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Letters to the Editor
Dinosaurs and Dragons
Eden Films (formerly Films for Christ) has been advertising a recent release, The Great Dinosaur Mystery, billed as taking up where Footprints in Stone, their earlier release, left off. As the fine articles in your Issue VI (Fall 1981, pp. 16-29), by Godfrey and Weber, clearly show, Footprints is incredibly ludicrous in its claims. Amazingly, The Great Dinosaur Mystery is even more so!
It tries to show that historical and mythological references to dragons (the Apocrypha, St. George, and so forth) and some ancient paintings demonstrate that dinosaurs must have lived in historical times alongside human beings. On this basis it infers that evolution must be wrong and the entire geological timetable as well. However, the film is a blatant repeat of the shoddy reasoning of von Daniken's many publications, though, of course, done for different motives. Using the argument of the film, one would have to conclude that unicorns, leprechauns, and griffins have also existed (not to mention witches, demons, and trolls). And, even if coexistence should scientifically be established in the future, changing the paleontological timescale would not be justified, as the recent discovery of the supposedly extinct coelacanth demonstrates.
Weber has justifiably called the Paluxy River "footprints" the creationists' "Piltdown." I would call The Great Dinosaur Mystery the creationists' "ancient astronaut."
Ronnie J. Hastings, Ph.D.
Clayton vs. Chastain
It seems to me that John N. Clayton was not entirely candid in his reply to Dr. Garvin Chastain (Creation/Evolution VII). Clayton claims that the lectures he gave at Boise State University were not on the evolution-creation controversy and that he is not a member of the creationist movement. These claims may be true, for all I know. But Clayton also spoke at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. The substance of his remarks and the contents of his handouts indicate that he agrees in large measure with the "scientific" creationists.
Clayton gives a lecture entitled "God, Man, and Caveman." Part of the description reads: "An examination of man as uniquely created in the image of God is presented. The physical anthropological explanation of the origin of man and founding evidence is considered to show that the biblical account is more consistent with the evidence."
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More consistent than evolutionary theory, I presume. Lesson IX in a course on "Christian Evidences" for children, provided by Clayton, is entitled "How Do We Know the Theory of Evolution Is Wrong?" Lesson X is called "How Do We Know We Didn't Come from an Apelike Ancestor?" and Lesson XI is "How Do We Know Genesis Is Right?"
It seems to me that Clayton is a member of the creationist movement —if not officially, then in spirit. Perhaps the chief difference between Clayton and the "scientific" creationists is that Clayton does not insist on a creation within the past ten millennia.
Clayton claims that "... if there is a conflict between science and religion, we either have bad science or bad religion...." Clayton apparently wishes to resolve that conflict by having science conform to the doctrines of bad religion.
B. E. Zamulinski
I found John N. Clayton's letter, in which he denies being a member of the creationist movement, very puzzling. His traveling "Does God Exist?" road show came to Tucson not long ago, and during the question-and-answer period he spent at least twenty minutes trying to convince me that Genesis was in perfect agreement with the scientific evidence for the development of life on earth. And he had the color slides to prove it!
In case you haven't caught his act, his particular approach is to "work both sides of the street," so to speak. For example, he delights in proclaiming that he believes in evolution; but, when pressed, he denies that plants and animals evolved from other plants and animals. Contradictory? You bet. Mr. Clayton states in Creation/Evolution that he is "not a member of the creationist movement." In his publication, Does God Exist? however, he says:
In other words, his creationist friends haven't been biblical enough to suit his tastes!
When writing to the "faithful," his anti-evolutionary crusade is obvious:
By his own words, Mr. Clayton is certainly a "creationist," by any definition in common use. This is his right, of course. I just wish he would own up to it.
His letter in Creation/Evolution was correct in one point, however; he is certainly not a biology teacher, as the following incredible quotation from him makes clear:
John Samuel Massa
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Creation/Evolution is doing an important and necessary job by documenting evidence of the absurdity of so-called "scientific creationism." But it does seem as if some of its contributors have fallen into the trap of greatly oversimplifying a highly complex subject. As Garvin Chastain rightly said ("Letters," Creation/ Evolution, V), "Creationists oversimplify and, in doing so, distort the evidence." This makes it all the more important for their opponents to avoid making the same mistake.
