Deposition of Father Francis Bruce Vawter
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
REVEREND BILL MC LEAN, et al )
vs ) Civil Action No:
BOARD OF EDUCATION, et al )
The deposition of FRANCIS BRUCE VAWTER, called
by the Defendants for examination, taken pursuant to
the provisions of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure of the United States District Courts
pertaining to the taking of depositions, taken before
VICTOR J. LA COURSIERE, a Notary Public within and
for the County of Cook, State of Illinois, and a
Certified Shorthand Reporter of said state, taken
at Suite 607, 343 South Dearborn Street, Chicago,
Illinois, on the 21st day of November, A.D., 1981,
at approximately 9:30 a.m.
MESSRS. ANTHONY J. SIANO and RALPH J. MARRA, JR.,
Attorneys at Law, of the law firm of,
SKADDEN, ARPS, SLATE, MEAGHER & FLOM,
919 Third Avenue
New York, N. Y. 10022
Phone: (212) 371-6000
Appeared on behalf of the Plaintiffs;
MR. RICK CAMPBELL, Assistant Attorney General,
Little Rock, Arkansas Phone: 501/371-2007
Appeared on behalf of the Defendants
MR. CAMPBELL: Swear the witness, please.
(WHEREUPON, the witness was sworn
by the Court Reporter)
MR. SIANO: Mr. Campbell, at this time, the
Plaintiffs turn over a response to document request
dated November 13, 1981.
Those documents in the witness's
files which are responsive to the request are limited
in the following way: Those writings of the witness,
which are otherwise published writings and recited
on the curriculum vitae have not been produced
since in some cases the witness may not have copies
of the writings themselves, and they are accurately
reported in the C.V.
Furthermore, to the extent that
in this particular case this witness's entire career
is directed toward the topic of religion, generically,
we have produced those documents which are relevant
to the matter of Creation Science Statute in
And the request is further limited
by Rule 26 in that the lawyers' work product has not
been turned over, and otherwise, the request has been
fully complied with.
MR. CAMPBELL: What would you define lawyers'
work product as?
MR. SIANO: I define lawyers' work product the
same way the Supreme Court has in Upjohn and in the
various cases preceding, and Rule 26 indicates
what trial preparation materials are, and that's the
way we define it.
MR. CAMPBELL: Would you include in that trial
materials or preparation materials prepared by a
MR. SIANO: To the extent that the materials
demonstrate the operation of the lawyers' view of the
case and as otherwise described in 26, we include
It will not include materials
within that matters which just happen to be the
operation of the intellect of the witness, if that is
what you're suggesting, to the extent that there is
an interaction between the witness and the lawyer.
That is not a matter of trial strategy that would
be included in my understanding of what a work
MR. CAMPBELL: With regard to the witness's
writings, would writings--
MR. SIANO: When I said writings earlier and
what's not been turned over, I mean published
writings; so if someone has published a book and
that book is available in the library, it may or may
not be available to the witness. We haven't included
that in what we've turned over, if it's publicly
available; And as a matter of course, these materials
are not available to the witness, and we think that
the request is overly broad in the sense it would
require a witness to comb through his life's work
to find everything he's ever written on the topic
MR. CAMPBELL: I understand. I am hoping
that the same leeway would be accorded to the
MR. SIANO: Again, I don't represent any of
the witnesses other than the witnesses that I
present to you.
I indicated to you this is the
nature of my response to your request for
production as required by the rules.
MR. CAMPBELL: I understand that.
Good morning, Father Vawter.
THE WITNESS: Good morning.
MR. CAMPBELL: My name is Rick Campbell. I
apologize for this dialogue.
THE WITNESS: Not at all.
MR. CAMPBELL: Perhaps this concerns the
legal ramifications or aspects of this case as opposed
to your particular direct testimony.
I represent the State Board of
Education of Arkansas.
As you know, a lawsuit has been
filed challenging the constitutionality of an Act
recently passed by the Arkansaw legislature which
would require the teaching of Creation Science along
Evolution Science in the public schools of our state.
You have been listed as a witness
on behalf of the Plaintiffs in this litigation.
Today, I would simply like to ask you a few questions
concerning your background and what your expected
testimony would be at trial.
A deposition is a very normal
procedure in any type of litigation, and, certainly,
we do not view this particular deposition as any
more significant or less significant than any other
case. Hopefully, you will be comfortable with it,
and know that we are not trying to particularly pick
At any time, if you would like to
take a break or get some water or go to the restroom,
please just feel free to so state, and we will
certainly do that.
FRANCIS BRUCE VAWTER,
called as a witness by the Defendants, having been
first duly sworn, was examined and testified as
BY: MR. CAMPBELL
Q Give me your full name and address, if you
A Francis Bruce Vawter; **** ***** *******,
*******, ********, *****.
Q Are you a member of any organized religious
A I am a Roman Catholic priest belonging to
the religious community which is called The Congregation
of the Mission, or more familiarly known as The
Q For how long have you been a priest?
A Since 1946.
Q Where are you presently employed?
A DePaul University.
Q In what capacity?
A I am Chairman of the Department of Religious
Studies, and also, Professor in that department.
