One witness characterized the methods of so-called "creation-scientists" as "sleazy" and another said he knew of no creation-scientist who had ever submitted a paper to a scientific journal for publication, as the plaintiffs in the Arkansas creation trial got its argument under way here.
The plaintiffs, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, are seeking to show that what is called "creation-science" is no science at all, but merely religious apologetics for the word-for-word literal reading of the Bible.
A dozen ministers and two Jewish rabbinical groups sued the state of Arkansas after its legislature passed a bill that demands the teaching of creation-science in public schools that teach evolution.
The state hopes to defend the law by showing that evolution is speculative and based on unscientific assumptions, and that creation-science is scientifically well-supported.
Today, Dr. Michael Ruse, a philosopher from the University of Guelph in Ontario, said there was nothing scientific about creation-science and the methods of the creationists "strike me as rather sleazy, frankly."
He gave as an example a passage from a creationist book. It quoted geneticist Richard Lewontin as favoring creationism and writing that some facts of evolution are the "chief evidences of a supreme designer" for the world. When the quote is seen in context, Lewontin actually was giving the opinion of earlier times.
Dr. Francisco Ayala, an eminent geneticist and member of the National Academy of Science, also told the court that creation-science is "not science because it does not provide any explanations by referring to natural law" but instead invokes miracles performed by a creator.
He displayed some evolution-related studies, including recent work that compares the same molecule as it appears in the body of 20 different species, from man to yeast.
If evolution were valid, he said, species that were more closely related would have fewer chemical differences than species that diverged much earlier in the evolutionary line.
The test showed that there is a single, tinydifference in the molecule from man and the molecule from a rhesus monkey. It showed 12 differences between man and horse, and more than 50 differences between man and yeast.
Ayala, who has been an editor of journals of genetics and reviewed papers for many others, said he had never heard of a creation-scientist submitting a scientific paper to a scientific journal.
Finally, Ayala was asked if he had heard of any other attempts to regulate the teaching of biology.
He said the Soviet Union had some years ago demanded that biologists teach a line of biology known as Lamarckian, which many biologists believed was unsupported by evidence.
"The result was catastrophic," he said. "It put the Soviets back 30 years in biology...they have still not caught up."
The state, trying to catch Ayala in a false parallel, asked if in that case the Soviet Union had required that Lamarckian ideas be taught only alongside evolution in the regular classrooms.
"Yes," he said. "That is how it began. First Lamarck was brought in" and was only to be taught side by side, he said. But gradually the idea was pushed harder and finally other theories of evolution were discouraged altogether.