Admittedly, they have been led into this by the excesses of certain creationists. Michael Ruse has pointed out in his report (New Scientist, February 1982) of the notorious court hearing at Little Rock that the state law being contested had defined "creation science" as accepting, among other things, "a relatively recent inception of the earth and living kinds."
It is but a short step from this to concluding that creationists all believe in a recently created earth. In fact, the most aggressive creationist organizations want people to believe this: that they frequently assert that all "genuine" creationists are at one with them on this matter. But this is not the case. Creationists of this genre are certainly the best organized, the most aggressive, and the most vociferous; but they are not the only ones, and, in Europe at least, are probably not the most numerous.
It is therefore disconcerting to find in a journal concerned with fact and truth the sweeping generalization, "Creationists claim that the universe is at most ten thousand years old" (Schadewald, no. IV). Several other contributors also imply this, without stating it explicitly. Freske, in volume II, is exceptional in noting that "Most, though not all, creationist organizations are committed to the belief that the universe was created no more than ten thousand years ago." Edwords, in number III, rightly indicates that there are several different sorts of creationists, but unfortunately he refers to recent-creationists as believers in "special creation"—a term which has been used for more than a century in Christian literature as a synonym for creation. Moreover, he subsequently lapses into the prevailing custom of referring to recent-creationists as simply "creationists."
It may help to set the matter in perspective if I explain that as recently as twenty years ago recent-creationists formed only a small minority of creationists in England and were rarely taken seriously. In recent years they have grown somewhat in numbers and influence in England, although to nothing like the same extent as they appear to have done in America.
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There are still a great many educated British creationists who accept without question the cosmological and geological evidence that the universe is billions of years old and that life is hundreds of millions of years old. These ancient-creationists generally regard their recent-creationist brethren as an embarrassment, as part of the eccentric fringe of Christianity.
It would avoid a great deal of unnecessary misunderstanding if writers attacking such absurdities as flood geology and the concept of a young earth would always use the term recent-creationists in order to make quite clear that it is only this one particular species that is referred to.
Another example of oversimplification is the implication that all those who oppose Darwinism are Christian fundamentalists. Most of them are, but by no means all. It is important to recognize that there is a very small, but by no means negligible, body of opposition to Darwinism on purely scientific grounds. And I am not referring here to biologists such as Gould, who would like to make substantial amendments to Darwinian theory, but to those who would like to see it swept aside and replaced by an entirely new theory of the mechanism of evolution. (One of the unfortunate consequences of oversimplification is that the public in general, and many professional biologists, seem to be unaware that informed opposition to Darwinism actually exists.)
The best contemporary example is Pierre Grasse. One of Europe's most distinguished zoologists, he concurs with a number of leading French biologists in regarding neo-Darwinism as an Anglo-Saxon aberration. A convinced evolutionist, he has devoted many years and hundreds of thousands of published words to arguing the inadequacy of Darwinism and the need to replace it by a more convincing explanation of how evolution could have occurred. Other equally eminent biologists who took a similar stand a generation earlier were the entomologist, W. R. Thompson, and botanist J. C. Willis.
Finally, there are a number of agnostic scientists of some distinction—generally physicists, mathematicians, or statisticians—who have looked at evolutionary theory in the light of their own discipline and concluded that what Jaques Monod called "chance and necessity" could not adequately explain the complexity of life. Instead, they have argued that there must be some kind of vital directive principle built into the nature of matter thus giving it a self-creative property or else, like Hoyle and Wickramasinghe believe, that there must be one or more supernatural creative powers abroad in the universe.
To sum up, it is a pity to portray the situation as if there were only two competing philosophies: on the one hand, Darwinism; on the other hand, the fundamental version of creationism.
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In fact, there is a whole spectrum of views, with five major divisions: Darwinists, anti-Darwinian evolutionists, nonreligious quasi-creationists, religious ancient-creationists, and religious recent-creationists.
By keeping these distinctions clearly in mind, and by using appropriate terminology, writers will be better able to oppose error and assist the pursuit of truth.
