McLean v. Arkansas Documentation Project

These notes, labeled as "ACLU notes" are from the collection of McLean materials donated to the NCSE by plaintiffs witness William V. Mayer. They document the testimony of State's witness Norman Geisler.

Please note  that this is not an official trial document.

ACLU notes




DIRECT: Religion has to do with transcendence. Many ways of transcendence--Geisler's research. Religion doesn't necessarily involve God. 

"Transcendence" - disclosure power beyond empirical data. 

Does  a religion demand belief in a deity?


Humanistic Religions: Religion that centers its commitment in "man'' "man's progress".

Humanist manifesto 

1962: "evolutionary humanism" referred to in humanist document.

Geisler says that evolution not inherently religious, only when it is an ultimate commitment. 

"God" is not inherently a religious concept. One can believe that God exists or believe in God. The latter is "religious." We don't rule out God from a science class just because it is sometimes    a religious concept. 

The belief that there is a creator is not inherently religious until someone turns it into religious worship. 

Science-Religion -

What gave rise modern science

-Christian view of creator and creation was motivating force for science.

-Christianity as mother of science widely acknowledged that Christian motivating idea for science.

-Many early scientists were committed Christians studied world in detached way. Scarcely any reputable scientist rejected a scientific view because of source of idea: Geisler gives numerous examples in science - distinguish between source of the model and its justifiability. 

Distinguish between science and religion:

   Science - two definitions narrow and broad.

   Narrow: observability, repeatability, testability, (falsifiable)

   Broad: Happened in the past not repeatability when it is about origins




    Repeatability - natural laws don't apply when dealing with origins.

Scientific Study of Origins - like forensic medicine reconstruct the past.

Extrapolation & Inference

Science draws lines between facts; scientific model is a construction--lines that aren't there otherwise - lines don't exist in nature but by scientific theories (e.g. lines between stars don't exist in reality)

Ultimate origins - Science can deal with it by analogy: suppose that what is true in the present was present in the past? Apply analogy to beginning, but can't be certain.

How many views of ultimate origins by universe?

-Many religious view

-philosophically only two: try intelligent intervention or not by intelligent intervention e.g. Robert Tastrow (scientist) says this.

How do philosophers apart from religion talk about origins: in the term "God" - no religious connection at all to this term.

His view, from a philosophical perspective: like Aquinas - need first cause.

Theologian: scientific model of creation implies existence of God like moral law implies and moral law-giver (by logical prescription & inference)

Q. Why would you believe creator was or wasn't God?

A: Phil. & theo. - would use the term "God" in the sense that scientific creation impliesa creator but only that it is God, not belief in God.

Act 590

    Creator referred to as logical inference, necessary postulate.

Biblical Interpretations

literal to allegorical:

"Biblical literalism" compared to "inerrancy".

inerrancy - nothing mistaken in the Bible: whatever Bible      teaches is true.

Literalism: How do you interpret that truth. 

Many people believe in inerrancy but don't take Genesis literally. 




Origins: -literalism/inerrancy: fundamentalism

(1)    God who created universe

(2)    Ex nihilo

(3)    Direct created energy new species and kind.

(4)    Adam & Eve; naming of animals.

(5)    in 144 hours.

Others: Religious story of evocative, not descriptive account of relation to a who.


      a mvmt. c. 1900 - a response to new religion (atheism, humanism) who attacked their beliefs. 

c. 1855-1859

    People who didn't believe in these fundamentals were not welcome in the church.

Later fundamentalism 

c. 1920, growth of evolutionary philosophy very strong; thus, after WWI, c. 1918, Hitler using evolution and natural selection, people reacted against evolution: more radical fundamentalism became militant.

Exhibit 11: History of Darwinism and Fundamentalism

Reaction to the phil. aspect of evolution which was a proper reaction because evolution was a religion.

"Darwinism anti-Semitic" with overreaction to religious evolution, fundamentalists threw out scientific evolution.

Humanistic evolution: humanist manifesto

Early fundamentalists were willing to accommodate biological evolution, but later fundamentalists were narrow, militant, bigoted, anti-intellectualism.

