A significant victory was won in Texas this
winter when citizens and citizens groups led by People for the American Way
challenged the textbook selection process used by the Texas State Board of
The process was originally set up so that only those citizens
with complaints about a proposed textbook could testify at the public adoption
hearings. This made it easy for Mel and Norma Gabler to block the adoption of
textbooks that supported evolution. They simply appeared with a list of
complaints that no one was allowed to answer and many of the books they
condemned were not adopted. Because Texas is such a large purchaser of
textbooks, this encouraged publishers to soft-pedal evolution in order to secure
What People for the American Way did was encourage Texas
state legislators to sponsor bills that would change the laws under which the
State Board of Education operated. Bills were proposed. To prevent their
possible passage, the State Board of Education agreed in January to appoint a
13 member ad hoc committee to review the textbook selection process. On February
5 they held a public hearing on the matter. The hearing lasted eight hours, and
fifty people testified on both sides of the question.
Then, on February
11, the State Board of Education ruled that both sides could now be heard in the
commenting on textbooks and that rebuttals to complaints would be permitted.
This was a major victory. It could easily affect textbook content in the long
run and put a crimp on the efforts of the Gablers. However, this action still
did not in any way change or remove the Texas Textbook Proclamation which
declares that evolution cannot be treated as a "fact" in books adopted by the
Battlefronts around the Nation
Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt
vetoed a bill requiring that the "origin of man" be taught as "theory" in
Arizona's public schools. In his April 29 veto message he said the measure was
inconsistent with the spirit of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and
was an apparent attempt to limit scientific study of evolution. The bill, the
only creationist legislation passed in any state this year, did not survive the
Governor's veto. There was insufficient support for an override.
creationist bill was proposed in the Connecticut State Legislature by Democratic
Representative Leo H. Flynn in January, but it appears to have died in the
A similar fate befell the creationist bill introduced
in the West Virginia State Senate by Senator Homer Heck. The newspaper in the
state capital, the Charleston Gazette rejoiced in this result with an
editorial. The editorial's concluding words were, "Public schools have enough
problems without having to cope with religious rules for science classes. The
West Virginia Legislature showed good judgment in sticking to the American
principle of separation of church and state."
A new "balanced treatment"
creationist bill was introduced into the lower house of the Mississippi
legislature. Instead of fervid, evangelical debate on the issue, the bill simply
died quietly in March. Nonetheless, the bill could come up again next
Arkansas Attorney General Steve Clark, the man who defended
creationism in the Arkansas case, is suing televangelist Pat Robertson for
libel. The suit claims that Robertson, on his "700 Club" religious program,
publicly criticized Clark's handling of the creation case. Clark filed his suit
as a private citizen. Robertson allegedly told a nationwide audience that
Clark's defense of the creation law was "crooked" and that Clark had
"rigged" the trial.
Dr. Gerald R. Bergman, an outspoken creationist, was
denied tenure as a professor of education at Ohio's Bowling Green State
University. Bergman claims that religious bias was behind the denial and that
his civil rights have been violated. However, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission
rejected his claim. Undaunted, he has filed suit in Federal court with the help
of the Creation Science Legal Defense Fund. Creationists have cited Bergman's
case as an example of "persecution" of creationists by the evolution
"establishment," an item that they stress in debates. But there just so happen
to be cases of professors not getting tenure due to their efforts on the
evolution side of the controversy. No names can be mentioned, however, without
the permission of those affected. In one such situation, a suit is in
Cases of creationism being quietly taught in public school
science classes are starting to come to light in California, Michigan, New York,
and Wisconsin. It appears that when creationists fail to pass new legislation,
they simply go ahead and teach creationism anyway. These abuses are difficult to
ferret out and they reveal a shift in creationist tactics.
battles are beginning to brew in Louisiana, California, and Iowa. Details of
these, as more news is received, will be reported in future issues of
Brontosaurus in the Congo?
In the Summer
of 1981 we reported the planned expedition to Africa by Herman Regusters and
others who were seeking out an alleged brontosaurus that was said to be roaming
in the jungles. The expedition did take place and, at long last, all the results
have been revealed. Here are the details.
