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Testimony of Professor Dorothy Nelkin - Page 2
Submitted by Peter Burns on Mon, 2009-03-09 02:00.
Q: (Continuing) the Resolution that you referred to.
MR. CRAWFORD: Your Honor, I think I've got the wrong exhibit number. If I may, on redirect, I will put that in through her, and I think that will save some time. No more questions.
BY MR. WILLIAMS:
Q: Ms. Nelkin, isn't it true that your predominant area of study into the creation-science movement, as you have termed it, came from approximately 1973 up through 1977?
A: Yes, my primary time in which I was studying that movement, yes.
Q: And since 1977, say, one of your average weeks, how much time have you spent in studying creation-science?
A: Very little on a regular basis until very recently, and then it's been full-time again.
Q: Until how recently?
A: I picked it up for a couple of weeks in January, a year ago. Then I picked it up, the material up again—Had a lot of it on hand so that it was not hard to get at—about three or four weeks ago.
Q: But even during that time you weren't spending full-time, were you?
A: I was also teaching my classes. Researchers in universities don't have full time for research. We do
A: (Continuing) other things. But in another sense, also I've been teaching about the dispute, looking at the controversy in my classes each year, so I've kept up on the material to do that.
Q: As a matter of fact, when you wrote your book in 1977, at that point, really, your research effectively ended, didn't it?
A: For the purposes of what I was writing then, yes. Since then, I have resumed it.
Q: For the purposes of testifying in two lawsuits?
A: No. One lawsuit. I did not testify in the other lawsuit because I was in Paris at the time it was held.
Q: But you did look at it at times because of the lawsuit?
A: I looked at it, the material because of that, yes, and for the purpose of testifying in this lawsuit, and also because of considerable interest, again, because of the lawsuit. So, I've taken it up again, yes.
Q: When you began studying what you call the science textbook controversy— First of all, the question of the science textbook controversies includes something more in your mind than merely creation-science, does it not?
A: When I was studying those controversies, there was a simultaneous dispute going on called "The Man, a Course of study" dispute, which raised a lot of the same issues.
A: (Continuing) So, I used that, as well as another example.
Q: What was "The Man, a Course of Study" dispute?
A: It was a social science curriculum developed by the National Science Foundation do teach at the younger school level. I think it was fifth and sixth grades.
Q: Describe, if you would, the general approach of "The Man, a Course of Study.
MR. CRAWFORD: If your Honor, please, I don't understand the relevance of this. Professor Nelkin's book was called The Scientific Textbook Controversies. She studied two controversies; one over creationism and one over some humanities textbooks that were also controversial at that time. It is a second controversy. If your Honor wants to hear it, fine, but I really don't see the materiality of it.
MR. WILLIAMS: Your Honor, there are two purposes. First of all, in Plaintiffs Exhibit 1 for identification, an article by Ms. Nelkin, this is gone into in some depth. There appears to be, to some degree, an effort to kind of intertwine the two controversies. I want to make clear that they are not intertwined. Second, in "Man, A Course of Study", there were some concepts studied which were highly controversial. They were formulated by some scientists from the National
MR. WILLIAMS: (Continuing) Science Foundation, funding, at least. Fifth and sixth graders were studying such questions about what is human about human beings and they were studying animal behavior and how it related to humans. The concepts, even Ms. Nelkin has admitted, were highly controversial and somewhat problematic. There has been an argument made by the plaintiffs in this case that you shouldn't force on high school students this false ploy between what they see as religion and science, that high school students are too impressionable. I would points out that if fifth and sixth graders are not too impressionable to look at these issues in the view of the scientists, who Ms. Nelkin I think acknowledges competent scientists, neither should high school students be too impressionable to look at the facts on both sides of the question of origins.
MR. CRAWFORD: Your Honor, it seems very collateral to me.
THE COURT: I think it would be easier just to listen to the testimony. I think, really, the relevance of that is kind of remote but if you want to go into that, that's fine.
MR. WILLIAMS: I don't think it will take that long, your Honor.
THE WITNESS: Would you repeat your question? I
THE WITNESS: (Continuing) couldn't follow your line of argument.
MR. WILLIAMS: That was a statement. That was not a question. Let, me ask you the question now.
THE WITNESS: All right.
MR. WILLIAMS: (Continuing)
Q: "The Man, A Course of Study", could you just give me a brief sketch of the sort of issues that were being present to fifth and sixth graders in that curriculum?
A: This is an effort to teach students about values. It did have an evolutionary component because it made assumptions that there, were genetic relationships between man and animals, and it looked at animal behavior. It was widely considered to be an interesting course. Its methodology was somewhat controversial because it allowed—It was not rote teaching. It was teaching which involved a lot of participation, a lot of discussion by students. Some of the major concerns came up about whether this was an appropriate methodology through which to teach students or whether children should be simply told by their teachers what is right and what is wrong. That was a controversial aspect of that dispute.
