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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

Testimony of Ronald W. Coward

Testimony of Ronald W. Coward, biology/psychology teacher, Pulaski Co. Special School District (Plaintiffs Witness) - transcript paragraph formatted version.


THE COURT: (Continuing) up, and I will take a look at them.

(To Judge Byrd) I would suggest that until we resolve this maybe you ought to stay around.

JUDGE BYRD: Plan on it.

(9:20 a.m.)

(Open Court)

MR. CEARLEY: Your Honor, Plaintiffs call Ron Coward.



called on behalf of the plaintiffs herein, after having been first duly sworn or affirmed, was examined and testified as follows:



Q: Will you state your full name for the record, please?

A: Ronald W. Coward.

Q: And your occupation, Mr. Coward?

A: I'm a teacher with the Pulaski County Special School District.

Q: How long have you been employed in that capacity?

A: I'm currently in my nineteenth year.

Q: What subjects do you teach?

A: I currently teach biology and psychology.

Q: Will you tell the Court - briefly , Mr. Coward , what


Q: (Continuing) your educational background is?

A: I have a Bachelor of Science in Education and also a Master's of Science in Education from the University of Central Arkansas.

Q: And can you tell the Court what subjects you have taught over the past several years?

A: Yes. On the high school level, I have taught general biology, botany, zoology, human physiology, environmental biology and psychology.

Q: You are currently teaching which of those courses?

A: General biology, environmental biology and psychology.

Q: Are you familiar within the context of your employment in the Pulaski Special School District with how textbooks are selected?

A: Yes, I am.

Q: Will you tell the Court how that is done?

A: The State of Arkansas, the State Department of Education for the State of Arkansas selects a number of books that are certified to be on the State adoption list. When adoption time comes around for the school district, teachers, representative of each high school in the district, are selected to evaluate the contents, the format of individual textbooks. That committee, then, makes a recommendation to the school board which has the final approval on that textbook.


Q: What textbooks do you currently use in the courses that you teach and in the biology course that you taught last year?

A: Use the textbook entitled Modern Biology by Madnick, Otto and Towle. It's published by Holt, Rhinehart, Winston.

Q: How about in psychology

A: Psychology, I use the book entitled The Invitation to Psychology. I believe that book is published by Scott Orsman.

Q: And in the advance Biology course that you teach?

A: It is entitled Biology. It's by Arms and Camp. I believe it's published by H. R. W. Saunders and Company.

Q: Will you tell the Court, please, sir, how the subject matter within a course is determined in the Pulaski County Special School District?

A: Within each individual course, teachers, more or less, have free rein or no restraints in deciding what the course content of that particular course should be. Generally, the philosophy of the school district is that we are the professional educators; we know best what is current in our particular discipline or our field. Therefore, that judgment is left entirely to us as educators.

Q: Does the county produce any curriculum guides similar to what Mr. Glasgow testified to yesterday?


A: There are no curriculum guides produced by the county, but on different occasions the county has published a supplemental publication to extend beyond the scope of the textbook, particularly in relation to types of activities that might be carried on within the classroom. I think this was designed primarily for beginning teachers or teachers that are having a great deal of difficulty in learning to budget their time over the course of the school year. It's not a curriculum guide, as such, that is to be followed. It's strictly a supplement.

Q: Well, what constraints are there on you as a science teacher in determining what is going to be taught in your classroom?

A: There are none. Again, I might add that the County's viewpoint or the District's viewpoint is that we as professional educators certainly are supposed to have the professionalism and the ethics to decide what is current in our field, what is relevant or pertinent to the lives of our students, and therefore, we are given wide scope to do pretty well as we see. There could be limitations if you, perhaps, if you exceeded your ethical authority, I should say, within my discipline.


Q: Within your own discipline in the area of science, how do you go about determining what is taught in the classroom?

A: Well, there again, I have to decide what is good science and what is not, and at the same time, base my opinion upon the types of students that I have in a particular course, their ability levels, their backgrounds, what their aspirations or future plans or goals might be. This helps me to determine or set my course curriculum.

Q: Are you familiar as a biology teacher, Mr. Coward, with the term "creation science"?

A: As a science educator, I am familiar with it. I do not consider it a science term.

Q: Will you tell the Court when you first became aware of that term?

A: I had not heard the science term until approximately eleven months ago. It would have been in January or February of this year, when I was asked by the Pulaski County School District to become part of the committee to investigate into creation materials to determine whether or not these materials had any validity or any substantial scientific content, and if so, to possibly incorporate this into our curriculum.

Q: As member of that committee, what did you personally


Q: (Continuing) do, Mr. Coward?

A: We were presented with a creation science format very similar to Act 590) with very little modifications to it. At the same time, we requested to have presented to us numbers of creation science publications, textbooks, any type of pamphlets or literature that they had. And these were provided for us.

Q: Was there any particular textbook that you reviewed as a member of that committee?

A: Yes, there was.

Q: Do you recall the name of that textbook?

A: Yes. I have it here.

Q: I have placed in front of you, Mr. Coward, a copy of the textbook, Biology: A Search for Order in Complexity, published by Zondervan that's labeled as Plaintiffs, Exhibit Number 129 for identification?

A: That is correct.

Q: Is that what you have there in front of you?

A: Yes, it is.

Q: Did you report to the Pulaski County Board of Education with regard to your findings?

A: Yes, we did.

Q: And I think you've testified that you did review that particular textbook?

A: Yes. I think we met on two different occasions as a


A: (Continuing) committee. And then on one occasion, we were allowed to take the materials home with us between meetings to preview for approximately a two week period of time.

