That Old Time Creationism
Some of us remember a few years back when creationism was the hottest thing going, and all the skeptics wanted to pile on—get out, meet the creationists, write a funny journal. Yeah, those creationists don’t get around locally so much anymore. But we still have our memories.
The above is from 1990—seems like yesterday. I heard there was this Metroplex Institution of Origin Science (MIOS) and I hauled myself over to their Tuesday night meetings, once a month at the time. About this time a guy at work gave me a pamphlet. He’s a creationist of the first order. The pamphlet is Dino Trax, and I need to explain. That’s a cute way of spelling dino tracks, rather dinosaur tracks. The allusion is to the dinosaur tracks still visible in the Paluxy River, a few miles from where I was born.
Beginning maybe 40 years ago creationists started selling the idea there were human footprints in the limestone river bottom as well as dinosaur tracks. The implication was (is) that dinosaurs made some tracks, and people made some tracks, in the same soft limestone mud, about the same time.
The problem, of course, is that modern geology and modern paleontology inform us that dinosaurs died out about 65 million years ago, and humans didn’t show up until something like three million years ago. Were that true, it could be demonstrated, that the underpinnings of modern science are wrong, and the creationists have had it right all the time.
Anyhow, Dino Trax is intended to provide all the straight skinny you need to convince yourself the Bible, particularly Genesis, is true, and also much of what you were taught in school about geology and the age of the earth is false. During my visits i garnered several copies of these tracts, and have since recycled them, retaining scanned copies.
What is interesting about this edition is it introduces the Percival Davis and Dean H. Kenyon creationist school supplement titled “Of Pandas And People: the Central Question of Biological Origins,” which book came out the year before. The Intelligent Design controversy was just beginning to heat up in those days. They were heady times.
This edition of Dino Trax contains a section on “MIOS Books.” They are creationist books you can order through MIOS. Pandas is included, and it lists for $18.95, including a teacher’s guide, and it’s intended for use by high school students. Here’s what Dino Trax has to say about the Pandas book:
Designed as a supplement to High School Biology text books. Provides a scientific alternative to conventional evolutionary propaganda. Its academic integrity has earned it endorsements from a wide range of representative scientists and educators nation-wide.
I note use of the term “academic integrity.” Working with creationists provided my first encounter with purveyors of fake news.
As we all know, the Pandas drama swelled before collapsing 15 years later. A board member attempted to introduce the book into the science curriculum in Plano, Texas, and much push back from parents and teachers ensued. The North Texas Skeptics weighed in on the side of the citizens, and Ginny Vaughn had produced and distributed a passel of name badges for people to wear to the public discussion. Here’s what they look like:
There was perhaps more than one school board member pushing for the Pandas book that night, and I am told the view they received was a sea of No-Pandas badges. The steam went out of that road machine, and there was not much more said about it.
The issue came to a head ten years later, when two school officials attempted to crowd Pandas onto the study list in a Pennsylvania town. This time there was a law suit, and the ACLU took the case. Federal Judge John E. Jones III, in a 129-page scorching, concluded that Intelligent design is a religious movement with no basis in science. The school district ate the cost of the trial, and the official miscreants shucked off all responsibility.
And Dino Trax was there when it all began.
The few copies I was able to snag have been scanned to PDF for all interested in viewing a bit of history. I have the copies, and I am copying them to the NTS archives. Send an email if you want to read some ancient history.