There are a large variety of people who claim the mantle “creation scientists”. Almost all of them come from the fundamentalist Protestant wing of Christianity, although a few belong to such denominations as the Roman Catholic Church. One thing they all share in common is a belief in an inerrant Bible, one that is literally correct in all its original writings on all subjects, including its description of the Creation, Adam and Eve, and Noah’s Flood.
As in any political and religious movement, there are several schools of creationist thought, separated by doctrinal differences in their interpretations of the Bible. (According to one source, there were in 1984 no less than 22 national creationist organizations in the United States, and at least 54 state and local organizations.)
The “day-age” faction of creationism argues that the “days” referred to in Genesis are really symbolic of enormous stretches of time, and not 24-hour days. Perhaps the best-known of the “day- age” groups today are the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Another school of thought is that of the “gap” theorists, who argue that there is an unmentioned lapse of time between the first and second verses of Genesis, and that the six-day creation event did not happen until after a long period of time had already passed. Many of the televangelists are “gap” theorists. Finally, there are the “strict” creationists, who assert that creation happened as described in Genesis, and that the universe and all life was created within six days, several thousand years ago. The first two schools, the “day- age” and the “gap”, accept the geological evidence of a very ancient earth (but not the evidence of evolution), and are usually referred to collectively as the “old earth creationists”. The strict creationists, however, assert that the entire universe is just 6,000 to 10,000 years old, and they are referred to as “young-earth creationists”.
” ‘Creation-science’ includes the scientific evidences and related inferences that indicate: (1) Sudden creation of the universe, energy and life from nothing, (2) The insufficiency of mutation and natural selection in bringing about development of all living kinds from a single organism, (3) Changes only within fixed limits of originally created kinds of plants and animals, (4) Separate ancestry for men and apes, (5) Explanation of the earth’s geology by catastrophism, including the occurrence of a world- wide flood, and (6) A relatively recent inception of the earth and living kinds.” (Arkansas Legislature Act 590, 1981)
Young-earth creationism (which later became “scientific creationism”) can essentially be traced back to one man, George McCready Price, a fundamentalist Seventh Day Adventist who accepted the literal truth of the Bible as a matter of course. In 1923, Price published a book called The New Geology, in which he argued that all of the geological features we see today were the result of Noah’s Flood, and not the slow geological processes described by scientists. The “geological column”, Price asserted, was nothing more than the deep sediments deposited by the Flood, while all of the various fossils were merely the dead bodies of organisms that had drowned in the Deluge. Conventional geology, Price asserted, was a fraud, fostered upon an unsuspecting public by scientists who were doing the work of the Devil: “Some of the tricky methods used by the Great Deceiver to befuddle the people of the last days”. (cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 137) Price’s ideas became known as “Flood geology”.
While geologists dismissed Price as a crank and ridiculed The New Geology as being riddled with error and distortion, the book caused a sensation among religious fundamentalists, who cited it as the first book to use science to show that the Bible is literally correct. Price (who was not a geologist) was even cited during the Scopes trial as a scientific expert. For a time, he traveled to England, where a disciple of his, Douglas Dewar, enthusiastically echoed his mentor, saying bluntly, “The Bible cannot contain false statements, and so if its statements undoubtedly conflict with the views of geologists, these latter are wrong.” (cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 146) Much of Price’s “flood geology” can be found, nearly intact, in the writings of modern creationists.
In 1935, Price helped to form the Religion and Science Association, the first nationwide “creationist” organization. The RSA had as its acknowledged purpose that of using scientific data to support the Bible. Shortly after it was formed, however, the RSA was torn by an internal feud between those who accepted Price’s Flood geology and those who rejected it. One of RSA’s founding members, the Lutheran theologian Theodore Graebner (an old-earth creationist who taught biology in several fundamentalist universities) flatly declared that Flood geology had no supporting evidence: “In spite of all that I have read about the Flood theory to account for stratification, erosion and fossils, I cannot view the mountains without losing all faith in that solution of the problem.” (cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 112) By 1937, the Religion and Science Association had collapsed under the weight of this feuding.
Shortly after the death of the RSA, the Price supporters formed their own organization, the Deluge Geology Society, with the specific purpose of supporting the theories of Flood geology. Price was a co-founder and the most illumined member. Another co-founder was fellow Seventh Day Adventist Harold W. Clarke, who had also been a founding member of the RSA while teaching biology at an Adventist college in California. Another person who joined the DGS was a grad student from the University of Minnesota named Henry Morris, whose name will crop up very often in later creationist history.
To prevent the kind of internecine fighting that destroyed the RSA, the Deluge Geology Society only admitted committed Flood geologists as members. Despite this precaution, however, internal feuding broke out anyway, over the question of the age of the solar system. The old-earthers argued that the scientific evidence which indicated a very old solar system did not conflict with Genesis, a position which the young-earthers found heretical. The organization collapsed in 1948.
