â€¦how can we explain the well-nigh universal insistence that all things must have come about by evolution?â€¦The answer is Satan! He has blinded the minds of men with respect to the gospel.â€¦The 'great dragonâ€¦, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan,' who 'deceiveth the whole world' (Revelation 12:9)â€"must without any doubt be the one who has fathered this monstrous lie of evolution, for he is the father of lies.
It is better to believe the revealed Word of God than any science or philosophy devised by man.
â€"Henry M. Morris,
The Twilight of Evolution
With this world view, the leader of the movement called "scientific creationism" has led the attack on the teaching of evolution in the classrooms of this country. It is a battle that is enlisting the support of more and more people.
In 1980 then-presidential candidate Ronald Reagan, in reply to a question about evolution, stated: "It is a scientific theory only,â€¦and is not believed in the scientific community to be as infallible as it once was believed. But if it was going to be be taught in the schools, then I would think that also the biblical theory of creationâ€"which is not a theory, but the biblical story of creationâ€"should also be taught."
Arkansas Gov. Frank D. White, in March 1981, signed this country's first law requiring that schools teaching evolution give equal time to the idea that humans, life, the earth, and the universe were created by a supreme being some 6,000 to 10,000 years ago in the form in which they exist today. Explained Governor White: "I'm a Christian and I believe in the Bible."
In March 1981 the California courts and the public were prepared for a full-blown creationism-evolution battleâ€"a "Scopes II" trial, according to media commentators.* Both sides had their big guns in readiness. Presiding Judge Irving Perluss, aware of the importance of the issues in the complaint, allowed the press to cover the case. The scene was set, complete with television crew, photographer, spectators, and clip-on microphones for the opposing attorneys.
Kelly Segraves, the creationist complainer, retreated from the original complaint and did not insist on the teaching of creationism in the schools. Instead, claiming that evolution is no more a science than is creationism, he charged that California's 1978 guidelines for public school teachers, in not mentioning creationism, violated his constitutional rights. The judge rejected that claim and made clear his displeasure that the case had fizzled: "I thought you wanted scientific creationism taught in the schools. I wonder if this case of great and important constitutional issues has evolved, if you pardon the pun, and come down to a question of semantics."
Judge Perluss did order statewide distribution to educators and textbook publishers of a statement cautioning the avoidance of "dogmatism" when dealing with evolution. The war was not fought in the California case, and both sides claimed victory.
In July, Louisiana's legislature followed Arkansas's lead and passed an "equal time" law. Both were based on a model bill being circulated around the country by Citizens for Fairness in Education, a South Carolina group. According to CFE, creationist legislation has been proposed in 21 states, and work has begun on federal legislation to lend support to creation-science research and to outlaw any mention of evolution in materials and displays at national parks and federally funded museums.
These attempts are not going unchallenged. The American Civil Liberties Union has sued the state of Arkansas, and by the time the ink is dry on this page, there may well be more laws passed and more legal counterattacks mounted.
Whatever the outcome on the legal front, science textbooks have already been rewritten to include creationism. Many teachers are voluntarily covering it in their teaching of science. Others are completely dropping the subject of origins from their teaching. That way they don't rock the boat and won't offend anybodyâ€"or so it seems.
ORIGINS More often than not, the scientific creationists appeal to Americans' sense of fair play. Henry M. Morris, for example, writes in Introducing Scientific Creationism into the Public Schools: "The only fair, legal, constitutional solution of this problem is to teach both evolution and creation, strictly as scientific models of origins, whenever and wherever the subject of origins is under discussion." This stated goal of the scientific creationist movement deserves a closer look. A good place to start is with the leaders of the movement.
There are two leading organizations: the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), located near San Diego, California, and affiliated with Christian Heritage College; and a closely allied membership organization called the Creation Research Society. To spread the word "that creation is a better scientific concept than evolution," ICR produces voluminous literature, a national radio broadcast, and a newsletter; conducts week-long seminars; and sponsors lectures on college campuses and appearances at legislative hearings. It also supports various research projects: a search for Noah's Ark, looking for "human fossils in supposedly ancient geologic strata," development of new methods of fossil dating, and so on. The Creation Research Society, for its part, puts out a quarterly and has published a textbook, Biology: A Search for Order in Complexity, that has been approved for use in public schools in several states.