Q: And the scientists who formulated that based on your studies felt this would be an appropriate course of study
Q: (Continuing) for fifth and sixth graders; is that correct?
Q: They didn't feel that fifth and sixth graders were too impressionable to handle these questions; is that correct?
A: No. I think it was the assumption that fifth and sixth graders are pretty intelligent and thoughtful human beings and could, yes, deal with it.
Q: The controversy over "Man, A Course of Study", do you know whether—Well, first of all—that course was ever protested in Arkansas?
A: I don't remember. It was protested in a number of states. Arkansas could have been one of them, but I really don't remember whether Arkansas was, in fact a state in which it was protested.
Q: Isn't it true that you don't necessarily see "Man, A Course of Study" in the creation-science movement, as you have termed it, to be one and the same? Those are interrelated in terms of the same people were involved?
A: There is some overlapping in the people involved in the two studies. John Conlan, for example, the representative, got involved and was also very supportive of the creationist movement. And his aide, I can't remember, a British guy, also got involved. Yes, there was some relationship. The Galbraiths in Texas also got
A: (Continuing) very agitated about that, similarly agitated about the teaching of the evolution theory. Yes, there were some connections.
Q: The groups you previously identified as being the leading creation-science groups, did any of them take a formal position on "Man, A Course of Study", to the best of your knowledge?
A: I don't believe so, but I am not sure. I don't remember.
Q: In your article entitled Science-Textbook Controversies, which has been previously admitted as Plaintiffs' Exhibit 1 for identification, you state that, referring to textbooks published by the Biological Science Curricula Study Committee, you said, quote, All three reflected the fact that modern biological research is based on evolutionary assumptions, close quote?
Q: So, you mentioned earlier in your testimony that somehow creation-science was based on some sort of a priori assumptions. Is not evolution also based on some a priori assumptions?
A: What is the beginning part again?
Q: You were talking about three textbooks. Three textbooks were developed, each emphasizing a different aspect of current biological research. Molecular biology,
A: (Continuing) data and to understand.
Q: Let me ask, you, in Exhibit 1 you state that creation-scientists believe, quote, that all basic types of living things, including man, were made by a direct creative act of God during the creation week."
Q: Can you tell me where does creation-science, as it is defined in Act 590, say that all living things were created in one week.
A: Act 590 denies—
Q: I am asking if you can tell me where.
A: I think it does not state that exactly in that way, and it does not also want to use the word "God", but I find it very difficult to distinguish the notion of a creator and world by design without— I mean, I think that is the semantic equivalent.
Q: But you studied this, not from you own personal opinion but you studied it as a social science, did you not?
Q: So I want to ask you, not your personal opinion but what you have been able to determine from studying this question.
A: My opinion is based on what I studied.
Q: But where in Act 590 does it state that man was
Q: (Continuing) created within one week?
A: It does not go into that kind of detail.
Q: Where in Act 590 does it say that, quote, God, close quote, did the creating?
A: No, Act 590 does not go into the absolute details.
Q: It doesn't say that, does it?
Q: You further state in Exhibit 1 that many nonscientists believe that science is authoritative, exact and definitive?
Q: And, further, that few textbooks are careful to stress the distinction between facts and interpretation?
Q: —Or to suggest that intuition and speculation actually guide the development of scientific concepts?
A: (Nodding affirmatively)
Q: First of all, that's an acknowledgment by you, is it not, that things such as intuition and speculation do lead to scientific concepts?
A: I think there is a great deal of speculation in science, and then it's tested, systematically tested; approached with skepticism and tested, yes.
Q: Can't the shortcomings you have pinpointed on textbooks lead to false impression that what are
Q: (Continuing) scientific theories are facts?
A: I think there is a lot of room for improvement in science popularization. I've written a great deal about this. I think it's a very difficult thing to do to convey both the subtlety and the complexity of science and yet convey it at a level at which it can be understood and which the innuendoes and the procedures and the kinds of insights that go into science are conveyed. It's a major challenge to the scientific community.
Q: Who was Julian Huxley?
A: Julian Huxley was a biologist in the Nineteenth century.
Q: Would it be fair to say he was a proponent of evolution?
A: Well, and he and other people have used—There are a lot of people who have used evolution theory for purposes—special purposes. I am not sure scientists can do anything about that. Scientific theories are amenable to being exploited and used.
Q: So evolutionary theory can be abused?
A: Every science and every religious theory can be abused by the public if somebody cares to do so, yes.
Q: As you understand or what you know about Julian Huxley, was he someone who adopted or adhered to the theory of evolution?
A: I believe so.
Q: Are you aware that he called the concept of evolution a naturalistic religion?
A: (Nodding affirmatively)
Q: So, at least, Huxley saw some sort of religion being based on evolution, did he not?
