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The Creator in the Courtroom: Scopes II - Chapter Seven
Submitted by Peter Burns on Thu, 2009-03-19 03:40.
Excerpted Chapters from:
Norman L. Geisler's (1982) The Creator in the Courtroom: Scopes II, Mott Media Inc.
Used by permission of Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, copyright (c) 1982. All rights to this material are reserved. Materials are not to be distributed to other web locations for retrieval, published in other media, or mirrored at other sites without written permission from Baker Publishing Group. http://www.bakerbooks.com
Please note: This is not an official record of the trial and may, in part, reflect the views of the author who was a witness for the state of Arkansas in favor of Act 590.
See Participants page for links to more information on Dr. Geisler.
Record of Defense’s Science Testimonies
Summary of Defense Testimony
Monday, 14 December 1981
Defense Witness Frair
Dr. Wayne Frair
The defense then called Dr. Wayne Frair, professor of biology at The King’s College, Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.
Frair testified that through his work in biochemical taxonomy (classifying forms of life by the chemicals they contain), he has become convinced that a “limited change” model - essentially like the creation science model - is the best explanation of living things. This model would be described as a “forest of trees” in which individual kinds of life are the trees, with the branches representing variations within limits of the individual kinds of life. The trees themselves are not connected with each other.
Evolutionism, he said, could be described as the view that all of life forms only one tree, rather than a forest of trees; and the various kinds of life are the branches, and variations of the kinds are the twigs and leaves on the branches. In this model, every kind of life is related genetically to every other kind of life.
He said that within the creation science model, one could hold to the “special theory” of evolution, which says that variation has taken place within certain limits among the types of life, but that one would oppose the “general theory” of evolution, which says that all forms of life developed from a single early form and that they are therefore all genetically related.
Frair said he considered the “State of Arkansas to be on the very cutting edge of an educational movement” which promised to improve education around the country by focusing on teaching students how to think and analyze alternative views not only in science, but in other areas as well.
Frair quoted from several scientific writings that have been in circulation for as many as fifty years which called into question the general theory of evolution on purely scientific grounds, but which, he said, had been ignored by the scientific community. He also referred to scientific writers who said it is important to present “scientific heresies” to students so they’ll learn to examine points of view and judge them intelligently.
Overton interrupted the examination by state’s attorney Williams to ask whether Frair could show positive evidence for creation science, not just negative evidence against evolution science. Williams responded that since the two are mutually exclusive, whatever is evidence against one is automatically evidence for the other.
When Williams asked how creation science could be presented without religious instruction, Frair replied that teachers could present evidences for the two views that life is either all related on a single tree (the evolutionist view) or that life is on many unconnected trees and therefore genetically unrelated. “There wouldn’t even [need to be reference to] a creator,” he said. “They’re just saying, ‘There they [the evidences) are.’ And maybe some people would infer a creator (from that].” He said people could be nonreligious and be creationists. [When asked about the meaning of balanced treatment, Frair said that it meant the teacher should give enough information to make the basic positions “clear and fair.” When asked by Williams how his view of creation effects his teaching methodology he said, “it basically doesn’t.”]
Frair said most evolutionists seem to misunderstand the creation model. He said they don’t understand the value of having the option of viewing various kinds of life as genetically unrelated, an option he said had made him able to do more objective biochemical research in his own laboratories. Instead, he said, evolutionists feel constrained to fit all life into a single tree, and that can put heavy pressures on their research.
He said the assertion that removal of evolutionary theory from biology would leave scientists with nothing but confusing, unconnected facts, an assertion made by witnesses for the ACLU, was “patently false,” and that his own studies [Frair here made reference to his studies in proteins and DNA] showed how creationism could be an equally good unifying principle in biology.
Under cross examination by ACLU attorney Bruce Ennis, Frair acknowledged that as a professor at The King’s College he had to sign a doctrinal statement which said the Bible is without error, and that he is on the board of director of the Creation Research Society, which has a similar doctrinal statement.
Ennis asked Frair if he could give a clear definition of a “kind,” as referred to in the act, and Frair said a “kind” would “constitute a group of organisms genetically unrelated to other organisms.” He said there was considerable discussion within the evolutionist community about groupings of types of life, and that there was the same kind of discussion going on in creationist circles. He added that “kind” is not necessarily equivalent to “species.”
Ennis asked Frair if he had Biblical reasons for rejecting evolution, and Frair asked for reference to a particular part of Scripture. Ennis said he was referring to a part of Frair’s own book, The Case for Creation, p. 81, where he said that there were Biblical reasons for rejecting evolution. Frair responded that that statement occurred in a footnote to the book and was a quotation from a Biblical commentator, not his own words.
Tuesday, 15 December 1981
Defense Witnesses Helder, Chittick,
Dr. Margaret G. Helder
The defense then called Dr. Margaret G. Helder, retired professor of biology at Brock University, St. Catherial, Ontario, Canada, a specialist in the biological study of algae and other areas of botany.
Helder testified that her research showed that the green algaes could not be, as evolutionists had long thought, ancestral to all the types of plant life, but rather that the various types of plants had to have genetically unrelated ancestors, a view which she said supports creation science.
Helder also testified that there are two groups in the world of science, one of which says that there are some things that can not be explained by purely mechanistic, naturalistic processes, and another group which says there aren’t. She said an assumed sine qua non of much scientific endeavor has been the belief in an ability to explain all phenomena in mechanistic terms. “I want to challenge that definition of science,” she said. She said, though, that her own religious faith had nothing to do with her studies in plant biology which indicated that creationism was a better explanation of origins than evolutionism.
Helder said that she had often discussed evidences for separate ancestry for plants in her botany classes, showing that while certain characteristics might indicate a relationship between two kinds of plants, other characteristics contradicted the idea of relationship. She had never had to introduce any religious literature to discuss her creationist views. She said her studies indicated that many biologists, especially among botanists, are “becoming more and more aware of the differences in forms of life. They are tending more and more toward the position of creationism of separate origins of life.”
Dr. Donald Chittick
The defense then called Dr. Donald Chittick, former professor of chemistry at the University of Puget Sound and George Fox College, and currently director of research and development of Pyneuco, Inc., a business which converts biological waste materials into usable fuel.
Chittick said he was an evolutionist while in graduate school, but that by reading literature on origins from both sides when he was a graduate student he “was convinced that the creation model was a better explanation of the data.”
Chittick pointed out that science works by beginning with certain assumptions, which it uses to interpret data, and then arrives at conclusions which are consistent with both the assumptions and the data. However, if one begins with different assumptions, he can interpret the same data and come to different conclusions. This, he said, is what happens in the controversy over evolution and creation-evolutionists begin with certain assumptions about reality and natural processes, interpret the data in accord with those assumptions, and arrive at evolutionary conclusions. The important thing to realize, he said, is that both groups look at the same data, and the different conclusions are necessitated by the different assumptions.
He said he believes, even though he is a creationist, that evolutionism should be taught, but that it should be balanced with teaching creationism. He said he has taught creationism often, and that he has done so without making it religious. Balance, he said, need not mean equal time for the two, but simply mentioning both and giving evidences for both. Each view, he said, should be taught by starting with an examination of the assumptions behind each view, then seeing how those assumptions bear on the interpretation of the data, then examining the data themselves, and then viewing the conclusions.
He said his own preference for the creation model had assisted him in making discoveries about converting biological wastes into synthetic “fossil” fuels. Evolutionists, he said, assume that the earth is extremely old and that “biomass” was converted to oil and coal through millions of years by biochemical processes.
However, he said, if one assumed that the earth were young, he could look for another way of forming “fossils fuels” like oil and coal. When Chittick did this, he found that geochemical processes could convert biomass into fuels much more quickly than biochemical processes, quickly enough to do it within thousands of years, thus consistent with a creation model assumption of a relatively young earth.
Experiments he performed based on this assumption resulted in the development of a process for converting biomass into fuels which he has already shown workable by using that fuel to power a cross-country trip.
He said actual studies showed that because of geochemical processes, wood used as mine supports had in some cases been known to convert to the level of anthracite coal in as little as ten years, implying that a geochemical explanation for the formation of coal and oil was better than the traditional biochemical explanation. The studies showed that coal and oil actually resulted from having large amounts of biomass buried rapidly, heated and pressurized rapidly. This, he said, sup ported a young age for the earth and also the creationist idea that a universal flood was responsible for much of the geological structure of the earth’s crust.
Chittick also testified that his research had shown traditional radioactive decay dating systems to be unreliable for dating the age of rocks, and therefore of the earth. [The rocks Chittick referred to were actually moon samples. He said that when examining moon rocks by isotope methodology re searchers concluded with three different ages for the same rock.] Instead, he said, those systems were an indicator of the type of geologic forces which acted on the rocks when they were formed, and were not indicative of age at all. This meant, he said, that the most highly-relied-upon method for dating the earth to the about 4.5 billion years assumed by evolutionists could not be used, and other methods, which indicated a young age for the earth, should be used instead.
[When asked if it was fair to challenge the evolutionary theory Chittick said yes, that refusal to teach creationism “dulls education-teaching only evolution is bad science and bad education.”]
Under cross-examination, Chittick was asked whether he held certain religious beliefs. Defense attorney Williams objected to that line of questioning, as the defense had done several times before, on the basis that a person’s religious beliefs had nothing to do with his reliability as a scientific witness and were therefore irrelevant unless it could be proved that “in fact one’s religious beliefs have caused one to compromise one’s profession as a scientist,” and referred to a ruling in another court which said the religious beliefs or opinions of a witness could not be used to discredit him. Judge Overton overruled the objection. [When asked whether he agreed with the contents of a Bible Science Association newsletter about putting “Christ and the Bible . . . back into science is one of the most powerful methods of witnessing,” he said no.]
Dr. Ariel Roth
The defense then called Dr. Ariel Roth, director of the Geoscience Research Institute at Loma Linda University, California. Roth is a former professor of biology at the University of Michigan, Andrews University, and former chairman of the biology department at Loma Linda University. [Roth testified that when the creation and evolution models were compared, creation best fit the available data. He said that since both use the same data, interpretation is the real issue.]
[When asked if both were theories, he said yes, based on the fact that each view was an extrapolation from available information. The issue of origins cannot be tested but can be theorized. When asked if both views should be taught, Roth answered in the affirmative yet asserted that both should be carefully scrutinized.]
Roth testified that his research on coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean showed that the reefs probably grow much faster than evolutionists had thought, and explained that this supported the creation model. He said the reefs grow 1-4000 times as fast as the speed at which the ocean floors are dropping, yet there are many reefs which are “drowned,” which are now so deep in the ocean that they get too little sunlight to continue growing. This means, he said, that the ocean floors must have dropped very quickly at one time, a fact which is consistent with the creationist belief that a worldwide geological-hydrological catastrophe helped shape the earth’s geology.
According to the evolutionist assumption of the speed at which the ocean floor drops, Roth said, the reefs should never have gotten “drowned” because, according to his studies, they would have been growing so fast they would have kept their tops right at the surface.
Asked about other evidences for creation science, Roth mentioned a number of “serious problems” with the evolution model: high improbability of random formation of life; difficulty of evolving complex integrated structures since each part of the integrated structure alone would be useless to the organism in which it first appeared and therefore would be weeded out by natural selection; the near impossibility of the random formation of chromosomes, genes ordered to fit together both by internal components of genes and the ordering of the genes to fit each other. Roth explained that while these problems can’t be explained by the evolution model, they fit perfectly into the predictions of the creation model and therefore support creationism.
As examples of the difficulty of evolving “complex integrated structures,” Roth noted the relationship of “the ear, the brain, and the auricular nerve,” and the respiratory system. Of the respiratory system, he said, “This system would not be functional until all the parts were there .... How did these parts survive during evolution as useless parts under natural selection?”
Roth said evolutionists usually have not fairly evaluated creation science, but simply reject it without proper scientific investigation because it is a “paradigm” that conflicts with the “paradigm” of evolution. He said a paradigm is an “interpretive grid” through which scientists examine data. Roth said it is difficult for scientists to question their paradigms, but that in the history of science, many paradigms have been adopted and used for awhile, and then questioned and replaced by others. With their commitment to the evolutionary paradigm, Roth said, it is not surprising that evolutionists should “object so strongly” to a balanced presentation of creation science and evolution science.
Asked if creation science could be taught only on scientific grounds without religious references, Roth said it could, since .1 origin by design” is a scientific idea and since “knowledge is separate from commitment.” “I don’t have to join a church to learn about it,” Roth said.
Dr. Harold G. Coffin
Dr. Harold G. Coffin, senior research scientist at the Geoscience Research Institute, Loma Linda, Calif., testified next for the defense.