If the participation of scientists is all that's needed for creationism to be science, then it is. ICR has scientists as directors, scientists on its advisory board, and scientists among its research associates. Henry Morris says they "have been called by God for a distinctive and much-needed ministry in these important days." A look at a sampling of these scientists reveals what they themselves, as quoted in an ICR publication, consider the grounds for a belief in creationism.
Dr. David R. Boylan is dean of the College of Engineering at Iowa State University. His reasons for embracing scientific creationism: "My personal testimony is that the complex physiological, emotional, and genetical nature of man can only be understood fully through the revelation about man given in the Bible.â€¦Evidence of God's handwork in nature is plentiful, as testified to by the Psalmist in the nineteenth chapter. But evidence of God's work in the spiritual realm is even more convincing. His presence to me, as a believer, is a reality. His forgiveness through Christ is an inward comfort. His provision through prayer is a source of outward strength. And His Word is a blessing continually."
Dr. Larry Butler, professor of biochemistry at Purdue University: "Only the Creationist position is true to the Scriptures."
Dr. Donald Hamann, professor of food technology at North Carolina State University: "I believe in special creation by the God of Scripture because the mass of scientific evidence corroborates Scripture and speaks of laws initiated by God."
Dr. Joseph Henson, head of the Science Division at Bob Jones University, apparently came on board quite young: "I trusted the Lord as my Savior in a summer camp when I was 8 years old and have been privileged to love and serve Him for the ensuing 33 years.â€¦I have never discovered a single fact which demands an evolutionary interpretation nor have I discovered a single fact which is contrary to God's Revealed Word."
The two most famous scientific creationists, however, and undoubtedly among the most prolific writers and lecturers in the movement, are Duane T. Gish and Henry M. Morris.
Dr. Gish has his Ph.D. in biochemistry. He is on the board of directors of the Creation Research Society, is associate director of the Institute for Creation Research, and is a professor of natural science at Christian Heritage College. Gish's belief in scientific creationism is deep and long: "I received Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour of my life when I was about ten years of age. I have always accepted the Bible as God's unchanged and unchangeable revelation to man, and since it describes man and his universe as a special creation of God, I have always been a creationist."
Dr. Henry M. Morris has degrees in hydraulics, with minors in geology and mathematics. He too is on the board of directors of the Creation Research Society and is director of the Institute for Creation Research and a founder of Christian Heritage College, where he is now a professor of apologetics. His commitment to scientific creationism, included in the lead quote for this article: "It is better to believe the revealed Word of God than any science or philosophy devised by man."
THIS IS SCIENCE? Yet Morris does talk a scientific line: "(1) The basic laws of science show that evolution is impossible at present, while simultaneously pointing back to the necessity of an initial special Creation of all things in the past; (2) the fossil record shows that evolution has not occurred in the past any more than it is occurring at present, and, furthermore, shows overwhelming evidence that the geologic column was formed rapidly in a recent worldwide flood, not slowly through many long geological ages; (3) the weight of the evidence provided by the earth's many physical processes is that the earth is very young, not nearly old enough for evolution to be a feasible explanation for the origin and development of things. The scientific model of origins that best fits all the available scientific data is that of a recent, supernatural creation of the universe and all its basic components by a transcendent Creator."
Having thus attacked evolution, and having pitched for the superiority of his creation model, Morris, it seems reasonable to expect, would provide an intelligible discussion of its scientific content. But here's what we get from him:
"Since [God] created both the universe and the creatures who must comprehend it, it is clearly necessary that acknowledgement of Him as Creator must precede any meaningful study of his creation."
Delving a bit deeper, we came up with: "Since nothing in the world has been created since the end of the creation period, everything must then have been created by means of processes which are no longer in operation and which we therefore cannot study by any means or methods of science. We are limited exclusively to divine revelation as to the date of creation, the duration of creation, the method of creation, and every other question concerning creation."
Moving right along, we discover that "the details of the creation periodâ€"duration, order, methods, purposes, etc.â€"cannot be determined from science. The scientific method is limited to the study of processes as they occur at present.â€¦there really are two creation accounts, the second written by Adam, from his viewpoint. The first (Genesis 1:1-2:3) could not have been observed by any man at all, and must have been written directly by God Himself either with His own 'finger,' as He also did the Ten Commandments (Exodus 31:18), or else by direct supernatural revelation.â€¦man should bow before its Author in believing obedience, acknowledging that He has clearly spoken, in words that are easy to be understood, concerning those things which man could never discover for himself."
