Continued from Robert Gentry’s Creation’s Tiny Mystery (2003)
The Arkansas Trial: A Difficult Decision
On the morning of October 27, 1981, a long-time friend called to inform me that he had been asked to testify as an expert witness at the forthcoming Arkansas creation trial. He mistakenly thought an invitation had already been extended for me to testify as well. Upon learning this was not the case, he informed the Arkansas Attorney General’s office of my work. Later that same day I received a telephone call from the Attorney General’s office requesting me to provide them with reprints and other pertinent data relative to my findings. A few days later the Deputy Attorney General asked me to testify for the State as an expert witness for creation science.
I knew that my involvement in the trial could eliminate any hope of continuing at the Laboratory. If my testimony at the trial were misrepresented in print, it would almost certainly jeopardize my research at ORNL. In September 1981, a few months before the trial, a prominent evolutionist had also called and urged me in a cordial way not to risk incurring the ill will of the scientific community by testifying for the State. He suggested that my reputation as a scientist would undoubtedly suffer if I did, and I was inclined to agree with him. Until I received the October call, it seemed that my presence at the trial would be a needless risk.
Several factors led me to change my mind about testifying for the State. They have all come into much sharper focus since the trial, as will be seen in the remainder of this chapter. First of all, it was and still is difficult for me to follow the logic and consistency of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in their opposition to Act 590. They claimed that this Act, in requiring balanced treatment of evolution and creation science, constituted the establishment of religion, thus violating the First Amendment. And yet witnesses at court trials swear by God to tell the truth, and the courts themselves are opened with a reference to God. Also, both branches of the U.S. Congress are often begun with reference to the God of the Judeo-Christian ethic. A striking example of this practice was given in the opening prayer for the House of Representatives on April 29, 1982:
The Reverend Ray A. Howe, First Presbyterian Church, Bennetsville, S.C., offered the following prayer:
O Creator God, who created the world and all that inhabit it, we thank You we can so readily see the beauty of Your work. We thank You for all intimations of Your beauty and being in the world of nature and for those pointers of Your being in the lives of Your people. We lift our voices in gratitude for these Halls of free debate, where our leaders can reason [p. 94] together and chart our course. Endow them with a perception of things that endure. May their energies go always to making our land one where freedom and justice find noble expression. May their efforts here for our Nation make noble the idea that their service to people is a high and sacred calling. Amen. (Howe 1982)
This explicit reference to the Creator is recorded in the Congressional Record. It is available to all Americans, including public school students studying American government. Thus far, such reference to the Creator has always been deemed consistent with the First Amendment and the academic freedom granted to both student and teacher. And if public schools may refer to the Creator in the context of an American history class, on what basis is it wrong for them to refer to scientific evidences of creation in a science class?
Just as relevant to this issue is the Declaration of Independence itself:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
Every state in the union uses these words to inform public school children of the Creator. Why, then, would it be illegal for the states to inform the same students of the scientific evidences of creation?
Repression in the Classroom
I thought about my earlier encounters in the university classroom. There is evidence which suggests that it may be worse now for religiously oriented university students than it was in my day. To illustrate, I refer to a letter published in the October 1982 issue of Physics Today,the national news magazine of the American Institute of Physics. This letter was written by an accomplished physicist who is not a creationist. It should open the eyes of everyone who advocates basic human rights and academic freedom for those who hold minority views:
After reading a spate of virulently anti-creationist articles and letters in your publication, I decided that something less virulent and more thoughtful should be said.
As we might all easily agree, it isn’t very scientific to make assumptions dogmatically and then accept only evidence in favor of these assumptions. It is the practice of this precept that separates the unbelievers from the believers, sheep from goats, and so forth. Most of us, history says, [p. 95] will test as goats. Therefore, a word of caution: How much do we actually know (other than that it has something to do with someone’s religion) about this set of ideas we are calling “creationism”? I shall confess that I know next to nothing. Will any of the noisemakers out there also confess?
I do know what we do not know about creation: almost everything. Science, like religion, is not a physical thing itself, but a non-material set of ideas. It is an ideology and is not exempt from the scrutiny to which we subject other ideologies. Science, if it is to progress, must be fed the fuel of inspired thinking—brainstorming, if you will. Religion has generally been the repository of things we felt must be true, in some sense knew were true because we existed ourselves, but which we could not demonstrate rationally or understand. Sometimes the inspiration that sparks great scientific progress has been religious. Other times a dogmatically held religious concept has stifled the development of the very inspiration that it may have been meant to provide. The point is that we have never been very good judges of this and, as scientists living in an age that has history books telling of both atheistic Nazis who purported to worship science, and Spanish Inquisitors, who purported to be doing God’s will, that we be a bit more humble and lower our voices.
We have several things to gain by lowering our voices. One is the possibility that paying attention to some radically different ideas, however wacky, may suggest to us an insight into science that we do not expect. For instance, we do not have a thoroughly rational, tested hypothesis about the origin of our species. Indeed, we haven’t even been able to agree upon a biological classification system for primates. Somewhere buried in the creationist arguments may be the right question, one that we have been ignoring because it wasn’t proper to consider it! The second thing we have to gain is our decency and humanity. I have myself sat in class after class in the sciences and humanities in which any idea remotely religious was belittled, attacked, and shouted down in the most unscientific and emotionally cruel way. I have seen young students raised according to fundamentalist doctrine treated like loathsome alley cats, emotionally torn apart, and I never thought that this sort of treatment was any better than the treatment that religious prelates, who held authority, gave Galileo. Why scream about the inhumanity of nuclear war if you are also willing to force people of fundamentalist faiths to attend public schools in which their most cherished beliefs will be systematically held up to ridicule and the young children with it? These people are mostly too poor for private schools to be an alternative. The state tries to prevent them from teaching their children at home rather than sending them to school. What choices do they have? Would you call it freedom? Do you call it fair?
Is it really a terrible thing for a textbook to mention that, aside from the Darwin theory of evolution, there have existed other ideas, many of them religious in nature? Would that not open the mind of students rather than close them to scientific possibilities? Wouldn’t it make the fundamentalist student feel a little more welcome and better equip him to take an unbiased view of evolution?
Well now, I’ve asked a lot of questions and I do not know the answers. I would far prefer to hear physicists discussing such questions than loudly attacking straw men and expressing a Chicken Little attitude that the educational sky is falling because a few creationists want to be heard. (Lane 1982, 15—italics mine)
Repressive treatment of religious students would not be surprising under a totalitarian, atheistic regime. But most readers of this book may be surprised to learn that this kind of religious persecution exists here in America. This letter reveals a side of the story which the ACLU did not tell at the Arkansas trial. The ACLU’s opposition to Act 590 was a direct attempt to preserve the exclusive teaching of evolution in public schools. This letter reveals, however, some of the abuses of this arrangement: students who express doubts about the “facts” of evolution are under a potential threat of retribution just for asking questions. This is not academic freedom for all the students. Real academic freedom should provide opportunity for the whole truth about creation and evolution to be made known to the students.
This belief, based on my earlier university experiences, became an increasingly strong motivation for me to testify at the trial. A number of well-qualified scientists had already accepted the State’s invitation to testify for creation science. Possibly I could assist in their efforts to have the evidences for creation examined more objectively.
Evolution Promoted As Fact
Confirmed evolutionists who have used repressive measures during their teaching careers may have thought they acted in the best interests of science. Perhaps they felt it was their duty to limit inquiries about creation in order to save society from harm. Readers may wonder how many evolutionists really believe that their theory is beyond question: apparently, quite a few.
Reference has already been made in the previous chapter to the strident anti-creation remarks of Dr. Rolf Sinclair at the January 1981 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting. Similar views were also expressed at the same AAAS meeting by another eminent evolutionist, Dr. Porter Kier. The following quote taken from Science News shows that Kier’s confidence in the certainty of evolution equals that of Dr. Sinclair:
Discussing the evidence for evolution, Smithsonian Institution scientist Porter M. Kier, former director of the National Museum of Natural History, said there are 100 million facts which support evolution. “In the museums of the world”, he says “there are over 100 million fossils that have been identified and age-dated. These fossils have been examined by many thousands of paleontologists and from their investigations we have learned a vast amount about the history of life on the earth.” Despite this evidence, Kier admits, “there are many well-educated people still questioning evolution. Part of the problem may be that evolution has been described as the ‘theory’ of evolution, which gives an erroneous impression—that scientists themselves don’t accept evolution as accepted.” The word “theory,” he says, has done a great deal of damage and should be dropped and the word evolution should stand alone. “Scientists may argue over the details of evolution,” he says, “but they agree that evolution is a fact and should be so labeled.” (Science News 1981, 19)
Nor were Drs. Sinclair and Kier alone in expressing their complete confidence in evolution. As the Arkansas trial drew near, the American Geological Institute, which is comprised of 18 geology-related societies with over 120,000 members, issued the following release:
Scientific evidence indicates beyond any doubt that life has existed on Earth for billions of years. This life has evolved through time producing vast numbers of species of plants and animals, most of which are extinct. Although scientists debate the mechanism that produced this change, the evidence for the change is undeniable. Therefore, in the teaching of science we oppose any position that ignores this scientific reality, or that gives equal time to interpretations based on religious beliefs only. (American Geological Institute 1981)
Readers may decide for themselves whether the dogmatism expressed in the above statement encourages the kind of intimidation of students referred to in the letter published in Physics Today. And they should also reflect on the impact this timely resolution may have had on some of the media representatives assigned to cover the Arkansas trial.
Countdown to the Arkansas Trial
This chapter has recounted a few of the incidents where evolutionists had denied the existence of evidence for creation. It seemed that the only way to settle the issue was to go to the trial. My presence there would guarantee that my work would be scrutinized by the best evolutionist scientists. If errors existed, these would be exposed.
Most importantly, the trial should reveal why there had been no response from the scientific community to the critical falsification test which I had proposed in EOS in 1979 and again in 1980. As discussion in Chapter 5 showed, the test was simple. According to the evolutionary scenario, the Precambrian granites had supposedly cooled from a hot magma during a multibillion-year evolution of the earth. If granites had really formed in this fashion, then it should be possible to duplicate the process today; that is, it should be possible to synthesize a hand- sized piece of granite from a hot melt prepared under laboratory conditions. Likewise it should be possible to produce a polonium halo in that piece of synthesized granite. If these experiments were successful, I would withdraw my claims that the Precambrian granites are created rocks and that polonium halos represent primordial radioactivity. The crucial question was whether my colleagues had been able to perform those experiments.
It was time for this issue to be resolved. Scientists had repeatedly claimed no credible evidence for creation existed. At the trial they would have an opportunity to prove that claim by refuting my published evidences for creation. If polonium halos in Precambrian granites were not evidence for creation, then I wanted all my scientific colleagues to know this as soon as possible. Likewise, if my results could not be refuted, I knew this would be of compelling interest to the millions of individuals who are ardently seeking to know the truth about the Genesis record of creation. For these reasons I accepted the invitation from the Attorney General’s office to testify. It was one of the most challenging decisions of my life. It is also one I have not regretted.
