Creation/Evolution Journal
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Volume
3
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No.
4
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News Briefs

News Briefs

New Trouble in Arkansas

When the Arkansas legislative session opens in January, there may be a new
creation bill for legislators to consider. Arkansas Citizens for Balanced
Education in Origins is behind a proposed new law to be entitled "The Thorough
Explanation of Origins and Development in Textbooks Act." The stated intent of
the measure is to "require complete, but reasonable, disclosure" of which
assumptions are testable and which are not when textbooks present scientific
data about origins. This is allegedly necessary because students need to know
what assumptions underlie the data presented and the state needs to ensure "that
education is maximized and indoctrination is minimized."

The bill's spokespersons—Ed Gran, a physics instructor at the University of
Arkansas at Little Rock, and Malcolm Windsor, an engineer at the Pine Bluff
Arsenal, offered a sample of how they felt the law would affect textbook
material. This sample quoted a textbook's account of Stanley Miller's 1953
experiment that produced amino acids from elements that may have been present on
the primitive earth. The law would require that the textbook explain that the
experiment assumed a reducing atmosphere, assumed the formation of DNA in the
experiment, and assumed negligible effects from such factors as low amino acid
concentration, low temperature formation, high destruction rates, and so on.

The tenor of this sample shows three things. First, it shows that creationists
hope to drown any textbook evolutionary explanation in a flood of
qualifications; they want to list every caveat they can think of. Second, it
shows that creationists want to get equal time for their favorite anti-evolution
arguments, most likely those arguments that say radiometric dating is based on
unproven premises, that rocks date fossils and fossils date rocks and hence the
geologic column is based on circular reasoning, and that all studies of origins
are untestable and therefore unscientific. Third, it shows that, if creationists
in Arkansas cannot get publishers to produce textbooks that meet their rigid
specifications, the state simply won't buy any textbooks that mention the
subject.

This latter point is crucial. The bill would, if passed, effectively ban all
existing public school science textbooks that treat evolution. None meet these
extreme requirements. Without textbooks, evolution would likely not be covered
to any extent. Thus, by binding up the textbook selection process in red tape
greater than that in Texas, evolution would be effectively banned from Arkansas
public schools. Section three of the bill makes this clear when it states that
textbooks are not required to present any information about origins and the
development of the universe and life.

- page 36 -

The Louisiana Case

The U.S. District judge in New Orleans struck down the Louisiana creation law on
November 22, 1982, in response to a motion for summary judgment entered by the
state board of elementary and secondary education. The board argued that the
creation law violated the state constitution by allowing the legislature to set
curriculum independent of the board. The creationists plan to appeal the ruling.

Liberty Baptist Students Gain Certification

On April 8, 1982, a Virginia State Board of Education teachers' visiting
committee approved biology graduates of Jerry Falwell's Liberty Baptist College
for certification as Virginia public school teachers. However, this caused a
furor when Falwell announced that his graduates would be teaching creationism.
So on May 21, the Board of Education teachers' advisory committee voted
unanimously to deny teacher certification to the graduates. This brought the
matter to the full board in July. At the July meeting, it was decided that
Liberty Baptist College officials should answer a list of thirty questions
regarding church-state issues raised by the school's practice of teaching and
advocating creationism. The questions were answered, and the results were then
brought before the board on September 24.

There Judy Goldberg, lobbyist for the ACLU, argued against the certification,
and Jerry Falwell argued for it. Falwell charged the ACLU with being a defender
of Nazis in Illinois and an enemy of religious freedom in Virginia. He referred
to himself as a victim of a "Scopes trial in reverse." Ms. Goldberg said that
the new evidence presented by the college in answer to the thirty questions
shows that the college changes its story whenever objections are raised. After
this confrontation, the board split four to four on certification, resulting in
no decision being made.

But on December 10 the board took up the matter again, this time with all
members present. The vote was seven to two in favor of certification. This means
that Liberty Baptist College graduates are now authorized to teach in Virginia
and in thirty-five other states that recognize Virginia certification. The board
will review its decision in one year.

New York City Reverses Trend

In an unprecedented action, the New York City Board of Education recently
declared three science textbooks unacceptable because of inadequate coverage of
evolution, presentation of creationism as science, or both. The books were Life
Science
from Prentice-Hall, Experience in Biology from Laidlaw, and Natural
Science: Bridging the Gap
from Burgess.