Act 590 reflects earlier fundamentalism rathan later-fundamentalism. "If this reflects later fundamentalism, they repented"

Act 590 & Genesis: model's origin? Probably from the book of Genesis but this is not significant because it is the justifiability that matters - source of a theory doesn't matter.

Other examples of scientific theories denied from Bible - (Hittite civilization, Benzene molecule, etc.) 




It is perfectly legitimate to derive a scientific model from a religious source.

Cross by T. Siano:

Q. In Geisler's taxonomy of transcendence, which is God in the active sense?

A. Theistic is one but not the only one. others: pantheistic deistic, eschatological God.

Q. Is theistic God the "God of the Bible"?

A. Yes, in other religions. Not all theistic concepts of God are the "God of the Bible"

Q. What is macro evolution?

A. Not an expert, "large" jumps.

Q. That's right. Now is there any other characteristic of -- of macro-evolution or anything else other than evolution between various kinds of animal life?


A. Well, as I understand macro-evolution, it is the belief that all living forms are the result of a process of development from previous animal life. And that this is ultimately derivable from non-living things. go that you move from a process from non-living things to l1ving things through the whole phylogenetic tree up to all the existing families, and genera, and species that we have today.

Q. Is theistic evol. a macro evol. model?

A. Macro leaps from original creator - yes but not original creation. - no.

Q. Does "evolution-science" in Act 590, 4 B foreclose existence of God?

A. No, not theistic ev. model.

Does 4 (B) - permit one teaching of theistic evol. "ev-sc" as a theory of macro evol. Eliminates God, theory does not lead to God. See some things that directly imply the nonexistence of God.

Q. So theistic evolution permits the existence of a god in the context of what you define as macro-evolution?

A. Yeah




Q. Would theistic evolution, in your view, come within this description in 4(b) in this statute?

A. Uh-huh

Q. It would?

A. Uh-huh, because -- let me look at it again. I don't see anything in there with respect -- I don't see anything in there with respect to the existence of God directly implied or directly negated. I would have to look at it more closely. Let me look at it. The only thing that would be problematic is .4, the emergence of man. It all depends on how you define man. If you define man there just in a biological sense -- if you define man in a theological sense as having a soul and that was created then that would be subsequent. Other than that, I don't see anything in there that rules out a theistic model, which is part of the good feature. See, the teaching of the theistic evolutionary model either, right along with the other models.

Questions re Morris, Gish, and Wysong as "authorities in "creation science"

    Geisler doesn't think Morris is "the best" writer in creation-science, judging by his book, The Scientific Case For Creation. Geisler has not read Scientific Creationism.

    Geisler disagrees with Preface to scientific case re "recent, supernatural creation of the universe and all its basic components by a transcendent creator" because

    Geisler has not read Gish, Evolution: The Fossils Say No!, and can only give a non-scientist's opinion.

    He considers Wysong's book an "excellent comparison'' of the creation and evolution models, but is not sure if Wysong is an "authority". Siano reads from p. 88 of Geisler's deposition, where Geisler called Wysong an "excellent book". Siano read p. 7 from Wysong re "many drawing connection between evolution and fascism, Hitler, etc. Geisler agrees that "many have drawn". These conclusions re p. 10 about religion having great power, Geisler 

He doesn't know context of passages.

Biblical inerrancy

Geisler believes, as have Christian until modern times, that "everything the Bible says is true, is true." Re "strict factual inerrancy," Siano reads from deposition, p. 118, where Geisler uses the term "strict factual inerrancy". 





Geisler believes that Satan exists, and that his purpose is to "destroy and distort the program of God in the world." 

Siano takes Geisler through deposition testimony, pp. 133-137, re Satan, demon possession, and UFOs. Geisler describes his position that the Bible is true, and the Bible says Satan exists and certain things can happen in the world, and therefore Geisler looks at the world with a view to seeing these things the Bible describes. 

Re UFOs, p. 137 is read: "I believe that they are part of a mass deception attempt, that they are a means by which Satan deceives because he is a deceiver and he is trying to deceive people. He did it from the beginning in the Garden of Eden, and he has been doing it now through the years. And this is one of the ways that he is deceiving people."

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