Thursday, December 23, 1993
Dr. Henry M. Morris and Dr. Steven A. Austin
Institute for Creation Research
P.O. Box 2667
El Cajon, CA 92021
December 23, 1993
Dear Steve and Henry,
The good news is you are willing to submit our conflict to arbitration. The bad news is you are still avoiding fair,
Christian arbitration. Let me explain.
Fair Arbitration. It would obviously be unfair for me to pick the arbitrator. I could, with a few inquiries, choose an
arbitrator I thought might be favorable to my point of view. Once you realized this, you would have a very uneasy
feeling that possibly "the deck was slightly stacked against you." I would insult your intelligence and sense of propriety
by even suggesting that I pick the arbitrator. Why, then, do you think you should pick the arbitrator?
I have already given you the choice of two fair ways to do this. You can submit the names of three possible arbitrators
for my final selection, or I will submit three names to you. Both of you have ignored my suggestion.
Here is a third, simple, quick, and fair way to do it. Metropolitan Los Angeles is a large neutral area near both of us.
Let's ask someone we know and respect in greater LA to choose a local arbitrator. For example: David Coppedge,
Bolton Davidheiser, Bob Kofahl, John MacArthur, Dean Ortner, and George Vandeman. If you know others, add them
to the list. Now you pick one. Telephone or FAX me his name. Then I will immediately set up a conference call, so we
can make the first contact together and ask him to choose a local Christian arbitrator. If the neutral person declines for
some reason, then I will pick a name from the list, etc. Some of these men probably already know a good arbitrator.
It would also be unfair for me to ask that the arbitration venue be Phoenix. That is why I wrote you on October 12th that
I would search for Christian arbitrators in Los Angeles. You have asked that it be a suburb of San Diego. A small point
maybe, but having a neutral venue is easy and balanced.
Your "arbitration" proposal does not say who pays for the expenses involved. The fair way to handle it is for the party at
fault to pay all expenses. Those expenses will include not only the arbitrator's fee, but also our respective travel, room,
and board expenses. My letter of October 12th explained this.
Christian Arbitration. Let's begin with the basis for this term, and study Matthew 18:15-17.
15 And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your
16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or
three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.
17 And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the
church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer.
"And if your brother sins, . . ." : (The Greek reads: Now if sins the brother of thee, . . . ) Our controversy began by my
telling you, Steve, that you have made serious and damaging false statements. You told others I had taken your
material, when I maintain, you plagiarized. Furthermore, it is a pattern of plagiarizing. You acknowledged most of it in
our phone conversation on June 30, 1993, but then tried to justify it. In Biblical terms, the issues are false witness and
Concerning false statements, how would most people react if several witnesses, especially friendly acquaintances,
accused them of saying something damaging that they did not believe they said? They would quickly talk to the
witnesses so they could reconstruct the event or jog each other's recollection. You have not done that with Jane and
Doug Block, Steve. That should have been a "red light" for you, Henry, to cause you to look into this matter rather than
just believing what you wanted to believe.
Concerning plagiarism, Henry, I know you don't condone it. But I know, and you both know, that you, Henry, have put
pressure on Steve to publish more. You have complained about his lack of publishing to others outside ICR. For you,
Henry, writing comes easily, but for most people it does not. Consider how your pressure to publish might push
someone to plagiarize. This may also explain the other example of past plagiarism within ICR that I showed you.
"But if he does not listen to you, . . ." Steve, you denied my charges, so I documented all of it in a thirteen page report
giving, among other things, witnesses, dates, and places. (If we go to arbitration, I will probably go to the effort of
presenting other witnesses.) You again denied any wrong doing. Henry, contrary to Mt. 18:17, you encouraged me not
to make this "dirty linen" public.
"And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; . . ." By last August 19th, it was obvious that the time for talking
privately had passed. We were getting nowhere. From my point of view, you both were "stonewalling." I was, and still
am, prepared to let "the church" rule on the matter. What if you refused to submit the issue to "the church" or refused to
listen to "the church"? ". . . if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer."
But who is "the church"? To resolve this, we must agree on an unbiased Christian person or group who will study the
problem I have raised and rule on it. This is where we have "bogged down" for the last four months. Since we don't
have one distinct church body over us, I suggested that a Christian arbitrator act as "the church." You both then seized
on the word "arbitrate" and claimed, with some justification, that arbitration implies that both parties agree on the issue
to be arbitrated. Therefore, you want the charges considerably narrowed, so Steve Austin does not have to face the
broad range of plagiarizations we all know he has committed. Nice try, but my charges are not going to be narrowed.
Notice in Mt. 18:17, the accuser, not the accused, reports the allegations to the church. So, please, don't try to state the
charges or narrow them to only what you have done to me. Naturally, Steve Austin does not want to face a charge that
he has taken and copyrighted for ICR the work of other researchers. He has already admitted guilt to me on the phone.
It's an open-and-shut case, and you both know it. If you disagreed, you (not I) should be the ones pushing for a ruling.
Can you see how "Christian arbitration" differs from the "secular arbitration" you are proposing?