The Arkansas trial began on a cold Monday morning in December 1981 at the Federal District Court in Little Rock. Judge William Overton presided over the trial where there were more than 200 spectators—including 60 magazine, newspaper, and TV personnel registered as members of the media. They included such metropolitan newspapers as the New York Times, Washington Post, the Times of London, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Kansas City Times, Detroit News, Milwaukee Journal, and Memphis Press Scimiter; magazines like Time, U.S. News and World Report, Harper’s, Nature, Science 81, Science News, Discover, and Science; the AP and UPI news services; and of course the national TV networks NBC, CBS, ABC, and PBS, and even the BBC (British Broadcasting Company).
The expert witnesses for evolution gave their testimonies during the first week of the trial. They came out with “guns blazing,” a procedure which decidedly reinforced the psychological advantage they already held. The ACLU witnesses had been well coached to make evolution appear invincible. The excellent preparation of these witnesses reflected the efforts of a large, competent ACLU legal contingent. That contingent consisted of two local attorneys, two New York ACLU lawyers, and two more from one of New York’s most prestigious law firms, Scadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, and Flom. In addition, many other lawyers and paralegals from Scadden and Arps backed up the ACLU. Altogether, the ACLU had over 50 lawyers and paralegals working on the case.
In contrast, the Arkansas Attorney General’s office could only commit three of its attorneys to the case. This placed the State’s case at a disadvantage even before the trial began. To counter the perception that evolution was incontrovertible required that the State strongly confront the expert [p. 100] evolutionist witnesses during their cross-examinations and, just as importantly, be prepared to expose any flaws which might be uncovered. It was impossible for the few State attorneys to completely prepare for the cross-examinations and to also adequately rehearse their own witnesses for direct testimony. They had no choice but to concentrate on the latter; nevertheless, the cross-examinations of the ACLU witnesses were conducted proficiently. On several occasions the State attorneys actually exposed some of the fatal weaknesses in the ACLU case; but this seemed to have little impact on the judge. In fact, in one instance the State was actually thwarted from exploiting a critical weakness in the ACLU case by the judge himself.
The ACLU's Plan for the Treatment of Origins
From my viewpoint as a former evolutionist, it was quite revealing to see how the ACLU treated the subject of origins. In my university courses the theory of evolution encompassed the spontaneous origin of life as well as its diversification. But at the trial the ACLU sought to present the question of origins as something apart from evolution. One of their witnesses, Dr. Francisco J. Ayala, a geneticist from the University of California at Davis, reportedly maintained that even though life had arisen from nonlife by natural laws, this occurrence wasnot a part of evolution. (Ayala’s exact words are not quoted here because his testimony had not been transcribed as of this writing in the spring of 1986. However, his testimony is summarized in Norman Geisler’s book, The Creator and the Courtroom (Geisler 1982, 82-84)). There were good reasons why the ACLU wished to avoid directly linking evolution with the spontaneous origin of life.
After decades of research the ACLU knew that evolutionists had been unsuccessful in their attempts to produce life from inert material. But obviously they did not want the State to focus on this glaring failure as evidence that one of the basic tenets of evolution was wrong. On the other hand, the ACLU had to maintain that life could be formed naturalistically; otherwise they would have to consider the possibility of a sudden creation of life, which Act 590 ascribed to creation science. I watched with interest as the ACLU unfolded their strategy to divert attention away from this issue.
Direct Examination of the ACLU Witness for Biophysics
That strategy was unveiled in the direct examination of their expert witness for biophysics, Dr. Harold Morowitz, from Yale University. ACLU Attorney [p. 101] Jack Novik’s examination of Morowitz began with the usual legal formalities and then focused almost immediately on how Act 590 depicted the origin of life from the creation science perspective. According to the official transcript of the trial (Smith 1982a), some of the exchanges between Novik and Morowitz on this topic were as follows (all quotes from the transcripts follow the original wording except where indicated in brackets):
|Q||Doctor Morowitz, let me show you a copy of Act 590 marked, I believe, Exhibit 29 in these proceedings. Had you read this Act before?|
|A||Yes, I have.|
|Q||Would you look at Section 4 of this statute, particularly Section 4 (a), purporting to define creation science. Do you see any reference in that section to the origin of life?|
|A||4 (a) (1) refers to sudden creation of life from nothing.|
|Q||And is “sudden creation” a term that has scientific meaning to you?|
|A||No. To my knowledge it is not a term in scientific literature or in general use in the scientific community.|
|Q||Do you know the meaning of the words “sudden creation”?|
|A||“Sudden creation” assumes a creator, and, as such, implies the supranatural explanation, and, therefore, lies outside the bounds of normal science. [Smith 1982a, p. 495, l. 20, to p. 496, l. 13]|
Having presumably established that “sudden creation” is excluded from conventional science because it requires “a creator,” Novik subsequently asked:
|Q||Does the theory of evolution as used by scientists include the study of the origins of life?|
|A||Normally that’s treated as a separate subject in a technical sense. [Smith 1982a, p. 498, ll. 17-20]|
Ordinarily Morowitz’s response would have kept the lid on the origin-of-life matter. Yet the ACLU still had to maintain acceptability for the naturalistic origin of life in order to preserve the image that evolutionists have the truth about origins. Thus Novik found it necessary to return to the question of the origin of life on two separate occasions in his later direct examination of Morowitz.
|Q||Doctor Morowitz, do you know how life was first formed on this planet?|
|A||We do not know in any precise way how life was formed. However, it is a very active field of research. There are a number of studies going on, and we are developing and continuing to develop within science a body of knowledge that is beginning to provide some enlightenment on this issue. [Smith 1982a, p. 499, l. 24, to p. 500, l. 6]|
|Q||Do you know how life was formed precisely?|
|A||Again, not in precise detail, although as I pointed out, it is an active area of scientific research, and at the moment one, as an enthusiastic scientist always feels, that we are getting close. [Smith 1982a, p. 509, ll. 11-15]|
The ACLU and the Origin of Life: A Narrow Escape
Morowitz’s bold claim about getting close to knowing how life formed provided State Attorney Callis Childs with a unique opportunity to probe the weaknesses in the ACLU position on the origin of life. As the following exchanges show, Attorney Childs’ incisive cross-examination of Morowitz came within inches of exposing the flaw in the ACLU strategy on this matter.
|Q||Are you familiar with the work of a fellow named Miller?|
|Q||I believe so, yes, sir.|
|A||There are a lot of people named Miller.|
|Q||Are there any Millers other than Stanley Miller that would be working in your particular area of endeavor?|
|A||Not that I’m aware of.|
|Q||Did Mr. Miller, or let’s say Doctor Miller, did Doctor Miller come up with anything unusual in the 1950’s in his research?|
|Q||What did he come up with?|
|A||In Miller’s experiments, he took a system of methane, ammonia and water, and in a closed system he provided energy through an electrical, high frequency electrical spark discharge, and he demonstrated the synthesis of amino acids, carbocyclic [sic, carboxylic] acids, and other prebiotic intermediates.|
|Q||Who was the previous historian, excuse me, the previous scientist in history who dealt with that same subject matter on a significant basis?|
|A||The origin of life?|
|A||Prior to the Miller experiment, I would say that the leading name in that field was A. I. O’Parin [sic, Oparin].|
|Q||And prior to that?|
|A||Prior to that, in a sense, the field didn’t really exist.|
|Q||Why was that?|
|A||Because people believed through the 1800’s that life arose spontaneously all the time; that maggots arose and became meat [sic], and mice old piles of rags [sic], and so forth and so on. And as long as people [p. 103] believed that, there was no need to have a theory of the origin of life.|
|Q||Who put that theory to rest?|
|Q||And what were Doctor Pasteur’s experiments?|
|A||Basically his final experiments that were most persuasive in this field consisted of flasks of sterile medium to which no organisms were admitted, and these flasks remained sterile for long periods of time.|
|A||Meaning no growth of living organisms occurred in them.|
|Q||What work has been done since Stanley Miller’s work in the area of generating life in the laboratory?|
|A||Well, there have been some several thousand experiments on the, of the type done by Miller, follow-up experiments, where various energy sources have been flowed [sic, have flowed]; there have been the flow of various kinds of energy through systems of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen, and there has been a study of the kinds of molecules that are produced in such energy flow systems. These experiments universally show that the flow of energy through a system orders it in a molecular sense.|
|Q||Has anybody created life by the flow of energy?|
|A||Have any of those experiments resulted in the synthesis of a living cell? Is that the question?|
|A||No. Not to my knowledge, anyway.|
|Q||Would you say that this area has received intensive scientific scrutiny in the scientific community?|
|Q||Do you have any explanation of why you have not been able to synthesize life in the laboratory?|
|A||It’s an extremely difficult problem.|
|Q||What is the difficult—|
|A||I would point out to you that we have put far more money into trying to cure cancer, and that is still an unsolved problem, also. We have put far more time, money, effort and human endeavor into that problem, and that is also an unsolved problem because it is a very difficult problem.|
|Q||What is the information you need to accomplish that?|
|A||To accomplish the synthesis of a living cell?|
|A||Two kinds of information. One is the detailed understanding of the chemical structure of the small molecules, micro molecules, organelles and other structures that make up a living cell. And secondly, one has [p. 104] to know the kinetic processes by which those structures came about in prebiotic systems.|
|Q||In perusing some of the literature that you’ve written last night, I came up with an article which would seem to indicate that [you] sincerely believe that given enough time and research, that you or scientists like you can ultimately go back to the ultimate combinations of atoms which led to the formation of molecules.|
|A||That is not a question.|
|Q||Do you recall an article to that effect?|
|A||Well, you said “we can go back to that” and then there should be an ‘and’ clause, ‘and do some things’.|
|Q||Do you believe that you can go back and ultimately understand how atoms combined to form molecules?|
|A||That is a branch of chemistry. That is rather well understood.|
|Q||Well, I’m talking about the first molecules on the surface of the earth. Do you understand my question?|
|A||No, I don’t.|
|MR. CHILDS: May I approach the witness, your Honor?|
|THE COURT: Yes.|
|Q||The article that I have is Biology as a Cosmeological [sic, Cosmological] Science, reprinted from Main Currents and Modern Thought, volume 28, number 5, May through June, 1972.
Page 50 to, well, the page number I have on this is 615186. The first column is in brackets. I’d like you to read that paragraph, please.
|A||“If we are able to obtain the kind of theory of self-order, this kind of theory of self-ordering should challenge us to apply the most profound insights we can muster to link biology to non-equilibrium physical chemistry.”
