Science a Pseudo-Science?
by Colin Standish
DURING 1997 a vigorous debate erupted at Virginia's Thomas Jefferson High
School in Fairfax County over the introduction of a biology textbook entitled,
"Biological Science: A Molecular Approach," a book published by
the Biological Science Curriculum Study (BSCS). The attack was led by some of
the parents of students at the school and the American Family Association. At
issue was a statement in the textbook that "Creation science is a
At stake in the dispute were two major issues: (1) The protesters believed
that the designation of creation science as "pseudo-science" greatly
offended fundamentalist Christians who asserted that the statement "demeans
their religious belief;" (2) The protesters asked for a disclaimer in the
textbook used in the public schools of Fairfax County detailing the inadequacies
of evolutionary theorizing.
In the Washington Post, March 11, 1997, Joseph McInerney, director of
BSCS from Colorado Springs, Colorado, in a letter to the editor, emphatically
defended the book's assertion that creation science is a
"pseudo-science." In part he stated that "this is not the first
objection we have heard to our treatment of 'creation science,' nor is it our
first encounter with creationists who try to force their religious beliefs into
the science classroom. BSCS put evolution back into the high school biology
curriculum in the early 1960s, and we have been in the middle of this dispute
Then McInerney argued, "In the current situation, there would be no
dispute if creationists did not use the oxymoron [contradictory term] 'creation
science' in an attempt to legitimize scientifically a view of the natural world
that is grounded in revealed truth. If, for example, they had stuck to the
phrase [sic] 'creationism,' BSCS would not have to point out that their position
has no scientific basis. Part of our obligation as curriculum developers,
however, is to help students--and teachers--understand what counts as science
and what does not.
" 'Creationism' is part of a religious belief system. 'Creation science'
is an attempt to parlay religious belief as science. It is therefore, a
pseudo-science and we have said so straightforwardly." Ibid. (All emphasis
supplied unless otherwise noted.)
Straightforwardly? Yes; validly? No! McInerney used some challengeable
argumentation in his letter. First, he asserts categorically that the views of
creationists are "grounded in revealed truth." In this he is correct.
But he then leaves the inescapable conclusion that revealed truth has no valid
confirmation in scientific observation or investigation. To Christians who have
a deep faith in the Bible record of origin, on the one hand, and a strong
commitment to scientific investigation, on the other, creation science is not an
oxymoron. Indeed, while not claiming that all valid scientific research findings
are readily explicable in terms of fiat [spoken into existence] creation;
nevertheless, those scientists who are Christians have observed that frequently
the data of scientific investigation and observations much more closely fit the
creationist than the evolutionary model. This has proved true not only in their
own investigations but in the investigations of agnostic scientists.
There is a commonly upheld belief that creation-believing scientists are
greatly biased by subjectivity in their research and/or interpretation of the
scientific data. By implication it is assumed that evolutionary scientists bring
to their research a high level of objectivity. However, the authors resolutely
challenge such assumptions. In their own extensive research projects they found
this to be far from the case. For example, Colin, while a graduate student, was
puzzled with the research of two clearly opposing behavioral scientists.
Reporting their findings in scholarly journals, each sought a number of times to
replicate the other's experimental design, but unfailingly each produced data
that consistently confirmed his own hypothesis [assumption] and denied the
hypothesis of the other. It was not difficult to deduce that subjective
considerations, not dispassionate objectivity, was the explanation for the
consistently contradictory findings.
McInerney's letter appears to overlook one of the most basic principles of
scientific investigation used in the establishment of the hypotheses. Hypotheses
may validly be established upon the evidence of observation, upon the evidence
of investigation, from theoretical models, or they may be ad hoc hypotheses
devoid of any direct empirical [verifiable] evidence, simply reflecting the
intuition of the theorist. The one criterion of a valid hypothesis is that it
is testable. Does Biblical Creation revelation offer opportunity for
investigative research? Absolutely!--in many areas. Here are some examples:
(1) The Scriptures declare "For he spake, and it was done; he commanded,
and it stood fast." Psalm 33:9. This Biblical principle enunciates the fact
that matter was called into existence in a moment.
This claim of Holy Scriptures is in sharp contrast to the evolutionary
hypothesis which states that vast periods of time, close to 15 billion years,
were necessary for the earth with all its present biodiversity [variety of
plants and animals] to evolve from the big bang. Any well-conducted
investigation which validly tests these two contrasting concepts of origins can
offer evidence toward the confirmation or denial of these incompatible claims.
This is not only testable, it is a hypothesis that has been tested. Robert
Gentry, visiting research scientist at Oakridge National Laboratories, Oakridge,
Tennessee, for 13 years, researched polonium halos found in mica.1
Gentry takes up the story:
"According to evolutionary geology [i.e. uniformitarianism]2,
the Precambrian granites containing these special [polonium] halos had
crystallized gradually as hot magma [molten rock under the earth's surface]
slowly cooled over long ages. On the other hand, the radioactivity which
produced these special radio halos had such a fleeting existence that it would
have disappeared long before the hot magma had time to cool sufficiently to form
a solid rock. It was a true enigma [inexplicable fact]. Would I ever resolve
it?" Robert V. Gentry, Creations Tiny Mystery, Earth Science
Associates, second edition, 1988, p. 31.