Q What are your duties as Chairman of the
Department of Religious Studies?
A Mainly, the Chairman's job is supposed to
be academic. More and more nowadays, it's becoming
administrative, but, basically, it's to direct the
program; understanding "the program," means in
that context whatever is carried on in the various
departments of the University in directing this,
and getting people assigned to the right places
at the right time so that they don't overlap
in all of that administrative nonsense, and
acquitting yourself of the budgetary responsibilities--
well, it's what you would call a middleclass
manager, I suppose, in any sort of business
Q What is Religious Studies?
A Well, Religious Studies--we changed that.
We originally began as the Department of Theology
which is a more straightforward term, I suppose.
A few years back, we changed the
Department of Religious Studies because we had--
we changed the name to that, because we had begun
to grow into a broader area than simply theology of
a particular tradition; and since we now encompass
the history of religions, sociology of religion,
and philosophy of religion, various things of that
kind, the term, "Religious Studies," is a much more
It's really the history of mankind's
experience with a religious dimension from the
beginning and what the implications of that are now.
Q Besides the history, sociology, and
philosophy of religion, what other areas would the
Department of Religious Studies include?
A Well, we have a strong concentration in
biblical studies, ethics, and then, the study of
the systematic theology, if you would call it
that. That is the way people have systemized their
thinking about religion through various periods of
time. Those are the three main areas, I would think.
Q You mentioned you were a Professor
in the Department of Religious Studies. What do
A Old Testament, almost exclusively.
Q What does the teaching of the Old Testament
A Well, teaching of the Old Testament includes
an awful lot of things. It includes the Old Testament
Books themselves as literature, and it includes the
background--historical and ethnological background--
and all of the related disciplines that have in
the last century or so, or two centuries, been
contributing to the scientific study of the
biblical works, such as, archaeology, "epochgraphy,"
and so forth, or the study of ancient writing.
Q What way would science relate to the
study of the Old Testament?
MR. SIANO: Excuse me?
MR. CAMPBELL: Q In what way would science--
you mentioned a moment ago that there was a relation-
ship between science and the Old Testament. In what
way is that brought out in your classes?
THE WITNESS: A No, what I probably said was
scientific study of the--
MR. SIANO: Yes.
THE WITNESS: (Continuing) A I am using that
term in a--not in a technical sense of dealing with
any of the positive sciences, but rather, scientific
meaning that you're working under logical and
empirical controls, that you are not simply fantasizing,
but rather, that you are depending upon the rules
of evidence, and so forth, which I understand to be
a scientific method. Science, as such, would not come
into my work unless there were such a thing as some
scientificly established conclusion--science in the
narrow sense here now, the positive sciences--that
would cause me a problem, that would conflict with
what I'm doing; then, I would have to take it into
account; but, otherwise, I have nothing to do directly
with science in that sense.
MR. CAMPBELL: Q Have you ever run across
a situation where science has caused you to
reevaluate or look at an area in your studies?
MR. SIANO: Objection.
MR. CAMPBELL: He mentioned in a way that
science has or might cause him to have to examine a
particular part of his study. I was just asking
him what particular science.
MR. SIANO: If you want to ask him what sciences
first. When I heard the answer, I heard positive
sciences and not focused on a particular one.
Then, I heard your question, and you said, science
without picking one. Maybe you want to pick one and
maybe you don't. but that was the basis for my
MR. CAMPBELL: Q What sciences--I think you
mentioned archaeology as one, but what sciences would
you normally have any type of interaction with
with regard to your studies?
A Well, actually, I don't think archaeology
is any more of a science than biblical exegesis is.
It uses the scientific method, but it boils down to
being an art more than anything else.
But, well, yes, archaeology certainly
would be something that if you take, for example,
something we're not dealing with here and now,
that the Book of Joshua describes the conquest
of a certain place in Palestine, namely, Jericho,
at a certain point of time that we otherwise can
fairly well lock in on as preparing such and such
an occasion, and the archaeologist shows the place
didn't exist at that time, then, you've got a
problem with the Book of Joshua. That's where
it would have some conflict such as that.
Q How would you define the scientific method?
A Scientific method, as I understand it,
is to deal with, first of all, establishing facts
by whatever availability you have to establish the
fact, and, then, to make logical inductions from
those facts to arrive at conclusions and to control
your experimentation. That's what I mean by the
process of arriving at the inductive process or
arriving at conclusions; control that by every
available means to insure that it is going to
Q Have you taught any other courses besides
the Old Testament at DePaul?
A I've taught general biblical survey
courses, and I've taught some New Testament courses,
particularly, relating to the prior tradition that
underlies the New Testament documents.
Q Obviously, in your teaching the Old Testa-
ment, you would teach about the Book of Genesis. Have
you ever taught a course strictly on the Book of
A Yes, I am concluding one right now; a graduate
course in Genesis, Theology of History.
I taught it, I suppose, practically all
my life as a teacher.
Q Before assuming your duties at DePaul, where
were you employed?
THE WITNESS: Let me refresh my own memory.
MR. SIANO: Mr. Campbell, you have a C.V. in
that file; do you want to take a look at it?