A: There were a lot of Nineteenth-century scientists who really looked to religion as a way to document the existence of God, yes. That was characteristic of a lot of Darwin's contemporaries and, in fact, his contemporaries in the scientific community were—had a lot of problems with Darwinian theory, yes. In the Nineteenth century, definitely.
Q: In your article that I just quoted from, is not one of you conclusions, "that questions which have normally been resolved by professional consensus are being brought into the political arena"?
Q: Is your conclusion not further that, "The processes resulting in democratic values such as freedom of choice, equality and fairness enter into science policy"?
A: Yes, and when it comes to the determination of scientific theory—
Q: I am asking if that is your conclusion?
A: No, because you are taking it out of context.
Q: I don't want to take it out of context. Let me read you the quote.
MR. CRAWFORD: What are you reading?
MR. WILLIAMS: Exhibit 1, page 30, the last sentence.
Q: "As questions that are normally resolved by professional consensus are brought into the political arena, and as democratic values such as freedom of choice, equality and fairness enter into science policy, the consequences of such resistance to science may be painful." First of all, is that correct?
A: Yes. I want to underline the word `policy'. I don't want that to be shown in the record to say science.
Q: I think I read `policy', did I not?
A: But I want to emphasize that.
Q: You didn't emphasize it in your article.
MR. CRAWFORD: If Mr. Williams intends to interrogate Professor Nelkin at some length about this article, I would like to give her a copy of it for her reference.
MR. WILLIAMS: I've just finished my questioning on the article, Mr. Crawford.
THE WITNESS: May I add a point to that, because I think it,- again, is out of context. I do not think that values of democracy and fairness enter the judgment as to what is valid scientific theory.
MR. WILLIAMS: (Continuing)
Q: But they do into valid science policy?
A: Into science policy, where money should be allocated for science, et cetera. But into theories of science, science is not a democracy. It is a meritocracy. Achievement, bodies of knowledge, an acceptable set of procedures, these are the things that define science, not democracy, not audience applause.
Q: I want to refer you now to Exhibit 2 for identification of the plaintiffs' case. This is your article entitled, "Science, Rationality and the Creation/Evolution Dispute". Do you not state in this article that an argument that, quote, science is natural, close quote; it is simply not convincing on historical grounds?
A: Yes. The argument the scientists make, I think, is a defensive one that exaggerates the total neutrality and objectivity of science, and it allows people to abuse science by having, by taking political recourse to that concept.
Q: In fact, you go on to say that "Neutral—"
MR. CRAWFORD: Your Honor, I am sorry to keep intruding, but if he could just identify where he is reading—
MR. WILLIAMS: Page 12 of the article.
Q: That, in fact, "Neutral, apolitical criteria have very little meaning in the context of science education"; isn't that right?
A: Historically, yes.
Q: You state, do you not, that in discussing, at the top of page 15, the conflict between creation science and evolution, you state, quote, "As each side defends its position and criticizes the other, their arguments are strikingly similar. Indeed, the debate often sounds like a battle between two dogmatic groups as the anti-dogmatic norms of science fade with the effort to convey the validity of a scientific theory. At times, in the course of the dispute, it becomes difficult to distinguish science from politics and ideology, a fact which only reinforces creationist claims"?
A: Yes, because the dispute has taken—
Q: First of all, let me ask you a question about that.
Q: What you are saying here, is it not, is that there is a parallel between the arguments made by the creationists and the evolutionists?
A: Yes. What I'm saying, though, in a larger sense is that scientists have not, because they have been somewhat isolated from such political challenges, are not very experienced in dealing with such challenges, and I think
A: (Continuing) that is a real problem in this day and age. So that when they tend to get confronted by a great number of attacks, they tend to respond very, I feel, much too defensively and instead of just sticking to their guns, essentially fall into the trap of creating parallel arguments.
MR. WILLIAMS: Your Honor, this has been previously marked as Plaintiffs Exhibit Number 2. Unless the plaintiffs have some intention of offering it into evidence, I would like to offer it into evidence as a defendant's exhibit.
MR. CRAWFORD: I have no objection.
THE COURT: It will be received.
MR. WILLIAMS: (Continuing)
Q: Ms. Nelkin, are you aware that some scientific journals have established a policy of refusing any consideration of any articles on creation science?
A: I am not aware it is policy. I know there's been problems in peer reviewing them.
Q: Let me refer you back to Exhibit 1, Plaintiffs' Exhibit 1—Excuse me. Do you recall an article you wrote on "Creation vs. Evolution: The Politics of Science Education"?
Q: Do you recall in that article you discussed the fact that the National Association of Biology Teachers, their journal stopped publishing any creationist articles by November of 1972?
A: Yes. It was deluged with articles that stated from preconceptions that simply—
Q: I am not asking where they came from. I am asking if you are aware whether, in fact, they stopped accepting articles?
A: Yes, I remember the article and the debate at that time.
Q: Thank you very much. Ms. Nelkin, you do not believe in the existence of a God, do you?