“The job seems very formidable indeed, but the rewards could be very great; the ability to seek out our origins in terms of a law that would promulgate our action. This is truly a new frontier, and one that challenges the maximum intellectual effort of which we are all capable.”
|Q||Do I understand this paragraph to mean that you believe that you and scientists from the scientific community can explain the origins of man in terms of the laws of atomic interaction?|
|A||I believe that the origin of life can be explained in terms of the laws of atomic interactions. [Smith 1982a, p. 585, l. 25, to p. 590, l. 25]|
|Q||Is your theory that—Let me start over. Do you know how life formed on the surface of the earth?|
|A||I have a theory of how life formed on the surface of the earth.|
|Q||Have you been able to take that theory and create life in the laboratory?|
|A||No. [Smith 1982a, p. 600, l. 20, to p. 601, l. 1]|
It is most revealing to compare Morowitz’s responses in his direct testimony with those given under cross-examination. Note that when ACLU Attorney Novik asked, “Do you know how life was formed, precisely?” Morowitz testified optimistically, “Not in precise detail . . .” but “that we are getting close.” However, during Attorney Childs’ relentless probing of this matter, a different picture emerges. When Childs asked if Morowitz knew how life had formed on the earth’s surface, he responded only that he had a theory. And when asked whether he had been able to use that theory and create life in the laboratory, Morowitz was forced to answer, “No.” (Remember that Childs had earlier gotten Morowitz to admit that thousands of experiments designed to produce life had failed.)
The Judge Rescues the ACLU
Morowitz’s responses had established that leading evolutionists have only theories about how life began and, most importantly, that none of them work. Apparently Attorney Childs sensed that he had pinpointed a flaw in the ACLU case, for his next question to Morowitz was designed to refocus and exploit what he had just uncovered. Interestingly, Judge Overton was not about to let Childs probe this defect any further, as will be seen by the trial transcript:
|Q||Let me repeat my question. Do you know how life evolved on the surface of the earth?|
|THE COURT: He just answered that.|
|MR. CHILDS: I think he said he had a theory.|
|THE COURT: I think that is the answer. I think he has a theory. He doesn’t know for a fact.|
|MR. CHILDS: I think there has been a blurring in the distinction between a theory and a fact in this lawsuit, and that is the point I am attempting to make, your Honor.|
|THE COURT: I don’t know how it’s blurred, but it doesn’t seem to me like that answer blurred it.|
|MR. CHILDS: I will move on, your Honor. [Smith 1982a, p. 601, ll. 2-14].|
Thus, whatever climax Childs might have achieved in this phase of his cross-examination was effectively short-circuited by Judge Overton’ s timely intervention in behalf of this ACLU witness. This was one of the critical points in the trial, generally unnoticed by media representatives.
So the ACLU escaped from having one of the major defects in their case exposed; namely, the numerous failures to synthesize life constitute prima facie evidence that the uniformitarian principle is not now, nor ever has been, a sufficient basis for life to form. If it was, evolutionists long ago should have been able to reconstruct by design that which nature constructed only by chance. Evolutionists continue to fail in synthesizing life from inert matter because they are attempting the impossible—the duplication of a process that lies solely in the hands of the Creator.
The ACLU: No Science but Evolution
Morowitz’s cross-examination had established that belief in a naturalistic origin of life, as required by evolution, has no scientific basis. To divert attention away from this truth, the ACLU used the clever strategy of depicting creation science as being unscientific. Generally the ACLU was able to have most of its expert witnesses (Geisler 1982, 92-99) affirm that creation science is not scientific without being challenged in their cross- examinations. This was one of the State’s most costly shortcomings. In one instance, though, the State did expose just how far some evolutionists are willing to go in their opposition to creation. This occurred during Attorney General Steve Clark’s cross-examination of the ACLU’s biology witness, Dr. William V. Mayer, from the University of Colorado. Quoting Geisler (this part of Mayer’s transcript was not available), in his direct examination this witness had earlier
objected to the term “evolution science” in Act 590 on the basis that it implied that there was such a thing as a science which was non-evolutionary, which he said is not true. (Geisler 1982, 99)
This statement effectively mandates that only evolution can be viewed as science. During cross-examination Attorney Clark inquired about this statement. Clark asked Mayer if he had said it “may well be that creationism is correct about origins.” To this Mayer agreed, and added that he also had said “even if it were correct, it’s not scientific.” (Geisler 1982, 102)
This was a revelation. Over twenty-five years earlier I had accepted evolution based on what seemed to be scientific evidence in its favor. At that time I assumed all scientists were searching for the truth, always ready to modify their position if contrary evidence were found. Indeed, my quest for truth was initiated with the hope that evolutionists would fairly evaluate new data even if the outcome conflicted with the status quo, hence my long [p. 107] arduous efforts to inform them of my results in scientific journals. But it is difficult to see how Mayer’s view represents an unbiased search for truth. Rather it seems specially geared to preserve the status quo of evolution regardless of how much evidence is discovered for creation.
This was another critical point of the trial—a point where the State could have decimated one of the foundations of the ACLU case. The ACLU had portrayed evolutionists as those dedicated to an open-minded search for truth in science, whereas creation scientists were represented as those who abuse science. But Mayer’s responses exploded this myth. If, according to Mayer, there is no science but evolution, then searching for truth in science means that only those evidences in agreement with evolutionary theory will be accepted as scientific. I believe Attorney General Clark should have focused strongly on this issue during his cross-examination of Mayer.
The Age of the Earth: Testimony of the ACLU Geology Witness
The age of the earth was a key issue in the Arkansas trial. The general theory of evolution encompasses both the multibillion-year geological evolution of the earth as well as a multimillion-year evolution of life on the earth. In order to win their case, it was imperative for the ACLU to find a witness who would strongly promote an ancient age of the earth consistent with geological evolution.
To accomplish this task the ACLU called a scientist whom I personally admire very much, one who is considered an eminent authority in the field of radiometric dating, Dr. G. Brent Dalrymple. At the time of the trial Dalrymple held the position of Assistant Chief Geologist of the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California. Not surprisingly, Dalrymple testified that the earth is billions of years old, contrary to the generally accepted creation-science position that the age of the earth is less than 10,000 years. He also stated that, on this point, creation science could be falsified and, in fact, had been falsified many times over the last several decades by many different tests.
As indicated in the previous chapter, the popular legacy of the Scopes trial was that true scientists believe in evolution. At every opportunity the ACLU waged a clever psychological war to capitalize on this perception. The following excerpts from the official trial transcript of ACLU Attorney Bruce Ennis’ direct examination of Dalrymple illustrate this point quite effectively regarding the age of the earth:
|Q||Are you familiar with the creation science literature concerning the age of the earth?|
|A||Yes, I am. I have read perhaps two dozen books and articles either in whole or in part. They consistently assert that the earth is somewhere between six and about twenty thousand years, with most of the literature saying that the earth is less than ten thousand years old.|
|Q||Are you aware of any scientific evidence to indicate that the earth is no more than ten thousand years old?|
|A||None whatsoever. In over twenty years of research and reading of scientific literature, I have never encountered any such evidence.|
|Q||Are you aware of any scientific evidence to indicate that earth is no more than ten million years old?|
|THE COURT: Wait a second. What is it that the creation scientists say is the age of the earth?|
|A||They make a variety of estimates. They range between about six and about twenty thousand years, from what I’ve read. Most of them assert rather persistently that the earth is less than ten thousand years. Beyond that they are not terribly specific.|
|Q||Are you aware of any scientific evidence to indicate the earth is no more than ten million years old?|
|Q||Are you aware of any scientific evidence to indicate a relatively young earth or a relatively recent inception of the earth?|
|Q||If you were required to teach the scientific evidences for a young earth, what would you teach?|
|A||Since there is no evidence for a young earth, I’m afraid the course would be without content. I would have nothing to teach at all.|
|Q||Is the assertion by creation scientists that the earth is relatively young subject to scientific testing?|
|A||Yes, it is. It is one of the few assertions by the creationists that is subject to testing and falsification.|
|Q||Have such tests been conducted?|
|A||Yes. Many times, by many different methods over the last several decades.|
|Q||What do those tests show?|
|A||Those tests consistently show that the concept of a young earth is false; that the earth is billions of years old. In fact, the best figure for the earth is in the nature of four and a half billion years. And I would like to point out that we’re not talking about just the factor of two or small differences. The creationists’ estimates of the age of the earth are off by a factor of about four hundred fifth [sic, fifty] thousand.|
|Q||In your professional opinion, are [sic, have] the creation scientists’ assertions of a young earth been falsified?|
|A||Absolutely. I’d put them in the same category as the flat earth hypothesis and the hypothesis that the sun goes around the earth. I think those are all absurd, completely disproven hypotheses.|
|Q||In your professional opinion, in light of all of the scientific evidence, is the continued assertion by creation scientists that the earth is relatively young consistent with the scientific method?|
|A||No, it is not consistent with the scientific method to hold onto a hypothesis that has been completely disproven to the extent that it is now absurd. [Smith 1982b, p. 409, l. 6 to p. 411, l. 19]|
I agree that theories which have been shown to be false should be discarded—that is one of the main themes of this book. But is Dalrymple correct in claiming those tests disprove or falsify a young age of the earth? As we shall soon see, Dalrymple’s cross-examination showed that the tests he cited to justify this conclusion all assume constant radioactive decay rates. This assumption is actually just a part of the uniformitarian principle—the glue that holds the evolutionary mosaic together—mentioned many times earlier in this book.
Dalrymple’s claim of certainty about the earth being four and a half billion years old coupled with his scathing comments about a young age of the earth were exactly what the ACLU wanted Judge Overton to hear. Certainly Ennis knew beforehand that Dalrymple planned to psychologically attack the young-earth view by linking it with the flat-earth hypothesis. Would the ACLU ever have allowed Dalrymple to draw this invidious comparison unless they strongly suspected that Judge Overton had already been primed in favor of evolution?
Ennis then turned his direct examination to questions concerning various types of dating techniques. The excerpts from the transcript, shown below, are some of those linking radiometric dating and the age of the earth.
|Q||How do geochronologists test for the age of the earth?|
|A||We use what are called the radiometric dating techniques. [Smith 1982b, p. 411, ll. 20-23]|
|Q||Why did geochronologists rely upon radiometric dating techniques rather than other techniques?|
|A||Because radioactivity is the only process that we know of that’s been constant through time for billions of years.|
|Q||Is radioactive decay affected by external factors?|
|A||No, radioactive decay is not affected by external factors. That’s one reason we think it’s been constant for a long time. [Smith 1982b, p. 413, l. 24, to p. 414, l. 6]|
|Q||Have any tests ever shown any change in the decay rates of any of the particular isotopes geochronologists use in radiometric dating?|
|A||None. They’ve always been found to be constant.|
|Q||Are changes in decay rates of various isotopes at least theoretically possible? [Smith 1982b, p. 416, ll. 7-12]|
|A||. . . There have never been any changes affecting any of the decays being used for radioactive dating. [Smith 1982b, p. 417, ll. 13-14]|
Note here that my respected colleague asserts that radioactivity is the only process known to be constant for billions of years and then affirms this assertion by saying there have neverbeen any changes in the decay rates of the isotopes used in radioactive dating. There is no question that his absolutist remarks were crucially needed by the ACLU to bolster their case for an eons-long evolutionary development of the earth. But the truth is that Dalrymple was not around during the period when he claims to have certain knowledge of radioactive decay rates. As we shall see in the next chapter, his great assurance about this matter is, in fact, nothing more than what evolution assumes to be true. This was brought out clearly in Deputy Attorney General David Williams’ cross-examination of Dalrymple. And it is in this cross-examination that the topic of radioactive halos comes to the fore.