Herman Regusters, a consulting
engineer at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, his wife Kia,
cameraman Darby Switzer, and 15 native porters began the expedition in October
of 1981. They were airlifted 500 miles inland to an airstrip 90 miles from Lake
Tele in the Republic of the Congo. From there they journeyed 50 miles by dugout
canoe and then hiked 40 miles through the swamps. It was October 27 before they
reached the lake and the area where natives had told missionaries that the
monster, called mokole-mbembe, had been sighted off and on for the last
According to Regusters, two days later they had their first
sighting of it. At 6:10 in the morning of October 29 they saw "the head come out
of the water, travel for a quarter of a mile and dive." Regusters described the
creature as "dark brownish in color, skin appeared slick and smooth, long neck,
small head, snakelike." He said the animal was "not identifiable to native
hunters, Congolese forest rangers, or us."
The animal was allegedly seen
again on November 1 and 2 when the head and neck emerged from the water. Efforts
were made to take photos, but light conditions were poor. In none of the claimed
sightings did the animal fully emerge, so its lower body was not visible. This,
however, did not keep Regusters from reporting, "Its body is smaller than an
elephant and larger than a hippopotamus."
On November 4, the team "heard
this horrendous roar, very loud and eerie." That evening the roar was heard
again. Regusters reports that a tape recording was made. Later the team tried to
see if they could find a footprint, but the area proved too swampy for any
impression to have been left.
The team spent a total of six weeks on the
expedition before returning, skinny and exhausted. They arrived back in
California in late December and had their film taken to the Jet Propulsion
Laboratory for careful developing.
The results of the photography were
released December 22, 1981, but the tape recording was not released until May
27, 1983. None of the photographs were clear enough to be useful. However, the
tape recording was sufficiently audible to make sound analyst Kenith Templin
declare, ". . . it is an animal that has not been identified before." But Ian Maddieson in the University of California at Los Angeles linguistics department
noted that such analysis, though procedurally sound, "is not very conclusive
evidence by itself."
Concerning the whole matter, paleontologist Dr. David
Whistler from the Los Angeles County Museum said, "I'm skeptical. It seems hard
to believe that an animal that size could escape detection for that long."
Paleontologist Dr. William Clemens of the University of California at Berkeley
said he wasn't surprised at the discovery of new types of animals. "On the other
hand, I'm rather dubious this is a relic from 60 million years ago or more that
has existed unchanged in Africa." He argued that hundreds of animals would have
had to survive through the ages to ensure the survival of that
There doesn't seem to be grounds, then, for the belief that a
35-foot-long brontosaurus, resembling its 80-foot-long counterpart from the age
of the great reptiles, is today roaming the jungles of the Congo. Nonetheless,
creationists will keep this material in their files, together with claims of
plessiosaur sightings off Australia and New Zealand and the latest pictures of
the Loch Ness Monster, as evidence that humans and dinosaurs have lived
Forget the $100,000
Some of you may recall that in August
of 1981. Texas millionaire-industrialist T. Cullen Davis, who was "born again"
three years after being acquitted of murdering his 12-year-old
stepdaughter, offered $100,000 to anyone who could come up with a proof of
evolution that could convince him. At that time he declared, "I feel my money is
absolutely safe. I invite any professor engaged in teaching evolution to come
forward with his evidence. If it turns out to be factually provable, they get
the money. I know they can't do it!"
Well, responses were sent in. One was
published in the December, 1981 Civil Liberties as an open letter. But no
one got any money. Finally, over a year later, Mr. David Stokes of Phoenix,
Arizona sent in his submission. When he got no reply, he attempted to reach
Davis by telephone by calling the Fort Worth offices of Davis's 80-company
financial empire, Kendavis Industries. All he got was his secretary, Janie
Adams. She declared that Davis had been, in the beginning, answering all
responses to his offer. But then he stopped. "We got a lot of goofball
responses," she said. "What Mr. Davis offered was the money to anyone who could
prove the evolution of the amoeba into man. We got hundreds of responses, but no
proof." She explained that the offer still stands and that Davis will pay if
evolution is proved to his satisfaction, but she admitted it would be very
difficult to prove anything to someone who didn't want to be convinced.
