Brown to Morris, 93-10-12


Tuesday, October 12, 1993


Dr. Henry M. Morris
Institute for Creation Research
P.O. Box 2667
El Cajon, CA 92021
                                                                                          October 12, 1993
Dear Henry:
Thank you for your letter of October 5th and your kind words. There are a few points in your letter that
are not clear. Are you accepting my offer of arbitration? Are you accepting it only under the condition
that Emmett Williams is the arbitrator? If so, stipulating who the judge and jury must be is highly irregular
in any sincere desire to reach an agreement. Has Steve Austin accepted my offer? For now, I will
assume that you (a skilled and prolific writer) were writing in good faith, that any ambiguity was not
intentional, and you truly want to resolve this matter. I do. Contention among Christians is wrong.
Besides, it is harmful to the creation movement.
To proceed with Christian arbitration, three specific questions must be carefully answered: (1) what
charges and specifications will the arbitrator address, (2) what will the arbitrator do, and (3) who should
the arbitrator be. We must agree on (2) and (3). Since I am making the charges, I must state them and
give enough specifics for an arbitrator to rule on their validity.
The charges and specifications. The charges have always been that Steve Austin has made false
accusations and has plagiarized (copyright infringement). More specifically, he told others that I took
material of his on the Grand Canyon when, in fact, he took and copyrighted material of mine, Ed Holroyd,
and other researchers. Again, I must emphasize that for several years I chose to overlook all of this to
avoid a divisive priority fight. It was only when Bob Gentry relayed similar false accusations to me that I
had to set the record straight, as painful and time-consuming as that would be. Bob's project, which
involved me, my credibility, and considerable time and money on his part, would be tarnished if the
accusations were correct.
Each letter from you and Austin has denied slightly different charges than I have ever made. For
example, in your last letter you said, "All of us categorically deny that we have ever spoken against you in
public." You both may have tried, consciously or unconsciously, to recast the issue into one that makes
you feel better or is easier to defend. For now, I will assume that your words were simply imprecise, or
you did not read carefully what I was saying. (Obviously, the accused never dictates the charges and
specifications.) It is also important that we not get sidetracked on irrelevant issues. The validity of the
"Grand Lake Explanation" or the Hydroplate Theory is not at issue as you keep saying. I am not
concerned with your opinions on either. Assume, if you wish, that both are wrong.
What will the arbitrator do? I propose that the arbitrator decide which charges and specifications, if any,
are correct. Then he should decide what corrective action should be taken. Finally, the arbitrator would
send a short statement of his findings to you, Austin, and me. Of course, the three of us must agree in
writing to binding arbitration. (See enclosure.)
You proposed that "We would each have to bear half the expenses involved." I disagree. If I concocted
this whole issue and Austin did nothing wrong, as he apparently is telling you, why should he bear any
expenses? I should bear them all. On the other hand, if it is ruled that Austin has both falsely accused
and plagiarized, then why should I pay for his wrongful actions? If he is guilty of only one charge, then
splitting the costs might be a fair compromise. Notice, that if Austin is guilty of only one specification
under a charge, then he is guilty of that charge. For example, if he only took and copyrighted material
without permission from another researcher, but not Holroyd or me, then he has plagiarized. Finally,
neither ICR nor CSC should bear any expenses. Austin and/or I should bear the expenses, not our
respective ministries. Having ICR or CSC pay, would be highly improper. Although I have not gone
through this procedure before, I suspect that the total cost will be less than two thousand dollars.
Once we agree on the matters raised in this letter, and we all sign a statement of binding arbitration, I
visualize both Steve Austin and I mailing to each other and the arbitrator all relevant material. (I never
received from Austin some of his latest relevant writings he said on June 30th he would send me.) A
week or so later, Austin and I should meet with the arbitrator so that all questions can be asked and
answered. This would give Austin an opportunity to question me face-to-face. Then the arbitrator will
want to look into some matters in more detail, primarily by phone and letter. Finally, he would issue a
draft report and assess costs, to which Austin and I might have a time to respond before the final report is
issued. The arbitrator's job is not complex from a scientific or administrative standpoint.
Who should the arbitrator be? You suggested Emmett Williams, with whom you and Austin have
worked much more closely than I. For several reasons I believe this is would be inappropriate.
Impartiality is the primary requirement for an arbitrator. Emmett is a fine man who has and will continue
to be an active creationist. He undoubtedly has opinions of all of us which, despite his best efforts, might
influence his judgements. Ruling against Austin or myself would probably place him in awkward positions
in the future. Therefore, he might be inclined to mediate rather than arbitrate. Besides, Emmett is not
well-grounded in the law. Another problem with having Emmett is geography. It would be difficult and
expensive for the three of us to have a face-to-face meeting in Atlanta. Instead, the arbitrator should live
somewhere near Phoenix and San Diego to minimize travel costs. If you agree, I will start looking in the
yellow pages of Los Angeles for three "Christian arbitrators." You and Austin can make the final selection.