MR. CAMPBELL: Right, I believe I saw it.
(WHEREUPON, the document was handed
to the witness)
THE WITNESS: A How many of these appointments
do you want?
Most immediately before coming to DePaul,
I was at Kenrick Theological Seminary in St. Louis;
then, I was in St. Thomas Seminary, in Denver, prior
Prior to that again, back to Kendrick
Seminary, and that's about the limit of my academic
appointments on a permanent basis.
I've had some summer appointments,
and I have had some visiting professorships, but I have
been at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago,
Vanderbilt, Nashville, and also, at the Biblical
Institute in Rome.
Q Were you generally teaching in the same areas
in the Old Testament?
A Generally, yes.
Q Have you ever taught a course specifically
on origins as opposed to the Book of Genesis?
A You mean the origins of the universe and--
A No, I have never.
Q Where did you graduate from high school,
A Pascal High School, Fort Worth, Texas.
Q Do you recall studying origins in high
A I don't think so.
Q You don't recall or you don't think you
A I do not recall, and I don't think I did.
Q Where did you attend undergraduate school?
A My college you mean?
A At St. Thomas Seminary in Denver, Colorado.
Q Did you take any science courses in college?
A Yes, we had a course in biology. It's about
the only one I can recall.
Q Did you study origins in your class in
A Yes, that was part of the course, I'm sure
Q Do you recall how it was presented by any
A Well, fairly well, yes. I would think that
I can remember more the person who taught it than I can
the actual class presentation, but I would say that
it was presented from an evolutionary standpoint.
Q Was the creation model of origins ever
MR. SIANO: I object; I don't know what you
mean by, "creation model."
MR. CAMPBELL: Q Do you understand what I mean
by, "creation of model of origins?"
THE WITNESS: A Actually, no, because, to
my knowledge, that's new terminology.
Q Was any other approach to origins discussed
in the classroom besides the evolution approach?
A I don't know if that's a--mind you, now,
that the place this is being taught--back in the 30s--is
in a Roman Catholic Seminary to educate clergy.
Now, if you want to suggest that there
was any conflict in the mind of people that were
thinking about evolutionary background to the origin
of this all and religion, I assure you there wasn't.
I mean, I don't think the question is--
when you say, "another model or another way of
presenting it," I don't think there was any feeling
on the part of anybody that there was any incompatibility
in presenting it in an evolutionary structure, and at
the same time, conceding that the whole thing is
not by random decision, but it was a guided or a
designed thing, and, therefore, it would not be a
question of another model, but rather, evolution
would be considered more of the process by which
this came to be which would not conflict with the
fact it came to be at the behest of a creator.
Q Where did you attend your post-graduate
A In Rome at what is now called the Pontifical
University of St. Thomas, and at the Pontifical
Biblical Institute where I got my doctorate.
Q In your post-graduate education, did you
ever study --or were you ever required to take any
A No. I have had no science in my post-
Q What did you receive your doctorate in?
A In sacred scripture at the Biblical Institute,
in the Old Testament, precisely; and the dissertation
was entitled, "Social Justice in the Pre-Exilic
Q Outside of your receiving your doctorate,
have you received any additional training or schooling?
A I had a Fulbright Grand for post-doctoral
research in Germany in 1967-68, and that's the only
formal thing I've done in my post-graduate work.
Q What did you study in Germany?
A I was mainly interested in the New Testa-
ment at that time, but, in general, I simply had
what we conveniently call an academa sabbatical.
Q Are you a member of any professional
A Oh, yes, goodness knows, far many more
than I am active in. I have a list in my curriculum
here; about ten of them: Catholic Biblical Association;
Society of Biblical Literature; International
Organization for the Study of the Old Testament;
society for Old Testament Study; Catholic Theological
Society; American-Oriental Society; American School
of Oriental Research; C.tholic Commission on Cultural
and Intellectual Affairs; Chicago Society's Society
of Biblical Research, which is meeting today at my
institution; and the Society of New Testament Studies.
Q These societies have generally common
purposes or are there different purposes in each one?
A Well, they're fairly common purposes, yes.
They're all through the scientific study of religion.
That would be the common denominator, I would think.
Q Again, when we're talking about the
scientific study of religion, it would just be
utilizing the scientific method?
Q Do you hold a position in any of these
A In the past, I have been president of
the Catholic Biblical Association. I have been
a member on the council on the Society of biblical
At the present time, I am part of the
executive board of the Catholic Biblical Association
still, and that's--I think that would be--yes, I
have been president also of the Chicago Society
of Biblical Research.
Do any of these organizations, to your knowledge,
have a position whether or not Creation Science
should be taught in the public schools?
A To my knowledge, no.
Q Do any of them have a position whether or
not Evolution Science should be taught in public
MR. SIANO: I object to the use of that phrase,
unless you want to define it. Are you using a phrase
that's used in the statute?
MR. CAMPBELL: Yes.
MR. SIANO: All right; ask a specific question.
MR. CAMPBELL: Q Do they have a position of
whether or not Evolutionary Science should be taught
in public schools?
THE WITNESS: A No, there isn't--that really
doesn't fall under the purview of any of these
Q Are you a member of any other organizations
or societies other than those listed here?
A Professional, you mean?
Q Professional or personal?
A I have been a member of various things at
various times. I am not too sure whether some of
the things, I am still a member or not, such as,
World Federalists, and that sort of thing. I con-
tributed to that. ACLU, at one time, I contributed
to, and the Democratic Party, and so on, but that's
all rather--you couldn't find a doctrinaire pattern,
I don't think.
Q Are you a member of the Society for the
Study of Evolution?
Q Are you a member of the American Association
for the Advancement of Science?
Q Do you subscribe to any professional
A Yes, I am the editor of an abstracting or
bibligraphical service which we publish three times
a year of, "Abstractions." As a result of that,
I subscribe to probably about three hundred journals.
Q Do any of these journals concern themselves
with the teaching of Evolution Science in the
classroom--public school classroom?
A Well, they concern themselves with the
question--some of them, yes.
Q And which ones would concern themselves
with the question?
A Generally, what we would call fundamentalists'
publications. Just offhand, I would think--there's
one called, Themelios, and that's a fundamentalist
There's a journal of Evangelical
Theological Society which is fundamentalist. And
there's a couple from around the world: one in
Australia, and one in South Africa, as I recall. I
can't recall--but anyway, those are the ones that
are generally concerned with matters of that nature.
They see from their religious standpoint that there
is a conflict between evolution and the biblical
word, and they have a problem where other people do
Q Do any of the publications have a position
whether or not Evolution Science should be taught?
MR. SIANO: Again, you're using that phrase
as it's used in the statute?
MR. CAMPBELL: Yes, sir.
THE WITNESS: A Specifically, I can't think
of any offhand, but that is a kind of a new vocabulary
talking about Creation Science as opposed to Evolution
Science; that's something I have only encountered in
the last couple years, actually; and I don't know
that that has been represented in the literature that
Q Outside of some of the literature that you
mentioned where the issue had been raised, where else
have you encountered Creation Science?
MR. SIANO: I object to the form of the question,
but he can answer it.
THE WITNESS: A Only recently, I suppose, when
word got around of their being an issue made of it
in Arkansas and Louisiana. Actually, that's about
the first time that it came home to me that such a
think would have been raised as an issue.
MR. CAMPBELL: Q When did you first get word
of the Arkansas and Louisiana Legislation?
A I can't tell you exactly, but I am sure I
read it in the newspaper, but I couldn't tell you
Q In 1981?
A Probably so, yes.
Q You mentioned earlier that in teaching the
Old Testament and the Book of Genesis, in particular,
the question of origins of the universe, man, life,
is discussed; have you ever had a student ask you
whether or not you saw any conflict between the account
of the origin of the universe as suggested in
Genesis I and II and your religious faith?
A Oh, yes, sure.
Q Obviously, this is the area or your expertise,
but could you generally tell me what your response
would be to a student who made that inquiry?
MR. SIANO: I am going to object to the form
of the question. Are you speaking hypothetically
or are you asking for Father Vawter to recapitulate
whatever he might recall in a particular context?
MR. CAMPBELL: Just generally hypothetically.
THE WITNESS: A What I would answer in such
MR. CAMPBELL: Q Yes?
A That Genesis is not concerned with the
process of how things came to be; that Genesis
is concerned with professing who the author of
creation is; and that the process is something for
us to discover as best we can from the empirical
evidence, whatever it may be, That all of this is
due to a guiding hand or to a benign spirit; that's
the religious message that Genesis wants to transmit,
and, therefore, they're talking about two different
things: science, in that sense, and Genesis.
Q In discussing Genesis in the classroom,
do you specifically talk about Evolution Science or
is it more general, as you suggested a moment ago,
A Sometimes specifically, sometimes not.
The course I am teaching right now--the last session
of which would be next Monday--is a--actually, I've
taken up that question specifically simply because
of the interest that's been generated in me during
the past several months with regard to this so-called
creationism idea. That would be a specific subject
dealt with. I prayerfully hope they confidently
prepared the person who was supposed to make the
guidance of the seminar. I've given him a good
bibliography that he works on.
Q In discussing Genesis I and II, are there
any particular authorities that you rely upon?
A Yes, all my predecessors and all the
commentators and the accumulated wisdom, such as it
is, that's been amassed in the last couple hundred
years in the scientific study of the scriptures.
Q Are there any particular predecessors
or commentators that you are most in respect of?
A The greatest of all who will probably never
be surpassed is Hermann Gunkel, G-u-n-k-e-l. His
work, for some reason or other, was never translated
into English, but nothing has ever been written that
surpasses it--turn of the century.
Q Of this last century?
A Yes, 1900s; but the most modern commentator
is also German, Klaus Westermann, W-e-s-t-e-r-m-a-n-n,
whose commentary is not yet completed. He is still
working on it, but he will be the modern Gunkel, I
Q Are there others whose work you parti-
A Yes, there's a couple of Jewish commen-
tators: Cassuto is one, C-a-s-s-u-t-o, and then,
J-a-k-o-b, "Beno" Jakob. His work was--unfortunately,
I never saw much like--because it's the period just
about the time the Nazis came into Germany, and it
was suppressed. He was a Jewish scholar.