Coffin began by saying that both evolution science and creation science are assumptive constructs through which data is interpreted. “We are dealing with something that we have to accept by assuming, by assumption, in both cases.” He said evolution has to assume spontaneous generation of life, because it has never observed it, and creation science has to assume the existence of a creator, because it cannot prove the creator’s existence. [Coffin said that in either case “faith” is necessary for acceptance.]
He said his own work in biology supported the creation science model and opposed the evolution science model because he had found four important factors: (1) the “uniqueness of life” [“We cannot define what life is; we can tell what it does, but we can’t define it.”]; (2) sudden appearance of life in the “Cambrian” rocks of the geologic column indicates sudden creation instead of slow evolution, since on the evolutionary assumption, the complex life forms found there should be preceded by millions of years of less complex life forms, but are not; (3) the absence of “connecting links” between basic kinds of animals and plants in the fossil record; (4) the inability of scientists to cause or observe in modern life forms changes from one basic kind of life to another.
He said he estimates that about 95% of the material he reads on evolution he would have no quarrel with, because it deals with minor changes within basic kinds of life, while the rest of evolutionary theory “is speculation.”
Coffin said many examples of fossils supported the creationist model which says fossils are primarily the result of a worldwide flood. [He said that according to present processes, an expired fish decays in one week. In order to get the perfect shapes available in the fossil record, the fish would have to be covered within a period of five hours. This rapid burial could only have been caused by a catastrophic flood.] He showed a picture of a fossil fish which was completely intact when it was buried and which had its mouth open at the time, showing it suffocated. This, he said, was one of thousands of fossils around the world which support the idea that a flood buried most life forms and resulted in the present fossil record.
Other examples of fossils which he said would require rapid burial in a flood are animal footprints in sand and fossilized animal dung, either of which would have been obliterated if they had to wait for slow burial as predicated by the evolution model. He said such fossils suggest “rapid geological activity” similar to what would be expected in a worldwide flood.
He said modern research on coal beds indicates that they are not the result of slow, stationary burial of biomass but rather of enormous amounts of biomass being transported in liquid and deposited quickly into depressions, and then buried quickly by sediments. This, he said, was the earlier understanding of coal beds, but when George Lyell and others postulated a slow buildup for geology in accord with evolutionary assumptions, many coal geologists abandoned this understanding, but now the geological community is returning to it. Such formation of coal beds would indicate enormous flooding.
Under cross-examination by Ennis of the ACLU, Coffin said that the term “kinds” should probably be understood as broader than the term “species,” and in some instances could include all the organisms in a given order in standard taxonomy.
Wednesday, 16 December 1981
Defense Witnesses Wickramasinghe, Gentry
Dr. N. Chandra Wickramasinghe
The defense then called Dr. N. Chandra Wickramasinghe, professor and head of the department of applied mathematics and astronomy at University College, Cardiff, Wales, in Great Britain. Wickramasinghe is a Buddhist.
Wickramasinghe testified that his research in partnership with Sir Frederick Hoyle at University College in astronomy and astrophysics proved beyond doubt that “interstellar dust,” the tiny dust particles which form immense clouds in space and filter the light from some stars, are actually bits of biological material similar to the bacterium E. coli, a bacterium which aids in digesting food in animal colons, This discovery led Wickramasinghe and Hoyle to examine modern theories of the origin of life.
They found on examination of the traditional Darwinian idea of the random formation of life through mechanistic processes that the statistical probability of forming even a single enzyme, which is a building block of genes, which in turn are building blocks of cells, is 1 in every 1040,000 tries, or in other words, statistically impossible. That would require more tries for the formation of one enzyme, he said, than there are atoms in all the stars of all the galaxies in the entire known universe.
These statistical improbabilities caused Hoyle and Wickramasinghe to decide that there must be some intelligent creator, either within the universe or outside it. Wickramasinghe testified that his Buddhist background drove him to the belief that the creator was a part of the universe, but that it would be equally possible to think the creator was supernatural.
Hoyle and Wickramasinghe theorize that this creator designed and formed life in the cosmos, and that life came to earth during its early periods through influxes of this interstellar dust. They said they do not believe that spontaneous generation of life is possible, but that they do believe life evolved on earth,
They added a twist to evolutionary thinking, however, by saying that the new genetic material needed for upward development of life forms is added to earth life forms by the addition of new bacteria from space, carried sometimes on meteorites. These new bacteria, Wickramasinghe said, would combine with the genetic material in a given organism and would cause upward changes.
