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  • Kansas Board Rejects Evolution (Aug. 12)

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    Transcript: Evolution and Creationism in Focus
    Rejecting Evolution, Teaching Creationism

    The Kansas State School Board came to national attention this month when it voted to reject the theory of evolution as required knowledge for students.

    While the board did not mandate the teaching of "creation science" a biblically-based account of the origins of the universe its decision to remove evolution was a political victory for religious conservatives who have long opposed the teaching of evolution.

    Tom Willis of the Creation Science Association of Mid-America helped draft the new standards adopted by the Kansas Board. He was online August 23, 1999, to take questions on the issue of evolution and creationism in education.

    Other guests will join us later this week to discuss this issue: Steve Case, a biologist who drafted the original, defeated, evolution education standards, and Dr. Robert Russell of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences.


    washingtonpost.com: Good morning and welcome to our discussion on the debate between evolution and creationism. Thanks to Tom Willis for agreeing to join us today.

    Let's start out with this question: In the article describing the Kansas board's decision, you said that "You can't go into the laboratory or the field and make the first fish. When you tell students that science has determined [evolution to be true], you're deceiving them."

    This seems to flip-flop the traditional roles of science and faith -- evolution is rejected because one can't see tangible proof of it, and creationism is embraced because you claim it can be proved scientifically. COuld you comment on this role reversal here?

    Tom Willis: This is not a true quote. We never get quoted accurately, but neither is it a "role reversal." Every theory must be demonstrated to earn honest proponents. The notion that creation must be proven and evolution not is silly.


    washington, dc: Two questions: 1. Do the new guidelines apply to both public and private schools? and 2. Aren't you worried that students in Kansas who want to study science - especially biology or geoscience - in college will be at a disadvantage when compared to students from other states?

    Tom Willis: 1. As I understand Ks law, they apply to all "accredited schools."
    2. We teach children not to lie in order to get ahead. I can not train children properly if we lie to them in order to help them "get ahead in life."


    Gainesville, Va.: Why is it that Creation Science -determining cause and or effect using the creation theory as the basis- is not considered science at all. To say that science does not use bias in it's interpretation of facts is just plain ignorant. All science comes from some bias, whether you believe life was created in the seven days of Creation week or over hundreds of thousands of years via evolution.

    Tom Willis: I agree with you that Bacon and Descartes were deluding themselves, and others, when they claimed people could purge themselves of their biases. Any theory is approached with heavy bias. Origins theories are approached with incredibly heavy bias.


    Washington, DC: How can you continue to refute
    evolution, even as a theory, when there is more incontrovertible evidence that life on this planet is much older than was originally estimated? This question is in light of a recent fossilized, multicellular organism dated 1 BILLION years earlier than was originally believed multicellular life appeared on the planet.

    How can you justify promoting creationism, knowing this directly impinges upon the rights of religious mino-
    rities and civil liberties guaranteed in the Constitution, as well as close the dialogue of the exchange of ideas that foster challenging conventional way ofthinking?

    Tom Willis: I "continue to refute evolution" the same way I continue to refute any proposition. Recent dating of Mt. St. Helen's lava, known by thousands of witnesses to be only 20 years old, dated at hundreds of millions. Recent dating of lava flows at the top of Grand Canyon, based on fossils, only a few thousand years old, dated at over 1 billion years, and actually dated older than rocks "known to be 500 million years old" at the bottom of Grand Canyon.


    Charlottesville, Virginia: Hello Mr. Willis,

    It's my understanding that the creationist's rational for rejecting evolution it that it is a theory that cannot be proven by direct observation. Why must evolution be held to this -nearly- impossible standard when so much of science is extrapolated from indirect evidence? Secondly, it isn't even quite true since evolution can be observed right now as disease organisms develop immunity to drugs and insects develop resistance to pesticides by the same process. How do you explain that?

    Tom Willis: Inability to directly test evolution is only one of countless reasons to reject evolutionism. Some theories that are "indirectly tested" today may work out, others are probably doomed to replacement. But, all of them can be repeatedly tested and found applicable. But, Evolutionism (Macro) has no value at all to technology or science.

    Adaptation is not evolution. Even man creates automatic adaptation devices, like the thermostat in your home. No such device ever "evolves." They are all created. In those instances where real change occurs (as opposed to merely killing 'non-adapted' varieties) I propose that any creator capable of creating a cell and sticking DNA into it would certainly be able to plan for adaptation. The evidence of science is actually stacking heavily on the side of designed adaptation.


