Censorship of Information on Origins

Author: Jerry Bergman
Subject: Apologetics
Date:

Reprinted with permission from Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal

ABSTRACT

Surveys of various indexes and library lists consistently find that recent literature favorable to creationism is rarely found in university, college or public libraries. That which is found, is often outdated, printed in the 1920s or before. In addition, interviews with creationists reveal that if authors are known as creationists, their articles, regardless of the empirical merit and quality, are most often rejected for publication. At times they are accepted, but when the creationist persuasion of the authors is discovered, they are not uncommonly rescinded. Even articles discussing censorship of creationism are often censored from journals which deal with library censorship. Many creationist authors have reported they often do not even receive the courtesy of a rejection letter, and often letters inquiring about the articles are ignored. Some creationists find far more success when they publish under a pseudonym or stay in the closet about their creationism. Censorship because of the philosophical and religious orientation of the writer is clearly bigotry.

INTRODUCTION

The mass media commonly reports attempts to censor pornographic literature from libraries, yet rarely discusses a far more harmful form of library censorship, that of Christian or pro-moral works.(3) Surveys consistently find that quality materials of recent copyright date favorable to the intelligent design world view are rarely found in American university, college, high school or public libraries.

WHY THE CENSORSHIP?

Increased exposure to an idea improves the likelihood of its acceptance. A primary reason why some form of evolution is accepted by about half of the American population is because of the high level of public exposure that this belief receives in public schools and also on television, in magazines and elsewhere.(4) Of 38 individuals interviewed as to why they accepted evolution, Bergman (5) found that all but three had very limited knowledge about the theory. Most had simply assumed from their cultural exposure that the theory has been empirically demonstrated to be true. The theory of naturalistic evolution is most often not directly, but more often subtly, taught and assumed in textbooks to be an accurate view of reality. It is in this way that students learn about the theory, not by careful evaluation of the empirical evidence and logic for and against it. As Eidsmoe notes:

‘In public schools, evolutionary naturalism is commonly taught as fact. Zoos, museums, cultural exhibits and national parks proclaim the evolution of life and rigid uniformitarian geology. Despite pious claims of neutrality and equal access, public television presents Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” along with other evolutionary programs, while ignoring the other side. The public is bombarded with evolutionary thought wherever they turn–much of it at the taxpayers’ expense.(6)

A major reason for this one-sided differential exposure that exists in the secular world is that pro-creationist materials and information are heavily censored from the public domain.(7-10) If it is discussed, the discussion is not uncommonly limited to a polemical diatribe littered with ad-hominem arguments. Anti-creationists rarely define the term creation, thus it is not easy to know who they dislike. They use much name-calling and value laden words such as pseudo-science, religious, or Bible-thumpers. The problem of blatant censorship of pro-creationist material is worldwide in its extent and effect. Ham stated that in Australia a librarian . . .wrote to us concerning the magazine Ex Nihilo, which was sent to the school as a gift subscription, from a concerned parent. … Part of her letter reads as follows, “As the person responsible for selection of resources available from the school library, I . . . [request] your subscription officer remove the school’s address from your current mailing list. Further, if other gift subscriptions arrive, please ignore them.”

Ham’s comments on this situation are as follows:

Surely, the materials in a public school library should make available all possible . . . resources to the students and teachers. To allow one person’s beliefs to ban this publication from the school library, and not even allow others to have it for consideration in their research, is a dangerous precedent.(12)

Individual examples such as these illustrate a problem which all surveys demonstrate is widespread and pervasive. Melnick concluded that:

“Creationist literature has been self-censored from nearly every major secular university library in America. An OCLC computer search . . . indicated that of the over 3,000 institutions on the OCLC list, only 33 subscribed to the Creation Research Society Quarterly, [which is] without question the preeminent journal in the field of scientific creationism and read throughout the world. When one subtracts all the Bible colleges and seminaries . . . barely enough other schools [are] left to count . . .[Creationist] Wilder-Smith, who studied natural sciences at Oxford and holds three doctorates, recently published . . . a strictly scientific text which can stand up to any university work on evolution. It is currently available at only eighteen institutions on the OCLC’s list. By contrast, Dorothy Nelkin’s book, Science Textbook Controversies and the Politics of Equal Time . . . is already available at over four hundred institutions. Better examples could be cited.” (13)

The writer replicated Melnick’s study and, although not as extensive, his basic conclusions were fully supported. I found, for example, that the only book in print on discrimination against creationists, The Criterion, as of November, 1994 was in a grand total of five libraries of the 5,000 in the system-yet the few anti-creationist titles checked were in hundreds of libraries. In another study of censorship, Professor Balogh concluded that:

“Creationist theories are censored in the schools, in the media, and in textbooks published by major publishers. Libraries, even if they want to, find it difficult to stock creationist books.”(4)

AN OHIO LIBRARY SURVEY

The author surveyed both the Defiance College Library and the Defiance Community Library in Defiance, Ohio. The college was founded in 1857 by the Disciples of Christ, and is still nominally connected to this denomination; many of its faculty and administrators are ordained ministers. I added two new categories to the form used by Melnick, namely anti-creation and the Scopes trial. Neither category seemed to fit into Melnick’s list: books on the Scopes trial do not necessarily deal with creation or evolution, but primarily with the trial. The anti-creation books were written specifically to attack creationism, and thus required a special category.