- page 37 -

Carol Brownell, a spokesperson for the board, said, "The professionals came down
on the side that you cannot exclude the discussion of Darwin's theory. They feel
the theory of evolution is firmly established in science and has to be
acknowledged." This decision could encourage similar decisions elsewhere.

Iowa Embroiled Again

Iowa continues to be a target for creationist efforts. This summer an intense,
well-bankrolled, statewide creationist effort got underway. The campaign
involves three thrusts: (1) threatening with lawsuits school districts or
individual teachers who teach evolution, (2) petitioning school boards to hold
referenda on adding a list of fifteen creationist books to every school library,
and (3) persuading school districts to purchase a creationist videotape entitled
The Timeless Issue of Life: Creation or Evolution. So far, due to the
grass-roots efforts of the Iowa Committee of Correspondence and allied groups,
every creationist effort has been blocked.

Irwin Sinks His Teeth into Ararat

In August, former astronaut James Irwin led an expedition up Mt. Ararat in
search of Noah's ark. This expedition, financed by his own evangelical
foundation based in Colorado, found "solid evidence" of the ship's presence on
the mountain. The climbers, however, have been secretive about the facts but
plan to announce "important findings on the interstructural formation of the
mountain in the near future," as if that was what the world was waiting to know.
The expedition would have lasted longer than it did had Irwin not fallen from an
ice ridge and lost all but three of his teeth. However, after the expedition was
discontinued, Irwin and Lt. Orhan Baser of the Turkish army stayed behind to
take a final aerial look at the northwest side of the mountain where "pure and
solid proof" of the ark's existence was supposedly found. No more reports were
made after that until Irwin conducted a second expedition up the northeast side
of the mountain, following up on a recent "sighting" by Dennis Burchett.
Apparently nothing was found, because, after Irwin returned home, he indicated
to Maclean's magazine that he was still in pursuit of "a dark, promising object"
on the northeast side of the mountain. "We know the ark is there," he declared,
but he offered no solid evidence.

- page 38 -

Another "Ark" Expedition

A self-styled explorer, Tom Crotser, of the Institute for Restoring Ancient
History, says that he and others have found the Ark of the Covenant, allegedly
buried by Moses, and has been asking financial support for an expedition to
retrieve it. The Institute claims a considerable track record in finding
biblical remains. In recent years, they allegedly uncovered Noah's ark and
discovered the site of the Tower of Babel. London banker David Rothschild was
approached for possible backing of the Ark of the Covenant venture but declared
Crotser's effort to be a "pure joke." Nevertheless, Crotser declares that his
team discovered it on October 31, 1981. After examining the Bible, they
concentrated on a peak near Mount Nebo in northwest Jordan. There Crotser's team
found the Ark but did not move or open it, lest they incur the wrath of God. The
Ark supposedly contains Aaron's budding rod, the tablets of the Ten
Commandments, and other important things these "raiders of the lost Ark" are
eager to acquire.

Startling Gallup Poll

According to a recent Gallup survey, 44 percent of the respondents agreed with
the statement, "God created man pretty much in his present form at one time
within the last ten thousand years." Thirty-eight percent agreed that "man has
developed over millions of years from less-advanced forms of life, but God
guided this process, including man's creation." Only 9 percent held that "man
has developed over millions of years from less-advanced forms of life. God had
no part in this process." Another 9 percent said they didn't know or gave other
responses.

This is the first time an accurate survey has been made of creation belief in
America. Usually the questions are phrased wrong and leave out the true nature
of the issue at hand. This one did not. However, it is important to understand
that creation belief does not imply a desire for creationism in the public
schools. Not all creationists want "equal time" or feel that the public schools
offer an appropriate setting. Some creationists believe that reducing their
theism to a "mere scientific theory" does it an injustice. This is why the
survey results, on the question concerning which account of origins should be
taught in the public schools, came out a little different. Thirty-eight percent
felt that creationism should be taught, 33 percent felt that evolution with God
should be taught, and 9 percent thought that evolution without God should be
taught. None were asked if all three should be taught, so it is hard to decide
what these results mean. We don't know how many of the 38 percent favoring
creationism wanted "equal time" and how many wanted creationism exclusively. The
4 percent who said that they favored all three views being taught volunteered
that opinion.

This version might differ slightly from the print publication.
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