I would
have mentioned those, yes.
Q. I misunderstood. I was just trying to
In your latest teaching at the
University of Colorado, you said you teach modern
biology. Do you teach those same theories of
origin in that course?
A. We teach those theories, yes, and we
have added now the problems that teachers face
with pressures from biblical literalists to
include their materials in classrooms, because
that has now become an issue. In the past it was
Q. In your teaching the course of teaching
modern biology, do you also teach or expose
potential biology teachers to the other sorts of
contemporary issues as to the values in science?
Q. Would a goal of that course be to expose
a student enrolled in the course to problems of
teaching biology in a contemporary setting, value
judgments versus science versus the political
A. We would attempt to acquaint the
teacher with the realities of the classroom.
Unfortunately, most teacher training is almost in
a vacuum. It runs in a kind of idealized setting,
and the teacher is trained to impart information.
In the real world, the teacher is subject to all
kinds of pressures from various groups to do
various things. We live in a contentious and
litigious age, and education is as much subject to
this as any other discipline.
Teachers who are not prepared to find
themselves in this kind of setting usually get
exceptionally unhappy with their jobs and quit at
a very early age. We would like to open their eyes
to the problems that they face, that they are not
unsoluble problems, that there are ways of
In short, we want to make them more
effective teachers who will dedicate their lives
to teaching and not find it such an unsatisfactory
and demanding profession that they quit.
Q. Dr. Mayer, do you also in that course
make observations or comment about materials that
are available, texts, other sorts of teaching aids?
Q. Let me ask you something about your own
personal education background. Where did you
graduate from high school?
A. Grant Union High School in Del Paso
Heights, California. That is a suburb of
Q. When did you graduate?
A. In June of 1937.
Q. What science courses did you take in
high school, Dr. Mayer?
A. I took all the science I could get. I
took general science, I took biology, I took
chemistry, I took physics. This was all they
offered, that was all I could take.
Q. Did you study origins in high school?
Q. In none of your classes did you study
theories of origin?
A. No. Of course, you are dealing with a
fallible memory now. We are talking about
something that was 40 years ago. But whatever it
was, it was not an issue, it was never anything
that caused any perturbation in the system.
Q. So if whatever was included in any
materials, if there was anything, it was not of
controversy or of great debate?
Q. But to the best of your recollection,
you do not recall an evolution model of origin or
theory or anything else that was taught to you in
A. There was undoubtedly mention of
evolution. Whether it was mentioned as a theory
or an idea or a concept or whatever, I could not
remember. But it would be almost impossible to
teach a biology course either without implicitly
or explicitly dealing with the problems of
Q. Let me ask you about your undergraduate
education. Where did you attend school?
A. University of California at Berkeley.
Majored in zoology.
Q. When did you graduate?
A. In June of 1941.
Q. What degree did you receive?
A. I received a Bachelor's degree in
Q. Did you study origins in undergraduate
A. The word "origins" is the thing I am
hung up on. Did I study evolution? Yes. The
origin argument is a basically recent one, because
when I was going to school we didn't have much
knowledge, scientific knowledge, about what would
be origins. So it was kind of a nonpoint at the
Q. You have a degree in zoology?
Q. From University of California at
Q. I am trying to understand. You are
saying that at that time during your study there
was not much discussion as to the origin of life
or origin of man; there might have been of
evolution but not of origin of species?
A. This is what I am hung up on, the way
"origins" is used. At Berkeley we would have had
an exposure to evolutionary theory and all that
that implied. But I don't recall anyone at the
time talking in terms of origins such as they do
today. They would have talked about the
scientific evidences that would have supported a
thesis that organisms change through time.
Q. Would you define for me what you
believe "origin" means?
A. It can have several meanings. It can
have the primary or primordial origin of life,
universe, the earth, and all things on it, that is,
an event in the past that occurred apparently one
time. It can have the meaning of an origin of a
new species or a new type of organism. For
example, in today's laboratories one can get a
patent on a new life form. In a way, that has to
be considered an origin. I just made something
new and I can take it to the U.S. Patent Office
and I can get a patent. That's an origin.
So the term has different uses in the
literature depending on who is using it.
Q. Using "origin" defined as first life or
beginning of life in whatever form, in your under-
graduate education were you ever presented with a
creation model or theory of origin?
Q. Were you ever presented or confronted
with the evolution theory or model of origin?
A. There wouldn't have been an evolution
theory of origins. This subject became a point in
science in the very late thirties and early
forties with some experimentation that had been
done to develop what was known as the heterotroph
hypothesis. So as a piece of subject matter it
really didn't exist until at the very best 40
Q. About the time you were finishing your
A. About the time. Of course, we didn't
know about DNA. There were a lot of things I was
never taught and had to learn subsequently.
Q. Where did you do your postgraduate work?
A. Stanford University.
Q. When did you graduate there?
A. I received my Ph.D in 1949.
Q. Do you hold a Master's Degree?
Q. What was the subject matter of your
A. It was a thesis on comparative anatomy,
and it had to do with a way of identifying
organisms as to genus and species, that is,
species of mammals, by examination of their hair.
Q. Is it published somewhere?
A. It was published in -- a piece of it
was published in the American Midland Naturalist
sometime in the early fifties. I can't remember
Q. I want to go back to an earlier
question when we were talking about your
employment history, teaching history. You are now
a director of BCSC, right?
Q. Excuse me. Does BSCS have a statement
Q. Do you happen to have a copy of that
available or that can Mr. Cearley make available
A. Yes. We have an admission statement,
Q. Can you summarize that for me?
A. Basically, it is the improvement of
biological education at all levels.
MR. CEARLEY: Would you index requests
for documents and objections, and if there are any
exhibits, index the exhibits also in the
Q. In your graduate work at Stanford, did
you study evolution or origins?
A. I studied evolution, and about the time
of my graduate work there began to be a
significant body of scientific data that was
suggesting a way in which life could have
Q. In what classes did you participate in
A. Cellular physiology would have been one.
The courses that would deal in any way with
evolution would be others. I am not sure at that
time it had permeated into general biology,
because it was a fairly new bit of information.
Q. In that study of the origin of life,
was an evolution theory or model a part of that?
A. The evolutionary theory certainly was,
Q. Can you describe to me basically how it
was in each of these? These were new studies.
Was there anything different from what you have
already told me, I guess is what I am asking.
A. One always tries to push back the
boundaries of knowledge. In my earlier education
people just weren't working in this area. These
were the kind of thoughts that you didn't think
because there was no way to handle them.
Particularly during World War II there were many,
many biochemical advances that went along that led
us to believe that there were processes operating
at the molecular level that we had had heretofore
thought only operated at the organismic level. In
other works, we were reducing our view of life to
a molecular level, and that was a new and
intriguing and interesting idea. So it was
evolutionary theory expanded into a molecular base.
Q. Was there ever a presentation of a
creation theory or model of origin?
Q. What other training have you received
in your field of zoology or others outside the
education you have just discussed?
A. I suppose most of it has been
experimental, sort of on-the-job training that we
all get: Reading, attending seminars, meetings,
various workshops, programs of one kind or another
to update. My acquaintance with scientific
colleagues, discussions with them, we learn from
Q. Did you do any training or have any
training when you were at the Aviation School of
Medicine when you were in the Service?
Q. What was that training?
A. Of course, I got all the standard
military training and some specialty work, but
this was primarily in medical aspects. And then I
taught at the School of Aviation Medicine as well.
Q. What did you teach?
A. I taught survival. Because I was a
biologist and was familiar with organisms and what
you might call the ecology of various strange
places, I was teaching people how to survive in
Q. In your undergraduate and in your
graduate work, did you have a principal professor
or someone whom you looked to as a --
A. Yes, several. At the University of
California at Berkeley Dr. E. Raymond Hall, who
was head of the Museum of Vertebrat Zoology there,
was my mentor and the man under whom I did my
first piece of research.
When I returned to Stanford University,
my major professor was Charles Haskel Danforth,
who was head of the department of anatomy at
Q. Are either one of those gentlemen
A. Hall I believe still is living in
Lawrence, Kansas. Haskel Danforth is dead,
Q. Did either one of those two gentlemen
ever advance a theory or model of creation of
Q. Have you ever received any training in
the area of origin of life other than the
education which we have gone over or the
experimental or on-the-job training you discussed
in terms of seminars and those things you
Q. What I was basically looking for, Dr.
Mayer, was special institutes, the sorts of things
that from time to time, because of your academic
profession -- I used to teach at the law school in
Arkansas, for instance. There are summer
institutes held for three or six weeks in length
or three months in length. Any special training
of that sort?
A. I would have included these under
workshops or seminars or something of that nature.
Q. Would any of those particularly have
dealt with the theory of origin or evolution or
creation or any of those?
A. They would have dealt with evolution
and the heterotroph hypothesis and scientific
Q. Any of those that stand out particularly
in your mind that you remember?
A. I suppose the man who had -- two men
had the greatest influence on me in this regard.
One was a Dr. John A. Moore, who was at Columbia
and now is at Riverside, University of California
at Riverside. The other is Dr. Hiram Bentley
Glass, who was formerly at the State University of
New York at Stony Brook and has now retired. I
think those two had the greatest influence on me.
Q. Are you licensed to teach in Colorado
or any other particular state?
A. In California. I have a general
secondary certificate in the State of California.
Q. Are you licensed by their state board
Q. How long have you held that license?
A. 1947, 1948, back in there somewhere.
Q. Is it a license for a specific area?
A. It was for science.
Q. That would include --
A. Biology, chemistry, physics, general
Q. What were the requirements to obtain
A. First of all, you had to complete a
course of studies at a university, recognized
university with the college of education, in both
subject matter and pedagogy. You had to have
classroom experience. You would have had to have
done what we called at that time practice teaching
and be supervised. And on the basis of all of
these -- it took five years. It took an extra
year. One year after you got your Bachelor's
degree you went on and got your teaching
Q. Do you have any special certifications
Q. Could you please tell me the names of
professional associations of which you are now a
A. The American Association for the
Advancement of Science.
Q. How long have you been a member of that
A. Forty years.
Q. What is its purpose?
A. As its name suggests, it is a group of
scientists who are dedicated to the advancement of
science. It is primarily concerned with the
dissemination of scientific information to
scientists and only secondarily to the lay public.
Q. Do you hold any position in that
organization or have you held any position?
A. I have been on some committees. I can
not remember them. Wait a minute. I was on
Section Q, which was education, and I have held a
few positions relative to meetings, and I am a
fellow of the group.
Q. Being a fellow is appointed, elected?
What sort of position is that?
A. It is some sort of recognition to your
having made some kind of contribution to science.
Q. Section Q, you said, dealt with
A. That's right.
Q. In what fashion?
A. In all fashions. It deals with it at
the collegiate level and at the secondary level
and at the graduate level.
Q. This is actually the presentation of
Q. Formulation of instructional materials?
Q. What other organizations?
A. National Association of Biology
Teachers. I am past president of that
organization. I am honorary member of that
organization. And I am chairman of their
committee for education in evolutionary biology.
Q. What is the purpose of that
A. It is to assist biology teachers in
presenting the discipline in an effective and
Q. What is your role as chairman of the
committee on education and -- what else?
A. Evolutionary biology.
A. We have a national group concerned with
the improvement of education in evolutionary
biology. Our role is the preparation of materials.
We serve as a monitoring group, that is, a review
group for articles that appear in the publication
The American Biology Teacher dealing with
evolution. We organize meetings and symposia. I
organized, for example, all the evolution papers
or papers relative to evolution that were presented
at the October 1981 convention of the National
Association of Biology Teachers.
Q. You said you are charged with the
responsibility of preparation of materials. What
kinds of materials specifically?
A. Currently we are engaged in the
preparation of a compendium of information on the
evolution/creation controversy, to illuminate it,
to present the data that is under question or
involved in this argument, so that teachers,
school boards, others can have a reference source.
Because I find them woefully uninformed.
Q. Is any of that information available
A. There is a current compendium. I am
not sure whether it is in print or not. But it is
available from the National Association of Biology
Q. Would you make that available to Mr.
Cearley so he can make that available to me?
MR. CEARLEY: I have one of those at my
office. I will be happy to copy it for you.
MR. CLARK: Thank you very much.
Q. You also said the purpose of this
committee was to review materials. Are those
materials prepared by others who are not members
of the National Association of Biology Teachers?
A. Not primarily. It was a review for
publication in the American Biology Teacher. All
the papers that appear are refereed, that is, they
are reviewed by what you might call a peer group.
We review all of the papers submitted on the topic
Q. Then to organize various meetings and
symposia, you suggested. Have you done any others
on evolution other than the 1981 symposium?
A. Not for NABT, no.
Q. All of the papers that were presented
at that national meeting are available?
A. I believe so.
Q. Were they published somewhere?
A. The meeting was just held last month,
so I don't really know the status of the papers
right now. some of the people are willing to
present a paper but don't have the time and energy
to prepare it for publication.
Q. I understand that. Could you furnish
to Mr. Cearley so he can give to us a list of
those persons who presented papers and the topic?
We might want to inquire what was there.
MR. CEARLEY: What date was that?
Q. October of 1981.
A. I can give you the exact date, if you
Q. Yes, sir.
A. That was Friday, October 23. I don't
have the names of all of the people right here.
But that was the date at which this presentation
was made. I will get you that list of people, the
names, their addresses, their titles of papers.
Q. Did any of those papers deal with the
theory of origin either based in evolution or
Q. Did all of them deal with those?
Q. Were you present for the presentation
of those papers which did deal with the issue of
evolution and creation?
A. Some of them, because the way the
meeting was set up there unfortunately were
conflicting sessions, and you couldn't be two
places at once.
Q. Did any of those papers that were
presented take a position promoting or defending a
creation model of origin?
Q. Did any of those papers presented take
a position of attacking, if you will, or
"questioning" perhaps is a better word, an
evolution model of origin?
A. Yes, I think so, in the sense that they
would have dealt with certain evidences or
discoveries that were considered of greater or
less importance than originally thought.
Q. That paper would be consistent with
what you told me the purpose of NABT and I guess
AAAS also, to push back the -- I forgot your
choice of words.
A. Frontier, cutting edge?
Q. -- frontier of knowledge.
A. Yes, it would be designed to acquaint
teachers with the newest discoveries and the newest
Q. If a scientist advanced a position on a
theory of origin or creation based in science, do
you find that as a scientist inconsistent with the
coals of either one of those two organizations?
A. If a scientist presented scientific
evidence that would support a position at variance
with the theory of evolution, I would think that
Q. What other professional associations do
you belong to than those we have mentioned?
A. National Science Teachers Association.
Q. How long and what is the purpose of
A. It is to promote better science
education. It deals with all the sciences. How
long I belonged, 20 years, 25 years, I can't
Q. Are you now or have you ever been an
officer in that organization.
Q. What other organizations, Dr. Mayer?
A. I am just trying to think. I have been
a member of the American Society of Zoologists,
Western Society of Naturalists, Sigma Zi, Phi
Sigma, Phi Delta Kappa. These are all
fraternities or organizations. And my memory
Q. Do any of the organizations which we
have just gone over to which you belong, have they
taken a position on whether the creation model or
theory of origin should be discussed in the
Q. Which organizations and what position?
A. AAAS, NABT, National Science Teachers
Association, American Society of Zoologists. And
the position is that the creationist position is
religion and not science and has no place in the
Q. Is that written down anywhere?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Are those position papers available for
me to get copies of?
A. Yes. Not only those, but numbers of
others. I can just Xerox them.
Q. I would appreciate that very much, Dr.
A. I would have to say that practically
every major scientific and educational
organization in America has taken the same
Q. What other major scientific or
educational organizations that the ones we have
already covered would you be making reference to?
A. American Institute of Biological
Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, the
American Chemical Society, various state academies,
and so on.
Q. In the positions that have been taken
by the groups to which you belong, did you
personally have any input or influence in that
position as was adopted?
A. Probably with the statement of the
National Association of Biology Teachers. The
others seemed to be independently derived.
Q. What was the nature of your
participation with NABT and their position on the
teaching of the theory of origin or evolution?
A. This occurred in the early seventies
primarily in response to pressures in California
to change the state's science framework to include
creationism. At that time I testified before the
state board of education in San Francisco, and
that testimony was also buttressed by the then
executive director of NABT, a man by the name of
Dr. Jerry Lightner. And this developed into a
position statement which was adopted by the
organization by ballot.
Q. Do you recall the vote in terms of how
this was adopted by NABT?
A. I don't recall the exact numbers, but
the membership approved it. That's all I can
Q. What is the size of NABT in terms of
A. About 6,000.
Q. What are the requirements for membership?
A. Basically that you are interested in
biology teaching at any level.
Q. Does one have to be a biology teacher,
practicing teacher, to be a member of NABT?
A. No. You could belong if you so desired.
But we would assume that you would belong because
you had some interest in what the organization was
Q. So it is really a matter of making
application and expressing that interest?
A. That's right. I am sure, for example,
that many creationists belong to the NABT.
Q. Do you know that for a fact?
A. I know it at one time. I don't know if
they belong today or not.
Q. Anyone in particular or persons in
A. I can remember John N. Moore of
Michigan State belonging, and several of them have
had papers that appeared in the journal. The
journal is normally limited to contributions of
Q. John N. Moore is a professor of --
A. He was a professor of biology in the
general college at Michigan State University.
Q. Is he still a professor there?
A. I understand he has retired.
Q. Do any of the organizations to which
you belong have a position on whether the
evolution model of origin should be discussed in
A. I am not trying to avoid the issue. I
think the answer is perhaps, in the sense that I
don't recall anyone having a resolution demanding
or mandating it. But it is implicit in the
subject matter of biology and it is one of those
things that unless you voted against it, it would
Q. Then there is nothing written down as
to a policy that specifically says, as you say,
mandates or requires the teaching of evolution
model of origin?
Q. Is there anything that makes a
statement that it is good professional practice or
in some way summarizes or characterizes what you
have just stated to me, that is, it would be
implicit in being complete in biological
instruction to include this section of instruction
or this area for instruction?
A. Among professional biologists the
theory of evolution is as important to biology as
the atomic theory, let's say, is to chemistry or
physics. It would be very difficult to imagine
that biology would make sense at all without some
kind of evolutionary framework as a synthetic
explanation of the facts.
Q. Is it then accurate to characterize the
theory of evolution to biology as either a
presumed matter of fact or an assumption in its
most elementary form, not subject to question?
A. All facts of science are subject to
question. I cannot recall a single instance where
something has been said to not be questioned. So
in terms of whether it can be questioned, the
answer is it is questioned all of the time. I
have kind of lost the thread of your question now.
I picked up one piece of it. I'm sorry, I seem to
have lost the rest of it.
A. Then I answered that it was always
subject to question. Now can I deal with this
presumed matter of fact?
Q. Please, Doctor.
A. This has to do with interpretation,
basically. Fundamentally, evolution says organisms
change over time. In short, that the organisms
that are on the earth today were not the same as
organisms on the earth thousands or millions of
years ago. That is a fact in the sense that it is
as good as any other scientific fact. Because you
dig up dinosaurs and obviously they lived sometime
in the past and they are not alive today, so there
is a change there. We dig up out of the past
various organisms that indicate to us that they
were alive then and not now, the process of
So, if you are dealing with a fact -- a
fact is relative, a fact is never fixed -- then
you would have to say the fact that organisms
change through time is a demonstrable thing. If
that is factual, then so it is.
The account of how that came into being
is quite another matter. That gets you into the
theories and the hypotheses, and so on.
