Nathan Zamprogno's e-mail to Professor David Malin and
the Professor's Response
Dear Professor Malin,
I am writing to you today to ask you to confirm if you think you may have been misquoted. My name is Nathan Zamprogno. I work at at a Christian School in the lower Blue Mountains. I am a long time follower of the so-called "Creation Science" debate. I'm proud to say that our own School, John Wycliffe Christian School, has what I regard as a very enlightened approach to the difficult topic of the "Teaching of Origins". As for myself, although I maintain a vigorous Christian faith, I have always rejected the simplistic claims of Young Earth Creationists as being potentially very damaging to both the pursuit of Science and to the pursuit of an intelligent, spiritual belief.
Today, I read with very great interest the story concerning the discovery of the "missing Neutrinos" from the Sun, sought for so long. (I got this story from the New York Times). Eager to pursue what Creation Science organisations have said on this topic in the past, I went to the "Answers in Genesis" site, where one of their articles quotes you directly (Click here for the story in question). The article was published in 1997. Here is the paragraph in which you are quoted:
"So, after 10 years, no one has yet explained all the data on neutrinos. Of course there's one explanation not considered - perhaps the reason for the critical shortfall is that nuclear reactions are not solely responsible for producing the Sun's energy. But such an explanation would be tantamount to an admission that we really don't yet know how the Sun operates, which would clearly be embarrassing. And if we don't understand how our nearest star operates, how can the astronomers be so sure how all the other stars 'evolved' and now operate? As candidly admitted by David Malin, head research scientist at the Anglo-Australian Telescope, in a recent interview on Australian ABC radio, 'How little we really know!'."
The source of the quote given is listed as "James Waterhouse, personal communication, 31 August 1997."
The context of this quote is to suppose that there is some faint possibility that processes other than nuclear fusion are responsible for the Sun's light. Elsewhere in the article (and in other AiG articles such as this one), Helmholtz's theory of gravitational contraction is explicitly mentioned as another alternative- usually to serve the dual purpose of casting doubt on Science at large, and also to attempt to introduce a mechanism that permits the Sun to be only 6000 years old.
So, my question is: Do you believe you have been misquoted? Do you believe that any lack of knowledge we have concerning the processes that govern the Sun's existence opens the door for theories as radical or as outmoded as gravitational contraction? Should your quote "How little we really know" be taken as support for the possibility, however remote, of the Sun being 6000 years old? What is your opinion about the latest Neutrino research on the age of the Sun?
If so, I should like your permission to include your reply as part of a rebuttal I will publish on what is best described as an "Anti young earth creation" website, the well read site
No Answers in Genesis!.
I would like to thank you very much for your time and look forward to your comments.
Professor Malin's Response
I have said 'How little we know' on numerous occasions and in many contexts. That phrase sums up why I am a scientist. However, it is misleading to quote it in a paragraph that questions the origins of the sun's energy. I'm in any case unlikely to have commented on the neutrino problem since I'm not an expert on the topic. That does not mean I believe there is any doubt about the source of the sun's energy, but there are some aspects of it that are not yet explained completely. You will find that is true of much of the physical world. But to twist that to imply "an admission that we really don't yet know how the Sun operates" and go on to use that to cast doubts about the age of the earth is really twisted logic.
>> So, my question is: Do you believe you have been misquoted?
No, but the words are most unlikely to have been uttered in that context, and are in any case a perfectly reasonable position for anyone to take about most things, especially a scientist.
>> Do you believe that any lack of knowledge we have concerning the processes that govern >>the Sun's existence opens the door for theories as radical or as outmoded as gravitational >>contraction?
>> Should your quote "How little we really know" be taken as support for the possibility,
>> however remote, of the Sun being 6000 years old?
>> What is your opinion about the latest Neutrino research on the age of the Sun?
I don't have an opinion, but as I understand it the research is not directed at determining the age of the sun, rather at refining the precise energetics of the processes that power it and other stars.
Regards .. .. David Malin
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