Volume 1, Number 1 January/February 1996
A bimonthly newsletter of the Creation Research Society.
This Web version of Creation Matters lacks the "Creation Calendar" as well as photos and special
graphics found only in the print version. The latter is automatically
sent to members of the CRS along with the peer-reviewed CRS Quarterly.
CRS Begins Newsletter
Rapid Petrifaction of Wood
Dr. Duane Gish: Crusader
News in Science
New CRS Address
At the 1995 meeting of the Board of Directors of the Creation Research Society, the Board voted to begin publication of a newsletter, Creation Matters. We, the editors, are very excited about this new ministry of CRS. In many ways, Creation Matters is a typical newsletter, containing both general news of interest to creationists as well as scientific news about creation and evolution. We also have planned several features that should make Creation Matters a unique and valuable publication. For instance, we are planning to accept advertisements from publishing companies, colleges, or anyone else who might want an almost purely creationist target audience. This will be especially helpful to schools and other organizations who specifically desire creationist faculty and staff. It could also be used by those looking for full- time positions with a creationist organization. In addition to sending Creation Matters to CRS members in the United States and Canada, preliminary plans are also to eventually make the newsletter available free of charge to anyone in the United States or Canada who requests it.
Another unique feature is our planned emphasis on both national organizations as well as local organizations. This is where you can be of help. We have gathered addresses from a variety of sources but we don't know exactly what every one of these groups does. If you could take a few minutes to write to us and describe the main emphasis of your organization, we would greatly appreciate it. Also, if your organization has an email (Internet) address, please include that as well. A specific feature that local organizations will benefit from is our "Master Calendar." This calendar will list by date events of interest to creationists around the country. If you would like an event listed, please send us all relevant information, including what the event is, the address, the date and time, and a person and phone number to contact for more information. Our mailing and email addresses are listed elsewhere in this newsletter.
We will mostly be trying to write feature articles
about local organizations. For this reason, please include a person
we can contact by phone or email for more in-depth information about
your organization. For national organizations, we will also include
news that is of interest to the majority of our readers, so we would
ask you to include the name of a person we could contact regularly by
phone or email for this news.
If you would like to write your own article, please ask for our "Instructions to Authors" which includes general descriptions of the regular features of Creation Matters. Please send all correspondence regarding Creation Matters to:
P.O. Box 292
Waynesboro, VA 22980
If you prefer, you can contact us through the
Internet by emailing
Please use the words "Creation Matters" as the subject of
your message. Please do not send mail regarding Creation Matters to
the regular CRS address.
- Lane Lester, General Editor
- Todd Wood, Feature Editor
- Glen Wolfrom, Managing Editor
by Emmett L. Williams, Ph.D.
One of the most interesting fossils to find is
a piece of petrified wood. If you are fortunate while fossil hunting,
you might discover limbs and sizeable tree trunks that have been petrified.
This type of fossil wood is often age-dated by the particular formation
in which it was found and someone may state that the woody plant grew,
for example, during the Jurassic, Cretaceous or Devonian Periods. Thus
you could assume that the petrified wood was actually millions of years
old. However this need not be the case. Wood can petrify rapidly and
likely it had to petrify quickly before the structure of the wood completely
decayed. For instance, wood has been petrified artificially in the laboratory
in a matter of days.
Wood can be preserved from decay for a considerable length of time if it is placed in an environment that does not contain oxygen (certain muds, stagnant lake bottoms, etc.). Wood decays much more slowly if oxygen is excluded. When wood becomes waterlogged and deprived of oxygen, decay is retarded. However to be petrified, the waterlogged wood generally must be buried under a silica-rich sediment. (Wood can be petrified in other types of sediment but the best preservation of original wood structure is found in siliceous petrifactions.)
Suppose we view the petrifaction of wood from a young-earth, Flood perspective. Possibly pre-Flood woody plants were uprooted, transported and waterlogged during the Deluge. Many of these water-saturated trees could have been buried under silica-rich sediments and were petrified in the late stages of the Flood or after the Flood. Thus the petrified wood that is found in many places throughout the world may be only thousands, not millions of years old. If you are interested in the fascinating details of how wood can be petrified rapidly, an article published in the Quarterly two years ago should be consulted.