Furthermore, she said she wasn't sure what Davis would consider proof.
if you have plans of going from rags to riches, you might find your odds are
better in a state lottery than by trying to collect Mr. Davis's
Committees of Correspondence
The Committees of
Correspondence, the local lobbying groups that are combating creationist
efforts at the grass roots level, have now been officially incorporated as the
National Center for Science Education. The new name was chosen because the
long-range aim of the Committees is to work toward the general improvement of
science education in America. Fighting the creationists is just one issue in
that overall effort. This is why the need for the Committees will not vanish
when the creation-evolution controversy (hopefully) dries up. Stan Weinberg was
The Committees have been very effective of late. They
have disseminated information that allows school officials, speakers, and
debaters to counter creationists. They have made their voices heard at local
school board meetings. They have monitored creationist activities in various
states. And, it appears, they have made creationists painfully aware of their
presence. Examples of this latter are the frequent presence of Committee members
at creationist public lectures. These members provide valuable information to
the audiences when they participate in the question-and-answer periods and ask
important scientific and legal questions of the creationist speakers.
Their effect has gotten so devastating that Henry Morris began a lecture
in Georgia recently by stating that it is getting difficult to lecture anywhere
these days without being confronted by a Committee of Correspondence.
effect of the Committees has brought with it a collection of myths that have
been repeated in various creationist publications. It is important that these
false ideas be laid to rest. Here, then, are the most common charges and the
factual answers to them.
MYTH: "The Committees of Correspondence are the
local organizations set up by a large consortium of professional societies,
universities, and governmental agencies which was organized to fight
creationism." (Acts & Facts, January 1983.)
FACT: In October
1981 a conference of the executive directors of various science and teachers
organizations was held at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington D. C.
At that time, the Committees of Correspondence already existed. It was felt that
these various organizations should form a unified effort or coalition to combat
creationism and support the Committees. Although many valuable personal contacts
were made at this meeting, no coalition or organized support ever materialized.
As it stands, every existing Committee of Correspondence, without exception, was
organized by private individuals of the state or province within which the
Committee functions. Some local groups were originally unaware of the Committees
when they formed and only later became part of the Committee of Correspondence
movement. Prior to the recent incorporation, the Committees were only a loose
network of independent local groups working in a common direction. Now, with
incorporation, the network will be slightly tighter, but membership of local
Committees in the parent corporation is purely voluntary.
Committees have chosen to work quietly and behind the scenes. . . . Members do not
identify themselves to their fellow citizens. . . . the preferred approach is
intimidation. . . . they do not favor the democratic process. . . . they feel that
parents have no business determining the type of education their children
receive." (Bible-Science Newsletter, December 1982.) "At the December 5,
1981, Evolution and Public Education seminar held at the University of
Minnesota, Stanley Weinberg, one of the organizers of this movement, stated that
the Committees preferred, when working in a school district, to work quietly
with individual school administrators, so that they could describe creationism
to educational leaders without getting creationists involved, and without too
much involvement of parents in this part of the educational process."
(Bible-Science Newsletter, March 1982.)
FACT: Local Committees are
very public. They frequently issue news releases, have members speak at local
meetings, give interviews to reporters, and occasionally contact local
creationist organizers to arrange public debates. Public lobbying is a major
activity of the Committees, which can hardly be called covert or
secretive. As for Stanley Weinberg's statements at the University of Minnesota,
he himself can answer best, to wit—
The facts are: First, I was speaking
not of the C/C's but of a different pro-evolution group, a committee of the Iowa
Academy of Science. Second, my actual words, from a tape made by the University
of Minnesota, were: "What we attempted to do is to present in a temperate way,
to a community in difficulty, the sense of the scientific community on the
issue. We enter a community or a school district only on invitation. We don't
seek to enter into confrontations; our aim is to resolve them, not to provoke
them." When the Iowa scientific community consults with local communities, it
does not feel obligated to involve, inform, or invite the organized
creationists, who represent only themselves, not the community. We have never
suggested that we do not welcome consultation and discussion with parents, and
with citizens of the local community in general.
description of his actions with the Iowa Academy of Science also describes the
actions of some of the local Committees. Often school officials need information
on creationism and the Committees provide it so the officials can act in accord
with the best scientific knowledge of our time and with the U.S.
MYTH: "It becomes quite clear that the Committees are a
special interest group intent on changing public opinion on creationism by the
censoring of educational materials and the censoring [of] forums which would
give citizens the ability to decide the issue for themselves." (Bible-Science
Newsletter, March 1982.)
