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Brown Responds to Lippard
First of all, I would like to express my appreciation to Creation/Evolution for allowing me to respond to Jim Lippard's article. For many years, I have been convinced that the best way to bring more light and less heat to the creation-evolution debate is for the protagonists to jointly publish their scientific views—point by point and side by side. This would overcome the tendency of many in both camps to speak primarily to their constituencies and to misrepresent their opponents. Aggravating this tense situation even further are the obvious religious and philosophic aspects which have deep roots in almost everyone involved on both sides of this debate. Therefore, sticking to just the scientific matters and debating them jointly in print will certainly add clarity to this overly polarized and heated issue.
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One general shortcoming of Lippard's critique is that he used an outdated edition (1986) of The Scientific Case for Creation. The current edition is considerably expanded. Two of Lippard's relatively minor but valid criticisms were corrected in it, independently of Lippard. I will point these out shortly. This latest edition was sent to the editor of Creation/Evolution when I was notified that he was considering publishing Lippard's article. A new edition will be published in September 1989.
Let's now look at some of Lippard's specific statements.
Lippard: "He [Brown] is perhaps best known for his frequent debate challenges—challenges, it should be noted, that are proffered under such strict conditions as to preclude almost all potential opponents. These restrictions include the requirement that the opponent must have a doctorate and must sign a contract agreeing to limit the subject to scientific content only; no religion is to be discussed (see, Parrish ['I Was Suckered into a Debate—and Survived,' Creation/Evolution XXII].) "
What's wrong with that? Actually, my simple conditions have always been less restrictive than Lippard implies. For example, even Mr. Lippard, who is a graduate student not in science but in philosophy, could participate. All he has to do is team up with a scientist, a science professor, or a person with a Ph.D. in a technical field. I recognize that many who do not have such credentials may be very knowledgeable—more so than I. However, if I debated those without the more formal qualifications, any weakness in their presentation would be blamed on their apparent lack of qualifications and not on the weakness of their position. Despite my precautions, I have been criticized by many evolutionists after debates for supposedly "setting up" evolutionists who were perceived as unqualified or incompetent even though they held scientific doctorates. Dr. Fred Parrish, to whom Lippard referred, was one such case.
What Lippard calls a "contract" is simply a one-page "Statement of Agreement" on the time, place, topic, and format of the debate. Having all of this clearly spelled out and agreed upon ahead of time prevents any honest person from claiming that he or she was "suckered into a debate." The sentence in the contract to which evolutionists have most objected is the specification that only science and not religion be discussed. The scientific community would be appalled to know how frequently evolutionists have objected to discussing just science.
Lippard: "Several of Brown's  categories also do not meet his description of them as 'categories of scientific evidence that support a sudden creation and oppose gradual evolution.' Some neither support creation nor oppose evolution; for example, category three argues against the Lamarckian view that acquired characteristics are inherited . . ." (no omission; sentence continues).
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Lamarckism is not just of historical interest. Some evolutionists advocate or entertain Lamarckian explanations. Darwin did. Even modern evolutionists, frustrated at not being able to find some mechanism for macroevolution, are considering Lamarckian concepts (see, for example, Nature, January 12, 1989, 337:101-102).
Lippard: " . . . some [of Brown's 120 categories] are philosophical rather than scientific; for example, category thirty-six is an argument from design to the existence of a designer . . . " (no omission; sentence continues)
I doubt that most readers would consider category thirty-six to be philosophical. It reads:
(The references and expanding comments in this excerpt and others following are omitted due to space constraints. The references already given in Lippard's article are also omitted. I have placed in italics the statements in the 1989 edition of The Scientific Case for Creationism which differ slightly from the edition Lippard used. If the difference is significant to his conclusion, I will use the 1986 edition which Lippard used.)
I find only one philosophical category in the entire book:
Lippard: " :. . . and some [of Brown's categories] simply argue for the possibility of special creation; for example, category fifteen argues that similarities between different forms of life may imply a common designer rather than a common ancestor. "
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Lippard's statement is out of context and inaccurate. My exact statement was:
In other words, I did not simply argue for the possibility of creation; I said that some similarities favor creation.