During this time, a new creationist organization appeared, one which became much more influential than the oft-ignored DGS. This was the American Scientific Affiliation, which was formed in 1941 to explain how science supported the Bible. Unlike the RSA and DGS, which were more concerned with theology than science, the ASA required all of its members to have legitimate scientific credentials. It also required all members to sign an oath of membership, swearing:
“I believe the whole Bible, as originally given, to be the inspired Word of God, the only unerring guide of faith and conduct. Since God is the Author of this Book, as well as the Creator and Sustainer of the physical world about us, I cannot conceive of discrepancies between statements in the Bible and the real facts of science.” (cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 159)
This tactic of limiting membership to scientists who already agreed to the literal truth of Genesis would later be repeated. In effect, by using scientific knowledge as an apologetic for Biblical truth, the ASA became the first “creation science” organization.
Although the ASA had no connections to the Deluge Geology Society when it was formed, it was quickly approached by the DGS, which wanted to publish a joint anti-evolution periodical. The ASA leadership, distrustful of the “strong Seventh-Day Adventist flavor” of the Deluge Society (cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 161), turned them down.
In the end, however, it was the ASA’s insistence on a semblance of scientific respectability which proved to be its undoing. Once again, Flood geology was at the center of the dispute. Dr. J. Laurence Kulp, a chemist and geologist, flatly rejected Flood geology and pointed out that it was demonstrably untrue, and to insist upon it as Biblically-inspired would make a laughingstock out of creationism. “This unscientific theory of Flood geology,” Kulp wrote, “has done and will do considerable harm to the strong propagation of the Gospel among educated people.” (cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 167) Kulp was soon joined by biologist J. Frank Cassell, who presented a paper to the ASA in 1951 bluntly stating, “Evolution has been defined as ‘the gradual or sudden change in animals and plants through successive generations’ . . . Such changes are demonstrable. Therefore, evolution is a fact.” (cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 174-175) Cassell argued that ASA’s entire attitude on evolution had to change if it was to maintain any scientific respectability, and urged ASA to adopt an attitude of theistic evolution. (This effort was partially successful. Today, the ASA takes no official position on the question of creation “science”, and most of its members are theistic evolutionists–although the group did publish a booklet entitled Teaching Science in a Climate of Controversy, which defended old- earth creationism.)
The young earthers defended their “science” against the attacks of Kulp and Cassell. During the 1953 ASA annual convention, Henry Morris presented a paper entitled “The Biblical Evidence for a Recent Creation and Universal Deluge”. Morris, a staunch Biblical literalist and young-earth creationist, had deliberately chosen to major in hydraulic engineering and minor in geology, so he could study the effects that flood waters would have on the earth. In 1946, the year he entered grad school at the University of Minnesota, he published a pamphlet called “That You Might Believe”, which defended Flood geology. Morris joined the Deluge Geology Society while still a grad student.
At the 1953 ASA convention, Morris first met John C. Whitcomb, Jr., a theologian with an interest in Flood geology and young-earth creationism. In 1957, Whitcomb finished a ThD dissertation entitled “The Genesis Flood”, which presented a detailed defense of the historicity and geological affects of Noah’s Flood. Shortly afterwards, he decided to publish the thesis as a book, but thought it would have more impact if a geologist wrote the sections dealing with Flood geology. Whitcomb approached several creationist geologists for help in the book, but was turned down by all of them, who rejected Flood geology for various reasons. Finally, he approached hydraulic engineer Henry Morris, who, after some initial hesitation, agreed to co-author the book. The Genesis Flood was financed by a number of religious fundamentalists (including Rouas J. Rushdooney, who would go on to begin the Christian “Reconstructionist” movement). The book was published in February 1961.
For geologists, The Genesis Flood was a yawn, merely an updated re-hash of McCready Price’s New Geology. The book also received criticism from the old-earth creationists, who argued that the very idea of a global Flood was not supported by any of the geological evidence. In response, Whitcomb and Morris answered simply that Genesis said there had been a global Flood, therefore there must have been one: “The real issue is not the correctness of the interpretation of various details of the geological data, but simply what God has revealed in His Word concerning these matters.” (Whitcomb and Morris, 1961, p. xxvii) To the ASA Journal, which was vocal in its criticism of the book, Morris wrote, “The real crux of the matter is ‘What saith Scripture?’ ” (cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 208)
The Southern Baptist Church where Morris taught apparently disagreed, and Morris left over theological differences concerning the Flood. Shortly afterwards, Morris formed his own College Baptist Church, and one of his guest pastors was Jerry Falwell, a then-obscure minister in nearby Lynchburg, Virginia. Since then, Falwell and Morris have remained silent partners– Falwell’s Moral Majority Inc. has given financial support to Morris’s creationist institutions, and Falwell has plugged Morris’s creationist books to his large television audience.