FACT: Committees do not "censor" creationist
educational materials. School libraries across the nation include these
materials at their discretion and the Committees have made no effort to have
them removed. However, the use of these materials in public school science
classes comprises a significant church-state separation problem due to the
sectarian religious nature of so-called "scientific" creationism. Committee
members often make it a point to remind school officials of the legal danger
they put themselves in by curricular use of these materials. Committees do not
"censor" private creationist meetings either. Committee members do not normally
show up at those held in churches, and they merely participate in the
question-and-answer sessions at those held publicly at colleges and
universities. As for creationist meetings held on public school premises under
the sponsorship of public school authorities, these are clearly illegal and
committee members act to remind school authorities of that fact. When
creationists seek to intrude into the public school system, into public museums,
or other areas of government, the Committees lend their support to the
embattled public officials to help insure church-state separation and the
integrity of science education.
MYTH: "[The Committees have] one religious
group with which they cooperat, e, the American Humanist Association."
(Bible-Science Newsletter, March 1982.)
FACT: Numerous Christian,
Jewish, and other religious denominations have leaders who are active in the
Committees of Correspondence. All Committees are encouraged to work with the
local churches in their area. Coalitions of church groups in cooperation with
the Committ, ees, , have been very influential in dealing with school boards. Most
church leaders are aware that creationism is merely one brand of Christianity
and that it would be unfair to give this one brand special privileges in the
public schools as if they were the sole representatives of Christianity. The
American Humanist Association, therefore, is merely one of the many
philosophical or religious groups that the Committees have found supportive of
their efforts. All these groups are involved because they are concerned
primarily with church-state separation.
If you are interested in joining
the Committee of Correspondence in your state, please write to
Creation/Evolution for details.
Fun with Polls
are fond of polling people and coming up with statistics which show that the
public wants creationism in the public schools. Two such polls were taken in
1973, one in Del Norte County, California and one in Cupertino, California. The
Del Norte poll revealed that 89% of the respondents were pro-creation. The
Cupertino poll found that 84.3% of the respondents wanted two-model education.
Some time later, the Midwest Center of the Institute for Creation Research
conducted a random telephone survey and was able to report that 64% of those
called wanted two-model education. These results were reported by Richard Bliss
in ICR Impact Series No. 60. In 1979, Jerry Bergman published in Vol. 6,
No. 2 of Origins the results of his survey of university students. His
study at Bowling Green State University in Ohio found that 91% of the
undergraduate and 71.8% of the graduate students polled favored the two-model
But polls taken in early 1981 showed different results. A San
Francisco Chronicle phone-in poll found 73% of the respondents against
the teaching of creationism. A Detroit Free Press poll came up with
71% who felt the same way. The California Poll showed opinions to be a
bit more evenly divided, with 50% favoring the two-model approach and 40%
opposed. The details of these polls were published in the "News Briefs" section
of Creation/Evolution V and elsewhere.
But then came a rather
startling Gallup Poll, also in 1982. It surveyed the nature of creation belief
in America and found that 44% agreed that "God created man pretty much in his
present form at one time within the last ten thousand years." A total of 47%
favored some form of evolution. This was reported in the "News Briefs" of
Creation/Evolution VI and elsewhere.
But now new light has been
thrown on the issue. This last winter the Princeton Religious Research Center
reported in Emerging Trends the results of its survey that literalist
belief has declined since 1963 from 65% to 37%. Meanwhile, the percentage
of those who think that "the Bible is the inspired word of God, [but] not
everything should be taken word for word," increased from 18% to 42%. Those who
hold that "the Bible is an ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral
precepts, recorded by men," remained stable at 11%.
What does all of this
mean? Well, with most of these polls we are comparing apples and oranges. For
example, it is unknown how many of those who favor recent creation would also
favor two-model education. It is also unknown how many of those who favor recent
creation might not be biblical literalists. And then there is the problem
that some of the survey questions may have been poorly drawn and some of the
polls taken unscientifically. Finally, there is the problem that some of the
polls were local while others were national. It is thus hard to derive too much
meaning from all of this. Nonetheless, these polls can give us rough indications
of the mood of our times.
The New Anti-Creationist Books
books debunking pseudoscience don't sell well, and so are infrequently
published. Their poor sales can be attributed to the fact that believers in
pseudoscience tend to buy only the books that support their beliefs, while those
who reject pseudoscience tend to feel the whole subject is a waste of time and
not worthy of any expenditure at all. The exception to this latter case are
Christian fundamentalists. They have proven themselves willing to buy books
debunking the popular pseudosciences, provided those books do their debunking
from a biblical perspective. This accounts for the phenomenal sales of Clifford
Wilson's Crash Go the Chariots, a book that debunks Von Daniken's
Chariots of the Gods? from just that angle. It appears that those in the
fight against Satan's occult works of darkness want to be armed. The rest of the
population, not having such a vested interest, could hardly be
However, beginning last year, this state of affairs began to
change. New books debunking "scientific creationism" began to appear. This is
not only a rare publishing event, it is a rare event in the annals of
science. Seldom will leading scientists and philosophers devote time to
researching a pseudoscience so they can educate the public. This time they have.
