Creationism in Australia
Dr Colin Groves
Belief in the literal truth of Genesis, which we are told is near to 50% of the population in the U.S.A., is around 20% in Australia: still a disastrously high figure, but one which does give us greater confidence in the future of science and rationality here than in America. This figure remains relatively low despite the best efforts of the Creation Science Foundation [now called Answers in Genesis] of Brisbane. Like the American ICR, the Australian CSF has a proper scientist on its staff, but, unlike ICR's Duane Gish, CSF's Andrew Snelling has a relatively recent (1980) PhD, and in a relevant subject, too (Geology). This of course has not prevented him putting his foot in it, as abundantly recorded, for example, by Plimer (1994). There is also the rather curious issue of his genuine scientific publications; thus, at the same time as he was churning out articles for creationist magazines on how recently the earth was created, he wrote a paper in a geological compendium (Snelling 1990) in which he cited with quite evident approval dates in the millions of years for the formation and alteration of the Koongarra deposits (see especially section 'Age' [Snelling 1990:811]). Quite interesting, too, is that the author's address in this paper is given as 'Consulting Geologist, P.O.Box 302, Sunnybank Qld 4109', with no indication that it is the Creation Science Foundation that owns this box number.
Possibly the most bizarre notion that creationists have ever dreamed up comes from Australia: the proposal by Setterfield (1981, 1983) that the speed of light is not constant, as physicists maintain, but started off infinite at creation and has been slowing down ever since (or at least until about 1940), probably because of Man's Sin. Quite a lot of inspired nonsense follows from this (Plimer 1994), and Setterfield has gone on to construct his very own total version of reality (see below). At first many creationists, at least in Australia, embraced the 'decaying speed of light' enthusiastically because of all it meant for rates of radioactive decay (and so dating), and the length of time it takes the light from distant stars to reach us, but there has been a noticeable cooling off lately, and Setterfield seems now to have retreated behind the fortifications of his own Genesis Science Research centre in South Australia.