The religious sections contain a large number of books, especially at the Defiance College, so that it was often difficult to categorize them. I located at Defiance College 243 books about pagan religions, 28 on atheism and 9,537 which dealt primarily with Christianity, Judaism, Islam, the history of Protestantism and biblical studies (see Table 1). Even in the public library (which was relatively small) were a total of 1,091 books in the religion category.

One noticeable trait about the creation books was that most were printed in the 1930s or 1940s, and only four were printed after 1970. On the other hand, the anti-creation books were all copyrighted in the last few years. In addition, many of the creation books advocated a ‘liberal creation view’.

In both libraries were only a total of three books published by the Institute for Creation Research.

Another problem was classifying the books. Some works listed in the card catalogue were listed as ‘missing’, and the same book was occasionally listed in several places. A book primarily on witchcraft may be listed under witchcraft, mythology or even ghosts.

TYPE OF BOOK DEFIANCE COLLEGE LIBRARY DEFIANCE PUBLIC LIBRARY
Pro-Creation Science 13 3
Anti-Creation 10 4
Pro-Evolution Science 192 62
General Religion 9.537 1.091
Occult ‘Science’ 16 30
Mythology, Ghosts, Witchcraft 142 115
Scopes Trial 2 4

This is especially a problem with the evolution category, because books on creationism were also sometimes listed under evolution. The writer endeavored to eliminate duplications, but without a systematic comparison, and especially given the large number of books in some categories, this was difficult. It was nonetheless clear from both this survey and all previous ones that a clear bias against the creation position, however defined, exists.

Advocacy of this censorship is commonly espoused in print Bridgstock is blatant in his recommendation that librarians should ‘not permit [creationist material] . . . onto the shelves of school libraries.”(5) He alleges that this directive is reasonable because of the commonality of what he judges to be ‘lies’ and inaccuracies (the latter a common problem in all kinds of printed matter, as anyone who has done research is aware) in creationist publications. Even if this view is valid for the material he examined, one hardly excludes a specific position on a topic because some of the literature advocating it is poorly done.

In one of the most extensive literature reviews, Cole and Scott computer-searched 2.2 million articles printed from January 1978 to October 1981. They found: ‘. . . only 18 relevant items. Four of these were articles critical of scientific creationism as pseudo-science. Five references were to editorials that discussed the scientific and legal issues involved in attempts to promote scientific creationism in the schools, and nine items were letters to editors expressing opinions on the topic, some in favor and some opposed. None of the 18 items were in support of creationist concepts.

Because SCISEARCH lists only article titles, authors’ names, institutional affiliations, and complete journal citations, our initial search might have missed articles whose titles did not include the key terms. Therefore, we undertook a search using the names of leading scientific creationists….The results of our second computer search were as revealing as those of the first. We turned up a total of 52 citations.

Only six of the 28 scientific creationists included in the sample had published any articles in SCISEARCH journals during the 45 months we surveyed. Two others had written letters to editors ofSClSEARCH journals.

Only a letter by Henry M. Morris, however, dealt with creationism. None of the articles published by these six persons dealt with the concepts of creation-science. We found no articles [on] . . . creationism . . . The six creationists who had published articles in SCISEARCH journals did so in their own technical specialties. None of these articles espoused the assumptions and concepts of scientific creationism. Instead, they covered such topics as the chemistry and physics of food processing and packaging, microbiology culture techniques and methods, and simulation studies of loads, vibrations, and stresses in aircraft wing structures. ‘(l6)

This survey also confirms the finding that almost a complete ban on articles either by creationists or in support of creationism exists. It could also be self-censorship; that is, creationists know they have no chance of getting creationist papers published, so do not submit them.

HOW DOES THIS CENSORSHIP OCCUR?

Most libraries purchase materials primarily from publishers that they view as ‘approved’ or mainline such as Harper and Row or Garland. Those that publish primarily ‘religious’ material are viewed as ‘not objective’ and libraries often will not order, or even shelve, works by them.'(7) Even liberal, older religious publishers are affected by this prejudice, although not as greatly. And most secular outlets will not publish a pro-creationist book.(18) The reason is partially because most send their manuscripts out for professional review, and secular reviewers generally do not evaluate intelligent design works favorably. A book review by Patterson(9) illustrates this antagonism, which is expressed not only against the creationist position, but theism in general. This review explains that only an atheistic philosophical stance is generally viewed as appropriate for a scientific work:

“The concept of the supernatural has roughly the same status in science as does the concept of perpetual motion in thermodynamics, . . . the supernatural has been so thoroughly discredited, so consistently and so many times, that it is no longer admitted in science, nor is any theory or model which depends . . . on the existence or active intervention of anything supernatural.”