The Speed of Light
Lippard next challenged the possibility that the velocity of light has decreased. Let me first explain why this is relevant to the creation-evolution debate.
If you asked me what were the most serious difficulties that I as a creationist have, my answer would be that I have only two. First, most scientific dating techniques indicate that the earth, the solar system, and the universe are young—possibly less than ten thousand years old. (I have described twenty-four categories in The Scientific Case for Creation.) However, if the velocity of light has been constant, if most stars and galaxies are billions of light-years away (as I believe), and if we can tell in some instances that starlight reaching the earth originated at the distant stars, then that would imply the universe is billions of years old.
The second problem concerns radiometric dating. Have decay rates, which are essentially constant today, always been constant? What are the root causes of radiometric decay? I am not interested in the simplistic answers but, rather, in answers that explain the nuclear forces and what affects them. I do not believe anyone can honestly answer these questions today.
If it could be shown that the vibrational frequencies of atoms decreased enormously in the past, then both the velocity of light and the rate of radiometric decay should have decreased proportionally. We would then understand why two age-estimating techniques (starlight and radiometric decay) are inconsistent with many others. The two problems mentioned above would disappear. If the earth is younger than even several hundred million years, then most knowledgeable evolutionists would probably admit that evolution could not have occurred. For all but a few diehards, the current creation-evolution debate would end.
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Lippard: "The citations Brown supplied for this claim [that the speed of light had decreased], which he wisely avoided making in his book, were an article and a letter to the editor. . . .
Wrong. I devoted over two pages in the book to this subject (pp. 46-48) and included many references. Since Lippard also gives the wrong publishing date for In the Beginning (1987 instead of 1986), I wonder if he has actually read the book.
Lippard: 'Brown was not so careful, however, about the claims he made in the Australian creationist journal Ex Nihilo regarding Barry Setterfield's work. In that journal, he called Setterfield's work on speed-of-light decay 'virtually unassailable' (Ex Nihilo, 1984). "
I have never said that Setterfield's research—or anyone else's research—was "virtually unassailable." Everyone's research is assailable, mine included. That is one reason why science is so successful and dynamic. To my knowledge, I have never been quoted in Ex Nihilo. Who is the source of Lippard's "Ex Nihilo, 1984" reference? In discussing Setterfield's work, I have always tried to carefully point out that it may turn out to be wrong. Scientific conclusions are always tentative. To claim otherwise—as Carl Sagan and many other evolutionists do when they say that evolution is a "fact"—is dogma, not science.
Lippard: "Setterfield's data analysis has been recognized as being so contrived and selective that even the Institute for Creation Research has debunked it (Aardsma, 1988). . . . "
ICR's Aardsma correctly recognized that the past measurements of the velocity of light (c) should be weighted according to their accuracy. Setterfield had not done so. I pointed this out in a letter to Setterfield in 1981 and again in detailed, face-to-face discussions in 1984. Unfortunately, Aardsma used a statistical weighting procedure that is valid only for linear phenomena. The decay of c (abbreviated: cDK) appears to be highly nonlinear. After Aardsma published his results and at Setterfield's request, I did the weighting analysis I had advocated. It involved a very time-consuming computer simulation technique that assumes no particular decay pattern. Included were all 164 of the known measurements of the velocity of light and their published or estimated experimental errors. In all, sixteen different measurement techniques for the velocity of light were used, such as the toothed wheel and rotating mirrors. The results of my study supported Setterfield's hypothesis. I am aware of only one other statistical study that took all of Setterfield's historical data and still claimed that c has been constant (R. Brown, 1988). That study, however, contained a mathematical error. When corrected, those calculations also supported cDK. Statisticians in various countries have reached conclusions similar to mine.
