Mark I. Vuletic
Last updated 21 March 2008
As Tim Berra points out,
There is no law that mandates the teaching of evolution, and there should not be, yet it is practically universally taught in universities and colleges around the world. The theory of evolution is taught because it is what best explains the data in a rational manner. (Berra 1990:139-140)
Creationists, on the other hand, constantly try to use legal channels either to interfere with the teaching of science, or to force the teaching of creationism under one or another name. The two most prominent examples of the 20th century were
- The Tennessee Anti-Evolution Act (passed in 1925, repealed
in 1967), which made it unlawful to teach in public school "any
theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as
taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended
from a lower order of animals" (Zetterberg 1983:386); and
- The Tennessee Creationism Act (passed in 1973, declared unconstitutional in 1975), which prohibited biology textbooks from representing evolution as a "scientific fact" as opposed to "theory," and demanded that all textbooks that do discuss evolution give equal emphasis to other "theories" including the Genesis account. (Zetterberg 1983:387)
With such early failures, creationists have become more sophisticated in their legal machinations, trying to stack local school boards with creationists by stealth, searching for more neutral-sounding euphemisms than "creation science" (for instance, "abrupt origins theory", "intelligent design", or even "teaching the controversy"), lobbying for public opinion, and looking for loopholes in the Constitution. The object is always the same: instead of changing science education the way Darwin did (by offering the scientific community a better theory) the creationists, realizing that they have no science to offer, can only try to force scientists to bend their knees through public opinion or state power.
Berra TM. 1990. Evolution and the Myth of Creationism. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Zetterberg JP (ed.). 1983. Evolution vs. Creationism: The Public Education Controversy. Phoenix: Oryx Press.
Defender's Guide to Science and Creationism
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