Charles A. Rodenberger
FOR THE 2014 TFS MEETING
After 40 years of attending the Folklore Society meetings this is my first paper to present. And the worst possible thing happened. I am in the same session as James Ward Lee, the best paper presenter in the Society. Fortunately I don’t have to follow him, which would have been worse. I will never forget his paper on eating pie.
For more than sixty years I have been involved with the discussion of whether life evolved or was created by an intelligent designer. Like most everyone I grew up with the belief that mankind evolved from some mud puddle being struck by lightning, creating a living cell that continued to mutate into higher forms of life culminating in mankind, by way of monkeys and apes. According to the TFS explanation of folklore that would be the “traditional knowledge of a culture”. It goes on to say “although it can be closely related to history at times, folklore concerns the thing about a group that are not usually found in historical records.” That is an accurate statement of our belief in evolution.
In the summer of 1957 I was working for General Dynamics when my former boss in the Air Force, Major Mark Kite, came to live with us until he could move his family to Fort Worth. We had both been separated from the Air Force in 1953 at Reese AFB in Lubbock. He returned to college to obtain a degree in Civil Engineering at SW Louisiana. He gave me a book written by his department head that took about two hours to read. THE BIBLE AND MODERN SCIENCE by Dr. Henry M. Morris attacked the theory of evolution and offered a number of scientific arguments for creation and a young earth. I scoffed and said he must be a little nuts because everyone believed in evolution.
Mark explained that Dr. Morris held a PhD degree from Rice University with an expertise in hydrology (the study of water movement that led to his book The Genesis Flood). I thought to myself “Why don’t I look into this further? I am educated in the physical sciences with an engineering degree, several years of practice, and currently taking graduate courses in nuclear engineering.” But I was unfamiliar with the life sciences. So I went to the Fort Worth Public Library to look at journals in biology, anthropology and archeology.
I was shocked at the bitter language in the journals used by the scientists attacking each other. We don’t do that in engineering papers. We disagree but in a gentlemanly fashion. They were responding to the announcement in 1953 that the Piltdown Man was a fraud. In the gravel pit near the town of Piltdown in England an old stained human skull was found in 1908. The big braincase belonged to a modern human being. It had been stained to make it appear old. The jawbone came from an orangutan or chimpanzee. Several suspects are still being investigated for the forgery. One is Sir Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, who played golf at Piltdown and didn’t believe in evolution.
The Piltdown Man was an excellent example of evolution folklore. A scientist, or an amateur, will find a bone, a skull or a chipped stone and immediately craft a story about what it is and how it got there. The Piltdown Man was the English answer to the discoveries of Neanderthals and cave men in Germany and France. They needed a discovery to compete with those in Europe.
Once you have a bone, you have a story. The fossil entered more folklore when it was introduced as evidence by Clarence Darrow in defense of John Scopes during the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial. Darrow died in 1938, fifteen years before Piltdown Man was exposed as a fraud.
Before being exposed over 500 doctoral dissertations were produced about the evolution of the skull. One of the few scholars who questioned it at the time was the Oxford scholar Earnest Tolbert (Bull) Adams from Glen Rose, TX. who completed his course work at Oxford in 1914. He was an amateur archeologist who excavated many sites in Texas and New Mexico. Upon seeing the famous fossil first-hand he wrote home to his fiancée, Mable, that it was a fake.
Glen Rose is one of the most famous locations of dinosaurs in Texas. Home of the Dinosaur Valley State Park with the famous tracks of dinosaurs in the Paluxy River it also is home to the Creation Evidence Museum where evolution is questioned using the same evidence of tracks and fossils that are used to argue for evolution.
How can the same evidence be used for both sides? How can we have stories of an earth that is 4.5 billion years old with another saying that the earth and the stars are only 6000 years old? It is all based on the assumptions that are used.
Having taken 12 hours of graduate courses in nuclear engineering, I said that there was no problem in solving this conundrum scientifically. All I had to do was look at the brand new carbon dating technology. I researched the literature that had just been published and immediately ran into a problem. Carbon-14 dating made some assumptions; one, that the amount of carbon 14 molecules have been constant in the atmosphere for 100,000 years. Whoa, that didn’t agree with the creation assumption that the atmosphere was only 6,000 years old. I reasoned that if the young earth was true then the C-14 dates would be fairly accurate for the last couple of thousand years but would have an anomaly for older dates. When I looked at the dating that had been done at that time, I saw evidence of such a discontinuity. So I am back at square one. Other radioactive dating techniques also assume that the radioactive minerals were originally formed with no daughter atoms, which is questionable to me.
Creation science is based on history as recorded in the Bible. A literal reading establishes that the earth and heavens were created about 6000 years ago in six normal days with God resting on the seventh. Evolution folklore assumes that God had nothing to do with the present cosmos and in the early 1900’s postulated that it came into existence from a natural occurrence of a Big-Bang where energy was released into space in an instantaneous explosion. I will discuss that later.
Science requires that others repeat the experiment to confirm a fact. We can’t reproduce a one time creation experiment. We can only look at current evidence and guess what happened in the past.
The Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose publishes the following folklore:
And on a day, perhaps about 113 million years ago,” one day not lost in the past,” wrote Louis Jacobs in Lone Star Dinosaurs, the ancient creatures walked across the coastal flats. Their feet left perfect footprint impressions. Millions of years later that “day” (or probably series of days) would live again when flooding river waters would scour away the various rock layers down to that particular stratum of Cretaceous rock, known as Glen Rose Limestone.
Does anyone but me wonder about how high the mountain would have to be to have the flooding water scour it down for millions of years?
Down the road in Glen Rose, the Creation Evidence Museum looks at the same tracks and comes up with their folklore that they found tracks of men along with the dinosaur tracks, proving their contention that men and dinosaurs lived at the same time a few thousand years ago and that the Noachian Flood produced the dinosaur fossils and covered the tracks.
When you enter the Fort Worth Museum of Science and Technology you are bombarded with dinosaurs and the millions of years scenario. From their web site:
- Paluxysaurus jonesi lived around 112 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period based on fossils discovered at the Jones Ranch in Hood County near Glen Rose, Texas. The dinosaur was originally identified as the Pleurocelus. However, in 2006, based on years of research, the massive sauropod was re-identified by then Southern Methodist University Geology Master’s student Peter Rose, as belonging to a different species and was named Paluxysaurus jonesi.
Why he didn’t name it Rosei I don’t know.
The Museum assumes that dinosaurs were the dominant terrestrial vertebrates for a period of 160 million years and that they disappeared comparatively abruptly about 65 million years ago. If that is true, how do you explain that recent discoveries have found dinosaur fossils with liquid blood and soft tissue in the bones. I don’t think millions of years fits that possibility.
Another part of the Museum is dedicated to the petroleum industry and particularly the Barnett Shale in Tarrant and surrounding counties. Because I started my career as a petroleum engineer I was attracted to the exhibit. Their 4-D theater, called Energy Blast is a 6-minute movie experience that tells the story with beautiful computer graphics and loud music of a Big Bang showing the atoms forming into swirls and creating galaxies, stars and planets with earth forming and prehistoric life miraculously appearing. The Barnett Shale is formed millions of years ago at the bottom of the ocean. I was offended because oil and gas can’t survive millions of years due to bacteria activity. Also oil, gas, diamonds and coal all have some carbon 14 using the latest laboratory testing making them at most a few thousand years old.
To get the official evolution folklore you have to go to the National Center for Science Education, the only national organization devoted to defending the teaching of evolution in public schools. Their official statement includes: In the biological sciences, evolution is a scientific theory that explains the emergence of new varieties of living things in the past and in the present; it is not a "theory of origins" about how life began. This mission is vital because of evolution's central importance to the conceptual foundations of the modern biomedical, life, and earth sciences.
I was interested in their statement that evolution is not a “theory of origins”. So I had to look at these theories. I found this statement: “Scientists know life on Earth began more than 3.8 billion years ago, but exactly how it began has long been an unanswered question”. The folklore talks about spontaneous generation of life from a “soup” that contained water and minerals that were energized by lightning to create organic molecules that then evolved into more complex molecules. The problem with that is that current research on living cells finds that the cells are controlled by RNA and DNA that programs their activities and reproduction with enough information to fill an encyclopedia. How this came into reality is the unanswered question.
In How Stuff Works Marshall Brain explains How Evolution Works with question #3 being Where Did the First Living Cell Come From? His answer was that the first living cells were too complicated to exist.
He concludes with a statement that I agree with: Speaking in general terms, life can only have come from one of two possible places:
- Spontaneous creation - Random chemical processes created the first living cell.
- Supernatural creation - God or some other supernatural power created the first living cell.
Because of the impossibility of spontaneous evolution their folklore has been upgraded to argue that life came to earth from outer space. This idea originated with Fred Hoyle who stated “The chance that higher life forms might have emerged in this way is comparable with the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein”. He then postulated the idea that life forms were delivered to earth from aliens in outer space and that is the story that you see on the History Channel on TV. Now then where did the aliens get the life forms? This leads to more folklore.
Let’s look at the folklore called the BIG BANG THEORY. A Belgian priest named Georges Lemaître first suggested the big bang theory in the 1920s when he theorized that the universe began the explosion of a single primordial atom of energy.
I have a problem with this idea because of my understanding of physics that when you explode a charge the material will move away from the point. In an infinite vacuum it would continue to move away forever. There are no natural forces to cause the particles to come together and bump into each other forming more complex molecules.
The evolution folklore on biological evolution has all living things evolving from a single organism with the Tree of Life scenario that has humans evolving from simian ancestors. You can read this today in the National Pornographic, I mean Geographic Magazine. Back in the early 1920’s this thinking led to the following reasoning: the polygenetic theory of human evolution concluded that orangutans should be crossed with humans of the "yellow race," gorillas with humans of the "black race," chimpanzees with the "white race," and gibbons with "the more brachycephalic peoples of Europe" (he probably meant Jews).
To test this idea, they turned to Ilya Ivanov, an eminent Russian biologist who achieved considerable success in the field of artificial insemination of race horses.
By the 1920's it was in his head to try humans and monkeys. He obtained Soviet government funding plus private funding from Germany, England and the US that he used to repeatedly inseminate Chimpanzees with human sperm before he reversed the process and tried to impregnate at least one human female. Of course none of the experiments were successful. Today a computer search has him listed as “the mad scientist”.
I am sure that there have been similar covert experiments since then and probably still going on with no results because I am convinced that we are coded with our DNA to reproduce only with our own kind. Humans can crossbreed with other humans but not with animals.
Finally it is interesting to me how this folklore is driving our space program. Our national goal to put men on Mars is to find life that must have existed on Mars because we can’t believe that we are the only planet in the universe to have life. All of our scientific findings of the other planets in our solar system show there is no life on any other planet. So we search for other “earth-like” planets in the vast solar system because we just can’t believe the concept that we are the only created beings. For over 40 years we have had a project SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, that has found nothing, but we can’t believe it because we have been to the movies and know that Captain Kirk has been there.
My studies for the past 60 years have convinced me that we are unique, we have been here 6000 years, and the earth has been formed by catastrophic geology after a world-wide flood destroyed the first inhabitants. I further believe that there will be a new earth after this one has been destroyed by a massive electromagnetic storm from the sun. But I bet you will have your own folklore about that.
Copyright C. A. Rodenberger 2014 2732 wordsI have a copy of the audio that was recorded at the meeting. If you want that let me know.