    Arlington, VA: Being that Genesis is written in an early Isrealite poetic form -opposed to a factual, non-fiction, literary style-, and the existance vast geological evidence available via carbon dating and the fossil record, Why is it that evolution and the Creation account are so wholly imcompatible? Why is it necassary to take Genesis literally when most Talmudic law -end of Exodus, Leviticus, Deutoronomy- is ignored by Creationits?

    Tom Willis: The notion that Genesis is symbolic or poetic is absurd. Genesis is the most quoted book in the Bible by other Bible authors. Not one Biblical author treated Genesis as metaphor, allegory, symbolic, much less myth.

    Furthermore, many poems are about true events and accurately report them. Surely you have read "Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere" Perhaps you have at least heard of "The Charge of the Light Brigade," a poem, but a true account of a real event in history.


    New York, NY: Simple yes-no question: Is it your contention that the Earth is only 6,000 years old, therefore any evidence indicating an older Earth is either being misinterpreted or is the result of faulty tests?

    Tom Willis: No.


    Cushing, OK: Let me preface my question by saying that I am an educated person -a lawyer- who believes in creation.

    It seems to me that some of the recent and well known critics of evolution such as Philip Johnson and Michael Behe have distanced themselves from "Creation Science," possibly due to what they perceive as rather speculative hypotheses made by some embracing it. Is this an accurate observation?

    Tom Willis: Many people distance themselves from many things. Jesus even prophesied that many would claim "mighty works in my name" The question is irrelevant.


    Washington, DC: If, as you argue, God may have planned for adaption, why couldn't he have planned evolution as well? What do you say to the Christian non-creationist who believes in evolution, but also believes God is behind it?

    Tom Willis: God CAN do anything He pleases, He is God. The question is not what CAN He do, but what DID He do. Both science and the Scripture say he did not do evolution. Evolution is a cultural myth, bleieved by many as is the case of many major myths in history, and supported by "scientists" of of the day, just as were all the myths associated with sun worship temples. Those temples required science better than we have today in some areas.


    Rockville, MD: Why is it that evolutionism is not being taught because it cannot be scientifically proven, though creationism is basically a religious belief that has no scientific fact related to it? How will this effect the religious minority who take the Bible to be merely a moral guidepost and not fact?

    Tom Willis: You are sadly mistaken, undoubtedly misled by the press. The new Kansas Science Standards do not prevent the teaching of evolution one bit.

    It is a myth that there is no evidence for Biblical Creation. The fact you don't know any is not testimony to the absense of any.


    Washington, DC: So let's say that I decide to teach creationism in my classroom. Whose creation story do I use? The Judeo-Christian version, the Greek-Roman version, the stories of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism?

    Tom Willis: If I were on your local school board, I'd suggest you teach ones that survive in the marketplace of ideas, or teach none at all. According to evolutionists, Biblical Creationists won 132 out of 133 straight debates. (they claimed they fought one to a draw). It seemslike Biblical Creation would be a good one to consider, since, even by evolutionist accounting, it is debatable.

    Actually, in my own science class, I would teach both, one as an example of delusion.

    I have a friend who taught both, refusing to tell the students where he stood. 90% became creationists, and he was threatened with dismissal, demoted to Junior High, and made to teach math. So much for academic freedom.


    Bangalore, India: If your Jehovah is so powerful and far-seeing, why did he not include "Thou shalt not teach evolution" in his commandments to Moses and forestall the problem you are wrestling with?

    Tom Willis: He clearly did not deliniate every form of sin, but he clearly forbade teaching evolutionism: "Thou shalt not bear false witness."

    Furthermore, he clearly prophesied the major philosophical tenants of evolutionism in 2 Peter, saying that they would be associated with "scoffers" in the latter days. He described them by saying they would be willfully ignorant of two facts: "the earth was initially covered with water" (not hot for 600 million years), and was later flooded and destroyed by these same waters." No evolutionist of any stripe accepts the global flood.


    Washington, DC: Why should anyone accept "creation science" over evolutionary theory? What evidence is there for it? Please be specific.

    Tom Willis: There are countless evidences for Biblical Creation. Let's just consider one. Evolutionism has no theory for the origin of matter. But,

    You know full well that:
    a. The Law of Conservation (1st Law of Thermo) precludes the notion of matter/energy coming into existence by natural means.
    b. The law of Entropy (2nd Law of Thermo) precludes the notion that matter/energy could have been here forever. If it had, there would be no energy left for useful work. We would not be having this discussion.

    Therefore, any "natural" theory of the beginning of matter must set aside one or both of these laws.

    But, we also have another body of empirical evidence. Matter clearly qualifies as a complex system, so complex that man has only a hodge-podge of theories trying to explain it, but everyone suspects they are largely ad hoc and may well be overthrown. Regardless of whether the current theories of matter are untimately true, we also have observed the origin of billions of complex systems, from pocket combs to rocket ships. All such systems, whose origin we have observed, owe their existence to acts of creation involving plan and work by one or more intelligent living beings.

    Furthermore, we also know from observation (empirical science) that the creator(s) of such systems is (are) always outside of, essentially unlike, and transcendent to the created system. That is, regardless of how banal some religions may become, a man who builds a car, is not a car.

    Returning to the origin of matter, we know that a small amount of matter was not created. Whatever violated the 1st Law of Thermodynamics, either did it often, or created a lot of matter, all the cosmos. There is no "natural" theory of how this could happen. Your email is an illustration of the futility of attempting such a theory, you didn't even try.

    But, there is a simple Biblical Theory: 1. God is not made of matter. "God is a Spirit" 2. God is transcendent. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." 3. God is creator of matter. "In six days the Lord God made the heavens, the earth, the seas, and all that is therein." Ex 20:11

    Thus, the Biblical theory is:
    Matter was brought into existence by an intelligent living being that is Spirit (not matter), and is outside and transcendent to, the physical universe. The theory meets all the conditions imposed by the two foundational laws of all of Chemistry and Physics, and provides an adequate cause consistent with all known principles of the universe. The theory has been tested billions of times on complex systems of all types, without falsification. All complex systems whose origins we have observed have been created by a creator transcendent to the system. It can alos be falsified. Simply create complex systems without a creator.

    Before leaving your non theory for the origin of matter. I also find your defense of the big bang more than a little flawed: "we find that everything in the universe is moving quite rapidly away from everything else, with the things farthest away moving the fastest. (These observations require that you are willing to believe
    measuring techniques like red shift for speed and a known relationship
    between temperature and luminosity, but we have to start somewhere."


    Arlington, VA: Mr. Willis,

    Let me first say that I admire you for having the courage to stand up for your beliefs against all this criticism.

    I don't think its impossible to believe that both the world was created by God and that species are evolving on earth. Who but God could create such a beautiful system as men evolving into a better species over the course of millions of years?

    Tom Willis: I've already answered that. I'm am not interested in "beautifule theories" only valid ones.


    Chevy Chase MD: To WASHINGTONPOST.COM:

    Come on guys! First the astrologer and now this!

    Just because a few wackos in Kansas managed to get themselves onto the School Board does not mean you need to take them seriously.

    washingtonpost.com: Well, Chevy Chase, this issue is about more than a few people who were elected or appointed to a school board -- it's about a controversial decision prompting us (i.e. washingtonpost.com) to consider the ever porous wall between church and state. And have you considered that those you consider "wackos" may consider you a "wacko" as well? Calling names doesn't get us anywhere. Tom?

    Tom Willis: This "question" is typical of the ones we got during the debates here. It is one of the reasons we won.


    washingtonpost.com: We have roughly twenty minutes left in our forum (we got a late start -- sorry!). Please continue to submit your questions.


    Washington, DC: Mr. Willis, just because there ARE poems that describe a true event, doesn't mean that there AREN'T poems that are completely metaphor, such as the Book of Genesis. Your logic is very poor.

    Tom Willis: It is not my logic that is poor, yours is nonexistant. You simply declare that I must believe Genesis is symbolic with no logic or reasoning at all. Not one Biblical author treated it that way, and there is certainly no internal content to lead one to that conclusion.

    Genes actually contains fewer metaphors than most Biblical books, but a maetphor in a narrative in no way invalidates the historicity of it. I can say, "It rained cats and dogs" in a story about a baseball game. That doesn't mean the game never occurred.


    Washington, DC: Could you provide thenames and dates of accademic journals and publications in which the results of the various geologic dating has been published? In your Grand Canyon refutation of Carbon Dating , how does one verify the oage rocks known to be "thousands of years old", What techniques are being used in liue of Carbon dating?

    Tom Willis: Your level of knowledge makes it difficult to answer the questions briefly. Carbon dating is not used to date rocks. The method I was referring to was Rubidium-Strontium Isocron dating.

    The scientific journals are full of evidence and testimony that the old-earth dating methods do not work. One researcher surveyed all published dates in one year. Far more gave the "wrong" date than gave the right one. See Woodmorappe, CRSQ on Radiometric Dating.

    I will not be forced into giving journal references in such a silly forum. This is supposed to be a "forum." I am not a walking encyclopedia of dates and titles.


    Cushing, OK: -Yikes, and I thought I was throwing you a softball!-

    As a Biblical creationist myself, I am a bit perturbed by your defensiveness in this forum. You apparently do not view yourself in this arena as an ambassador of Christ or else you would be more diplomatic. It is for exactly this reason that I must press my point: don't you think that the caricature many in the scientific community have in mind when they think of "creationists" is caused by such defensiveness -which is common- and actually makes acceptance of valid creation-supporting arguments less palatable to that community?

    Tom Willis: I cannot control how you react. Nor can I impathasize with your characterization of my replies. I have watched evolutionists perform for years. The local atheist club recently made a public apology to me for the way they had behaved over period of 15 years. The complimented me for the way I had behaved in response.

    There are far more questions here than I can answer in the time allotted. Naturally, I have answered them in the briefest possible manner. If you choose to reject the answers because of style, that is your loss. Peter accused 20,000 jews of killing the son of the living God. 3000 were saved. Obviously many were not.


    Washington, DC: As a Kansan, I have paid close attention to this debate. I understand the concern about students not being able to compete at the university level, yet I'm not sure if that is an accurate thought; students in higher education are graded on their ability to think and process information. However, I think that it would be wise to teach students all aspects of scientific ideas -- make them aware that BOTH evolution and creation involves faith: you cannot prove either. How will KS legislate this decision? I understand that it is up to the school districts so it is entirely possible that nothing will change.

    Tom Willis: The school board does not appear to have the authority you seem to be seeking. They cannot mandate "how" subjects are taught. The standards adopted state that science should not be taught dogmatically, students should be encouraged to explore alternate theories, and evidence against theories should never be censored.

    Evolutionists fought these ideas tooth and nail, especially the last one.


    Atlanta, GA: You said: "Origins theories are approached with incredibly heavy bias." What bias informs the creationist viewpoint and what bias do you believe informs the evolutionist viewpoint?

    Tom Willis: A person's bias does seem to change over time, and is often difficult to asses internally, much less from outside. Certainly psychologists cannot determine biases.

    In my own case, I spent 40 years of my life as a pagan. I was, as God says in many instances, a fool. But, I has no position on evolution, though I attended college on a physics scholarship and achieved a graduate degree in science. I was influenced in my decision to accept creation by the accuracy and wisdom of the Scripture, and by learned defense of it by several. But I was also heavily influenced to reject evolutionism by reading Darwin's book, something I find few evolutionists have done. I followed that with many years of reading Gould and others. I cannot describe my reaction to the total absense of scientific arguments in their writing. There is little doubt that, had I not become a Christian, I would have been an "anti-evolutionist" based on the writing of evolutionists.


    washingtonpost.com: Unfortunately we're running out of time. Before we go, we'd like to end on this last question:

    The debate over creationim and evolution is obviously a heated one on both sides. Do you consider evolution and creationism an either/or situation, or can you consider science informing religious thought and vice versa?

    Tom Willis: That is really two questions:

    Is the question either/or?
    Answer: No. A great deal of flexibility is present within the basic types of animals (baramin - created kinds). Furthermore, the Bible says the entire Creation labbors under the curse, "the bondage to decay." This is clear insight into decay of automobiles, computer information and genetic systems, all of which are known to be true. However, this decay never creates automobiles, computer information or genetic systems. This is also proven by all of empirical science. But, this type of change (variety, adaptation, mutation, decay) are all given by the evolutionism movement the same name, "evolution" as their proposed transformation accross major kinds. Thus, if you accept the definition that evolution is the proper word to describe ALL CHANGE, then, in a sense I am an "evolutionist" compared to Cambridge Theological seminary which at one time elevated Linnaeus' ideas and twisted them to "fixity of species." However, I believe that sanity would require that different words be used to describe these radically different phenomena.

    2nd Q: Can science inform religious thought? Well, the Bible doesn't tell how to build automobiles, but building automobiles is not religious thought. Basically, I disagree with Gallielo, Keppler, et all who seemed to think God had written two books. Science probably cannot inform true religious thought. But, it can if the religious thought was wrong in the first place.


    Washington, DC: Mr. Willis, just because there ARE poems that describe a true event, doesn't mean that there AREN'T poems that are completely metaphor, such as the Book of Genesis. Your logic is very poor.

    Tom Willis: My logic is at least as good as yours. You didn't include any. I gave you evidence that no Biblical authors interpretet it the way you insist that I must. Why on earth do you insist I must accept your interpretation with no accompanying evidence?


    washingtonpost.com: That's it for us today. Our apologies to the very many of you who sent in questions that couldn't get answered. Our guests have only 10 fingers to type with, regardless of whether they evolved or were created. Thanks to all for participating.

    © Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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