Skip to comments.How the Anti-Evolution Debate Has Evolved
Posted on 12/30/2005 2:29:22 PM PST by PatrickHenry
In this last month of the year, when many Americans' thoughts are turning to holidays -- and what to call them -- we may miss another large story about the intersections of religion and public life. Last week a federal appeals court in Atlanta listened to oral arguments about a sticker pasted, and now removed, from suburban Cobb County, Georgia’s high school science textbooks warning that evolution is a "theory, not a fact." The three-judge panel will take their time deciding the complex issues in the case. But on Tuesday, a federal district court in Pennsylvania ruled the Dover Area ( Penn.) School Board’s oral disclaimers about scientific evolution to be an unconstitutional establishment of religion. The school district's statement to students and parents directed them to an "alternative" theory, that of Intelligent Design (ID); the court ruled found "that ID is nothing less than the progeny of creationism." (Kitzmiller opinion, p. 31.) Apparently in a case about evolution, genealogical metaphors are unavoidable.
Seemingly every news story about the modern trials feels it necessary to refer to the 1925 Tennessee Monkey Trial, the clash of the larger-than-life legal and political personalities of William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow in the prosecution of high school teacher John Scopes for teaching evolution in violation of state law. As an historian who has written about evolution, education, and the era of the Scopes trial, I will admit the continuities between 1925 and today can seem striking. But, these continuities are deceiving. Though the modern court challenges still pit scientists supporting evolution against some parents, churches, and others opposing its unchallenged place in public school curriculum; the changes in the last eighty years seem even stronger evidence for a form of legal or cultural evolution.
First, the continuities. In the late 19th century religious commentators like the southern Methodist editor and professor Thomas O. Summers, Sr. loved to repeat a little ditty: "When doctors disagree,/ disciples then are free" to believe what they wanted about science and the natural world. Modern anti-evolutionists, most prominently under the sponsorship of Seattle's Discovery Institute, urge school boards to "teach the controversy" about evolution, purposefully inflating disagreements among scientists about the particulars of evolutionary biology into specious claims that evolutionary biology is a house of cards ready to fall at any time. The court in the Dover case concluded that although there were some scientific disagreements about evolutionary theory, ID is "an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion" not science. In a second continuity, supporters of ID reach back, even before Darwin, to the 19th century theology of William Paley, who pointed to intricate structures like the human eye as proof of God's design of humans and the world. Though many ID supporters are circumspect about the exact identity of the intelligent designer, it seems unlikely that the legions of conservative Christian supporters of ID are assuming that Martians, time-travelers, or extra-terrestrial meatballs could be behind the creation and complexity of their world.
While these issues suggest that the Scopes Trial is still relevant and would seem to offer support for the statement most often quoted to me by first year history students on why they should study history -- because it repeats itself -- this new act in the drama shows some remarkable changes. Arguing that a majority of parents in any given state, acting through legislatures, could outlaw evolution because it contradicted their religious beliefs, William Jennings Bryan campaigned successfully in Tennessee and several other states to ban the teaching of evolution and to strike it from state-adopted textbooks.
Legal challenges to the Tennessee law never made it to the federal courts, but the constitutional hurdles for anti-evolutionists grew higher in 1968, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Epperson v. Arkansas. that an Arkansas law very similar to the Tennessee statute was an unconstitutional establishment of religion. The law's purpose, the court found, was expressly religious. So anti-evolution was forced to evolve, seeking a new form more likely to pass constitutional muster. Enter Creation Science, a movement that added scientific language to the book of Genesis, and demanded that schools provide "equal time" to both Creation Science and biological evolution. Creation Science is an important transitional fossil of the anti-evolution movement, demonstrating two adaptations: first, the adoption of scientific language sought to shield the religious purpose of the statute and second, the appeal to an American sense of fairness in teaching both sides of an apparent controversy. The Supreme Court in 1987 found this new evolution constitutionally unfit, overturning a Louisiana law (Edwards v. Aguillard).
Since the 1987 Edwards v Aguillard decision, the anti-evolution movement has attempted several new adaptations, all of which show direct ties to previous forms. The appeal to public opinion has grown: recent national opinion polls reveal that nearly two-thirds of Americans (and even higher numbers of Alabamians) support teaching both scientific evolution and creationism in public schools. School board elections and textbook adoption battles show the strength of these arguments in a democratic society. The new variants have been far more successful at clothing themselves in the language -- but not the methods -- of science. Whether by rewriting state school standards to teach criticisms of scientific evolution (as in Ohio or Kansas) or in written disclaimers to be placed in school textbooks (as in Alabama or Cobb County, Georgia) or in the now discredited oral disclaimers of the Dover Area School Board, the religious goal has been the same: by casting doubt on scientific evolution, they hope to open room to wedge religion back into public school curricula. [Discovery Institute's "Wedge Project".] But as the court in yesterday's Dover case correctly concluded, Intelligent Design is "an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion" not science. Old arguments of a religious majority, though still potent in public debate, have again proven constitutionally unfit; Creationists and other anti-evolutionists will now have to evolve new arguments to survive constitutional tests.
Bold, underlining, and links added by me.
"Why are there still monkeys?"
and A9!...and A3...and B6!
Also C7 and C1!
Evolutionitis (aka Darwinian pathology): so many problems..so much EVO stubborness...so little willingness to self examine.
So Peter Jackson can make movies about them
So Michael Jackson can get a little chimp lovin' when there are no kiddies available?
I'd like to see a scientific study to discover the origins of Symphony #40 in G Minor.
Of course, to ensure the science is preserved in its entirety, we must assume from the onset that there was no composer involved.
and A9!...and A3...and B6!
Also C7 and C1!
He stold it from Salieri.
I am pointing out that to be scientific does NOT necessarily mean you start with eliminating some possibilities.
When Newton studied science, he believed he was studying God's universe (granted -- that IS a bias).
But if God did create the universe, not allowing that as a possibilty is automatically eliminating the truth.
That's what the analogy is stating. If you eliminate the idea of a composer so you can perform a study on purely scientific merits, you will not come up with the right answer.
This is begging the question. A "reproducing self-organizing biological" system is or is not the product of a mind.
You need to add the "Can't be science if not in the lab" and then when natural speciation is repeated in the lab say "well, that's intelligent design because it was intentionally done in a lab."
(Most recently this occurred when referencing the 100 year project of the English re-creation of the natural speciation of wild Kale into broccli, asparagus, cabbage, and several other already existant species.)
Oh, and then the fall back of "Well, those are all just plants.
"Macro evolution" is a change from a plant to an animal" (or somesuch).
Seems to be nothing more than a puff piece on the wishful thinking of an evolutionist. ID isn't going anywhere. Evolution is in serious trouble and the author seems to be hoping ID would go away. Sleep peacefully libs and evokooks.
Smaug will get you in the end.. rofl.
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