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Many other surprising developments have occurred since 1986 when I last wrote about the possibility of cDK:
As mentioned earlier, if atomic vibrations are decreasing, c should decrease proportionally. The velocity of light would be constant in atomic time but not in dynamic time. Since about 1960, atomic clocks began being used to measure c, and only since then have these very precise results shown a constant c. Obviously, precise results are not necessarily accurate results.
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All physical laws are preserved if there is cDK. However, atomic properties, such as Planck's constant, would change. Such changes seem to be observed based upon historical measurements, although I am not convinced that the statistical case for this is persuasive for certain "constants." Much more could be written on the possibility of cDK. Some of it has revolutionary implications. All one can say at this time is that a case can be made for cDK. In my opinion, it is a good case. Reasonable people may disagree. I hope competent researchers will try to falsify the cDK hypothesis. However, people who clo, se their minds to the possibility of cDK, or to any other surprising phenomena for which there is sound experimental data, fail to understand what scientific inquiry is all about.
Two- to Twenty-Celled Life Forms
Lippard: "Category seventeen of Brown's book states, 'There are many single-cell forms of life, but there are no forms of animal life with 2, 3, 4, . . . or even 20 cells.' . . . One of the sources he cites for this claim is Five Kingdoms by Lynn Margulis and Karlene V. Schwartz. . . . The pages he cites are a description of Mesozoa, described as having twenty to thirty jacket cells enclosing a long cylindrical axial cell. The description also notes that Mesozoa is possibly intermediate between protoctists and more complex metazoans.
"But this does not support the claim that there are no forms of life with two to twenty cells " (only references omitted).
In my footnote 17c, I explained why Mesozoa are not intermediate between protoctists and more complex multicellular organisms:
The remainder of Lippard's comment alludes to colonial forms of life being an evolutionary bridge between single-celled life and life with thousands of cells. Libbie Henrietta Hyman has pointed out the many differences between colonial forms (Hyman, 1940, pp. 248-255). Consider, for example, nerve cells and the genetic machinery required for embryonic development.
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Most scientists know that the scarcity, or perhaps complete absence, of transitional forms in the fossil record is a very serious problem for evolutionism. The most frequently cited example of a possible but disputable transition is Archaeopteryx. Lippard implies that my only reaction to Archaeopteryx is to say that it, is a hoax. I have never said that Archaeopteryx is a hoax. I frankly don', t know. I did say that Sir Fred Hoyle and others are claiming that it is a hoax. As of 1986, at least, they were making a good case. I then concluded by saying:
Lippard missed the point.
I would like to compliment Lippard and his helpers, Robert P. J. Day and Stephen L. Zegura, on their study of alleged human evolution. I would consider it progress if all evolutionists admitted or knew as much as they. Our positions, at least, on what the evidence is are not too far apart. The extreme scarcity of data—that is, bones—probably accounts for most of our differences. However, since so many of Lippard's comments are irrelevant to our few differences, I must summarize my position (category twenty-four). Again, over twenty-seven references are omitted from the following passage due to space constraints:
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The above is what I have published. Now let's look at Lippard's critique. Several of Lippard's statements concerning human evolution are inaccurate.
Lippard: "Brown, like most creationists, claims that fossils of early humans are either apes or modern humans. "
No. My position is that fossils of alleged human ancestors are either apes, humans, or hoaxes.
Lippard: "These studies [of Charles Oxnard] are not conclusive and did not take into account Donald Johanson's 'Lucy' (Australopithecus afarensis) skeleton."
No scientific studies are conclusive, and I should not have used that term. Nevertheless, to the best of my knowledge, Oxnard's multivariate analysis has never been equalled in the insights, the details, and the cross-comparisons it provides. Nor do I know of any challenges to his work.
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Lippard referred to an important paper by William Jungers. I had the opportunity to discuss this matter with Jungers in 1982. He told me that Lucy was so top-heavy that her most efficient gait would be on all fours. Lucy's curved fingers indicate that she swung from the trees. It is true that the shape of Lucy's alleged knee joint implies that she could walk upright. That does not mean she did. However, Donald Johanson, Lucy's discoverer, apparently made quite an admission at the University of Missouri in Kansas City on November 20, 1986. When asked during the question-and-answer session, "How far away from Lucy did you find the knee?" Johanson's reported answer was, "Sixty to seventy meters lower in the strata and two to three kilometers away" (Willis, 1987)! Johanson needs to clarify or deny this in writing. None of his published writings do.
