Which creation story has the university accepted as valid?

Stabroek News
July 21, 2001

Dear Editor,

Mr. Alfred Bhulai, in the Stabroek News of Tuesday, July 10th graciously recommended [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] that I read a book titled "The amazing story of creation" by Dr. Duane T. Gish. Mr. Bhulai informs that Dr. Gish is a committed Christian whose views are, naturally, influenced by the Bible.

Dr. Gish is a high ranking member and major spokesperson for an organisation called "The Institute for Creation Research" (ICR) which is located in San Diego, California. He dismisses evolution and has taken part in numerous debates with scientists regarding this theory as opposed to that of creationism. He is thought to be the most influential creationist in the United States.

In an article titled "Creationism: bad science or immoral pseudoscience? (an exposT of creationist Dr. Duane Gish)" published in the journal of the Skeptic Society (Vol. 4, No. 4, 1996, pp.88-93) author Joyce Arthur reports, "I examined many of Gish's published writings, as well as transcripts and tapes of his debates, and discovered countless examples of questionable tactics and misleading arguments. The majority of Gish's arguments I found to be a morass of errors, omissions, misquotes, old data, distortions and non sequiturs. Even worse is my discovery that many scientists have publicly corrected Gish in his

presence, but Gish has gone on to repeat the same errors in later debates and writing."

Dr. Gish, invited by the Skeptic journal to respond to the charges declared, "I want to state categorically that I have never said anything either in print or by spoken word that I knew to be false." However, he added quickly, "since we are all humans it is possible to misinterpret something someone has written or spoken, or to have faulty memory." (Vol. 5, No. 2, 1997, pp.37-41)

Despite the denial of the Institute of Creation Research, many observers believe that the purpose of the "scientific" creationist movement is to have the Genesis story taught in schools not as religion but as science.

Creationists counter that they are only trying to get the schools to teach that there are many scientific principles that support creationism. Scientists dismiss their arguments as sham.

But the creationist movement would not let up; in the United States they took the matter to Court. Their case suffered a devastating blow. In 1982, the Arkansas Judge William Overton ruled that the creation science bill is in fact "a religious crusade, coupled with a desire to conceal this fact . . . The evidence is overwhelming that both the purpose and effect of Act 590 is the advancement of religion in the public school."

Finally, in 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that creationism is religion, not science.

Many religious leaders, other than Christian Protestants, have expressed overwhelming concern about the aggressive conversion tactics being employed by some Christians in our rural communities. But things can get worse as Christian scientists press on in their quest to get the Bible's creation story validated as scientific fact.

If creation scientists get their way missionaries will not need to visit homes, rather Christian concepts and principles will be taught to all children in classrooms, regardless of the faith practised by the children's families.

In fact, in March 1998, I had to respond to another letter from Mr. Bhulai in the Chronicle in which he stated categorically that children should be taught the Judeo-Christian story that "Adam was created by God from dust."

In his most recent offering, Mr. Bhulai endorsed Dr. Gish's "amazing story" book noting that he introduced it on the inside cover by saying, "The Faculty of Natural Sciences of the University of Guyana has accepted creation and evolution as two separate and equally valid scientific theories."

This astounding statement leaves me with several questions. For instance, exactly which "creation" story has the University accepted as valid? The Christian story of Genesis? The Hindu story of the Primeval Sound "OM"? The Inuit story of Sedna? The Aborigine story of water holes? The Chinese story of Di Jun and his ten "sun" children or the Native American story of the crying earthmaker?

I think this is now a matter of national interest. As a Guyanese I need to know exactly what criteria were used by the University of Guyana to endorse creation. If the University has chosen the Genesis story then someone needs to explain to the Hindus, who make up a significant portion of our population, why their religious belief regarding creation was dismissed.

Creation is not, and can never be a "scientific" theory. Anyone who disagrees displays a fundamental misunderstanding of what a scientific theory is.

In science, a theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, and tested hypotheses. Creation is a belief which, unlike a theory, cannot be tested to prove its veracity. Apparently, the Faculty of Natural Sciences at our local university is at odds with the rest of the international scientific community in this regard.

The National Academy of Sciences in the United States in their book "Science and Creationism" offered this clarification: "Creationism, intelligent design, and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life or of species are not science because they are not testable by the methods of science. These claims subordinate observed data to statements based on authority, revelation, or religious belief. Documentation offered in support of these claims is typically limited to the special publications of their advocates. These publications do not offer hypotheses subject to change in light of new data, new interpretations, or demonstration of error. This contrasts with science, where any hypothesis or theory always remains subject to the possibility of rejection or modification in the light of new knowledge."

Mr. Bhulai also spoke about how the theory of evolution is being touted as fact. In science, a fact is defined as an observation that has been repeatedly confirmed and for all practical purposes is accepted as true.

Under this definition, Evolution is regarded more as fact than theory. Coincidentally, the largest Christian denomination, the Roman Catholics (which I know Mr. Bhulai is very involved with) endorses evolution. The infallible Pope, His Holiness John Paul II in October 1996 accepted biological evolution.

In an address entitled "Truth cannot contradict truth" and delivered 137 years after Charles Darwin published the "Origin of the Species," Pope John Paul told the Pontifical Academy of Sciences that, "new knowledge has led to the recognition of more than a hypothesis in the theory of evolution. It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge."

The Pope's position is that evolution created the body, God created the soul. This way, says the Pope, Catholics can have faith and reason, religion and science. Pope John Paul is indeed a very intelligent man.

Mr. Bhulai points out that many text books are written from the standpoint of evolution. Perhaps this is so because evolution provides a real explanation about the emergence of new infectious diseases, the agricultural relationships among wild and domestic plants and animals, the composition of the earth's atmosphere and plate tectonics on the planet's surface, the molecular machinery of the cell and genetic diseases, the similarities between human beings and other primates and many other features of the biological and physical world.

I was initially puzzled about the purpose of Mr. Bhulai's last paragraph in which he noted that Muslim and Christian creation stories are the same as both faiths worship the same God. I can only interpret this as an attempt to get the more radical Muslim elements in our community riled up about evolution.

It is sad that Christians are now admitting that the God of Islam and the God of Christianity is the same. This belated admission could have saved the lives of thousands of Muslims who were slaughtered by the Christian army during the crusades to the Holy Land which started in the year 1095.

And further, Christians who are now patrolling our rural communities should not attempt to convert Muslims, after all, their God is one and the same.

Finally, I should add that science does not concern itself with proving or disproving the existence of God. Science basically tries to understand the cause and effect of natural phenomena and to find out how things relate to one another.

Apparently, during scientific investigations discoveries were made and are still being made which reveal errors in ancient books which were written at a time when mankind could not adequately understand his environment.

Some of us see logic in these new interpretations while others believe literally what they read in the old books. To each his own, I say. In the long run

only the truth will prevail.

Yours faithfully,

Lutchman Gossai.