Dear Netters, Last night (May 15, 1992) I saw a program on CBS about the Bible, and how sc
Last night (May 15, 1992) I saw a program on CBS about the Bible, and how
science has allegedly proven that everything in it is the absolute truth.
Rather than bore you with the details, I have attached a copy of the
letter I am sending to CBS. It's long, but I wanted it to be detailed.
I encourage you all to write to CBS, and to make your displeasure at this show
known. Please feel free to use parts of my letter, so long as the original
intent of the letter is not changed. The more _unique_ letters CBS receives,
the better. At the end of this post, I have also included the list of
companies who advertised on this program, with their addresses.
WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE! The networks consider 40 letters received to be a
significant message. WRITE CBS! WRITE THE SPONSORS! Tell them that you will
no longer purchase their products because of their association with this
program, unless CBS also airs a program that leans the other way (towards a
rational point of view). Let CBS know that you are writing their sponsors.
Swamp CBS with letters - tell your friends to write in as well. We can make a
difference in fighting the growing tide of religion and superstition that is
sweeping the country. But we must act!
Lastly, if you _do_ write, please let me know. If your friends write, please
have them let me know. I'd like to have a rough count of how many letters
CBS is receiving! Hopefully so I can gloat over a successful campaign! :)
David Hunt, Graduate Student
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh PA 15213
------- BEGIN LETTER TO CBS -------
May 16, 1992
51 West 52nd Street
New York NY 10019
I am writing to you concerning the program aired last night about the
Bible, called "Ancient Secrets of the Bible." This program was clearly
intended to pander to the religious right, and paid the merest token of
respect to true scientific methodology.
1) Many experts were included on the show. Their credibility would have been
aided (or eroded?) had their institutional affiliations been clearly stated -
most were not. What makes them an "expert", and what are their qualifications?
How are they regarded in the scientific community at large - what are
2) Most of the experts were clearly biased. The program had one skeptical
expert with a 10 second sound bite, then the program spent 20 minutes
with other experts, along with glitzy productions that illustrated the story
in question without actually illustrating the explanation given. By this I
mean that a possible scientific explanation for a "miracle" is given, then the
re-enactment shows a supernatural (i.e. Biblical) version of the event. The
two were not consistent. For example - a strong wind is given as the
explanation to the Red Sea parting, yet the production shown had no evidence
of such a wind. Rather, it was the miraculous parting of the sea that was
3) The program didn't touch on the myriad contradictions contained in the
Bible. Nor did it touch on the New Testament miracles, or on many topics
such as the flood (except in passing) that could have proven damaging to the
claims being put forth.
4) The logic used in the narration was abysmal. If a lawyer used that style
of logic in a courtroom, he/she would be the laughing stock of the entire legal
community. Just because a thing is possible does not mean it exists. By the
logic used in the program, I can claim that fairies make flowers grow.
Since it is theoretically possible, and you can't disprove it, it must be true!
This is not science, it's faith - something that has nothing to do with true
rational, scientific inquiry.
5) The show made strong claims - "We have proven that...", "It is clear
that.." and "Since it cannot be disproven it must be true that...". True
science rarely works with that much conviction. Most scientists allow for the
possibility that they might be wrong - a humility that the program's writers
could learn from.
6) Most Biblical skeptics concede the fact that the Bible quite possibly has
a great deal of historic accuracy. The program's logic, that since various
cities have been discovered their mere existance proves the veracity of
Biblical miracles, is faulty to the extreme. By that logic I could claim that
the Greek Gods truly exist because of the ancient ruins in Greece and the
recent discovery of Troy.
7) The program covered quite a variety of topics. If you had truly been
interested in producing a quality program, you should have had a series
with one topic per program, each one examining in great detail all of the
available evidence. Picking and choosing of evidence is not allowed - and
have more than one skeptic. Balance the odds and have a real debate, if you
want to be taken seriously. Better yet, have a proportional representation
of the camps - if skeptics are 90 percent of the population, have them be 90
percent of the debators. People might learn something from the proportions.