Heading a team of seven scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Gentry
demonstrated powerful evidence--using the most meticulous experimental
design--that the presence of polonium-210 in primordial [happening first in
sequence of time], Precambrian granites presented grave difficulties for the
traditional big bang hypothesis that asserted that over extraordinarily long
periods of time those Precambrian granites, free from fossil remains, had
solidified from their original molten state. His findings, often challenged,
frequently ignored, are yet to find adequate interpretation within the concepts
of the big bang theory.
To understand the findings of Gentry we will explain the process critical to
his investigation. Three radioactive atoms are the initiators of a decay chain.
The one relevant to Gentry's research is Uranium-238 which initiates a decay
chain that ultimately ends in Lead-206. The half-life of a radioactive isotope3
is the time it takes for half of the radioactive atoms to decay. Uranium-238
presently decays at the rate of a half-life of about 4.5 billion years. Further,
after another 4.5 billion years, a total of three-quarters of the uranium atoms
would have decayed and after yet another 4.5 billion years (providing the
decay-rate remained constant during this vast period of time) seven-eighths of
all the uranium-238 would have decayed.
However, the decay from Uranium-238 to Lead-206 is a complex process
involving 14 steps: Uranium-238 Thorium-234 Protactium-234 Uranium-234
Thorium-230 Radium-226 Radon-222 Polonium-218 Lead-214 Bismuth-214 Polonium-214
Lead-210 Bismuth-210 Polonium-210 Lead-206.
Within this decay chain, Gentry became interested particularly in the three
polonium isotopes in the decay chain--Polonium-218, 214 and 210. These polonium
isotopes all have short half-lives. Polonium-218 has a half-life of 3 minutes,
decaying into Lead-214. Polonium-214 has a half-life of 164 micro seconds,
decaying into Lead-210. Polonium-210 has a half-life of 138.4 days decaying into
Lead-206 which concludes the uranium decay chain.
During the decay process, all three polonium isotopes emit heavy alpha
particles4 which travel a microscopic distance in minerals
when emitted in the decay process. Each leaves a damage trail of a predictable
length. When billions of alpha particles are emitted from the same center they
collectively form a spherical damage pattern around the center causing color
changes which microscopically appear as radio-halos. These halos are darker at
the edge because damage is greater at the end of their alpha particle's
"travel." Because the different isotopes travel different identifiable
distances, it is possible to identify which isotopes (there are eight of the 14
isotopes in the uranium-lead decay chain that emit alpha particles) have
produced the halo. Therefore it was possible for Gentry to make definite
identifications of each of the three different polonium halos.
Gentry's research evidenced that polonium halos were indeed in granite rock
separate from uranium. Because of the fleeting half-life of polonium, the
evolutionary, big bang model, has found no credible explanation for this
discovery. If molten magma had cooled into granite rock over long ages of
earth's history, given the fleeting half-life of polonium isotopes, all traces
of their radioactive decay would have been obliterated long before the magma
cooled into granite rock.
The only credible explanation of these polonium halos is that they were
formed in a situation corresponding to fiat Creation. They would have had to
have occurred in less than three minutes (the half-life of polonium-218), maybe
even less than 164 micro seconds (the half-life of polonium-214). To illustrate
this phenomenon, when one casts a rock into a body of water, the expanding rings
in the water last only a few seconds.
Of course, such a finding was intolerable to evolutionary scientists, but
greatly more intolerable was Gentry's implied support for fiat Creation.
Gentry's papers, submitted to Science and other scholarly journals had to
be presented in the most guarded language. Yet a few scientists courageously
commended Gentry's research, noting his meticulous experimental design and
Colin was President of Columbia Union College 1974-1978. During this period
Robert Gentry was an associate professor of that institution on leave as a
visiting research scientist at Oakridge National Laboratories. It was during
this time that in 1976 Gentry's research made headlines in the national and
international press and in the weekly news magazines.
On one occasion one of the seven members of Gentry's research team visited
Columbia Union College. Colin inquired of this scientist, an atheist, as were
the rest of the members of Gentry's research team, as to his evaluation of
Gentry's experimental work. The scientist answered that it was "Impeccable
[flawless]--one of the most careful researchers with whom I have ever
worked." Colin asked him if he understood Gentry's belief that the team's
research findings supported fiat Creation. "Yes, everyone is aware of his
beliefs." When the scientist was pressed to express his personal
conclusions concerning the experimental results, he responded, "Well, I
don't have a better explanation, but I hope that at some future time there will
emerge a more acceptable explanation of the data." Such a reply indicates a
great faith in evolutionary theory, a faith which refuses to accept evidence to
the contrary. Is there a valid place for the scientific investigation of the
creation model? The answer is emphatically, Yes.
