Joesph Guthrie's testimony to the Ohio Board
of Education on March 7, 2000

 

March 7, 2000

Good morning Madame President, ladies and gentlemen of the Board. I want to thank you for your willingness to serve our children of our state and for listening to and considering public commentary, especially. My name is Joseph Guthrie. I have been employed as a chemist for 20 years. Currently I am in the position of Senior Chemist here in Columbus with a food company. My education includes a degree from the University of Illinois. I hope you won't hold that against me.

One of the most important aspects of my job is designing and performing experiments, collecting and evaluating data, and drawing accurate conclusions from that data. In designing and implementing an experiment it is necessary to make certain assumptions, but those assumptions must not introduce any significant bias. In evaluating the data and in the drawing of conclusions, objectivity is critical. The entire process must be conducted without regard to my own desired outcome or the desired outcome of my company. I am paid to come to conclusions based on all the available data.

There is mounting evidence that the evolution hypothesis of origins needs to be reevaluated. It is my belief that a two model approach presenting both evolution and creation is the better approach for our sons and daughters. I would like to give several examples of where the creation model definitely appears to be supported more by the evidence than does the evolution model.

1. From the study of molecular biology and biochemistry we now know that there is no such thing as a simple cell. Even in a simple organism such as an amoeba, activity at the cellular level is extremely complex, with literally millions of tiny chemical factories functioning with precise timing. Without each of these processes taking place at precisely the right time the cell will die. There can be no intermediate stage. The cell either lives or it doesn't. This is much more supported by intelligent design.

2. Which came first, DNA or protein? Manufactured DNA requires protein building blocks. But DNA supplies the code for producing these needed building blocks. I would like to read a quote here if we could carefully consider this:

"Since the DNA code is within and essential to humans and all life on earth, neither humans nor any other life on earth can have created it in the first place."

3. Potassium argon dating is often used to date volcanic rocks. Radioactive dating methods involve measurement of the relative amount of the parent and the daughter element. The more daughter that is present, the older the rock. One of the major exceptions made is that when the rock forms it hardens and there should only be parent radioactive atoms in the rock and no daughter radiogenic -- that is derived from radioactive decay -- no daughter atoms. Volcanic rocks formed from an eruption of a volcano just about 50 years ago in New Zealand were dated at a reliable institution from a Ph.D. in potaasium argon dating, and he found the rocks to be up to 3.5 million years old. These were 50 year old rocks. It appears then, that this first assumption was not valid and that there was already some argon in the molten rock as it cooled. Clearly then, there are so many variables that in general radiometric data should not be used dogmatically and absolutely as dating.

I have several other items here but I think five minutes is approaching so I'd like to conclude this to say as a parent and as a scientist, I would encourage you to move to a two model approach to origins. Present the data to the students -- all the data -- clearly and objectively. Allow them to gather data for themselves from all sources. Present the two prominent explanations -- evolution and creation -- clearly and objectively. Allow the students to evaluate the evidence and to decide for themselves which is the better model. To the degree that personal beliefs are allowed to influence the evaluation of data to that degree science becomes philosophy. This should not be. If teachers are forced to present only the evolution model of origins then the boundary will have been crossed from science to philosophy. The basic question is this: Do we care enough about our students to teach them to think critically and logically? If so, then the competencies should reflect this care. Please let us give our students an education that allows them to think for themselves. They will be all the better for it. Thank you.

Question from Mr. Byrne: I gather you've read the green draft competency?

Mr. Guthrie: Yes, sir.

Mr. Byrne: It doesn't meet what you would consider the two model...

Mr. Guthrie: Well, #14 specifies natural selection. That a student should be able to use natural selection to explain which basically, that is evolution, and there is another model that more clearly matches the data. That's what I am addressing my comments to.

Mr. Byrne: So the two model approach wouldn't take too much additional wording?

Mr. Guthrie: No, I don't think so. I don't think so.

Mr. Byrne: But the background or depth of studies would be certainly more involved?

Mr. Guthrie: It would be broadened for the students. The students would be presented all the data and they'd be given the two most common approaches -- evolution and creation -- and clearly and unbiased from either side -- although I suppose that's a little difficult to do --but ... and let the students decide for themselves would be my recommendation.

Mr. Moore: My area of questioning was covered. I will express my support for your position. I'm hesitant to vote "yes" today on this until it's a little more thoroughly explored. I would support your position that we postpone this. I don't think it needs to be rushed into overnight. Your testimony was very beneficial to this. You spoke right to the simple solution -- educate broadly and let the facts be shown and the decision to be made by the mind of the individual.

Dr. Owens Fink: I just want to say that one thing we need to recognize is that we have 611 school districts in the state with different viewpoints on this. I think we've heard excellent testimony today from both sides and I concur with member Bill Moore. I think that our curriculum should really develop critical thinking skills. I think that your viewpoint of showing the two models is very consistent with our model to develop higher level -- not to have facts presented without asking students to critically analyze within that framework. So thank you.

Ms. Jacobs: My background is also scientific and I was a chemistry major in school. But I know very little about creationism, really, and I just have one question which is pretty specific. How old is the earth according to creationism?

Mr. Guthrie: Well, there are different viewpoints. There are some who hold that the earth is millions of years old. I really think the evidence is more in favor of a younger earth -- in terms of thousands of years.

Mrs. Jacobs: Okay. It's something that I never quite understood. Thank you.

Mr. Byrne: Isn't there a school of thought that holds that evolution and creation worked together, too? At one level there's development from the standpoint of evolution but yet they think there's the other dimension -- creationism -- kicks in at some level...

Mr. Guthrie: Yes, there is that school of thought, and I just have to say that on both sides we all need to be open to this. It disturbs me that we've gone to two different camps as if we are fighting against each other. We are really all in a search for truth, and if we're all willing to look at the evidence objectively, and no matter what our personal preferences are if we look at the evidence objectively and are willing to go with what that evidence suggests then that's true science.

Mr. Byrne: Is there some thought on maybe delaying this and getting more background?

Mrs. Wyse: We have this on the agenda so we can discuss that at the time on the agenda.

Mr. Turner: Thank you. Mr. Elfner when he spoke presented some suggested new criteria and I wondered what you thought of this language. It says, "Demonstrate an understanding of energy in the earth system, geochemical cycles, origin and evolution of the earth system, and origin and evolution of the universe." Is there room in that kind of language to address what it is that you are interested in?

Mr. Guthrie: I admit I have not read that one as carefully as this other one. I don't think I should comment on that one, but it does sound in line -- just without having looked at it carefully. I really had focused on #14 where it was clear that the natural selection is the only alternative.

Mr. Turner: And for others who have it, it's on page 3 of Mr. Elfner's testimony.

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