The question can be rephrased: Are you willing to have a neutral "Christian judge" rule on the alleged false statements
and plagiarism by Steve Austin? I am. Despite your words, I have seen no clear action since June 1993 that you want
to resolve this.
Consequences. Until now, I was willing to assume that maybe I had not been clear, you had not read my letters
carefully, or you did not think I was serious. It is now obvious that you both are scrambling—trying to delay or maneuver
this whole matter into a draw or difference of opinions. Maybe you want to wear me down or claim, "We were willing to
arbitrate, but Walt refused." That won't work. Most who read all our correspondence will judge correctly.
As I wrote earlier, "I sent out an initial mailing (of the file of our correspondence only) to a [very] small number of people
who have some reason for wanting or needing more information on this controversy." Here is a reaction from a leader of
a creation society in a major city, a recently retired science professor:
We were saddened to learn of the ongoing conflict with ICR. We pray that they will soon come to see
the harm they are causing to the common purpose and will adopt a more conciliatory, and indeed a
more biblical attitude. For what it is worth, our group is strongly supportive of your position.
A year or two ago, this group hosted a "Back to Genesis" seminar. I'm glad to say they were happy with it. I sincerely
want ICR to be successful, but your unwillingness to admit and correct a pattern of serious mistakes is starting to harm
ICR. I have had quite a few supportive phone calls and letters from neutral people who received the file.
Here's another way the information spreads. At a monthly creation meeting in another major city, the visiting speaker
had learned from you, Steve, about our conflict. He talked about it briefly to the audience. However, he did not have
the whole story. A person in the audience, to whom I had sent a copy of the file, went up to the speaker afterward and
explained the "5700 feet issue" as a basis for suggesting plagiarism. The speaker probably did not follow all the details,
but realized that he did not have all the facts. This information is seeping out in many ways.
I have since offered that speaker a copy of all our correspondence whenever he wants it. You can be certain that if you
put out an incomplete story on this subject and I learn of it, I will offer the complete story. I am sorry that audience did
not learn the whole story. Someday, I may be forced to respond to your incomplete stories and use other media.
These events and reactions will multiply every few months if you continue to drag your feet. Why don't you send out a
complete copy of our correspondence to whomever you wish? Get some honest reactions from neutral people who will
speak frankly to you. When the subject comes up, I will always try to encourage the people to send for the file so they
can read your words, responses, lack of response, and self-contradictions.
I gave you an "easy out," Steve—a simple, relatively private way to admit your mistakes and take corrective measures.
It could have all been handled in a one page letter to me and the publishing of a paragraph or two. The matter would
end there. As I wrote you, "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." One advisor told me my offer "was an olive branch if
she had ever seen one." Others, after reading everything in the file, said that your ignoring the "olive branch" was a
Now that it is obvious you are both dragging your feet, my "olive branch" will be withdrawn on January 15, 1994. I need
to put this behind me in order to deal with other projects and issues. Later, Henry, if you decide you want to resolve this
matter, you have an invitation to visit my office for a face-to-face meeting. Until you reach that point or Steve agrees in
writing to binding, fair, Christian arbitration (according to Christ's instructions in Mt. 18:17), there is no point in us
corresponding. Instead, I will increasingly let the file be seen by interested parties, perhaps for the next twenty years.
Walter T. Brown, Jr.
P.S. I don't want to sound "preachy," but it may help if I explain a deeply held perspective I have on Mt. 18:15-17. The
"Body of Christ" has many diverse, interacting components. So does the human "body" and the body of every
living animal. When one component of a body misbehaves, other components are designed to correct the error.
This is an amazingly complex and important design feature that shows the hand and intention of the Creator. If
errors cannot be corrected, then the body is diseased. A well-functioning body needs these thousands of
What if the muscles of your arm refused to respond to signals from your nerves telling your hand it is going in the
wrong direction? You would be spastic. Likewise, the "Body of Christ" needs to act on corrective signals from its
components. What if your nerves refused to send signals to your muscles? You would have leprosy. Some
Christians are uncomfortable sending quiet, private, but clear corrective signals to brothers and sisters. They
know it might become awkward or unpleasant, as our exchange unfortunately has. But that abdication of
responsibility harms The Body—gives it "Christian leprosy." You, I, and many others are the components that have
quiet functions to perform. Mt. 18 tells us how the feedback process must work if The Body is to function properly.
Do the nerves try to destroy the arm each time it gives a correction? Of course not. I have written you that I
intend no harm to Steve or ICR. But if one component refuses sound correction that was directed by The Head,
then amputation may be the best solution. That is what Mt. 18:17b is all about. Steve, that is why you are at step
4. You ignored my letter of August 19th—with your knowledge, Henry, and perhaps at your direction. Moreover,
you both are still refusing fair, Christian arbitration, especially by maintaining that you will state the charges.
None of all this opposes Christ's equally clear instructions concerning love and forgiveness. The Body of Christ
has many diverse, interacting, and mutually important components. Each component should appreciate the others.
I sincerely appreciate most of the work you both have done for the creation movement. Nevertheless, the serious
problems I am raising will harm the creation movement. Please, acknowledge and correct your mistakes.