Re: This is bizarre

Bill Payne (bpayne15@juno.com)
Mon, 30 Aug 1999 03:23:25 -0600

On Fri, 27 Aug 1999 14:18:42 -0600 Susan Brassfield
<susan-brassfield@ou.edu> writes:

>That's how science works. You ask the question: "If Genesis is true,
what
>would the world look like? What would geology, palentology and genetics
>look like?" And then you try to find evidence that looks like that.
>Creation scientists have tried that and failed.

Since you mention what my field of geology looks like, let me try to shed
a little light on why it looks like it does. When scientists attempt to
present data which is outside of the prevailing mainstream of thought,
there is a strong undercurrent to suppress the data.

In 1996 I was the editor of the Alabama Geological Society (AGS) News,
and innocently contacted Robert Gastaldo, geology professor of geology at
Auburn University, to see if he would write an article defending the
swamp model of coal, and said I would like to have a parallel article by
Steve Austin defending the floating mat model. This is the way I thought
science was supposed to work.

Bob informed me that if the name of Steve Austin ever appeared in print
in the AGS News, he would withdraw his membership and felt that a number
of others would follow his lead. I asked him why he was opposed to the
floating mat model of coal deposition. He replied, "Because moral and
religious ideas have no place in science." I have a little difficulty
understanding why sedimentary coal is "moral and religious" while swamp
coal is "science." I then asked Bob what his definition of science was,
and he said something about a hypothesis which could be tested. I said,
"Well, what about the three feet of organic material on the bottom of
Spirit Lake [below Mt. St. Helens], that seems to be a pretty good test
of the floating mat theory." Bob responded: "There is no way you could
get a coal seam in a volcanic, pyroclastic environment." I asked, How
do you get a coal seam from an organic layer? He said, "You must have
temperature, pressure, and LOTS of time." He then said he was not going
to continue to engage in this repartee. I asked Bob where in Alabama I
could
see root structures in underclay, and he referred me to an article of
his in the Paleontology Society Special Paper No. 1 (1984, reprinted
1996).

The next day Bob e-mailed the following letter to every geology dept. in
AL. The president of the Society called me and said he was getting calls
from all over the State complaining about me. A short time later the AGS
had a new editor. Here's Gastaldo's letter:

***************

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 fieldš by having my short article „balancedš 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
treatmentš to the classrooms of America. His present model for coal
formation states that coal can form „very quickly.š 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
forestsš 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 „balanceš the presentation in the
Newsletter because Dr. Austin‚s premises are not based upon scientific
inquiry. I also thold him that if the push to present „creationist
viewsš
continues in the Alabama Geological Society, that I will withdraw my
membership and suggest that others do the same.

The „pushš towards „balancedš (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.š 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 appearedš stat3ement NOW found in all Biology texts in
the state. I believe that the Alabama Geological Society will be used as
a
„pawnš in this game, particularly if „pseudoscientificš articles,
designed
to cast skepticism on the principles of geology, appear on an
issue-by-issue basis. With the Alabama Geological Society granting their
„approvalš of these ideas by publishing them, we will become unwitting
cohorts in this deceptive game. In the end, we (the members) will all
„agreeš with what has been published and this will be further
confirmation
that „balanced treatmentš 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

***************

At the beginning of the summer, Steve Schimmrich contacted Gastaldo and
asked him if he would defend his 1984 paper: A CASE AGAINST
PELAGOCHTHONY: THE UNTENABILITY OF CARBONIFEROUS ARBORESCENT
LYCOPOD-DOMINATED FLOATING PEAT MATS, against the review I did at:

http://www.calvin.edu/archive/asa/199804/0389.html
http://www.calvin.edu/archive/asa/199805/0030.html
http://www.calvin.edu/archive/asa/199805/0119.html

Steve said Gastaldo would try to respond, but of course he never has.
Apparently Gastaldo is too busy to engage in a rational defense of his
paper, but not too busy to make what I consider to be slanderous and
libelous attacks on professionals with whom he disagrees.

Is it any wonder, Susan, why "Creation scientists have tried that and
failed"?

Bill Payne