Lippard tries to dismiss Skull 1470 by saying that its age has been changed to 1.87 million years. Many authorities disagree with that date. But let's assume that the age is correct. William Fix devoted a chapter to this (1984, pp. 50-61). Here are some excerpts:
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Lippard objects several times to my referencing studies done by creationists. It would be more enlightening and show less bias if he critiqued the studies instead of attacking the people who did them. Actually, I usually reference evolutionists. But as most readers know, if a creationist references an evolutionist, he or she is frequently charged with taking the author's conclusions out of context—"because the author is, after all, an evolutionist." Catch-22.
If Lippard does not believe my statements about Peking Man because I cited works—very extensive works—by creationists, then he should study Fossil Men by Marcellin Boule and Henri Vallois (1957, pp. 110-146). These evolutionists at least acknowledge the possibility that Peking "men" were just apes that were hunted by true humans. Again, the evidence on Peking Man is thin, although I believe it favors the creationist view. But isn't that a good reason for presenting both sides?
Out-of-Order Human Fossils
Lippard: "Contrary to Brown's claim, the Swanscombe, Steinheim, and Verlesszollos fossils can typically be found in introductory physical anthropology textbooks. . . . "
Once again, Lippard misrepresents my position. I said that the remains of these and other documented human fossils, when found in rocks that are too old by evolutionist standards, are almost always ignored by evolutionists. Yes, a few textbooks do mention them. But seldom do they explain the contradictions these fossils pose. Fix sums it up well: "In conjunction with Swanscombe, Steinheim, and Fontechevade, it certainly shows that there is significant evidence that modern-type humans were in existence long before Neanderthal. Accordingly, it is difficult to see how Neanderthal could have been our ancestor" (p. 105). Contrary to what Lippard says, most textbooks that deal with our supposedly apelike ancestors ignore all this data. Shouldn't we teach all the evidence? Let's teach students how to think, not what to think.
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I must apologize for one error that Lippard caught. Actually, Ron Calais brought it to my attention first. In a footnote, I mentioned that Oreopithecus bambolii was human. That view is no longer held. William L. Straus, who pointed out its human aspects for many years, withdrew that claim when a complete skeleton of this ape was found. The error has been corrected in the current edition of The Scientific Case for Creation. In publishing the latest edition, I also withdrew the Moab skeleton from that same footnote. Over the past several years, my doubts concerning its human status have increased.
Lippard and others claim that several of the other human skeletons I mentioned were buried intrusively. Perhaps. I have been aware of these claims and counterclaims. However, in each instance I cited, I believe that the evidence tips in favor of no intrusive burial. For example, in the case of the Castenedolo skeletons, Sir Arthur Keith correctly stated the enigma that evolutionists face: "As the student of prehistoric man reads and studies the records of the 'Castenedolo' find, a feeling of incredulity rises within him. He cannot reject the discovery as false without doing injury to his sense of truth, and he cannot accept it as a fact without shattering his accepted beliefs" (1925, p. 334).
However, after examining the strata above and below the Castenedolo skeletons, and after finding no indication that they were intrusively buried, Keith surprisingly concluded that the enigma must be resolved by an intrusive burial. He justified this by citing the unfossilized condition of the bones. However, these bones were encased in a clay layer. This would prevent water from transporting large amounts of dissolved minerals into the bone cells and explain the lack of fossilization. The degree of fossilization relates to chemistry, not age.
Lippard, regarding the Calaveras skull: "It makes one wonder if Brown even reads the articles he cites."