But I could sit here all morning and give
you names of various other commentators on Genesis,
which I have certainly used, but I would say those
are more formative of my immediate thought on
Genesis than anybody else.
Q What was the position of Mr. Gunkel with
regards to the origin of the universe and man?
A I don't suppose he had any on that. He
would be dealing specifically with the literary
forms of Genesis itself as to what they are and what
these chronicles of that sort of thing in Genesis
are trying to communicate. As far as to what the
scientific realities are concerned, I don't think
he had any particular views, or probably should say that
he did share the common views of most people, but I
don't think--there's nothing professionally he would
Q What are you talking about when you say
"the common views of most people," what does that
A "The common views of most people," just like
most people without knowing it are Aristotelian
in their thinking, "Genalt" realism; and most
people without thinking about it much probably
entertain the idea all these scientists can't be
wrong, and it's fairly--the way they tell it is the
way it is, or at least, approximately the way it is,
otherwise, we couldn't have gotten on the moon, and
all that stuff.
Q Do you know whether Mr. Westermann had any
particular opinion on the origin of the universe or
A I don't know of any.
Q What about Mr. Cassuto?
Q Mr. Jakob?
A No. These men are not scientists. Their
(Only the left side Page 28 was copied)
opinion is worth no mo
Q With regard
we just talked about--
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MR. SIANO; I ob
question. If you want
of the scholarship of
to me to be perhaps a
MR. CAMPBELL: W
THE WITNESS: A
could tell or not. Wha
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author of Genesis was s
agree with what the aut
not, that is--ordinaril
tries to keep that out
does put it in, it's pu
opinion, but particular
of the person, theoretically, at least, should be
kept separate from what he is presenting as his
judgement as to the meaning of a given text, unless
he wants to make an "excursis," on it, but I really
cannot--you could not tell, I don't think, from
those people what their personal religious convictions
Q With regard to their interpretation as
to what the author of Genesis was trying to say about
the origin of the universe and man, is there a general
statement which could summarize those--
A A general statement which could summarize
Q Their feelings about what the author was
trying to say about the origin of the universe?
A In general, I think, setting aside individual
points of specificity, I think you could say they
would be in agreement.
Q With the position you originally talked
Q Have you written any papers, articles, or
books, specifically dealing with Genesis I and II?
A Oh, yes, dealing with Genesis I and II, I've
written a couple books. When you say "specifically
dealing with," they're not exclusively dealing with,
but they've included that, certainly.
Q Which books were those?
A The book I wrote back in 1956, I think,
entitled, "The Path through Genesis," -- I think that
was the date of the damned thing -- and then, most
recently, I have updated the book published by
Doubleday in 1977 on Genesis.
Q Have you written any articles concerning
just origins set out in Genesis I and II?
A I probably have, but I don't think I've
done anything specifically on that subject. I brought
it into various generic treatments of various things
like sin, the scriptural idea of sin, and that sort
of thing, but I don't think anything specifically
just dealing with that exclusively. I can't remember
anything that I've done.
"The Ways of God," for example, that
I wrote, the idea of the creative word of God would
be in there, but nothing specifically that I can
recall on Genesis I and II.
Q With regard to sin, which you just mentioned
a moment ago, wouldn't that have to do more with the
Fall of Man?
A Yes, probably Genesis III, yes; that would
have been brought in there.
Q Would your opinion on the origin of the
universe be the same as the origin of man, life,
MR. SIANO: I object to that question. It's
very broad. I am not even sure what that's about,
in what sense?
MR. CAMPBELL: Q Do you understand what I am
asking, Father Vawter?
MR. SIANO: His personal opinion? I don't
know exactly what the content of the question is.
I am having difficulty with it.
MR. CAMPBELL: Q Do you understand what I am
THE WITNESS: A No; I probably would if you
tell me what you're getting at.
Q You mentioned earlier that Genesis is
concerned with the how or the process as opposed to--
A Not concerned with the process.
Q Excuse me, I'm sorry, it's concerned with--
it's not concerned with the how or the process, but
it is more concerned with the author of creation--
Q --what I am asking you is whether or not
that would be your opinion on not only the creation
of man but the creation of the universe and the
creation of plants and animals; do you ever get
involved, in other words, with a process or the how
A What you're looking for is if there is any
difference in the process by which humankind came
in existence as opposed to a process by which the
rest of creation came?
Q Yes, sir?
A No, I don't think there's any.
Q We have discussed the scientific method of
inquiry; in using the scientific method of inquiry
hypothetically speaking, if a scientist could confirm
your view of origins, would you reject that science?
MR. SIANO: I'm going to object to the question.
First of all, I don't know what science
we're talking about, and I don't know what your view
of origins is in the context of this question,
and you're also asking the witness to speculate.
I think that last part is probably
incurable. You go ahead and try to reframe the question.
MR. CAMPBELL: All right.
Q Did you understand what my question was?
THE WITNESS: A No.
It's pretty much the same reasons
that Tony was talking about here. My view of origins
is an ambiguity.
Q What I am really speaking of is again--I'll
be speaking always from the Genesis approach which
you mentioned to me, who the author of creation is
as opposed to the process or the how. I was just
generally trying to summarize what I considered to
be your view of origins, in other words, in that
respect, as to who the author is.
What I was asking is whether or not
if someone hypothetically speaking were utilizing
the scientific method which you already defined
earlier in the deposition?
A Yes, well, I have sort of a philosophical
reluctance to believe that a think like that could
happen. The positive sciences, by definition,
are dealing with the intra mundane. They don't go
beyond it. If they go off beyond it, then, they're
in an area of metaphysics or beyond the scientific;
therefore, philosophically, I doubt that there would
be any possibility of such a demonstration.
I come from a religious tradition
which --philosophical religious tradition--which,
actually, since the 13th Century, at least, has
professed that you cannot prove the fact of
creation in time, and that that is a matter that
has to be accepted on faith.
So, I would have a reluctance to
believe that would be possible that that's the--
that would be the way that I would approach the
Q Philosophically speaking, could you
prove the existence of God outside of the Bible?
A In the sense that people understand God,
I don't think so, no. I think you can prove that
there--or at least, if you cannot prove, you at
least can make it reasonable that there is a design
somewhere, that there is a hand at the tiller,
but in the sense of a Judeao-Christian tradition
of a personal, loving God, no, I don't think so.
Q Obviously, this is the $64,000 question
with regard to religion, but how would you define
God if you had to but a definition there?
A Well, I wouldn't want to add mine to the
many terrible ones that have been--
MR. SIANO: Are you asking for Father Vawter's
personal definition? I don't know that he's been
qualified, exactly, by you or by anyone with respect
to this particular question. It's an observation
more than anything else.
MR. CAMPBELL: Q Would your personal opinion
of a definition of God differ from your personal
opinion of Him?
THE WITNESS: A Would my--
Q Professional opinion of God differ from your
personal opinion of who God is?
A No, I don't think so.
Q How would you define God?
A Well, as I said, it's hard to define that
which is so essential, but Paul Tillich, T-i-l-l-i-c-h,
his definition of God was the ground of our being. He
is that which or that who affords a rationale to the
world in which we find ourselves and gives us the
basis for our relation to the universe and to our
fellow beings. Without getting into confessional
language, that's about the best I could do.
Q Very good. Have you ever testified before
in a court of law?
Q Have you ever had your deposition taken
A Yes, sort of. I, in a French court--what
they call the Process Verbale--I was driving down
a narrow street on the French Riviera and pushed a
girl off of her motorcycle, and she had a strawberry
on her hip, and we had to have testimony in court,
but that's it.
I was released without any recrimina-
Q Father Vawter, I know you have had opportunity
to discuss this case, at least somewhat, with Mr. Siano
Could you summarize the general subject
matter of your testimony at trial?
A What I understand I am being asked to do
is simply to offer an expert opinion as to what the
Genesis teaching or the Genesis--yes, of teaching
of creation is, and that is a religious profession
which I myself strongly suspect is the sole source
of what is now being called Creationism or--in other
words, this is supposed to support--evidence of science
is supposed to support some particular thesis; that
the thesis is supposedly that which is being
extracted from the 1st Chapter of Genesis, and my
opinion is that that thesis has been incorrectly
extracted, and that, therefore, what's being proposed
as Creation Science is really a religious belief
which is being supposedly bolstered by certain
Q Who do you have the opinion that Creation
Science is a religious belief?
A Because, as I understand it, the various
details of it, that is, when they talk about a
creation, and a fairly recent creation--as ions
go in the scientific world--and the worldwide flood
ant that sort of thing, when they put all those
things together, I can't but believe that this is
a reading of the first eleven chapters of Genesis,
and then, it's now being --the thesis is now being
proposed that science will confirm all of this,
but those first eleven chapters of Genesis are
religious doctrine, That's why I feel that is the
hidden agenda of Creationism, as far as I can see it.
Q We were talking earlier about archaeology
and the locations of a particular city. If the Bible
suggested the location of a particular city, would it
not be proper for, say, an archaeologist to attempt
to find it at that particular location?
A Sure, in practice, that's what they've
tried to do. It's the same as any other--when
Schleiman (phonetic spelling) discovered Troy, he
didn't go back digging in the backyard of Indiana;
he went to where the Homeric legions said where
Troy was, and he found out not only one Troy, but
he found a whole many Troys; and the same way
with biblical archaeology; they take the indications
from the Bible and look for the--most logically
where it took place that the Bible is telling
where it is. It's an historical source, after all,
in some respects; and then, they can either say that
the Bible was a trustworthy witness here or that
it left them in the lurch when the evidence comes in.
Q If there were such a thing as a creation
scientist--and I am not suggesting that there is--why
would it not be just as valid for him to pick up
different inferences from the Bible and seek to prove
MR. SIANO: I'm going to object. The question
MR. CAMPBELL: I'm asking him--
MR. SIANO: No, no; that's a speculative
question; it over-specs, and it's not really
discipline; it's not really anything. First of all,
no such thing as a creation scientist exists, although
that might be a matter of some dispute.