The writings of Dr. Gish are only superficially better. The final paragraph in his book Evolution: The Fossils Say NO! (public school edition) reads: "After many years of intense study of the problem of origins from a scientific viewpoint, I am convinced that the facts of science declare special creation to be the only logical explanation of origins." The final paragraph in his Evolution: The Fossils Say NO! (general edition) reads: "'In the beginning God createdâ€¦' is still the most up-to-date statement that can be made about our origins!"
Yes, in more than one case, the "scientific" creationists have two sets of books: a "public school edition," for the unwashed masses, the courts, and the public school students; and a "general edition," for the chosen, the initiated, and the Christian-school children. The latter books include, in addition to the "scientific" explanations, corroborations by "the Revealed Word of God."
In the public school edition of Gish's book we finally get a definition of creation: "By creation we mean the bringing into being by a supernatural Creator of the basic kinds of plants and animals by the process of sudden, or fiat, creation."
Although we are supposed to be able to know that creationism is a better scientific model, "We do not know how the Creator created, what processes He used, for He used processes which are not now operating anywhere in the natural universe. This is why we refer to creation as special creation. We cannot discover by scientific investigations anything about the creative processes used by the Creator."
On a radio broadcast, Gish summed up his "scientific" view of origins quite nicely: "Any theories on the origin of life are outside the domain of science."
BEYOND EQUAL TIME With all this in mind, we must muse about what the creationists really want. After the Florida House Education Committee voted 7 to 6 in favor of an "equal time" bill in 1980, the St. Petersburg Times wrote: "In practice, the bill would simply end the teaching of evolutionâ€"and perhaps all scienceâ€"because few teachers and school boards would consent to teach the alternative theories the bill espouses." "And this may be something creationists would like to see," notes Dr. Frederick Edwords, Editor of Creation/Evolution. "The April 1979 Acts & Facts [Published by the Institute for Creation Research] stated: 'We are not trying to exclude evolution from public schools, unless creation is also excluded.' Nell Segraves [mother of Kelly Segraves of "Scopes II" fame] put it more plainly in debate: 'It's totally unnecessary to bring origins into a science discussion. Textbooks today can give good science without discussing philosophy of origins at all.' Dr. [Robert] Kofahl, in the same debate, then immediately added, 'We would really be satisfied to see the subject of origins removed entirely from public school science.â€¦Let's forget about origins. Let's put all origins discussions into the philosophy department.'
"In Medford, Oregon," Edwords continues in Creation/ Evolution, "it seems creationists easily got their wish. When a young student of 'scientific creationism' started stumping for equal time, the Medford School Superintendent, Richard Langton, declared the following:
"'Evolution is not taught in any of the schools of District 549C [Medford]; neither is creation for that matter. Down through the years, educators have learned that this is such a controversial subject that it is far better not to deal with it at all than to try to deal with it, even on a fair basis, pointing out the claims of both sides. At appropriate levels, where it is understood, we do teach simple genetics, but we in no way get into the question of the evolution of man.'
"We can now see the entire creationist legal program in all its glory. First they stump for equal time on the grounds that creationism is an alternate scientific view. When that fails, they argue for equal time on the grounds that creationism is an excluded religion. When that fails, they say that neither should be taught because both are philosophies. And by the time that fails, the school officials are so intimidated they begin to wish they had never even heard of evolution."
TACTICS AND ETHICS With the dual claim of being scientists and having been "called by God for a distinctive and much-needed ministry," one might suppose that the ethics of the "scientific" creationists would be beyond reproach. Let's look at the record.
Says Dr. Niles Eldredge, curator of the Department of Invertebrates at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City: "Before school boards or parent groups, creationists are fond of 'debating' scientists by bombarding the typically ill-prepared biologist or geologist with a plethora of allegations, ranging from the second law of thermodynamics (said to falsify evolution outright) to the supposed absence of fossils intermediate between 'major kinds.' No scientist is equally at home in all realms of physics, chemistry, geology, and biology in this day of advanced specialization. Not all the proper retorts spring readily to mind. Retorts there are, but the game is usually lost anyway, as rebuttals strike an audience as simply another set of authoritarian statements they must take on faith." But the slipperiness of the creationists goes beyond tactics.