Regardless of how fervently the ACLU expert biology witnesses might propound the merits of biological evolution, the ACLU well knew that neither the geological evolution of the earth nor the biological evolution of life was even remotely credible without the support of vast amounts of time. So in the last analysis, the cornerstone of the ACLU case rested on establishing the plausibility of an ancient age of the earth. This is why Dalrymple’s testimony about the reliability of radioactive dating was crucial to their intent of overturning Act 590.
The State Challenges Radiometric Dating Techniques
Under cross-examination Dalrymple was asked to affirm his confidence in uniform radioactive decay for increasingly greater times in the past. Although he expressed belief in a uniform decay process for the past 4.5 billion years, continued cross-examination brought him to admit his uncertainty about this assumption for earlier periods in the history of the universe, saying that his area of expertise did not extend to that time. Quoted below from the official trial transcript are segments of the cross-examination by Deputy Attorney General David Williams:
|Q||Is constancy of the rate of radioactive decay a requirement for radiometric dating?|
|A||Yes. It is required that radiometric dating be based on constant decay rates, at least within limits of significant areas, and what I mean by that is that if the decay rates were to change a percent or two, that would probably not significantly alter any of our major conclusions in geology.|
|Q||To the best of your knowledge, has the rate of radioactive decay always been constant?|
|A||As far as we know from all the evidence we have, it has always been constant. We have no, either empirical or theoretical, reason to believe it is not.|
|Q||So as far as you know, it would have been constant one billion years ago, the same as it is today.|
|A||As far as we know.|
|Q||Five billion years ago?|
|A||As far as we know.|
|Q||Ten billion years ago?|
|A||As far as we know.|
|A||I don’t know how far back you want to take this, but I think for the purposes of geology and the age of the solar system, we are only interested in using radiometric dating on objects we can possess in our hand, so we only need to take that back about four and a half or five billion years.
I think whether it’s been constant fifteen billion years is irrelevant. We have no way of getting samples that old. We can only sample things that have been in the solar system. [Smith 1982b, p. 449, l. 8 to p. 450, l. 13]
Notice the change in Dalrymple’s position on the constancy of the decay rate. In his direct testimony he claimed to know that radioactive decay rates had been constant without any time qualification whatsoever. Likewise during the initial part of his cross-examination, he affirmed they had been constant at least ten billion years. However, at the fifteen-billion-year mark he apparently senses that Williams is approaching the presumed time of the Big Bang. He then begins to backtrack and suddenly reveals that “we only need” them to be constant for the last four and a half billion years. In other words, at this point in the cross-examination, it appears that the requirement, or “need,” to establish credibility of the evolutionary model determines how far back in time evolutionists are willing to affirm constant decay rates.
Williams must have realized this was a startling revelation, for he continued pressing Dalrymple to find out more about the decay rates and, in addition, to probe just what evidence he had for their constancy over the last several billion years.
|Q||How old is the solar system, to the best of your knowledge?|
|A||As far as we know, it is four and a half billion years old.|
|Q||The solar system itself?|
|A||The solar system itself. Now, when we talk about the age of something like the solar system, you have to understand that there was a finite period of time over which that system formed, and we may be talking about a period of a few hundred years, so it is not a precise point in time, but some interval. But compared with the age of the solar system, it is thought that that interval was probably rather short—a few percent.|
|Q||Are you aware of when those scientists hypothesized or when the so-called big bang occurred, how many years ago?|
|A||No, I am not sure exactly when that was supposed—|
|Q||Would the rate of radioactive decay have been constant at the time of the big bang?|
|A||I am not an astrophysicist. I don’t know the conditions that existed in the so-called primordial bowl of soup, and so I am afraid I can’t answer your question.|
|Q||So you don’t have any opinion as to whether it was constant then?|
|A||That’s out of my field of expertise. I can’t even tell you whether there were atoms in the same sense that we use that term now.|
|Q||But you did state that it had always been constant as far as you knew, but now you state you don’t know about the big bang, whether it was constant then; is that correct?|
|A||Well, what I said, it’s been constant within the limits in which we are interested. For the purposes of radiometric dating it hardly matters whether it was constant at the moment of the big bang. Let me say this—|
|Q||I don’t want to interrupt you.|
|A||That’s all right.|
|Q||You say as far as you are concerned, for the purposes of your concern it has been constant as far as you know, and your purposes go back to the age of the earth for four point five billion years; is that correct?|
|A||Yes, that’s correct.|
|Q||But you base that age of the earth on the assumption or on this requirement that it has always been constant; is that correct?|
|A||That is not entirely—That’s correct, but it is not an assumption. It is not fair to calculate it that way. In a certain sense it is an assumption, but that assumption has also been tested.
For example, if you look at the ages of the oldest, least disturbed meteorites, these objects give ages of one point five to four point six billion years. A variety of different radioactive decay schemes, schemes it at [sic, that have?] different half lives. They are based on different elements. They would not give those identical ages if the rate of decay had been [sic, had not been?] constant.
|Q||But do those schemes that you mentioned there rely upon the requirement that the rate of radioactive decay has always been constant as well?|
|A||Yes, they do.|
|Q||So all methods you know would rely upon this, what you termed a requirement and what I termed an assumption; is that correct?|
|A||That is correct.|
|Q||The rate of decay is a statistical process, is it not? I think you testified yesterday to that.|
|A||Basically, it is.|
|Q||Would you agree that any deviation in the rate of decay would have to be accompanied by a change in physical laws?|
|A||As far as we know, any change in decay would have to be accompanied by a change in physical laws, with the exceptions that I mentioned yesterday. There are small changes known in certain kinds of decay, specifically in electron capture, a tenth of a percent.|
|Q||What do you consider the strongest evidence for the constant rate of radioactive decay?|
|A||Well, I don’t think I could give you a single piece of strongest evidence, but I think the sum total of the evidence, if I can simplify it, is that rates of decay have been tested in the laboratory and found to be essentially invarient [sic, invariant].
Theory tells us those rates of decay should be invarient [sic, invariant]. And when we are able to test those rates of decay on undisturbed systems; that is, systems that we have good reason to presume have been closed since their formation clear back to the oldest objects known in the solar system, we find we get consistent results using different decay schemes on isotopes that decay at different rates.
So that is essentially a synopsis of the evidence for constancy of decay. [Smith 1982b, p. 450, l. 14, to p. 454, l. 6]
It is most informative to compare the responses that Dalrymple gave in his direct testimony and cross- examination. The last chapter revealed that in his direct testimony Dalrymple claimed that “tests consistently show . . . that the earth is billions of years old.” When questioned what those tests were, the response was “radiometric dating techniques.” And when asked why “geochronologists rely upon” these techniques, the reply was that “radioactivity is the only process that we know of that has been constant through time for billions of years.”
The above cross-examination reveals, however, that Dalrymple’s confidence in constant decay rates in the distant past rests on his belief that the assumption of constant decay has been tested. For one test he cites the fact that decay rates are observed to be constant at present. Of course this is not a test about events in the past, but simply an observation about the present. His only other test for constant decay rates was that certain samples give consistent results when they are analyzed for different radioactive elements having different decay schemes. Attorney Williams, apparently perceiving there was a flaw in this presumed test, continued to press Dalrymple on this point.
|Q||Did you say— But is it not true that as long— Well, if the rate of decay has varied and as long as the variation would have been uniform, would you still get these consistent results?|
|A||It is possible to propose a set of conditions under which you could get those consistent results.|
|THE COURT: Excuse me. I didn’t understand that.|
| THE WITNESS: I think what he is saying is, is it possible to vary the decay rate in such a way that you could still get a consistent set of results by using different decay schemes, and I think it is always possible to propose such a set of circumstances, yes.
So that question is in the nature of a “what if,” and one can always come to the conclusion that you can restructure science in such a way to make that “what if” happen. But that is not the sort of thing we usually do unless we have good reason to presume the physical laws have changed, and we presume they have not.
The same is true with things like the speed of light, gravitational constant and so forth. May I elaborate just a little bit more? We are not talking about small changes in decay. If the creation scientists are correct and the earth is only ten thousand years old, we are talking about many orders of magnitude, thousands of times difference. The difference between the age of the earth that scientists calculate and the age that the creationists calculate are different by a factor of four hundred and fifty thousand. So you don’t have to perturb the constancy of decay laws a little bit; you have to perturb them a lot. [Smith 1982b, p. 454, l. 7 to p. 455, l. 11]
In the above responses my respected colleague now admits that consistent results obtained by different decay schemes do not actually prove constant decay in the past after all. He then attempts to reduce the impact of this admission by noting that varying decay rates would involve changes in physical laws. His only argument against this possibility is plainly stated: scientists “presume they [physical laws] have not” changed. But the presumption that physical laws have not changed over the course of time is just the uniformitarian principle.Thus, his entire testimony concerning constant decay rates and an ancient age of the earth was hinged on his faith in this unproven principle. No proof was given for constant decay rates and an ancient age of the earth because no proof exists.
Indeed, when Dalrymple said, “If creation scientists are right and the earth is only ten thousand years old . . . ,” his main argument against an earth this young was that this meant decay laws had to be perturbed “a lot.” But Dalrymple provided no evidence to show this had not occurred sometime in the past. In short, he was unable to scientifically counter the possibility of a young earth. Unfortunately for the State, this was not generally understood at any time during his cross-examination. And there was something else of equal importance for the State’s case that went undetected.
We have already noted the change in my colleague’s stance on the decay rate: from his confident, opening assertion that the decay rate has always been constant to his somewhat defensive position that its constancy beyond a certain point is irrelevant. We now refocus on that part of the cross-examination when State Attorney David Williams asked whether the radioactive decay rate had been constant at the time of the Big Bang. The reply was:
I am not an astrophysicist. I don’t know the conditions that existed in the so-called primordial bowl of soup, and so I am afraid I can’t answer your question. [Smith 1982b, p. 451, ll. 9-11]
Dalrymple’s reticence to commit himself fully on the one assumption that supports the entire evolutionary framework—the uniformitarian principle— together with his earlier assertion that it was irrelevant whether the decay rate was constant beyond a certain time, placed the ACLU case in a very vulnerable position. If the State had drawn attention to the implications of these statements, this would have greatly reduced the credibility of the ACLU position for the remainder of the trial. His response also allowed him to avoid questions about the supernatural nature of the Big Bang. Quite possibly the ACLU realized such questions could open up the proverbial Pandora’s box. Any witness who testified about the evolutionary beginning of the universe would give the State the opportunity to focus on the Big Bang as an event not subject to known scientific laws. It would then have been evident that evolution as well as creation requires a supernatural beginning. Thus the cornerstone of the ACLU strategy would have crumbled!
