Pro-Evolution at the NSF?
The NSF has a long history of funding proposals which encompass the evolutionary position. Certainly one of the largest grants of this nature was for the Biological Science Curriculum Study (BSCS), which in 1964 published a controversial series of textbooks incorporating evolution as a major theme.
An NSF official led the way in denouncing the developing creation science movement in America. At the 1981 annual national meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Dr. Rolf Sinclair of the NSF took the opportunity to arouse opposition to creation science. Science News reported:
Shortly thereafter Sinclair elaborated further on his views in a letter to this news magazine (Sinclair 1981). There he emphasized that the solar system had come into being several billion years ago and that the entire universe began in a "big bang" tens of billions of years ago. He also expressed full confidence in the overall record of organic evolution and, in particular, the record of life on earth going back more than a billion years. Both conclusions carry the connotation that evolution is beyond dispute.
Freedom of Inquiry
Since its inception, the NSF has expended vast sums to support research projects based on evolutionary assumptions. It may be argued that the NSF is justified in expending these huge sums because a number of prominent scientists, such as Dr. Sinclair, overwhelmingly endorse evolution as a confirmed theory, or even as fact. If the NSF could prove that evolution is the true description of the origin and development of the cosmos, the earth, and life, then the NSF would be justified in denying funding to scientists whose research proposals question the evolutionary scenario.
But evolution is neither confirmed theory nor fact. If life actually originated by chance, as evolution requires, evolutionary biologists should be able to reproduce that process in laboratory experiments. Still, despite decades of intensive efforts and generous government funding, all attempts to produce life from inert matter have proved fruitless. Likewise, if life evolved by the transformation of one major group into another, where are the numerous transitional forms expected on the basis of evolution? Biologists could long ago have put to rest embarrassing questions about the general absence of transitional forms in the fossil record if they had produced examples of missing links under laboratory conditions. All attempts to create new forms in the laboratory, such as inducing mutations through nuclear irradiation, have produced only variations of existing types. Developing new features in fish, for example, until they begin to develop into amphibians should certainly be simpler than creating life itself and would be the presently observable evidence needed to make evolution a science instead of speculation. There would then be no dispute about its validity.
Since no such demonstration has been accomplished, at best the NSF should consider evolution as a widely held but unproven theory. The NSF is thus morally obligated to treat it as open to challenge, in the spirit of the Affirmation of Freedom of Inquiry and Expression (see Overview). Written by evolutionists themselves, it declares that "all discoveries and ideas . . . may be challenged without restriction." I assume that the NSF should also abide by another principle of the Affirmation: "Freedom of inquiry and dissemination of ideas require that those so engaged be free to search where their inquiry leads without fear of retribution in consequence of the unpopularity of their conclusions." The reader may decide whether the NSF adhered to this principle in its evaluation of my 1977 and 1979 proposals to continue work on radioactive halos.
The documentation in this chapter shows the reaction of the NSF after they were convinced that my discoveries were contradictory to the "accepted" model of earth history.
Earth Science Associates