Q: But you believe that a religious person can be a competent scientist, don't you?
Q: in your study of science, have you come to a conclusion that we now have a purity of science so that society no longer affects science and the scientific method?
A: Do I believe that?
Q: In your studies, have you come to that conclusion?
A: That the purity of science no longer—No, I have not
A: (Continuing) come to that conclusion.
Q: As a matter of fact, would you say the opposite is true, that society to some degree does tend to affect science?
A: That is not the opposite, but to some degree there is, yes, certainly.
Q: You also have looked, have you not, at the way courts have generally handled scientific questions?
Q: And you have some doubts personally about the ability of a court to handle a scientific question, don't you?
A: That is a very complicated question to answer briefly. I think there is a tendency for a lot of technical questions that come to the court to be translated into scientific and technical terms; that a lot of these cases, Vermont Yankee, for example, for one thing, have become very difficult in terms of the ability of the courts to gain sufficient technical competence to make judgments as to whether, in fact, the agencies are doing their jobs. I am very familiar with the Bazelon-Levanthal argument as to the extent to which courts should be buttressing their technical competence or whether they should simply refer these cases back to the agencies that do have the
A: (Continuing) technical competence or to the legislature to handle them. I have generally come out on the latter side, the Bazelon side to this, that the practical notion of training lawyers to be both scientists and lawyers at the same time, and judges also, to have them technically competent in all fields that are going to come before them, really doesn't work out very well.
Q: So you've come up on the side of referring it back to the administrative agency or the legislature where it came from?
MR. CRAWFORD: I object.
MR. WILLIAMS: That was her testimony, I believe.
MR. CRAWFORD: I heard the word `legislature' that I had not heard before.
THE WITNESS: That was in the Vermont Yankee case. I don't think that applies to every —I certainly don't think it applies to this case, but I'm looking at the Vermont Yankee case in particular.
MR. WILLIAMS: Excuse me, Ms. Nelkin. First of all, we have an objection. Your Honor, if I could ask the witness—
MR. CRAWFORD: I heard what she said.
MR. WILLIAMS: All right.
MR. WILLIAMS: (Continuing)
Q: Do you think academic freedom includes necessarily the freedom to teach anything an individual wants to teach at any particular time?
MR. CRAWFORD: If your Honor, please, I am going to object. We have not tendered Professor Nelkin as an expert on academic freedom. We tendered her as an expert on sociology of science and controversies involving science. I think to take her into the field of academic freedom and areas in which she doesn't necessarily claim expertise is inappropriate.
MR. WILLIAMS: Your Honor, she is a professor at Cornell University. I am not asking her for a legal judgment; I am asking her as a member of the academic community.
THE COURT: That's fine. That's overruled.
THE WITNESS: So the question is, do I think— Would you repeat the question, please?
MR. WILLIAMS: (Continuing)
Q: Do you think that academic freedom includes necessarily the freedom to teach anything that an individual wants to teach at any particular time?
Q: Do you think that a teacher has to agree with a theory before they can effectively teach it?
Q: In fact, you teach theories you don't agree with?
A: Let me quality that. I teach in a private university, at the university level only. I have never taught in the public schools, and I really do not want to comment—I cannot comment on the question of academic freedom in the public school context. There is nothing either in anything I have studied or my own personal experience that would allow me to do that with any confidence.
Q: But in teaching concepts, many times a university like Cornell would be similar to any public institution, would it not?
A: I teach mostly graduate students over the age of twenty. I would imagine, having never taught but having had teenage kids myself, there must be some difference in the way one teaches.
Q: Do you think the evolution model of origins should be subject to criticism?
A: I think all science should be subject to criticism. It's fundamental.
Q: You are using it in its nonreligious sense, I take it?
A: Yes. That's an unintended pun. Excuse me.
Q: Do you object to the creationist or creation science
Q: (Continuing) position of origins being discussed in a humanities or social science class?
A: I have no objection do the history of religious theory being taught in a history course.
Q: Don't you believe it is possible for a scientist to do superb scientific work, and then someone else label it as religion?
A: Do I think—What was the double negative?
Q: Do you think it is possible for a scientist to do superb scientific work and for someone else to label that as religion?
A: Well, it depends on the nature—You are putting such
A: loaded word on `superb'. On what criteria are you using the word `superb'? I mean, what's `superb'? I can't answer the question because of the way it's framed.
Q: Do you recall during your deposition when I asked you a question to that effect, and you said, quote, I can very well conceive of a first rate scientist doing superb science, and somebody else comes along and says, "No, I think that is a religion"?
A: Yes. I believe that was at the end of six hours of grilling in a hot room at LaGuardia Airport, and I think by that time I am really not sure what I said, but that's all right.
Q: Would you say that you, in writing your book on
Q: (Continuing) Science-Textbook Controversies, ever made a scientific judgment about the validity of creationism or evolution theories?
