Creationism and the Paluxy Controversy


Wayne Spencer

M.S. Physics

Part 1: History of the Paluxy controversy and some questions on method concerning Glen Rose creationist Carl Baugh: A caution to Christians.

Many Christians in the DFW area have visited the Creation Evidences Museum run by Glen Rose creationist Carl Baugh. However, Christians in the DFW area often have no idea of the extent of the controversies that have surrounded the Paluxy issue and some of the teachings of Mr. Baugh. I have a somewhat unique perspective as someone who has been involved in creation ministry in another state (Kansas) and who now lives approximately a two hours drive from the Glen Rose museum. It is not my intention to discredit Mr. Baugh's ministry, nor would I discourage anyone from visiting the Creation Evidences Museum or hearing his lectures. The following pages are offered to bring clarification to some of the claims made by Carl Baugh. It is also hoped that Mr. Baugh will benefit from this in the interest of accountability and academic peer-review. To his credit, Carl Baugh is soundly evangelical, however his particular view of "creation science" unfortunately over-steps the bounds of accurate representation on some issues.

A Brief History of the Paluxy Issues

The modern young Earth Creationism movement is usually considered to have begun with the publication in 1961 of the book The Genesis Flood, by Drs. John Whitcomb and Henry Morris. This book was one of the first to mention evidence suggesting human footprints in the same cretaceous limestone as dinosaur footprints. In 1973 Stan Taylor of Films for Christ released the film "Footprints in Stone," which was a documentary claiming evidence of human foot prints in the Glen Rose cretaceous limestone. For some years following publication of The Genesis Flood, the Institute for Creation Research in California continued to argue that there were human and dinosaur footprints in the same rock layer, thus contradicting the evolutionist concept that dinosaurs became extinct 65 or 70 million years before man evolved. Dr. John Morris, after some years of research into the Paluxy fossil footprints question, published a book in 1980 called Tracking Those Incredible Dinosaurs, And the People Who Knew Them. John Morris' book supported the argument that there were human prints in Glen Rose.

Then in the mid-1980's, after some erosion along the Paluxy, a red stain began to become visible around some of the footprints. Some scientists claimed this reddish stain was evidence that the purported human prints were actually dinosaur prints. John Morris looked into this issue and after visiting Paluxy to see the stain, agreed that they may not be human and could be dinosaur prints. Thus, John Morris subsequently took his book mentioned above off the market and in 1986 John Morris published an ICR Impact article (number 151) explaining how the footprints had changed their appearance due to erosion and other unknown processes and that he was retracting his previous position. After that time, ICR no longer used the argument of there being human footprints with dinosaur footprints at Glen Rose. After ICR changed its position on the issue, Films for Christ took the film "Footprints in Stone" off the market and no longer allowed it to be shown anywhere. ICR stopped promoting the idea of human footprints in Glen Rose, while many other creationists, especially individuals with degrees in science, backed away on the issue, out of caution. Today, a number of leading credentialed creationists are still reluctant to believe in human footprints in the Glen Rose area.

During the unfolding of these events Carl Baugh took opportunity to purchase land in Glen Rose and set up the Creation Evidences Museum. By the time ICR backed off on the human footprints issue, Carl Baugh and the Creation Evidences Museum had already gained significant notoriety from promotion of the human footprints at the Paluxy. So, Carl Baugh parted company with most other creationists on certain issues and has promoted some ideas quite different from those of other leading creationists, especially those with degrees in the sciences. Mainstream creationist researchers have exercised a great deal of caution regarding the Paluxy footprints and have often not favorably reacted to Baugh's model of the Preflood Earth. Baugh continues to confidently defend ideas that mainstream creationists question.

One comment may be in order regarding Mr. Baugh's academic credentials. Much criticism has been brought out by both evolutionists and creationists about the fact that Baugh's doctorate is from a correspondence program and not from a university. Don Patton can verify that his degrees are both from the Pacific College of Graduate Studies in Australia, a correspondence college. At the time Baugh received his degree this college was accredited, but since then problems have arisen such that it is not accredited at this time to my knowledge. His degrees are a Master of Arts in Archeology and a Ph.D. in Education. My personal feeling is that I don't care very much what Mr. Baugh's degrees are, what I care about is the quality and reliability of his work.

The Paluxy river area is very well known in the secular scientific community for both the dinosaur footprints there and the controversy regarding human prints. Anyone in the fields of geology or paleontology would have heard of the claim of fossil human footprints near Glen Rose, Texas. This is a claim that was not and is not taken seriously at all by most university professors and scientists. Indeed there have been a number of well known evolutionist scientists who have investigated the Paluxy "man-tracks" in order to discredit the creationist claims. In years past, before ICR, there were some cases of carved tracks, which dishonest individuals made to sell, for instance. The efforts from some evolutionist scientists have also apparently included deliberate destruction of certain prints discovered by creationists.

So, Carl Baugh has parted company with what you could call "mainstream creationism" on some issues and many leading creationists would not want to be associated too closely with him. He does follow other creationists ideas on some topics, such as on the problems with biological evolution, Earth's magnetic field, the age of the Earth, and general evidences for Noah's Flood. Part 2 will look at some of the technical problems with Baugh's model of the preflood Earth. Part 3 has my own personal opinions about how Baugh's teachings have adversely affected the creation movement. Many of my concerns in Part 3 are important for all creationists to take to heart regarding what responsible research and ministry should mean for creationists. I hope that the following will help Christians to have a broader perspective and a greater level of discernment in evaluating the work of creationists.

This entire article has been sent to Carl Baugh and to Don Patton. Mr. Baugh was given opportunity to respond to my concerns and I have done my best to accurately represent his viewpoints. I would commend Mr. Baugh for the way he presents the gospel and for reaching many in the Christian community with the creation message.