(2) The Bible record provides information which indicates that the earth and
its contents are about 6,000 years old, contrasting with the approximately 4.5
billion years proposed by most evolutionists. Once again the concepts are
Robert Gentry set up experimental procedures which were to offer research
data significant to the estimated age of the earth. In this study coalified
wood, expected to be millions of years old, was found to be less than 10,000
years old (the sophisticated measuring device could not be refined to provide a
more accurate finding, for it was designed to measure great ages of time). This
finding fitted the Biblical record of earth's Creation, about 6,000 years ago,
and more specifically the Noachian flood of about 4,500 years ago.
(3) The Genesis record claims that man was made by God out of the dust of the
"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed
into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."
This revelation, unable to be scientifically confirmed when recorded in Holy
Scripture, has been readily confirmed by the fact that all the elements
contained in the human body, including such elements as calcium, sodium, iron,
phosphorous, zinc, potassium, and carbon, are found in the earth.
(4) The Bible asserts that close to 4,500 years ago, the earth was deluged by
a worldwide flood which would have greatly changed the atmospheric conditions of
the planet, accounting for dramatic and sudden climatic alterations which would
have chaotic consequences for both animal and vegetative life. By contrast,
conventional evolutionary theorizing postulates the concept of uniformity. The
evidence of paleontology (the study of fossil remains), ice ages, gigantic
deposits of fossil fuel, the evidence of the remains of sea life high in
mountains or deep in the hinterland of continents, the sudden extinction of a
vast array of species all more readily fit the Biblical record of early life on
this planet. It also accounts for the sometimes erratic findings of carbon 14
dating beyond four or five thousand years, contrasting with the accuracy of this
dating method for shorter time periods.
(5) The small population of the planet well into the time of the Middle Ages
does not fit the much longer claims of the evidence that homo sapiens, or their
hypothesized forebears, existed for a long period of time prior to the era of
recorded history. The population evidence points to the recent advent of man
upon the planet.
Joseph McInerney, defending BSCS's disclaimer concerning creation science,
evidences little knowledge concerning the clearly testable claims of fiat
Creation. Of course, there is a discernible difference between creationism and
creation science. The concepts of creationism are partly testable and partly
accepted by an intelligent, reasoned faith. Creation science takes only those
aspects of creationism which are decidedly testable and examines them under the
same vigorous conditions expected of evolutionary scientists. It is true, for
example, that the scientific method is not able to be employed to test the
creationist claim that:
"He spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast." Psalm
However, it is valid to state that the scientific method has confirmed the
principle that is involved in the claims stated by the Bible that the earth and
its contents were created when energy (the mighty voice of God) was converted
into matter (the earth, its gaseous environment and its animal and vegetative
life). The modern advances in particle and sub-atomic physics have made this
evident. The destructive power which is released when matter is converted to
energy (as in a nuclear explosion) evidences the reverse principle from
Even limited to the constraints of the scientific method, creation science
has an undeniable place in the theorizing and experimentation which are
legitimate processes in the scientific method. That frequently creation
scientists begin with a mindset established by their creationist belief system,
is undeniable. But no less undeniable is the fact that many evolutionary
scientists have a decidedly biased mindset which is frequently antagonistic to
Christian concepts. Many accept evolution as if it is a proven theory.
In neither case does this necessarily preclude the conducting of objective
research and the reaching of honest conclusions. The Christian has every right
to test his beliefs, derived from revealed Scripture, in the rigorous
methodology of the scientific arena, just as the evolutionist has the same valid
right to test his concepts. Further, each has the right to test the validity of
the other's concepts.
It would be wise for evolutionary scientists to remember their frustration
prior to the Scopes trial when evolutionary explanations were routinely banned
in the public school system of America. Are they not willing to recognize that
there are two major understandings of the origins of the universe, both staking
claims to scientific validation? Let the textbooks of the public schools offer
fair treatment by skilled scientific writers, proponents of both views, to the
students of today's generation. One cannot escape the suspicion that many
evolutionists are insecure in their theory and fear that its serious weaknesses
will be exposed should creation science be afforded an equal place in school
We have seen that the research of Robert Gentry, demonstrating the presence
of polonium halos in granite rock, is explainable only by instantaneous
Creation. If the rock had been liquid, as necessary if evolution were true, the
fleeting presence of the halos would have been erased by the very long
geological periods that it would have taken the giant mass of rock to cool down.
Only a Creator God could have placed the polonium halos in the solid granite as
a signature of His handiwork.
1. Mica -- Any of a group of chemically and physically related
aluminum silicate minerals, characteristically splitting into flexible sheets
used in insulation and electrical equipment. American Heritage Dictionary,
2. Uniformitarianism -- The theory that geologic processes in
the past operated at the same rate and in the same way as in the present. American
Heritage Dictionary, 1475.
3. Isotope -- Forms of an element characterized by a specific
number of neutrons. Handbook of Physics, 9-4.
4. Alpha Particles -- The nucleus of Helium atoms. Handbook
of Physics, 9-103.