Formerly a professor of biology and geology, Frank R. Zindler is now a science writer. He is a member of the American Association for Advancement of Science, and the American Schools of Oriental Research. His articles appear regularly in this magazine "The Probing Mind."
The following speech was presented on Friday, April 17, 1992, at the Twenty-second Annual National Convention of American Atheists.
The war between the creationists and the public schools is over. The creationists appear to have won. Despite the fact that they have failed to impose laws outlawing the teaching of evolution, despite the fact that they have failed to impose laws forcing "equal time" for creationist mythology and evolutionary science, and despite the fact that scientists daily discover ever more evidence proving the reality of evolution, almost no evolution science is taught in the public schools of the United States. Schoolboards and teachers have been so intimidated by the Genesis-junkies that almost no one dares to deal with the supposedly controversial subject of evolution.
As if this were not bad enough, in California, the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) has recently been given nearly a quarter of a million dollars by the state as reimbursement for legal expenses incurred when it brought suit against California for its attempt to prevent the ICR from granting master's degrees in the sciences.
We are told by Henry Morris, Duane Gish, and the other creationist superstars that it is nothing short of outrageous that the State of California has tried to prevent the ICR from granting master's degrees in astro/geophysics, biology, geology, and science education. What are the facts of the matter? The fact is, the ICR is the best-equipped creationism school in the world. For example, it sports a four-room grad-school, something no other creationist believe-tank can match. Each department has an entire room for itself. Since there is a laboratory nook at the back of each room, ICR master scholars can conduct labora-tory work as well as Bible study in the same room. Although the laboratory nook for astro/geophysics has no equipment presently functioning, I believe the biology nook, however, has more than one microscope. How is that for being well-equipped for graduate study?
Craters of the Moon
One of the hallmarks of genuine scientific theories is their capacity to explain puzzling features of the physical world. In the case of so-called "creation science," this explanatory power can sometimes be little short of breath-taking. In his 1972 book The Remarkable Birth Of Planet Earth, Henry Morris, the president of the Institute for Creation Research in San Diego, applied the never-defined principles of "creation science" to explain why Mars and the Moon are cratered. To do so, however, he had to include a biblical explanation of the stars also.
Since Morris teaches that the universe is only a few thousand years old, there is the embarrassing fact that many stars are millions or indeed billions of light-years distant. If the stars themselves are only a few thousand years old, their light should not yet have reached us, and so most of the stars of the universe would be invisible if creationism were true. But Morris can explain:
"This problem seems formidable at first, but is easily resolved when the implications of God's creative acts are understood. The very purpose of creation centered in man. Even the angels themselves were created to be "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation" (Hebrews 1:14). Man was not some kind of afterthought on God's part at all, but was absolutely central in all His plans.In other words, the light we see coming from a star a hundred million light-years away has not been travelling for a hundred million years. God created the light close to the earth; the light never came from a star at all. It just looks that way! God, it would seem, has created a world of deceitful appearances. Curiously, Morris seems unaware of this embar-rassing implication of his explanation, and he overlooks a further difficult point: if God created the stars to be indicators of times and seasons to the prescientific inhabitants of the earth, isn't it odd that it is precisely the stars for which he had to create false rays of light which are invisible to the naked eye - and thus could not be used "for signs and seasons"?
As president of the ICR, Morris presides over an institution which, we have already noted, is em-powered by the State of California to grant master's degrees in "astro/geophysics." Thus it is of more than a little interest to see what Dr. Morris can tell us about the stars and planets.
"We still do not know the full answer to the problem of the total purpose of all the stars. Especially is this true of the innumerable stars that can only be seen through telescopes… The stars that are visible to the naked eye are, of course, valuable for navigation as well as beauty, but these only constitute an infini-tesimal fraction of the total number of stars. What, then, was the purpose God had in creating all the others?Give that man a master's degree in astrophysics!
