Chapter 12: Media Reaction to the Arkansas Trial
Correction Attempt Fails
The preceding accounts of the trial had a pronounced, negative impact on my position as guest scientist at
ORNL. The attitude of certain colleagues toward my work changed. The following response to Lewin's remarks
about my testimony was submitted to Science on March 2, 1982, in an effort to allow my colleagues at the
Laboratory and elsewhere an opportunity to see in print where Lewin had failed to represent my position
MY RESPONSE TO ROGER LEWIN'S TRIAL ACCOUNT
In Roger Lewin's summation "Where is the Science in Creation Science?" (8 Jan. p. 142), it was clearly his
prerogative to report that some creation scientists testified that they did not believe that creation science is testable
or scientific. But it hardly does me justice before my scientific colleagues for him not to also mention that I
represented a different position at the trial. The fact that I explained how the one-singularity Big Bang Model and
the two-singularity Creation Model (ref. 1) both involve prediction and are in theory capable of falsification makes
it doubly curious why Lewin chose not to give the readers of Science an opportunity to evaluate my thesis
for themselves. (I define a singularity as a set of events requiring more than known physical laws to explain.)
In support of the Creation Model I referred to my results (ref. 2) on [p. 153] halos in coalified wood as evidence
for the Flood singularity. Such data also imply that certain coals should have formed within a few months to a few
years (but not instantaneously as Lewin reported). I suggest these predictions about the relative rapidity of coal
formation can be tested in the laboratory by subjecting water-saturated samples of wood to elevated temperatures
(150-300°C) and then analyzing the residue for coal-like properties. And speaking of predictions, on the basis of
this Creation Model I have also suggested that newly developed accelerator techniques should be used to search for
small amounts of 14C in coal and amber (ref. 1). Conventional geological theory predicts that the amount of 14C in
such materials should be infinitesimally small, and hence undetectable.
As evidence for the initial creation singularity (ref. 1) I referred to my results (refs. 3, 4) suggesting that
polonium halos in Precambrian granites are primordial, hence implying that the granites must themselves be
primordial rocks, or rocks that were created. This hypothesis would be scientifically meaningless had I not also
proposed the following experiment which in theory I will accept as falsifying that hypothesis if it is successful.
Briefly, I testified that since the standard Big Bang Model predicts the Precambrian granites formed slowly
over geological time with nothing more than conventional physical laws to govern their crystallization, then it
should be possible to synthesize in the laboratory a small (hand-sized) piece of such granite to confirm that
hypothesis. My testimony was that I would accept the synthesis of a piece of granite as a falsification of my thesis
that the Precambrian rocks are primordial rocks, and further that the subsequent synthesis of a single 218Po halo in
such a piece of granite would also be sufficient to falsify my view that Po halos in granites are primordial.
I anxiously await the critical response of my scientific colleagues to these proposals. The issues are clearly too
important for them to be ignored any longer.
Robert V. Gentry
- Robert V. Gentry, EOS, Trans. Am. Geophy. Union 60, 474 (1979); ______, 61, 514 (1980).
- Robert V. Gentry et al., Science 194, 315 (1976).
- Robert V. Gentry, Science 184, 62 (1974).
- Robert V. Gentry et al., Nature 252, 564 (1974).
As noted by the following reply from the Letters Editor, my attempt to provide a rebuttal was refused. Such
arbitrary rejection was difficult to understand.
Dear Dr. Gentry:
Thank you for your letter of 2 March, which has been studied by the editorial staff. I regret that we do not
plan to publish it.
While it is understandable that you might have preferred a different emphasis or different details in Lewin's
account of your testimony, we do not find that, in this case, his presentation needs clarification or amplification.
Science's staff writers must present material in very limited space and can not usually include all of the
details that individuals featured in articles would like.
We note that much of what you have written has appeared in other publications and has therefore been
made available to your colleagues.
|/s/ Christine Gilbert
My situation at the Laboratory might have been rectified had I been afforded the customary professional right
to defend myself in Science. My credibility as a scientist had been called into question, but obviously this
had no effect on the decision not to publish my rebuttal. This letter of rejection seems contrary to the lofty aims of
Science as displayed on the editorial page of every issue:
Science serves its readers as a forum for the presentation and discussion of important issues related to
the advancement of science, including the presentation of minority or conflicting points of view, rather
than by publishing only material on which a consensus has been reached. Accordingly, all articles published in
Science—including editorials, news and comment, and book reviews—are signed and reflect the
individual views of the authors and not the official points of view adopted by the AAAS or the institutions with
which the authors are affiliated. (italics mine)
Lewin's considerable coverage of the Arkansas trial proves that Science considered the outcome of the
Arkansas trial as an important issue "related to the advancement of science." Why then was not my response
accepted for publication? Certainly it qualified as a "presentation of minority or conflicting points of view." First, it
is certain that my rebuttal letter, if published, would have alerted the worldwide readership of Science to
the credibility [p. 155] of the evidence for creation. This might have led to some penetrating questions about why
such important information was missing from Lewin's published accounts of the trial. We must also ask whether
the official position of the AAAS toward creation science could have been partially responsible for suppressing my
AAAS and Evolutionary Presuppositions
At the 1982 AAAS annual meeting, held soon after the Arkansas trial, the Council of the AAAS and its Board
of Directors issued a joint resolution condemning creation science. That resolution reads as follows:
Whereas it is the responsibility of the American Association for the Advancement of Science to
preserve the integrity of science, and
Whereas science is a systematic method of investigation based on continuous experimentation,
observation, and measurement leading to evolving explanations of natural phenomena, explanations which are
continuously open to further testing, and
Whereas evolution fully satisfies these criteria, irrespective of remaining debates concerning its
detailed mechanisms, and
Whereas the Association respects the right of people to hold diverse beliefs about creation that do
not come within the definitions of science, and
Whereas Creationist groups are imposing beliefs disguised as science upon teachers and students
to the detriment and distortion of public education in the United States,
Therefore be it resolved that because "Creationist Science" has no scientific validity it should not
be taught as science, and further, that the AAAS views legislation requiring "Creationist Science" to be taught
in public schools as a real and present threat to the integrity of education and the teaching of science, and
Be it further resolved that the AAAS urges citizens, educational authorities, and legislators to
oppose the compulsory inclusion in science education curricula of beliefs that are not amenable to the process
of scrutiny, testing, and revision that is indispensable to science. (American Association for the Advancement
of Science 1982, 1072)
This resolution shows the AAAS hierarchy picture themselves as guardians of the integrity of science. In this
self-appointed role they assert that creation science has no scientific validity. But was it scientific integrity for
Science, the publishing arm of the AAAS, to suppress a letter that directly contradicted that assertion?
(Later I learned more about why my response was rejected, and this is discussed in Chapter 15.)