Among the leaders of the creationist movement are some very interesting - some veeree innteressting -- individuals. There are, of course, the geocentrists - the advanced scientists who teach that the Earth is the center of the universe, just as the Bible requires, and that the Sun and all the universe revolve around the Earth every twenty-four hours. There is Dr. Gerardus Bouw, of Baldwin-Wallace College in Ohio. Dr. Bouw holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from Case-Western Reserve University. He can prove the Sun goes around the Earth. "If God cannot be taken literally when He writes of the rising of the sun (S-U-N)," asks Dr. Bouw, "then how can one insist that He be taken literally when writing of the rising of the Son (S-O-N)?"
There is Professor James Hanson, of Cleveland State University, who has declared:
Geocentricity vs. Acentricity: that's the argument. Acentricity meaning there is no center whatsoever... To me, this is a hellish nightmare. This is worse than evolution, as far as I'm concerned.
Curiously, Professor Hanson has had no comments to make on eccentricity.
But most memorable of all the geocentrist creationists are Marshall and Sandra Hall, the authors of the widely distributed paperback, The Truth: God or Evolution? Their demonstration that the Sun goes around the Earth, at a creationism conference back in 1984, is a performance I shall never forget.
The conference was in Seven Hills, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb. Marshall and Sandra got up together to give one talk. But as the discourse bounced back and forth between husband and wife every minute or so, things began to unravel. Clearly enough, they explained that the heliocentric theory was a "Satanic counterfeit," and they told of vacationing on the plain of Gibeon -- where Joshua had commanded the Sun and the Moon to stand still -- and receiving a revelation from god that the Moon is the clue to it all.
Without telling how long they played twenty questions with god after receiving this clue, the Halls proceeded to prove that the Sun goes around the Earth. Marshall had hardly launched into his "proof" before his train of thought became derailed. He groped for words and stalled. He couldn't find a way to pass the ball to Sandra. Soon he was weeping openly, announcing that god "any minute now" was going to give him the right words.
But god didn't get involved quickly enough, and so Sandra got back into the show. She told once how they had watched an eclipse of the Sun in which the Moon's "shadow" had moved the wrong way! (She never made it clear when she was talking about the Moon's blackened image viewed against the Sun, and when she was talking of the eclipse shadow moving across the Earth's surface).
Hope springing up eternal, she took two Styrofoam cups and tried to model the motions of the Sun and Moon during the eclipse. Marshall stopped crying and gave encouragement. But alas! Within another minute, both of them were hopelessly befuddled by the Satanic counterfeit. Not only could they not realize than when facing the Sun their left hands had faced east, but that when turning their backs to the Sun (and to the audience) their left hands were pointing west, they also seemed to be unaware that the pinhole cameras commonly used to view the eclipses also reverse left and right.
When the time for the Halls' performance ran out, they could only announce that they had given everybody the key with which to unlock the treasure chest of astronomical knowledge, and they implored those with experience in the subject to go for it. As far as I know, a number of creationists today are doing just that.
Besides the geocentrists, there are geobiblical chronologists. One of these is E. W. Faulstich, the proprietor of the Chronology History Research Institute in Rossie, Iowa. A computer expert Faulstich has calculated that the Earth was created in 4,001 B C. -- not 4,004 B.C. as calculated by Archbishop Ussher. Sunday, March 17, to be precise.
And there is the Rev. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Carl Baugh, a reincarnation of P. T. Barnum operating out of the Glen Rose region of Texas. Although I am unaware of anyone who has ever succeeded in locating the source of even one of his doctorates, Dr. Baugh seems to be able to acquire new ones whenever a turn in an argument requires one. Baugh leads expeditions along the Paluxy Creek near his "Christian Evidence Museum" -- a house trailer witnessing against the heresy of evolution. The expeditions turn up fossilized human footprints amidst the dinosaur trackways for which the Paluxy Cretaceous deposits are famous. Baugh believes that Dinnie and Alley-Oop lived at the same time, you see. Although most of the alleged human prints are indescribably unimpressive, Baugh does display one that is most impressive. Being at least sixteen inches long, the "bigfoot track" is as perfect a giant's footprint as ever was sold at the fair. For some years, Baugh "gave away" aluminum casts of the track to anyone giving one hundred dollars or more to his "museum." Unfortunately, the bigfoot track has fallen upon hard times.