Dr. Alan Hayward
All of Dr. Hayward's points are welltaken; however, something more needs to be said. The term special creation, which I continue to use, has come to mean (in North America at least), the combined notions of sudden and recent creation. The suddenness element involves creation of all life from nothing within a short space of time (say, in six days). The recentness idea means an earth and universe that are only six- to fifteen-thousand years old. When I take the trouble to say special creation, it is because I intend to distinguish it from other creation notions mentioned in the same article, such as the day-age theory, the gap theory, and so forth.
The rest of the time I do "lapse" into abbreviating the whole concept by simply saying creation or creationism. I hope, however, that from the context everyone knows what is meant. If not, let me state now that the policy of Creation/Evolution is to focus on answering the arguments of those creationists who are politically active in North America (and often abroad). Since the politically active creationists usually believe in a sudden and recent creation (coupled with belief in a worldwide flood, a miraculous origin for languages, and a few other related notions), those are the beliefs to which we respond. We are a specialized publication. It would be cumbersome to always specify the belief system every time we wished to say "creationist. " That would be akin to saying "member of the U.S. Democratic Party" every time we wanted to say "Democrat, " so as not to cause confusion regarding various sorts of social democrats in other countries.
Nonetheless, Dr. Hayward has properly cautioned us not to imagine that this particular brand of creationists represents all the others. He has reminded us that we are not compelled to think of creation only on their terms. And he has given us a broader perspective on the variety of views that exists in this area.
As for any implying that all those who oppose Darwinism are Christian fundamentalists, I hope we have not done that. This is certainly not our intent. However, we will seek to be more cautious in the future.
I would like to comment on the article by Dr. Robert Price which appeared in Creation/Evolution VII.
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I have a Ph.D. in botany, recently attended a conference on evolution and public education at the University of Minnesota, and have practiced TM for over seven years. Accordingly, I feel reasonably well informed on the subjects of evolution, scientific creationism, and the Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI).
Dr. Price attempts to draw many parallels between scientific creationism and SCI, but the two are actually very different, as we shall see.
First, the charge that TM or SCI is a religion. For most people, a religion is a discipline of thought that requires (1) a belief in a god, (2) attendance of some sort of worship service on a regular basis, and (3) the abidance of certain moral rules of conduct in going about one's life. Neither the study of SCI nor the practice of TM has any of these requirements. One could practice TM and study SCI and be an atheist, be free to conduct one's life however one sees fit, and attend any worship service one chooses or none at all. Superficial resemblances of TM or SCI to a religion (and Mr. Price conjures up a number of them) are exactly that—superficial. Because TM (SCI) lacks the above-mentioned requirements, it is not and never was a religion. It was, in fact, originally conceived as a means of developing one's spiritual awareness without religion by means of a simple technique to release stress. Any reference to the TM movement's certificate of incorporation to the term religious with regard to the practice of TM was meant in a spiritual sense completely different from what we normally think of in the context of a religion. It is for this reason, and not to mislead, that the Spiritual Regeneration Movement was renamed the TM Movement.
In sharp contrast to the practice of TM or the study of SCI, belief in scientific creationism requires both belief in God and acceptance of a literal interpretation of creation as presented in the Christian Bible. This qualifies scientific creationism as basically religious in the sense that most people think of when the term is used.
With regard to whether or not SCI is really a science, again, a definition is a good starting point. Most any dictionary defines science basically as systematized knowledge derived from observation, study, and experimentation carried on in order to determine the nature or principles of what is being studied, by means which are repeatable by independent observers. The most reliable indication of whether a discipline of thought and investigation meets these criteria is the appearance of studies regarding it in respected scientific journals, as is the case with SCI. Literally scores of studies of TM, conducted at many universities and research institutions, have been published by such widely respected journals as Science, Scientific American, American Journal of Physiology, Journal of Psychology, and so forth. Although Dr. Price does not claim to have read any of these publications (none are cited), he severely criticizes and attempts to discredit them.
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Any such attempts should take into account the fact that articles appearing in most scientific journals have withstood critical evaluation not only by the editor but also by widely respected experts in the field with which the article deals. Dr. Price goes on to say, quoting a critic, that some researchers have been unable to replicate certain findings of the TM research, yet he cites no studies showing such results. To my knowledge, there are no published studies indicating results significantly at odds with the effects of TM shown so often by researchers. Again in sharp contrast to the TM movement, scientific creationism cannot claim even one study supportive of their views which has been accepted for publication by a respected scientific journal. It therefore, is not basically scientific in nature.