I have read and pondered those articles several times over the past eight years. I should have explained that I was including them in the interest of completeness. For many years, stories have circulated that the Calaveras skull, buried 130 feet below ground, was a practical joke. However, that tidy explanation conveniently overlooks the many other bones and human artifacts, such as dozens of bowls made of stone, found throughout that part of California. These artifacts have been found over the years under apparently undisturbed strata and a layer of basaltic lava (Whitney, 1880, pp. 262-264, 266, 274-276).
Again, in my opinion, the evidence tips in favor of the view I presented. This issue may never be resolved scientifically. Why, then, should one side of this question be suppressed?
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Out-of-Order Human Artifacts
Lippard: "On the other hand, Wright asked Brinton to provide details in support of his clay toy claim, but I was unable to find a response."
There was no response by Brinton, much to Wright's disgust. Why do you suppose that Brinton, who made the charge that the Nampa figurine was a hoax, failed to produce his evidence?
Lippard: ". . . Baugh has consistently refused to allow the hammer to be radiocarbon dated. . . . "
No, he has not. Dr. Carl Baugh assured me four years ago and again on June 2, 1989, that he would like to have the wooden handle of his hammer radiocarbon dated. He has three understandable stipulations: (1) that he accompany the hammer at every stage of the testing; (2) that some outsider pay for all aspects of the test; and (3) that the hammer be dated by the accelerator mass spectrometer technique. The reason for the last stipulation is that the standard radiocarbon dating technique would destroy most, if not all, of the wood in the hammer.
I believe there is archaeological evidence that Noah's ark exists. Of course, we can only be sure once it is found. If a person's mind is open to the possible existence of the ark, much can be said. However, giving such information to a skeptic accomplishes nothing. I believe that some claims of the ark's existence are false. I have helped identify such fabrications and honest errors. On the other hand, the deeper we dig into other accounts, the more credible they seem.
Some writers referenced by Lippard have learned from ark-hunters which stories are probably false. These are the accounts the critics enjoy attacking. Another tactic of theirs is to show contradictions between the "false" reports and those that appear very credible. Again, to a skeptic, all I can say is wait.
Lippard has taken almost three years to search out what he feels are the weakest of the 120 categories of evidence that support creation and oppose evolution. He has addressed only parts of a very small percentage of them. Each reader can judge Lippard's accuracy, competency, and thoroughness. Readers can also see who has made the misleading statements.
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Recently, a columnist for a large state university newspaper wrote an editorial after reading the same case that Lippard examined. He had a different view:
I hope Lippard and I can agree on that.
Boule, Marcellin, and Vallois, Henri V. 1957. Fossil Men. New York: The Dryden Press.
Brown, Robert H. 1988. "Statistical Analysis of 'The Atomic Constants, Light and Time."' Creation Research Society Quarterly. (September), 25:2:91-95.
Brown, Walter T. 1986. In the Beginning: The Scientific Case for Creation. Phoenix, AZ: Center for Scientific Creation.
Fix, William. 1984. The Bone Peddlers: Selling Evolution. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co.
Hostetler, Darrin. 1988. "Scientific Creation: Compelling Theory of Origin Quashed by Scientific Community." State Press, published by Arizona State University (September 29).
Hyman, Libbie Henrietta. 1940. The Invertebrates: Protozoa Through Ctenophora. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company.
Keith, Arthur. 1925. The Antiquity of Man. London: Williams and Norgate, Ltd.
Milnes, Harold W. 1983. "Faster Than Light." Radio-Electronics. (January), 54:55-58.
Obolensky, Alexis Guy. 1989. Personal communication (June 2).
Pappas, P. T., and Obolensky, Alexis Guy. 1988. "Thirty-Six Nanoseconds Faster Than Light." Electronics and Wireless World (December), pp. 1162-1165.
Troitskii, V. S. 1987. "Physical Constants and Evolution of the Universe." Astrophysics and Space Science. 139: 389-411.
Van Flandern, T. C. 1981. "Is the Gravitational Constant Changing?" The Astrophysical Journal. (September 1) 248:813-816.
Willis, Tom. 1987. "'Lucy' Goes to College." Bible-Science Newsletter. (October) 25:1.
This version might differ slightly from the print publication.