The dispute within the American Scientific Affiliation over Flood geology soon convinced the young-earthers that the ASA was getting “soft on evolution”. In late 1961, the plant breeder Walter Lammerts, who had long been affiliated with creationist organizations, joined with Henry Morris and Duane Gish to form an “anti-evolution caucus” within the ASA. Lammerts was an extremist even for a creationist–unlike most young-earthers, who accepted a limited form of evolution within “created kinds”, Lammerts rejected even this and asserted that no speciation of any sort was possible. Gish, a Regular Baptist and a fundamentalist, had joined the ASA in the late 1950’s, after getting his PhD in bio- chemistry from Berkeley. He worked as a protein researcher for the Upjohn Company. Together, the three formed a breakaway creationist organization called the Creation Research Committee in 1963. The Committee later changed its name to the Creation Research Society, the name it still bears today.
The CRS was the first national group to be headed by Henry Morris, the “Father of Modern Creationism”, and it quickly came to reflect the views of its leader. The purpose of the CRS, it declares, is “to publish research evidence supporting the thesis that the material universe, including plants, animals and man are the result of direct creative acts by a personal God.” (Creation Research Society, Articles of Incorporation, Lansing, Michigan, cited in Nelkin, 1982, p. 78) Morris had by this time decided that scientific data could be used as an effective tool for bringing people to Christ, and he began to point to his Flood geology model as an “alternative science”, one that proved the literal correctness of the Bible. He also began to explore the possibility of using the state legislatures to have “Balanced Treatment” acts passed, mandating equal treatment of “evolution science” and “creation science” in biology classrooms.
To help legitimize this viewpoint, CRS maintained the old ASA tactic of admitting only credentialed scientists as members. And, in an effort to avoid the faction- fighting and ideological bickering that had marked the earlier creationist organizations, CRS also adopted a long, detailed oath which all members had to swear, which bound them firmly to a literal interpretation of Genesis, a young-earth outlook, and acceptance of the Flood geology model:
“(1) The Bible is the Written Word of God, and because it is inspired thruout [sic], all its assertions are historically and scientifically true in all the original autographs. To the student of nature, this means that the account of origins in Genesis is a factual presentation of simple historical truths.
(2) All basic types of living things, including man, were made by direct creative acts of God during the Creation Week described in Genesis. Whatever biological changes have occurred since Creation Week have accomplished only changes within the original created kinds.
(3) The great Flood described in Genesis, commonly referred to as the Noachian Flood, was an historic event worldwide in its extent and effect.
(4) We are an organization of Christian men of science who accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The account of the special creation of Adam and Eve as one man and woman and their subsequent fall into sin is the basis for our belief in the necessity of a Savior for all mankind. Therefore, salvation can come only through accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior.” (By- Laws of the Creation Research Society, cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 230-231)
It may seem strange for an institution which tried to present itself as “scientific” to require all of its members to swear an oath affirming their belief in certain specific conclusions, regardless of the scientific evidence, but clearly the purpose of the Creation Research Society had less to do with scientific investigation than it had in proselytizing people to fundamentalist Biblical literalism. In fact, a large number of creationists objected to the use of science at all, arguing that the religious message was weakened and cheapened by attempting to use scientific data to “prove” the act of creation. One of the most vociferous objectors was Morris’s co-author John C. Whitcomb, who complained that “One might just as well be a Jewish or even a Muslim creation scientist as far as this model is concerned.” (Whitcomb, Grace Theological Journal, 1983, cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 246)
“By avoiding any mention of the Bible, or Christ as the Creator, we may be able to gain an equal time in some schools. But the cost would seem to be exceedingly high, for absolute certainty is lost and the spiritual impact that only the living and powerful Word of God can give is blunted.” (Whitcomb, Grace Theological Journal, 1983, cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 246)
Lammerts, meanwhile, continued to attack Morris’s new “creation science” on purely evidentiary grounds. One of Morris’s favorite new arguments was that evolution was made physically impossible by one of the most basic laws of physics, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which, Morris contended, stated that a system could never move from a state of disorganization to a state of higher organization. Since, Morris asserted, evolutionists postulated that change did indeed move from a low state of organization (simple one-celled organisms) to a higher state of organization (vertebrate terrestrial animals), the very basis of evolutionary theory violated the Second Law. Lammerts rejected this argument (and Morris’s argument is indeed based on a complete mis-statement of the Second Law), arguing that it was “confounded thermodynamics junk”. (Numbers, 1992, p. 235) British creationist A.E. Wilder-Smith also declared that Morris apparently doesn’t “know a thing about thermodynamics” (cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 408)
In 1978, Walter Lang, the editor of the creationist Bible Science Newsletter, echoed the sentiments of many creationists who felt that scientific justification for creation was unnecessary and detracted from the spiritual message: “Only about five percent of evolutionists-turned-creationists did so on the basis of the overwhelming evidence for creation in the world of nature.” (Lang, Bible Science Newsletter, June 1978, cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 233) Indeed, Lammerts, Gish and Morris had all been committed creationists before they had gained any scientific experience.