Q: Did you do that with that book?

A: Yes. I did take this book.

Q: What was your report back to the Board of Education with regard to that book?

A: The committee-- Well, the committee made one final report back to the Board of Education. The committee reconvened following the examination of the materials. Each person on that committee then was given an opportunity to express their viewpoints based on the materials which they previewed. The general-- Not just general consensus, but the unanimous decision of that committee was that none of the materials previewed had any scientific merit or any scientific validity to it, and more often than not, seemed to advance the cause of religion more than it did science. This was the unanimous vote of this committee.

Q: What about your own personal reaction to the materials presented in Biology: A Search for Order in Complexity?

A: Well, I was surprised at the number of religious references that were made in this particular book. Also,


A: (Continuing) I was surprised to find out things they considered science. Due to my science background, I did not perceive it to be science at all.

Q: With reference to that textbook, Mr. Coward, can you give the Court any illustration of the kinds of statements that you found in that book upon which you based your report?

A: I sure can.

Q: Please refer to the page number, if you will, Mr. Coward.

A: This is on page 12.

Q: If you will refer to the page number and tell the Judge where on the page you are reading from?

A: This is on page 12, your Honor. It is the lower left hand paragraph, second from the bottom.

Q: What appears there?

A: If I might read-- They are speaking of flowers closing up at night to protect themselves, and why roots grow geotrophically towards the center of the earth. Reading, "We talk of flowers that close up at night to protect their pollen from insects that cannot effect pollination. We talk of roots that grow toward water to supply the plant with this necessary. substance. Flowers and roots do not have a mind to have purpose of their own; therefore this planning must have been done for


A: (Continuing) them by the Creator."

Q: How does that statement compare with your understanding as a biology and botany teacher?

A: As a biology and botany teacher, a creator does not enter into the subject matter at all. I think that there are natural laws and natural processes which are easily explained as to why roots grow toward the center of the earth. I think geotropism would be the appropriate term here. It's a physical law of nature.

Q: Would you just thumb through that book, Mr. Coward, to other illustrations that you've marked. And in like fashion, identify the page number and location on the page, and read to the Court?

A: Yes. On page 147, lower left hand paragraph. In other words, there are latent recessive genes that later become expressed. Also, some variation (from this viewpoint) is simply an expression of the Creator's desire to show as much beauty of flower, variety of song in birds, or interesting types of behavior in animals as possible.

Q: Is there any similar explanation of those phenomena in the biology or botany text that you have known in your experience as a biology and botany teacher?

A: I think each of these can be explained through natural processes.


A: (Continuing) One other significance would be found on page 363.

Q: Go ahead.

A: This is a quote from the book of Matthew.

Q: What is the context that appears in, Mr. Coward?

A: They first cite a poem here by, I believe this is Wordsworth, if my literature is correct. "The exquisite beauty of color and shape in flowers exceeds the skill of poet, artist, and king. Jesus said (from Matthew's gospel) ..."

Q: And that is presented there to illustrate what?

A: That the beauty of the earth far exceeds the perception of poets, artists.

Q: Do you find like expressions in any biology or botany text with which you are familiar?

A: I certainly do not.

Q: What were your objections about that material in is that book?

A: That I would consider this to be very religious in nature, which is certainly out of the scope of my classroom.

Q: Did you have any other objections to that book? To the language or the overall order and presentation of the subject matter?


A: The overall presentation or format of it probably would be very similar as far as sequential that you'd find in an ordinary textbook. But I find, again, no scientific content of any value. Fragmented pieces of science information are found at random, out there again, unless you associate scientific facts together, then really all you have, you have nothing. It's like individual bricks do not make a house until you can associate these pieces together and build something from that. I find that to be the case in this textbook.

Q: What do you find to be the case? What is the unifying theme of that textbook?

A: It seems to be that most of the science that is attempted to be used is pointing toward the fact that there is a sudden creation or inception of the earth; that man is apart from ancestral forms that relate him to earlier primates. I would say it readily supports the theme as depicted in the book of Genesis.

Q: Do you know of any other textbook that's on the market, Mr. Coward, that it has such a theme in it?

A: No, I do not.

Q: And by that, I mean any other biology text to which you've been exposed?


A: No, I do not. This is the only biology text that I have seen, actual text that I have seen from creation publications. I've seen a number of soft cover publications. As far as biology text that I have ever examined on the state textbook adoption list that are put out by major publishing houses, I've never seen anything with this type of science or religion.

Q: Is the subject of evolution, biological evolution, treated in that textbook?

A: If you call it that, yes, it is.

Q: In what fashion is it presented?

A: Well, there again, most of the information that is used is used to conveniently present or to support the creation viewpoint of recent inception of the earth, catastrophic flood, and there again, man separate from apes.

Q: Are you thinking of any particular example or just the overall presentation?

MR. CLARK: If I may interject just a moment, for the record, we are going to tend to object to this whole line of questioning as being irrelevant from the standpoint that there's been no proof offered that this text or any of these other materials are going to be used to teach under Act 590.


MR. CLARK: (Continuing) I understand the point that counsel is trying to demonstrate to the Court; that these are the only kinds of materials there. We have had cumulative testimony to this effect time and time again.

I don't see the relevancy of going through all this.

THE COURT: I will note the objection.

MR. CEARLEY: (Continuing)

Q: Did you have any particular reference in mind or were you referring to the presentation of evolution in general?

A: It was the presentation of evolution in general. I might cite a particular instance. This will be found on page 444.

Q: Were is that located on the page, Mr. Coward.

A: Bottom paragraph under subheading 23-4.

Q: Will you read that, please?