Morris then discusses the astronomical results of sin and gives a brief account of the revolt of Satan and his angels and of their warfare with Michael and his angels. Using some sort of creationist principle -perhaps something like "the cosin of the star is proportional to the angle of the angel" -Morris opines that:
"The physical stars, which are somehow asso-ciated with the spiritual host of heaven, may thus be also involved in this heavenly warfare. The 'stars' associated with the solar system, such as the planets and asteroids (and it should be remembered that the term 'star' in Biblical usage applies to any heavenly body other than the sun and moon) would be particularly likely to be involved, in view of the heavy concentration of angels, both good and evil, around the planet Earth."3Just how Dr. Morris was able to measure the concentration of angels in the vicinity of the planet Earth is not revealed. But we continue:
"There are a number of Biblical references indicating that in some way the stars may actually participate in human battles (Numbers 24:17; Judges 5:20; Revelation 6:13; 8:10; etc.).… In any case, the possibility is at least open that the fractures and scars on the moon and Mars, the shattered remnants of an erstwhile planet that became the asteroids, the peculiar rings of Saturn, the meteorite swarms, and other such features that somehow seem alien to a 'very good' universe as God must have created it may have been acquired later. Perhaps they reflect some kind of heavenly catastrophe associated either with Satan's primeval rebellion or his continuing battle against Michael and his angels.…Perhaps the ICR can add a master's degree in demonic astrology to its list of unnatural science degrees granted! But we have not exhausted the explanatory power of creation science. Morris can explain U.F.O.'s as well:
"…the well-documented association of certain 'U.F.O.' sightings with occultic influences and ten-dencies suggests that the 'rulers of the darkness of this world' (Ephesians 6:12) are increasingly imagin-ative in their battles for the minds of men."5Like Billy Graham, Morris seems to think that U.F.O.'s are actually angels - evil angels.
Dividing the Darkness
While most of the creationists busily at work undermining science education are fundamentalist Protestant Christians, Catholics and Jews can be creationists also. We have just seen how Henry Morris deals with the problem of distant stars seeming to prove the great antiquity of the universe. Creationist Jews have pondered the problem also, and one of them has come up with a rather different solution.
In 1988, the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists published a volume of articles entitled Challenge: Torah Views on Science and its Problems. Among the articles in that book is one written by one Rabbi Simon Schwab. Its title is "How old is the Universe?"
The rabbi writes:
"Our question is: How old is the Universe? Answer: the Universe is 5735 years old, plus six Creation Days."6 [The article was originally published in 1962, so we can add the necessary extra years to the age of the universe.]Rabbi Schwab, like Henry Morris, is concerned with light. Unlike Morris, however, he focuses on the problem posed by light being created on the first day of creation, even though the sun and stars were not zapped into existence until the fourth day. He also is concerned to explain the peculiar fact that Elohim is said to have divided the light from the darkness - a process Mark Twain likened to picking black-eyed peas out of tapioca, ridiculing the authors of Genesis for not knowing that darkness is merely the absence of light.
According to Rabbi Schwab, however,
"Light was first intermingled with darkness. This 'darkness' seems to have been not an absence of light, but a created darkness, the exact nature of which is not revealed. Maybe it was akin to what scientists today call a concentration of cosmic dust, dark 'nebulae' or the like. When Light appeared for the first time, it was obscured partly by some dark matter and it did not unveil its brilliance."7You can see already we have gone light-minutes beyond the reasoning of the experts at the ICR! It should be mentioned, however, that Prof. Richard Niessen, of Christian Heritage College - which is closely affiliated with the ICR - back in 1985 told attendees (including me) at a creationism conference in Cleveland that creationists should devote more time to darkness research. Agreeing with Rabbi Schwab that darkness is a thing in itself, not just the absence of light, Prof. Niessen laid out projects for the assembled creationist savants to pursue:
"A second possible thing that creationists might look for is some kind of an instrument that will detect darkness. It is my conclusion, based on [scripture] that darkness is a positive thing."But to get back to Rabbi Schwab: the thesis of his article gets better - that is to say, more difficult to understand. According to the Rabbi, there is a universal, unalterable marker of the passage of time, the appearance and reappearance of what he calls "the creation light." As you know from the Bible, the first 'day' began in the 'evening' - and to this day, Orthodox Jews consider the Sabbath to begin at sundown on Friday.
