Science in Christian Perspective



The ASA and the Paluxy Mantracks

Ronnie J. Hastings, Ph.D.

Science Department
Waxahachie High School
Waxahachie, TX 75.165

From: PSCF 40 (December 1988): 254.

As I became involved in investigating the creationist mantrack claims along the Paluxy River in Texas ("The Rise and Fall of the Paluxy Mantracks," Perspectives, Sept. 1988), 1 also became curious as to why there was comparatively very little investigative reporting on these claims over the years by ASA members. It is true that a major investigator over the longest period of time, Glen Kuban, is now an ASA member, but his extensive, detailed history of the claims is still forthcoming. Other ASA members such as Gerhard Nickel and John DeVilbiss were peripherally investigative, but seemed reluctant to publish their strong but private criticisms of the mantrack claims. In fact, I was motivated to write the above referenced article through a sense that the ASA readership needed to be kept informed about and abreast of the important and interesting issues involved with the mantrack claims and their eventual unraveling.

The article tries to point out that if there is any set of issues "tailor made" for the ASA, it is the group of Paluxy mantrack claims. The need for the ASA to be kept informed was expressed by reviewers of the article's draft, confirming my perception of ASA interest. Yet not even a short book review of John Morris' Tracking Those Incredible Dinosaurs ... & the People who Knew Them (1980) appeared in ASA publications. Teaching Science in a Climate of Controversy did deal with the Paluxy mantracks, but, in my opinion, disproportionately too little compared to their importance. Such relative inactivity was incongruous to the open and direct handling of hard-hitting and controversial issues I saw as characteristic of the then Journal when I was an ASA member in the late 1960's and early 1970's in the Gulf-Southwest section. In fact, some of the better scientific rebuttals of anti-evolutionary zeal came from the Journal, wherein both "sides" of creation/evolution were equally represented.

One explanation for what I see as incongruity might be changes within the ASA about which I have known nothing. I was not a member for about a decade (roughly 1973-1983) and have recently become reassociated with the ASA as a Friend. Perhaps I have not resubscribed for long enough, but I think Perspectives appears to deal in less controversy than the old Journal I knew. If my perception of change is valid, is it the result of change in policy, leadership; both, or neither? If my perception is not valid, please forgive my probing; an inquiry hindered by my absence from the ASA.

Perhaps another explanation concerns the ASA's commendable tolerance for divergent views, but that this tolerance is now practiced by a conscious or unconscious avoidance of "stepping on anyone's toes." As laudable and useful as conciliatory, compromising, and/or guarded statements are in issues tapping emotional, political, and ideological levels among well-meaning Christian believers, they simply cannot be justified in the context of past mantrack claims. Regardless of the merits of a humble spirit compared to a haughty one, clear conclusions based upon unambiguous evidence obviously concerning the readership of the ASA need unambiguous airing in keeping with the ASA's high standards of scientific integrity.

How badly or correctly placed my possible explanations on this matter, I gratefully thank the present staff of Perspectives for making possible the updating of the ASA readership on the Paluxy mantrack claims through my article. I welcome inquiries, criticisms, and comments from readers about the article; I would be happy to furnish further details for those interested.

I would also welcome from the ASA readership any comments on my comparison of ASA publications past and present.