A: The subtopic here is "Differences Between Man and Apes." To show an example of the type of scientific information that they use, the major differences in man and apes, according to them, is the fact that an ape has a broader pelvis than man. They cite this as being evidence. The fact that a man's feet are flat on the bottoms and not designed for grasping, and the apes or the primates still have the grasping type foot, they cite this as


A: (Continuing) evidence.

On the very next page, on 445, I believe it is, they point out that there are differences in man and apes other than physical. For an example, if I may read here -- This is 445, left hand side, middle paragraph: "There are physical distinctions that set man apart from the animals, but of much greater magnitude are the difference in behavior. An ape will not put a stick of wood on the fire even if he is about to freeze. He may use a stick or stone as a tool, if it is handy; but he does not make tools or foresee future use for a tool."

I don't think the fact that an ape would not put a stick on the fire to warm himself is hardly evidence that indicates our ancestor.

Q: How does that compare with your understanding of presentation of evolution in the biology text that you normally are exposed to?

A: Well, any theory of evolution is supported in the biology text. There again, it has some scientific evidences to support that theory. I don't believe any one field of science could cite any evidence to support this as a scientific viewpoint.

Q: Are the passages that you quoted to the Court illustrative of the presentation of the subject of creation or creation science and evolution in that


Q: (Continuing) textbook?

A: This seems to be the general thrust throughout the book in skimming through. I might also point out one other modification in this text. When I first received this text at that previous meeting, this was not found on the inside cover (Indicating). This is a disclaimer that has been added since I first reviewed this textbook. May I read it?

Q: Yes, sir. For the record, Mr. Coward, are you referring to a pasted in label that appears just inside the hard cover of that textbook?

A: Yes, I am.

Q: Yes, sir. What does that say?

A: "This book is not designed or appropriate for public school use, and should not be used in public schools in any way." That's the main topic of that. Shall I read the entire disclaimer?

Q: Yes, sir, if you would.

A: "Books for public schools discuss scientific evidence that supports creation science or evolution science. This book, instead, discusses religious concepts or materials that support creationist religions or evolutionist religions, and such religious materials should not be used in public schools."

Q: Now, your statement was, with regard to the book,


Q: (Continuing) that you first reviewed-- What was your statement with regard to that book?

A: The first book that I was given to preview and kept for some two weeks did not have this disclaimer.

Q: And when was that, Mr. Coward?

A: This would have been in either January or February of this year.

MR. CEARLEY: Your Honor, I would like to note for the record that the book from which Mr. Coward was reading was furnished to the plaintiffs pursuant to a request for production of documents that was served upon the Institute for Creation Research and Creation Life Publishers in California pursuant to these proceedings in court. And I would move the admission of Plaintiffs' Exhibit 129.

THE COURT: It will be received.

MR. CEARLEY: (Continuing)

Q: Now, Mr. Coward, you've examined Act 590, have you not?

A: Yes, I have.

Q: Is the subject of creation science, as you understand it, presented in any of the science textbooks that you currently use or have ever used in the past?

A: No, it is not.

Q: Do you know why not?


A: I think probably because the writers, authors of these books, also the publishers and publishing companies that put the books out, Such as Holt, Rhinehart, et cetera, they do not view this. as science or part of the scientific community. Therefore, they chose not to put it in their publications.

Q: You testified earlier that the work that you did for the Pulaski County School Board was with regard to a proposal or resolution that was put to that Board, is that right?

A: That's correct.

Q: How does Act 590 compare to that?

A: I can't say if it is a word for word, but the general thrust or scheme of Act 590 is closely parallel to the earlier resolution, which I did see it.

Q: Have you reviewed Act 590 to determine what its provisions would require of you as a classroom teacher in the area of science?

A: Yes, I have.

Q: I call your attention specifically to the provisions of Section 7. There is a statement at Section 7(b) that public schools generally censure creation science and evidence contrary to evolution.

Is creation science censured in the Pulaski County Special School District?


A: No, sir. I've taught School for nineteen years, and I had never even heard of creation science until this year, so there is certainly no censuring process. If it is censured at all it is because creation science censures itself by its very nature.

Q: And what do you mean by that?

A: The fact that it is religion and does not contain any science. It is self-censuring.

Q: In your effort to determine what Act 590 would require of you in the classroom, Mr. Coward, have you determined the meaning of the term "balanced treatment"?

A: I have attempted to. My interpretation of it probably stems from having somewhat of a science background. To me balanced" means "even" or "equal." There again, when I first think of this, I think of, again, emphasis on equal time, equal thrust or teaching with an equal zeal, and also attempting to be bi-partial or neutral.

Q: Turn, if you will, Mr. Coward, to Section 4? Do you have that Act in front of you?

A: Yes, I do.

Q: Turn to the definition, Section 4, and tell the Court, if you will, what you interpret 4(a)(1) to mean, "the sudden creation of the universe, energy and light from nothing"?


A: Well, there again, I interpret this to be an instantaneous creation of matter and life forms on earth from, without any pre-existing matter or life forms.

Q: What does the term "creation" mean to you?

A: I think it refers to the fact that something is being born or formulated which would indicate to me there must be a creator or a force which is doing so.

Q: Do you have available to you, either in your experience or in the way of teaching materials, textbooks, audio-visual aids or anything of that sort that would constitute scientific evidence in support of sudden creation of the universe, energy and light from nothing?

A: Absolutely none.

Q: Do you have any way to explain that or to support that proposition to your students?

A: Not from a scientific point of view, no.

Q: From what point of view, then?

A: It would strictly be from a religious point of view.