Hearken unto Rabbi Schwab:
"Here we have a clear definition of the first creation Day. It begins as 'evening' by the appearance of the creation Light, partially obscured by darkness, until the darkness disappears to leave the creation-Light to shine brilliantly for some time until it disappears. In other words, the first creation Day is equal to the time it takes the creation-Light to appear, alternately shining dimly and strongly until it fades away…"8Although no one was aware of the fact until Rabbi Schwab revealed it in 1962,
"Each time our globe turns, the creation Light appears until a full rotation of the earth has been completed; whereupon it reappears again for the same performance, and so on and on, until the end of days.Although this now-undetectable light has always flashed on-and-off at twenty-four-hour intervals, during the six days of god's creative activity other measures of time were not working the way they do now. During creation week, all the processes of nature worked much, much faster than they now do. During what are now six periods of twenty-four hours, billions of years of physical, geological, and chemical processes were able to transpire by virtue of their enormous rapidity. Thus, both gentile science and the Torah are correct. All the processes that would take billions of years to complete did in fact run their course; they simply were compacted into six days. Beginning with the evening of the seventh day of creation week, when Elohim had to take a rest, natural processes slowed to their current rate, with each rotation of the earth on its axis corresponding to one reappearance of the 'creation-Light.'
Dazzling isn't it? The reasoning, I mean. The "creation-Light" you can't even see!
While the Rabbi seems to have come up with an unfalsifiable method for reconciling the great age of the universe required by astronomy with the absurdly young age required by Genesis, there remains a problem. Apart from the fact that unfalsifiable statements - statements for which you can't even imagine a way to devise a test - are scientifically meaningless, there is the awkward difficulty involving the sequences of events recorded by Genesis on the one hand, and geology on the other.
Thus, we have Genesis chapter one telling us that green plants are older than the sun, whereas the record in the rocks gives us something more than a sneaking suspicion that the sun is older than green plants! It quite boggles the mind to contemplate green plants waiting millions of years for the sun to begin to shine. Genesis tells us that birds are older than reptiles, whereas the paleontological evidence is crystal clear: birds descended from reptiles, and did so many many millions of years after the first reptiles appeared. In addition to the problems with the sequence of creation given in Genesis chapter one, there is the stupendous problem of Genesis chapter two. In that chapter we learn that Adam - the first male of the human species - was created before all other kinds of living things, even before plants - and Eve was created as an afterthought when Adam couldn't quite get into bestiality. Perhaps the time-warp proposed by the good Rabbi also worked as a sequence-warp.
Perhaps the greatest danger posed by the creationists results from their almost universal lack of a sense of humor and their incredible credulity. They never laugh when they read each others' books, and they easily can be made to believe almost anything. A society where everyone is gullible will not survive for long, and a world without humor is indistinguishable from hell. I fear that creationist dominance of the schools is leading to a generation of Americans who have no training in critical thinking and will believe anything - a generation which has never been allowed to laugh at preposterosity.
During the eight years that Ronald Religion was Evangelist-in-Chief, many humorless gulls found high places to roost in America, and NASA became broadly infested with creationists. The infiltration of creationists into NASA had actually begun earlier, during the period that Richard Nixon and Billy Graham were occupying the White House. One of these early infiltrators was the astronaut James Irwin, a man who walked on the moon in July of 1971. By the time that Reagan moved into the White House and began to question the actuality of evolution, Irwin had moved beyond both NASA and the moon. He had begun the quest for Noah's Ark.
