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Creation's Tiny Mystery
Chapter 6: Reaction from the National Science Foundation

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[p. 79]

Another Proposal — Another Denial

In 1979 I submitted a new proposal to the National Science Foundation to investigate polonium halos in minerals and other substances. This one was specifically designed to test the NSF pulse on the primordial origin of polonium halos in granites. The implications for creation were clearly stated. In a few words I asked for funds to continue my research. In this brief proposal there were no peripheral issues, such as superheavy elements, for the reviewers to focus on. In this instance they could not escape commenting on my published evidences for creation. They could legitimately criticize the proposal because of its brevity. But if their reactions to the evidence for creation were positive, I could resubmit a longer proposal giving the necessary details. The reviewers' responses would reflect whether they were interested in probing for the truth about creation or in maintaining the status quo of evolution.

Not surprisingly, most of the peer reviews of this new proposal were quite negative. Five reviewers gave it a "poor" rating. I was elated, however, for the one open-minded reviewer who gave a "fair" rating and, in fact, suggested that the proposal should be resubmitted with more details. In general, though, the suggestion of the primordial hypothesis was severely criticized, and the testing of a creation model was referred to as "speculative" and "ridiculous."

One reviewer argued that my primordial polonium hypothesis is "unlikely to be accepted until alternative, conventional interpretations are convincingly shown to be wrong." Another held out the hope that conventional explanations would still be forthcoming: "It is quite likely," argued one reviewer, "that the explanations are to be found in trivial effects involving known phenomena and that explanations already in the literature will suffice." Since my explanation for the data was not conventional, one reviewer commented: "I cannot find any plan . . . to look for alternative explanations of these halos."

The suggestion to look for an explanation within the evolutionary framework was in essence a request to backtrack and head down a dead-end street. Over the previous decade I had already investigated and reported on the two possible explanations for polonium halos in granites that are consistent with evolution, namely, (1) a secondary origin from uranium and (2) the isomer hypothesis. As the earlier parts of this book have shown, the scientific evidences negating these two possibilities had been published in the open scientific literature for many years.

[p. 80]

Some reviewers criticized me for not offering "new techniques," "suggestions for new progress," or "a research basis for new progress on the subject." Some of their comments were doubtless inspired by the brevity of my proposal. With others it seems there was an emotional tone. One wrote:

Gentry merely proposes to do more of the same kind of work he has done before. He does not propose any new technique or approach . . . He does not define any new scientific objectives, except by implication the testing of "a new framework" of cosmology. Therefore, I do not recommend this proposal for support.

These comments express disapproval for my continuing to work with the primordial polonium hypothesis. One reviewer expressed his views as follows: "To me it certainly does not seem worthwhile to further support speculations and ridiculous implications on this subject." Although this reviewer gave no scientific objections to my work, he was not above reacting emotionally to my evidence for creation.

Several of these reviewers had difficulty regarding my hypothesis as genuine and scientific. One felt I was "highlighting personal positions in controversies rather than defining distinct courses of investigation." Another reviewer suggested that the problems I had raised could be solved by other researchers "with greater objectivity."

After first criticizing me for not offering anything new, the most detailed evaluation of my research follows:

On the plus side, Gentry is . . . probably the world's foremost expert on the observation and measurement of radiohalos. He does his own work, and his financial requirements are quite modest. He is remarkably tenacious in the pursuit of certain observations which are difficult to explain. His further work will result in publications. In the past he has seized on several quite new techniques, and arranged to spend several years at ORNL in order to have access to a variety of instruments and scientific associates.

However, his researches seem to have reached a dead end. . . . (Italics mine)

This review exemplifies the contradictory response of the NSF to my work. On one hand, the reviewer downgrades my work, saying that I propose nothing new, yet he acknowledges that I have a record of utilizing new research techniques. My research has reached a dead end, he asserts, yet my future work will be of a quality to warrant publication! If that is so, why did this reviewer oppose funding my work? Publishable research is, after all, exactly what the NSF hopes to obtain from its grant funds.

[p. 81]

Gentry makes reference in the proposal, and has mentioned in more detail in some of his writings, that the polonium halos must be "primordial polonium," which he takes to mean that the polonium was created, along with the host rocks . . . in a Bible-like instant of creation. (Italics mine)

Instead of responding to the evidence I had published, the reviewer simply points out that my evidence contradicts the evolutionary framework:

. . . [Gentry] does not discuss the enormous amount of conflicting evidence which ascribes a long process of evolution of the universe, the earth, life on earth, etc. to the present state. If he wishes to propose a new framework for cosmology, he should describe it in detail, with all its supporting evidence, implications, critical observations which could test it against the "currently accepted cosmological and geological framework. . . ."

This reviewer faults me for not critiquing the entire, comprehensive framework of evolution, as it touches all the scientific disciplines. What he overlooks is that irrefutable evidence for creation invalidates the uniformitarian principle, which has been described in this book as the glue binding all the pieces in the evolutionary mosaic together. Where is the logic in evaluating different parts of a theory when all of them are dependent on an erroneous premise? Perhaps the reviewer should have been more concerned that, after many years, evolutionists still failed to explain my widely published evidences for creation.

This reviewer further argues that I needed to detail "critical observations which could test" my hypothesis. This is an interesting but somewhat baffling remark because included with my proposal was a description of such a test—the one discussed at length in the last chapter and published in EOS (Gentry 1979). The suggestion that I should propose a new framework of cosmology is something which I had already started and even continued to develop after my proposal was finally rejected.

Both the 1977 and 1979 proposals were thus rejected without any specific, concrete objections to my results on polonium halos. The implications for creation were treated in 1977 with silence and in 1979 with disdain. There was no interest to see whether my observations had pinpointed a critical weakness in the theory of evolution. There was, however, one consolation in all of this. By leaving unchallenged the scientific accuracy of my published experimental work on polonium halos, the reviewers had shown that my evidence for creation must be rather substantial. My scientific colleagues, [p. 82] some of whom were openly antagonistic toward creation, had been exposed to the implications of my research, and their only scientific response to the evidence was silence.

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