The Granite Synthesis Experiment: An Evolutionary Perspective
As the cross-examination continued, Dalrymple first confirmed what has been stated earlier: dating of fossils as well as rocks depends on geochronology. Having established that geochronology is of preeminent importance to evolution, Williams then delves into this subject preparatory to asking about my work and the falsification test.
I had looked forward to this part of the trial with great anticipation. Everyone there would soon learn whether Dalrymple or some other geologist had succeeded in synthesizing a piece of granite. For this information I had decided to risk everything and come to the trial. If someone had been successful in the synthesis experiment, then I was going to withdraw my claim that the Precambrian granites were the Genesis rocks of our planet. If this had not been accomplished, then it was certain that the polonium halo evidences for creation were not going to be refuted at the trial. I listened carefully as Attorney Williams proceeded with the cross-examination.
|Q||Mr. Dalrymple, is it correct that you think that geochronology establishes an age of the earth, not only that the earth is several million years old, but also establishes the age of the fossils which are enclosed in the rocks?|
|A||Yes. That’s correct. [Smith 1982b, p. 458, ll. 4-9]|
|Q||Now, do you understand that biologists consider these fossils enclosed in these rocks to be the relics or the remnants of some evolutionary development?|
|A||Well, I think the fossils are the relics of an animal.|
|Q||Would that be the evidence of the evolutionary development?|
|A||Well, as far as I know, yes.|
|Q||Then would it be fair to say in your mind that the ages for the various types of fossils have been most precisely determined or measured by radioactive dating or by geochronology?|
|A||That sounds like a fair statement.|
|Q||Since geochronology does play such an important role on the ages of the rocks and the fossils, would you agree that it would be important to know whether there is any evidence which exists which would bear on the fundamental premises of geochronology?|
|A||Of course. Let me add that that’s a subject that’s been discussed considerably in scientific literature. We’re always searching for that sort of thing. That’s a much debated question.|
|Q||I think you said yesterday that anyone who believes in a young age of the earth, in your opinion, to be not too bright scientifically, and are in the same category as people who believe that the earth is flat? [p. 118]|
|A||Yes. I think if we are talking about people who profess to be scientists and insist on ignoring what the actual evidence is for the age of the earth, then I find it difficult to think that their thought processes are straight.|
|Q||Is it true that you do not know of any scientists who would not agree with you, with your viewpoint on this radioactive dating and of the age of the earth and fossils?|
|A||Will you rephrase that? I’m not sure I understand it.|
|Q||Is it true that you stated, I think in your deposition, that you do not know of any scientists—|
|MR. ENNIS: Excuse me. If you’re referring to the deposition, please identify it, what page.|
|MR. WILLIAMS: I’m not referring to a page at this point, I’m asking a question.|
|MR. WILLIAMS: (Continuing)|
|Q||Is it true that you do not know of any scientist who does not agree with you and your viewpoint and opinion as to the age of the earth and the fossils?|
|A||It depends on who you include in the word “scientist.” I think if you want to include people who categorize themselves as creation scientists, then that would not be a true statement. I know that some of those do not agree.
As far as my colleagues, geologists, geochemists, geophysicists and paleontologists, the ones that I know of, I don’t know of any who disagree that the earth is very old or that radiometric dating is not a good way to date the earth.
|Q||Are you aware of any creation scientist, then, who has published evidence in the open scientific literature who has questioned the fundamental premises of geochronology by radioactive dating?|
|A||I know of one.|
|Q||Who is that?|
|A||That’s Robert Gentry. I should say that Robert Gentry characterizes himself as a creation scientist, if I understand what he’s written.|
|Q||Are you familiar with Paul Damon?|
|A||Yes. I know him personally.|
|Q||Who is Mr. Damon?|
|A||Mr. Damon is a professor at the University of Arizona at Tuscon [sic, Tucson]. He specializes in geochronology.|
|Q||Are you aware that Mr. Damon has stated in a letter that if Mr. Gentry’s work is correct, that it casts in doubt that entire science of geochronology? [p. 119]|
|A||Which letter are you referring to?|
|Q||Do you recall the letter which you gave to me from EOS by Mr. Damon?|
|A||Yes. I recall the general nature of that letter.|
|Q||And do you recall that Mr. Damon said that if history [sic, Gentry] is correct, in his deductions it would call up to question the entire science of geochronology?|
|A||Well, I think that’s the general sense of what Paul Damon said, but I think it’s an overstatement. I’m not sure I would agree with him on that. [Smith 1982b, p. 459, l. 19, to p. 463, l. 1]
Here we see that Dalrymple was so anxious to minimize the implications of primordial polonium halos in granites that he was willing to take issue with Damon’s published statement. This prompted Attorney Williams to focus on Damon’s qualifications as he continued the cross-examination.
|Q||Mr. Damon is not a creation scientist, is he?|
|A||No. Doctor Damon is not a creation scientist, by any means.|
|Q||Would you consider him to be a competent scientist and an authority in this field?|
|A||Yes. He’s extremely competent.|
|Q||Are you aware as to whether Mr. Gentry has ever offered or provided a way for his evidence to be falsified?|
|A||I am aware that he has proposed one, but I do not think his proposal would falsify it either one way or the other.|
|Q||Have you ever made any attempts, experiments that would attempt to falsify his work?|
|A||Well, there are a great many— I guess you’re going to have to tell me specifically what you mean by “his work.” If you could tell me the specific scientific evidence you’re talking about, then let’s discuss that.|
|Q||Well, first of all, do you like to think you keep current on the scientific literature as it may affect geochronology?|
|A||Well, I keep as current as I can. There’s a mass amount of literature. In the building next to my office, there are over two hundred fifty thousand volumes, mostly on geology. It’s extremely difficult to keep current. But I am currently relatively up on the mainstream, anyway.|
|Q||Certainly the most important points?|
|A||I do my best.|
|Q||And if someone had issued a study which would, if true, call up to question the entire science of geochronology, would you not want to be made aware of that and look at that closely yourself, as an expert in the field?|
|A||Oh, yes, I would.|
|Q||And as a matter of fact, your familiarity with Mr. Gentry’s work is limited, is it not, to an article that he wrote in 1972 and a letter that [p. 120] he wrote in response to Mr. Damon’s letter, in terms of what you have read, is that correct?|
|A||Those are the things I can recall having read, and the reports that I have some recollection of. I have never been terribly interested in radioactive haloes, and I have not followed that work very closely. And that is the subject upon which Mr. Gentry has done most of his research.
As I think I told you in the deposition, I’m not an expert on that particular endeavor. I’m aware that Mr. Gentry has issued a challenge, but I think that challenge is meaningless.
|Q||Well, let me ask you this. You stated in the deposition, did you not— Let me ask you the question, can, to your knowledge, granite be synthesized in a laboratory?|
|A||I don’t know of anyone who has synthesized a piece of granite in a laboratory. What relevance does that have to anything?|
|Q||I’m asking you the question, can it be done?|
|A||Well, in the future I suspect that it will be done.|
|Q||I understand. But you said it has not been done yet?|
|A||I’m not aware that it has been done. It’s an extremely difficult technical problem, and that’s basically what’s behind it. [Smith 1982b, p. 463, l. 2 to p. 465, l. 13]|
A long awaited moment of truth had come. Dalrymple did not have a piece of synthesized granite to present at the trial. The ACLU had failed to respond to the challenge of creation, and they badly needed to minimize the impact of this failure. The best Dalrymple could do for them was to say he suspected that the granite synthesis would be done in the future and that I had proposed a meaningless test. We shall later discuss both comments in more detail. For the present we continue with the cross-examination as Williams begins to ask more specifically about Dalrymple’s knowledge of my work.
A Very Tiny Mystery
|Q||To the extent that you are familiar with Mr. Gentry’s work and that as you have reviewed it, would you consider him to be a competent scientist?|
|A||I think Mr. Gentry is regarded as a competent scientist within his field of expertise, yes.|
|Q||And you would agree with that?|
|A||From what I’ve seen, that’s a fair assessment of his work, yes. He’s a very, did some very careful measurements, and by and large he comes to reasonable conclusions, I think, with the possible exception of what we’re hedging around the fringes here, and that is his experiment to falsify his relatively recent inception of the earth hypothesis. We have not really discussed what his hypothesis is and what his challenge is, we’ve sort of beat around the edges.|
|Q||Well, you haven’t read his articles that he wrote since 1972, have you?|
|A||No. That’s true.|
|Q||So if his hypothesis were in those articles, you really wouldn’t be able to talk about it, at any rate, would you?|
|A||His hypothesis, I believe, is pretty fairly covered in those letters between, exchange of letters between Damon and Gentry, and I can certainly discuss that part.
That’s a very current exchange of letters. It is just a few years old. And it is in that letter that he throws down to [sic, a] challenge to geology to prove him wrong. What I’m saying is, that challenge is meaningless.
|Q||Are you familiar with his [Gentry’s] studies of radio haloes?|
|A||No, I’m not familiar with that work at all.|
|Q||But to the extent that work shows that evidence that these formations are only several thousand years old, you’re not familiar with that?|
|A||I’m not familiar with that, and I’m not sure I would accept your conclusion unless I did look into it.|
|Q||If you’re not familiar with it, I don’t want to question you about something you’re not familiar with.|
|A||Fair enough. [Smith 1982b, p. 465, l. 14, to p. 467, l. 1]|
|Q||I think you stated earlier that you reviewed quite a bit of creation-science literature in preparation for your testimony in this case and also a case in California, is that correct?|
|A||Yes. I think I’ve read either in whole or in part about two dozen books and articles.|
|Q||But on the list of books that you made or articles that you have reviewed, you did not include any of Robert Gentry’s work as having been reviewed, did you?|
|A||That’s right. I did not.|
|Q||Although you consider Gentry to be a creation scientist?|
|A||Well, yes. But, you know, the scientific literature and even the creation science literature, which I do not consider scientific literature—It’s outside the traditional literature—there is an enormously complex business. There is a lot of it. And we can’t review it all.
