Chapter 6: Reaction from the National Science Foundation
Pro-Evolution at the NSF?
The NSF has a long history of funding proposals which encompass the evolutionary position. Certainly one of
the largest grants of this nature was for the Biological Science Curriculum Study (BSCS), which in 1964 published
a controversial series of textbooks incorporating evolution as a major theme.
An NSF official led the way in denouncing the developing creation science movement in America. At the 1981
annual national meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Dr. Rolf Sinclair
of the NSF took the opportunity to arouse opposition to creation science. Science News reported:
Another topic that provided heat, if not light, was the revived anti-evolution movement. Physicist Rolf M.
Sinclair of the National Science Foundation organized a session titled "Views of the Universe: Science versus
Tradition." He came out of his ivory tower, he says, and was shocked to find out what the creationists are doing
in schools. Their success in [p. 85] getting school districts to teach creationist ideas is restricting and perverting
science education, he says.
. . . The session at this year's meeting, explains Sinclair, is just a beginning. The theme of next year's
AAAS will be Science Education, and tentatively it will include discussion of ways to combat creationism and
the teaching of religion as science. (Science News 1981, 19)
Shortly thereafter Sinclair elaborated further on his views in a letter to this news magazine (Sinclair 1981).
There he emphasized that the solar system had come into being several billion years ago and that the entire universe
began in a "big bang" tens of billions of years ago. He also expressed full confidence in the overall record of
organic evolution and, in particular, the record of life on earth going back more than a billion years. Both
conclusions carry the connotation that evolution is beyond dispute.
Freedom of Inquiry
Since its inception, the NSF has expended vast sums to support research projects based on evolutionary
assumptions. It may be argued that the NSF is justified in expending these huge sums because a number of
prominent scientists, such as Dr. Sinclair, overwhelmingly endorse evolution as a confirmed theory, or even as fact.
If the NSF could prove that evolution is the true description of the origin and development of the cosmos, the earth,
and life, then the NSF would be justified in denying funding to scientists whose research proposals question the
But evolution is neither confirmed theory nor fact. If life actually originated by chance, as evolution requires,
evolutionary biologists should be able to reproduce that process in laboratory experiments. Still, despite decades of
intensive efforts and generous government funding, all attempts to produce life from inert matter have proved
fruitless. Likewise, if life evolved by the transformation of one major group into another, where are the numerous
transitional forms expected on the basis of evolution? Biologists could long ago have put to rest embarrassing
questions about the general absence of transitional forms in the fossil record if they had produced examples of
missing links under laboratory conditions. All attempts to create new forms in the laboratory, such as inducing
mutations through nuclear irradiation, have produced only variations of existing types. Developing new features in
fish, for example, until they begin to develop into amphibians should certainly be simpler than creating life itself
and would be the presently observable evidence needed to make evolution a science instead of speculation. There
would then be no dispute about its validity.
Since no such demonstration has been accomplished, at best the NSF should consider evolution as a
widely held but unproven theory. The NSF is thus morally obligated to treat it as open to challenge, in the spirit of
the Affirmation of Freedom of Inquiry and Expression (see Overview). Written by evolutionists
themselves, it declares that "all discoveries and ideas . . . may be challenged without restriction." I
assume that the NSF should also abide by another principle of the Affirmation: "Freedom of inquiry and
dissemination of ideas require that those so engaged be free to search where their inquiry leads without fear of
retribution in consequence of the unpopularity of their conclusions." The reader may decide whether the NSF
adhered to this principle in its evaluation of my 1977 and 1979 proposals to continue work on radioactive
The documentation in this chapter shows the reaction of the NSF after they were convinced that my discoveries
were contradictory to the "accepted" model of earth history.