In 1961 Morris and a coauthor quoted an article by evolutionists Ross and Rezak as follows: "Most visitors [to the Lewis Overthrust of Glacier National Park, Montana], especially those who stay on the roads, get the impression that the Belt strata are undisturbed and lie almost flat today as they did when deposited in the sea which vanished so many million years ago." This purported lack of folded or crumbled landscape was cited by Morris and his coauthor as evidence of a universal flood.
However, and quite importantly, these esteemed creationists neglected to quote the very next sentence in the article by Ross and Rezak: "Actually they are folded, and in certain places, they are intensely so." Did this extremely sloppy scholarship by Morris and associate come about by unethical intent or by gross negligence?
David Black, at Next magazine, wrote recently that "occasionally [the creationists] are caught in a dishonesty so flagrant it cannot be finessed. In a recent copy of the Institute's publication, Impact, Gary E. Parker, Ed.D., a research associate at the Institute, quoted Stephen Jay Gould, Ph.D., of Harvard University, a well- known evolutionist, as though Gould were making a procreationist point: 'As Gould says, our ability to classify both living and fossil species distinctly and using the same criteria fit splendidly with creationist tenets.'
"'Those bastards,' Gould said. 'Look what they did. Let me read you the paragraph that it comes from. "This notion of species as natural kinds fit"â€"past tenseâ€""splendidly with creationist tenets of a pre-Darwinian age." What I'm referring to is an old theory, not what I say. I'm just making a historical comment.'
"But Parker," notes Next's Black, "took the historical comment and, by changing the tense of the verb 'fit' and by dropping 'of a pre-Darwinian age,' made it sound as though Gould uncharacteristically were championing creationism. This is not simply a case of a creationist presenting a dissenting interpretation of a fact; Parker clearly has twisted Gould's meaning."
Says Dr. John W. Patterson, professor of materials science and engineering at Iowa State University: "Many creationists, including some with Ph.D.s and Professorships in science or engineering, assert that evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics. About the kindest thing we can say for these individuals is that they have exhibited gross incompetence as regards the second law and the concept of entropy.â€¦[But] more than mere incompetence must be seriously considered. It is quite likely that at least some of these creationists really know better, but knowingly choose to deceive their audiences about thermodynamics and evolution."
Dr. Sheldon Matlow, research consultant in chemical physics, in an open letter to chemists at large, also zeroes in on the use of the second law: "It is clear that Dr. Gish does not know any thermodynamics, or he is deliberately denying those parts of thermodynamics which disprove his arguments in favor of creation. In either case, he is presenting a perverted view of science to nonscientists with the express purpose of having this view taught in the public schools as science!"
Dr. Colin Patterson, senior vertebrate paleontologist at the British Museum in London, agreed to be interviewed on tape by creationist Luther D. Sunderland. Sunderland, it turned out later, used portions of that tape to present to legislators, and on October 4, 1979, Patterson wrote to Sunderland: "I have received a heap of paper from the Dept, of Public Instruction of the State of Iowa, including a large part of the transcript, telling me that you used it and your talk with Miles Eldredge [another prominent evolutionist] to demonstrate that he and I support the teaching of scientific creationism in public schools. I do not support that. I think the imposition of such a requirement would be an intolerable curtailment of the liberty of those teachers, would be logically indefensible, and educationally retrograde."
Dr. George Gaylord Simpson was a professor of vertebrate paleontology at Harvard University and is now president of the Simroe Foundation, which does research in ecology. Calling Simpson "the world's foremost evolutionary paleontologist," Gish has quoted him. Here's what Simpson says about those quotations: "[Dr. Gish] has lifted them out of context and then interpreted them in such a way as to distort their meaning to an extent that I can only consider dishonest.â€¦he cited me as support for the view that there are no transitional forms, whereas I said the exact opposite and gave examples.
"He also interprets my remarks as meaning that no ancestral types occur in the fossil record, whereas they do in great numbers and I said so." The scientific creationists' pronouncements can be refuted, Simpson notes, but "if I tried to answer all their silly talk and to refute all their lies I would have no time to do anything else."
BELIEFS VS. FACTS Appealing to the American public to teach the "two models" on the basis of fairness is misleading.