Morris, however, was completely committed to his strategy of using “creation science” to win a place for Genesis in American science classrooms, and took steps to present creationism as a scientific, not a religious, outlook. “Thus,” Morris explained, “creationism is on the way back, this time not primarily as a religious belief, but as an alternative scientific explanation of the world in which we live.” (Morris, Troubled Waters of Evolution, 1974, p. 16) Morris’s book Scientific Creationism was intended to be the definitive book on the science of creationism, suitable for use in public school biology courses.
In 1970, Morris and Christian fundamentalist preacher Tim LaHaye (of the Moral Majority Inc), working with the Scott Memorial Baptist Church, raised money and set up the Christian Heritage College in San Diego, an unaccredited Bible college. In its 1981 academic catalogue, the College offers several courses in science, all taught, it says, in a “consistently creationist and Biblical framework”. As for evolutionary theory, the catalogue states, “Biblical criteria require its rejection as possible truth.” (1981-1982 General Catalogue, Christian Heritage College, p. 10, cited in LaFollette, 1983, p. 107) Morris himself was teaching a course in “creation science” at the College.
Working with fellow creationists Kelly and Nell Segraves, who had helped establish a local chapter of the Bible Science Association–a hardline creationist organization–Morris helped establish the Creation Science Research Center, for the specific purpose of producing “creation science” materials which could be used in public classrooms once the creationists succeeded in having creation “science” put into the schools. Morris also founded the Institute for Creation Research as a scientific laboratory for the Christian Heritage College, with the avowed purpose of attempting to scientifically “prove” the literal validity of Genesis.
Shortly afterwards, however, a power struggle broke out in the CSRC between Morris and the Segraves. The Segraves wrested control of the Center, and promptly disaffiliated it from the Christian Heritage College and from the ICR. The CSRC and CRS still exist, but the brightest star in the creationist movement since 1970 has been Morris and the Institute for Creation Research.
ICR remained affiliated with the Christian Heritage College until the early 1980’s, when it became expedient for the creationists to downplay ICR’s religious connections and attempt to paint its Bible science research as a purely secular, scientific institution. ICR today attempts to maintain the fiction that it is a scientific institute with no religious affiliations, but most ICR staffers, including Henry Morris and Duane Gish, are still adjunct professors at the Christian Heritage College. The ICR carries out no field research in any of the life sciences, and, despite its claim to be purely scientific, it maintains its tax-exempt status with the IRS on the grounds that it is a religious institution carrying out “non-scientific research”.
A number of smaller creationist organizations also exist. The old Geoscience Research Institute is still active. It is based at Loma Linda University, a Seventh-Day Adventist college. For the most part, GRI avoids legislative or political work, and focuses instead on providing creationist reference materials to biology and geology teachers. GRI adheres to old-earth creationism.
Another small organization which gets some press occasionally is the Creation Evidences Museum near Glen Rose, Texas. The Museum is run by the Rev Carl Baugh, who has a PhD in anthropology from the College of Advanced Education, an unaccredited Bible college on the grounds of the Sherwood Park Baptist Church. The primary attractions of the Museum are the so-called “man tracks” from nearby Dinosaur Valley State Park, along the Paluxy River. According to the creationists, the state park contains dinosaur tracks alongside those of modern humans, proving that the two lived together. Baugh has also claimed to have found a fossil human tooth buried among the dinosaur bones. Ever since his major claims (including the footprints and the “human tooth”) have been debunked, Baugh is viewed as somewhat of an oddball by the major creationist groups.
Perhaps some mention should be made of the fringe creationist groups which even the ICR and CSRC acknowledge are a bit loony. The best known of these has to be the Flat Earth Society, which argues on both scientific and religious grounds that the earth is really flat, and that geological and astronomic data, if properly interpreted, prove this to be true. (The Flat Earthers were recently featured in a television special aired by the Discovery Channel cable network.) Another fringe group is the Tychonian Society, which, unlike the Flat Earth Society, accepts that the earth is round, but which argues, on scientific and religious grounds, that the earth is at the center of the universe and the sun revolves around it.
One of the most recent of the creationist groups is the Center for Creation Research, which was founded in 1988 as part of the Moral Majority Inc.’s Liberty University. Falwell and Moral Majority have long had close ties to ICR and other creationists–Henry Morris himself was awarded an honorary doctorate from Liberty University in 1989. The Center for Creation Research, which proudly declared that it has the largest creation museum in the world, was directed by former ICR staff member Dr. Lane Lester. It has since been closed for lack of funding.
The CCR’s influence came directly through its ties with Liberty University. All Liberty students must take a semester-long class in creationist biology, entitled “A History of Life”. In addition, the university’s Biology Education Program heavily emphasizes a creationist view–and this program is accredited by the state of Virginia to train teachers. This means that, in a few years, teachers who have been trained in creation “science” will be eligible for teaching jobs in Virginia and elsewhere–an accomplishment that no other creationist organization has been able to match. (The ICR also has a “graduate school” for students, but it is not accredited to train teachers.)
For the moment, however, the ICR is the shining star of the young-earth creationist movement, and is responsible for most of the creationist literature that is available today (ICR also produces creationist films in conjunction with Films for Christ). The ICR makes a lot of self-congratulatory noise about its “scientific credentials”. Members of the ICR, it proudly declares, are required to have an advanced degree in at least one of the sciences. They usually fail to mention, however, that, like the CRS, all of its members must sign an oath affirming their belief in a literal interpretation of Genesis and their acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. (Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, and any other non-fundamentalist creationists are not allowed membership in the ICR unless they renounce those beliefs and sign the ICR’s oath of Biblical infallibility.)
One of the ICR’s favorite pamphlets is entitled “Twenty-One Scientists Who Believe in Creation”, which lists a number of holders of doctorates and masters degrees in various scientific disciplines who assert the literal correctness of Genesis. Of the 21 listed by ICR, though, only a tiny number hold a degree in any of the life sciences. Three of the 21 hold doctorates in education, two are theologians, five are engineers. The remainder include a physicist, a chemist, a psycho-linguist, and a “food scientist”.
Some creation “scientists”, however, have been less luminary in their academic achievements, and some have been downright dishonest. Of those claiming to have degrees in biology or geology (areas which are relevant in assessing the scientific evidence for the evolution model), at least some seem to have degrees that are at best questionable and are at worst deliberate distortions or frauds. “Dr.” Harold Slusher, one of the co-founders of the CRS, got a doctorate degree in geophysics from something called the Columbia Pacific University in California. Mr. Slusher was forced by the CRS itself to drop the “Dr.” title from his name when it was discovered that this “university” is nothing more than a non- accredited correspondence school, the kind that advertise on the back of matchbooks. (Numbers, 1992, p. 288) Similarly, “Dr.” Clifford Burdick of the Creation Research Society flunked out of two separate programs before obtaining a doctorate in geology from the “Arizona University of Physical Sciences”, which consists solely of a post office box at a non-accredited diploma mill. (Numbers, 1992, pp. 262-263)
The creationist movement also does not like to talk about the scientists who leave after being given the opportunity to do real field research. In 1957, the Geoscience Research Institute was formed in order to search for evidence of Noah’s Flood in the geological record. The project fell apart when both of the creationists involved with the project, P. Edgar Hare and Richard Ritland, completed their field research with the conclusion that fossils were much older than allowed under the creationist assertions, and that no geological or paleontological evidence of any sort could be found to indicate the occurrence of a world-wide flood. (Numbers, 1992, pp 291-293) Hare concluded, “We have been taught for years that almost everything in the geological record is the result of the Flood. I’ve seen enough in the field to realize that quite substantial portions of the geologic record are not the direct result of the Flood. We have also been led to believe . . . that the evidence for the extreme age of the earth is extremely tenuous and really not worthy of any credence at all. I have tried to make a rather careful study of this evidence over the past several years, and I feel that the evidence is not ambiguous but that it is just as clear as the evidence that the earth is round.” (cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 294) Ritland, for his part, pointed out that Morris’s book The Genesis Flood contained “flagrant errors which the uninitiated person is scarcely able to detect”. (cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 294) Ritland concluded that further attempts to justify Flood geology would “only bring embarrassment and discredit to the cause of God”. (cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 293)
A few years later, creationist biologists Carl Krekeler and William Bloom, who taught creationist biology at the Lutheran Church’s Valparaiso University in Indiana, left after concluding that a literal interpretation of Genesis was not supported by any of the available scientific evidence. Krekeler concluded, “The documentation, not only of changes within a lineage such as horses, but of transitions between the classes of vertebrates– particularly the details of the transition between reptiles and mammals–forced me to abandon thinking of evolution as occurring only within ‘kinds’. ” (cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 302) Krekeler also criticized the creationist movement for the “dozens of places where half-truths are spoken, where quotations supporting the authors’ views are taken from the context of books representing contrary views, and where there is misrepresentation.” (cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 303) The two became theistic evolutionists, and later wrote a biology textbook which accepted evolutionary theory.
