LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Scientists dissecting Arkansas' creation-science law word-by-word testified that no scientific evidence exists to back up the theory as explained in the statute or as presented in literature.
Requiring teachers to give balanced treatment to creation-science and evolution would be 'dreadfully wrong' because creation-science 'is not science,' said Francisco Ayala, a genetics professor at the University of California at Davis.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against Arkansas' creation-science law saying creation-science is nothing more than religion and, as such, violates the constitutional separation of church and state.
The state defends the law by saying creation-science can be supported with evidence that is at least as scientific as evolution. Only that evidence would be used in the classroom, state lawyers say, because Arkansas' law specifically forbids religious instruction.
Ayala and geologist Brent Dalrymple gave detailed scientific testimony Tuesday to discount creation-science writings that they said were based on outdated or discredited research, were erroneous or were deliberately misleading.
Dalrymple, who tested moon rocks for the U.S. Geological Survey, said he particularly objected to creation-scientists' claim that the earth is no more than 20,000 years old.
'I put that in the same category as the flat earth hypothesis and the hypothesis that the sun goes around the earth,' he said.
If required to teach it, Dalrymple said, 'Since there is no evidence for a young earth, I would have nothing to teach at all.'
With Dalrymple still on the stand today, U.S. District Judge William Overton also questioned the part of the new law that says creation-science includes 'a relatively recent inception of the earth.'
'What does the state contend teachers should intepret that to mean?' Overton asked.
Most witnesses have cited creation-science material that says the earth is about 10,000 years old, but David Williams, assistant attorney general, said the state was not tied to that figure. Williams also said he doubted the matter would come up much in biology classes but Overton disagreed.
'I'm puzzled as to what the teacher is supposed to say,' Overton said.
However, he agreed to wait until the state presented its own scientific witnesses to hear more about what creation-scientists believe.
Ayala, who was a Catholic priest until 1966, said language in the creation-science act was taken from the Genesis story of creation.
Sen. James Holsted, D-North Little Rock, testified that his willingness to introduce the bill in the Legislature last spring grew from his personal religious beliefs.
'Certainly it would have to be compatible with what I believe in,' he said.
Holsted testified to the fact that the bill passed the House and Senate with virtually no debate. The bill was signed by Gov. Frank White, a born-again Christian, who later said he had not read all of it.
But each of the ACLU's witnesses said the theory of evolution does not rule out a creator.
'A creator, a god, can create the world any way he chooses ... establish laws by which the world evolves,' Ayala said. 'God may have created the mountains; he may have created the processes by which mountains form. Science is neutral.'
The state has said the creation-science law will give students a chance to choose between two 'models' of origins, but Ayala said many more theories could be taught.
'Who is going to restrain human imagination?' he said.