8) In the segments where a natural explanation was offered - wouldn't that
remove the need for Divine Intervention? If an earthquake stopped the Jordan
River, why does God have to be brought into the picture? Again, this logic is
faulty to the extreme.
1) Sodom & Gomorrah
These were some questions that came to mind:
What possible explanations other than a volcanic eruption are possible? Is
there a history of such eruptions in the area? What corroberating evidence
do you have - e.g., ice cores from Antarctica? Are all the ruins from the same
time? These are all common-sense questions, for a rational inquiry, yet they
were not even touched on.
About the Ancient Astronaut theory - where's the evidence? Where is one single
shred of tangible, physical evidence that there were extra-terrestrial visitors
during that time? And biologically, there's no reason they'd look human.
About the quartz/radio idea - try asking a Physicist or an Electrical Engineer
if that would be possible, let alone likely. As an engineer, I have my doubts!
Given the speed of light, any radio communication would have been
tremendously slow, as we have not found any signs of intelligent life
within a 20 light-year radius. In fact, even if there were an advanced
civilization at the closest star, Proxima Centauri, the round trip message
time would have been 8 years. This would have taxed anyone's patience -
even if they knew that it would take that long. And if they knew, I find
it highly suspicious that no records have been found to that effect.
Racial diversity - again, just because something is theoretically possible does
not mean it happens. Your expert was one expert - what about other biologists?
Is there a consensus on this theory? What about the DNA-comparison evidence
showing racial splits not 3000 years ago, but more than 50,000 years ago?
Another ignored piece of evidence that would have damaged your claims.
Regarding the storms about the tower depicted in your mini-movie: Anything
tall would have attracted lightening. So what? I thought there was a rainy
season in that region of the world - wouldn't that explain why storms were
Finally, your presentation of Saddam Hussein was not called for. While
I do not defend his deplorable actions, your description and jabs at him were
despicable and clearly political posturing, something not relevant to
3) The Burning Bush
Any flame requires both heat and fuel, and I find it hard to believe
that a bush could survive a flame without some signs of damage.
Why only Israeli experts - surely there are some others who are also qualified?
Does being an Israeli automatically make one an expert? This was implied.
Does the bush claimed to be the actual bush date from those times? Has an
attempt to date the bush ever been made? What about this super-volatile oil
theory - it sounds good. Surely there are other bushes around so that it could
be tested? Why was this not done? It would be an easy test, and would be very
convincing if it worked.
4) Parting of the Red Sea
There was the skeptical Rabbi in the beginning who talked about the probable
numbers of people involved in the Exodus as being greater than 2 million.
How were the logistics of the travel done? Food and distribution? Movement
coordination? Where are the traces of the migration - surely a movement of
2 million plus people (plus herds of animals) would have left quite significant
traces on the landscape.
The alleged israelite markings - those markings look like stick figures! While
I readily concede the difficulty of carving rock, I know that art had evolved
far beyond stick figures at that point. How were these dated? What about peer
review - independent confirmation? Are the markings consistent from location
to location? Are they consistent with known israelite practices of the time?
Are there traces of a 2 million-person migration in the area of these markings?
All these potential flies-in-the-ointment questions are not even asked, let
alone dealt with.
As to the actual crossing of the Red Sea - the Pharoh was delayed by a pillar
of fire. This wasn't even mentioned - why? What explanation was there for it?
Or could such an explanation not be found that fit into the scheme of the
program, and therefore was it ignored in the hope that the error of omission
would be overlooked?
Finally, that cute fluids experiment showing the wind blowing the water away
has tremendous flaws. What wind speed would be required to actually do that to
the Red Sea? What could possibly cause a wind to blow that hard naturally, for
the required duration to allow 2 million people (plus animals) to cross? If
the wind speed required turns out to be greater than the speed of sound, then
the wind theory is automatically disproven. And how could the israelites have
stood, let alone walked, in a wind of that force? Have egyptian relics been
found in that area, and have they been dated to the proper time?
5) Dinosaurs and People (evolution)
More than 99 percent of U.S. scientists believe in the veracity of evolution.
While having a majority does not mean that the view held is true, in a
community whose fundamental principles call for constant re-examination and
re-evaluation, I feel it unlikely that a false theory would have lasted for
over 100 years.