See Williams, E. L. 1993. "Fossil wood from Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas: Part II - Mechanism of silicification of wood and other pertinent factors." Creation Research Society Quarterly 30:106-111.
On October 13 at the beautiful Hylton Memorial Chapel in northern Virginia, creationists from the Washington, D.C. area and around the country gathered to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Institute for Creation Research. During this special "Back to Genesis" seminar, Todd Wood had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Duane Gish, Senior Vice President for ICR and board member of the Creation Research Society.
Todd Wood (TW): Tell us about your background before you came to ICR.
Duane Gish (DG): I got my bachelor's degree in chemistry at UCLA and my Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley. Then I went to Cornell University Medical College for three years as a post-doctoral student. There I worked with Vince DiVinio. He won the Nobel prize when I was there. We were synthesizing hormones from the posterior pituitary, and I worked on the synthesis of arginine vasopressin. After the work there, I went back to Berkeley where I was on staff at the virus laboratory. While I was there I was on a team of scientists who worked out the chemical structure of the protein of tobacco mosaic virus. I was there four years, and then in 1960 I left the virus lab to go to the Upjohn Company in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where I was on their research staff. I was there for eleven years until in the fall of 1971 I left the Upjohn Company and went out to San Diego, California, to join with Dr. Henry Morris in this research institute at Christian Heritage College. I was a professor at the college for about ten years, and then they brought in a biologist who took the course I was teaching, so I didn't teach after 1981. Our institute was founded as part of Christian Heritage College; we were a division of the college. It was in 1981 that we became completely independent with our own executive board. Several years later we moved into our own facilities where we've been since 1985. I had eighteen years total in biochemical research before I left Upjohn and went to San Diego. I've been doing this now for twenty-four years.
TW: How did
you become a creationist?
DG: Well, I'm rather unusual among the creation scientists. I've always been a creationist. I became a Christian when I was about ten years old. I just accepted what the Bible said about creation; it never was a problem with me. When I went into biochemistry I saw this incredible complexity of life, the purposefulness of every detail, the structure and function of a living cell, and how everything was put together. It clearly had to be put together precisely for life to function. This was a tremendous support for my conviction in creation. It was when I was on staff with the virus laboratory before I really got interested in the question scientifically. Somebody handed me a little booklet entitled "Evolution: Science Falsely So Called" published by the International Christian Crusade of Toronto, Canada and authored by a medical doctor in Canada. It was a tremendous little summary of the scientific evidence exposing fallacies and weaknesses in evolutionary theory and the evidence for creation from various fields of science. This really excited my interest in the subject, so I began to do research on the subject of the origin of life. I read the book by Oparin, the Russian scientist, and other articles and books on the subject. I began at that time to do some speaking and writing about the origin of life and other topics. When I was with the Upjohn Company in Michigan, I met other scientists who were creationists, and in 1963, ten of us formed the Creation Research Society, and now we have over 600 members. [editor's note: The CRS has a total membership/subscriber base of about 1700. This includes over 600 voting members and some 900 sustaining members, and about 200 individual and institutional subscribers.]
TW: How did
you meet Dr. Henry Morris?
DG: I met him very shortly after we formed the Creation Research Society. He wasn't there at the original meeting because he was involved lecturing somewhere, but he was immediately elected to the executive board. Since I was on the executive board, we'd meet once a year at the annual meeting, and that's when I got acquainted with him. He was the president of the Society for five years.
attracted you to ICR?