For the scientist. . . the universe has only two domains . . . the natural one, and . . . imaginary delusions, errors and mistakes . . . There is no supernatural domain . . . the history of science has confirmed the atheists world view so well and so thoroughly that science has had to declare itself atheistic in all essential details . . . honest scientists . . . deny all supernatural things credible status; they exist only in the domain of imaginary delusions. The situation is quite analogous to that of perpetual motion which was also widely believed in at one time but which is now considered a symptom of scientific incompetence or derangement if the belief is seriously insisted upon . . .

For these reasons, then, I would consider, The Mystery of Life’s Origin, . . . pseudo-science. It tries to convey the message that because serious gaps in current understanding exist, we should seriously consider the creation science [sic] hypothesis …. But that hypothesis depends crucially upon the existence and positive intervention of a supernatural agent to willfully create life by some miraculous (non natural) means. It is this aspect which molds my opinion and not the merits of [the book] ,20

The Mystery of Life’s Origin is a scientific critique of chemical evolution, but also indirectly implies and argues for theism, and for this reason the reviewer was highly critical. Atheism must a priori be accepted, and to even imply that theism may be a valid view of the world could cause a secular reviewer to reject a manuscript not only in science, but other areas. This book was rejected by almost 100 publishers, and finally accepted by Philosophical Press (and shortly thereafter by MIT Press). At the 1990 American Scientific Affiliation Convention at Messiah College, Philip Johnson, a professor of law at the University of California at Berkeley stated: ‘. . . the director of the University of Pennsylvania Press was very interested in publishing my book critical of evolution, but the academic review process enabled the forces of darkness to prevail. One reviewer warned them in a friendly spirit that, if they published the book, they should not expect ever to get another science title. Also, out of bounds is any house which has a textbook interest. It takes a house which is interested in riling up the establishment to take on a book [against evolution] and I object to tying the issue to any political association [by going with a conservative publisher] but to get a book which is critical of evolution published, one has no choice. I think that that is unfortunate, but you may well imagine that this is not an easy topic to get a publisher to take a chance on. Of course, I was more concerned about having the association with a religious press than I was with the political association’. (Transcribed from the tape of his address to the entire conference).

Because of a ‘danger of professional reprisals’ creationists often publish anonymously.(21) The experience of John Howitt, an M.D. and superintendent of a large Canadian hospital, is typical. His book, Evolution: Science Falsely So Called, now in its 20th edition with more than a quarter of a million copies in print, was published anonymously because of concerns related to retaliation. It did not become widely known that he authored it until after he retired. This publication, interestingly, ‘had a strong influence in making Dr. Duane Gish . . . an ardent advocate of creationism’.(22)

BOOK BURNING

The censorship problem is well illustrated in the history of the publication of the high school textbook, Biology: A Search for Order in Complexity, which had the input of a dozen or so Ph.D. level creationists. After approaching 15 textbook publishers ‘not one of them would even look at the manuscript! (23) The textbook was finally published by Zondervan, an evangelical publisher. It sold well in Christian schools but made little headway in the public schools, although several states placed it on their ‘Approved” list’.(24)

Then various court decisions actually ‘banned’ the book, and as a result, most school districts refused to even consider it. The book is void of open proselytizing and direct creationist content, and is very close in content to a standard biology textbook. A few statements infer that God’s design can be seen in the structures the text discusses, but the text as a whole is well balanced, even briefly explaining evolution theory fairly well. Yet, because it was written by creationists and tried to look at both sides, it was banned in many states.

To be fair, although problems are common, there have always been some publishers that accept creationist material. One is a Phi Delta Kappa monograph in the prestigious fastback series on creation/evolution (Phi Delta Kappa is the honor society in education) which the writer published.(25) Dorothy Allford, a medical doctor, published Instant Creation-Not Evolution with Stein and Day, and Putnam published a work edited by Mosma, Behind the Dim Unknown. The chapter authors include Duane Gish, Russell Artist and George Howe, although several progressive creationists are included. Philosophical Library has also published several creationist books- not surprising in that they publish a wide variety of literature, from good science to far-out pseudo-science.

Nonetheless, this does not negate the fact that, in general, extreme censorship exists. In spite of it, or because of this problem, Morris(26) claims that the average publication record of creationists is the same as non-creationists in areas not relating to creationism, or their creationist conclusions must be heavily disguised. Morris also claims that the ICR staff publication record is typical of creationists worldwide, and that their ten scientists ‘. . . have published at least 150 research papers and ten books in their own scientific fields-all in standard, scientific, refereed journals or through secular book publishers-in addition to hundreds of creationist articles and perhaps 50 books in creationism and related fields.'(27)

