Re: So. Baptist Spin on BOE Vote

From: george murphy (
Date: Tue Jun 05 2001 - 16:02:57 EDT

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            An astronomical comment and question on the following:

        Comment: Halton Arp is hardly a good example of someone being persecuted
    simply because of his unorthodox ideas. Far from being suppressed, his
    observations and interpretations were debated extensively in the 70s. There
    was a meeting of either the AAAS or AAS (sorry I'm a little hazy on details)
    devoted to Arp's claims in which he participated. Proceedings of this were
    published by Benjamin as _The Red Shift Debate_. The simple fact is that
    very few astronomers and astrophysicists were convinced by his arguments.
                The idea that the big bang theory was established orthodoxy at
    the time is wrong. Remember that steady state cosmology was a serious
    competitor of the big bang up till the discovery of the identification of the
    microwave background in 1965, within a few years of the debate centering on
    Arp. In fact, one of the reason some diehard SS supporters were attracted by
    Arp's claims was that they might present difficulties for BB models.

       Question: Is the van Flandern mentioned below the one who thought that he
    had evidence for a time variation of the gravitational "constant" back in the
    70s? If so, this was hardly an example of "pseudoscience" but OTOH would do
    nothing to support young earth views: Variations in G over 10^4 years would
    have been (again I'm going from memory) on the order of 10^-6, too small to
    have a significant geophysical effect.



    George L. Murphy
    "The Science-Theology Interface"

    Bill Payne wrote:

    > On Tue, 05 Jun 2001 07:42:49 +1000 Jonathan Clarke
    > <> writes:
    > > > The current scientific consensus is an iron collar choking free
    > inquiry.
    > > > 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,
    > and
    > 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
    > a
    > model for coal formation. His previous model purported to having
    > "floating
    > forests" in nearshore marine settings. This model validated the idea
    > that
    > 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
    > you
    > 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
    > a
    > "pawn" in this game, particularly if "pseudoscientific" articles,
    > designed
    > 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
    > confirmation
    > that "balanced treatment" is the right thing to do.
    > If the inclusion of creationist-style articles continues in the
    > Geological
    > Society Newsletter, I hope that you will react accordingly and drop your
    > membership. I would also hope that those of you who regularly
    > participate
    > 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.
    > Bill
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