A: Have I ever made a scientific judgment on the basis of biological science—Its validity in terms of—I have not, no. I am not a biologist.
Q: But isn't it true that you actually began with the presupposition that creation-science was not science and was religion?
Q: So you did make a judgment, did you not?
A: It is not a scientific judgment in the sense that— Yes, I did make a judgment.
Q: The organizations you mentioned, ICR and some of the other acronyms, do you have any personal knowledge as to whether any of those groups had any input in drafting Act 590?
A: I gather there was an effort on the part of ICR to have an input. I don't know whether Ellwanger or any of his people actually talked —No, I don't know. I don't know the specifics of the relationships that went into drafting that legislation. It's very clear from the language that Ellwanger had certainly read material by Bird and had certainly read the material in ICR. Whether he had personal contact with the individuals who wrote
A: (Continuing) those articles, I don't know.
Q: So in other words—I am not sure I understand your testimony. In terms of what happened here in Arkansas in 1981 as opposed to what you were studying back in 1977,
A: No, no, no, no. You asked about Act 590.
Q: I am asking about 590. I am asking about the passage of 590.
A: Okay. In the passage of 590—In the drafting of 590, it is completely evident to me from looking at the text that Ellwanger had drafted it or whoever had drafted it had seen creationist material from the California creationists.
Q: So you think from looking at it—
A: Whether he talked to the people there, I don't know whether he actually was on the telephone or met with those people. I don't know the personal relationship. I know that he would have had to have seen the documents and used them because they are almost word for word.
Q: What you are doing there—I asked you a question, do you have any personal knowledge. You are trying to, on the basis off comparison and somewhat conjecture you are trying to say what you think happened; isn't that correct?
A: No, no, no. Personal knowledge can come from reading.
MR. CRAWFORD: I object to the argumentative nature
MR. CRAWFORD: (Continuing) of the question. I believe she answered it.
MR. WILLIAMS: I asked her if she had any personal knowledge.
THE COURT: I thought she had answered it. I gather she does not.
MR. WILLIAMS: (Continuing)
Q: You will agree you are not qualified as an expert to make a decision as to whether creation-science is a valid scientific model?
A: I would rather that the discussions of the scientific content be left to biologists who are much more competent than I am. They will be here in droves, so I think I would rather leave all the scientific questions to them.
Q: I am not asking you a question as to whether you would. I am asking you a question—perhaps you didn't hear—that you would agree that you are not competent to make a decision—You are not qualified as a scientific expert to make a decision as to whether creation-science is valid science?
A: That's right.
Q: According to your studies, is it not true that what constitutes science can be either a question of philosophy, sociology, or history, depending upon whose
Q: (Continuing) study you look at?
A: Say that again.
Q: According to your studies, is it not true that what constitutes science, depending upon whose study you look at, is a question of philosophy, sociology or history?
A: Have I ever said that? I don't, I really don't understand your question.
Q: Let me refer you back to your deposition where I asked you this question: "Is it correct to say that what constitutes science is a philosophical question", and you gave me this answer: "Well, it depends on whose study. It can be a philosophical, a sociological question or a historical question".
A: What was the context of that, because I really don't understand what I said at the moment?
MR. CRAWFORD: If your Honor please, from what page is he reading?
MR. WILLIAMS: Page 89.
THE WITNESS: What was the context of the—What were we talking about at that point?
MR. WILLIAMS: (Continuing)
Q: I was asking you what constitutes science.
A: All right. Science constitutes a body of knowledge and a set of procedures that are widely accepted by the scientific community at a given time. In terms of
A: (Continuing) historical, this may change, in terms of history, but at this point, at any given point in time it is the body of knowledge that exists and a set of procedures that are widely accepted by a scientific community.
Q: In other words, if you told me that answer on November 22, 1981, you are now changing that answer as to what constitutes science?
A: I don't think it contradicts what I said there. I said that there are historical— I mean, I think if you asked that question as to what constituted science in the nineteenth century or the eighteenth century, the body of knowledge and the set of procedures at that time might have been somewhat different, yes. Certainly the body of knowledge would have been different than two hundred years ago.
Q: You have looked at science and you have to understand science to write about it, to some degree, don't you?
A: I understand methodology, the approach to science. I do not understand all the technical details of it.
Q: To the best of your knowledge, based on your study, are theories of origin testable?
A: A science is not defined only in those terms.
Q: I am asking you the question now: Are theories of
Q: (Continuing) origin testable, to the best of your knowledge?
A: To the best of my knowledge, they are not directly testable by observation.
Q: Is evolution based on the presupposition of no creator?
A: It is based on the presupposition that there are natural processes at work. It is totally irrelevant as to whether —Nobody would ever ask that question.
Q: I asked it on November 22nd. I asked you this question on your deposition on page 94: "Is evolution based on the presupposition of no creator?" Answer: "Yes. Evolution theory is based on the supposition that there is no creator who at a given period of time has created the world, close quote. Do you recall giving that answer?