Finally, let us briefly consider the teaching of TM in public schools. Unlike the way scientific creationists have pushed their teachings, the TM movement did not seek to make SCI a required part of any high school course or curriculum, only to make it available for those who were interested. As for the court case, the ruling was a preliminary one. The TM movement could have appealed but decided to wait until the public had a better understanding of TM and SCI before pursuing the matter further.
It is clear, then, from the standpoints of religion, science, and education, that SCI and scientific creationism are not at all alike, and it is important that your readers be made aware of this fact.
David G. Fisher
Many of Dr. Fisher's points are well taken. However, I must note that the main purpose of my article was to show that TM (the Science of Creative Intelligence) is as religious as scientific creationism. For example, it seems to me that meditators have never adequately explained away the prima facie religiosity of the initiatory puja (worship) ceremony which all prospective meditators must undergo. And all this talk about "cosmic consciousness, " "God consciousness, " and "Brahma consciousness"—is this secular?
Even if we leave all this aside (and I see no good reason for doing so), there is the evidence of Dr. Fisher's own remarks. He refers to the "spiritual awareness" that is the goal of TM. This, too, sounds pretty religious. True, TM necessitates no belief in God, but neither do Buddhism nor Jainism. Most religions (though not literally all of them) do entail regular worship meetings and moral commandments, and TM does not. But this is not exactly the point. TM is not "a religion. " The real issue is, is it religious? Prayer is not "a religion" either, but it certainly is an aspect of religion. The doctrine of theistic creation is not "a religion, " but it sure is religious, and that's why we shy away from having it taught in public school biology classes.
Dr. Fisher points out that TM never sought what the creationists seek—namely, that their technique be required in schools. True, but this is not the relevant point.
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Simple sanctioning of religious teaching in public schools would be quite as constitutionally problematical as requiring it. On a related matter, all I sought to show was that creationism must be considered religious in the same technical, legal sense that TM was considered in the court decision, and this is admittedly a pretty nebulous sense.
As to whether TM is actually a science, let me remind Dr. Fisher that I did not rule out the possibility that "some tests might indicate at least that the relaxation technique of TM produces concrete results. " This is, in fact, all that one can scientifically verify about the effects of TM. Could any scientific study conceivably verify the claim that meditators practicing TM make contact with the "field of creative intelligence"? If there are any such studies published in reputable scientific journals, I would certainly like to see them.
After noting this in my article, I gave admittedly secondary sources for critiques against TM's verifiable claims. My primary purpose was to show that studies conducted by TM people or which were subjective in nature were open to suspicion. But I was clear that results should not be dismissed out of hand for this. Thus, I did not "severely criticize" TM's claims.
I should like to warn Dr. Fisher, however, that "the appearance of studies regarding it in respected journals" does not constitute proof of TM's claims. "Respected journals" are filled with studies that are later challenged and discredited. That is the nature of the self-checking process of science. Studies are published so as to be subjected to peer review, not to be declared true. Publication is not proof. This is a fact often forgotten by creationists who frequently quote outdated and disputed journal articles in support of their case. So let us not be too hasty with appeals to authority.
Overall, I appreciate the fact that Dr. Fisher and I agree that "scientific creationism" is a dangerous sham. We merely disagree on the tangential question of whether TM is to be considered religious in an academic (though important) sense.
Robert M. Price
Corner on Plants
I rise to the defense of Dr. Gish, who has been most unfairly and falsely criticized by Kenneth Miller in Creation/Evolution VII. I find Professor Miller's article rather heavily weighted with the same kind of special pleading with which he accuses Dr. Gish. But on page nine, he really goes overboard.
Dr. Miller quotes a sentence that Dr. Gish quotes from E. J. H. Corner's article, "Evolution," in Contemporary Botanical Thought, Anna M. MacLeod and L. S. Cobley, editors (Edinburgh and London: Oliver and Boyd, 1961): "Much evidence can be adduced in favor of evolution, but I still think that to the unprejudiced the fossil record of plants is in favor of creation."