Q: Look, if you will, to 4(a)(5), "explanation of the earth's geology by catastrophism, including the occurrence of a worldwide flood." Do you see that?

A: Yes, I do.

Q: Do you have any scientific evidence available to you in any fashion that would tend to support the occurrence of a worldwide flood at some time in the past?


A: No. I have never seen a science textbook, film, film strip, cassette tapes or any type of audio-visual materials that would give a scientific explanation of this concept. Have you ever seen any support at all for that concept?

A: Not in the scientific community. I see it as a strictly religious concept.

Q: Well, specifically, to what do you relate the proposition of a worldwide flood, if anything?

A: I assume this is from the book of Genesis, speaking of the Noah flood.

Q: Is there any other place in your experience or your education where you've been exposed to the concept of a worldwide flood?

A: Only in my own religious background.

Q: How would you, Mr. Coward, explain to your students, if any inquired, about the occurrence of a worldwide flood?

A: As far as scientific explanation, I could not. I'd have to refer them, if they wanted to pursue this matter a little further, they'd have to go beyond the classroom and pursue this from some religious authority because I have no knowledge of it or no evidence or no type of literature that I could present this to them in a scientific manner.

Q: Will you look, Mr. Coward, to 4(a)(6), "a relatively


Q: (Continuing) recent inception of the earth and living kinds"?.

A: Yes.

Q: What does the word "kinds" mean to you as a science teacher?

A: "Kinds" is not a scientific term. Usually in science, particularly in dealing with taxonomy or classification system, you refer to a specific level of classification, such as species, families, orders, classes or so forth. "Kinds" as a science term really has no meaning or significance at all.

Q: Is it a science term?

A: Definitely not.

Q: Have you ever seen the word "kinds" used in that fashion?

A: Used in the context that it is in the sentence, I think it is a Biblical usage.

Q: Do you have available to you any scientific evidence that would tend to support the thought that the earth and living kinds are of relatively recent inception?

A: No, none whatsoever.

Q: Do you know what "relatively recent inception" means?

A: Well, this has been debated in this court as to what kind of time frame that this is put into. The literature


A: (Continuing) that I previewed on this committee, most of the literature that I looked at, insisted on approximately ten thousand years. But "relative", there again is, the word "relative" is relative in a sense.

Q: Do you present any information in your classroom with regard to the age of the earth or living kinds or plants, animals, man?

A: I do relate information to my students from a scientific viewpoint as to what is depicted as the age of the earth and the beginnings of time in relation to certain classifications of organisms. Strictly from a scientific viewpoint.

Q: And if you recall, what generally appears in the scientific literature?

A: In regards to what?

Q: In regard to the age of the earth?

A: Well, there again, generally in the vicinity of four and half billion years plus.

Q: Is that relatively recent in your mind?

A: Not in my perception of the word "relatively", no, sir.

Q: Mr. Coward, you've testified about 4(a)(1), 4(a)(5) and 4(a)(6). If you don't have any scientific information that would support that, what are you going to do if your


Q: (Continuing) students ask you questions about those particular items?

A: There again, all I would be able to say to my students would be that there are no scientific evidences, to my knowledge, that would support any of these six points. Therefore, I assume that since I cannot support that scientifically, I cannot get into it from a religious point of view, and I assume that I have to also not teach them anything about evolution.

Q: Let me back up for a moment and ask you, if a student asks you about a worldwide flood, how will you handle that?

A: I would simply say to that student that as far as the scientific community is concerned, as far as my knowledge is concerned, there is no scientific evidence to support a worldwide flood. `If you chose to read on it further, then I suggest there is, obviously, there are religious sources which you might go to.' And quite often if a student were to ask me question like this, I might suggest that, well, you need to talk probably about this with your parents or perhaps talk with your minister, which is strictly a religious viewpoint. It's definitely not a scientific one.

Q: How does that kind of explanation fit in with your


Q: (Continuing) understanding of the requirement of "balance treatment"?

A: We'll, there again, I can't use or cannot implement balance treatment in regard to creation science unless I can present scientific evidences. I think the bill itself is emphatic that I cannot get into the realm or scope of religion. Without any scientific evidences, I don't see how I can implement Act 590.

Q: Tell the Court, Mr. Coward, how, in your experience as a biology teacher, Act 590 would affect the way you teach students in your classroom and your relationship with your students?

A: I think several problems would probably be created as a result of implementing Act 590 in my classroom. One alone would simply be the time frame. Most textbooks generally have a unit, as such, on the theory of evolution and natural selection. But even aside that, evolution is interwoven throughout the fabric, really, of every chapter within the textbook, virtually on every page. At the time I made any statement at all regarding the development of fishes or amphibians or whatever lines of development, I'd have to stop again and attribute time to the creationist viewpoint. I would spend probably half of my time trying to make a


A: (Continuing) statement of a scientific nature, then attempting to give balance to the other viewpoint. There is not time as it is to teach all the things we would like to do within a given school year. I would meet myself coming and going in circles attempting to do this.

Q: You mentioned evolution as a theme in biology?

A: Yes, I did.

Q: I have placed in front of you a document labelled Plaintiffs' Exhibit 15 for identification, and ask if you can tell the Court what that is, Mr. Coward?

A: Yes. That is a photostat of the advanced biology textbook that is used. It's entitled Biology by Arms and Camp, publishers H. R. W. Saunders.

Q: Is that book used by you?

A: Yes, it is.

Q: In a course on advance biology?

A: Yes, that's correct.

Q: How is the subject of evolution presented in that book?