It creates the false impression that the scientific community is about equally divided on the issue and that it is still up in the air. In every scientific discipline related to the topic, the overwhelming number consider the occurrence of evolution a scientific fact. That evolution is called a scientific theory does not mean it is "just a speculation." In science, every comprehensive explanation of some aspect of the workings of the universe is called a theory.
It also implies that there are only two models from which to choose. This is not the case. Some people believe that we were brought here by extraterrestrials from other galaxies; many believe in a multitude of gods; many believe that each of us is reincarnated from a former life; others believe this universe was started by the occupants of another universe; and on and on. The question is whether every belief is to be accorded equal teaching time in the classroom of science, along with the theory that has come to be accepted by scientists. There may be other forums for it, but this, I submit, is not the function of a science classroom.
Science is the process of observing and drawing theories and conclusions from the observations. "Scientific creationism," on the other hand, starts with a conclusion and then engages in apologetics to justify that preconceived conclusion. In acquiescing to the teaching of creation alongside evolution, we are destroying the one thing we all agree differentiates humans from the other animals (hint: look at the name of this magazine). The idea of teaching "scientific" creationism in the public schools is bankrupt: scientifically, logically, educationally, philosophically, ethically, and constitutionally.
Besides being a Certified Public Accountant, Robert Steiner is a professional magician. He gives presentations at colleges and high schools and to civic organizations arguing a pro-reason, pro-freedom approach in the fields of psychic phenomena, scientific creationism, and unbalanced budgetary thinking.
*The original Scopes "monkey trial" took place in 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee. John Scopes was found guilty of violating state law by teaching evolution in his high school science classes. His conviction was later overturned. The trial pitting prosecuting attorney William Jennings Bryan against Clarence Darrow for the defense became one of the most famous cases in history. Tennessee's law on which Scopes was originally convicted was not repealed until 1967, having survived an attempt at repeal as late as 1961.
COUNTERING THE CREATIONISTS
We must neverâ€¦never even consider attempting to use the police power of the state (with its apparatus of fines, imprisonments, and ultimately even military might and the power of life and death) in enforcement of either the gospel in general or creationism in particular.â€¦And how do we fight the battle? Well, certainly not with the carnal weapons of legislation, judicial decision, or administrative regulation!
â€"Henry M. Morris, 1980
If movements do develop in certain places for legislation or judicial action, we strongly urge that promoters of these actions stress the scientific rather than the religious aspects of the issue. Testimony from qualified creationist scientists stressing that creation is a better scientific model of origins than evolution is essential.
â€"Henry M. Morris, 1972
How sound are the creationists' criticisms of evolution. Are their alternative explanations indeed better?
TIME WARPS. By a literal interpretation of the Bible, the universe is at the outside 10,000 years old and was created in six days. If this is true, evolution, requiring billions of years for changes to occur, is impossible; everything which now exists, exists in the same basic form in which it was created. Thus a major prong of the creationists' attack on evolution is an attempt to disprove scientists' calculations of the age of the universe.
Each of several disciplines of science has a method of dating that puts the age of the earth at billions of years and the universe many billions more. Such methods include carbon-14 dating, fossils, geological dating, radiometric dating, astronomical dating, and counting tree rings. Rather than addressing the creationist argument against each of these methods (and there are more methods), let's just examine the case against astronomical dating and then analyze the creationists' very nonscientific escape hatch.
Morris asserts: "Within the time of human observation, no such evolutionary changes [in the stars and galaxies] have ever been seen to occur at all.â€¦If we limit ourselves to real, observational science, rather than indulging in philosophical speculation, we would have to say that the stars and galaxies have always been just as they are now, since the time they were created."
David Schramm, astrophysicist at the University of Chicago, replied recently for the benefit of Time readers: "In fact, we can observe stars forming right now: in the Orion Nebula stars are visible by telescope, forming out of gas clouds. Of course, the process takes 10 million years. Obviously, none of us has watched it for 10 million years. What we do see is a series of different stars in various stages of formation. The creationists are picking up a grain of truth and totally distorting it."
What do the creationists do with items that are obviously more than 10,000 years old in appearance? We do, for example, observe light from stars that are billions of light years away.
Morris "solves" this knotty problem by asserting: "A very important fact to recognize is that true creation necessarily involves creation of an 'appearance of age.' It is impossible to imagine a genuine creation of anything without that entity having an appearance of age at the instant of creation. It would always be possible to imagine some sort of evolutionary history for such an entity, no matter how simple it might be, even though it had just been created."