There is a tremendous amount of evidence in favor of evolution - and while the
anomolies quoted by the (creationist?) scientists should be addressed, the
program ignored the mountains of other evidence. As to dinosaur footprints
alongside human ones - that has been disproven several years ago.
It is a habit of creationist "scientists" that, despite having their claims
carefully debunked, they keep making these claims hoping that some listeners
will not have heard the evidence refuting their claims. They hope that if they
keep chanting the same theme repeatedly, the scientific community will
eventually tire of constantly having to re-refute their "evidence".
And about the 1977 discovery of an alleged dinosaur carcass - why haven't most
credible scientists heard of it? Or was it so long ago disproven that it has
become a non-issue for most scientists? While I was in elementary school at
the time, a true discovery of such an artifact would have been national news
for weeks - yet I remember no trace of any discussion on the topic.
Behemoths are mentioned - if dinosaurs really were around, why are there no
artistic depictions of them? Cave-dwellers surely would have drawn them if
they'd seen them, not to mention China, which has had a continuous civilization
back at least 3000 years.
Lastly, the standard creationist argument is the claim that since evolution
is obviously wrong, their particular mythos is correct. Why not another of the
religions? Why not Shintoism? Hinduism? One of the African religions? Why
does the "refutation" of evolution automatically mean that the judeo-christian
creation is the true one. Faulty logic, again!
6) The Ark of the Covanent
Was there the necessary technology? Sure - wood and gold working were well
advanced by this time in history. Why couldn't the israelites have made one?
As to there actually being one - why not? People have undertaken colossal
projects to appease their gods. Just look at the temples of many different
religions, and the cathedrals that took over a century to build! What's a
small, gold-covered box in relation to these projects?
About the ark being under the temple mount - the 3 Rabbis never said they saw
the ark. They just supposed it might be there. Then the narrator announced
that "...clearly, the ark is underneath the temple mount." This is clearly
exaggeration and extrapolation of a supposition - no hard evidence given.
7) The Bible as Scientific Predictor
The earth was known by the greeks to be a sphere for quite a long time - they
even had a reasonably accurate estimate for how large it was. There was
nothing miraculous about it - just good observation and keen minds. Consider
that in Genesis the world is described and it is nothing resembling a
sphere. The spherical description comes much later, when the news from
Greece could have made its way to that area of the world.
As to the scientific predictions - if you're looking for a pattern to match,
you will find it. For example, in PI if you want a pattern of 10 7's to be
found, the odds are rather low. But if you ask for any unusual pattern, then
your odds increase dramaticaly. Such patterns could be 10 1's, or 2's, etc.
Or 1123581321, or 1234567890, or 0987654321, or 2718281828 (base of the natural
logarithm). The same thing happens with "paths in the ocean". If you want to
match a prediction, expecially one that vague, you will.
Water tunnel 1700 feet long: Sure - it's amazing what you can do with slave
labor and a little simple geometry. The greeks did it. There was quite a lot
of engineering skill in those days, and cheap labor was readily available.
8) Walls of Jericho
Wall sapping has been known for millenia. Sapping is the technique of
tunnelling under a wall, supporting the roof with wood. Then the wood
is lit on fire and when the tunnel gives way the walls collapse. Why rely on
a miracle when a rational explanation is readily available? Nor is lightening
mentioned in the story, yet your mini-movie had lightening striking the walls.
As to the grain not being plundered - has the possibility that the grain was
poisoned been investigated? Tainted grain would have stopped any force from
plundering. What about gold, and other valuables? Have they been found in
sufficient quantities to justify the no-plunder restriction? This would have
been a telling point in the support of the story, yet no mention was made.
9) Brotherhood and Comfort
The Bible has some of the most vicious stories in history - the slaughters of
entire peoples at God's direct command, the institutionalism of slavery, and
the subjugation of women as near-chattel. God himself comes across as a vain
and arrogant diety, full of loathing and disgust for anyone who dares not toe
This book has been the cause of some of the bloodiest acts in history - witness
the Crusades, or the Inquisition. What of the 100 Year's War, where Catholics
fought Protestants in wholesale slaughter? The list goes on and on.
