March 2001 Edition
Microscopic Halos Favor Recent Creation
Here is a creation/evolution issue pertaining to nuclear physicists,
astrophysicists, and cosmologists. I have reported Earth's foundation rocks,
the granites, contain microscopic halos traceable to the alpha decay of
certain primordial Po isotopes. Their short half-lives demand almost instant
creation of the host rocks, prior to the Po decaying away. Geologists
resisted accepting this result; so two decades ago I challenged them to
sustain their objections by: (i) duplicating just one Po-218 halo in an
annealed piece of granite, and (ii) synthesizing a small piece of granite to
confirm that it can form naturally. To me the prolonged silence about this
test means the Creator uniquely designed both the Po halos and the granites
to spotlight Genesis' literal six-day creation of the visible cosmos and its
seventh-day memorial. (See http://www.halos.com for more on this topic.) In
1997 I published a new cosmic model based on a finite, nonhomogeneous,
vacuum-gravity universe with a nearby cosmic Center (C), and showed it
accounts for the 2.73K CMB, the CMB at higher z, and the Hubble redshift
relation. More recently, see http://xxx.lanl.gov/ for year 2001, I reported
it also accounts for six other of big bang's major predictions.
Robert V. Gentry
Physicists Have a Distorted Sense of History
In the January 2001 issue of APS News, Morton K. Brussel took issue with
Freeman Dyson's characterization of religion as a force for building
community, citing the Taliban in Afghanistan and other famous cases of
religious abuse of citizens as his reason.
The actions of the Taliban don't represent the power of religion by itself.
The aim of the Taliban is to build a religious state, to tie all secular
political power to religious authority. Most if not all of the ugly abuses
of citizens by religious organizations in the history of the world - the
witch hunts, the Crusades, the violent struggles between Catholics and Prote
stants, the persecution of native religions by conquering colonial forces,
the Taliban, etc, came about because secular political power was tied to
When religion and state power are combined, then the religion is, of course,
going to get exactly as violent as the furtherance and maintenance of state
power requires it to be. Because religion is not some external force field
put upon the world, but a human adaptive enterprise that can be adapted and
fitted to many functions - as is also true with science.
Why are the Taliban so violent, when the Koran preaches peace and justice?
Any religious group that succeeds in securing and maintaining state power in
a violent land is going to have adapted their religious belief system so
that it supports the violence needed to achieve that state power.
The founding fathers and mothers of America were right to value a separation
of religion and state to the extent that they would lay down their precious
fragile human lives fighting for it on the bloody field of battle. That was
a very wise commitment on their parts, because it led to a great flowering
of religious thought unburdened by the needs of furthering and maintaining
the power of the state.
This was good for religion, not bad. This is one reason why American are so
religious. Because we vastly improved Western religion by unhooking it from
the burdens and temptations of state power.
But at whose feet can we lay the horrific abuses of the Stalinist and Maoist
The aim of Marxism-Leninism was to create a state based not upon religion,
but on science. Marxist-Leninists deeply believed that there was a rational,
scientific way to engineer an economy, and a rational, scientific way to
engineer the lifestyles and belief systems of everyone under their state
power, into one rational scientific whole.
But these idealistic scientific socialists committed atrocities numbering in
the millions. These were purely rational atheist atrocities, and a large
percentage of the victims were religious followers who refused to renounce
their religious faith in the name of scientific socialist atheism.
By the way, Lenin himself came from a physics family. His father was a
student of Lobachevsky, his brother studied physics before he was executed
for terrorism against the Tsarist state, and the original career plan of
young Vladimir Ulyanov was to study physics, possibly under Lobachevsky as
Millions of human beings were slaughtered in the 20th century in the name of
so-called scientific socialism. It is just as fair, or unfair, to blame
those deaths on the general human practice of science, as it is to blame the
atrocities committed by religious state power on the general human practice
Frankly, I am appalled at the distorted and selective sense of history that
seems common in the physics community. Millions of people died under the
banner of a more scientific way to live and and OOPS, we forget. Because
we're all upset at religion, because Galileo got put on celebrity house
arrest by the Pope. (During a time when women accused of being witches, and
heretics without close connections to the Pope, were hanged or burned alive
by the hundreds, let's consider what almost happened to Kepler's mother, for
Let's get over ourselves, please, and look at human history in a less
hysterical and more balanced manner, one that doesn't inevitably lead us to
a simplistic victimization scenario between science and religion. Human
history is a much more rich and complex story than that.
Kansan Dissects Soft Creationism
Moorad Alexanian's letter in the January APS News is a useful example of the
new "soft" approach of creationists which is becoming increasingly
widespread. Typically, it uses many of the techniques of familiar old-style
creationism but dressed up in more intellectually respectable language and
with a considerably narrowed attack (usually limited to evolution).
It is a useful exercise to dissect his letter and expose all the unstated
assumptions and logical jumps. He first says that all those who believe in a
Creator are not Young Earth Creationists (as claimed by Brush in the
November issue). I urge you to go back and re-read Brush's back page; you'll
see he didn't make that claim. This is the first instance of the "Wedge
Strategy", which is to make a forced choice between science and (their kind
of) religion. They understand that if they can force this choice, in our
culture, science will lose.
He says Darwin's evolution includes the origin of life. It doesn't; it's
only a theory about its development. Later on he says "What people object to
is the teaching of an atheistic worldview in the guise of science. Students
of faith ought not to come out of biology classes with the notion that there
is no God." There are two assumptions here. The most obvious is the idea
that if someone becomes an atheist, someone must have taught them atheism.
There is no recognition that someone might come to conclusions
independently. Secondly, though he rightly condemns the mixing of theology
(or anti-theology) into science class, it is clear from his letter that what
he means by atheism is the idea that life arose and developed "entirely by
natural means." He believes intervention by God along the way is required,
and teaching science without including this is atheism. (Since he apparently
believes God created everything, are we supposed to mention that in every
science class in every field of science? And all other classes?) He says,
"The evidence for evolutionary transition of humans from apelike ancestors
is not abundant enough to conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, that it has
occurred. That is why the overwhelming majority of Americans still believe
in a Creator."
Note here (1) A claim which would be big news to people working in the
field. This claim is typically supported by repetition, which actually is a
very effective propaganda technique. (2) The use of legal rather than
scientific language regarding verification. (3) The forced choice-if A is
wrong, then (my) B must be right. In this case it's done as descriptive.
Note also the Wedge-you accept the evidence for human evolution OR believe
in a Creator.
He wants us to teach that evolution and cosmology are "working assumptions".
Again, let's examine: "Unlike physics, evolution and cosmology are sciences
in the sense of forensic science." Note that cosmology is given in
counterpoint to physics here. Imagine a sentence starting, "Unlike physics,
acoustics is...". Creationists try to set aside special status for evolution
(and sometimes cosmology) because it includes dealing with the past. This is
false on several counts. (1) Nearly all physics relies on indirect evidence.
We don't see quarks or phonons, we infer their effects. (2) There is
considerable "benchtop evolution" now, even finding biotech applications,
and much of the past Universe is directly observable along our past light
cone (we "see" the microwave background and primordial galaxies). (3) The
crucial criterion for science is confrontation with experimental data, which
comes in many forms.
He names a number of famous physicists who were Christians, and two
biologists who are atheists. (True in the case of Dawkins, questionable with
regard to Darwin). Better join Our Club (the smart guys) and reject demon
evolution. He is a member of the staff of the "Earth History Research
Center", (headquarters at Southwestern Adventist University) which states as
its goal, "Our mission is to develop a view of origins that is
scientifically credible, and consistent with the Biblical account of
origins, for a world that has largely abandoned belief in its Creator."
This organization promotes a great deal of material designed to cast doubt
on the age of the Earth. This doesn't belie his comment about Young Earth
Creationists in and of itself, but it calls into question his motives in
making the comment about Brush near the beginning of this letter. You'll
find there (http://origins.swau.edu/) things designed to convince you coal
and sediments could have been rapidly deposited, radiometric dating is
highly unreliable, much of geology can be explained by worldwide Flood, etc.
Note that they have real scientists working for them.
He notes that the fundamental question of origins may not be a scientific
question. If not, then he says we may need to look to an Intelligent
Designer. (1) There is no such thing as a scientific question, only a
scientific way of looking for answers. (2) This method may or may not work
for specific kinds of questions. (3) He and anyone else are welcome to look
for answers in non-scientific ways. They merely aren't welcome to pass them
off as science, especially in public schools.
The voters in Kansas, most strongly in the Republican primary, rejected the
people who attempted to inject religion into the state science standards.
This didn't happen accidentally. It required vigilance and a collaborative
effort of scientists and many other people with diverse backgrounds,
including clergy. Some of what we've learned can be found on the website of
Kansas Citizens for Science, http://www.kcfs.org. I also recommend the
National Center for Science Education, http://www.natcenscied.org.
I urge readers to particularly be alert for "Intelligent Design", the latest
repackaging of creation science which is attracting many educated persons
(medical doctors, engineers, and humanities grads seem highly susceptible).
Although it may be "creation science in a cheap tuxedo" as L. Krishtalka has
said, this tux seems able to impress many people who are not experts. No
part of the country is immune. We in Kansas fought back publicly, which drew
a lot of press. Look in your back yard.
Adrian L. Melott
University of Kansas
Letters Policy Now Online APS News encourages our readers to submit letters
to the editor. The best way to do this is to send them to email@example.com.
Our policy on publishing letters can be found on the web at
---- Copyright 2001, The American Physical Society. The APS encourages the redistribution of the materials included in this newsletter provided that attribution to the source is noted and the materials are not truncated or changed. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ----
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Mar 08 2001 - 08:30:51 EST