A: Okay, yeah, I suppose I did give that answer but, possibly, I guess I was confused. There is really no presupposition. It's almost irrelevant, but I think, yes, if you ask biologists whether they presuppose underlying evolution theory that there was a creator that created the universe in six days, they would say no. They would assume that does not exist.
Q: But at the time you gave this answer, that was correct to the best of your knowledge, was it not?
A: I guess, yes.
MR. CRAWFORD: If your Honor please, may I pass the witness a copy of the deposition? She was asked to elaborate on the answer.
THE WITNESS: I would like to see it in context. Again, it's page 146 of 147 pages.
MR. WILLIAMS: I'm not asking you the question that was asked there, Ms. Nelkin.
THE WITNESS: And I said, "I think the existence or non-existence" — I am reading from the same thing you are reading — "is not relevant."
MR. WILLIAMS: I am going to ask, your Honor—I asked her about the specific question, and she said she gave it. Now if Mr. Crawford wants to bring up anything else on redirect, I think that's entirely appropriate.
THE WITNESS: I did not give—
THE COURT: Wait a minute.
MR. WILLIAMS: I will object to Mr. Crawford referring Ms. Nelkin to a page in the deposition which I did not refer to. If he wants to bring it up on redirect, I think that's certainly appropriate.
THE COURT: Well, it doesn't make any different when it's brought up if it's convenient. We are not trying it before a jury.
MR. WILLIAMS: I understand that, your Honor.
MR. CRAWFORD: Your Honor, may the witness continue?
THE WITNESS: May I ask my lawyer a question?
MR. CRAWFORD: Just answer the question.
THE COURT: I think it's probably best, Mr. Williams, if you go ahead and ask the questions, and she can answer those. Then, Mr. Crawford, you will get a chance to ask her some questions.
MR. CRAWFORD: Thank you, your Honor.
MR. WILLIAMS: (Continuing)
Q: Is the presupposition of no creator subject to being tested, to your knowledge?
A: No, it's not subject to being tested.
Q: Is that presupposition based an a priori assumption?
A: The presupposition there is a creator?
Q: That there is no creator in evolution.
A: As I said in my deposition, it's totally irrelevant. It would not even come up.
Q: I am asking a question. Is that presupposition of no creator in evolution based on any a priori assumption?
A: Ask it again carefully at this point.
Q: Is the presupposition of no creator in evolution based on an a priori assumption?
A: Some scientists that I know do believe in God and others do not.
Q: I am not asking you that question. I am asking you
Q: (Continuing) if the presupposition of no creator in evolution theory is based on an a priori assumption?
A: But there is no creator. It's a tautology.
Q: I am asking you a question. Is it based on an a priori assumption, Ms. Nelkin?
A: Yes, I guess it's an a priori assumption. If one believes there is no creator, then one believes there is no creator.
Q: To the extent that there may be some scientific evidence in support of the creation-science model of origins, would you favor its discussion in the classroom?
A: That's a big if.
Q: But I am asking you if there is.
A: My own belief is that it is fundamentally a religion.
Q: I didn't ask you if it was a religion.
MR. WILLIAMS: Your Honor, I would ask that the witness be instructed to answer my question.
THE WITNESS: My belief is that it is a contradiction in terms. It's very hard to answer a question in which I believe there is a contradiction of terms. It's too hypothetical for me to be able to answer.
Q: On November 22, when I asked you that question—On page 95, I asked you this question: "If there were some scientific evidence in support of the creation-science theory of origins, would you favor its discussion in the
Q: (Continuing) classroom?" You gave me this answer: "If there were really valid material, again that is not an effort to prove the existence of God, of course." Is that the correct question and answer?
A: That is in the testimony, and after reading that I was kind of appalled at being led into saying that.
Q: Did I drive you to say it?
A: No, but again that was pretty fatiguing circumstances and one gets clearly sloppy at that time. I don't believe, again, that it's relevant. It's too hypothetical when you are talking about religion.
Q: Do you recall when I took your deposition I told you if you didn't understand any question I asked, please tell me and I would rephrase it?
A: Yes. That is why I am being careful to do so now.
Q: Do you agree with the creation-scientists who say that evolution is not a fact but a theory?
A: Evolution is a theory, yes.
Q: Do you think that religion can be based on science?
A: No. I think it is a separate domain, a separate domain of belief.
Q: Let me refer you to page 102 of your deposition where I asked this question: "Can religion be based on science?" Answer: "Yes, but I think people have a lot of faith in science." And you continue.
A: I said no, based on faith I didn't say yes. At least in the copy I've got. Is there a discrepancy in the copies?
Q: Would you look at the next line, line 21 and 22?
A: Question: "Do you think religion can be based on science?" Answer: "No, based on faith. " Question: "Can religion be based on science?" Answer: "Yes, but I think people have a lot of faith in science."