The extensive literature review by Cole and Scott(28) also found that creationists publish science research in their field, but only non-creationist articles. Because these researchers publish in non-creation areas, often prolifically, demonstrates that they are competent and that articles espousing creationism clearly are censored. A few creationists, though, have actually been able to have openly creationist works published in secular journals. Dudley Whitney, an editor of various agricultural journals who later became a creationist, ‘. . . was also one of the few creationists in modern time who was able to get solidly scientific, frankly creationist, articles in established journals. In 1935, he published an article defending a young earth in the prestigious Annual Report of the Committee on Geologic Time, the paper having been invited by Dr. Alfred C. Lane, the eminent geologist . .'(29)

“Interestingly though, the publication of these frankly creationist articles,” according to Morris, resulted in “such a prejudicial reaction that the journal finally had to close down.” Unfortunately, Cole and Scott’s statement(30) is all too true: “Creationists frequently claim that they do conduct research that supports . . . creationism. They argue that the scientific establishment that controls the selection of articles for the major journals is biased against their views. Thus . . . evidence for the unpopular view is suppressed.”

In an examination of all literature printed in secular magazines about creationism from 1971 to 1994, a grand total of four articles out of over 4,000 were located which defended creationism, all of which were followed by one or more articles which tried to ‘refute’ the article supporting creationism.(3)’ One appeared in Phi Delta Kappa, others in Academia, Creation/Evolution and Science Digest. The above literature search was not able to locate a single article in any secular magazine which defended the civil rights of creationists.(32)

Some creationists even have articles accepted which are never published after the publisher found out who they were. A reviewer of one article said ‘Best article on topic I’ve ever seen!’ yet it was rescinded. One journal even compiles a list of creationists from letters to the editor and other sources such as Creation Research Society Quarterly articles. Many creationists publish extensively but most all are closet creationists, and it is almost unknown for an outspoken creationist to publish in leading journals. Their papers are rejected by a ‘referee process’ which is often actually a board of censors. Many editors openly admit that they will not publish a paper that does not conform to their world view.

BIAS IN THE REVIEW PROCESS

One review of the library journals that publish book reviews revealed that, out of over 100,000 book reviews, hundreds of anti-creation books were reviewed, yet only a single review of a recently published pro-creationist work was found. This work was co-authored by a Harvard trained chemist who is not a fiat creationist, yet the reviewer called the book “self-serving,” a “creationist’s tract” and several other name-calling epithets.(33)

Consulting Books in Print and other book lists finds hundreds of books and monographs on creationism in print. Actually more exist in support of creationism than evolution (although the vast majority of the former were printed by religious publishing houses). Thus the bias exists at the first step in the library ordering process.

These are only a few of the reasons why recently published overtly creationist materials are not often found in public or even university libraries. Yet all of this is clearly against American Library Association policy, as shown in the following statement in The Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom. “. . . according to ALA policy as enunciated in the Library Bill of Rights and elaborated in the policy on Diversity in Collection Development, . . . Libraries should strive to include in their collections the broadest diversity of materials, including ones which may be personally offensive to the librarians .” (34)

The above ALA statement is related to the propriety of including the book, Jake and Honeybunch, a highly controversial work which is considered by some to be openly racist, in a library. The library journal concluded that if libraries refused to purchase this book because they personally objected to its content (which most reviewers admitted was highly objectionable) they were practicing censorship.(35) Melnick notes that librarians tend to find trivial reasons for excluding creation-science materials from their libraries’.(36)

Many librarians even classify creationist books as religion and anti-creationist books as science. Rectifying this problem has been made more difficult by journals on censorship censoring creationist articles on censorship. The empirical studies on censorship of creationist books cited above, that found that American libraries have on their shelves thousands of anti-creationist books yet few pro-creationist works, were sent to the American Library Association journal on censorship.(37) Yet, the journal did not even display the courtesy of rejecting the article. An update study in 1994 came to the same conclusions. For example, The Creator in the Courtroom by Geisler was in a mere 46 of the 3,000 libraries in the OCLC system, whereas Kitcher’s anti-creationist Abusing Science was in 1,072. When creationists try to deal with this censorship, they are accused of trying to ‘foist’ their ideas on others by “packing libraries-especially in schools-with creationist materials, harassing those that . . . don’t meet their quotas .” (38)

When creationists object to placing pornography or racist material in schools, they are labeled ‘censors’ and book burners.

CENSORSHIP OF PRESENTATIONS

Creationists are also commonly refused permission to present papers at scientific conventions. In many cases the rejection occurred even before the reviewer received the paper. James Clark, Department of Cell Biology at Baylor College of Medicine rejected a paper from a well known creationist even before it was received. In a letter of April 20, 1983 giving his reasons, Clark stated that, “We reserve the right to exclude any person from participating…[and creationism, we have concluded] . . . should be deliberately excluded from science classes and conventions.”

This paper was rejected, not because of the content–it was not directly on evidence for creationism–but due solely to the author’s own personal beliefs. Obviously, much that goes under the purview of science (such as evolution) is not science in the methodological sense. Evolution, being history, cannot be replicated, yet is not censored. The best a scientist can do is extrapolate from the present to the past.