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Then he gives what he alleges is the correct quote from Corner: ". . . the fossil record of higher plants is in favor of special creation" (emphasis added by Miller), thus indicating that Dr. Gish had misquoted by deleting the word higher. Dr. Miller then goes on to explain to us what Dr. Corner really meant to say—namely, that he was only talking about the major form of higher plant, the angiosperm or flowering plants. I am pleased to report to you that Dr. Gish in this case is right and Dr. Miller is wrong.
The book from which the contested quotation comes is rare, but three or four years ago I tracked it down in a major university library. The word higher is not in Dr. Corner's sentence. Furthermore, his article is dealing not with the origin of higher plants but with the origin of plants—that is, the several categories of plant taxonomy. In the closing sentences of the same paragraph, he says, "Can you imagine how an orchid, a duckweed, and a palm have come from the same ancestry, and have we any evidence for this assumption? The evolutionist must be prepared with an answer, but I think that most would break down before an inquisition."
Corner continues in the following paragraph: "Textbooks hoodwink. A series of more and more complicated plants is introduced—the alga, the fungus, the bryophyte, and so on, and examples are added eclectically in support of one or another theory—and that is held to be a presentation of evolution...." Thus it is quite clear that Dr. Gish quoted correctly and that he properly understood Corner, who had in view the fossil record not merely of the higher plants, the angiosperms as Miller alleges, but of all the taxa of the Kingdom Plantae.
I wonder where Dr. Miller found that word, higher? Evidently creationists are not the only people who on occasion goof by accepting uncritically something they find in secondary or tertiary sources. But we knew that all the time, didn't we?
Robert E. Kofahl
Robert E. Kofahl is quite correct in pointing out my misquote of E. J. H. Corner, which appeared in Creation/ Evolution VII. Let me explain how it happened.
The Corner quote is a favorite of Gish, because it seems to show a noted botanical authority admitting that the evidence is on the side of creationism. Dr. Gish has used it nearly every time he writes or speaks, and I, like others opposing creationism, have become accustomed to dealing with it. The Corner text reads:
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How does one deal with that? In the simplest way possible: by explaining what characteristics of the plant fossil record led Corner to that statement and by seeing whether those characteristics best fit the creationist schemes of Dr. Gish and Dr. Kofahl or whether they best fit evolution.
Corner used his reference about "special creation" to dramatize the lack of a continuous fossil record of the evolution of plants. There are discontinuities (gaps) in the plant record, and they are spectacular. As an example, I generally choose what most experts will agree is the most dramatic and most striking gap: the appearance of the higher plants (Angiosperms) about 135 million years ago. Taking the sudden appearance of these organisms, which now dominate the planet, as a perfect example of Corner's concern, we can then see if Gish's creation model is supported.
I used exactly this tack in an article which appeared in American Biology Teacher earlier this year. In that article, I showed how the basic tenets of special creation require all living things to have been formed during a single creative period (one week?) which took place anywhere from six thousand to ten thousand years ago. I then pointed out that none of Dr. Gish's writings makes this aspect of "scientific" creationism clear.
I next asked, "Why is this aspect of scientific creationism missing from their critiques on evolution and the fossil record?" This is an important question, because the answer is that Gish's own characterization of the fossil record contradicts the doctrine of a single creation!
I used the sudden appearance 150 million years ago of the angiosperms to make my point, noting that, since Gish is quite right about the gap that precedes this appearance, he must be wrong that everything was created only once and at the same time as everything else. For if the latter were true, there should be no new forms appearing at various places in the fossil record, no matter how suddenly. All forms now existing or that have ever existed should have had their origins in the lowest and oldest fossil layers, and all forms we see today should exist throughout the record. Since this is not true, the fossil record clearly negates the possibility of a single creation event.
In this article, which was published before the Creation/Evolution article, I quoted Corner correctly. And in the light of the basic argument I used there, which was the same one that I made in the Creation/Evolution article, I have no interest in misquoting Corner. But because I am used to discussing the higher plants as the most spectacular example about which Corner is talking, I carelessly inserted the word higher into the quote when I typed the manuscript and then faulted Gish for not using it. That was a careless error, and the readers of this journal have my apologies for that.
