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- Creationist and Intelligent Design
- The Evolution, Creationism, and Intelligent Design Controversy
The so-called "Scopes Monkey Trial" of , concerning enforcement of a Tennessee statute that prohibited teaching the theory of evolution in public school classrooms, was a fascinating courtroom drama featuring Clarence Darrow dueling with three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan. Not until did the Supreme Court rule in Epperson vs. Arkansas that such bans contravene the Establishment Clause because their primary purpose is religious.
The Court used the same rationale in in Edwards vs Aguillard to strike down a Louisiana law that required biology teachers who taught the theory of evolution to also discuss evidence supporting the theory called "creation science. In , for example, the Kansas Board of Education voted to remove evolution from the list of subjects tested on state standardized tests, in effect encouraging local school boards to consider dropping or de-emphasizing evolution. In , the Kansas tug-of-war continued, with pro-evolution moderates again retaking control of the Board.
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In , attention shifted to Dover, Pennsylvania, where the local school board voted to require teachers to read a statement about intelligent design prior to discussions of evolution in high school biology classes. Eleven parents of Dover students challenged the school board decision, arguing that it violated the Establishment Clause. After a six-week trial, U.
District Judge John E.
Jones issued a page findings of fact and decision in which he ruled that the Dover mandate was unconstitutional. Judge Jones's decision was surprisingly broad.
Creationist and Intelligent Design
He concluded that "ID is not science," but rather is a religious theory that had no place in the science classroom. Jones found three reasons for his conclusion that intelligent design was a religious, and not a scientific, theory. Jones found ID's "irreducible complexity" argument to be "a negative argument against evolution, not proof of design. In the future, legal conflicts between science and religion can be expected over theories such as "The Big Bang," which also undermines Fundamentalist beliefs about creation.
Cases Epperson vs. Moody, William B. As a result of these rulings, school boards, legislatures and government bodies are now barred from prohibiting the teaching of evolution. Teaching creation science, either along with evolutionary theory or in place of it, is also banned. Partly in response to these court decisions, opposition to teaching evolution has itself evolved, with opponents changing their goals and tactics.
In the last decade, some local and state school boards in Kansas, Pennsylvania and elsewhere have considered teaching what they contend are scientific alternatives to evolution — notably the concept of intelligent design, which posits that life is too complex to have developed without the intervention of an outside, possibly divine force.
Other education officials have tried to require schools to teach critiques of evolution or to mandate that students listen to or read evolution disclaimers, such as one proposed a number of years ago in Cobb County, Ga.
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These debates are just as prevalent in the court of public opinion as they are in the courtroom. Moreover, they say, a scientific theory is not a hunch or a guess but is instead an established explanation for a natural phenomenon, like gravity, that has repeatedly been tested through observation and experimentation.
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Indeed, most scientists argue that, for all practical purposes, evolution through natural selection is a fact. See Darwin and His Theory of Evolution. These scientists and others dismiss creation science as religion, not science, and describe intelligent design as little more than creationism dressed up in scientific jargon. So if evolution is as established as the theory of gravity, why are people still arguing about it a century and a half after it was first proposed? See Evolution: A Timeline. The answer lies, in part, in the possible theological implications of evolutionary thinking.
The Evolution, Creationism, and Intelligent Design Controversy
The new Section 5. The new Chapter 3, "How the Scientific Consensus is Maintained," gives a little history of my attempts to publish these ideas, and of the attempts of ID opponents to suppress them. The new edition of my book, though, is not all about why evolution is different.
It still contains the title essay "In the Beginning" about the Big Bang. It still contains a chapter on the fine-tuning of the constants of physics. And it now has even more material showing why the similarities between species, offered by Le Conte and everyone else as the most powerful evidence for natural causes, do not necessarily imply lack of design. Hint: look at the "evolution" of human technology.