It was in 1982. With a B-grade actor having made it as far as the Oval Office, no one was laughing at anything any more. If Irwin had gone to Turkey in pursuit of a rowboat on a mountain top, there might yet have been some smiles. But when he announced that he was launching an expedition to find an ocean liner-sized boat - a boat fifty percent longer than a football field and four stories high - an ocean liner on top of a seventeen thousand-foot high volcano, no one among the religiously repressed media raised an eyebrow let alone laughed aloud. No one investigated to find out that Irwin, supposedly a product of the flowering of American technology and know-how, the ambassador of high-tech science, was being advised by people totally devoid of a sense of humor. No one knew that Irwin's credulous companion Eryl Cummings had been taken in by an April Fool's joke, and had infected the credulous Irwin in turn.
The story began about ten years before James Irwin fell of a cliff atop Mt. Ararat and made the United States the laughingstock of the civilized world. The story can be reconstructed from material published by Violet Cummings, the wife of Irwin's expedition partner Eryl Cummings. In her book Has Anybody Really Seen Noah's Ark?, Mrs. Cummings tells of a phone call her husband received at their home in Farmington, New Mexico. Eryl was being called by Dr. Charles Willis, a physician from Fresno, California. After a long conversation, the doctor told Cummings, "I have in my possession actual photos of the Ark." The photos were illustrations accompanying a Russian-language article which had been published in the early 1930s, in a White Russian refugee publication called Mech Gedeona ('The Sword of Gideon').
Violet Cummings learned that the editor of Mech Gedeona had adapted the story from an earlier photostory which had appeared in Rubez, another refugee publication. Rubez, in turn, had picked up the story and translated it from a German feature story published in the Kölnische Illustrierte Zeitung, on April 1, 1933.
At this point, anyone except a fundamentalist would have started to laugh. But fundamentalists, as I have already remarked, are utterly bereft of a sense of humor. April 1 is just as good a day for divine revelation as any other day. After the editor of Mech Gedeona saw the German article with its photos of explorers, native guides, and the great-granddaddy of all the mountain boats itself, Mrs. Cummings tells us:
"In all good faith the editor, a Christian minister and physician, thanked God for the verification of the Bible and used the story for Mech Gedona [sic]. He was completely unaware that on April 8, a week after its original publication, an editorial had appeared in the same German newspaper confessing that the entire story of the 'discovery' had been a huge joke - a 'hoax' perpetrated upon the unsuspecting German public as part of their annual 'All Fool's Day'… celebration."10The first version of the story seen by the Cummings was the Russian-language Mech version, and they had a bit of trouble transliterating the names of the expeditioners from Cyrillic into the Latin alphabet. They wanted, of course, to get in touch with these people so they could get needed infor-mation with which to plan their own expedition to Mt. Ararat. The names of the archaeologists in charge appeared to be either Stonehouse, Stoness, or Stoneass on the one hand, and Meade or Mud on the other. Harvard, Yale, the Smithsonian, the Royal Geographical Society of London - and a long list of other likely institutions - were queried about the supposed archaeologists, but none of the authorities had ever heard of them or their expedition.
"At this juncture," Violet Cummings tells us, "those involved in the exhaustive and meticulous analysis of the photos began to harbor a slight suspicion of a hoax."11 Presumably, it was only the photoanalysts - who noticed that flints were missing from all the flintlock weapons in the 1933 pictures - who felt any flutter of doubt. The rest of the soon-to-be advisors of astronauts continued their quest all the more intensely.
Just how strong their predisposition to believe must have been can be appreciated only after one discovers that it was just two days after Cummings got the Russian pictures that he received a letter from John Bradley - president of another boat-hunting outfit, the SEARCH Foundation - revealing that Bradley had tracked down the original German article with, we must assume, the correct spellings of the names of the alleged participants. Quite early on, Eryl, Violet, and their daughter Phyllis knew the correct spellings of the outrageous names in question: Prof. Stoneass, Prof. Mud, and Mrs. Putrid Lousey. Violet reminisces that
"By April 4, 1972 - exactly four months to the day after he had given what he sincerely believed at that time to be photos of Noah's Ark to Eryl Cummings - even Dr. Willis was beginning to entertain certain suspicions of his own. 'The Stoneass story might be a hoax, but time will tell,' he declared."12Study of the original German article now revealed a lot of new "facts." "Professor Stoneass," it turned out, was "an American archaeologist from the Royal Yalevard University, Massachusetts, U.S.A., and an exchange professor to the French Academy." His financial backing came from one Mrs. Putrid Lousey, the wealthy "widow of the American sugar king."13
After a thorough search of Massachusetts and New England, the Cummings concluded sadly, "It [the Royal Yalevard University], as well as 'Stoneass' and 'Mud' appeared to be nonexistent."14 Did this end the search. Of course not! The Cummings carried it to Turkey.
In Turkey a native guide who spoke fluent English was queried about the Stoneass discovery and the Yalevard University. The guide knew all about it, of course, having had an English professor at the University of Ankara who was from the University of Yalevard - the University of Yalevard in London, that is. So! Off to London to check out the University of Yalevard.
Alas, the search turned up no Yalevard University in London, and apparently no British Massa-chu-setts, either. It was at that time that Phyllis Cummings noticed the April 1 date. Do the Germans observe April Fool's day? After learning that they do, mother Violet wrote: "The puzzle had been partially solved " [emphasis mine]. Just what remained to be solved is not immediately clear, but the Cummings finally located one of the publishers of the German newspaper. On July 19, 1973, he sent them a photocopy of the April 8, 1933, editorial explaining the hoax. Of course, this still was not the end of the affair. The diluvialist crusaders had to find "proof of the authenticity of the hoax." I'm not certain they ever found it. Exactly when they stopped looking for the Royal Yalevard Uni-versity is unknown, but Mrs. Cummings confides to her readers, "Note: To this day  the existence of such an institution has never been confirmed."15 If James Irwin had not died so prematurely, perhaps he could have found the college. If he had, I'll be you a dollar to a doughnut, it would turn out to be an institution granting PhDs in Diluvial Demonology and Genesis Geology.
Some Creationist Characters
Among the leaders of the creationist movement are some very interesting - some veeree innteressting - individuals. There are, of course, the geocentrists - the advanced scientists who teach that the earth is the center of the universe, just as the Bible requires, and that the sun and all the universe revolve around the earth every twenty-four hours. There is Dr. Gerardus Bouw, of Baldwin-Wallace College in Ohio. Dr. Bouw holds a Ph. D. in astro-nomy from Case-Western Reserve University. He can prove the sun goes around the earth. "If God cannot be taken literally when He writes of the rising of the sun (S-U-N)," asks Dr. Bouw, "then how can one insist that He be taken literally when writing of the rising of the Son (S-O-N)?"
There is Prof. James Hanson, of Cleveland State University, who has declared: "Geocentricity vs. Acentricity: that's the argument. Acentricity meaning there is no center whatsoever… To me, this is a hellish nightmare. This is worse than evolution, as far as I'm concerned." Curiously, Prof. Hanson has had no comments to make on eccentricity.
But most memorable of all the geocentrist creationists are Marshall and Sandra Hall, the authors of the widely distributed paperback, The Truth: God or Evolution? Their demonstration that the sun goes around the earth, at a creationism conference back in 1984, is a performance I shall never forget.
The conference was in Seven Hills, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb. Marshall and Sandra got up together to give one talk. But as the discourse bounced back and forth between husband and wife every minute or so, things began to unravel. Clearly enough, they explained that the heliocentric theory was a "Satanic counterfeit," and they told of vacationing on the plain of Gibeon - where Joshua had commanded the sun and the moon to stand still - and receiving a revelation from a god that the moon is the clue to it all.
Without telling how long they played twenty-questions with that god after receiving this clue, the Halls proceeded to prove that the sun goes around the earth. Marshall had hardly launched into his "proof" before his train of thought became derailed. He groped for words and stalled. He couldn't find a way to pass the ball to Sandra. Soon he was weeping openly, announcing that his pet god "any minute now" was going to give him the right words.
But his god didn't get involved quickly enough, and so Sandra got back into the show. She told how they had watched an eclipse of the sun in which the moon's "shadow" had moved the wrong way! (She never made it clear when she was talking about the moon's blackened image viewed against the sun, and when she was talking of the eclipse shadow moving across the earth's surface.)