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Nevertheless, the charge of misquote against Gish is more serious. Why? Because Dr. Gish did more than insert a single word, he deleted all of the references that Corner made in support of evolution and the word special which qualifies the meaning of creation. Gish's version of the Corner quote reads (with Gish's deletions bracketed):
Well, we all make mistakes, and I can't excuse my error by noting his. But Gish's misquotation is not a mere mistake, typographical error, or failure of memory; it is a misuse of Corner's intent.
By working from the false premise that Corner's version of creation was supportive of the ICR or CSRC doctrine of a single creation event, he made a misrepresentation of the first rank. As I pointed out in my American Biology Teacher article, the very problems in the fossil record to which Corner was alluding disprove without qualification Gish's and Kofahl's theories. Creationist authors do not like to address the problem posed by the sequential character of the fossil record, but intellectual honesty demands that they should.
Finally, I'd like to thank Dr. Kofahl for bringing my error to my attention, and I am glad to have had the opportunity to correct it. Because Dr. Kofahl is so interested in making sure that Corner and other scientists are quoted correctly, I await an explanation of how Dr. Gish happened to leave out special and eight other words from his reading during the debate with Doolittle and also why Dr. Kofahl did not correct that matter in his letter pointing out my error. I'll keep watching my mail.
Kenneth R. Miller
I rise again on the same day to defend Dr. Kelly Segraves, our director, from the unfair and erroneous attack upon him by Robert M. Price in Creation/Evolution VII, referring to an article in Creation/Evolution VI by Henry P. Zuidema.
According to Price, Zuidema charged that the human tracks reported by Segraves in his book, The Great Dinosaur Mistake, were recently admitted by local residents to be fraudulent carvings in the surface of the Cretaceous limestone rock through which the Paluxy River flows. Price asks Segraves to "revise his propaganda" in the light of this new information. Allow me to set the record straight.
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In 1970, shortly after its establishment, the Creation-Science Research Center sponsored, along with Films for Christ Association of Elmwood, Illinois, an expedition to the Paluxy River valley in Texas to examine reported human footprints on Cretaceous limestone surfaces also bearing many dinosaur footprints. Dr. Segraves accompanied this group and personally observed the sandbagging of the river bed and the uncovering there of several sequences of footprints. He also observed the stripping off of several feet of layers of limestone and debris next to the riverbank to uncover fresh footprints never before seen by modern man.
All of this is recorded in the film, Footprints in Stone, produced by Films for Christ using the footage taken of the above reported activities. Dr. Segraves took his own photographs of footprints and fitted his own bare foot into some of the prints. Some months later, he returned with another group and personally assisted in stripping off layers several feet thick of limestone and debris to uncover another sequence of footprints in the surface of the Cretaceous limestone. He took photographs of these prints. A number of his photographs are included in his little book mentioned above.
There is not the slightest possibility that the footprints reported in The Great Dinosaur Mistake by Dr. Segraves were carved. They are either bona fide human footprints or they are the prints of some other creature which lived at the same time that dinosaurs lived on the earth. They give every appearance of being human prints, of variously sized individuals from children to giants. If they were not produced by human feet, what kind of feet were they, planted in the soft mud at the same time that huge dinosaurs were squishing through the same mud?
I think that Price and Zuidema owe Kelly Segraves an apology and a retraction.
Robert E. Kofahl
My thanks to Dr. Kofahl for setting the record straight. In rechecking my research materials I find that I have indeed confused Kelly Segraves's find with other prints in the Paluxy River area which, according to researchers from Loma Linda University and elsewhere, are admitted to have been carvings. This is a serious mistake on my part. I hope Kelly Segraves and Robert Kofahl will accept my apologies and understand that my intent was to speak to the footprint issue generally, merely noting, that, as Zuidema put it on page five of Creation/ Evolution VI, "The subject is further fogged by the many reports of the fabrication of humanlike prints by residents of the Glen Rose area.... " I did not desire to convey the impression that all footprint finds turned out to be carvings, nor do I now wish to imply that Dr. Kofahl must be correct in assuming the uncarved examples are human.
Robert H. Price
This version might differ slightly from the print publication.