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Creation's Tiny Mystery
Chapter 9: Confrontation in the Courtroom

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[p. 117]

The Granite Synthesis Experiment: An Evolutionary Perspective

As the cross-examination continued, Dalrymple first confirmed what has been stated earlier: dating of fossils as well as rocks depends on geochronology. Having established that geochronology is of preeminent importance to evolution, Williams then delves into this subject preparatory to asking about my work and the falsification test.

I had looked forward to this part of the trial with great anticipation. Everyone there would soon learn whether Dalrymple or some other geologist had succeeded in synthesizing a piece of granite. For this information I had decided to risk everything and come to the trial. If someone had been successful in the synthesis experiment, then I was going to withdraw my claim that the Precambrian granites were the Genesis rocks of our planet. If this had not been accomplished, then it was certain that the polonium halo evidences for creation were not going to be refuted at the trial. I listened carefully as Attorney Williams proceeded with the cross-examination.

Q       Mr. Dalrymple, is it correct that you think that geochronology establishes an age of the earth, not only that the earth is several million years old, but also establishes the age of the fossils which are enclosed in the rocks?
A Yes. That's correct. [Smith 1982b, p. 458, ll. 4-9]
Q Now, do you understand that biologists consider these fossils enclosed in these rocks to be the relics or the remnants of some evolutionary development?
A Well, I think the fossils are the relics of an animal.
Q Would that be the evidence of the evolutionary development?
A Well, as far as I know, yes.
Q Then would it be fair to say in your mind that the ages for the various types of fossils have been most precisely determined or measured by radioactive dating or by geochronology?
A That sounds like a fair statement.
Q Since geochronology does play such an important role on the ages of the rocks and the fossils, would you agree that it would be important to know whether there is any evidence which exists which would bear on the fundamental premises of geochronology?
A Of course. Let me add that that's a subject that's been discussed considerably in scientific literature. We're always searching for that sort of thing. That's a much debated question.
Q I think you said yesterday that anyone who believes in a young age of the earth, in your opinion, to be not too bright scientifically, and are in the same category as people who believe that the earth is flat? [p. 118]
A Yes. I think if we are talking about people who profess to be scientists and insist on ignoring what the actual evidence is for the age of the earth, then I find it difficult to think that their thought processes are straight.
Q Is it true that you do not know of any scientists who would not agree with you, with your viewpoint on this radioactive dating and of the age of the earth and fossils?
A Will you rephrase that? I'm not sure I understand it.
Q Is it true that you stated, I think in your deposition, that you do not know of any scientists—
    MR. ENNIS: Excuse me. If you're referring to the deposition, please identify it, what page.
    MR. WILLIAMS: I'm not referring to a page at this point, I'm asking a question.
    MR. WILLIAMS: (Continuing)
Q Is it true that you do not know of any scientist who does not agree with you and your viewpoint and opinion as to the age of the earth and the fossils?
A It depends on who you include in the word "scientist." I think if you want to include people who categorize themselves as creation scientists, then that would not be a true statement. I know that some of those do not agree.
    As far as my colleagues, geologists, geochemists, geophysicists and paleontologists, the ones that I know of, I don't know of any who disagree that the earth is very old or that radiometric dating is not a good way to date the earth.
Q Are you aware of any creation scientist, then, who has published evidence in the open scientific literature who has questioned the fundamental premises of geochronology by radioactive dating?
A I know of one.
Q Who is that?
A That's Robert Gentry. I should say that Robert Gentry characterizes himself as a creation scientist, if I understand what he's written.
Q Are you familiar with Paul Damon?
A Yes. I know him personally.
Q Who is Mr. Damon?
A Mr. Damon is a professor at the University of Arizona at Tuscon [sic, Tucson]. He specializes in geochronology.
Q Are you aware that Mr. Damon has stated in a letter that if Mr. Gentry's work is correct, that it casts in doubt that entire science of geochronology? [p. 119]
A Which letter are you referring to?
Q Do you recall the letter which you gave to me from EOS by Mr. Damon?
A Yes. I recall the general nature of that letter.
Q And do you recall that Mr. Damon said that if history [sic, Gentry] is correct, in his deductions it would call up to question the entire science of geochronology?
A Well, I think that's the general sense of what Paul Damon said, but I think it's an overstatement. I'm not sure I would agree with him on that. [Smith 1982b, p. 459, l. 19, to p. 463, l. 1]

Here we see that Dalrymple was so anxious to minimize the implications of primordial polonium halos in granites that he was willing to take issue with Damon's published statement. This prompted Attorney Williams to focus on Damon's qualifications as he continued the cross-examination.

Q Mr. Damon is not a creation scientist, is he?
A No. Doctor Damon is not a creation scientist, by any means.
Q Would you consider him to be a competent scientist and an authority in this field?
A Yes. He's extremely competent.
Q Are you aware as to whether Mr. Gentry has ever offered or provided a way for his evidence to be falsified?
A I am aware that he has proposed one, but I do not think his proposal would falsify it either one way or the other.
Q Have you ever made any attempts, experiments that would attempt to falsify his work?
A Well, there are a great many— I guess you're going to have to tell me specifically what you mean by "his work." If you could tell me the specific scientific evidence you're talking about, then let's discuss that.
Q Well, first of all, do you like to think you keep current on the scientific literature as it may affect geochronology?
A Well, I keep as current as I can. There's a mass amount of literature. In the building next to my office, there are over two hundred fifty thousand volumes, mostly on geology. It's extremely difficult to keep current. But I am currently relatively up on the mainstream, anyway.
Q Certainly the most important points?
A I do my best.
Q And if someone had issued a study which would, if true, call up to question the entire science of geochronology, would you not want to be made aware of that and look at that closely yourself, as an expert in the field?
A Oh, yes, I would.
Q And as a matter of fact, your familiarity with Mr. Gentry's work is limited, is it not, to an article that he wrote in 1972 and a letter that [p. 120] he wrote in response to Mr. Damon's letter, in terms of what you have read, is that correct?
A Those are the things I can recall having read, and the reports that I have some recollection of. I have never been terribly interested in radioactive haloes, and I have not followed that work very closely. And that is the subject upon which Mr. Gentry has done most of his research.
    As I think I told you in the deposition, I'm not an expert on that particular endeavor. I'm aware that Mr. Gentry has issued a challenge, but I think that challenge is meaningless.
Q Well, let me ask you this. You stated in the deposition, did you not— Let me ask you the question, can, to your knowledge, granite be synthesized in a laboratory?
A I don't know of anyone who has synthesized a piece of granite in a laboratory. What relevance does that have to anything?
Q I'm asking you the question, can it be done?
A Well, in the future I suspect that it will be done.
Q I understand. But you said it has not been done yet?
A I'm not aware that it has been done. It's an extremely difficult technical problem, and that's basically what's behind it. [Smith 1982b, p. 463, l. 2 to p. 465, l. 13]

A long awaited moment of truth had come. Dalrymple did not have a piece of synthesized granite to present at the trial. The ACLU had failed to respond to the challenge of creation, and they badly needed to minimize the impact of this failure. The best Dalrymple could do for them was to say he suspected that the granite synthesis would be done in the future and that I had proposed a meaningless test. We shall later discuss both comments in more detail. For the present we continue with the cross-examination as Williams begins to ask more specifically about Dalrymple's knowledge of my work.

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