A: In this particular book, there are seven explicit chapters on the theory of evolution. Some are dealing with primates, some chapters are dealing with flowering plants and so forth. But the scope of the book in all includes seven predesignate chapters. Beyond those chapters, the entire concept of


A: (Continuing) evolutionary theory and natural selection, again, is interwoven throughout the chapters. Virtually, every page makes references to some type of ancestry or lines of descendance. That is the very fabric or fiber that bonds the scientific information together. It's the glue that holds it all together.

Q: Have you, at my request, extracted from that textbook several pages that illustrate how evolution is treated?

A: Yes, I have.

Q: Would you just very quickly refer to Plaintiffs' Exhibit 15 and tell the Court what is illustrated there?

A: An example might be found on the very inside cover of the text, which there is a full two page overview of the entire geological time scale dating the various types of organisms and when they appeared on earth. Also dating even the emergence of the various mountain ranges, particularly in regards to the North American continent. And all of this is done on a geological time scale or time clock.

Q: Is that kind of presentation unusual in a biology text, Mr. Coward?

A: No. In fact, it is standard in a biology text. I don't recall, offhand, seeing one that did not present


A: (Continuing) some type of display such as this. Sometimes it will be put into, like, a twenty-four hour face of a clock, and everything will be put into a time sequence, out generally it is displayed in some fashion, yes.

Q: What other illustrations have you selected? Just pick one or two, if you would.

A: Okay. Beyond the chapters of evolution? I think, which would speak for themselves, there are numerous references made throughout the book in scattered chapters. These would be some at random. This will be page 323.

Q: And what is illustrated there?

A: It's talking about the evolution of fishes, but this is not in an evolution chapter, as such. It's strictly as

A: chapter regarding fish development, talking about the three major classes of fish. These two groups, speaking of Chondrichthyes, which are the cartilaginous fish, and the Osteichthyes, which are the bony fish, these two groups of fish have made two major evolutionary advances over their agnathan ancestors. Agnathan ancestors is referring to the jawless fish, which we think was the first fish group on earth. I think that would trigger Act 590.

Q: In addition to the illustrations that you've pointed


Q: (Continuing) out, there are seven full chapters on evolution, is that correct?

A: Yes, there is.

Q: Are the illustrations you've mentioned consistent with the manner in which evolution is presented in that textbook?

A: Yes, they are.

MR. CEARLEY: Your Honor, I move the introduction or admission of Plaintiffs' Exhibit 15.

THE COURT: It will be received.

MR. CEARLEY: (Continuing)

Q: How, Mr. Coward, will you balance the treatment of evolution with creation science in those courses that you teach?

A: I see it as an impossibility.

Q: Do you have materials available with which to do that?

A: No, I do not. I have none.

Q: Do you know of any?

A: None that I have previewed I would consider of a scientific nature enough that be acceptable for my classroom.

Q: You also stated that you teach the subject of psychology, is that right?

A: That's correct.


Q: What grade level students take psychology?

A: These would be juniors and seniors.

Q: Have you also thought about the effect that Act 590 would have on methods and manner in which you present the subject of psychology?

A: Yes. I have given that some thought.

Q: And will you tell the Court how Act 590 will affect your presentation of psychology?

A: Well, as we all know, there are a number of experiments that are done in psychology based on behavior comparisons of man to other forms of animals, particularly in regards to primates. I might cite as an example Jane Goodall's studies of chimpanzees or Dianne Fossi's studies of gorillas or Harry Harlow's study with monkeys on surrogate mothers, Skinner's experiments with rats, pigeons and so forth. These are examples which if there are no inner- relationships between these organisms, either biochemically, genetically or from a behavioral standpoint, then these studies would have no relevance to our lives at all. It would be a study in futility. it would prove nothing. If Act 590 stands and I have to present the idea of the concept to my students that man and other primates do not have common ancestry, then the first question I will get


A: (Continuing) from them is, `what is the significance of this study'. And there I'm caught with really nothing to tell them. It would be no significance, I assume.

Q: How could you balance that presentation?

A: I could not balance it.

Q: What would be left for you to do?

A: I would, more or less, have to disregard these studies and not make reference to that, or have a negative viewpoint and just tell the students up front, `well, this study doesn't really mean anything because there are no common similarities or relationships between man and primates. So the study is really irrelevant. I just thought I'd tell you about it.' That's about what the effect would be.

Q: How do you think that would affect your teaching psychology and your relationship with your students?

A: I think it would have a great handicap on the teaching of the subject of psychology because I think these are relevant and important studies. At the same time, if I tried to be impartial and not take sides on this issue, as I assume Act 590 insinuates that I should be, I think very quickly, students are very bright people, and they perceive a great deal. I think the students would see in a hurry that I am


A: (Continuing) trying to slip something by them, trying to make them believe that I believe this or that I accept this. I think they would see through this. I believe it would have a great effect on my credibility as a teacher because they do put a great deal of stock in our professionalism and our ability. And I think they do openly admit that they think that we really know what’s best for them in the educational system. If we don’t, I don’t know who does. I think they admit this readily. I think my credibility would be greatly questioned or destroyed to some degree if I try to implement this in and not be partial. They would see through it.

Q: Section 5 of Act 590, Mr. Coward, says, “This Act does not require any instruction in the subject of origins, but simply requires instruction in both scientific models (of evolution science and creation science) if public schools choose to teach either.” In your courses on biology and psychology, what effect would exercising that option not to teach anything about origins have?