The answer is simple. Ordinary pseudoscientists usually don't go
political, attempt to change school curriculum, sue museums, or try to demand a
major share of research grants. Creationists do. And because creationists are so
threatening, scientists, teachers, school board members, and parents have become
alarmed. This has created a demand for detailed information on creationism and
answers to creationist arguments. Publishers are now rushing to meet that
demand. To date, fourteen books debunking creationism have been issued by major
publishers. They are as follows:
The Monkey Business by Niles
Eldredge, Washington Square Press.
Science on Trial: The Case for
Evolution by Douglas Futuyma, Pantheon.
Scientists Confront Creationism
edited by Laurie Godfrey, W. W. Norton.
and Relations by C. Leon Harris, SUNY Press.
The Neck of the
Giraffe: Where Darwin Went Wrong by Francis Hitching, Ticnor &
Abusing Science: The Case Against Creationism by Philip
Kitcher, MIT Press.
Creationism, Science, and the Law: The Arkansas Case by Marcel C. LaFollette, MIT Press.
In the Beginning . . . A
Scientist Shows Why the Creationists Are Wrong by Chris McGowan,
Macmillan of Canada.
The Creation Controversy: Science or Scripture in
the Schools by Dorothy Nelkin, W. W. Norton.
and Evolution: Myth or Reality by Norman D. Newell, Columbia University
Darwinism Defended: A Guide to the Evolution Controversies
by Michael Ruse, Addison Wesley.
Did the Devil Make Darwin Do
It? edited by David B. Wilson, ISU Press.
Evolution vs. Creationism: The
Public Education Controversy, edited by J. Peter Zetterberg, Oryx
Christianity and the Age of the Earth by Davis A. Young,
The two marginal titles are Hitching's The Neck of the
Giraffe and Young's Christianity and the Age of the Earth. The
first one tries to take a "neutral" position and disagree with both sides in
some things and accept both sides in others. The second is actually written
by a creationist who rejects the arguments for a young earth. It was
favorably reviewed in Science.
With all these new books hitting the
market, creationists have taken note. Henry Morris, in his Director's Column
in the April, 1983 Acts & Facts declared that this proliferation
of books was part of "an all-out campaign against the Creator." He further
argued that "a whole new scientific sub-discipline seems to have `evolved,' that of professional
anti-creationism." Then he turned consumer crusader and started comparing page
counts and prices in creationist vs. anti-creationist books. He said that "the
sales price per page for an anti-creationist book is about three or four times
that for a (completely unsubsidized) creationist book." Why he implied that
anti-creationist books are all subsidized is not clear, but it may have to do
with the frequent charges that creationists are well bankrolled. Certainly he
wanted to counter the charge that creationists are making money from their
books. Since Morris is the most prolific creationist writer of them all, perhaps
he thought it best to claim that evolutionists, not creationists, were the ones
after the almighty dollar. Unfortunately, Morris based his conclusion on
evidence as faulty as that for his creationism. He compared the price of a
creationist paperback to the prices of two anti-creationist hardcover books—and
didn't even tell his readers what he was doing. Recently, one of those two
anti-creationist titles came out in paperback—at a price a dollar less than the
creationist paperback Morris used for comparison. So much for creationist
The latest news from ICR is that Henry Morris has just
written a book to counter Young's Christianity and the Age of the Earth.
It is called Science, Scripture, and the Young Earth, is 35 pages
long, and you can buy three for a dollar. Apparently Young's book, written from
a creationist perspective and published by a leading fundamentalist publishing
house, is the most threatening of all the new anti-creationist books. This would
explain the rapid response by Morris.
There was an omission
in Andrew J. Petto's article, "The Turtle: Evolutionary Dilemma or
Creationist Shell Game?" in Creation/Evolution X. Figure 2 was derived
from a similar figure published in Vertebrate Dissection by W. F. Walker,
1970 (Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders). Therefore, the caption should have credited