In another instance, Ham relates the case of Snelling and Mackay who were denied the privilege of presenting a paper at a professional conference. In his words:

“As the battle continues . . . we can only expect even greater opposition . .. Dr. Andrew Snelling (our resident geologist) and John Mackay last year presented a paper at a secular, scientific conference on the origin of coal. It was very well received by many even though it . . . suggested most of the coal deposits [were not] . . . produced . . . as a result of slow processes in peat swamps over millions of years. It was a very technical paper with hundreds of hours of careful research and documentation. This year, John and Andrew again registered for the same conference to present further findings from their research, which is based upon observations of rock outcrops in the Newcastle area of New South Wales.

“However, this year the organizers of the conference wrote a rather emotional letter informing them that because they had ‘misquoted’ a scientist who spoke at the conference last year, they were not allowed to attend again this year. John and Andrew did not misquote the scientist concerned! The real problem, of course, is the fact that John and Andrew are creationists, and therefore . . . cannot be allowed to attend the conference!. . . The above example is typical of what usually occurs in response to creationists trying to have their material published (or otherwise heard) in secular circles. As soon as it is known that they are creationists, their material is usually barred from such publications and they are denied access to such conferences.”(39)

Creationists are also commonly censored from speaking to secular audiences. And when they are permitted to make presentations, much heckling and obvious gross disrespect are not rare. Krug notes that,

‘When . . . the famous creationist, Duane T. Gish . . . [lectured] on campus, he was mercilessly heckled by students and faculty alike, with members of the science department in the lead. At one point, Anthropology Professor Tim White strode onto the stage and thrust a human skull at the befuddled creationist, declaring “That s your ancestor! ” ‘(40)

Although Gish was allowed to try to speak, he was certainly not freely heard. The writer has repeatedly had the same experience. Creationists are not uncommonly invited to speak on university campuses because many students view it as an opportunity to heckle and mock them for entertainment. The problem of a creationist’s words being twisted, often to look foolish, ignorant or stupid, is so common that Ham states that the only condition on which he will be interviewed by the media is if it is a live presentation. In his words, there is a … large amount of editing to a pre-recorded program. The clever dubbing that often follows, too frequently nullifies our presentation and reduces it to the level of comic opera. That is why, at the present time, we will only . . . consider interviews by any television or radio station provided they are transmitted live. We must also add here that, out of all the secular newspaper interviews we have ever had . . . there is probably not one written where we have not been quoted wrongly. (4)

Often the censorship is less open, but the effect is the same:

‘. . . The Hillsdale College catalog proclaims . . . the commitment [the college] has made to the Judeo-Christian heritage. A question must then be raised in an institution where the liberating arts are stressed: Why is a renowned creation scientist who has contributed much to the study of the origin of the universe, written several books and debated the world’s top scientists, not invited to speak in the biology department here at Hillsdale? Archie Allison, coordinator of the creation-evolution debate, said that memos were sent to faculty stating that Creation Scientist Dr. Duane Gish would be available to speak in classes.

Rodney Walker, sophomore biology major, gave information about Gish to Professor Platt in the biology department. Walker returned days later to inquire if Gish would be speaking in any classes and was told no. Said Walker, “I can’t understand why they wouldn’t let a person as renowned as Dr. Gish speak in class.” . . . Professor Platt and Drs. Townsend and Heckenlively were consulted as to why Gish would not be presenting the creationist’s perspective in their classes. Platt said that Gish’s talk “was not on any topics we were discussing” and that there was much to do to keep classes on schedule. Platt, who attended the April 9 meeting, said he wished that more students and faculty would have been present. Heckenlively said that there was not enough time and added that Gish’s topic did not relate to Bio-statistics.

Division Three chairman Samuel Townsend, who heard Gish speak years ago, said of the creation-science position, “It’s not science.” . . . “Evolution”, said Townsend, “can be known by means of the scientific method.” . . . Class schedules and unrelated topics may be justifiable reasons for not having a guest speaker. Yet, if the department truly desired to give a fair assessment of the whole issue of creation and evolution, time could have been set aside for one of the world s foremost scientists. It seems . . . the issue . . . may be, as Gish said, that “they are afraid of convincing evidence contrary to their views.”

Whether creationism is a science . . . is not the issue here. The issue is the freedom of ideas presented in the classroom. Townsend said that he considers it dishonest not to allow creationism in the public schools. Yet, is it not equally dishonest to keep scientific creationism out of the collegiate classroom and only present the position of evolution when discussing the origins of man and the universe? With Hillsdale’s Judeo-Christian heritage there should be an openness to both sides of the debate on creationism and evolution. Is it consistent with our mission to not allow the whole issue to be presented? (42)

CENSORSHIP OF CAMPUS MAIL

Also at Bowling Green State University the administrators tried, fortunately unsuccessfully in the end, to censor their campus mail. This writer had sent by campus mail to several of his fellow faculty members several articles about his litigation against the university then. This information evidently embarrassed several administrators. One stated that he objected to the writer using the campus mail to send this type of material. Shortly thereafter, the university established what they called a ‘solicitation policy’, which was blatant open censorship. The AAUP report stated:

‘For the first time in the history of BGSU, the right of faculty members to use university facilities to communicate with each other is being restricted. The mechanism for administrative control of faculty communication is called the “solicitation policy”. It prohibits . . . using the internal mail service [for] . . . distributing notices which contain derogatory or critical comments. Mr. Mason, executive assistant to the president, has been given the job of administering the “solicitation policy”.(43)

The AAUP called this an ‘insult to our profession’ and printed information sheets that stated they were forced to pay for [mailing]… because the University Censor will not allow us to use the internal mail system. The outcry from the faculty was so great that the solicitation policy, although not rescinded, was modified.

CENSORSHIP IN TEXTBOOKS

Probably one of the most serious and common areas of censorship of support for the intelligent design world view and theism in general is from textbooks.(44) The writer’s review of over 200 textbooks found virtually all of them assume a priori that God does not exist, rarely adopting even the agnostic position. A textbook he used for several terms, Anthropology, by Ember andEmber(45) assumed both atheism and ‘reverse creationism’, that is, humans created God, not the other way around. Not giving credence to even the agnostic view, the textbook teaches that God is a human creation thought up to explain that which cannot yet be explained by science (and when science fills the gap, the need for God will evaporate completely, the authors argue). The only valid question is how and why we created Him.

Several theories have been developed to answer these two questions. One says that we created God out of a ‘psychological need’ for a mental crutch to help us deal with the insecurities of life and explain certain events, such as the universe’s existence. Another view is that ‘the God belief’ is functional because it unifies society, facilitating social harmony and societal bonds which reduce the likelihood of suicide and other problems that stem from Durkheim’s concept of anomie. Another theory of why humans created God was developed by Karl Marx and teaches that the idea of God is used by the powerful to control the powerless.

The only legally acceptable position for American public schools, would be to take the agnostic view. This view would note that some people believe that God exists, others deny this belief. In this view, religion is seen as a cultural universal. Hypotheses about why religion exists could include the interaction of humans and God allowed humans to have learned about Him.

An example would be that which is learned through revelation as recorded in the Scriptures. Since all persons came from Adam (who clearly knew that God created him) this belief would be a universal heritage, modified only by time and local conditions. Thus, religion would be a cultural universal for this reason. This option could be presented in addition to the reverse creationism position, helping the text be fair and balanced by presenting both sides.

In endeavoring to find a philosophy book suitable for a Christian college, I was unable to locate a single one which presented even an agnostic position! All argued either vigorously or subtly (which is more pernicious because the indoctrination is less blatant, thus more palatable) for atheism. I have also never been able to find a suitable biology text for my college class in this area- all of them I have examined directly or indirectly teach atheism. This is clearly unconstitutional, yet is the norm in higher education. Not only do the textbooks argue for atheism, but in the writer’s college classes, his science, and even philosophy professors almost without exception argued, at times vigorously, for atheism. Theism is commonly ridiculed and criticized, or at least is given little credence.

A text I finally selected, Philosophy and Introduction of the Art of Wondering by Dr. Christian concludes that four ‘wild dragons’ exist which man could not explain for eons, and thus resorted to the concept of God. These wild dragons-the origin of life, man, matter, and the universe-have now been ‘tamed’ by science. We now understand, he concludes, where life and humans came from, and no longer need to resort to a God hypothesis. And these explanations are, the book argues, more than a hypothesis.46 Quoting Cyril Ponnamperuma (who won a Nobel prize for his work) he concludes,

“We now know that once the right molecules accumulated at the right time and the right arrangement, life could begin almost instantaneously .”(47)

Is this not openly atheistic apologetics?-not to mention openly false.(48) Nothing close to life has ever been created in the lab by the world’s most talented scientists working with billions of dollars of equipment. Evolution is assumed throughout the text to be factual (and this is not even a biology text), and is constantly referred to as the explanation for not only life, but for the existence of the universe itself. As ‘we have demonstrated that life evolves, both the early stages and to man, belief in the Creator is, the text concludes, ‘unnecessary’. It blatantly concludes that evolution is mankind’s creator, not God, ‘It produced him according to its criteria . . . [our] environment is the creator; man is the creature.'(49) In the words of Evans:

“Sources of hostility to religious belief in modern thought and politics are not far to seek; familiar enough, we may assume, not to require a long discussion …. The … notion that religious faith is merely superstition and thus irrelevant to the world we live in, since its precepts have been supplanted or discredited by “science”. All religions, in this view, are mystical efforts to explain things that have natural causes not yet deduced by reason. This too has been a leading feature of modern thought in virtually all its aspects. Such thinking is powerfully aided by the belief that Darwinian evolution offers scientific answers to questions about human life that were previously sought for in the counsels of religion.”(50)

CENSORSHIP OF CREATIONISTS HAS A LONG HISTORY

As early as 1936 the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) agreed to consider a presentation by the Evolution Protest Movement (EPM) criticizing evolution on scientific grounds. A well articulated non-religious paper was sent to the BBC. After six weeks, it was returned with the remark, “We are of the opinion that the arguments in it are not of such a character as to constitute a basis on which such a debate should be arranged with a scientist who accepts the theory of evolution.”