Perhaps as a result of these defections, the creationist movement no longer finances or carries out any field research of any sort. Its sole method of “scientific research” consists of combing through the published works of evolutionary mechanism theorists to look for quotations which can be pulled out of context and used to bolster creationist beliefs.
Undoubtedly, there are scientists with legitimate degrees from legitimate universities who do believe in creationism and the literal truth of Genesis, just as there are scientists with legitimate degrees from legitimate universities who believe in ESP, flying saucers, ghosts, Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. Even the Flat Earth Society has its contingent of scientific members. The mere fact that a number of scientists happen to profess one belief or another is no indication that this belief is valid. Validity in science is decided by the evidence and data, not by a popularity contest or a vote. Despite 25 years of effort, none of the ICR’s scientists has yet come forward with any conclusive (or even credible) evidence which refutes the evolutionary model of biological development.
Not all of the young-earth creationists are scientists. One of the creationist witnesses at the Arkansas trial was Dr. Norman Geisler, a fundamentalist theologian at the Dallas Theological Seminary. During his pre-trial deposition, Geisler was asked if he believed in a real Devil. Yes, he replied, he did, and cited some Biblical verses as confirmation. The conversation then went:
“Q. Are there, sir, any other evidences for that belief besides certain passages of Scripture?
GEISLER: Oh, yes. I have known personally at least 12 persons who were clearly possessed by the Devil. And then there are the UFOs.
Q. The UFOs? Why are they relevant to the existence of the Devil?
GEISLER: Well, you see, they represent the Devil’s major, in fact, final attack on the earth.
Q. Oh. And sir, may I ask how you know, as you seem to know, that there are UFOs?
GEISLER: I read it in the Readers Digest.” (Trial Transcript, US District Court, McLean v Arizona, 1981, cited in Gilkey, 1985, p. 76)
At trial, Geisler testified under oath (apparently with a straight face) that flying saucers were “Satanic manifestations for the purposes of deception”. (Trial transcript, US District Court, McLean v Arkansas, 1981, cited in Gilkey, 1985, p. 77, LaFollette, 1983, p. 114 and Nelkin, 1982, p. 142)
Geisler also testified that the Arkansas creationism bill did not introduce religion into the schools for the simple reason that God is not a religious concept. “It is possible,” Geisler intoned, “to believe that God exists without necessarily believing in God.” In support of this idea, Geisler argued that the Devil acknowledged the existence of God but did not worship Him, and therefore treated God as a non-religious concept. (Trial transcript, McLean v Arkansas, 1981, cited in Berra, 1990, p. 134) Judge Overton rather politely concluded that Geisler’s notion “is contrary to common understanding”. (Overton Opinion, McLean v Arkansas, 1981)
Recently, ICR’s dominance of the young-earth creationist movement has been challenged by two others. The first (and probably the looniest) is “Dr” Kent Hovind, a Florida preacher who is perhaps best-known for his “challenge” offering $250,000 to anyone who can prove to him that evolution happens. “Dr” Hovind (the “doctoral degree” comes from an unaccredited diploma mill) seems to be an unabashed militia-type kook. He has faced several years of legal problems for his refusal to pay taxes, and has spouted all sorts of looney “government conspiracy” theories, including such gems as “the government is watching us through our TV sets” and “the US government carried out the Oklahoma City bombing so they could blame the militias”, and “AIDS and the West Nile virus are the products of American biological warfare labs”. Hovind also thinks that flying saucers come from the Devil. Most other creationist organizations view Hovind as an embarrassment.
The biggest challenger to ICR, though, is Answers in Genesis, founded by former ICR staffer Ken Ham. Unlike the creation “scientists”, AIG is openly adamant about the religious basis of its opposition to evolution, and makes no attempt to hide the fact that it is a “Christian apologetics organization”. In general, AIG’s theology and “science” are much the same as ICR’s. AIG’s significance, however, comes from the fact that it is much more active in supporting international efforts to expand creationism than is ICR (AIG funds anti-evolution movements in Russia, Sount America and elsewhere). AIG has also distinguished itself by publishing a long list of “arguments creationists should not use”, concluding that “Persisting in using discrdited arguments simply rebounds — it is the truth that sets us free.” (AIG website). Many of the arguments that AIG concldues are “discredited” are some of the old staples still being used by other young-earthers, such as “darwin recanted on his deathbed”, “moon dust proves the earth is young”, “Archaeopteryx is a hoax”, “the Paluxy tracks prove men lived with dinosaurs”, “c-decay proves a young earth”, and “anything from Carl Baugh”. In response, AIG has drawn criticism from other young-earthers (including Hovind) for “fragmenting” the Christian movement. Historically, fundies have never been very good at tolerating any criticism or dissent, particularly from within their own ranks.