A: Well, there again, I think that the concepts and the theory of evolution and natural selection, including origins, I think is really the cornerstone of biology,


A: (Continuing) particularly in biology. I think without being able to teach the evolutionary theory, if I was forced to abandon it because of this, I think without teaching it that my students would be definitely unprepared for future college work. About fifty to sixty percent of our student body does attend college, according to our records. On the other hand, a lot of these students, this would be the last science course that they will ever have. This is the last shot, really, of giving them some type of a scientific background or working knowledge or understanding of how science is and what it is and so forth. I think by being forced to give up the teaching of evolutionary theory by not being able to balance or by choosing not to balance, my students would have scattered fragments of scientific information, but there would be no cohesive force that brings this, or cohesive substance that brings this information together where it collectively can be interpreted and have a significant meaning to it.

Q: Are there any other constraints on your methods of teaching or the manner in which you present your subjects to your students that are similar to those imposed by Act 590?

A: Certainly not. The only restraints that a teacher


A: (Continuing) might find themselves being influenced by would be if they, more or less, over extend themselves, perhaps, in a given subject area. There again, we have to use our professional judgment, professional ethics to decide what is pertinent and relevant to our students. But there are no restraints that are handed down by the school district by which I am employed; no restraints from the administration within the particular building which I work. We have pretty well free rein as long as we do not abuse that freedom.

Q: What statements do you make in your teaching of the theory of evolution or mutation or natural selection that deals in any way with the existence or non-existence of a creator?

A: There again, this is not a science concept. It is a religious concept, and therefore, the subject of a creator does not normally come up in my classroom. I do not deal with that.

Q: Do you believe yourself, Mr. Coward, in divine creation?

A: I’m open minded on the matter. I’m not firmly convinced of that, no.

Q: Has your teaching or knowledge of the subjects of biology and psychology and botany destroyed your religious


Q: (Continuing) convictions?

A: Absolutely not. To me religion is apart from science. It is metaphysical where scientific is strictly based on physical understanding of laws of nature and interpretation of those laws.

Q: You serve with the Pulaski County Special School District pursuant to a written contract, do you not?

A: That is correct.

Q: Is that renewed automatically from year to year unless you get fired or quit?

A: Not exactly automatically. I think each employee’s work production for that particular year is analyzed again, but more or less you could say it is automatic for general purposes, unless they have reasons to the contrary.

Q: If Act 590 is implemented, Mr. Coward, do you have the option to continue to teach biology the way you’ve always taught it?

A: Certainly not.

Q: Why not?

A: Well, there again, there is a great deal of confusion, I think, that’s centered around the interpretation of what we are supposed to do or what we can do. I am told, according to Act 590, that I must teach scientific evidences of which I have none. I’m also told that I cannot cite or quote or instruct in any religious


A: (Continuing) materials or doctrines. That leaves me with absolutely nothing to present to my students from my point of view as a science educator, which, to me, looks like if I cannot balance Act 590 in order to comply with the law, then I’ve got to abolish the teaching of evolution, which, to me, is the very heart of biology to begin with.

Q: Do you know how you will comply with Act 590?

A: I’ve given it a great deal of thought. Of course, it doesn’t go into effect until another school year. By nature, I’m very much inclined not to comply with Act 590. I do not want to appear to be a revolutionary or a martyr or anything of this nature, but as a science educator I think I know what science is. I think I know what professionalism and ethics are. I think I realize my obligations to my students. If I don’t, I wouldn’t have been in this business this long, that’s for sure.

MR. CEARLEY: That’s all I have, your Honor.
Your Honor, I now have in my hand the documents that were furnished yesterday pursuant to the subpoena. They have not been copied, and I don’t know if anyone has even examined them, but I will tender them to the Court.

THE COURT: Okay. Set them up here, please, sir.

MR. CEARLEY: (Handing documents to the Court.)




Q: May I look at that textbook just a moment?

A: Certainly.

Q: How did you say this came into your possession?

A: The committee on which I serve for the Pulaski County Special School District, Mr. Larry Fisher was asked, since he provided the resolution to the district in the beginning, he was asked to provide us with some materials from the creation science publishers. This was one of the textbooks which he provided.

Q: And who did you say was the publisher of this book?

A: I believe it’s Zondervan, I believe.

Q: Do you know with whom that might be affiliated?

A: No, I do not.

Q: Do you know if it’s affiliated with the Institute for Creation Research?

A: Not for certain, I do not, no.

Q: Or with any other creation research society?

A: No, I do not.

Q: You served on the Pulaski County committee to review materials for creation science, is that correct?

A: That’s correct.

Q: Materials that you reviewed were those that were furnished to you, correct?


A: That’s correct.

Q: Did you make any independent effort to obtain other materials?

A: I did not.

Q: Why didn’t you?

A: On the first committee on which, on the first meeting of that committee, there was not enough materials available for us to make a fair appraisal. The committee as a group requested from Mr. Fisher at that time, since he seemed to have the availability of the materials to himself , he was asked at that time if he would provide us with more materials at the next meeting, and which, I understand, he was to do and did so. I did not make an independent search of my own.

Q: Do you participate in the selection of textbooks for the county?

A: I have on two occasions.

Q: Do you have any judgment as to the validity or the currency of those textbooks, how current they remain in terms of what is happening in science today?

A: I imagine what is happening this morning has changed science considerably, but I imagine by the time something becomes relevant in the field of science, it probably is in the course of maybe three to five years before it actually appears in high school textbooks.


Q: When you go to select a textbook for use in your classroom, what sort of steps do you follow in terms of selecting that text?

A: As a member of the committee?

Q: As a member of the committee or individually?

