You are here

New Orleans Geological Society

The New Orleans Geological Society, an organization of professional earth scientists, takes the position that science classes in Louisiana public schools should teach scientifically accurate and scientifically relevant material. The Society, therefore, disagrees with Louisiana Act 685 of 1981, the law for "Balanced Treatment of CreationScience and EvolutionScience in Public School Instruction."

"Science" generally is defined as the systematic study of the activities of nature by accumulation of evidence that allows people to understand natural processes. A scientific theory is an idea, based upon a wealth of evidence, that describes and predicts conditions in nature. "Theory" — to a scientist — is a concept firmly grounded in and based upon facts, contrary to the popular conception that it is a hazy notion or undocumented hypothesis. Theories do not become facts; they explain facts. A theory must be verifiable; if evidence is found that contradicts the stated theory, the theory must be modified or discarded. In this manner, general knowledge is advanced. Scientific theories must provide new avenues for investigation and cannot be accepted on faith. Scientific facts supporting theories are presented to the scientific community in the form of published literature for examination by peers and by anyone else interested in the subject. In summary, science is not a belief system. It is simply a method for studying and accumulating knowledge about nature.

Louisiana Act 685 defines "creationscience" as ". . .the scientific evidences for creation and inferences from those scientific evidences." However, creationscience does not meet the foregoing rigorous standards. Creationscience data almost invariably are of questionable quality, obsolete, or taken out of context from the scientific literature. Even wellknown creation scientists such as Duane Gish of the Institute for Creation Research have readily admitted that creationscience is not at all scientific.

Documentation refuting scientific creationism has been presented by the National Academy of Sciences, the Geological Society of America and by members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the United States Geological Survey. Their findings and the findings of this Society are:

The bulk of creationscience literature is not devoted to the presentation of any positive evidence for creationism. Most of its material is an attempt to refute the evidence for the age of the Earth and organic evolution as documented by the geologic record and detailed biological studies, as if such a refutation would, by itself, leave creationism as the only logical alternative.

It is easily demonstrable that fossils are the remains of once living organisms that can be placed in a taxonomic hierarchy supporting evolution. It is also proved that strata of a given geological age contain certain fossil types that are of distinctive character and that over a wide geographical area occur in the same sequences. These are observable facts despite creationist claims that paleontological data do not support evolution.

The age of the Earth as determined by various methods including radiometric dating of meteorites and of the Earth's rocks is approximately 4.6 billion years. Creationist criticisms of that age are based upon misinterpretation of valid data and upon obsolete data. Creationists have failed to produce one single reliable dating technique that supports their idea of a young (6,000yearold) Earth.

Creationists, in their charge that the "gaps" in the fossil record refute evolution, ignore the hundreds of identifiable transition species that have been catalogued. Concentrating their criticism only on vertebrate fossil finds, creationists neglect the detailed fossil record of invertebrates, microfauna, and microflora whose evolutionary change over time is well documented. That evolution has occurred is a documented fact, not disputed within the scientific community.

Creationist statistics "proving" that the origin of life from inanimate matter is impossible are inaccurate. Such statistical calculations do not take into account laboratory evidence showing that organic matter does organize itself, and that organic molecules can carry on processes similar to lifesustaining biochemical actions outside the cell. Also omitted are astronomical observations that demonstrate the ubiquitous nature of organic matter throughout the solar system and the galaxy.

Arguments stating that thermodynamics precludes the evolution of life because evolution would run against the trend of order to disorder in nature misrepresent the science of thermodynamics. Such arguments are not based on any mathematical calculations. Thermodynamics does in fact show that entropy reversals can and do occur in a biological system that is open with respect to energy input, which is the case for the biosphere of the Earth.

Creationism, as a scientific concept, was dismissed over a century ago and subsequent research has only confirmed that conclusion. Scientific creationism threatens to do great damage to the credibility of legitimate scientific research and to data accumulated from the many varied and unrelated scientific disciplines that independently support organic evolution as a verifiable scientific concept because of its misuse of those data.

The Society, as stated in the introduction to this document, is against the teaching of creationism in our public schools as science along with evolution on an equal basis. The creationist concept of "equal time" has no place in the advancement of science. If an idea can be shown to have no scientific merit, it must either be modified in light of available facts or new data or discarded regardless of how much its proponents believe in it. Creationism is such an idea. It is based on a preconceived notion, not upon any observations of nature and the world around us. The Society has no objection to people wanting to believe that the universe, the Earth, and its residents were created in 6 days, 6,000 years ago. However, those people must realize that such ideas are religious in nature and cannot be called scientific.

By advocating this position, the Society is not taking a stand against any particular religious belief. Science and religion are two different disciplines that are not in conflict with one another. Science is not atheistic; it is nontheistic, and it makes no judgment of religion. The Society feels that religious views have no place in the science classroom.

At the same time, the Society supports the teaching of evolution in science classes precisely because it is legitimate science. As a nation, we live in a society heavily influenced by science and technology. Evolution is a basic scientific concept. People do not have to "believe" in it, but they should understand evolution and how and why it came about.

At the same time, the Society supports the teaching of evolution in science classes precisely because it is legitimate science. As a nation, we live in a society heavily influenced by science and technology. Evolution is a basic scientific concept. People do not have to "believe" in it, but they should understand evolution and how and why it came about.

It is because the system of scientific education in this country has declined in recent years that laws such as Act 685 became possible. Legislation such as this Act, that attempts to legislate what should be taught as science in public schools, ignore one simple fact: scientific finding cannot be altered by public opinion. It is irrelevant that some public opinion polls show approval of creationism being taught alongside evolution. Laws that require non-scientific ideas such as creationism to be taught as current scientific taught alongside established scientific principles such as evolution, or teach neither, do not promote free inquiry — they stifle it. Scientific research and education cannot take place in such a coercive atmosphere.