The young-earth creationists, while dominating most of the creation “science” movement, are opposed by the “old-earth” groups. The old-earthers accept that the earth is billions of years old and that the young-earth “flood geology” is alrgely wrong, but agree with the young-earthers that evolution is wrong, false and anti-Christian. The largest and best-known of the old-earth creationist groups is Reasons to Believe, founded by astronomer Hugh Ross. The very name of the group makes its aim apparent. Ross’s credibility as a scientist is perhaps best illustrated by his book “Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men”, in which he argues that flying saucers and UFO’s are demons which are sent by the Devil in order to lure Christians into abandoning Christ for the occult.
Another active old-earth creationist organization is the Foundation for Thought and Ethics. The FTE produced a proposed creationist biology textbook, Of Pandas and People, which has not been approved by any state education boards but occasionally turns up in local school districts. Although FTE claims it is a scientific group, on the tax exemption forms it files with the IRS, it states that the organization’s purpose is “proclaiming, publishing and preaching . . . the Christian gospel and understanding of the Bible” (cited in Eve and Harrold, 1991, p. 131)
With the crushing defeat of the creation “science” movement, anti-evolutionists struck out in a new tactic, one that attempts to unfiy all of the various sects and dogmas into a single “big tent” which can set aside their internal doctrinal differences and focus on their common enemy. This new movement is called “intelligent design theory”. It’s primary proponent is a branch of the Discovery Institute called the Center for Science and Culture (the original name, the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, was changed because it sounded “too religious”. At about the same time, the Center’s logo, showing Michaelangelo’s God reaching out to touch a strand of DNA, was dropped and replaced by some photos from the Hubble Space Telescope — apparently the old logo was too explicit about the Institute’s religious aims).
The “intelligent design” movement, like the earlier creation “scientists”, claims to be a solely scientific group which argues that the “scientific evdience” supports the view that “an unknown intelligent designer” manipulated the development of life. Unlike the creation “science” movement, though, which published book after book detailing their conclusions, the intelligent design movement is very careful to avoid any and all discussion about such topics as the age of the earth, or whether humans are descended from primates. This is a deliberate strategy on their part to avoid the internal doctrinal schisms which have always destroyed creationist organizations. IDers are also very careful to make no statement or implication about who or what this “intelligent designer” is, or what exactly it is supposed to have done. In particular, they deny strenouously that their “intelligent designer” is really just God, instead asserting that it could just as easily be space aliens who “intelligently designed” life:
“Creationism is focused on defending a literal reading of the Genesis account, usually including the creation of the earth by the Biblical God a few thousand years ago. Unlike creationism, the scientific theory of intelligent design is agnostic regarding the source of design and has no commitment to defending Genesis, the Bible or any other sacred text.” (Discovery Institute website)
“Intelligent design theory may hold implications for fields outside of science such as theology, ethics, and philosophy. But such implications are distinct from intelligent design as a scientific research program.” (Discovery Institute website)
“Although intelligent design fits comfortably with a belief in God, it doesn’t require it, because the scientific theory doesn’t tell you who the designer is,” Behe said. “While most people – including me – will think the designer is God, some people might think that the designer was a space alien…”. Michael Behe (quoted in Pittsburg Post-Gazette”)
“It could be space aliens. There are many possibilities.” _– William Dembski, quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle
“For this purpose, it does not matter whether the intelligence is thought to belong to God, or to some alien race of intelligent beings, or to some entity we cannot yet imagine.” — Phillip Johnson, posting in the ARN discussion forum
In their candid moments, though, the prominent IDers are open about their real aims:
“We are building on this momentum, broadening the wedge with a positive scientific alternative to materialistic scientific theories, which has come to be called the theory of intelligent design (ID). Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.” — Discovery Institute’s “Wedge Document”
“1. To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies. 2. To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.” — Discovery Institute’s “Wedge Document”
“What I always say is that itâ€™s not just scientific theory. The question is best understood as: Is God real or imaginary?” Phillip Johnson quoted, The Search for Intelligent Design in the Universe, Silicon Valley Magazine, January 9, 2000.
“Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools.” (Phillip Johnson, American Family Radio, Jan 10, 2003 broadcast)
“Intelligent design is the Logos of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory.” (William Dembski, Jul/Aug 1999, Touchstone, p. 84)
Some idea of the Dicovery Institute’s real aims can be revealed by looking at its funding sources. Nearly all of the Discovery Institute’s money comes in the form of grants from wealthy “conservative” fundamentalist Christians. They got around $350,000 from the Maclellan Foundation, a fundie lobbying group in Tennessee. Their single biggest source of money, though, is Howard Ahmanson, a California savings-and-loan bigwig. Ahmanson’s gift of $1.5 million was the original seed money to organize the Center for Science and Culture, the arm of the Discovery Institute which focuses on promoting “intelligent design theory”.