Every time I review even a short paper, it takes me several hours to read it, I have to think about the logic involved in the data, I have to reread it several times to be sure I understand what the author has said; I have to go back through the author’s references and sometimes read [p. 122] as many as twenty or thirty papers that the author has referenced to find out whether what has been referenced is true or makes any sense; I have to check the calculations to find out if they are correct. It’s an enormous job. And given the limited amount of time that I have to put in on this, reviewing the creation science literature is not a terribly productive thing for a scientist to do.
|Q||How many articles or books have you reviewed, approximately?|
|A||You mean in creation science literature?|
|Q||Creation science literature.|
|A||I think it was approximately twenty-four or twenty-five, something like that, as best I can remember. I gave you a complete list, which is as accurate as I can recall.|
|Q||And if there were articles in the open scientific literature—Excuse me—in refereed journals which supported the creation science model, would that not be something you would want to look at in trying to review the creation science literature?|
|A||Yes, and I did look at a number of those. And I still found no evidence.|
|Q||But you didn’t look at any from Mr. Gentry?|
|A||No, I did not. That’s one I didn’t get around to. There’s quite a few others I haven’t gotten around to. I probably never will look into all the creationists’ literature. I can’t even look into all the legitimate scientific literature. But I can go so far as to say that every case that I have looked into in detail has had very, very serious flaws. And I think I’ve looked at a representative sample.
And also in Gentry’s work, he’s proposed a very tiny mystery which is balanced on the other side by an enormous amount of evidence. And I think it’s important to know what the answer to that little mystery is. But I don’t think you can take one little fact for which we now have no answer, and try to balance, say that equals a preponderance of evidence on the other side. That’s just not quite the way the scales tip. [italics mine]
|Q||If that tiny mystery, at least by one authority who you acknowledge his [sic, is an] authority, has been said [sic, has said], if correct, [it would] call [in] to question the entire science of geochronology.|
|A||Well, that’s what Damon said. And I also said that I did not agree with Paul Damon in that statement. I think that’s an overstatement of the case by a long way. I think that Paul in that case was engaging in rhetoric. [Smith 1982b, p. 467, l. 20, to p. 470, l. 14]|
The above responses vividly illustrate the ACLU’s attempts to demean the significance of my reports. Certainly my colleague could have studied them before the trial if the ACLU had wanted this to be done. Apparently [p. 123] the ACLU reasoned that it was safer to ignore them than to risk admitting that they had been studied without successfully refuting the evidences contained therein.
On the surface it would seem that having polonium halos in granites labeled a very tiny mystery—something scientifically insignificant—was one of the cleverest achievements of the ACLU at the trial. But it also involved a serious contradiction which, unfortunately for the State, slipped by unnoticed during Dalrymple’s cross-examination. My colleague generally claimed ignorance of the details of my work, saying he hadn’t read any of my scientific reports published since 1972. But if he hadn’t read them, he couldn’t possibly know much about the scientific evidences for primordial polonium halos. How then could he testify that polonium halos in granites were irrelevant to the issue of creation?
Even though the State didn’t capitalize on this opportunity to pinpoint a contradiction in the ACLU’s case, the States s incisive cross-examination did expose the inability of the ACLU to refute the evidence for primordial polonium halos and the falsification test. This had damaged the ACLU case and made it imperative for Attorney Ennis to conduct a redirect-examination of Dalrymple. As we shall see in the next chapter, my colleague gave some remarkable testimony during this redirect-examination and subsequent recross-examination by the State.
Readers should understand that it was imperative for me to respond to the various phases of Dalrymple’s testimony if this book was to have any meaning. These responses have not lessened my personal respect for him.
ACLU Witness Explains Evidence for Creation
Quoting from the transcript, Ennis continues his redirect-examination of Dalrymple as follows:
|Q||During cross examination Mr. Williams asked you if Mr. Gentry’s argument or hypothesis could be falsified. Has Mr. Gentry proposed a method for falsifying his hypothesis?|
|A||Yes, he has proposed a test and that is the one I characterized as meaningless.|
|Q||Why would it be meaningless?|
|A||Let me first see if I can find a statement of the test, and I will explain that. I have it now. [Note: Here Dalrymple refers to the statement of the falsification test that I published in 1979 in EOS. The publication of this test (Gentry 1979, 474 and Gentry 1980) was earlier discussed in Chapter 5.]|
|THE COURT: May I read what you quoted from the newsletter before you go to that?|
|A||(Continuing) Okay, sir. The experiment that Doctor Gentry proposed—|
|THE COURT: Let me ask you a question. As I understand it, that’s his conclusion. I still don’t understand what his theory is.|
|THE WITNESS: [Dalrymple]: He [Gentry] has proposed that it is either a theory or a hypothesis that he says can be falsified.|
|THE COURT: What’s the basis for the proposal? How does he come up with that?|
| THE WITNESS: Well, basically what he has found is there is a series of radioactive haloes within minerals in the rocks. Many minerals like mica include very tiny particles of other minerals that are radioactive, little crystals of zircon and things like that, that have a lot of uranium in them.
And as the uranium decays, the alpha particles will not decay, but travel outward through the mica. And they cause radiation damage in the mica around the radioactive particle. And the distance that those particles travel is indicated by these radioactive haloes. And that distance is related directly to the energy of the decay. And from the energy of the decay, it is thought that we can identify the isotopes.
That’s the kind of work that Gentry has been doing.
And what he has found is that he has identified certain haloes which he claims are from Pollonium-212 [sic, polonium-218; correct form of the chemical elements used hereafter]. Now, polonium-218 is one of the isotopes intermediate in the decay chain between uranium and lead.
Uranium doesn’t decay directly from [sic, to] lead. It goes through a whole series of intermediate products, each of which is radioactive and in turn decays.
Polonium-218 is derived in this occasion from radon-222. And what he has found is that the polonium haloes, and this is what he claims to have found, are the polonium-218 haloes, but not radon-222 haloes. And therefore, he says that the polonium could not have come from the decay of radium, therefore it could not have come from the normal decay change [sic, chains].
And he says, how did it get there? And then he says that the only way it could have gotten there unsupported by radon-222 decay is to have been primordial polonium, that is polonium that was created at the time the solar system was created, or the universe.
Well, the problem with that is polonium-218 has a half-life of only about three minutes, I believe it is. So that if you have a granitic body, a rock that comes from the melt, that contains this mica, and it cools down, it takes millions of years for a body like that to cool.
So that by the time the body cooled, all the polonium would have decayed, since it has an extremely short half-life. Therefore, there would be no polonium in the body to cause the polonium haloes.
So what he is saying, this is primordial polonium; therefore, the granite mass in which it occurs could not have cooled slowly; therefore, it must have been created by fiat, instantly.
And the experiment he has proposed to falsify this is that he says he will accept this hypothesis as false when somebody can synthesize a piece of granite in the laboratory.
And I’m claiming that that would be a meaningless experiment.
Does that—I know this is a rather complicated subject.
|THE COURT: I am not sure I understand all of this process. Obviously I don’t understand all of this process, but why don’t you go ahead, Mr. Ennis?|
|MR. ENNIS: Yes, your Honor. Obviously, your Honor, these subjects are somewhat complex, and if the Court has additional questions, I’d hope that the Court would feel free to ask the witness directly. [Smith 1982b, p. 476, l. 21 to p. 480, l. 2]|
At this point I suspect Attorney Ennis was more than just a little nervous about Judge Overton’s comments. Ennis had just heard my arguments for creation summarized extremely well by his own star witness. In the light of Dalrymple’s lucid commentary, it seems that Judge Overton was somewhat perplexed—perhaps he didn’t quite understand why my conclusions were wrong and why the falsification test was meaningless.
Remember that in his earlier cross-examination Dalrymple deftly sidestepped the challenge of creation by saying that polonium halos are a tiny mystery, which some day would be solved; and he did likewise with the falsification test, saying he suspected that a granite would be synthesized in the future. The ACLU claimed that evolution represented the true picture of the origin of the earth, but they had signally failed to defend their position in two major encounters.
Confronting the Falsification Test
This repeated postponement of confronting these issues, I believe, had come close to placing the ACLU’s case in jeopardy. The ACLU was on the verge of becoming victims of their own strategy—namely, someday, somewhere, someone was going to find a solution to the evidence for creation. To reestablish credibility in their case, Ennis may have thought that Dalrymple needed to present something tangible to back up his assertion about the falsification test, and so in his next question he again asks about it:
|Q||Why, in your opinion, would the test proposed by Mr. Gentry not falsify his hypothesis?|
|A||Let me read specifically first what his proposal is. He said, “I would consider my thesis essentially falsified if and when geologists synthesize a hand-sized specimen of a typical biotite barium [sic, bearing] granite and/or a similar sized crystal of biotite.”
And if I understand what he’s saying there, he’s saying that since his proposal requires that granite form rapidly, instantly, by instantaneous creation, that he does not see any evidence that these granites, in fact, cool slowly; his evidence said they cool rapidly. And he would accept as evidence if somebody could synthesize a piece of granite in the laboratory.
There are a couple of problems with that. In the first place, we know that these granites did form slowly from a liquid from the following evidence: These rocks contain certain kinds of textures which are only found in rocks that cool from a liquid. And we can observe that in two ways, these textures. They are called ligneous [sic, igneous] and crystalline textures.
We can observe these textures by crystallizing compounds in the laboratory that we are able to crystalize [sic, crystallize]. And they always form these crystalline textures. We can also observe things like lava flows and watch them cool today and see what kind of textures they produce.
There has been an experiment since 1959 going on in the Kilauea-Iki lava lake. Now, Kilauea-Iki is a small volcano event on the top of the Kilauea volcano, which is one of the five volcanoes which make up the island of Hawaii.
And in 1959, Kilauea-Iki erupted, it not only threw up fountains of lava, lava flows, but it formed a large pool of lava that was captured in a crater. And that lava is hundreds of feet thick. Since 1959, scientists have been drilling down through that lava, watching it crystallize. Every few years they go back and drill another hole and watch the degree to which that lava lake is cooled. It takes a long time for this to cool. This is a fairly thick one.
And we see that in the case of lava lakes and lava flows and these things, when they cool from their melt, from their liquid, they form these textures that are unique to all rocks that pool [sic, cool] from a liquid. When we go to a granite and we see these same textures, then I think we are entitled to presume that these rocks also formed from a liquid. There is no other way that they could have formed.
The other problem with Gentry’s proposal is that the crystallization of granite is an enormously difficult technical problem, and that’s all it is. We can’t crystallize granite in the laboratory, and he’s proposing a hand-sized specimen. That’s something like this, I presume.
This is incredible! Evolutionists claim they have the truth about the origin and age of the earth, and yet when they have an opportunity to provide experimental evidence to substantiate their views, they call it a “meaningless” challenge. This forces me to ask a penetrating question: If evolutionists really believe that the granites formed by slow cooling instead of instantaneous creation, why are they reticent to put their theory of granite formation to the test? It is inescapable that the granite synthesis test is at the center of the creation/evolution controversy. For that reason we need to carefully examine Dalrymple’s lengthy commentary about it. Doing this also provides an opportunity to explain a facet of my creation model that has not been previously discussed.