Wickramasinghe said, though, that the probabilities of upward change by chance combination of the new bacteria with current life forms was so infinitely tiny that he and Hoyle had to postulate the idea that the “intelligent designer” arranged the times and places at which the interstellar bacteria would arrive on earth so that it would cause upward change.
Wickramasinghe explained that he and Hoyle came to their conclusion about the nature of interstellar dust through minute astrophysical examination, and that the scientific community, while skeptical of their findings because they militate against traditional ideas, has not been able to show any flaws in their research. He said they measured the light spectrum given by interstellar dust and compared it with the spectrums of known chemicals on earth. They first found that the dust particles had to contain large amounts of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen; in other words, that they had to be organic. Then they realized that the spectrum was that of a highly complex organic substance. Then one day while searching through an atlas of light spectrums, Wickramasinghe stumbled on a spectrum that was exactly like the one given by interstellar dust. The amazing thing, he said, was that the spectrum was one for cellulose, a sugar which is the basis for most fibrous plants. Further research led them to the conclusion that the chemical makeup of the dust is most like that of the bacterium E. coli.
Wickramasinghe said he and Hoyle were both surprised at their findings, and described the experience as “traumatic” because it called into question age-old assumptions about life having been limited primarily to earth. They delayed publishing their findings for nearly a year because they wanted to test the findings thoroughly and rule out all other possible interpretations of the data. “We tried, in the true spirit of science, to remain as conservative as possible, until it finally became impossible to remain conservative.”
Wickramasinghe said the scientific community had responded primarily with silence, and that this was common when research challenged basic scientific assumption. However, he said, another scientist studying meteorites had found corroborating evidence in the form of fossilized bacteria in the meteorites, bacteria which he said had to have come from space before the meteorites came into the earth’s atmosphere. He said he and Hoyle had encountered a bias from the scientific community against anything which questioned traditional neo-Darwinian ideas, and that was the reason for his support of Act 590. He said the best spirit of science is an open mind. While he did not accept all of the ideas of the creation model, he said that as a scientist he would not reject any of them until he had examined the scientific arguments pro and con, and said examination of competing views in science would be beneficial to students.
Wickramasinghe said that contrary to the popular notion that only creationism relies on the supernatural, evolutionism must as well, since the probabilities of random formation of life (spontaneous generation) are so tiny as to require a “miracle” for spontaneous generation to have occurred, making belief in spontaneous generation “tantamount to a theological argument.” [Wickramasinghe said that to believe life came from spontaneous generation was about as plausible as “a tornado blowing through a junkyard and assembling a Boeing 747.”]’
He said his research drove him to believe that an intelligent creator exists because of the impossibility of the chance formation and development of life anywhere in the universe. He said this conclusion was despite his agnostic Buddhist beliefs. It was a difficult position for him to take emotionally because it differed from all his earlier thought.
His research, however, left him two possible conclusions: “I think one is driven, almost inescapably, to accept the fact, or rather the possibility, that there is a creator, and this brings the creator’s existence into the realm of empirical science.” He concluded that denial of some form of creation implies “blindness to fact” and “absolute arrogance.”
“I think that these scientists have been incredibly perverse,” Wickramasinghe said in an exclusive interview with the [Pea Ridge, Arkansas] TIMES after the trial. “I believe that they have made all manner of ridiculous statements. In fact, [they] sort of imply that some kind of scientific miracle occurred. They are quite vehement in denying the possibility of miracles in the theological or religious way, but they have involved miracles all along in this chain of argument-processes that are so improbable that to postulate that it happened really is tantamount to saying that a miracle happened.” either life and the universe were the result of a deliberate act of a creator, or they are eternal. For those who accept the modern cosmological ideas which hold the universe to be about 15 billion years old, he said, the idea that it and life are eternal is impossible.
He said such denial of a creator and creation in the scientific community generally comes from an “anti-religious bias” in the scientific community. He said there was an implied rejection of theological views in the rise of Darwinism at the beginning of the industrial revolution. He said the “strong instinctive reaction of scientists” against creationism stems from their “belief in the supremacy and centrality of man and earth,” and added ...... the human ego has been pushed right into an insignificant corner,” and humanistic evolutionary ideas are a way of saving that ego. He said evolutionists view man as a god.