The EPM concluded that, “No one could be found to meet successfully the arguments in it.” The rejected talk was reproduced with comments by the EPM.(51)

Several adherents of the EPM later wrote to the BBC to determine why information criticizing evolution was censored by the station. The BBC then claimed that it was ‘quite prepared to consider for broadcast a positive expression of opinion by scientists of repute’ who wished to criticize the theory. The EPM then asked Lt.-Colonel Davies, D.Sc., Ph.D., F.R.S.E., F.G.S. (the British are more title oriented than Americans) to accept the offer. The talk was prepared, and sent to Prof. A. E. Trueman for review. The BBC concluded from this review that the talk should be rejected because, “Although Trueman did not dispute the facts adduced by Davies, he thought that Davies “use” of these facts would “mislead ” the public and “confuse” them as to the “actual state of affairs, (52)

Davies’ rejected manuscript was later also published by the EPM. Although little outcry occurred among the secular press, some religious presses expressed much concern. The Scotsman reported that the criticism of the BBC for “an abuse of its monopoly calculated to undermine free speech in this country in presenting the subject of evolution” (53) was justified and that the BBC has almost consistently ignored the theistic position, focusing almost exclusively on the atheistic or agnostic viewpoint. The article asked, ‘Could Communism do its nefarious job more insidiously and more thoroughly?(54) The secretary of EPM again wrote to the BBC, sending them the article from The Scotsman and requesting them to consider a series of talks or a talk which presented the case against evolution.

Three months later, after not receiving a reply, another copy and the clipping from The Scotsman was sent asking, if ‘there is, in fact, a ban on any broadcast in which the scientific or Christian case against evolution is stated?’ Their reply dated July 26, 1953, a full 17 years after the initial proposal, claimed that no ban on the presenting of the information against evolution existed, but this “does not mean that an obligation lies upon us to afford space for a broadcast such as you suggest.”

They then, ironically, stated that if a script was submitted it will be expected “to be a contribution to the study of biological change, whether from a scientific or religious standpoint . . .” The BBC thus evidently accepted macroevolution as fact, and contributions must support only one position, that of evolution or ‘biological change, whether from a scientific or religious standpoint,” and they will not air the other side.

In a pamphlet published by The Evolution Protest Movement entitled, Pernicious Propaganda by the BBC; a Protest (undated), Douglas Dewar, F.R.S., concluded, for years, despite the protest of The Evolution Protest Movement, the B.B.C. has sedulously propagated the doctrine of organic evolution and refused to broadcast a talk dealing with the scientific objections to . . . [it].’ It then discussed one evolutionist’s presentation which, they concluded, comes “very near to establishing a record for the greatest number of controversial assertions uttered in so short a period of time.” The opposers of evolutionary naturalism were not permitted to respond to this presentation.

In the Autumn of 1942, the BBC did a series of twelve broadcasts entitled, ‘Man’s Place in Nature’. In another pamphlet entitled, “The BBC Abuses its Monopoly” printed in 1947, Davies summarizes his frustration in endeavoring to respond to what he concluded were very one-sided presentations of evolutionary naturalism. The pamphlet delineated some of their concerns, and contained a review of the correspondence endeavoring to gain air time to respond to what Davies concluded were grossly inaccurate statements in this series. The conclusion was, ‘. . . it seems clear that the B.B.C. are refusing justice to the public who they now know to have been misinformed in matters of grave moment . . . to have allowed misleading statements to be given out, and then refuse us permission to broadcast anything on the other side, constitutes a gross misuse of the monopoly of the air [waves] granted to you by the Postmaster General.(55)

REMOVAL OF CREATIONIST BOOKS FROM LIBRARIES

Creationist books, even after having been catalogued and placed on the shelves, are commonly removed. Bowling Green State University had for several years subscribed to the Creation Research Society Quarterly at the request of a science faculty member. The writer, in endeavoring to locate the journal, discovered that it was not on the current periodical shelves, and that the several bound volumes of the journal were also missing. The writer strongly suspected censorship because he had previously overheard several professors mention that these journals should not be on the shelves for the reason that they ‘may confuse students’. Melnick also investigated this matter, finding that it was a ‘department’ decision not to renew the subscription and library policy, they claimed, does not allow for what they call “spotted collections of periodicals,” (56) Melnick concluded, “It certainly smacks of censorship somewhere along the line . . . and these are precisely the kinds of cases that need to be reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association.”(57)

This writer and others wrote to them about this case, and they ignored all communications. Thus, we have the situation of one of the major journals focusing on censorship apparently censoring creationists’ data on censorship! Interestingly, after these charges of censorship were made, the university elected to resubscribe, demonstrating that concern over censorship can bring a positive response.