Q: So did you not tell me in answer to my question that yes, religion can be based on science?
A: There are a number of typographical errors that have come through in this. I can't believe that inconsistency. The first thing, I said no, it's based on faith, and then the second, I said yes. Apparently, the same question, at least, as it was typed. But I said, "Yes, I think people have a lot of faith in science, not as a way to justify it. I believe people who have religious beliefs should not have to justify them in terms of science, and if they do justify them in terms of science it is a way to gain a wider credibility and to try to act as missionaries and convert others to those beliefs." The question may have been distorted or I may have interpreted it the second time in a different way.
Q: On page 103, you continued, I asked you the question again: "Do you think it would be possible to base a
(Continuing) religion on science?" Answer: —
A: And I said it would be inappropriate. It would be possible—Anything is possible, but I said it would be inappropriate.
Q: So your answer there was that religion can be based on science; isn't that correct?
A: No, my first answer was—
MR. CRAWFORD: If your Honor please, the testimony has been brought out and your Honor can draw your own conclusions about it. This is going on at some length.
MR. WILLIAMS: (Continuing)
Q: Do you think religion can be based on evolution?
A: No. I would like to separate the two domains.
Q: Do you recall that I asked you about that and you said that there were some minor religions that you think might be based on evolution?
A: I thought you asked me whether it should be.
Q: Could be?
A: Yeah, I think that there's lots of people who can make and use science in any way they choose, and there are religions who do base themselves on—Transcendental meditation, for example, calls itself a science of scientific intelligence, yes. There are a lot of religions that claim to base themselves on science, yep. but that doesn't mean I am saying it's appropriate.
Q: I understand you are not putting your imprimatur or saying that's a correct thing to do, but you are just acknowledging that it has, in fact occurred. Do you think a teacher has a right as a matter of academic freedom to profess his or her professional judgment in the classroom?
A: Again, I would rather—There is a whole section on this, I believe, on academic freedom, and I would rather have that kind of question delayed to that section of the trial.
Q: Attorneys for the plaintiffs have made that objection, and it's been overruled. So I would like you, if you could, to answer my question.
A: You are saying at the college level at which I teach—Yes, we are allowed to interject our own opinions in classrooms, yes.
Q: Do you think if a teacher has reviewed the data in a field and has done so in a responsible fashion, and has concluded there is support for the theory of creation science, that that teacher should be free to discuss it in the classroom?
A: At the public school level, no. In biology class, no.
Q: I asked you that question, and you gave me this answer: "I guess so, but I would say he or she had not
(Continuing) done his homework very well." But you did say, "I guess so", so that they should as a matter of academic freedom be able to teach that; isn't that correct?
A: Well, I hadn't thought that through very well at that time. A lot of these questions came rapid fire over six hours.
Q: Your research on creation-science, you say, as I understand it, that creationists argue that Genesis is not religious dogma but an inerrant scientific hypothesis capable of evaluation on scientific procedures; is that correct?
A: Say that again. Creationists—
Q: —that Genesis is not religious dogma but an inerrant scientific hypothesis capable of evaluation on scientific procedures.
A: That evolution theory is not scientific? No, it's not scientific dogma.
Q: No, no.
A: All right, repeat the whole question right from the beginning.
Q: Has your research shown that creationists argue that Genesis is not religious dogma but an inerrant scientific hypothesis capable of evaluation on scientific procedures?
A: That's what creationists claim, yes.
Q: Does Act 590 allow Genesis to be used in the classroom?
A: Yes. Not—If it's scientifically—Apparently, —It is based on the assumption that one can create textbooks that will document the scientific validity of that.
Q: Could you show me in Act 590 where it says they can use Genesis?
A: In their definitions, they don't use the word `Genesis' but they essentially lay out the definitions of creation-science based on Genesis.
Q: That's your opinion; is that correct?
A: That's my opinion, yes.
Q: Have you read Section 2, which prohibits any religious instruction or any reference to religious writings?
A: Yes, but I find the whole thing so internally contradictory that I have real problems with it.
Q: Do you consider Genesis to be a religious writing?
Q: One of the studies quoted - in your book, or referenced, says that, "Groups committed to particular assumptions tend to suppress dissent evidence and criticism, only encourages increasing activities in support of the existing beliefs." Do you recall that?
A: Yes, I recall that.
Q: Do you recall where that came from?
A: It came in the analysis. It referred back to how creationists could consistently ignore things like the evidence in evolution theory by radiocarbon dating. It seemed to me it was a very interesting example of the hypothesis developed by the psychologist, Festinger, about how you can't continually suppress evidence.
Q: Let me make sure. That finding was actually made by Festinger. Did Festinger relate that to creation scientists?
A: No, he did that with respect to another group. But the point of his argument was to establish a general principle of how a group, because of certain social reinforcement and other kinds of reasons are able to essentially rationalize evidence that contradicts their beliefs.