Wickramasinghe said he and Hoyle had not published their research in standard scientific journals because the editors of those journals generally are closed-minded to anything which questions Darwinian ideas on the origin and development of life. Instead, they chose to publish it in book form so their critics and they would be free to have exchange of ideas on the matter. He said the general commitment of the scientific community to the “conventional wisdom” about biology made it nearly impossible for most people to objectively analyze ideas that called the “conventional wisdom” into question, and added that his own lack of training in biology since he graduated from college was an advantage to him because he would have been “hamstrung” by the “conventional wisdom.” [He stated that you cannot accommodate the conventional wisdom in a rational framework. He said that creationism “so profoundly and so deeply” challenges the main line thinking in biology. He asserted that children who are made to accept the evolutionary model in the classroom are “brainwashed.” He added “it is the biggest travesty of all that a society would close its mind to the biggest question of all, the origins of life.”]
When asked to compare evolution and creation as to their religious overtones, Wickramasinghe said they were both “deeply religious,” and that if he had to choose between the two, he thinks evolution is religiously “more insidious and has more evil implications” than creationism.
Under cross-examination, the ACLU lawyer argued with Wickramasinghe that probability arguments are really illegitimate, since highly improbable things happen all the time. He gave as an example the chance attendance of any given 50,000 people at a football game. He said the chances for that would be 50,00050,000, a probability far less than that Wickramasinghe had estimated for the random formation of an enzyme. But, he said, the attendance of a given 50,000 people at a football game occurred regularly nearly every week through football season. This, he said, showed that probability statistics are not relevant.
Wickramasinghe responded under redirect examination by the state that the ACLU’s argument on probability misunderstood probability theory. First, he said, the 50,000 people at tending a football game don’t get there by chance-they decide to go, buy tickets, and travel there. Second, the arrangement in which 50,000 people sit at a football game is unimportant, since any order is fine enough for a football crowd. However, with enzymes, arrangement is of utmost importance, there being at least 15 positions in a chain of amino acids in any given enzyme which must be “present.” Since people go to football games by intelligent choice, Wickramasinghe said, the ACLU attorney’s argument actually supported the creation model, not the evolution model.
The final witness called by the state was Robert Gentry, a research scientist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Gentry specialized in the study of the breakdown of radioactive materials in rocks.
Gentry testified for nearly five hours regarding research he had done on “haloes” formed by radioactive decay of polonium in granite rocks and in coalified wood (wood that has turned to coal). The “haloes” are circles around the decaying atoms of the radioactive material, circles which are etched into the rock by escaping alpha or beta particles that result from the decay.
These circles, Gentry explained, can be identified with certainty through examination under an electron microscope, and are made by all decaying radioactive materials in solidified rocks. The circles given by different radioactive materials are different from each other.
Gentry said one isotope of polonium has a half life of only about three-and-a-half minutes. This means that the rock has to be solidified before or within seconds of the time the polonium isotope gets into it, or there will be no halo in the rock.
In some instances, this isotope of polonium can be given by the decay of uranium, of which the polonium isotope is one by product. However, sometimes polonium decay haloes are found in rocks without any possible uranium source for the polonium. This, Gentry explained, means the polonium had to be present in the rocks at the moment they solidified.
This in turn, Gentry said, means the rocks had to solidify extremely rapidly, under conditions unknown to science today. This indicates the likelihood of a creation of the earth and its primordial rocks and elements by a supernatural creator, and cannot be explained on the basis of evolutionary assumptions.
Evolutionary assumptions about geology insist that “basement granites,” the granites which underlie the sedimentary layers of the earth, and the type in which Gentry often finds polonium haloes without uranium sources for the polonium, were formed by slow cooling and compaction over periods of two or three billion years. Since Gentry’s research shows that they must have cooled almost instantly, Gentry said his research calls into serious doubt the traditional scientific idea that the earth must be 4.5 billion years old.
Similar experiments on polonium haloes found in coalified wood led Gentry to postulate that the wood had been buried during a huge deluge and had turned rapidly to coal rather than very slowly, as evolutionary assumptions would predict. This, he said, supported the idea of the creation model that the earth’s geology is best explained on the basis of a flood.
Gentry also testified and showed letters substantiating his testimony regarding what he called a bias in the scientific community once it realized the implications of his research. Before the implications became clear, he was able to get his studies published quickly in the leading scientific journals, because his work was recognized around the world as the leading work on radioactive haloes in rocks. However, when it became clear that his work was calling into question the whole of traditional “geochronology,” the assumptions about dating the age of the earth and its rocks, and would support a belief in a young earth, the journals suddenly became closed to him, and it took repeated efforts, and threats to tell the press about the bias, for Gentry to be allowed to publish the papers in the journals again.