Hope springing up eternal, she took two Styrofoam cups and tried to model the motions of the sun and moon during the eclipse. Marshall stopped crying and gave encouragement. But alas! Within another minute, both of them were hopelessly befuddled by the Satanic counterfeit. Not only could they not realize that when facing the sun their left hands had faced east, but that when turning their backs to the sun (and to the audience) their left hands were pointing west, they also seemed to be unaware that the pinhole cameras commonly used to view eclipses also reverse left and right.
When the time for the Halls' performance ran out, they could only announce that they had given everybody the key with which to unlock the treasure chest of astronomical knowledge, and they implored those with experience in the subject to go for it. As far as I know, a number of creationists today are doing just that.
Besides the geocentrists, there are the geobiblical chronologists. One of these is E. W. Faulstich, the proprietor of the Chronology-History Research Institute in Rossie, Iowa. A computer expert, Faulstich has calculated that the earth was created in 4,001 B.C. - not 4,004 B.C. as calculated by Archbishop Ussher. Sunday, March 17th, to be precise.
And there is the Rev. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Carl Baugh, a reincarnation of P. T. Barnum operating out of the Glen Rose region of Texas. Although I am unaware of anyone who has ever succeeded in locating the source of even one of his doctorates, Dr. Baugh seems to be able to acquire new ones whenever a turn in an argument requires one. Baugh leads expeditions along the Paluxy creek near his "Christian Evidence Museum" - a housetrailer witnessing against the heresy of evolution. The expeditions turn up fossilized human footprints amidst the dinosaur trackways for which the Paluxy Cretaceous deposits are famous. Baugh believes that Dinnie and Alley-Oop lived at the same time, you see. Although most of the alleged human prints are indescribably unimpressive, Baugh does display one that is most impressive. Being at least sixteen inches long, the 'big-foot track' is as perfect a giant's footprint as ever was sold at the fair. For some years, Baugh "gave away" aluminum casts of the track to anyone giving one hundred dollars or more to his "museum." Unfortunately, the big-foot track has fallen upon hard times.
Dr. Ronnie Hastings, a friend of mine from Waxahachie, Texas, learned from Marian Taylor that the big-foot print - generally known as the Caldwell print - was a fake. Although every scientist who has ever seen the print or a cast of it has known immediately that it was a fake, it was nice to get corroboration from a creationist. According to Hastings,
"Marian Taylor revealed that this print, whose cast is in prominent display in Baugh's Creation Evidence Museum and a copy of which was sent to contributors to Louisiana's Creation Legal Defense Fund, was actually bought at Glen Rose as a carving by the Taylors in the 1960s and [was] not found in the Paluxy riverbed as claimed by Baugh… Jacob McFall identified the cast as a copy of a carving done by one of the Adams brothers of Glen Rose carved-footprint fame. Mrs. Taylor was not very pleased about the false claims concerning the cast displayed by Rev. Baugh."16It should be noted that during the Great Depression, a number of Glen Rose residents took to carving "fossil" footprints to sell to gullible city-slickers. Among those city-slickers were a number of creationists, who found in them confirmation of both the Garden of Eden and Noah's Flood.
One last word about the Rev. Dr. Dr. Dr. Baugh. Impressed by the reported longevity of the early patriarchs catalogued in the book of Genesis, Baugh decided that the antediluvian earth's atmosphere was both heavier and contained more oxygen, and that oxygen was the clue to longevity. When I visited his establishment a number of years ago, I noticed a large metal tank-like object set up not far from his trailer-museum. Enquiring about it later, I learned that Baugh was planning to live in it after pressurizing it and filling it with an atmosphere enriched in oxygen. Somewhere along the line, Baugh had acquired some knowledge of chemistry - perhaps a Sears-Roebuck doctorate in chemistry. He found out that the formula for atmospheric oxygen is O2. He also learned that the formula for ozone is O3. Presumably reasoning that if O2 is good, O3 must be better, Baugh was planning to "enrich" his Edenic atmosphere with ozone also! As I said, he was planning to live in it.