Primordial Rocks Derived from a Primordial Liquid
Dalrymple begins his response by referring to my statement of the falsification test. From this he concludes that my “proposal requires that granite form rapidly, instantly, by instantaneous creation, that he [Gentry] does not see any evidence that these granites, in fact, cool slowly; his evidence said they cool rapidly.” This statement, which contrasts slow cooling of the granites with their rapid cooling and instantaneous creation, suggests that Dalrymple perceives that my creation model may involve a liquid precursor for these rocks. This is correct. Just because Precambrian granites are considered primordial or created rocks does not preclude the possibility that they were formed from a liquid. The Creator, after calling the chemical elements into existence, might well, in the next instant of time, have formed those elements into a liquid, and then immediately cooled that liquid so that it crystallized into the granites containing the polonium halos. These granites would have been created instantly and yet still show the characteristics of rocks that crystallize from a liquid or melt.
Dalrymple presents no direct evidence to refute the possibility of instantaneous cooling but instead begins to build a case for the granites having formed by slow cooling in accord with the evolutionary scenario. In support of this view, he testifies that the texture of rocks, known to have cooled slowly from a liquid, is the same as granite. Here the term texture refers to the size, shape, and arrangement of the particles of which a rock is composed. In particular, he compares the textural similarity of granites to specimens taken from the Kilauea-Iki lava lake
Since the trial I have obtained some Kilauea-Iki lava lake specimens from the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, Virginia. In bulk composition and mineralogy the lava specimens are olivine-rich basalt, grossly different from any granite. Dalrymple did not testify about these major differences—he only said that the texture was the same. But in examining the lava specimens, I found that there is an essential difference in the texture which Dalrymple did not mention. In the Kilauea-Iki samples the minerals have grown together in the interlocking, intergranular manner characteristic of rocks which have crystallized from a melt. The minerals in Precambrian granites also exhibit an intergranular, interlocking arrangement, and thus are texturally similar to the Kilauea-Iki specimens in this one respect. However, another aspect of texture is the size of the minerals composing the rock. The Kilauea-Iki samples are fine-grained, meaning that the different mineral grains in them are very small, often microscopic in size. The Precambrian granites, on the other hand, are generally characterized as being coarse-grained, having mineral grains large enough to be identified visually without magnification. This means the only similarity between the granites and the lava specimens is the interlocking, intergranular arrangement of the crystals making up the rocks. This characteristic can be accounted for naturally by slow cooling of the lava in the case of the Kilauea-Iki specimens—or by rapid or instantaneous cooling from a primordial liquid in the case of the granites. Thus Dalrymple is incorrect in claiming that the Kilauea-Iki lava specimens show that the Precambrian granites formed by slow cooling. And his reference to slow cooling brings up a most important point concerning a basic assumption of evolutionary geology.
It is a fact that hot fluid rock, such as that produced at Kilauea-Iki, can cool over a period of a few years to form fine-grained volcanic rocks composed of microscopic-sized crystals. The same is true of rocks that form when granites deep in the earth are melted. The granite melt may extrude onto the surface and cool rapidly to form a glassy rock; or it may cool more slowly beneath the surface to become rhyolite, a fine-grained rock (which in certain instances contains unmelted fragments of sidewall rocks broken off in the upward passage of the magma). Both the glassy rock and the rhyolites are intrinsically different from the coarse-grained granites. The last section of the Radiohalo Catalogue illustrates the considerable difference between a biotite-rich, coarse-grained granite and a slowly cooled rhyolite specimen, extracted from a depth of 1683.3 feet at Inyo Domes, California (Eichelberger et al. 1985). This difference pinpoints another reason why granite synthesis remains a crucial challenge to evolutionary geology: even though the laboratory of nature has repeatedly provided a suitable environment for granites to crystallize from a granite melt, still there is no evidence of this taking place. Geologists say this is because temperature, pressure, and length of cooling must be different. It appears, however, that evidence exists, independent of polonium halos, which long ago should have led geologists to doubt their theory of granite formation.
For example, the tiny crystals of which rhyolite is composed bear no comparison in size to the very large crystals found in certain regions within granites known as pegmatites. Some pegmatites contain crystals of biotite, the mineral in which polonium halos are most easily found, that are several feet in length. Evolutionary geology assumes that these extremely large biotite crystals are evidence of a very long period of crystallization—the larger the size, the longer it took to form. The problem is that no one has yet synthesized even a penny-sized crystal of biotite in the laboratory; so the assumption that large crystals of biotite have grown from small ones is actually a leap of faith without a point of departure. In other words, there is no evidence from the laboratory of nature or of science to show that pegmatitic biotite crystals, as shown in the Radiohalo Catalogue, attained their large size by evolutionary processes. Moreover, the existence of polonium halos in these biotites provides clear evidence that these large crystals were the product of instantaneous creation. (Most of the polonium halos in mica shown in the Radiohalo Catalogue were found in specimens of biotite taken from pegmatites.)
The above analysis shows, I believe, that Dalrymple’s comparison of granites with the Kilauea-Iki lava specimens did not provide a scientifically valid basis for rejecting the falsification test. I do not know whether Dalrymple realized the weaknesses in making this comparison, but I do know that about midway in his response he began to address the granite synthesis challenge directly.
He claims that granite synthesis is impossible—but only because of technical reasons. At first he emphasizes the monumental difficulties in trying to synthesize a hand-sized piece of granite. Then he says—unless there had been a recent breakthrough—no one had yet succeeded in synthesizing a tiny piece. After protesting at length that I had proposed an unreasonably large-sized piece of granite to synthesize, the truth emerges: experimenters have difficulties in even getting the granite synthesis reaction started.
Polonium Halos Revisited
Attorney Ennis continued his re-examination by returning to the topic of polonium halos.
|Q||Doctor Dalrymple, if I understand correctly, polonium-218 is the product of the radioactive decay of radon-222, is that correct?|
|A||Yes, that’s correct.|
|Q||And does polonium-218 occur through any other process?|
|A||Not as far as I know. I suspect you could make it in a nuclear reactor, but I don’t know that. I’m not sure, but I don’t think polonium-218 is a product of any other decay chain.|
|Q||So if there were polonium-218 in a rock which did not have any previous radon-222 in that rock, then that existence of polonium-218 would mean that the laws of physics as you understand them would have had to have been suspended for that polonium to be there; is that correct?|
|A||Well, if that were the case, it might or it might not. But there are a couple of other possibilities. One is that perhaps Gentry is mistaken about the halo. It may not have been polonium-218. The second one is that it’s possible that he’s not been able to identify the radon-222 halo. Maybe it’s been erased, and maybe for reasons we don’t understand, it was never created.
This is why I say it’s just a tiny mystery. We have lots of these in science, little things that we can’t quite explain. But we don’t throw those on the scale and claim that they outweigh everything else. That’s simply not a rational way to operate.
I would be very interested to know what the ultimate solution to this problem is, and I suspect eventually there will be a natural explanation found for it.
|Q||Does Mr. Gentry’s data provide scientific evidence from which you conclude that the earth is relatively young?|
|A||Well, I certainly wouldn’t reach that conclusion, because that evidence has to be balanced by everything else we know, and everything else we know tells us that it’s extremely old.
The other thing that I should mention, and I forgot to make this in my previous point, if I could, and that is that Mr. Gentry seems to be saying that the crystalline rocks, the basic rocks, the old rocks of the continents were forms [sic, formed] instantaneously. And he uses granite.
But the thing that he seems to overlook is that not all these old rocks are granites. In fact, there are lava flows included in those old rocks, there are sediments included in those old rocks. These sediments were deposited in oceans, they were deposited in lakes. They [sic, There are] [p. 133] even Pre-Cambrian glacial deposits that tells [sic] that the glaciers were on the earth a long, long time ago.
So it’s impossible to characterize all of the old crystalline rocks as being just granite. Granite is a very special rock type, and it makes up a rather small percentage of the Pre-Cambrian or the old crystalline rocks that formed before the continents. [Smith 1982b, p. 484, l. 1 to p. 486, l. 3]
In the above testimony Dalrymple suggests I might be mistaken about the identification of the polonium-218 halo. As we shall shortly see, however, the recross-examination by Attorney Williams showed these comments were only speculation. Dalrymple also misunderstands how various rock types fit into my creation model and thus arrives at incorrect conclusions about my views on the origin of the granites. A brief discussion of my creation model is necessary to clarify this misunderstanding.
Primordial and Secondary Rocks in a Creation Perspective
I agree with Dalrymple that granite “is a very special rock type,” but I have not said that “all of the old crystalline rocks” are granites. Neither do I necessarily consider all rocks that geologists classify as Precambrian to be primordial. What I have said is that the polonium halos in Precambrian granites identify these rocks as some of the Genesis rocks of our planet—created in such a way that they cannot be duplicated without the intervention of the Creator. The creation episode described in Genesis outlines a lot of geological activity on this planet during creation week. The earth, after having been created on Day 1, was left covered with water. On Day 3, the “dry land” emerging from this watery environment may well have included, in addition to the primordial crystalline rocks of Day 1, certain sedimentary strata, presently considered Precambrian by geologists. The sudden appearance of “dry land” also suggests tremendous upheavals on or beneath the earth’s surface and might even have included vulcanism and the formation of some rocks which geologists classify as intrusive rocks. Possibly there was some mixing of the primordial rocks of Day 1 with other rocks created on Day 3. Many possibilities for mixing are viable since Day 1 and Day 3 may also have included the creation of some non-Precambrian granites and metamorphic rocks. This discussion shows that my creation model is not governed or restricted by the conventional geological classification of various rock formations.
Here I should emphasize that creation week and the duration of the flood were special periods, both characterized by events beyond the explanation of known physical laws—periods when the uniformitarian principle was not valid. Each or both of these periods may have been accompanied by an increased, nonuniform radioactive decay rate.
We now turn our attention to the last phase of Dalrymple’s testimony: his recross-examination by State Attorney David Williams.
|Q||You state that the challenge which Mr. Gentry has issued, if I understand you, is essentially impossible?|
|A||It is presently impossible within our present technical capability. There have been people working on this, and I suspect someday we’ll be able to do it.|
|Q||Is it not true that you can take a pile of sedimentary rocks and by applying heat and pressure just simply convert that to something like a granite?|
|A||Something like a granite, yes, that’s true. But it’s something like a granite, but they have quite different textures. When you do that, you now have a metamorphic rock, and it has a different fabric, and it has a different texture, which is quite distinct from an igneous texture. They are very easily identified from both a hand specimen and a microscope. Any third year geology student could tell you if you handle a piece of rock whether it’s igneous or metamorphic. It’s a very simple problem.|
|Q||But it is quite similar to a granite, but you just can’t quite get it to be a granite, can you?|
|A||Well, granite sort of has two connotations. In the first place, in the strict sense, granite is a composition only. It’s a composition of an igneous rock. Granite is a word that we use for rock classification.
It is also used in a looser sense, and that looser sense includes all igneous rocks that cool deep within the earth. And they would include things like quartz, diorite— I won’t bother to tell you what those are, but they are a range of composition.
