Creationist to lecture at Forum
Creationist to lecture at Forum
MARY WARNER The Patriot-News - Wednesday, Nov 02, 2005
Creationist Robert Gentry, arguing that the Earth is young, is coming to Harrisburg in hopes of capturing a piece of the spotlight on the intelligent design trial.

He will lecture tonight at The Forum, a block from the federal courthouse where the trial is under way.

"There is a significant number of reporters from outside Harrisburg who are attending," he said last week. "I needed to be there while the trial was going on."

Gentry, 72, of Knoxville, Tenn., is a "young-Earth creationist." He claims to have "unrefuted scientific evidence" that the Earth is several thousand years old, as asserted by biblical literalists, rather than several billion years old as asserted by modern science.

Gentry became a player decades ago in America's battle over teaching evolution in public schools.

In a trial in 1981 in Arkansas, Gentry testified as an expert witness for lawyers defending a state requirement that creationism be taught in science class along with evolution. Creationism says life emerged as described in Genesis -- a position Gentry said is supported by his research on granite.

That case ended in 1987, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that creationism is religion and cannot be presented to students as science.

Intelligent design proponents contend that life forms are so complex that evolution is insufficient to explain them and are evidence of a designer.

The Dover Area School Board voted last year to require the reading of a statement to ninth-grade science students that offers intelligent design as an alternative to evolution.

Eleven parents sued, arguing that the statement violated the constitutional prohibition against government establishment of religion.

Gentry said he called the board's lawyers and left a message that he was "happy to do whatever was necessary to help out."

He never got a call back, and "then I realized the ID people want nothing to do with creationism," he said

Gentry produces and sells books and videos promoting his ideas through Earth Science Associates. He formed The Orion Foundation to collect donations supporting his lectures. It receives $10,000 to $15,000 a year, he said.

Orion rented the 1,800-seat Forum at the nonprofit rate of $450 and hired Capital Communications Inc. to advertise the event, Gentry said. His most recent lectures were at Seventh Day Adventist gatherings in June and September, Gentry said.

Gentry said he has a master's degree in physics and was a visiting scientist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory when he testified in the Arkansas case as a "creation scientist." He has generally been ostracized by the scientific community since then, he said.

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