Q: That statement would be true for, perhaps, a lot of groups, not just creationist scientists; isn't that right?
Q: Do you have an opinion as to whether textbook publishers, if this Act should be upheld or similar acts should be upheld, would publish texts in conformity with this Act, that being balanced treatment, treating the scientific evidences for both evolution and creation-science?
A: No. I don't think there should be balanced treatment.
Q: No, I am not asking if there should, but whether textbook publishers would publish texts to comply with the Act?
A: Oh, I think some of them would if the act were passed in states where there is a big textbook market. There is money in it.
Q: And while you are a sociologist, that is properly considered a form of science, is it not?
A: There is some argument about that.
Q: Do you consider yourself to be a scientist of a type?
A: Of a type, of a kind.
Q: I am asking you the question, do you?
Q: And as a scientist you want, to be as accurate as possible, isn't that right?
A: I try very hard to be.
Q: Your book that you wrote, page 19, said that, "In Arkansas, Governor Faubus defended anti-evolution legislation throughout the Sixties"?
Q: On what basis did you make that conclusion?
A: You are asking about the evidence that I dredged up some five or six years ago, and I don't remember the exact
A: (Continuing) nature of the evidence.
Q: How many times did Governor Faubus make any statement in support of anti-evolution legislation in the 1960's?
A: I don't remember. It was not a central part of my book.
Q: But you did make the assertion that he defended it throughout the 1960's; isn't that correct?
A: (Nodding affirmatively.)
Q: You don't know now—
A: I don't remember how many times or what— I don't remember the exact reference, the exact data, from which I drew that argument. That was researched a long time ago.
Q: Isn't it typical or normal when you are relying on— First of all, in the 1960's did you come to Arkansas and examine this question?
A: No. The focus of my research was —When one does research, one focuses on a certain aspect of a subject and not—try to build up from secondary sources a lot of the surrounding material. If one had to do primary research on every aspect of a book, there would be no studies done.
Q: But you did not footnote, did you, giving any authority for that assertion that you made?
A: I don't remember if there is a footnote. Is there no footnote on there? I don't remember whether there is or
A: (Continuing) not.
Q: Ms. Nelkin, I would like to show you this book. Is this a copy of your book?
A: Yes. It's a copy of the first hardback edition, yes.
Q: Directing your attention to page 70, do you not state that, "Other Bible schools, such as Bob Jones University in Arkansas, teach courses—"
A: Which is not in Arkansas. That got changed immediately to South Carolina in the second edition. Yes, there are occasionally small mistakes that are made that, hopefully, get corrected right away. As you know, during the deposition my copy of the book did not have Arkansas and yours did.
Q: But there is Arkansas in here so at some point you must have written Arkansas to get it in here; isn't that correct?
A: Yes, I am sure. It was a mistake and it was corrected right away. Unfortunately, past the point where it could be corrected on the first edition.
Q: In other words, the two things in your book specifically about Arkansas, one is in error and one you have no authority for; isn't that correct?
A: No. I didn't say I had no authority for it. I said I cannot remember where I got the material on Arkansas. The error, certainly by saying Bob Jones University is in
A: (Continuing) Arkansas, that was just an error. There were also some spelling errors that I found afterwards.
MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you. No further questions.
THE COURT: Court will be in recess until 3:25 p.m. If you would— Do you have any re-direct?
MR. CRAWFORD: I don't know, your Honor. If you would, give me just a moment.
THE COURT: If you do, just have the witness take the seat in the witness stand.
(Thereupon, Court was in recess from 3:10 p.m. until 3:25 p.m.)
MR. CRAWFORD: I have no more questions. I would like to introduce plaintiffs' Exhibit 1 for identification, which she was interrogated about and is now marked as an exhibit. I would ask that it be received.
THE COURT: Fine, it will be received. (Thereupon, Plaintiffs' Exhibit Number 1 received in evidence.)
MR. CRAWFORD: Also, for the record, your Honor, the Bird resolution which she referred to and I was unable to find, it turns out it had already been admitted as part of Exhibit 83, pages 131 to 135. That has already been admitted.
THE COURT: Are you ready to call your next witness.
Antievolutionists Say the Darndest Things
Antievolutionists often express outrage over alleged incivility from those who oppose their efforts to evade the establishment clause of the First Amendment. But they have no difficulty in dishing out the abuse themselves. Here is a sample from the Invidious Comparisons thread that documents egregious behavior on the part of the religious antievolution advocates.
Behind this student movement is a more general intellectual movement that will bear fruit in the coming century. It is a bit thin on the ground for now, but so was the Christian faith in the first century. Materialism as a philosophy is superficially powerful but moribund, as we saw when the Soviet Union collapsed without a struggle a decade ago. Methodological naturalism is a branch on the materialist tree that will lose its power to intimidate when the tree is known to be hanging in midair.