Sometimes granite is used in that loose sense. People say that the Sierra Nevada is composed primarily of granite. Well, technically there is no granite in the Sierra Nevada. They are slightly different compositions.
It is also used to describe the compositions of certain types of metamorphic rocks. So you have to be a little careful when you use the term ‘granite’ and be sure that we know exactly in what sense we are using that word.
|Q||Now, you stated that you think, in trying to explain why Gentry’s theory might not be correct or not that important, you said that perhaps he misidentified some of the haloes, and I think you also said that perhaps he had mismeasured something, is that correct?|
|A||Well, I think those were the same statement. I’m just offering that as an alternative hypothesis.|
|Q||Do you know that’s what happened?|
|A||Oh, no, no.|
|Q||You have not made any of these studies and determined that yourself, have you?|
|A||No, no. [Smith 1982b, p. 486, l. 26 to p. 488, l. 24]|
In my view these answers constitute a marvelous testimony for creation. Here we have the noted ACLU witness for geology again testifying that granite synthesis is essentially impossible for what he claims are only technical reasons. But if nature had gotten the reaction started endless numbers of times throughout the presumed vast expanse of evolutionary time, why would it be so difficult to get it started now? Moreover since granite synthesis has never been done in the laboratory, how could my colleague possibly know that the obstacles are only technological? To be sure, the above responses also exposed the fact that he had no scientific data whatsoever to support his criticisms of my identification of polonium halos.
Dalrymple’s references to the different connotations of the word granite necessitate that I provide additional details of my creation model, for it encompasses many more possibilities than he perceives to be the case. These details are given in “Vistas in Creation” at the close of Chapter 14.
Reflections on the First Week of the Trial
The State’s cross-examinations had revealed a number of serious flaws in the ACLU’s case, but it seems these were usually overlooked by the media personnel. For example, the cornerstone of the ACLU case rested on establishing the scientific credibility of a multibillion-year age of the earth. The State’s cross-examination showed, however, that the evidence for an ancient earth was based on nothing more than an unproven assumption The numerous reporters covering the trial seemed oblivious to this revelation.
Their reaction to the labeling of the polonium halos as a “tiny mystery” also seemed curious. One of the world’s foremost authorities in evolutionary geology did this while admitting that he was unable to explain my published evidences for creation by conventional scientific principles. This hardly caused [p. 136] a stir among the reporters. Ordinarily nothing attracts the attention of scientists and reporters more than a scientific mystery, especially a tiny one. A “tiny mystery” should be solvable, and every scientist likes to work on problems he feels can be solved. At the trial the ACLU was given the opportunity to resolve the question of the “tiny mystery” and its implications for creation by responding to the granite synthesis test. Their only response to this challenge was to call it a “meaningless experiment.”
I have reflected on this evaluation many times since the trial. Certainly the ACLU wanted Judge Overton to believe it. But is it really a meaningless experiment from the standpoint of the American taxpayer? Each year the Federal Government, through the National Science Foundation, grants millions of dollars for research based on evolutionary ideas, and over the years of its operation possibly hundreds of millions have gone for the same purpose. With this much money at stake, it is not easy to understand why the media did not seek to find out more about this “tiny mystery” which the ACLU had failed to explain on the basis of evolutionary principles.
In any event, the first week’s media coverage left the impression that the evolutionary witnesses were infallible. Over sixty years ago in the Scopes trial, evidence for evolution was promoted nationally and internationally without mention of the weaknesses and flaws in the theory. It happened again in Arkansas. Why was there so little about these counter arguments? Was it because the issues were not made plain or because the reporters were unfamiliar with them?
Taking the Stand
The issues were clarified during the second week of the trial. In my four-hour-long testimony given during the last two days, I reviewed most of the evidence for creation and a several-thousand-year age of the earth that I had published during the sixteen years of my research. I utilized an overhead projector and showed over a hundred transparencies as well as fifty 35mm color slides of radioactive halos (see Radiohalo Catalogue). In several of the transparencies I outlined a creation model, showing how creation and the flood provide a credible framework for incorporating the data of earth history. More details about this creation model are given in Chapter 14. In particular, I testified at length about polonium halos in granites as evidence of creation and emphasized the falsifiability aspect of my creation model. During my testimony Judge William Overton was given pieces of Precambrian granite and biotite to inspect, to help him comprehend what was involved in the proposed granite and/or biotite synthesis.
What was the reaction to my testimony? What was the judge’s decision about Act 590? Is there evidence that some people at the trial resisted “unwanted” information?
On December 18, 1981, the day after the close of the creation trial in Little Rock, ACLU Attorney Bruce Ennis was quoted on page 18A of the Arkansas Democrat as saying:
“The state tried to prove there is scientific evidence for creation. They failed not because of a lack of effort but because that evidence does not exist.”
In the same article ACLU Attorney Jack Novik said:
“We’ve made that point several times. If creation science had any credibility, they wouldn’t need a law to get it taught in classrooms.”
These statements reflect the ACLU objectives throughout the trial. They tried to portray evolutionary scientists as objective, honest seekers for truth and to blacken the State’s witnesses as religionists who only masqueraded as scientists. Novik’s comment implied that my testimony for creation on the last two days of the trial had been completely discredited. Actually, during my cross-examination ACLU Attorney Bruce Ennis didn’t even attempt to challenge my scientific evidence for creation. Instead, he first asked whether I accepted the Genesis account of creation—an attempt to brand me as a religionist rather than a scientist. Interestingly, he never referred to the falsification test that I had proposed.
Ennis’ other line of questions focused on two scientific mistakes in an attempt to undermine my qualifications as a scientist. One involved the previously discussed work on superheavy elements; the other was a misidentification of a certain halo in the mineral fluorite. Both of them had been corrected in print years before the trial. Those mistakes were rectified as a natural part of my ongoing scientific research—an endeavor that involves testing new ideas over and over again, modifying and/or recanting as demanded by further experimentation and peer evaluation. In summary, the cross-examination seemed to be directed toward diverting the attention of the judge and the media away from my discoveries.
Evolutionists Win the Game
On January 5, 1982, Judge Overton ruled against Act 590. In his Memorandum Opinion,Judge Overton evaluates creation science as follows:
The proof in support of creation science consisted almost entirely of efforts to discredit the theory of evolution through a rehash of data and theories which have been before the scientific community for decades. The arguments asserted by creationists are not based upon new scientific evidence or laboratory data which has been ignored by the scientific community. (Overton 1982, Section IV.(D))
Such statements are not consistent with the evidence I presented to the court. Virtually none of my testimony consisted of a rehashing of previous data or theories. On the contrary, it visually portrayed how my recently discovered evidences for creation were based on laboratory experimentation and how, for the most part, they had been ignored by the scientific community.
In another part of his Opinion, Judge Overton states:
Creation science, as defined in Section 4(a) [of Act 590], not only fails to follow the canons defining scientific theory, it also fails to fit the more general descriptions of “what scientists think”; and “what scientists do.” The scientific community consists of individuals and groups, nationally and internationally, who work independently in such varied fields as biology, paleontology, geology and astronomy. Their work is published and subject to review and testing by their peers. The journals for publication are both numerous and varied. There is, however, not one recognized scientific journal which has published an article espousing the creation science theory described in Section 4(a). (Overton 1982, Section IV.(C))
It is difficult to understand these remarks. In my own case Judge Overton was given references to twenty or more scientific publications. Wasn’t this ample evidence that, for sixteen years, my work had been tested and subjected to review by my peers in the scientific community? Is it possible that the judge’s designation of who is a scientist was based on one’s position on origins rather than one’s actual scientific associations and work?
Court Judgment Reveals Evolutionary Bias
Perhaps the most revealing of the above comments was the statement, “There is, however, not one recognized scientific journal which has published an article espousing the creation science theory described in Section 4(a).” This should not be surprising since Section 4(a) of Act 590 covers a broad spectrum of creation science. Just as no one evolutionist is expected to expound on all the different aspects of evolution, neither does any one creation scientist have the expertise to write about all the diverse aspects of creation science. The real issue centers on the different scientific articles for creation science which had been presented before the Court. Why were these discounted when the judge wrote his Opinion?
Judge Overton gives his evaluation of my work as follows:
. . . Mr. Gentry’s findings were published almost ten years ago and have been the subject of some discussion in the scientific community. The discoveries have not, however, led to the formulation of any scientific hypothesis or theory which would explain a relatively recent inception of the earth or a worldwide flood. Gentry’s discovery has been treated as a minor mystery which will eventually be explained. It may deserve further investigation, but the National Science Foundation has not deemed it to be of sufficient import to support further funding. (Overton 1982, Section IV.(D))
Here Judge Overton greatly minimizes my difficulties with the National Science Foundation, which were presented in great detail before the Court. Readers may decide for themselves whether Judge Overton’s comments about those experiences, as described in Chapter 6, represent an objective evaluation of the facts.
Radiohalos: Tiny Mystery or Block to Evolution?
Judge Overton’s conclusion that my work was “ten years old” and that my discoveries were only a “minor mystery,” which eventually would be explained, leaves the impression that the scientific community had found nothing significant in my work. In essence, he interprets silence about my results as showing they are insignificant. Was this conclusion justified?
Through Professor Ray Kazmann’s letter, the judge was shown that this silence about my results was because they seriously conflicted with the evolutionary time scale. He also was shown the article entitled “Mystery [p. 141] of the Radiohalos,” which featured letters of evaluation about my research from a number of eminent scientists here in America, Europe, and the Soviet Union. One of these letters, from an internationally known American geochemist, reads in part:
His [Gentry’s] conclusions are startling and shake the very foundations of radiochemistry and geochemistry. Yet he has been so meticulous in his experimental work, and so restrained in his interpretations, that most people take his work seriously . . . I think most people believe, as I do, that some unspectacular explanation will eventually be found for the anomalous halos and that orthodoxy will turn out to be right after all. Meanwhile, Gentry should be encouraged to keep rattling this skeleton in our closet for all it is worth. (Talbott 1977, 5; Appendix)
This is a very significant letter. At the time of the Arkansas trial, about five years had passed since it was written. During that span I had endeavored to “keep rattling this skeleton . . . for all it is worth.” In this five-year period I had challenged my evolutionist colleagues to duplicate a hand-sized piece of granite or biotite as a means of confirming the basic premise of their theory. The evidence for creation that had been rattling in the evolutionary closet for many years was now knocking more loudly than ever, but for some reason Judge Overton and the ACLU contingent had a difficult time hearing it. Was this a case of resisting “unwanted information”?
Judge Overton’s dismissal of my scientific discoveries as a “minor mystery” echoed the “tiny mystery” designation given by the ACLU’s expert geology witness. By doing this the judge effectively denied the existence of valid evidence for creation science. To have done otherwise would have destroyed the logical basis of his entire Opinion.