Dr. Ronnie Hastings, a friend of mine from Waxahachie, Texas, learned from Marian Taylor that the bigfoot print -- generally known as the Caldwell print -- was a fake. Although every scientist who has ever seen the print or a cast of it has known immediately that it was a fake, it was nice to get corroboration from a creationist. According to Hastings:
Marian Taylor revealed that this print, whose cast is in prominent display in Baugh's Creation Evidence Museum and a copy of which was sent to contributors of Louisiana's Creation Legal Defense Fund, was actually bought at Glen Rose as a carving by the Taylors in the 1960s and [was] not found in the Paluxy riverbed as claimed by Baugh.... Jacob McFall identified the cast as a copy of a carving done by one of the Adams brothers of Glen Rose carved-footprint fame. Mrs. Taylor was not very pleased about the false claims concerning the cast displayed by Rev. Baugh.
It should be noted that during the Great Depression, a number of Glen Rose Residents took to carving "fossil" footprints to sell to gullible city slickers. Among those city slickers were a number of creationists, who found the prints confirmation of both the Garden of Eden and Noah's Flood.
One last word about the Rev. Dr. Dr. Dr. Baugh. Impressed by the reported longevity of the early patriarchs catalogued in the Book of Genesis, Baugh decided that the antediluvian Earth's atmosphere was both heavier and contained more oxygen, and that oxygen was the clue to longevity. When I visited his establishment a number of years ago, I noticed a large metal tank-like object set up not far from his trailer-museum. Inquiring about it later, I learned that Baugh was planning to live in it after pressurizing it and filling it with an atmosphere enriched in oxygen. Somewhere along the line, Baugh had acquired some knowledge of chemistry -- perhaps a Sears-Roebuck doctorate in chemistry. He found out that the formula for atmospheric oxygen is O2. He also learned that the formula for ozone is O3. Presumably reasoning that if O2 is good O3 must be better, Baugh was planning to "enrich" his Edenic atmosphere with ozone also! As I said, he was planning to live in it.
I hoped to return several months after Baugh began his experiment. By then he would have been a rather crispy critter, and I had a morbid curiosity to hear what his voice would sound like after his larynx had rusted. But alas, someone seems to have warned him of the side effects of "Edenic" atmospheres, and he never carried out the experiment.
Another creationist who has held a enormous impact on public education in the north-central states is the Rev. Walter Lang, a Missouri Synod Lutheran minister and founder over thirty years ago of the Bible-Science Association -- generally referred to as the BS Association. Lang is a geocentrist, a young-earther, and a believer that the dinosaurs never went extinct. The Behemoth and Leviathan of the Book of Job are nothing less than Brontosaurus and the Loch Ness Monster, respectively. Apart from his discovery that dinosaurs probably could breathe fire, just like St. George's dragon, there is little else remarkable about the Rev. Lang's teachings. Well, maybe there is one thing more to mention.
When he was in the Galapagos, he saw iguana lizards which looked to him exactly like very small bipedal dinosaurs. (I can just see those iguanas, up on their hind legs dancing the hernia-survivors' quadrille). If they look like dinosaurs, they must be dinosaurs! Lang explained it all to me:
I talked to a missionary in El Paso. He remembered seeing some ten-foot iguanas in the Philippines... so you see, you just need the right weather conditions. We really have dinosaurs today, without any question. You just need the right weather conditions, as I see it, to get huge creatures. And in the ocean, of course, we have huge creatures.... This is where the plesiosauruses seem to be today, and perhaps also this fire-breathing dragon is still down there -- very rare, but occasionally there.
Some day I hope to get Rev. Lang to explain the physics of underwater fire breathing.