Deposition of William V. Mayer - Page 3
of academic freedom?
A. Academic freedom is more than just
something the teacher has. The academic freedom
is also something the student has to receive the
discipline unfiltered by prejudice. In this case
I think it was filtered.
Q. Let me go back to that same case. Was
there an issue of academic freedom, in your
professional judgment, in the Lemmon, South Dakota
A. No, because the school board did not
prohibit the teacher from teaching creationism.
This was really not an issue. What they were
concerned with was that the teacher refused to
teach the discipline of biology as outlined within
the curriculum guides of the school board.
Q. Then is the standard for academic
freedom one that is prescribed by the governing
body in every instance or only some?
A. The legal requirement is in the hands
of the school board. The school board is
responsible and does delineate, the difference
being that in most cases they delineate only the
broad picture and not the details. This gets down
into the legislature mandating specific subject
matter and the time to be spent with it.
Q. In the Lemmon, South Dakota case, had
the Lemmon, South Dakota, school board said to its
instructor you may teach creation science provided
that it does not exceed ten percent of your total
classroom time, would that have been a violation
of academic freedom?
A. Of course, my attitude is that the
teacher was not teaching biology, he was teaching
his religious views.
Q. But the question is, is that a
violation of academic freedom?
A. To specify the amount of time that a
teacher will devote to a subject, I don't believe
that is a violation.
Q. In your opinion, may the state
prescribe curriculum in secondary schools?
A. It depends on the state. In the State
of Colorado, the constitution specifically forbids
them from so doing. In some states they have this
right. In most states, however, they are content
with saying we will have a course in state history
or mathematics or whatever, and most states as far
as I am familiar simply do not tell what is going
to be taught within that course. They don't say,
for example, in the course of history that you
must teach that Columbus discovered America.
Q. But as an educational expert, cognizant
of educational philosophy, and I assume cognizant
of issues of academic freedom and law in education,
in your opinion may the state prescribe curriculum
for secondary schools?
Q. In your opinion, should the classroom
in a secondary school be open to all academic
A. It can't be, simply because there is an
infinity of content and opinion and only a finite
amount of time available in a classroom. So you
are immediately constrained. All education is a
selection of materials. If you have a million
things to choose from and you have 150 days, the
question is which of those are you going to choose.
So the situation is impossible to begin with. You
cannot open a classroom to all opinions on a
subject simply because you would never get through
a school year past the first bit of information.
Q. Is your opinion that you have just
stated that of a teacher and a teacher's teacher
rather than that in the role of a student?
A. Yes. The student isn't in a position
to make a comment on this simply because the
student doesn't know what is available in the
Q. Did you not say to me a moment ago that
a student has a right to academic freedom?
A. A student has a right to receive
information unfiltered by the biases and prejudices
of the teacher.
Q. Then in your earlier statement to the
effect that because of the infinity of ideas that
can be offered in any one given discipline, the
responsibility then falls upon the teacher to
define the scope and the sequence?
MR. CEARLEY: I am not sure that Dr.
Mayer said infinity of ideas in any one given
discipline. I took it that was his point, that
there is an infinite number of ideas and finite
MR. CLARK: I think that is probably
more accurate, I agree.
Q. I don't think you said in one
discipline, I agree with that. The infinity of
ideas that had to be taught in the 150 days for
Back to my question. In terms of the
responsibility of that teacher to develop the
scope and the sequence of ideas to be presented as
an educational expert, is it your opinion that the
classroom in secondary schools should be open to
all academic discussion including that that might
be started by students which exceeds the scope and
the sequence as outlined by the instructor?
A. It would be good educational practice
to pursue the questions of the students when they
come up insofar as it is possible to do so within
the time available.
Q. In your opinion, should teachers be
free to evaluate the validity of subjects
discussed in the classroom?
A. Within certain limits. Many times
teachers don't have the background, training or
experience to evaluate various controversial or at
least unresolved issues. The situation, for
example, on DNA experimentation, unless a teacher
is very familiar with this kind of thing, I am not
quite sure he or she would be in a position to
make a good judgment as to whether DNA
experimentation should be controlled or
uncontrolled, because they are not familiar enough
with the process.
Q. What are those limits, then, that you
described? You said within limits they should be
free to evaluate the validity of such. What are
those limits? Use your example of DNA. Do you
have an opinion as to whether that research should
be controlled or not controlled?
A. You are asking me for a personal
opinion. all of the data we have right now
indicates that there is no need for control simply
because the kinds of problems anticipated have not
Q. I am not sure you answered my question,
but it was a good answer anyway. What are the
limits within which a teacher should be free to
evaluate the validity of subjects? You said
within limits. What are those limits?
A. The limits would be primarily the
competence of the teacher, to begin with. You
have to make the assumption that if a teacher is
making an evaluative judgment, the teacher has
already studied both sides of the issue and is
familiar enough to do that. Unfortunately, in the
real world of teaching, a teacher who has 150
different students a day, 30 in a class, 5 classes
a day, and many of the other things that are
required, doesn't really have much time to
acquaint himself or herself with all of the sides
of an issue. The only thing I am asking is that
they be in a position to make an informed judgment.
I don't think anybody has the right to make an
uninformed judgment for classes.
Q. In your opinion, Dr. Mayer, should the
evolutionary model of origins be subject to
criticism in public school classrooms?
MR. CEARLEY: Could I ask something
here? Do we have earlier in the record any
explanation of what the word "model" means?
MR. CLARK: I asked Dr. Mayer the
difference between theory and model early on, and
he gave me the difference as being --
A. I did give you my opinion. I don't
like the word "model," but that is a personal
Q. I have written it down here, but I
would have to look at it.
MR. CEARLEY: That is fine, as long as
the record reflects what Dr. Mayer means by that
MR. CLARK: A model is a construct, a
device for illumination, I think are some of the
words he used. And a theory, I don't remember the
exact words, but it was an explanation of the --
A. An explanation of the state of the art.
Q. That's correct, I remember that,
subject to modification.
A. Anyhow, to get back to your question,
any theory should be subject to criticism. There
is no piece of science that is above criticism,
Q. How did you come to be involved in this
A. I suppose primarily because of my
writings in this area, my interest in this for the
last 20 some odd years, and I have some sort of
reputation as an authority on evolutionary theory
and its place in education. My past experiences I
suppose in places like the California Seagraves
case, and so on, have brought me to the attention
Q. Were you contacted prior to the filing
of this lawsuit or after, do you know?
A. I would believe I was contacted
Q. Do you have a personal code of conduct
or ethics that you follow as a scientist?
A. I think everybody in the world has a
personal code of some kind. The answer is yes.
Q. Could you identify what that is for me?
A. I would like to see the world a little
better place to live in when I leave it than when
I found it. And I try, insofar as possible to be
as objective and as honest in my dealing with
people and things as I possibly can, to be as
clear and clean as I can, and be as helpful as I
Q. Dr. Mayer, how do you define the study
of origins? I know that that word gives you
trouble, but how do you define that as it is
discussed or debated in science?
A. The simplest definition of origins, of
course, is the question that everybody asks, where
does it come from, whatever it is, whether it is
ourselves, whether it is the universe, whether it
is whatever. The accounts show from time
immemorial man has wondered these questions.
there is nobody who hasn't said to himself at one
time or another, where did I come from? Where did
this come from, where did that come from?
The study of origins attempts to answer
that in a number of ways. It attempts to answer
it mystically, theologically, supernaturally,
scientifically, in every way possible. And
because it is a difficult question about which we
know relatively little, no one has come up with an
answer on which we all agree.
Q. Should it, where it came from, be
discussed in the classroom?
A. I think it depends on what it is.
Depending on how we define it, I think the answer
is, yes, it has a place.
Q. What is that place, by your definition?
A. I think first of all it is a place
where students have the maturity to deal with the
problem. It would be useless to bring this issue
up to students who don't have the background or
abilities to handle the information. So I think
first of all you are talking about a time.
Then secondly you are talking about a
place. As I said earlier, I would love to see at
the secondary school level a course in comparative
religions where students would be acquainted with
various theological approaches to origins. I
think this would be exceptionally valuable. I
think they should have a course in which the
scientific explanations of origins were discussed.
But I don't think that one course should try to do
both, because I think it is confusing and
Q. You said a time where this material
should be presented or this issue should be
presented. I inferred from that a level of
academic achievement or age. Where is that?
Where do you define that?
A. It differs with different students.
Anybody who has ever taught knows that within a
class of a same theoretical age group, one kid
isn't ready and another kid is far beyond. It is
the same problem we have in dealing with sex.
Some kids are further advanced than others and
their time is past when you are ready.
But normally I would say that a student
of the sophomore level or above in high school
could handle this information.
Q. In what classes should that study of
origin be discussed?
A. Because there are more nonscientific
than scientific explanations of origins, my
favorite spot would be the social sciences,
because it is more of a sociological phenomenon or
social phenomenon than a scientific one.
Q. Any particular class in social sciences
or just the social sciences in a broad sense?
A. Most schools now have combined things
together in what they call social studies or
social science, and therein was all the stuff we
used to consider separately as history and
philosophy, and so on. So by default it would
have to go there.
Q. Would there be a proper place for a
discussion of the study of origins in science?
A. Scientific explanations, yes, would
Q. You have identified for me earlier in
this deposition at least four theories of origin.
Would those be proper discussion?
A. They would be proper, and to that, if I
were going to develop this idea further, I would
add many more theories. I would put in the
Lemarckian one that I did not put in the original
group. I would put in some of the others that
have come along that are worth of at least
mention for which there was some scientific
evidence, even though it has been superseded. I
think even a theory that has gone by the boards is
interesting from the history of ideas standpoint.
Q. Then if one could show scientific
evidence for creation theory, would it fit then in
a study of origins in science?
A. If one could show scientific evidences
devoid of that supernatural base on which this
thing rests, in other words, if someone is coming
along with a better theory that is better founded,
explains more facts, I think that would have a
Q. I don't mean to be redundant and go
back over some things, but I took a long time
making up my list and I want to make sure I don't
miss anything. I may ask you some things twice.
If I have, please tell me, and we will move ahead.
What is meant by your definition the
term of "evolution"?
A. Evolution implies change of organisms
Q. Change of organisms through time. How
many different types of evolution are there or are
there types of evolution?
A. I frankly don't understand where you
are going with that.
Q. What I am trying to say is there are
some who might suggest that there are evolutions
of kinds which are distinct from other kinds, that
is, in the sense of -- I will use these two
examples. This is a kind, this is a kind. There
is an evolution track for this kind and an
evolution track for this kind. Are there types of
evolution, one species or another?
A. Let me say first of all this term "kind"
is not a scientific term. This derives directly
from the King James version of the Bible in which
it is used. It is not used in the Catholic
version, by the way, of the same chapters, so
Catholics can't really deal with "kind" in the
sense this is used.
This is one of these confusing things.
This is why I think creationism is more bothersome
than helpful, because it tends to confuse.
If you want to talk about these things
as species, fine.
Q. All right, let's try "species."
A. Among explanations for species you
would have a current argument in science between
macroevolution and microevolution. Remember, we
are not arguing whether evolution took place or
not. That is a given for this purpose. We are
saying how it came about.
Microevolutionists postulate small
changes over a long period of time, and they say
that given a long period of time anything could
change, like that (indicating). The
macroevolutionists postulate bigger jumps in
shorter periods of time. They talk of this
saltatorial, leaping, that things go along smoothly
and unchanged for a time and then a change occurs,
a rather goodly change. That is a different kind
of an argument.
So are there kinds of evolution? Not
kinds of evolution, but there are different
explanations for evolution, different accounts as
to how it takes place, yes.
Q. Are there more than these two accounts
A. Yes, there would be a number of them,
not all of which I can recall right now. There
are people who place greater emphasis on one
mechanism than another. Some people would place
greater emphasis on mutation, some would say it
works differently from this, you would have
translocations rather than mutations, considering
that translocation is a moving of a piece of a
cumbersome rather than a new introduction of
material. There are a number of ways in which
people attempt to account for the changes they see.
Q. Of these accounts is there one with
which you agree more strongly than others?
A. I would have to say that all the
evidence isn't in. I have a hunch that when it is
all in it won't be one or the other, we will find
that ultimately it is a mixture of the two, that
sometimes it does this and sometimes it does that,
under certain conditions it behaves differently.
I wouldn't want to put all of my eggs in one or
the other basket at this time.
Q. Dr. Mayer, what is your definition of
"science"? What is science?
A. Science is a process and a way of
knowing about the natural world.
Q. Does the scientific method of inquiry
reject all claims to final truth?
A. Because we are not in possession of all
of the facts at any one point. When new facts
come -- it is the Newtonian physics problem again.
Looks good, fully serviceable. Another one is the
so-called Bohr atom. Before we really understood
much about atoms, there was a nice little model of
an atom that was comfortable, worked fine. Until
we found out more about atoms, and the Bohr atom
wasn't really where it was at, it works differently
from that. So those are examples of our ability
to change on the basis of new evidence.
Q. What do you know about the evolution
model of origin?
A. You are using the term "evolution model."
Q. Evolution theory.
A. What do I know about evolution theory,
is what you are asking me?
MR. CEARLEY: I would have to say that
that question is a bit broad.
Q. It is broad, I suppose. What I am
trying to do is in terms of whether is this theory
or model observable, testable, falsifiable,
repeatable, is it a valid science?
A. If you would break that question down
into each one of those words, I would be delighted
to try to answer.
Q. Let's start with observable.
A. Yes, it is observable. We have all
kinds of evidences. We can calculate time,
calculate sedimentation rates, we can see fossils,
we can measure radiometrically age, we can make
all kinds of observations in terms of evolution.
Q. What about testable?
A. It is testable in the sense that one
can test one part of the theory against another.
For example, it is testable with new evidences
that come in. Darwin originally postulated the
theory of evolution knowing remarkably little
about many things, such as inheritance.
When the inheritance model was created,
that is, developed by the work of Mendel and
subsequent people, that was a test for evolution,
because at this point the theory of inheritance
could have sunk the theory of evolution if these
things were not transmissible. But they were, so
it provided a testable yardstick for the fact that
the Darwinian explanation in this instance was
correct. And subsequently every new scientific
field, unknown to Darwin, has provided a testable
program against which to measure the theory of
evolution, and all are congruent.
Q. What about falsifiable?
A. Falsifiability is a term that is used
by a philisopher by the name of Popper. I have
never been a fan of Popper's, so I really am not
enamored of his use of the term "falsifiability."
But I know what he means. I would say that the
theory of evolution would be eminently falsifiable
in the Popperian sense even though I don't like
Q. Explain to me how it is falsifiable.
A. The thesis involves this: You can
prove it wrong with specific experiments,
assumptions, and so on. And of course it can be.
For example, if you were to find that fossils were
in the inverse order, for example, if you were to
find human fossils in the earliest rocks and
simpler fossils in the newest, most recent rocks,
that would just turn the theory upside down,
because that would show that humans were on earth
before dinosaurs. That would certainly be a
falsifiable observation. We have not done that,
but in theory -- you see, this is in contrast to
the creationists' position, where theirs is not
Q. What about repeatable?
A. All of the experimental materials and
all of the measurements and observations have been
confirmed many times over, which is a repeatable
bit of information.
Q. In your opinion, is the evolution
theory of origin a valid science?
A. It certainly is a valid theory. It is
as valid as any theory we have in science.
Q. You say it is a valid theory, which you
say is a statement of the art.
Q. About understanding the process and the
way of knowing about our natural world.
Q. So the answer would be yes to the
theory aspect of it?
A. You asked me what again?
Q. I said, is the evolution theory of
origin a valid science?
Q. What are the probabilities of life
evolving from nonlife?
A. Disraeli made a nice statement about
this. He said there were lies, damn lies, and
statistics. When you use probability, you first
of all have to recognize that the earth is not a
random series of events. Creationists very
frequently like to mention the randomness of this
thing. It is not random.
Carbon, for example, will combine only
in certain ways with other elements such as
hydrogen or oxygen. It is not a random process.
It is not just putting them all in a box and
shaking them up. It doesn't work that way at all.
It is very well defined. So the the probability
But if you use these statistical
arguments, I can prove statistically that we
aren't here because the probability that one of us
are here out of all the people in the world is one
in four billion. The probability that two of us
would be here is one over four billion times one
over four billion, and pretty soon after you have
done this you get a gargantuan number which
numerically indicates we can't be here.
The use of statistics to do this kind
of foolishness I think is stupid. Yet when we
talk of what are the probabilities that this could
happen, you can come up with any number of numbers.
But it is like saying we can't be here numerically.
It is a meaningless statement. Statistically it
is a meaningless statement because, first of all,
you are not subject to randomness.
Secondly, we know that regardless of
probabilities that we can calculate, things happen
anyhow, apparently improbable events occur all the
time. That is where you get this it's a small
world phenomena. Two people meet who have no
business being at the same place at the same time.
So the probability question is one of how one uses
statistics. And the probability is unimportant,
because we can see evidence that these things have
Q. But, again, asking you in your
professional judgment, what is the probability of
life evolving from nonlife?
A. I think it is very good. I think it is
a high probability.
Q. I have asked you a number of questions
about the work that you have done and the studies
that you have participated in, but I want to go
back to ask again are there specific studies you
have done concerning origin, the theory of origin,
either evolution or other?
A. I have written papers on the subjects.
I am not a researcher in the field of biochemical
Q. These papers, have they been presented
at conferences or are they some of what we have
A. Yes, and I think you have some of them
here. I am just looking for one here. I don't
see the one I am talking about, in which case I
would get it for you. But there is some of it in
Q. What conclusions did you reach in those
A. That evolution is a valid scientific
theory, that is essential to the study of biology.
Without it biology just doesn't make sense.
Q. As we went through the evolution theory
of origin, I would like to go through the creation
theory or model of origin, going to observable,
testable, falsifiable, repeatable. So I would
start by asking you what do you know about that
creation theory of origin as to its
MR. CEARLEY: Could I ask here, Dr.
Mayer has said earlier that there is no such thing
as creation theory. If you are going to define
what that means, then I wouldn't object to the
question in its present form. Otherwise, if you
will just call it something else that he can deal
with, he can probably answer your question.
A. How about "explanation"?
Q. That's fine. The creation explanation
of origin, is it observable, in your judgment?
A. No, because they tell me that it was
done by a supernatural creator using processes
that are not now extant, and it makes it
impossible for me to deal with this supernatural
creator and with processes that I can't have any
handle on. I don't even know what they are. They
don't give you an explanation of what they are.
They just say that they are processes no longer in
Q. How about testable?
A. There is no way you can put a creator
on a dissecting table to work on.
A. The entire creation position cannot be
dealt with scientifically simply because of the
fact that it removes itself from science. So it
is not falsifiable either.
A. They say God did it once.
Q. What materials have you read, other
than those that you have indicated you have
received from various organizations, concerning
the creation explanation of origin? In particular
I am looking for books or treatises.
A. There is a creationist textbook called
Order Out of Complexity, I believe. It is written
by John N. Moore, published by Sonderman
Publishing Company, which is a Bible publishing
house in Michigan. It was published as a creation
Q. Professor Moore is at Michigan State?
A. He is the one who retired. Seagraves
of Kofahl and Seagraves have something called The
Creation Explanation, which is a paperback book.
Henry Morris has written a number of things that I
have read, the titles of which escape me right now.
Duane Gish has written about fossils and a number
of other things. So I am familiar with these
As I say, these are the ones I have
purchased to look at to see what they have to say.
Bliss's two-model approach is a book, two models.
And numerous other publications, some of which
have come from a place called Chick Publishing,
and these tend to be more or less comic books that
deal with the issues of creationism. So I have
tried to find as much of their material as
possible and pay attention to it to ascertain if
indeed there is something there.
Q. What is your opinion of these materials?
A. They are blatantly religious and they
are poor science. They deliberately misrepresent.
I used to think that this was simply a lack of
knowledge on the part of the individuals concerned,
but I find it doesn't make any difference, they
make these statements even if they know better.
Q. In your opinion, Dr. Mayer, is the
creation explanation of origin a valid science?
A. Because it removes itself from the
scientific arena. It postulates supernatural
intervention, it postulates the operation of
processes that we cannot deal with and for which
we have no information. It it just takes itself
out of the scientific arena by so doing.
Q. If there were any scientific evidence
in support of that creation explanation of origin,
would you favor its discussion in the classroom?
A. I favor discussion of all scientific
evidence. Whether it would lead to a creation
explanation or not is another question. But no
scientific evidence should be denied the
possibility of inclusion.
Q. Which would include that if it were
scientific evidence that would support a creation
explanation of origin, you would not deny that
A. I don't see how it could happen.
Q. I am going on the assumption or
presumption. I am asking you to assume that if
there was scientific evidence, you would not want
to preclude that from classroom discussion.
A. If there were scientific evidence of a
creator and these unknowable processes, I would
like to know it, for sure.
Q. Is criticism of a scientific theory a
valid way in which to study scientific theory?
A. Yes, if it is valid criticism.
Q. What would you define as valid or how
do you define valid criticism?
A. It has to be in the same arena. You
can't criticize a football player because he
doesn't hold his bat correctly. There is just no
bat in the game, so it makes no difference. It is
a stupid criticism. One may stupidly criticize
theory or anything else.
I suppose we all use this term,
constructive criticism. We like to see criticism
that is constructive, that leads to something. On
the other hand, conversely, there is destructive
criticism that is just kind of verbal harassment.
Q. In the event a creation explanation or
model of origin would be discussed alongside an
evolution theory or model of origin in a classroom,
I would just like to run down a list of courses,
and see where you think it might be properly
taught. In biology?
Q. In life science?
Q. In anthropology?
Q. In sociology?
A. Let me ask one question.
Q. I have social studies down here.
A. All right. then no.
Q. World history?
Q. And social studies?
MR. CEARLEY: Can you repeat that
MR. CLARK: Sure. I said should the
two be taught in the classroom, creation theory or
model of origin, and an evolutionary theory or
model of origin, in which classes did he think it
would be proper to present the material. He
answered no to biology, life sciences,
anthropology, sociology, physics, and chemistry,
and yes to world history, philosophy, and social
A. The reason for that is that I regard
creation as nonscience and having no place in the
Q. Let me review with you the legislative
findings of fact. You will see those at Section 7,
Page 3 of the Bill. These questions go basically
to those, but you might want to second to just
read through that.
Q. You have had a chance, I hope, Doctor,
to look at those.
A. Yes, I have looked at it again.
Q. I want to ask you a series of questions
as they apply to these legislative findings of
fact. In your opinion, when origin is discussed
in the classroom, which explanation, if either,
should be discussed?
A. You say in the classroom?
Q. Yes, or in a classroom?
A. It depends on what classroom it is.
MR. CEARLEY: I would like to know what
you mean by origin. Of what?
Q. I mean origin in the sense as we have
used it most of the day, origin of life in a
scientific sense, not in a social studies setting.
In your opinion, if an explanation of origin of
life is to be discussed in the classroom, which,
if either, should be discussed? That is, a
creation explanation, an evolution explanation,
theory, or either one.
A. If I can follow along these findings of
fact, I think evolution in biology, life science,
anthropology, both perhaps in sociology, evolution
in physics and chemistry, and both in history,
philosophy, and social science. I am just
following the Act here.
Q. In your opinion, is the evolution
theory of origin an unquestionable fact of science?
A. No theory is an unquestionable fact.
It is questionable, always.
Q. What are those questions?
A. The questions could be the mechanisms
of evolution, the questions could be relative
relationships, questions about when certain events
happened. You could have all kinds of questions.
Q. In your opinion, is the evolution
theory of origin contrary to the religious
convictions or moral values or philosophical
beliefs of some people?
A. Well, it obviously is, or they wouldn't
be concerned. It is not, however, contrary to the
religious convictions or moral values or
philosophical beliefs of most people.
Q. You base that judgment on what?
A. I base that judgment on the fact that
no other religious groups except biblical
literalists seem to have this difficulty.
Q. In your opinion, can the evolution
theory of origin be presented in a classroom, in a
science classroom, without reference to any
A. Evolutionary theory, yes.
Q. How is that done?
A. It is simply moot on religion. It
doesn't invoke a creator or a god. It simply is
like saying how come a Boeing plane can fly
without divine intervention? Well, it just does.
It is not a religious issue, it is a science issue.
Q. How do you explain to that student
questioner the "it," I think was the
characterization you used, I was going to use
"first cause," who or what existed in the very
beginning, as you explained that evolution theory
A. I would attempt to tell him what we
know about the question scientifically, and then I
would refer him to his priest or his rabbi or
whoever is in his religion to make sure that he
has touched base there to make certain that he has
the proper training --
I could not deal with the person's
religion. That would put me way beyond the pale
of acceptability, because I wouldn't be the
authority. I would have to have all kinds of
religious training that I don't have. I would
never attempt to explicate somebody's religious
beliefs for them.
Q. In a summary, if you could, what would
you say to that student student of what we know in
science as to the first cause or the origin? What
would you say?
A. I would acquaint him with the big bang
theory, I would acquaint him with the heterotroph
hypothesis, acquaint him with various scientific
explanations, and say that is the state of the art
at present in science.
Q. The heterotroph and the big bang theory.
What other? You said other.
A. I might mention this cosmic theory,
I might mention inheritance of acquired
characteristics, just to give him some idea of the
way people have thought scientifically about this
Q. But then in response to a follow-up
question from that same student, which one in
science should I accept, how would you answer?
A. I wouldn't ask him to accept any of
them. I would say the one that scientists find
most reasonable at the present time is the
Q. But you would not ask that student to
accept your judgment on that?
A. I would have to tell him that it is
simply an hypothesis.
Q. In your opinion, can a creation
explanation of origin be presented in a classroom
without reference to a religious doctrine?
A. Absolutely not.
Q. Based on your knowledge of the creation
explanation of origin, what explains the "it," the
first cause, in that explanation?
A. Divine intervention by an omniscient
Q. To you does the concept of a creator
carry with it or must it always carry with it a
Q. Are you aware of any scientist who can
discuss the concept of a creator without delving
into any religious belief?
Q. Are you aware of any scientist who
discussed the concept of a creator, defining that
creator as some intelligence with an ability to,
with one of your terms, give order?
A. No. We are just playing with word
games when you do that. Whether you call it a
supernatural, a god, a creator, a divine
intelligence, these are words, and attempt to keep
God out of it by calling him something else, and
it just doesn't work. Because when you get behind
the verbiage, you get God again.
Q. If a creation explanation of origin
could be discussed in the classroom free of
religious reference, would you oppose that
A. You are asking me to make an exception
I can't make. It cannot be presented devoid of
religion because that is what it is based on. I
can't deal with that because I can't imagine --
that is like saying can you imagine religion
without God, and the answer is no, I can't.
Q. Do you favor a neutral position by
public educators in secondary schools in any
classroom discussion of religious, moral or
A. I think that Constitutionally they
would have to do that.
Q. I asked you earlier in the day what was
faith, and you defined that for me. What would
you define as religion?
A. I would define it as a belief system in
which one has faith.
Q. Would it be proper to define your
participation in this case, in the Seagraves case
and the Lemmon, South Dakota, case as evidencing
not only a belief in principle but a cause with
you to oppose to any mandated requirement to teach
a creational explanation of origin in any
A. No. I have said it a hundred times, it
is on record in many of these documents, that I
believe a creation explanation has a place in
courses in comparative religion, and I will
support that right on down the line.
Q. As an educator, not as a scientist now,
as one who helps mold and shape educational
philosophy, do you believe it is good educational
policy -- let me back up. Do you believe it is
sound educational policy for this issue of the
explanation in science of a theory of origin,
either based in creation or evolution, to be
decided by public bodies, legislatures, or
academic bodies such as curriculum committees?
MR. CEARLEY: Wait just a minute. You
Q. It is kind of a convoluted question.
Let me see if I can go back and rephrase it.
What I am looking at is your Creationist
Impact, Page 6. You make this statement, Dr.
Mayer, the last two paragraphs in particular, but
the next to the last paragraph:
"Well-funded and full-time staffs are
now at work to discredit evolution and no
reputable biological scientist is funded full-time
to rebut them. Arkansas and Louisiana of the type
of an iceberg. Anti-evolutionists, having failed
in their attempts to develop a viable scientific
alternative to the theory of evolution, now bypass
the scientific enterprise and take their case
directly to a scientifically naive public and
scientifically illiterate legislators to convince
them of the validity of their position.
"Science has already lost control of
the situation and the controversy is now loose
upon the land to be decided by politically
oriented nonscientific legislators and the
communities of voters who are easily swayed by
nonscientific apparent data, misrepresented
interpretation, and spurious conclusions that they
cannot differentiate from those derived through
the corpus of science."
What I want to ask you is, as an
educator, do you believe it is sound educational
policy for those judgments as to courses of
instruction to be decided by those legislative
bodies and/or those communities of voters, which I
am adding to my question, and/or to committees of
the educational structure such as the one in
California that adopted that standard?
A. You lost me in California.
Q. In California it was the curriculum
committee, was it not, of the State Board of
A. Yes, I see what you mean. I don't
think that educational issues should be decided by
legislators or the uninformed. I just don't see
that that has any validity. And we have seen
again and again that this does not work. When the
Catholic church tried Galileo and he was forced to
recant, remember, he said, "and still it turns."
Because it doesn't make any difference
what they decide, they are not in a position to
make good decisions. The legislature could decide
that the sun does indeed go around the earth, and
it wouldn't make any difference. This is not the
forum to decide what is science and what is not
science. The scientific community decides that,
just as the legal community decides what is valid
law or not. You just don't turn it over to the
Q. Does the uninformed include such as the
curriculum committee of a state department of
A. The curriculum committee of the State
of California, as I recall, had some educators and
well-informed people on it. It was a selected
group. It was not just a random selection of
Q. Does that uninformed, as you have
defined it, include a committee such as a
curriculum committee for a state board of
education or a state department of education?
A. It depends on how that is constituted.
If these people are knowledgeable in the field, it
would not include that.
Q. In the California instance, have you
ever made a statement to the effect that that
committee was stacked with creationists appointed
by then Governor Ronald Reagan?
A. That was the board of education, not a
curriculum committee. That was the board of
education, and the answer was yes, it was stacked.
Q. Then depending on the composition of a
curriculum committee within the state department,
you would make a judgment as to whether they were
informed or uninformed to make this kind of a
A. I believe in leaving the decisions in
the hands of the informed, yes. Therefore, if the
curriculum committee is picked from recognized
educators and people with a track record, I would
tend to go along with them.
Q. If I told you that the curriculum
committee of the State Department of Education of
the State of Arkansas was comprised of educational
professionals, that is, persons who had pursued
academic training and coupled that with experience
in the field of education, they were not lay
appointees by a political process, that they were
employed because of their educational training and
experience, would you consider that to be an
informed or uninformed body?
A. I would consider it to be a potentially
informed body. I would have to know what their
backgrounds were. If none of them had any
background in science, that would constitute an
uninformed body if they were making science
Q. Assuming that they were informed and
they had some background in science, if that
committee approved textbooks which gave inference
or reference to a creation explanation of origin,
do you find that then offensive to academic
A. I would fine that offensive, yes.
Q. Do you find that inconsistent with your
definition of academic freedom?
A. No, because these people are not
exercising academic freedom, they are imposing a
standard of their own devising.
Q. Let's pursue that a little bit, Dr.
Mayer, because by your own statement in this
Creationist Impact speech that you delivered, you
indicate that Arkansas has some 20 approved
biology texts approved by the curriculum committee
for the State Department of Education, four of
which give some reference by degree to the
creation explanation of origin, down a couple of
paragraphs. You say further in this same article
that this battle has shifted from the scientific
evidence and enterprise to the arena of the
uninformed legislators, community of voters, and
Yet in what I have set up for you as a
hypothetical, as a curriculum committee in the
State of Arkansas comprised of educators by
experience and training who -- assume it to be
valid experience and training and having some
knowledge in science, who then decided to approve
some text which covered both theories of origin, I
asked you if you found that personally offensive,
and you said yes. I asked you if that violated
personal freedom, and you said yes or no?
MR. CEARLEY: I want to point out
something here. You are assuming that decisions
were made by the curriculum committee to present
both creation and evolution in biology texts. The
fact is, as I recall it, that the creation
explanation is identified as being religious in
each of those instances in those textbooks. I
just wanted the record to reflect that.
Q. What I am really trying to do, Dr.
Mayer, is state the fact that the texts were
approved by that committee for their inclusion in
the classroom for purposes of discussion in
A. There are several problems here. First
of all, they approved a panoply of things from
which individual school systems boards can select.
And they have the choice of selection from those
that have no creation information in them to those
that do. That gives them a choice. This Act
gives you no choice. That is the difference.
Q. Do you read that Act to say that you
must teach some theory of the origin of life?
A. I read this Act to say that if you
mention the subject at all, you have to teach both.
Q. But do you read it to say that you must
A. No, and that is the insidious part of
it, because this results in, in many cases, the
elimination of the discussions of evolution
entirely, which of course is what the creationists
wanted in the first place. This Act is a two-edged
sword. You get it coming and going.
Could we go off the record a second?
MR. CLARK: Sure.
(Continued on following page.)
MR. CLARK: Dr. Mayer, I don't think I
have any other questions that I need to ask you.
I want to thank you for your cooperation. I
appreciate your making yourself available.
MR. CEARLEY: I have no questions.
Subscribed and sworn to before me
this _____ day of _____________ 1980.
C E R T I F I C A T E
STATE OF NEW YORK )
COUNTY OF NEW YORK )
I, THOMAS W. MURRAY, C.S.R., a Notary
Public within and for the State of New York,
do hereby certify:
That WILLIAM V. MAYER, the witness
whose deposition is hereinbefore set forth,
was duly sworn by me and that such
deposition is a true record of the testimony
given by such witness.
I further certify that I am not
related to any of the parties to this action
by blood or marriage; and that I am in no
way interested in the outcome of this matter.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto
set my hand this 23rd day of November, 1981.
THOMAS W. MURRAY, C.S.R.
Biological Sciences Curriculum Study
statement of purpose 19
Compendium of information available from
National Association of Biology Teachers 29
List of papers, authors, topics presented
at October 23, 1981 NABT symposium 30
Position papers re evolution/creation of
various organizations 34
Lecture on "The Falacious Nature of
Creation Science," given at NSTA meeting
in Nashville, November 14, 1981 64
National Science Foundation studies
contributed to by D. Mayer 69
Lemmon, South Dakota, school board case 74