Here's how the concept applies to starlight: "The Biblical record places the creation of the universe at ten thousand years or less in the past; whereas, the presently accepted distance scale held by astronomers measures the universe in billions of light years. If the light rays now reaching the earth were created in transit at the time of creation of the stellar objects, they must have been created carrying information descriptive of historical physical events (such as super novae) which never actually occurred, because we would now be observing light rays which were created in transit and never were radiated from the stars which they seem to image."
In other words, with such deceptive evidence purportedly inserted by the Creator, thinking humans, applying correct science and correct logic to that evidence, could conclude that the universe is old. How, then, do the creationists know that this conclusion is in error? They certainly can't prove it. They know this because, Henry Morris wrote in an open letter, they have been "called by God" to understand divine revelation.
Of course, we could with equal validity assert that the entire universe was created just 20 minutes ago, with our memory of the past implanted by the Creator. Does the 20-minute-ago creation theory deserve equal time in science classes?
THE FLOOD. Noah and the Flood are just loaded with explanations that outdo the accumulated wisdom of many branches of science. Whereas scientists find evidence of the development of species in the various fossils found in the geologic strata laid down over the course of billions of years, the flood is supposed to account for this evidence in short order: the fleeter, more intelligent animals were able to scamper higher up on the hills, and that's why their fossils are found in the higher portions of the geological column. (For example, the worm and the turtle?)
As geologist Christopher Gregory Weber writes: "The creationists have to postulate so many miracles to keep these creatures alive through the Flood that it would be much simpler and easier for God to create them all from scratch again after the Flood, and just forget the floating zoo."
I cannot help envisioning Noah chasing after the female malaria-bearing mosquito with his net, summoning the kangaroos to come from Australia, and wondering who or what the two spiders on the Ark had caught in their webs and were about to render extinct.
APE TO MAN. About that fossil record, evolutionary theory has it that fossils will show the transitions in the development of species. Creationists, however, claim that no transitional forms exist in the fossil record.
Counters Stephen Jay Gould, paleontologist at Harvard University: "What better transitional form could we desire than the oldest human, Australopithecus afarensis, with its apelike palate, its human upright stance, and a cranial capacity larger than any ape's of the same body size but a full 1,000 cubic centimeters below ours? If God made each of the half dozen human species discovered in ancient rocks, why did he create in an unbroken temporal sequence of progressively more modern featuresâ€"increasing cranial capacity, reduced face and teeth, larger body size? Did he create to mimic evolution and test our faith thereby?"
NOW YOU SEE ITâ€¦ By the strict canons of scientific method, say the creationists, evolution is not a scientific theory. Duane T. Gish, associate director of the Institute for Creation Research: "What criteria must be met for a theory to be considered as scientific in the usually accepted sense? George Gaylord Simpson has stated that, 'It is inherent in any definition of science that statements that cannot be checked by observation are not really about anythingâ€¦or at the very least they are not science.'" After quoting a definition of science from the Oxford English Dictionary, Gish concludes: "Thus, for a theory to qualify as a scientific theory, it must be supported by events, processes, or properties which can be observed."
When queried about Gish's remarks, Simpson replied: "What he quotes from me was not presented as a definition of science. He does correctly quote one of several definitions of science from the Oxford English Dictionary, but he immediately goes on to give a definition of scientific theory which is not supported by me, by the O.E.D., or by any scientist I know, especially his statement that no theory as to what has occurred is scientific unless the occurrence itself can now be witnessed. And quite naively, for so sly a character, he thus himself refutes the usual creationist claim that creation is a scientific theory. In fact a scientific theory is not itself an observation. It is an inference or a conclusion based on observations. Evolution is such a conclusion now based on literally millions of observations and refuted by none. Creationism is based on no observations whatever. The words of Genesis are not themselves observations; their literal truth is manifestly disproved by many observations."
CHANCES ARE. Scientific creationists are fond of quoting probability statistics to counter the idea that the earliest forms of life might have been generated by a spontaneous reaction in nonliving matter. Edward Blick, professor of aerospace, mechanical, and nuclear engineering and one of the "scientists called by God," writes: "It is possible to show that the odds against forming even the simplest protein molecule by random chance is far greater than 1067 to one! (one followed by 67 zeros)."
As a working hypothesis, let us assume that his calculation is correct. So what? Think of anything that has in fact occurred; if you look back far enough, the probability of the occurrence of the sequence of events necessary for that event to have occurred is infinitesimal.
Shuffle a normal pack of playing cards. The probability of arriving at the precise arrangement of cards at which you in fact arrive is one in 8-followed-by-67-zeros. That is, the occurrence of Dr. Blick's hypothesized event is eight times more likely than the arrangement of cards you arrived at by one simple shuffle of the pack.
Imagine your four grandparents at their time of birth. With all the choices and chances in life, not the least of which is the number of live sperm that never fertilize an egg, what is the probability that two generations later you would at this exact moment be reading this article? And yet, here you are.
CONSERVATIVE OBSERVATIONS. Even the creationists "observe" evolutionâ€"but they call it something else. Morris: "All observed instances of natural selection involve conservative adaptations to environment (e.g., the peppered moth), not generation or preservation of mutants of higher order."
Gish: "As members of a species disperse into small groups, such that they become geographically isolated, they become reproductively isolated as well. Each such group will carry with it only a fraction of the total gene pool, or genetic characteristics, of the population from which it split off. Being a small group, a high degree of in-breeding will result. Such a process may result in the rapid resurfacing of genetic traits that were previously suppressed in the large population due to dilution through intermarriage throughout the entire population. As a result, 'tribes' or 'races' arise."
Without benefit of millions (or, on their account, thousands) of years of observations, these esteemed creationists scientifically observe "conservative adaptations to environment" and the development of tribes or races. There's another word for that phenomenon; the word is evolution.
ENTROPY. On "the second law of thermodynamics" the scientific creationists pin their claim to an absolute disproof of evolution. Let's follow Morris's development of this argument.
"Any evolutionary model of the universe must conflict with one of the most fundamental laws of science, namely the Second Law of Thermodynamics."
"The Second Law (Law of Energy Decay) states that every system left to its own devices always tends to move from order to disorder, its energy tending to be transformed into lower levels of availability, finally reaching the state of complete randomness and unavailability for further work." (While there are many complex concepts tied into the Second Law, this simplified definition is suitable for the present purpose. Please note the qualification "left to its own devices.")
"For the evolution of a more advanced organism, however, energy must somehow be gained, order must be increased, and information added. The Second Law says that this will not happen in any natural process unless external factors enter to make it happen." (Please note the qualification "unless external factors enter.")
Although it is true that the two laws of thermodynamics are defined in terms of isolated systems, it is also true that in the real world there is no such thing as an isolated system. All systems in reality are open systems."
"There do exist a few types of systems in the world where one sees an apparent increase in order, superficially offsetting the decay tendency specified by the Second Law. Examples are the growth of a seed into a tree, the growth of a fetus into an adult animal, and the growth of a pile of bricks and girders into a building."
Contrary to the impression created here, the maturation of an animal from fetus to adult is not "an apparent increase in order" but a real increase in order. It is possible because an animal is not an isolated system. It can take energy from sunlight, food, water, air, and so forth. Since there is not an isolated system anywhere on earth, the maturation of fetus into adult, the maturation of seed into tree, and the evolution of a single-cell animal into a human being do not in any way violate the second law of thermodynamics.
DISPUTES. The creationists gleefully point out differences among evolutionists. These differences center around the methods by which evolution is achieved (for example, does natural selection work gradually or in bursts?); the fact of evolution remains unscathed. Scientists view disagreement and new discoveries and new ideas as the health of science: it is alive and vital. This in no way diminishes their conviction that evolution has indeed occurred.
There are many other areas of the science of evolution that are attacked by the creationists. All of their arguments start with accepting on faith the premise that the Bible is literally true. Then, after going through long apologetic presentations, they not surprisingly end up with the conclusion that the Bible is literally true.
Lest you think I oversimplify their circular reasoning, I leave you with this quote from Henry M. Morris, leader of the movement for teaching "scientific" creationism in the schools:
"If the Bible is the Word of Godâ€"and it isâ€"and if Jesus Christ is the infallible and omniscient Creatorâ€"and He isâ€"then it must be firmly believed that the world and all things in it were created in six natural days and that the long geological ages of evolutionary history never really took place at all." This in a little book of his called Scientific Creationism.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "The Facts Be Damned!".