While there is much wisdom in the Bible, especially the Golden Rule, it is
sandwiched between atrocity after atrocity.
And as to providing comfort - surely the Roman gods provided comfort to those
who worshipped them. By the program's "logic" the fact that some people
derived comfort from Jupiter et al means that they existed as well.
I am writing to each and every company that advertised during this program, and
I will tell them that their advertisement on this program linked their
name with a program that was nothing more than religious propaganda thinly
veiled as science. I will inform them that I am working on spreading the word
of their support for the program, and am encouraging people not to buy their
Additionally, in these days where poll after poll of the american population
shows a frightening lack of knowledge of basic science and the scientific
method, your representation of the methods and logic in this program as
scientific is nothing short of criminal. Many people in this country have the
TV as their sole source of information - your airing of this program (among
others, such as the upcoming "Intruders" info-drama) reduces you from a
respectable network willing to find the truth to the "National Inquirer" of TV
I am calling on you, as a national network with national responsibilities, to
produce another program which truly and scientifically investigates the Bible
and the stories in it. There are many persons and organizations who would
appreciate a chance to publically examine the claims made in the Bible. I
challenge you to produce such a scientifically-valid program.
Mechanical Engineering Graduate Student
Carnegie Mellon University
------- END LETTER TO CBS -------
Again, please write to CBS and to the sponsors, listed below. Ask your friends
to write as well. And keep me posted on the numbers of letters - I WANNA KNOW!
I do not have the address of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, or American
Atheists. If some kind soul would send these on to them, so they can alert
their members, I would greatly appreciate it. Please pass along my request
for being posted on the progress as well.
DEPENDS Kimberly-Clark Corp., Consumer Services, Dept. DUEE-10,
PO Box 2020, Neenah, WI, 54957-2020
VISA International PO Box 8999, San Francisco, CA, 94128
ULTRA-SLIM FAST PO Box 5047 FDR Station, New York, NY, 10150
RAGU CHICKEN Ragu Foods Company, Rochester, NY, 14606
ACE HARDWARE unknown as of this writing
MOTRIN IB The Upjohn Company, Kalamazoo, MI 49001
MIRACLE GRO unknown as of this writing
ALL DETERGENT Lever Brothers Company, New York, NY, 10022
ADVIL and Whitehall Labs, Inc. New York, NY, 10017
FRISKY'S CAT FOOD Office of Consumer Affairs, Frisky's, PO Box 29055
Glendale, CA, 91209-9055
MITSUBISHI CARS unknown as of this writing
HELLMANS MAYO Best Foods, CPC International Inc., General Offices,
Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 07632-9976
KRAFT MIRACLE WHIP Kraft Inc, Glenview, IL, 60025
CRISCO Proctor & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH, 45202
GIANT EAGLE unknown as of this writing
(supermarket in PA)
DEXATRIM unknown as of this writing
LITTLE CAESAR'S unknown as of this writing
EGGOS and Kellogs, Consumer Affairs, PO Box CAMB, Battle Creek
ASSORTED CEREALS MI, 49016-1986
ROLAIDS and Warner-Lambert Co., Morris Plains, NJ, 07950
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Robert G Zuber)
Subject: My Letter to CBS (comments requested)
Date: 17 May 92 16:51:46 GMT
Organization: HAC - Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore
The following is the first draft of the letter I will be sending to
CBS concerning "Ancient Secrets of the Bible." Critical comments are
welcomed, but please respond through e-mail unless you think your comments
are relevant to alt.atheism.
I focused narrowly on Carl Baugh and some of his claims. I did this
because I am most familiar with this topic, and I didn't see the entire
I still have to double-check the accuracy of my typing in the letter.
Please let me know of any mistakes. I am most concerned with being factually
correct about details.
And please write to CBS if you saw the show!
May 17, 1992
51 West 52nd Street
New York NY 10019
I am writing to you concerning the show, "Ancient Secrets of the Bible"
which aired friday night, May 15th, 1992.
My comments will be focused on only a small part of the two-hour
program, for I am not competent to speak on many of the controversial issues
discussed. I also did not see the entire program. However, the issues that I'm
familiar with were covered very poorly, and I suspect that the remainder of the
program was of similar quality.
The program gave the clear impression that the scientific community
was actively engaged in a debate over the issue of whether humans coexisted
with dinosaurs. Let me assure you that this debate was settled conclusively
over a hundred years ago. Dinosaurs became extinct about 65 million years
ago (Eldredge, 1991, p. 118). Humans came along many millions of years later,
definitely after the extinction of the dinosaurs. The scientific community
argues over this point about as much as it argues over the issue of whether
the earth is flat or spherical. In other words, it doesn't.
The program contained comments from a creation 'scientist' by the
name of Carl Baugh. Mr. Baugh claimed (among other things) to have evidence
of human footprints alongside dinosaur footprints in the sediments of the
Paluxy River in Glen Rose, Texas. He claims that this evidence shows that
humans and dinosaurs coexisted. Mr. Baugh also showed an iron hammer with a
wooden handle found near London, Texas by others in the 1930's in an
'Ordovician' stone concretion. If this claim were authentic, it would show
that either hammer-making humans existed 500 million years ago (the age of the
Ordovician period) or current ideas about the history of life on earth are
I will deal with these two claims separately, but first I want to
discuss Baugh's authenticity as an 'expert.'
The program gave the impression that Mr. Baugh was a scientist who
argues for the coexistence of man and dinosaurs. However, Mr. Baugh has no
science degrees relevant to the study of fossils and fossil footprints:
"Thus, all of Baugh's alleged science degrees seem to trace
circuitously back to Baugh himself and his partner Wilson -
through their own unaccredited religious schools and/or
branches of them.
Last, there is no evidence that Baugh has even an undergraduate
degree in any field of science." (Kuban, 1989, p. 16)
Carl Baugh is hardly an expert, yet "Ancient Secrets of the Bible"
presented him as one.
Concerning the alleged 'mantracks' at Paluxy River, it should be
noted what Baugh really says. Mr. Baugh claims that giant humans existed
several thousand years ago. He claims that these giant humans left behind
their footprints. For example, on the basis of five footprints, he claims
that a 13 foot, 600 pound, flat-footed human once walked the muddy banks of
the Paluxy River (Cole et. al., 1985, p.2). Yet the program did not mention
this! Was it too embarrassing? Mr. Baugh interprets the bible to say that
giant humans existed, so he believes it. It is fine with me if people wish
to use the bible as the basis of their beliefs, but it cannot be labelled as
The actual footprints that Baugh uses in his arguments have been
studied extensively by scientists. It is a long and detailed story, so I will
attempt to summarize. I encourage the reader to check out the sources at the
end of this letter.
Godfrey (1985, pp. 34-35) states that Baugh's 'mantracks' at the
McFall Site (at Paluxy) fall into three categories:
(1) Clear toe impressions of tridactyl [three-toed] dinosaurs
(2) poor dinosaur tracks
(3) Invertebrate burrow casts of _Thalassinoides_ that creationists
identify as 'toes' of their 'mantracks.'
In addition, various scientists have explanations for the supposed
'mantracks'. Godfrey (1981, p. 25) mentions the work of Walter Coombs, a
vertebrate paleontologist who has studied dinosaur tracks:
"[Coombs] published a marvelous article on this subject
in the March 1980 issue of _Science_ [pp. 1198-1200].
In it he shows that tridactyl (three-toed) dinosaurs
made very different impressions, depending upon how deeply
they sank into the muddy substrate and upon their mode of
locomotion - whether walking over the ground or swimming
over it, barely touching bottom."
Apparently Baugh does not even possess the skills necessary to do
"But I noticed that some of the shallow dinosaur prints
exposed in June were now destroyed, not so much by
weathering as by digging and by debris from nearby 'human'
prints being dumped on them." (Hastings, 1985, p. 7)
"When I telephoned Langston on the 13th, he said it was
'too late' for professionals to be of any help and that the
amateur excavation of the skeleton [dinosaur skeleton] had
already been botched. It was tragic that this unusual and
potentially very important find fell into Baugh's hands."
(Hastings, 1985, p. 13)
Even more amazing is a confession from one of Baugh's co-workers
(Hastings, 1985, p. 14):
"Al West, a Baugh co-worker for two years, follower of mantrack
claims since 1974......went public with his charge that Baugh
never had evidence for manprints as claimed.........
West declared, 'I can safely say that I have seen no science
in their activities. The facts have flat been dismissed.'
He [West] added that Baugh's prints were 'totally contrived
from his imagination.' West had worked directly on excavations
and had even made the plaster casts for Baugh of some of the
tracks. In this connection, West noted that he had seen some
plaster casts which, when they were transformed into fiberglass
casts, were made to look more human in the process."
Baugh's claims have even been questioned by creationists:
"Knowledgeable creationists now recognize that Baugh's
'mantracks' are probably spurious." (Schadewald, 1986, p. 9)
So why is CBS airing a program that represents this man as a
"No paleontologist who has studied the flora and fauna of the
Comanchean deposits in Central Texas has ever reported a human footprint
in these rocks." (Godfrey, 1985, p. 16)
Concerning the hammer:
"The stone concretion is real, and it looks impressive
to someone unfamiliar with geological processes. How
could a modern artifact be stuck in Ordovician rock?
The answer is that the concretion itself is not Ordovician.
Minerals in solution can harden around an intrusive
object dropped in a crack or simply left on the ground if
the source rock.....is chemically soluble." (Cole, 1985, p. 46)
I have no desire to censor the views of creation 'scientists.' But
various United States court rulings have clearly identified the purpose of
creation 'science.' Judge William Overton, in striking down the Arkansas
Balanced Treatment Act (Act 590 of 1981), stated:
"The evidence is overwhelming that both the purpose
and effect of Act 590 is the advancement of religion
in the public schools." (Overton, 1982, pp. 934-43)
In 1987, the United States Supreme Court held unconstitutional the
Act for Balanced Treatment for Creation Science and Evolution Science in
Public School Instruction (Creationism Act). The court opinion, written
by Justice William Brennan, Jr. stated:
"The preeminent purpose of the Louisiana legislature
was clearly to advance a religious viewpoint that a
supernatural being created humankind. The term 'creation
science' was defined as embracing this particular
religious doctrine by those responsible for the passage
of the Creationism Act." (As quoted in Strahler, 1987, p. 528)
I realize that the program was not primarily concerned with the
views of creation 'scientists.' However, I feel that by airing "Ancient
Secrets of the Bible," CBS has helped to advance the creationist cause. Now,
what is CBS going to do about it?
Astrophysics Graduate Student
Johns Hopkins University
Eldredge, Niles. 1991. "Fossils: The Evolution and Extinction of
Species," Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York
Kuban, Glen J., "A Matter of Degree: An Examination of Carl Baugh's
Credentials," NCSE Reports, Vol. 9, No. 6, Nov-Dec 1989.
Cole, J.R., Godfrey, L.R., Hastings, R.J., Schafersman, S.D.,
"Introduction," Creation/Evolution XV, Vol. 5. No. 1.
Godfrey, L.R., "Foot Notes of an Anatomist," Creation/Evolution XV,
Vol 5., No. 1.
Godfrey, L.R., "An Analysis of the Creationist Film _Footprints in
Stone_," Creation/Evolution VI, Fall 1981.
Coombs, Walter P. Jr., March 1980. "Swimming Ability of Carnivorous
Dinosaurs." Science 207
Hastings, R.J., "Tracking Those Incredible Creationists,"
Creation/Evolution XV, Vol 5. No. 1.
Schadewald, Robert. "Scientific Creationism and Error,"
Creation/Evolution XVII, Vol. 6, No. 1.
Cole, J.R., "If I Had a Hammer," Creation/Evolution XV, Vol. 5., No. 1.
Overton, William R., 1982, "Creationism in the Schools; The Decision
in McLean versus the Arkansas Board of Education." Science 215
Strahler, Arthur N., 1987. "Science and Earth history: The Evolution/
Creation Controversy," Prometheus Books, Buffalo, N.Y.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank