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The National Academy of Sciences and Academic Freedom

The format of the Academy's booklet—by excluding a fair presentation of the evidences for creation—suggests the Academy wished to secure the condemnation of creation science on the basis of the eminent reputations of Academy members. Using private funds, the booklet was distributed gratis to numerous public school officials and legislators across America (36,000 to high school superintendents and science department heads, and 9,000 to U.S. Congressmen, governors, and other influential Americans). Clearly the Academy has assumed a leadership role in the growing movement to maintain the exclusive teaching of evolution in public school science courses.

Americans need to be aware of what this action of the Academy means in terms of one of their most cherished heritages. By employing authoritarian measures to promote evolution as truth and creation science as error, the Academy seems to have directly contradicted itself on intellectual freedom. How did this happen?

On April 27, 1976, eight years before its booklet on creation science was published, the Academy adopted a magnificent resolution, quoted below, which aptly represents what America stands for—the freedom to express minority views without fear of repression:


I hereby affirm my dedication to the following principles:

. . . That the search for knowledge and understanding of the physical universe and of the living things that inhabit it should be conducted under conditions of intellectual freedom, without religious, political or ideological restriction.

. . . That all discoveries and ideas should be disseminated and may be challenged without such restriction.

. . . That freedom of inquiry and dissemination of ideas require that those so engaged be free to search where their inquiry leads, free to travel and free to publish their findings without political censorship and without fear of retribution in consequence of unpopularity of their conclusions. Those who challenge existing theory must be protected from retaliatory reactions.

[p. 8]

. . . That freedom of inquiry and expression is fostered by personal freedom of those who inquire and challenge, seek and discover.

. . . That the preservation and extension of personal freedom are dependent on all of us, individually and collectively, supporting and working for application of the principles enunciated in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and upholding a universal belief in the worth and dignity of each human being.

This Affirmation is a marvelous statement of conscience. It focuses attention on the plight of many dissident foreign scientists who might otherwise have been forgotten. We would expect that influential scientists, especially Academy members, would be foremost in adhering to its principles. It is tragic that this prestigious organization, which espoused such high ideals in defense of dissidents, would subsequently advocate a plan that could adversely affect the lives of many school-aged Americans.

In its Affirmation the Academy urges that those who search for truth should do so under our right of freedom of inquiry and expression. Does this include public school students in America? Does the Academy believe they have the right to ask, to probe, or to critically inquire about creation science without fear of recrimination from their teachers? After their teachers inform them that "the Academy states unequivocally that the tenets of 'creation science' are not supported by scientific evidence," how many students will ask about it? The few who might venture to do so will now run the risk of being ridiculed because of the invidious comparison which Dr. Frank Press, Academy President in 1984, makes in his Preface to the booklet:

. . . Teaching creationism is like asking our children to believe on faith, without recourse to time-tested evidence, that the dimensions of the world are the same as those depicted in maps drawn in the days before Columbus set sail with his three small ships, when we know from factual observations that they are really quite different. (National Academy of Sciences 1984, 5)

The thrust of Press's innuendo is clear. He insinuates that creationism, equated in the booklet with the first two chapters of Genesis, is a deception which ignores demonstrable scientific evidence. Thus, Press's judgment comes close to insulting those Americans who accept the scientific validity of the Genesis account of creation. It is difficult to conceive of a more effective method of intimidation than for a teacher to quote the above statement in answer to any question about the scientific merits of creation.

[p. 9]

Later in his Preface, Press confirms his unalterable faith in evolution:

The theory of evolution has successfully withstood the tests of science many, many times. Thousands of geologists, paleontologists, biologists, chemists, and physicists have gathered evidence in support of evolution as a fundamental process of nature. Our understanding of evolution has been refined over the years, and indeed its details are still undergoing testing and evaluation. For example, some scientists currently debate competing ideas about the rate at which evolution occurred. One group believes that evolution proceeded in small, progressive stages evenly spread throughout the billions of years of geological time; another group believes that there were alternating periods of relatively rapid and slow changes throughout time.

Creationists cite this debate as evidence for disagreement about evolution among scientists; some even suggest that scientists who advocate the latter hypothesis are actually supporting a process similar to that of creationism. What these creationists fail to understand, however, is that neither scientific school of evolutionary thought questions the scientific evidence that evolution took place over billions of years. Rather, the debate centers on only the finer details of how it took place. (National Academy of Sciences 1984, 6)

If, as Press claims, the debate centers only on how evolution took place, rather than whether it occurred, in effect the Academy has decreed that creation must be false. Therefore, students have no choice but to accept evolution in their science curricula. Is this suppression of inquiry consistent with the principles of academic freedom for students? Or is it an example of how those in authority can repress an unpopular belief? Some may think that teachers in free America would never attempt to intimidate students for questioning evolution. Unfortunately, this environment existed forty years ago when I was pursuing my university studies, and as this book reveals, it still exists. The widespread distribution of the Academy's booklet, reflecting the views of confirmed evolutionists, can only be expected to make it worse for conscientious, inquiring students who will not be cowed by proclamations issued by the Academy.

What causes those in the National Academy of Sciences and others, who are confirmed in their evolutionary convictions, to be so entrenched in their views? Perhaps the reason can be found in the following considerations:

Staunch evolutionists are convinced that their theory must be essentially correct because numerous pieces of scientific data from astronomy, geology, and biology seem to mesh naturally to form the beautiful mosaic of [p. 10] evolution. What is often overlooked is that the evolutionary mosaic is actually held together by a glue known as the uniformitarian principle. In reality this principle is only an assumption that the cosmos, including the earth and life thereon, evolved to its present state through the action of known physical laws. If the uniformitarian principle is wrong, then all the pieces in the evolutionary scenario become unglued, and the mosaic disintegrates. Consequently, this principle is crucial to the overall concept of evolution.

But valid, scientific evidence for creation would contradict the uniformitarian principle. The billions of years postulated for the earth to evolve from some nebulous mass would evaporate when confronted by evidence of an instantaneous creation. The age-dating techniques thought to establish a great age of the earth would be invalidated. The essential time element needed for the geological evolution of the earth and the biological evolution of life on earth would vanish. Thus, unambiguous evidence for creation would devastate the entire evolutionary scenario.

At the Arkansas trial, creation and evolution met in a direct confrontation. The ACLU had the grand opportunity to discredit the evidence for creation. They failed to do this. Instead they minimized the significance of the special halos by having them labeled a "tiny mystery." This ploy was so successful that the judge mimicked the ACLU position—using the term "minor mystery"—when he rendered a verdict favorable to evolution.

As effective as this strategy was in winning the court battle at Little Rock, the court of world opinion has yet to give its verdict on the creation/evolution controversy. This verdict will be rendered in part by those who read this book. In arriving at a decision the reader might reflect on another facet of the label "tiny mystery," not considered by the ACLU. In itself each of the special halos is very tiny; smaller still is a single atom. But enough atoms combined can make a mountain. Likewise, the trillions of "tiny mysteries," embedded in basement rocks all over this planet, together form Creation's Tiny Mystery—a Gibraltar of evidence for creation.

By the end of this book the reader should have in hand sufficient information to decide whether the National Academy of Sciences is correct in claiming that special creation is an invalidated hypothesis—or whether the Creator chose to leave positive evidence of creation, thus showing that it is the evolutionary hypothesis which is invalid.

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