Re: So. Baptist Spin on BOE Vote

From: Jonathan Clarke (
Date: Tue Jun 05 2001 - 19:31:34 EDT

  • Next message: Jonathan Clarke: "Re: So. Baptist Spin on BOE Vote"


    You have provided five examples: Steve Austin, yourself, Dan Kenyon, Halton
    Arp, and unnamed high school teacher.

    I think Gastaldo's statement about Austin is probably quite correct. Austin
    probably believes (along with almost every neo-diluivialist geologist I have
    ever met) that coal formed during Noah's flood not because of scientific
    evidence, but because their theology requires them to. This does not mean
    that his ideas on coal formation are without merit, they are ideas with many
    antecedents in the scientific literature of the 19th and early 20th century.
    However I am satisfied from reading what little he has published on them,
    that Gastaldo (whose expertise you must respect, even if you personally
    dislike him) has refuted them.

    With respect let me say I think that your treatment, on the evidence you were
    given, was unjustified and unjust. It goes a great deal to explain you anger
    towards Gastaldo which is very clear in your critique of him in the
    archives. However, make sure you don't make the same mistake that you accuse
    Gastaldo of, judging someone on the basis of prejudice rather than the facts
    of the case.

    Kenyon still has his job, I note. How can he a case of a professional losing
    his job because he challenged the ruling paradigm?

    George has dealt with the Arp case. When someone has been as widely
    published as Arp it is hard to say he is a case of scientific persecution.

    As for the unnamed high school teacher, may be this is the case, but maybe
    not also. People can lose their jobs for all sorts of reasons. It is always
    easy to claim prejudice, but we don't have the facts on this one.

    Let me give some counter examples. Bretz, despite being considered a nutter
    for his ideas on mega floods, was published repeatedly over decades. the
    same with the supporters of continental drift. The diluvialist or YEC views
    of Kurt Wise, Leonard Brand, Arthur Chadwick, Harold Coffin, Karen Jensen,
    Nick Rupke, Elaine Kennedy, and Robert Gentry are all known. They get
    published all the same. Here in Australia we have fruit cakes of our own,
    Sam Carey (expanding earth), Tim O'Discroll (global lineaments), Tim Bell
    (non-rotating porphyroblasts), Roly Twidale (ancient land surfaces), and a
    astronomer at Monash (whose ideas on planetary formation are considered
    considerably heterodox) - can't remember his name, time for more coffee
    obviously. All these people are published.

    We live in a fallen world. Crap happens, injustice and unfairness abounds,
    people with unorthodox ideas can get shunned by the orthodox. All sorts of
    nasty interpersonal stuff goes on However it is my experience that
    unconventional ideas in science gets a better hearing than they do in other
    circles, even if the people who present them sometimes feel they are unfairly
    treated. Christians are no different. What happens when someone who has had
    infant baptism is eligible for office in a baptist church (happened to a
    friend of mine)? What happens to someone who argues for an old earth or
    organic evolution in a fundamentalist church (happened to me). Let us pluck
    logs before worrying about specks.

    In the end, what matters is how we cope with the injustices that are done to
    us. Do we respond with truth, justice, grace, and love, or with bitterness,
    injustice, anger, and revenge. This applies to our attitudes towards
    persons, organisations, and cultural institutions. I need to take my own
    advice, as my own future in the institution I currently work for is under a
    cloud, I believe unjustly!



    Bill Payne wrote:

    > 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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