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Chapter 11: The Trial Decision

Radiohalos: Tiny Mystery or Block to Evolution?

Judge Overton's conclusion that my work was "ten years old" and that my discoveries were only a "minor mystery," which eventually would be explained, leaves the impression that the scientific community had found nothing significant in my work. In essence, he interprets silence about my results as showing they are insignificant. Was this conclusion justified?

Through Professor Ray Kazmann's letter (Chapter 4), the judge was shown that this silence about my results was because they seriously conflicted with the evolutionary time scale. He also was shown the article entitled "Mystery [p. 141] of the Radiohalos," which featured letters of evaluation about my research from a number of eminent scientists here in America, Europe, and the Soviet Union. One of these letters, from an internationally known American geochemist, reads in part:

His [Gentry's] conclusions are startling and shake the very foundations of radiochemistry and geochemistry. Yet he has been so meticulous in his experimental work, and so restrained in his interpretations, that most people take his work seriously . . . I think most people believe, as I do, that some unspectacular explanation will eventually be found for the anomalous halos and that orthodoxy will turn out to be right after all. Meanwhile, Gentry should be encouraged to keep rattling this skeleton in our closet for all it is worth. (Talbott 1977, 5; Appendix)

This is a very significant letter. At the time of the Arkansas trial, about five years had passed since it was written. During that span I had endeavored to "keep rattling this skeleton . . . for all it is worth." In this five-year period I had challenged my evolutionist colleagues to duplicate a hand-sized piece of granite or biotite as a means of confirming the basic premise of their theory. The evidence for creation that had been rattling in the evolutionary closet for many years was now knocking more loudly than ever, but for some reason Judge Overton and the ACLU contingent had a difficult time hearing it. Was this a case of resisting "unwanted information"?

Judge Overton's dismissal of my scientific discoveries as a "minor mystery" echoed the "tiny mystery" designation given by the ACLU's expert geology witness. By doing this the judge effectively denied the existence of valid evidence for creation science. To have done otherwise would have destroyed the logical basis of his entire Opinion.

Evolutionary Article of Faith

In Section IV.(C) Judge Overton gives what he considers to be the five qualifying characteristics of science:

(1) It is guided by natural law;
(2) It has to be explanatory by reference to natural law;
(3) It is testable against the empirical world;
(4) Its conclusions are tentative, i.e., are not necessarily the final word; and
(5) It is falsifiable.

Judge Overton states that creation science fails to meet these essential characteristics, noting that the Arkansas creation law "asserts a sudden [p. 142] creation 'from nothing.'" He maintains that "such a concept is not science because it depends upon a supernatural intervention which is not guided by natural law, is not testable and is not falsifiable." By applying this line of reasoning only to creation science, Judge Overton ignores part of the evidence presented to him. In my testimony I showed that evolution also requires a supernatural beginning.

I testified that the most widely accepted evolutionary scenario of the beginning of the universe, the Big Bang model, begins with an article of faith. Evolutionary scientists postulate that all matter in the universe emanated some 17 billion years ago from a gigantic primeval explosion. The ultimate cause for such a beginning is not a matter capable of scientific investigation. That event is not presumed to be guided or explainable by natural law, nor is it testable against the empirical world. If the court had consistently applied its own description of science, it would have been as critical of "the beginning" postulated for evolution as of the supernatural beginning for creation science.

While writing this book, I found a comment which summarizes my testimony before the court about this mythical event. It was made by the well-known British astronomer, Professor Paul Davies. In one of his books the comment is made that the creation of the universe by the Big Bang

. . . represents the instantaneous suspension of physical laws, the sudden abrupt flash of lawlessness that allowed something to come out of nothing. It represents a true miracle—transcending physical principles... (Davies 1981, 161)

This forthright statement by an eminent evolutionist admits that evolutionary science requires as much of a "miracle" in the beginning as does creation science—"something to come out of nothing." Such was the essence of my testimony about the Big Bang. If Judge Overton had recognized this fact in his Opinion, it would have invalidated his contrast between creation and evolution.

True Science Defined by the Court

Perhaps the most blatant contradiction in Judge Overton's Opinion occurs when he criticizes the methodology of creation scientists:

The methodology employed by creationists is another factor which is indicative that their work is not science. A scientific theory must be tentative and always subject to revision or abandonment in light of facts that [p. 143] are inconsistent with, or falsify, the theory. A theory that is by its own terms dogmatic, absolutist and never subject to revision is not a scientific theory. (Overton 1982, Section IV.(C))

This is truly an incredible statement. Apparently the judge decided to ignore a large part of my testimony relating to the proposed falsification experiment. My testimony about this experiment encompassed an in-depth review of the material discussed in the earlier chapters of this book. It included (1) my presentation at the 1978 Louisiana State University symposium on the measurement of geological time (when I presented evidence that polonium halos in Precambrian granites suggested a very rapid formation of those rocks), (2) Professor Damon's letter about my contribution to that symposium, along with my responses to Damon and York as published in EOS, and (3) a discussion of the comments of Professor Norman Feather (see Chapter 5) concerning the exceeding difficulty of explaining polonium halos in granites by conventional scientific principles. I specifically stated that the synthesis of a hand-sized piece of granite or biotite would suffice to render my creation model invalid. Thus, Judge Overton's comments that creation science is not testable or falsifiable were contradictory to the testimony presented at length in his own court.

Throughout his Opinion Judge Overton seems to have accepted the ACLU's position on most of the issues that were argued at the trial. I must pay my respects to the ACLU contingent for that achievement. Admittedly, they won a tremendous psychological victory when the judge ruled in their favor. This was no small accomplishment. They were sitting on Pandora's box, and throughout the trial they ran the risk of having it come open. Legally, it was an impressive victory. But what an empty victory it was! Scientifically, they were confronted with evidence for creation, and they didn't even try to refute it. Make no mistake—if the ACLU had found a flaw in that evidence they certainly would have brought it out during my cross-examination. Their only recourse was to treat the evidence for creation presented at the trial as a "tiny mystery." On this occasion their strategy worked very well. Whether it would ever work again remains to be seen.

By now the reader may realize that the events described in this chapter draw attention to the question arising in my mind when I first encountered the Big Bang concept in a graduate physics course. That question centered on how matter and energy could be formed in the Big Bang when a fundamental law of physics prohibited it. In reality, as Professor Davies' statement so cogently reveals, the laws of physics have never been sufficient to [p. 144] account for the Big Bang. Thus, ironically, even the most resolute evolutionists are, in the end, forced to admit to an incredible contradiction—a miracle of creation must be invoked to start this mythical scenario.

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