Q. Do you subscribe to any professional
A. Oh, yes.
Q. Can you at least identify for me most
of those or some of those or provide a list? That
might be easier.
A. I could give them to you. Science, The
Science Teacher, The american Biology Teacher,
Bioscience, Natural History, and then there are
generalizable magazines like Science '81 and
things of that nature. So I get a great number.
Plus the fact I see all copies that come to
our library, and that makes it even more gross.
Q. Are you on the mailing list of any
organization which supports the teaching of a
creation model or a theory of origin in public
A. I have been. They seem to take me off
all the time.
Q. What organization or organizations have
you been in?
A. The Institute for Creation Research out
of San Diego. They publish a number of things,
Acts and Facts, their Impact series, and so forth.
I used to get those. I don't anymore. But I come
across them tangentially anyhow. I have purchased
a lot of their materials to see what they say.
Q. Are there any other organizations
besides the Institute for Creation Research?
A. Oh, yes. There is the Bible Science
Association in Caldwell, Idaho. There is the
Science Research, whatever it is.
A. Center. And that is in San Diego.
These things are very close together physically
but a little apart philosophically. The people in
Loma Linda publish a work called Origins, which I
have gotten from time to time. In Buffalo, New
York, Creation/Evolution is a journal that deals
with this problem, and I am on the mailing list
for that. So I get things formally and then
people send me a lot of things informally.
Q. Those which you receive formally and
have sought to receive formally, your interest is
A. My interest is educational primarily,
scientific secondarily, because these people are
proposing that this is an alternative to evolution
that should be in schools.
Q. Are you on the mailing list of any
organizations which is opposed to the teaching of a
creation theory or creation model of origin in the
A. Yes, those organizations I mentioned
earlier that have taken that position. If I
belong to them and receive their journals, except
that those journals don't hammer home the point.
It is not their major thesis.
Q. Are there any organizations where that
would be their major thesis that you are on the
mailing list of?
MR. CEARLEY: Would you ask that
MR. CLARK: Dr. Mayer characterized
NABT and AAAS and others as organizations which
are opposed to the teaching of creation theory or
creation model, but they did not hammer it home,
is his choice of words, as to their major thesis.
I am asking him if he is on the
mailing list of or has sought any information from
any organization whose major thesis is hammering
home opposition to this construction.
A. I don't know of an organization that is
anticreationist, that that is their raison d'etre.
There are a number of organizations that have a
tangential interest in this and say that it is not
good science, but they don't say that
creationism should be driven out of existence. I
suppose there may be some atheistic groups, but I
am not on any atheist mailing lists.
Q. Have you ever taught origin in a
A. When I taught evolution I dealt with
what we know of origins at the time.
Q. That was when you were at Southern Cal?
Q. In that instruction and origin, have
you ever discussed in the classroom the creation
model or theory of origin?
A. No. It didn't exist when I was doing
Q. In any of your professional teaching
career have you ever discussed or taught the
creation theory or model in a classroom?
A. I have discussed it at various meetings
and gatherings of teachers and scientists. I have
included it in my course in modern biology
Q. How do you go about teaching that or
what actually do you cover in terms of the block
of instruction in your course on teaching modern
A. Our primary aim is to acquaint teachers
with the fact that pressure groups exist that wish
to add something to the curriculum, change
something that is in the curriculum, or take
something out of the curriculum. And this is a
very good example of people who want to add
something to or take something out.
We deal with the creationist position
in the sense that it is asking for equal time in
the classroom for this explanation and why it is
not a good thing to do.
Q. In identifying why it is not a good
thing to do, do you instruct your class in basic
educational philosophy or in science?
Q. Would you tell me what you tell them?
A. Can I give you a condensation?
Q. Yes, sir, please.
A. In education there are a variety of
ways of knowing about the world. We call ways of
knowing or the principle or the discipline of ways
of knowing, this is referred to as epistomology.
Liberal arts colleges were originally organized
along this basis. A student had to come in and
take certain work in the humanities, certain work
in the social sciences, certain work in the
natural sciences, and so on, in order to acquaint
him or her with how people look at the world.
A poet looks at a mountain and sings of
purple mountain magesties. A mineralogist looks
at it and says there is tungsten there. a
forester sees trees, a fisherman lakes and fish,
and so on. None of these people are wrong. They
are just looking at the mountain from different
viewpoints, and each has a conclusion.
In the structure of knowledge people
with religious beliefs look at the world one way
when they look at it from the religious attitude.
Scientists look at it another way. They are not
necessarily contradictory or wrong, they are just
different ways of knowing.
When the creationists look at the world
and say that the Genesis account in the bible is
an accurate scientific account, they are
overstepping epistomological bounds. If they want
to say we believe that the Genesis account is the
way things were and that is an accurate
representation, I can understand that.
And I can also understand that it is at
variance with other religious ways of knowing
about the world. For example, a Catholic might
not agree with that, a Jew might not agree with it.
Certainly a Hindu or a Taoist or a Buddhist may
not agree with that. But that is a recognizable,
reasonable way of looking at the world.
If they were right, and there is a big
"if" in there, if they were right, their
explanation would still not be a scientific one.
In other words, they might be correct, but it
doesn't lend itself to scientific discourse.
So what I am telling my students is
that these things belong in proper ball parks.
For the same reason we don't play football on a
field with three bases and a pitcher's mount, we
do not bring into classrooms material that is
inappropriate. I have absolutely no objection to
the creation position taught as religion. I have
spoken many times of the fact that I believe that
we should have in schools courses in comparative
Religion is an exceptionally important
item in people's lives, and it would be
illuminating if you could understand how different
religious groups viewed the world. You wouldn't
have to believe it, but you could understand and
perhaps deal with things in a more open way if you
knew what actually a Catholic thought or a Jew
thought or various Protestants or American Indians
or whatever. It would give you a little better
insight as to why people are the way they are.
So with my students it is not to
ridicule or depricate the belief systems of
individuals, but merely to say that that does not
constitute a scientific explanation and therefore
has no place in the science classroom.
Q. Do you go into references to specific
scientific authority? You seem to be indicating
to me that the first thesis that you offer to your
students is that this is not good educational
philosophy in the sense this is not science. Do
you go one step further and say these are
authorities to prove this is not scientific
discourse or disprove or whatever?
A. I don't like the word "proof" or
"disproof." What I say to them is that it does no
service to either science or religion to get them
mixed up in the minds of students so that it isn't
clear what type of knowledge one derives from a
scientific process versus what type of knowledge
one derives from a theological process. When you
mix them, homogenize them, I think you get muddy
waters and confuse things.
Q. You seem to feel very strongly, Dr.
Mayer, that even if the Genesis account of
creation were accurate, it would not be science.
A. That's correct.
Q. Could you explain that to me a little
A. Yes, sir. Science, regardless of what
its faults are, and it has a lot of them, never
resorts to the supernatural for its explanations.
No scientist ever presents a block of data and
says at this point a miracle occurs, because it
isn't within the realm of the way scientists deal
The creation explanation requires a
supernatural creator and processes of which we can
by definition not know, because they were special
processes of this creator not operating today.
This simply takes it out of the field of observation,
experiment or discourse. We are simply told that
this is the way it is and that we cannot
understand this. You can't accept this in science.
We can say that we don't know about
something. But I don't believe we can accept the
fact that we will never know about something.
Q. Do you believe in a creator?
Q. Can you define for me what your concept
of a creator is?
A. My concept of a creator would be the
overriding principle, as it were, that governs the
Q. I am trying to understand, Dr. Mayer.
The overriding principle that governs the universe?
Q. Is that or could that be a law of
A. I doubt it.
A. Because I couldn't get a scientific
handle on it. If I could, that would be one thing.
If we could actually understand all that has
occurred, it might lead to something that is so
far beyond my comprehension, so far beyond my
knowledge at the present time that I can't
Q. Is that supernatural as you defined it?
A. That creator could or could not be