I hoped to return several months after Baugh began his experiment. By then he would have been a rather crispy critter, and I had a morbid curiosity to hear what his voice would sound like after his larynx had rusted. But alas, someone seems to have warned him of the side-effects of "Edenic" atmospheres, and he never carried out the experiment.
Another creationist who has had an enormous impact on public education in the north-central states is the Rev. Walter Lang, a Missouri Synod Lutheran minister and founder over thirty years ago of the Bible-Science Association - generally referred to as the BS Association. Lang is a geocentrist, a young-earther, and a believer that the dinosaurs never went extinct. The Behemoth and Leviathan of the Book of Job are nothing less than Brontosaurus and the Loch Ness Monster, respectively. Apart from his discovery that dinosaurs probably could breathe fire, just like St. George's dragon, there is little else remarkable about the Rev. Lang's teachings. Well, maybe there is one thing more to mention.
When he was in the Galapagos, he saw iguana lizards which looked to him exactly like very small bipedal dinosaurs. (I can just see those iguanas, up on their hind legs dancing the hernia-survivors' quadrille.) If they look like dinosaurs, they must be dinosaurs! Lang explained it all to me:
"I talked to a missionary in El Paso. He remembered seeing some ten-foot 'guanas in the Philippines… so you see, you just need the right weather conditions. We really have dinosaurs today, without any question. You just need the right weather conditions, as I see it, to get huge creatures. And in the ocean, of course, we have huge creatures… this is where the plesiosauruses seem to be today, and perhaps also this fire-breathing dragon is still down there - very rare, but occasionally there."Some day I hope to get Rev. Lang to explain the physics of under-water fire-breathing.
The cast of characters I have just discussed is only a handful of the creationist leaders who have won the war for the public schools and for the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans. An exaggeration, you say? Consider these statistics collected by my friend Michael Zimmerman, an Associate Dean of Oberlin College.
A majority (52.7%) of school board presidents in Ohio believe that "creation science" should be favorably taught in public schools. That was school board presidents. Only 49.7% of them accept the theory of evolution as being correct.17
Almost half (48.4%) of the members of the Ohio legislature feel that creationism should be taught - of course, "impartially" - in public schools, and almost a third (30.2%) of the members of the U.S. Congress think so. About two-thirds of Ohio legislators believe that Adam and Eve were real, and more than one-fourth of the members of congress thinks so too.18
What of high school biology teachers? Twenty-five percent of those in Ohio (public and private combined) think creationism should be presented favorably in biology classes. Fifteen percent of high school biology classes in Ohio actually do this. At least 18 public school biology teachers present creationism in a favorable light,19 and I have just received a complaint from an OSU student that his instructor in physical anthropology has declared that creationism is just as valid as evolutionary science in explaining the origin of humans.
Since the public schools have been lost as a source of information about evolution, what about the press - the freedom of which we Atheists defend so vigorously? Dr. Zimmerman has surveyed the top news executive at each of the 1563 daily newspapers in the United States. Only 51% of the editors disagreed strongly with the statement "dinosaurs and humans lived contemporaneously." Only 57% disagreed strongly with the statement "Every word in the Bible is true." Although only 16% of the editors think that "creation science" has a valid scientific foundation, approximately one-fourth of them indicate that they personally accept the premises of "creation science."20
And don't forget: 30% of American high school seniors don't know that the sun appears to rise in the east and set in the west in the USA. The number that knows what things look like in Europe, of course, is probably considerably less: not many know where Europe is, let alone how the sun appears to move at that location!
Truly, a new age is dawning. A very old new age is dawning. We are completing the twentieth century and are about to embark upon the eighth.
18 - Zimmerman, Michael, "A survey of pseudoscientific sentiments of elected officials: A comparison of federal and state legislators, Creation/Evolution , Issue XXIX, Winter 1991-1992, pp. 26-45 Back