A: We are interested, of course, first in the format of the textbook. Most, again, there will have the same general arrangement, phylogenetic arrangement from simple to complex organisms. We are interested, obviously, in the reading level of the book trying to make it appropriate for the level of students which will be using it. We are interested also in the types of illustrations, the vividness of the book. There is a lot to say for the book being attractive, obviously. The students find it much more appealing and easy to read if they are turned on by it, in a sense, has a lot of eye appeal. And of course, one of the things I am most concerned with is the scientific content of it.

Q: Do you consider yourself to be a scientist?

A: That’s a relative— Depends on who you are talking with. I think my students consider me, probably, to be a scientist. I don’t profess to be a working scientist. I’m a science educator because I chose to be, but I have enough science background that some people may consider me


A: (Continuing) to be one of sorts.

Q: Do you not recall telling me in your deposition that you were a scientist who had chosen to be a science educator?

A: That’s right.

Q: So to some degree, at least, you consider yourself to be a scientist?

A: To some degree, yes.

Q: As you evaluate texts for use in your classroom, you then evaluate them from a scientific aspect also, as well as the other things you’ve already mentioned?

A: Most definitely.

Q: As you evaluate texts for use in your classroom, the State, as I understand, had an approved or recommended list of texts for biology, is that correct?

A: That’s correct.

Q: Do you review all of those?

A: No, I do not.

Q: Why not?

A: The time the textbook selection committee is formed and we have our first meeting, by some fashion that’s unknown to me, the Pulaski County School District has already narrowed the list down through their own preliminary processes to normally five or six texts. Then the committee of teachers selects from that group.


Q: Did you say earlier in your direct testimony a few moments ago that you know what science is?

A: I think I do.

Q: All right. Do you accept the recommendation of the textbook committee as to what is science as is contained in your books that you are recommended to use for your classroom or do you make an independent judgment?

A: Well, I think— We discuss the books. This meeting is an all day type thing. We discuss the books. And even though we do not all agree on which is the best book for our particular students which we teach, I think we all agree on what is science and which books really have the most meat or substance to them.

Q: But you accept the recommendation of the committee as to which books to discuss rather than discussing all that are on the recommended list, is that correct?

A: That is correct.

Q: So you are accepting someone else’s recommendation as to what is science, at least their judgment?

A: Well, I have no choice but to select from the books which are provided for me by, I assume, the school district administration.

Q: Since you served on that committee, and I assume the committee’s work is complete as to their recommendation on the materials they reviewed for creation science, is that


Q: (Continuing) correct? Has that committee completed its work?

A: Yes, it has.

Q: Since that time, have you done any other review to see if there are materials that support the creation science explanation of origins?

A: No, I have not.

Q: Since the commencement of this litigation last May and the proceedings that followed therefrom and the publication of the State’s witnesses, which I think was about October 15th, the people that would be here to testify on behalf of the State as scientists who would advocate scientific evidence explaining a creation explanation of origins, have you attempted to obtain copies of any of their works or any of their publications?

A: No, I have not.

Q: Why not?

A: I did not see the necessity for doing so.

Q: Do you not have to enact or implement Act 590 next school year if it’s declared to be constitutional?

A: I believe that’s correct.

Q: Are you not at a crossroads in trying to understand how to do that?

A: Yes, I am.

Q: Would it not assist you, then, to look at these


Q: (Continuing) materials to see if there is scientific evidence or explanation for creation science?

A: If it is enacted and upheld in this court, then I will do so.

Q: Have you already presumed it won’t be enacted?

A: No, I haven’t.

Q: Have you ever read any works by Doctor Russell Ackerage?

A: I’m not familiar with him, no.

Q: Doctor Wayne Friar?

A: No. I say that I haven’t. Let me qualify that. The materials that were presented to us on that committee by Mr. Fisher, I’m not aware now of the particular titles of these materials or who some of the authors were. They could be incorporated in this group of materials and my not know it. But I’m not personally—

Q: You made no independent effort whatsoever?

A: No, I have not.

Q: In the science that you teach in your classrooms, the textbooks that you’ve chosen, have you ever made any inquiry into the validity of the concepts in that science text?

A: I don’t think I’ve ever set out to make a particular search to try to find out if these are valid concepts because in any type of book that I use or reference that I


A: (Continuing) use, I find the supporting evidence in any book or film or type of material that I might use. It’s always supportive in its content.

Q: Supportive of what? All that you believe to be science?

A: All of the book from which I teach. Other books that I use as resource materials or outside readings are always supportive of that text. I’ve never found anything that was really to the contrary except maybe on a particular point or something.

Q: You’ve heard testimony in this courtroom during the times that you’ve been here — I know you haven’t been here every day, but you’ve been here many days — the fact that there is no absolute answer in science, there’s no final truth, there’s a great deal of discussion and debate
about what is science; is that correct?

A: There’s not a great deal of debate about what is science.

Q: Well, concepts of science. Excuse me. Let me narrow that a little bit. About in biology, for instance, on the concept of evolution from punctuated equilibrium to gradualism and all those things. You’ve heard that debate?

A: Yes, I’ve heard that debate.

Q: As a science teacher, you have never taken the


Q: (Continuing) textbook from which you teach and inquired as to the authors, as to their academic training, as to their professional training to try to determine anything about them in terms of their merit or standing in the scientific community? Have you ever done that?

A: No, I have not.

Q: Have you ever contacted the publisher of any of those scientific texts which you use and ask him how they collected or compiled the data that went into that text?

A: No, I have not.

Q: Is it an accepted concept in the scientific community to, or in any — let’s say the scientific community — to use the concept of jury or peer review articles that are going to be published for science? In other words, circulate them among your peers and let them evaluate as to its credibility or its—

A: I think this is the way the scientific community works, yes.

Q: Do you do that in terms of texts, materials you use to present in the classroom that you are going to present to students in any way? Do you jury the publications? Are you critical of them?

A: I’m not sure exactly what you’re asking me.

Q: Okay. Let me— Do you take that textbook and in any fashion look at it with a critical eye? That is, by


Q: (Continuing) trying to get into the background, the training, professional standing of its authors, its contributors or its publishers before you elect to chose it to teach as the source for your classroom instruction?

A: No, I do not. I might add at this point, if I might, that there again, as science educators, we cannot possibly know the people or the backgrounds of people who write, edit and publish scientific materials. But we generally accept, within the teaching circles or teaching community, we generally accept that the publishers, the writers, the publishers and the editors of these publishing houses are credible people. We have to, more or less, rely upon their expertise since we have no—

Q: You rely on them as being credible people because they publish the text that’s generally accepted by the community?

A: No, sir. But they all have science proofreaders and editors that edits this material before it’s entered into those textbooks.

Q: Does science make any assumptions?

A: A scientist might make a given assumption on a particular point.

Q: Could it be assumptions contained in the material that you are teaching to your students today in the


Q: (Continuing) science textbooks you are using?

A: On a particular point, there could be an assumption, but assumptions do not become part of the scientific body of knowledge, though. I might use an assumption on a given experiment. ‘Well, let’s assume that this were to happen.’ The assumption does not become part of that body of information we recognize as scientific knowledge.

Q: Then it would be your testimony that in the text material, in the textbook that you use in your classroom, there are no assumptions in that material? Those assumptions have been proven valid?

A: I didn’t say there were not any assumptions. I said there might be an assumption on a particular minute point.

Q: Minute point?

A: But there are not any assumptions, I don’t think, on the overall scope of what might come into this body of knowledge.

Q: Are those assumptions subject to prejudice?

A: In most cases I would assume that they are not.

Q: They are not?

A: Most of them are scientific assumptions. I cannot say that a scientist cannot be prejudiced because they are human like anybody else. But I think most of them are scientific assumptions


A: (Continuing) based on a given amount of material or data.

Q: It’s been several questions asked of you on how you would explain various portions of Act 590. In your classroom, how do you explain to a student who asks you, what is the origin of first life’?

A: I normally do not deal with the origin of first life in my classroom. In the concept of the overall theory of evolution, that really is not a necessary part. What I’m concerned with on a high school level is what happens following. Assume that the life is here, regardless of by what means—

Q: Let me interrupt you just a second. I’m sorry. You said to the concept of evolution, the explanation of first life is not a necessary part?

A: Well, on a high school level, it’s not necessary. I’m sure that some of the Ph.D.’s that have testified here earlier, that it’s very necessary in their realm or scope in which they work. On a high school level, it is not necessary, I don’t think, for the student to understand the first concept of origin of life. If they ask me, I do make references to it.

Q: What references do you make?

A: I might cite the— The only scientific, really,


A: (Continuing) references that we would have would be the theory proposed by A. I. O’Parin in 1936 which was followed by Stanley Miller’s experiment in 1953 on trying to create or synthesize materials in a laboratory, organic materials such as DNA and sugars, amino acids.

Q: What do you know about that theory? Is that a hypotheses?

A: O’Parin’s was a hypothesis.

Q: What was Doctor Miller’s?

A: An experiment.

Q: Does that prove theory?

A: I’m sorry?

Q: Does that prove scientific theory, an experiment?

A: No. It just simply gives credibility to the fact that it is feasible.

Q: That it is feasible?

A: That it is feasible. This could have happened. It certainly in no way explains the origin of life. Now, that’s really as far as I can go with my students at the level I teach.

Q: Are there any assumptions made in that experiment that you know of?

A: Not that I’m aware of, no.

Q: Do you know how the experiment was conducted?

A: Basically.


Q: Please tell me that?

A: Well, a number of compounds such as methane — might not have the correct ones, but I believe methane, perhaps ammonia, hydrogen, water vapor, maybe carbon dioxide. These compounds or these elements or compounds were used or chosen because we understand these are the basic ingredients of the earth’s atmosphere at the time we think first life was begun on earth.

Q: Let me interrupt you again. You said “We understand”, “we think”—

A: Well, science understands.

Q: Who is “well? Who is “science”?

A: Well, you are changing the question now?

Q: Well, you said “we understand.” You told me the answer was science. Now, tell me who is “well and “science” that understand these were the compounds in the earth when first life was formed?

A: There again, I’m not a scientific expert. I’m not offering this as an expert.

Q: Well, what is your understanding as a science educator?

A: I think people that work in the areas of biochemistry and geophysics and so forth—

Q: You have no personal understanding of that? You are


Q: (Continuing) relying on someone else?

A: They indicated to us this was the earth’s condition at the time.

Q: Who is ‘they” that indicated to you?

A: There again, the literature from which I read or that I have to rely upon as a science educator, the people that write this material, this is the indications that comes from the millwork of the scientific community. This is accepted among them. I have to rely on that. I have no way of verifying this or testing this myself. As a science teacher, I always have to rely on upon the scientific community.

Q: You cannot perform that experiment in your own laboratory?

A: I do not have the expertise to do so.

Q: Could it be performed in a laboratory?

A: Certainly. It could be performed any given day.

Q: Are there any assumptions in that experiment?

A: None that I’m aware of.

Q: It is not an assumption to believe that at the time first life was formed, whatever that date may be, that those were the compounds that were found in the earth’s atmosphere?

A: According to the scientific community, this is not an assumption. Here again, I am not an expert on that

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