Testimony of Richard Neavel, PhD, to the Texas State Board of Education January 21, 2009
I oppose the inclusion of strengths and weaknesses in the TEKS and I’m going to do a show and tell about why.
At the last public hearing, Board member Gail Lowe asked me whether I was familiar with “polystrate fossils.” I had to admit that I wasn’t.
I Googled the term, and found creationist Paul Ackerman writing: “Polystrate fossils in numerous places around the world are one dramatic piece of evidence that the [young earth] creationists may be right [about earth’s history].” (Footnote )
Now I know why I wasn’t familiar with them. Geologists don’t refer to polystrate fossils – creationists do.
Ms. Lowe questioned me about the Lompoc whale fossil that was supposed to be “standing up” within many strata, that is layers of rock. How could this happen, she asked if the strata accumulated over millions of years. (See Figure 1 – next page and Footnote .)
That’s the kind of question a student might ask to demonstrate weaknesses of geologic theories.
I didn’t have an answer, so I researched it and here’s what I found.
The fossil is found in Miocene-age rocks about 10 million years old near Lompoc, California.
Creationists have cited it as an anomaly ever since it was uncovered.
Creationists explain it by saying a catastrophe, such as Noah’s flood, buried the whale very quickly.
Here’s what really happened.
Lompy, the whale, is eating plankton in a lagoon off the California coast 10 million years ago.
The ones he doesn’t eat die and their shells drift down to make a silica-rich, oozy sediment.
OH!. OH! Heart attack. Lompy dies, rolls over and sinks to the bottom of the lagoon. (Figure 2)
He rots away, and his skeleton gets covered with more sediment. (Figure 3)
The sediments harden to rock. Along comes a mountain-building force and the rocks are tilted up.
A company mines the rock, called diatomaceous earth, and uncovers Lompy’s skeleton. (Figure 4)
Creationists go wild – it’s a miracle – a whale on its tail.
I’m a PhD geologist and I didn’t have a ready answer to Ms. Lowe’s questions about polystrate fossils.
Do you think a high school science teacher would be able to answer a student’s questions about Lompy?
Members of the Board: Do you really want students to waste time discussing this kind of creationist nonsense in science class? Not weaknesses – just nonsense.
Every other creationist so-called “scientific weakness” can be explained just like this by real scientists — but not necessarily by high school teachers.
PLEASE! PLEASE! DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS EDUCATION. IT’S TOO IMPORTANT TO AMERICA’S FUTURE.
PLEASE BE PATRIOTIC. THANK YOU.
ANY QUESTIONS, CLASS?
[Pictures coming when I can get them to stick in the file! -- E.D.]