DG: I felt very keenly about this issue; I had for a number of years. I actually started to lecture on this subject in 1957 or 1958 when I was on staff at the virus lab. When I went to the Upjohn Company, I was traveling to Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and all around Michigan to lecture on the subject. I was writing articles for the Creation Research Society Quarterly and other sources. That's how I began to get increasingly involved in it. I felt very keenly about it because I knew that in the public schools the kids are being indoctrinated with evolution theory as an established fact. It was taught as a naturalistic, mechanistic, non-theistic theory. Not to say that all evolutionists are atheists, because they are not, but the theory itself is a process of self-transformation. God is not involved; God is not necessary. I felt it was having a very negative influence on our society. We've seen tremendous changes in our society in the last fifty years. When I was a kid, I didn't know anybody who used drugs, never heard of such a thing. Now we have this tremendous drug culture, legalized pornography, legalized abortion, crime and violence on an unprecedented scale, an AIDS plague, and all this which, if fifty years ago you told us this was going to happen, I wouldn't believe a word of it. I think that one of the major reasons for the changes has been the influence of the teaching of evolution. I believe our judges, our educators, our legislators, having been indoctrinated in evolution theory; their decisions are based on this more or less materialist philosophy. That's why we've seen the changes that we've seen in our society. I just came back from Russia a few days ago. Over there, the officials in the ministry of education are concerned, as they said, to restore the children to the family and to restore some basis for a moral and ethical code in their educational system which was stripped out completely by the communists. Now they've seen seventy years of atheism and the result of it, and they want to reverse it. Here in the United States, we're doing the opposite. We're trying to take the children away from the family. We're trying to strip every vestige of a Christian moral code of ethics out of our schools, just the opposite of what they're trying to do in Russia. So I want to see the reverse of this situation. In our public schools, evolution is taught as established fact. They're taught the Big Bang theory and everything started out as hydrogen gas. The kid's sitting there and hearing the teacher say that everything started out as hydrogen gas and concludes that his ultimate destiny is a pile of dust and there is no God. Therefore, there is no one to whom he is responsible.
TW: Do you
support teaching creationism in the public schools?
DG: Absolutely. I believe neither creation nor evolution is a scientific theory. There weren't any human observers to the origin of the universe and the origin of life. There weren't any human observers to the origin of a single living thing. These events are unrepeatable: they happened only once in the unobservable past. A scientific theory must involve repeatable observations of processes or events, and you can test your theory. You can't do that with creation or evolution. They are inferences based on circumstantial evidence. They are theories about history. They are not scientific theories. Therefore, evolution is no more scientific than creation, and it's just as religious. It's the basic fundamental dogma of humanism. It's right in their literature; they say a humanist is one who believes that man is not the product of a supernatural creator but is the product of evolution. Therefore, evolution is just as religious as creation. Now what we believe, what we want is the teaching of scientific evidence devoid of any reference to any religious literature of any kind that supports evolution on one hand and creation on the other hand. Then allow the student to decide for himself what he thinks is the best explanation. We maintain that evolution and creation are models, scientific models, and they can be discussed in scientific terms. They have scientific characteristics, but they are not scientific theories.
TW: Do you have any idea how many debates you've been in?
TW: Who are some of the people you've debated?
DG: John Maynard Smith, the leading evolutionary biologist in England, John T. Robinson, very well-known paleoanthropologist, Ashley Montagu at Princeton University; he's written thirty books or more on evolution. I debated Isaac Asimov in Science Digest in a written debate. I debated Preston Cloud, Russell Doolittle, from UC San Diego, he's well-known in biochemical circles, and I debated Vincent Sarich, professor at UC Berkeley, a dozen times.
TW: Why do
DG: A debate will draw a large crowd, and it offers a good opportunity to present this evidence to a lot of people. I was at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania about a year ago. It is a university of eight thousand students with a bunch of little towns around there. Their gymnasium seated four thousand people, and I couldn't believe it, there were 3500 there for the debate. We almost filled the place, I couldn't believe it. There were five thousand at a debate at the University of Minnesota. We had 3300 at the debate I had with Robinson at the University of Wisconsin, 3500 at the University of Kansas, 5000 people at Liberty University. It's an opportunity to present the case eyeball to eyeball with an evolutionist. The people can see, here's creation and here's evolution. I've never claimed to have won a debate, but the evolutionists themselves said that the creationists have won almost every debate. I say, if they have the scientific evidence, and we're just a bunch of religious fanatics, it's a strange result. I never mention the Bible. I never mention the book of Genesis. I talk about thermodynamics. I talk about probability related to the origin of life. I talk about the fossil record. I may present the metamorphosis of the monarch butterfly and challenge them to explain how a caterpillar could change step by step by step by a bunch of genetic mistakes into a chrysalis where now he's a mass of jelly, and then change that mass of jelly into a butterfly. Nobody's been able to explain it yet. That's the kind of evidence I talk about.
does ICR have planned for the future?
DG: Of course, we'll continue with our seminars. In addition to these seminars ("Back to Genesis"), we have smaller seminars called "Case for Creation" seminars where maybe I'll go out or two of us will go out. They draw a smaller crowd, maybe two, three, or four hundred. And debates, I'm still debating, and I still travel to countries. I've been to Russia four times, and I'll be going to Brazil the latter part of November. I've been to Bolivia, and Japan several times, and Australia several times. I've been to Europe numerous times, and Scandinavia several times. So I'll be doing that sort of thing. We need to expand our staff. We really need more staff members. We have people who want to come to work for us, they're dying to come to work for us, but we just don't have the funds. We look forward to expanding our program, and expanding our research program. We're doing some good research, but we need to do more. See, we get not one penny of tax money, so it's a struggle. We get $25,000 or $30,000 and that's a pretty good sized project for us. Just recently, a fellow on the staff of Tulane University for twenty-three years, an expert in electron microscopy, found two scanning electron microscopes. They're a few years old, so they're not right up-to- date in the latest technology, but these things are $250,000 instruments. Someone was going to sell us those things for $25,000 for both of them. Our business manager talked to him and convinced him to give them to us as a tax write-off. So we're going to have scanning electron microscopes in our facility. That's exciting.
TW: Is ICR
planning to expand the graduate program to include Ph.D.'s?
DG: Well, Dr. Morris has talked about it. We'd like to have a chemistry major and some other things. Some people have urged us to start a Ph.D. program. I'm not encouraged about that because it's tough enough to maintain the program we have and it's an expensive thing. That program probably costs us $300,000 a year. We probably take in no more than $20,000 in tuition, so it's an expensive program which we have to fund. To expand it means that we have to pay more money.
TW: It was
certainly a pleasure to speak with Dr. Gish, and I trust that you will
remember him and ICR in your prayers. It is exciting to see the mighty
works God has done and continues to do through the dedicated people
The discovery of a bird very similar to Archaeopteryx was announced in the October 19 issue of Nature. This newly- discovered fossil, named Confuciusornis sanctus, was discovered in the Yixian formation of the Liaoning province of northeastern China. Though the stratigraphic sequence in the area is disputed, Confuciusornis is presumed to be Late Jurassic. Confuciusornis is approximately half the size of the London specimen of Archaeopteryx, but does have several features in common with this more famous fossil. Both birds possess long claws on their wings, and the profile of both their skulls is roughly triangular. This is the first Jurassic bird to be discovered outside of Germany.
Hou, L., Z. Zhou, L.D. Martin, and A. Feduccia. 1995. A beaked bird from the Jurassic of China. Nature 377:616-618
A recent article in Science reported a potentially
useful link between endothermy and anatomy that may help resolve the
"warm- blooded" dinosaur issue. John Ruben presented evidence
at the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology that
showed a strong correlation between endothermy and the presence of nasal
turbinates. These fragile skeletal structures in the nose support tissue
that helps regulate the temperature and humidity of inhaled and exhaled
air. Ruben claims that 99% of living endotherms possess nasal turbinates.
Although these delicate bones rarely fossilize, a ridge of bone that
supports them does fossilize and could be used as a test of the animal's
thermoregulation type. Examination of Archaeopteryx and the dinosaur Nanotyrranus failed to show any signs of this distinctive ridge.
Endothermic dinosaur proponent John Horner remains skeptical. He claims
that a computerized tomography image of a hadrosaur skull clearly shows
the turbinate ridge.
Fischman, J. 1995. Were Dinos Cold-Blooded After All? The Nose Knows. Science 270:735-736.
The new logo for Creation Matters was designed by Brenda Lindley-Anderson. Brenda has done a number of illustrations for the "Copy 'n' Share" series in the Creation Research Society Quarterly, and she is currently working on the graphics for a new creationist biology textbook due out next fall.
Because the Creation Research Society is a volunteer organization, its "offices" go whereever its workers go. Please note the new address for memberships, subscriptions, renewals, and book orders:
Creation Research Society
P.O. Box 8263
St. Joseph, MO 64508-8263
Lane P. Lester, General Editor
Route 1, Box 205
Hull, GA 30646
Todd C. Wood, Feature Editor
P.O. Box 292
Waynesboro, VA 22980
Glen W. Wolfrom, Managing Editor
P. O. Box 8263
St. Joseph, MO 64508
Copyright © 1997, 1998 Creation
General Editor: Glen Wolfrom
Feature Editor: Todd Wood
Assistant Editor: Lane Lester
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