In this way, we will agree to arbitrate in good faith, without any hopes of selecting a favorable arbitrator.
Once both of you sign, copy, and return the enclosed form, I will begin the selection process.
We both are very busy and regret spending time trying to resolve this matter. The best way to prevent
any future waste of time is for Austin to admit forthrightly his mistakes. The sooner it happens, the less
painful it will be. If Austin had accepted my offer of August 19 then rather than now, we could have
saved ourselves much trouble, and the matter would probably be resolved. Let's get on with it.
Frequently, I have asked Austin simply to admit his mistakes and take corrective action. This is very easy
and straight-forward. What might this entail? Steve could send me a brief letter similar to the following:
     Dear Walt,
     I want to acknowledge some mistakes I have made and assure you that they will not be
     repeated. First, during the last few years I have privately expressed to a few people, including
     Doug and Jane Block, that I thought you had taken material of mine on the Grand Canyon. I
     now know that was not true. As I am able to recall people who have heard this from me, I will
     inform them of my new understanding. I will not speak against you again without first
     discussing any disagreement with you privately.
     As you were aware before you began your studies of the Grand Canyon, I frequently wondered
     if the former Hopi Lake in eastern Arizona could have somehow breached the Kaibab Plateau.
     Two other geologists during the last 140 years made similar proposals. Ed Holroyd
     strengthened that thought when he showed me in 1986 where a larger lake could have been
     entrapped behind the Kaibab Plateau. He wondered whether a fault might have occurred near
     what is now the Visitor's Center which emptied that lake suddenly, eroding the Grand Canyon.
     In 1988 I learned that you were proposing with some specificity based on field discoveries you
     made that such an event happened with several lakes, one of which you were calling Grand
     Lake. That gave me more confidence in my earlier idea, so I tried to publish something as
     quickly as possible. I modified ICR's 1989 Grand Canyon Guidebook to include Holroyd's map
     and added a statement that this lake "breached its dam to form the Grand Canyon." As I now
    recall, my frequent reference to the lake's elevation being at 5700 feet did come from you as
     did its name, Grand Lake. I continue to favor the view that the breach occurred through or over
     the Kaibab Plateau rather than your explanation involving the Echo/Vermillion Cliff complex.
     I should have been more specific in acknowledging that Ed Holroyd was the source of the
     figure I used, especially after Ed suggested how I could do so and he published the idea
     himself. I now realize that by not acknowledging my sources, most people assume that I
     originated the ideas or discoveries. It was also a serious error to copyright artwork from other
     researchers without their permission. It will not happen again. Your explanation for the Grand
     Canyon motivated me to quickly and more forcefully claim that the Grand Canyon formed by
     the breaching of a dam. In trying to establish my priority, I should not have emphasized the
     false 1988 copyright in my conversation and correspondence with you.
     Within the next year, I will add a paragraph or two in some publication of mine giving the proper
     credits. After I draft it, I will send it to you for comments on its accuracy and completeness. In
     the future, I hope we can do a better job of exchanging information. Henry Morris concurs with
     all of this.
Henry, please be assured that I am not trying to embarrass anyone or harm ICR. If Austin was sincere,
did what he promised, and his letter was complete, accurate, and forthright, the matter would end as far
as I am concerned. I would not publish or broadcast Austin's letter or use it in a legal suit. I would
decline any request for information on this from the evolutionist community. I would only show the letter
to those who raised the subject privately with me or who have already read the file since Austin declined
my offer of Christian arbitration.
Some, such as Russ Humphreys, might wonder why I concern myself with Austin's taking and
copyrighting for ICR ideas and artwork of other researchers. After all, that does me no harm. In a secular,
legal sense, he is right. For those acts of plagiarism, I have no grounds for redress—nor do I seek them. I
raise these issues because of the statement, "If your brother sins go and reprove him . . . ." No one likes
to do this. However, our Lord told us to do it. Taking something that does not belong to you, even ideas
and artwork, is wrong. In fact, it is stealing. In Austin's case, it is a pattern—a pattern that has also
impinged on me. For that, admonishment and corrective action is needed. I ask for your help in this
Since Austin ignored my August 19th offer of arbitration, I sent out an initial mailing to a small number of
people who have some reason for wanting or needing more information on this controversy. Of course,
that number will continuously grow until this matter is honestly, fairly, and forthrightly resolved. The more
it grows, the less control I have over who else will see the file. The most frequent comment from people
who have no reason to take sides is first shock that a conflict exists between us. Then they ask, "Why is
it so hard for ICR to admit a mistake? Is it pride?" One person thought this procedure was appropriate
and healthy "if only to lay down future guidelines for the creation scientific community to abide by." I
agree. In the end, I believe much good will come from all of this.
Walter T. Brown, Jr.
                                   Agreement for Binding Arbitration
I agree to binding arbitration, and I promise to abide by the arbitrator's requests, rulings, and remedies.
_______________________                 _______________________                 ______________________
Walter T. Brown, Jr.                    Steven A. Austin                        Henry M. Morris
date:                                   date:                                   date: