Lobster Man

From a strip-mall office on the Twin Cities fringe, a lab researcher-turned-Bible radio star lectures the nation

"A little background," Taylor announces at this point, then embarks on a favorite tangent--Freemason infiltration in religion and science. "Look at Bacon's bookplate," he announces as the slide projector brings up the image of a woodcut. "It's loaded with Masonic symbols." Taylor points out obelisks, water--"looks like the ocean, but it's the Masonic Sea of Learning," and an owl: "It's the symbol of wisdom, not God's wisdom, by the way--human wisdom. The Lord takes a dim view of that." The Earle Brown audience, some 50 evangelical teachers, is riveted.

Throughout the session Taylor will talk about science in the tone of a university professor, frequently citing the observations of Behe and other researchers. But each account of a scientific argument is accompanied by a footnote on faith: "He was a Christian, this chap, knew the Bible by heart" (about Lord Macaulay, a philosopher who challenged Bacon). "Not a religious man" (on science philosopher Karl Popper). Geologists come in for special ridicule because, Taylor explains, "they claim that carbon dating and fossil layers can prove their points. But they don't. In the real fossil record, horses and dinosaurs and man are all together. Men and dinosaurs walked the earth together--they were created together by God." That most scientists reject this interpretation of the fossil record doesn't bother him much: After all, he claims, these are the same scientists who have suppressed evidence that dinosaurs may still exist in the depths of the oceans and remote parts of Africa.

If scientists are only as good as their Christian pedigree, Taylor's background is less than immaculate: He was a nonbelieving metallurgist until 1974, the year he developed a stomach ulcer and got curious about the healing evangelist Kathryn Kuhlman. At a Kuhlman service in Pittsburgh, he recalls, "I sat in the front row and saw miracles that I would have never believed had I not seen them. Two blind middle-aged women received their sight and I saw the tears of joy. They had never seen each other before." He stepped forward to accept God right then and there, and his ulcer soon disappeared.

Twenty-five years later, Taylor is considered a stalwart of the creationist cause. Morris calls him "a fine scientist, fine gentleman, good writer, good thinker." He's also among the top exponents of a national movement that, according to its supporters, is about to reclaim creationism's rightful place in public education. Only this time, Taylor and others say, the theory will not be taught as religion: It will come buttressed by scientific argument.

Ironically, says Molleen Matsumura, network project director for the El Cerrito, California-based National Center for Science Education, it was a Supreme Court opinion in favor of evolution that brought about the change. In its 1987 Edwards v. Aguillard ruling, the high court struck down a 1981 Louisiana law requiring that public schools teach both creationism and evolution. The opinion cited the constitutional separation of church and state and noted that the law advanced a "religious doctrine." But--and here's what creationists found encouraging--the justices went on to say that instruction in "a variety of scientific theories about the origins of mankind might be validly done with the clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction."

Morris, of the Institute for Creation Research, knows the decision well--and it's fine by him. "They said that you cannot teach Biblical creation in public schools," he explains. "At the Institute for Creation Research, the push has always been to teach scientific evidence behind creation and evolution and let the student make up his own mind. The evolutionists are afraid of that."

Matsumura doesn't buy it. "The key word is scientific," she says, adding that Taylor's pet theory, for example, fails the test: "If you take irreducible complexity, the whole point of it is, 'We don't have an explanation here--it's too complicated.' It's the opposite of scientific theory."

In Minnesota, the current poster child for the creation-science cause is a Faribault schoolteacher named Rodney LeVake. After teaching a curriculum that included evidence against evolution, he was reassigned last year from biology to freshman science, where neither theory is discussed. In June LeVake filed suit in Rice County District Court for more than $50,000 in damages, charging discrimination based on religion. A trial in the case is scheduled for June 2000. LeVake's case is backed by the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative legal-defense organization based in Virginia. Frank Manion, senior regional counsel for the group's Midwest office, says there's "an awful lot of interest in it, some of it related to the [creationist victory in] Kansas."

At Creation Moments' Zimmerman office, public interest in creationism sometimes threatens to overwhelm Luann Strombeck. The heaviest user of the local post office, she spent a recent day preparing to mail out some 4,500 catalogs offering videos, pamphlets, and books with titles like Someone's Making a Monkey Out of You. But the envelope-stuffing keeps getting interrupted by phone calls, mostly from people who've heard Taylor's show and want to know more. Strombeck, a self-taught research librarian, zips through the rows of metal file cabinets containing the group's files to answer most of the questions herself; only the toughest ones get passed on to Taylor, she says.

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