Secondly, I don't know what you're
suggesting this hypothetical scientist is doing
in his hypothetical existence.
I am suggesting to you that you rephrase
I don't want an answer to a question such
as this cluttering the record.
MR. CAMPBELL: Your objection is noted,
Q Father Vawter, did you understand what
I was asking?
THE WITNESS: A Not really. I don't know
what a creation scientist would be. You mean a person
who believes that--or a scientist who believes in
creation, or a person who believes that creation can
be proved by science, or what?
Q I think creation scientist is a very broad-
term scientist, and as I mentioned, it would be
difficult to say anyone is a creation scientist.
If a paleontologist was going to look
at the study of the age of the earth, would it be
just as logical for him to start with some particular
fact in the Bible--and I am not trying to narrow you
down at all--to determine the--
A I see what you're getting at.
MR. SIANO: I'm going to object to the question
again; are you asking method questions now, or what?
MR. CAMPBELL: Q We talked about earlier,
Father Vawter, individuals looking at the Bible,
particularly, for Troy, you would not dig in Indiana;
I am simply asking you whether or not a paleontologist
might look at some notation in the Bible, a historical
fact in the Bible, and seek to prove some particular
theory that he was working on?
MR. SIANO: Are you asking this witness should
a paleontologist be foreclosed from looking at the
Bible? I think that's a very different question
from should an archaeologist start with the Bible
in his studies.
MR. CAMPBELL: Q Father Vawter, do you under-
stand what I am asking?
THE WITNESS: A I think so, yes.
Q Would you answer the question, please, sir?
A I don't think he should be foreclosed from--
first of all, if a person starts out with a belief
in a religious fact that is found in the Bible, I
don't see any reason why he should not be--why he
should be inhibited from seeking to establish that as best
as he can from positive empirical evidence, no.
The only thing that I would reserve,
I would think there, is just the limitations of what
the evidence can be. There are certain affirmations
that are made in the biblical record that is simply
not within that gamut of evidentiary procedure.
It's not going to be forthcoming.
Q You mentioned that Creation Science is a
religious belief which is bolstered by scientific
data or seeking to be?
A Seeking to be, yes.
Q What scientific data are you aware of that
is trying to bolster Creation Science?
A Only in a vague way, just a few things
that I've read in passing of trying to convey the
idea that the fossil evidence is of a sudden
explosion into the universe of created things, and
I have no capacity whatsoever for judging the value
of those assertions one way or the other, but that's
what I have in mind that they're using argument of
that kind to bolster the notion which they take
essentially from the Bible.
Q In addition to your opinion that Creation
Science is a religious belief which is seeking to
be bolstered by scientific data, will you be
testifying to any other opinion?
MR. SIANO: Other than what he's already
testified to in this deposition?
MR. CAMPBELL: Yes, sir.
MR. SIANO: All right.
THE WITNESS: A No scientific opinion whatsoever.
MR. CAMPBELL: Q Right, but I mean it will
just essentially -- will there be any other opinions
offered from your background from a religious stand-
point other than Creation Science is a religious belief
which is seeking to be bolstered by scientific data?
A No, I cannot--that's about the only area
that I am being asked to speak to, I think, is the
fact that I have a certain acquaintance with the
creation doctrine itself as it is in the Bible, and
what the background of it is in the ancient Near East
and the rest of it. Beyond that, no.
Q What analysis will you be providing to the
court on this opinion, or concerning this opinion?
A Analysis precisely of what?
Q Of Creation Science being a religious
belief which is seeking to be bolstered by scientific
A Simply from reading the Act and listening
to the defenses that have been made of it or not
made of it specifically, but I mean, along the same
line of thinking that the people who profess this
are those who share in the Judaeo-Christian tradition
of the creation as described in the --or as they
think is described, at least, in the Book of Genesis,
and as has been traditionally or as they think has
been traditionally interpreted in the Judaeo-Christian
circles, so much so, that it is the given for which
the scientific evidence is supposed to supply the
When the Act speaks about supporting
creation, what is it that it's supporting? It's
supporting a given there, and the given comes out of
the Book of Genesis, which is why I can't understand
why they talk -- well, it's true, you can talk -- they
say that this should be taught without the use of any
religious documents, and so forth, but that's the
unspoken document. That "support," there is a key
word; it's a give-away word of what your unmentioned
textbook is which is Genesis I and II, particularly, I.
Q Have you prepared any documents or a report
with regard to --
A With regard to this?
Q Essentially, yes, sir, with regard to
A Only the statement that I sent to Mr. Siano
as a general summary of what my analysis of the Act
was, and I viewed it as an attempt to support a
religious position by alleged scientific evidence.
Q Had you talked to Mr. Siano before you
prepared that report?
A Only by telephone, and he simply asked me--
am I recalling accurately or--
MR. SIANO: I think I came up to see you.
THE WITNESS: (Continuing) A Maybe you did,
that's right, and then, you asked me to prepare it.
I am the worst chronicler of my own life.
Yes, he came out to see me, and asked
me to draw up such a statement.
MR. CAMPBELL: Q When was his visit out there
with you, do you know?
A I can tell from the letter which was--
MR. SIANO: I think it was September, early
THE WITNESS: (Continuing) A I believe so,
and I am trying to find the letter itself that I
sent. Maybe I put it in here.
No, somewhere in that time frame, I'm
MR. SIANO: Yes, it was approximately the second
week in September.
THE WITNESS: Okay. You have the tail end of
MR. CAMPBELL: Q How long was your visit with
MR. SIANO: You mean Mr. Siano's visit with
THE WITNESS: A Let's see, that's the cabdriver
that let you down in the Loop, and you made your way
MR. SIANO: That's right.
THE WITNESS: (Continuing) A I suppose what
we were--an hour or so?
MR. SIANO: Closer to two, I think.
THE WITNESS: (Continuing) A All right; I said
I'm not a good chronicler.
Couple hours, probably, would be right,
Q Had you seen a copy of Act 590 of 1981,
State of Arkansaw?
A Yes, that had been sent to me before.
Q What did you tell Mr. Siano at that time
your feelings were about Act 590?
A Well, substantially what I have just told
you, and substantially what I put in my statement
he asked me to draw up.
My initial letter was to--when that
material was sent to me, I said, "I think the
Plaintiffs in the case are on solid ground," but
what this is is an establishment of a religious
point of view--belief--which is, I think they're
on solid ground challenging that as a violation
of the 1st Amendment of the Constitution.
MR. SIANO: Are you finished?
THE WITNESS: Yes.
MR. SIANO: Off the record.
(WHEREUPON, a short discussion
ensued off the record)
MR. CAMPBELL: Back on the record.
And why did you feel that Act 590 was an
establishment of religion, as you understand it?
MR. SIANO: Objection, it's been asked and
If you're asking for reasons other than
the ones he's already articulated, but if you ask him
to articulate the basis for what he's going to
testify again, I think he's already answered those
MR. CAMPBELL: Q In your answer, you mentioned
a moment ago about the establishment of religion;
I really wanted to know what you consider to be an
establishment of religion?
THE WITNESS: A Well, I don't want to be taken
up on the technicality of the use of the word,
"establishment." As I understand it, from a layman's
point of view, it constitutes the establishment of
a religion in the sense that it violates the 1st
Amendment in the sense that there would be a force of
civil law used to implement the propagation of
specifically a religious belief, and the fact is, a
sectarian belief. Even though it's a large sect,
it would still be sectarian, and that was in violation
of the Constitution as it has been interpreted.
MR. SIANO: I'll state for the record, of course,
that Professor Vawter is not a lawyer.
THE WITNESS: You bet you. In fact, I would
like that to be very plain.
MR. CAMPBELL: I have no objection to that,
Q You talked about a religious belief
or sectarian belief that may establish a religious
belief or sectarian belief; what religious belief
or sectarian belief do you think that it may
THE WITNESS: A What we generically describe
as the Judaeo-Christian creation beliefs.
Q And what is that?
A I suppose what the vast majority of the
American people would--that is, those who have any
sense at all of a belief in God would subscribe to
the idea that He is also the Creator God, and,
therefore, the source for the specifics of
what is involved in creation, probably nine
times out of ten would think of the Bible.
That's their background. Not an organized
thing, but simply a cultural belief.
Q How long did you spend preparing the document
or the report which you sent to Mr. Siano?
A Oh, not--immediately not very much time.
It was just a summation of my ideas that had been
in my mind, I suppose, for years. It was simply an
immediate response to them.
Q You had this meeting with him in early
September, when did you send in the report?
A Shortly--it must have been within a week
Q Did you send him any other reports or
A No, I don't think so.
Q How long is that report?
A About a page and a half, I think.
Q Is a copy of that report included in the
document itself which you provided to me this morning?
MR. SIANO: No, it is not.
MR. CAMPBELL: Q Do you have a copy of that
report with you, Father Vawter?
THE WITNESS: A Yes, I do. I have a carbon
copy made of it.
Q Would you provide that to me?
MR. SIANO: I've already told you, Mr. Campbell,
we are retaining things which demonstrated the operation
of the lawyer's preparation for trial pursuant to
Rule 26, under claim of work product.
I think your inquiry has clearly
demonstrated in this case that that is exactly the
source of that document which is responsive to my
communications and my explication to Father Vawter
of my view of the case, and it was in response thereto
that generated that.
MR. CAMPBELL: Excuse me, Father Vawter, while
we have a dialogue between us for a moment.
Mr. Siano, I understand your definition
of work product. I will take note of that, and
certainly, it's up to the judge at some later point.
I do think that the work he sent to
you which he described in his testimony about his
immediate thoughts in his mind and have been in his
mind for years, I believe under Rule 26, inasmuch as
Father Vawter is an expert, that we would be entitled
to that information. But certainly, we can leave that
up to the judge at a later time.
MR. SIANO: You can quote me parts of his
testimony, and I can quote you parts of his testimony.
That's not very fruitful use of our time, and I have
not frustrated your inquiry in any respect, and therefore,