Ahmanson is a Christian Reconstructionist — a fringe group of fundies who argue that the US Constitution should be abandoned and the US should be “reconstructed” under “Biblical law”. They are the Christian equivilent of the Muslim fundamentalists who want to form “Islamic states” under “Islamic law”. Ahmanson is long associated with JR Rushdooney, one of the original founders of the Reconstructionist movement — and one of the original financial backers of Henry Morris and the ICR (Rushdooney paid most of the publishing costs for Morris’s first book, “The Genesis Flood”. Similarly, the Discovery Institute’s Phillip Johnson dedicated his book “Defeating Darwinism” to “Howard and Roberta” — Ahmanson and his wife.)
Ahmanson has given several million dollars over the past few years to anti-evolution groups (including Discovery Institute), as well as anti-gay groups, “Christian” political candidates, and funding efforts to split the Episcopalian Church over its willingness to ordain gay ministers. He was also a major funder of the recent “recall” effort in California which led to the election of Terminator Arnie.
Some of Ahmanson’s donations are channeled through the Fieldstead Foundation, which is a subspecies of the Ahmanson foundation “Fieldstead” is Ahmanson’s middle name). The Fieldstead Foundation funds many of the travelling and speaking expenses of the DI’s shining stars.
The shining star of the Discovery Institute and the “intelligent design” movement is Michael Behe, a biochemist professor at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. Although many young-earthers like to quote Behe as a “supporter”, he himself makes it clear that he accepts all of evolution and geology, that he concludes humans are evolved from apelike primates, and simply thinks that God — uh, I mean “An Unknown Intelligent Designer”, manipulated this process at certain points (he is rather vague about which points) to produce humans.
“Scott refers to me as an intelligent design “creationist,” even though I clearly write in my book Darwin’s Black Box (which Scott cites) that I am not a creationist and have no reason to doubt common descent. In fact, my own views fit quite comfortably with the 40% of scientists that Scott acknowledges think “evolution occurred, but was guided by God.” (“Intelligent Design Is Not Creationism Response to ‘Not (Just) in Kansas Anymore’ by Eugenie C. Scott”, Science (May 2000), Michael J. Behe, Science Online,July 7, 2000)
“Evolution is a controversial topic, so it is necessary to address a few basic questions at the beginning of the book. Many people think that questioning Darwinian evolution must be equivalent to espousing creationism. As commonly understood, creationism involves belief in an earth formed only about ten thousand years ago, an interpretation of the Bible that is still very popular. For the record, I have no reason to doubt that the universe is the billions of years old that physicists say it is. Further, I find the idea of common descent (that all organisms share a common ancestor) fairly convincing, and have no particular reason to doubt it.” (Behe, “Darwin’s Black Box, p. 5)
“I believe the evidence strongly supports common descent.” (Behe, Darwin’s Black Box, p.176)
“I dispute the mechanism of natural selection, not common descent.” (Behe, Reply to My Critics, Biology and Philosophy 16, p697, 2001)
“Behe said ID is “several levels of biology removed from the hominid versus chimp distinction.” The point of contention between evolution and intelligent design is whether design or chance guided human development?not how humans developed.
“Darwin’s claim to fame was not so much that he thought that organisms might have evolved from common ancestors,” Behe said. “Other people had put forward other theories but had always invoked guiding intelligence. His main point was that it might happen by chance.” (Todd Hertz, “A Nuclear Bomb” For Evolution?: Critics of Darwinism say skull’s discovery isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, Christianity Today, August 12th 2002)
“Perhaps the single most stunning thing about Darwin’s Black Box, Michael Behe’s “Biochemical Challenge to Evolution,” is the amount of territory that its author concedes to Darwinism. As tempted as they might be to pick up this book in their own defense, “scientific creationists” should think twice about enlisting an ally who has concluded that the Earth is several billion years old, that evolutionary biology has had “much success in accounting for the patterns of life we see around us (1),” that evolution accounts for the appearance of new organisms including antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and who is convinced that all organisms share a “common ancestor.” In plain language, this means that Michael Behe and I share an evolutionary view of the natural history of the Earth and the meaning of the fossil record; namely, that present-day organisms have been produced by a process of descent with modification from their ancient ancestors. Behe is clear, firm, and consistent on this point. For example, when Michael and I engaged in debate at the 1995 meeting of the American Scientific Affiliation, I argued that the 100% match of DNA sequences in the pseudogene region of beta-globin was proof that humans and gorillas shared a recent common ancestor. To my surprise, Behe said that he shared that view, and had no problem with the notion of common ancestry. Creationists who believe that Behe is on their side should proceed with caution – he states very clearly that evolution can produce new species, and that human beings are one of those species.” (Kenneth R Miller, Darwin’s Black Box, Reviewed by Kenneth R. Miller (as published in Creation / Evolution Volume 16: pp, 36-40 )