Creation vs. Evolution


The issue of teaching creationism in the public schools has
long been debated. Over the years many different arguments
have been presented. 

First creationists tried to have the teaching of evolution
outlawed. This issue went to the Supreme Court in 1968,
where in "Epperson vs. Arkansas" the high court ruled
against banning the teaching of evolution. Soon after this
decision, creationists began to call for 'equal time', or
the equal treatment of creation theory and evolution
theory. When this attempt also failed creationists turned
to 'creation science' (Grunes 465). Today the major
argument for the teaching of creationism in public schools
is that creationism is a scientific theory and thus should
be taught alongside evolution. 

The combatants against creationism being taught in public
schools are those who believe creation science is bad
science and those who believe it violates the separation of
church and state. Supporters of creation science are
organizations that are collectively refered to as the New
Christian Right, such as the Institute for Creation
Research. On the other hand, those who oppose creation
science are usually scientists, educators, and civil
liberties organizations (Grunes 466).
The majority of those people who desire for creationism to
be taught in the public schools cite that it is scientific.
They push for the teaching of creation science which is
defined as "scientific evidence for creation and the
inferences from that evidence" (Tatina 275). The inferences
from that evidence are "sudden creation of the universe
from nothing, recent formulation of the earth, creation of
man and other biological kinds, a worldwide flood", and
"the insufficiency of mutation and natural selection in
bringing about development of living kinds from a single
organism" (Grunes 470). These creation scientists, as they
are called, want the teaching of the two scientific
theories, evolution and creation science, to be taught side
by side. In 1992 a Vermont school district passed a
resolution stating that "creation be presented as a viable
theory on an equal status with the various theories of
evolution" (Scott 12). The main desire is that creation be
given the same time as evolution to be presented as a
possible theory on the beginnings of this universe.
Many people feel that creation science is only an attempt
to side step the religious issue. Since religious beliefs
cannot be taught in public schools the creationists
"repackaged the Bible as science" (10). This statement
causes one to consider if the Bible is a scientific book.
Many creationists would agree that the Bible is the
inspired Word of God, and not a scientific book. Yet,
creation scientists want us to believe that the Bible is
By comparing creation science to evolution, creation
scientists attempt to logically show creation is a science.
They draw parallels which attempt to put creation science
at the same level as evolution. The definitions of creation
science and evolution science in the Arkansas law
demonstrate this attempted parallel. The law states,
"Creation-science means the scientific evidences for
creation and inferences from those scientific evidences"
and, "Evolution-science means the scientific evidences for
evolution and inferences from those scientific evidences"
(Ruse 292-93).
There are also those who believe creationism should not be
taught because it is bad science. Scientists who have
studied the claims of scientific creationism state that it
"misstates evolutionary theory, presents erroneous data,
and reveals a gross misunderstanding of the nature of
science" (Scott 10). For example, creation scientists often
use quotes that look as if to challenge evolution, but they
are often taken out of context and these quotes from
scientific literature actually are questioning the 'how' of
evolution (Ruse 289). In Scientific Creationism a quote by
Theodosius Dobzhansky is used which makes the reader
believe he is questioning evolution (Morris 6). Theodosius
Dobzhansky is one of the greatest supporters of evolution.
Ruse writes that "philosophically and methodologically the
creationists do not act like scientists, and that
substantively the creationist's contentions are without
scientific merit" (Ruse 290). Ruse also states that
"science must be explanatory, testable, and tentative"
(301). Some believe that creation science is "a jumble of
half-truths" (In the 17). In the Epperson v. Arkansas
decision the argument that creationism is scientific was
rejected because of the fact that it did not satisfy the
criteria of a science and did not employ scientific
methodology (Grunes 471).
Many fear the effects of allowing this bad science to be
taught. Theodosius Dobzhansky, a notable geneticist, says,
"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of
evolution," these students will learn nonsensical biology,
a "pile of sundry facts" unconnected by an organizing
theory (Scott 13). In his article Scott says, "That
teachers have to sneak good science into the classroom is
regrettable" (13).
Ruse says that science must be testable. Creation
scientists concede that it is impossible to prove the
earths origins scientifically, by the fact that the essence
of the scientific method is experimental observation and
repeatability. Creation cannot be proved because it is not
taking place now, and it is also not possible to create a
scientific experiment which describes the creation process.
Creation scientists also say that evolution cannot be
proved because it functions too slowly to be measured,
therefore it cannot be proved by empirical science (Morris
4-5). In an attempt to discredit creation science Ruse may
have also discredited evolution.
A final view in the creation debate is that creation is
religion thus it should not be taught in public schools.
Those who are against the mandate of creation science being
given equal time use the law to support them. Courts have
ruled that by mandating the teaching of creation science,
the religious doctrine is required to be taught, which has
no secular purpose (Grunes 475). The First Amendment of the
Constitution states that "Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the
free exercise thereof." It is interpreted as saying that
the government is required to demonstrate a secular
legislative purpose, not to advance or inhibit any
religion, and to prevent the government's regulations on an
individual's religious beliefs (467-68). In another Supreme
Court decision in 1987, Edwards v. Aguillard, creation was
labeled a religious idea. Therefore its teaching represents
a state advocacy of that religion, which violates the
establishment clause in the First Amendment (Scott 10).
Those organizations who advocate creation science are
viewed as trying to cover up religion as science (Grunes
470). Their purpose is seen as trying to advance religion,
not protecting or promoting student's academic freedom. It
is believed that a theory involving the supernatural
intervention of a Creator is religion, not science (Ruse
301). Ruse stated in his testimony, "As someone trained in
the philosophy of religion, in my opinion creation science
is religion" (306). Parents trust that their students
classroom will not be used to advance the religious views
of others which may conflict with their own (Grunes 477).
By allowing the teaching of creation, this trust between
educational institution and parent is lost.
While creation science is viewed as religion, some also
view evolution as religion. Creationists feel that
evolutionary theory is a major element of secular humanism
and that the teaching of it hinders the creationist's
religious freedom (Grunes 467). They argue that the
teaching of evolution also violates the Establishment
Clause on the basis that it advances the religion of
secular humanism (468). The Institute for Creation Research
believes that "a nontheistic religion of secular
evolutionary humanism has become, for all potential
purposes, the official state religion promoted in the
public schools" (Morris iii).
This issue may never end up being resolved. States have
passed laws pertaining to the teaching of creation, but
these laws have ended up being ruled illegal by the federal
courts. The real issue may not be if creationism is
scientific, or if it is religious. It may be whether the
law, and those who enforce the law, will ever allow
anything other than the evolution theory to be taught in
the public schools.
Works Cited:
Grunes, Rodney A. "Creationism, the Courts, and the First
Amendment." Journal of Church and State 31.3 (Autumn
"In the beginning God created...." The Economist 19 August
Morris, Henry M. Ph.D., ed. Scientific Creationism. San
Diego: Creation- Life Publishers, 1978.
Ruse, Michael, ed. But Is It Science? Buffalo, New York:
Prometheus Books, 1988.
Scott, Eugenie C. "The Struggle for the Schools." Natural
History 103.7 (July 1994):10-13.
Tatina, Robert. "South Dakoda High School Biology Teachers
& the Teaching of Evolution & Creationism." The American
Biology Teacher 51.5 (May 1989):2750.


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