He said the general reaction of the evolutionist community was to discount the research, even though they could show no errors in it. He gave several examples of geologists who responded to his research simply by saying it must be wrong because if it were right it would require them to rethink all their theories about the age of the earth and the formation of the earth’s geology-a hard task!
Thursday, 17 December 1981
Responding to one critic who said Gentry’s research called into question the whole of modern theories of geologic time and who said that should not be done since so much data had been shown to fit into those theories, Gentry said, “While I can appreciate York’s desire to emphasize internal consistency, it should be evident that irrespective of how much data has been or yet can be fitted into the present model, the question of its ultimate reliability hinges on whether there exist any observations which falsify the theory.” He said his data on radiohaloes were such data, and that therefore the theories of an old earth and slow formation of earth’s basement rocks should be abandoned in favor of a theory of a young earth and rapid formation of the basement rocks.
Gentry concluded with a challenge to the scientific community to try to falsify his theory. He said if they could simply synthesize one piece of granite the size of a fist under ordinary physical processes, he would abandon his theory and become an evolutionist.
Under cross-examination by Ennis, Gentry acknowledged that he does subscribe to the statement of belief of the Creation Research Society, of which he is a member, but added that if the scientific evidence leads him to believe that the Bible is in error, he will certainly abandon his current belief that the Bible is without error in matters of science.
Judge Overton’s Closing Statements
At the close of the cross-examination of Gentry, the defense rested its case, and Judge William R. Overton gave a concluding statement. He told people not to write to him with suggestions for how to decide the case because he does not consider mail about cases, and told reporters not to make collect phone calls to his office because he wouldn’t accept them.
“I will not undertake to decide the validity of the Biblical version of the creation of the earth and life, or the theory of evolution,” Overton said, but rather he will decide whether Act 590 itself is constitutional-in other words, whether it violates the separation of church and state guaranteed under the First Amendment, whether it violated academic freedom, and whether it is unconstitutionally vague.
He said he would try to make a decision before Christmas. [The decision was not announced by the judge until January 5, 1982
Extracts of The Creator In The Courtroom: Scopes II (1982) by Norman Geisler, courtesy of Baker Books.
Scans provided by Jim Moore.
Antievolutionists Say the Darndest Things
Antievolutionists often express outrage over alleged incivility from those who oppose their efforts to evade the establishment clause of the First Amendment. But they have no difficulty in dishing out the abuse themselves. Here is a sample from the Invidious Comparisons thread that documents egregious behavior on the part of the religious antievolution advocates.
One thing that Jack Krebs and I agree with is that Pratt can be likened to an outpost under siege in a cultural war.
My wife and I just returned from a trip to Belgium. We visited Bastogne where a few brave Americans of the 101st Airborne Division were surrounded by the German Army during the battle of the bulge. The German attack was led by a crack SS unit that took no prisoners.
What were we fighting against in Bastogne? We were fighting against a Nazi regime that used the philosophy of Naturalism to justify a eugenics program of terrifying proportions. Naturalism is the belief that all phenomena result only from the laws of chemistry and physics and that teleological or design explanations are not valid. Naturalism is not science. It is a belief system.
In the same manner, the defenders in Pratt are fighting against Naturalism, although they may not realize it. Rather than fighting against science, they are actually fighting for science. They are fighting for science that is driven by logic and critical thinking rather than by a philosophy that teaches to the exclusion of all other teachings that we are the products of only chance and necessity. They are fighting for science that is driven by the scientific method rather than science that is driven by a philosophy of Naturalism.
Rather than using logic and good science to support its assault on the brave contingent in Pratt, the KCFS is using tactics one would expect from those that besieged Bastogne: scare tactics, misinformation and no substantive discussion of the real issues.
So, we are back looking at Pratt as the bombs fall. The question is whether the Board and the Community will be supported by the rest of us as they have had the guts that General McAullife and the other brave Americans had that cold winter day in Bastogne 54 years ago. McAullife's reply was very simple when asked to surrender: "Nuts!" McAullife and the 101st were subsequently relieved by elements of Patton's Third Army. In the same way we all need to rise up and put our hands together for the Pratt Board and Pratt Citizens that have just characterized the outrageous censorship by the science establishment as "Nuts!"