ANTI-CREATION BIGOTS

Out of an effort to be tactful, writers about this topic often avoid the proper sociological terms when describing the anti-creationist bias discussed above. Specifically, anti-creationists are properly classified by sociologists as bigots. Although this is presently an emotionally laden word, it nonetheless describes a personality constellation of persons who express unreasonable hatred based on unfounded views towards an opposing group which they identify as ‘they’ in a ‘we vs. they’ dichotomy, and then highly inaccurately over-generalize about ‘them’.(55) These persons are intolerant of not only the creationist world view, but creationists as persons.(59) This bigotry, although often blatant, such as Bridgstock’s statement that ‘Creationists are not like other people ‘(60) or Merle Bergman’s that ‘They do not have much of a grasp on reality ‘(61) is usually more disguised. For example, Finniss stated, “Unfortunately for creationists, evolution is . . . not theory but fact. Let s face the fact: We are related to the ape and every other form of life on this planet . . . Today, creationists [reject this view] …. Lets let them crawl back into their caves and leave the explanation of life to true scientists.”(62)

A sociological examination of this quote reveals that it is replete with both over-generalizations and name-calling, both traits of a bigot. Although it is true that space may have limited full clarity, the name-calling and not bothering to define even basic words such as ‘creationists’, clearly reflects intolerance. The concerns of most creationists today were expressed well by James Watt, former Secretary of the Interior under President Reagan: “[In the Scopes trial] At issue was not whether the doctrine of evolution should take the place of . . . Creation. The question was whether the theory of evolution could be discussed at all, whether it could even be mentioned in the classroom. Interestingly enough, Scopes lost the trial; Darwin s theory could not be taught in the schools. But the result was a national public rebellion. Censorship was as wrong then as it is now. We believers in the Old Testament want the theories of both evolution and Creation taught. We modern conservatives are not afraid of discussion of all the possibilities of unproven theories. Unfortunately, in many school systems, the liberals have now censored the teaching of Creation. Yet is censorship by liberals right and by conservatives wrong? (63)

SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS

It has been documented that both discrimination and censorship against creationists are extremely common, especially in academia. A major response to deal with this problem is first awareness, and then to endeavor to be vigilant in dealing with individual issues as they arise at the local level. Secular humanists have responded in this way with a high level of success. Many libraries now contain pornographic literature, openly accessible to all patrons, that was illegal to distribute only a few years ago. Their activity and vigilance in this area has produced this state of affairs. Likewise, the censorship against creationists must be dealt with in similar ways. This situation must be understood for what it is-religious bigotry and intolerance.

REFERENCES

  1. Nielsen, R., 1984.’Book burning at the Library.Human Events, November 17,p. 19.
  2. LaHaye, T, 1985. London schools ban famous books. Christian Inquirer, 15(6):22.
  3. D’Souza, D., 1986.The new liberal censorship.Policy Review, Fall., pp. 9-15.
  4. Morris, H. M, 1984.History of Modern Creationism, Master Books, San Diego, California, USA.
  5. Bergman, J, 1994 The Public Acceptance of Evolution, unpublished paper
  6. Eidsmoe, I, 1985. Books: ‘The Criterion’. The Christian News, July 8, p. 12.
  7. Thomas, C., 1983.Book Burning, Crossway Books, Westchester, Illinois, USA.
  8. LaHaye, T, 1984.The Hidden Censors, Fleming H. Revell Co., Old Tappan, New Jersey, USA.
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  10. Melnick, I A., 1982.Personal interview.
  11. Ham, K A. (Ed), 1985. Darwin school bans Ex Nihilo. Creation Science Foundation Prayer News, January, p. 2.
  12. Ham, Ref. II, p. 2.
  13. MelnickRef. 9, pp. 110-111.
  14. Balogh, S., 1985.Members’ notable notes. Universitas, 17(2), February:2.
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  16. Cole, H. P. and Scott, E. C., 1982.Creation-science and scientific research.Phi Delta Kappa, April, p. 557.
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  33. Beck, C. W., 1985. Review of The Mystery of Life’s Origin: Reassessing Current Theories by Charles B.Thaxtonet al, New York Philosophical Library, 1984. In: Choice, 22(6):834.
  34. American Library Association, 1983. The Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, March, p. 2.
  35. Jenkinson, Ref. 17.
  36. Melnick, I A., 1984. Censorshipupdate 1984. Bible Science Newsletter, Vol. 23, NQ 2, February 1985, p. 6.
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  54. Ref. 53.
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Dr. Jerry Bergman has seven degrees, including in biology and psychology, and a Ph.D. in evaluation and research, from Wayne State University, Detroit and Bowling Green State University and other colleges. He has taught at Bowling Green State University, Ohio, and at the University of Toledo. He is now a professor of science at Northwest College, Archbold, Ohio, and was recently awarded his second Ph.D., this one in biology.