Re: So. Baptist Spin on BOE Vote

From: Bill Payne (
Date: Tue Jun 05 2001 - 01:20:54 EDT

  • Next message: Blaine D. McArthur: "Re: So. Baptist Spin on BOE Vote"

    On Tue, 05 Jun 2001 07:42:49 +1000 Jonathan Clarke
    <> writes:

    > > The current scientific consensus is an iron collar choking free
    > > Professionals in America get fired if they challenge the reigning
    > > paradigm. Ask me how I know.
    > >
    > How do you know this?

    Sorry, I didn't really intend to get off on this, but in a nutshell: I
    was the editor for the Alabama Geological Society Newsletter for about 6
    months in ~1995. I wanted to foster open debate/discussion about my
    favorite topic (origin of coal), so I invited Steve Austin (PhD in
    Geology from Penn State) to write an article presenting his view that
    coal consists of transported organics. I also innocently invited Bob
    Gastaldo (geology professor at Auburn University at the time) to submit a
    parallel article presenting evidence supporting his view that coal
    consists of in situ organics.

    Bob and I had a rather tense telephone conversation. The next day he and
    another geologist from the University of Alabama called the Society
    President and complained to him along the lines of the following e-mail
    that Dr. Gastaldo sent to every geology department in the State, along
    with at least one state agency for which I do most of my work. Here is
    the text of his e-mail, which was faxed to me:


    I received a telephone call today from Bill asking if I'd write a short
    generalized article on coal formation for the Alabama Geological Society
    Newsletter. Bill has taken over as the Newsletter Editor and wanted to
    "level the playing field" by having my short article "balanced" by one
    written by Steve Austin. For those of you unfamiliar with Dr. Austin, he
    works for the Institute for Creation Research in El Cajun, California,
    is prominent in their literature and videos. Dr. Austin has been very
    active for over the past 20 years in the fight to bring "balanced
    treatment" to the classrooms of America. His present model for coal
    formation states that coal can form "very quickly." He uses the
    accumulation of trees in Spirit Lake after the blast of Mt. St. Helens as
    model for coal formation. His previous model purported to having
    forests" in nearshore marine settings. This model validated the idea
    all coal formed during the Noachian Flood. The article I wrote in 1984
    discrediting this hypothesis can be made available to you upon request.

    I told Bill that I was unwilling to "balance" the presentation in the
    Newsletter because Dr. Austin's premises are not based upon scientific
    inquiry. I also told him that if the push to present "creationist views"
    continues in the Alabama Geological Society, that I will withdraw my
    membership and suggest that others do the same.

    The "push" towards "balanced" (read pseudoscience) treatment has already
    begun in the Newsletter. If you read the article in vol. 9 (no. 3) that
    was sent in August (dated 1 Aug), you will see that Bill Payne has used a
    book by van Flandern to cast suspicion on the accuracy of the geological
    time scale. The article is entitled "Fundamental Principle of Geology:
    Uniformitarianism/Cosmic Catastrophe." I can supply you with a copy if
    do not have one available.

    As you are probably aware, there is a group of individuals in Alabama who
    are associated with the Eagle Forum, a christian-fundamentalist group who
    have tried to place their agenda into the State school system. They were
    partially successful this year with the inclusion of the "nobody was
    present when the first organisms appeared on Earth and, therefore, nobody
    can state how life appeared" statement NOW found in all Biology texts in
    the state. I believe that the Alabama Geological Society will be used as
    "pawn" in this game, particularly if "pseudoscientific" articles,
    to cast skepticism on the principles of geology, appear on an
    issue-by-issue basis. With the Alabama Geological Society granting their
    "approval" of these ideas by publishing them, we will become unwitting
    cohorts in this deceptive game. In the end, we (the members) will all
    "agree" with what has been published and this will be further
    that "balanced treatment" is the right thing to do.

    If the inclusion of creationist-style articles continues in the
    Society Newsletter, I hope that you will react accordingly and drop your
    membership. I would also hope that those of you who regularly
    in the meetings/functions of the Society take a stand against this
    incursion. Please inform your colleagues of this situation.

    Robert A. Gastaldo
    Alumni Professor of Geology
    Auburn University, AL 36849


    The next day I received a call from the Society President who said he was
    getting calls from all over the State about me, and asked for my
    resignation. I felt at the tiime, and I still do, that as a matter of
    principle I was correct in what I had done, and refused to resign. A
    week later I got a letter saying I had been replaced.

    I have reviewed the 1984 article Gastaldo referenced above; it may be
    found at:

    I invited Bob to respond, but he hasn't quite gotten around to it yet.

    These types of stories are not all that uncommon. You may remember the
    editor who was hired for Scientific American who was terminated before he
    began work because it was discovered that he was a creationist.

    Dean Kenyon, author of "Of Pandas and People," had been an evolutionist
    for years, until he began to realize that the naturalistic explanations
    for life were lacking and he became a creationist. As I recall the
    story, his administrators at the Univ of California (?) tried to fire him
    but his fellow profs came to his rescue, saying he was exercising his
    academic freedom.

    And of course there was Halton Arp, who was denied telescope time because
    he kept finding evidence that redshift was not due to recessional
    velocity. Arp finally moved to West Germany where he could experience a
    little academic freedom again.

    And a highschool teacher, maybe in Oregon, who has been prohibited by his
    administrators from presenting problems with the theory of evolution.
    And a public grade-school teacher here in Alabama who was fired
    (actually, his contract wasn't renewed, and they don't have to tell you
    why) because he taught (I think) the concept of intelligent design. I
    understand that he was a great teacher and the kids loved him.

    I'm sure Phil Johnson could fill a book with examples. The point is -
    this trend is real and those who come after you are not very polite when
    you threaten their religion.

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