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The creation–evolution controversy (also termed the creation vs. evolution debate or the origins debate) involves a recurring cultural, political, and theological dispute about the origins of the Earth, of humanity, and of other life.
This debate rages most publicly in the United States of America, but to a lesser extent also proceeds in Europe and elsewhere, often portrayed as part of a culture war. Christian fundamentalists dispute the evidence of common descent of humans and other animals as demonstrated in modern palaeontology, and those who defend the conclusions of modern evolutionary biology, geology, cosmology, and other related fields. They argue for the Abrahamic religions' accounts of creation, framing it as reputable science ("creation science"). While the controversy has a long history, today it is mainly over what constitutes good science education, with the politics of creationism primarily focusing on the teaching of creation and evolution in public education. The debate also focuses on issues such as the definition of science (and of what constitutes scientific research and evidence), science education, free speech, separation of Church and State, and theology.
Evolution is an undisputed fact within the scientific community and in academia, where the level of support for evolution is essentially universal. The support for Abrahamic accounts or other creationist alternatives is very low among scientists, and virtually nonexistent among scientists in the relevant fields. Unlike the scientific community, a 2012 Gallup survey reports, "Forty-six percent of Americans believe in the creationist view that God created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years. The prevalence of this creationist view of the origin of humans is essentially unchanged from 30 years ago, when Gallup first asked the question. About a third of Americans believe that humans evolved, but with God's guidance; 15% say humans evolved, but that God had no part in the process."
The debate is sometimes portrayed as being between science and religion, but as the United States National Academy of Sciences states:
Today, many religious denominations accept that biological evolution has produced the diversity of living things over billions of years of Earth's history. Many have issued statements observing that evolution and the tenets of their faiths are compatible. Scientists and theologians have written eloquently about their awe and wonder at the history of the universe and of life on this planet, explaining that they see no conflict between their faith in God and the evidence for evolution. Religious denominations that do not accept the occurrence of evolution tend to be those that believe in strictly literal interpretations of religious texts.—National Academy of Sciences, Science, Evolution, and Creationism
- 1 History
- 2 United States legal challenges and their consequences
- 2.1 Butler Act and Scopes monkey trial
- 2.2 Epperson v. Arkansas
- 2.3 Daniel v. Waters
- 2.4 Creation Science
- 2.5 Intelligent design
- 3 Viewpoints
- 4 Arguments relating to the definition and limits of science
- 5 Disputes relating to science
- 6 Public policy issues
- 7 Issues relating to religion
- 8 Forums
- 9 Outside the United States
- 10 See also
- 11 Footnotes
- 12 References
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
The creation-evolution controversy began in Europe and North America in the late 18th century when new interpretations of geology led to various theories of an ancient earth, and the extinctions demonstrated in the fossil geological sequence prompted early ideas of evolution, notably Lamarckism. In England these ideas of continuing change were at first seen as a threat to the fixed social order, and were repressed by the church and state. Conditions gradually eased, and in 1844 the controversial Vestiges popularised the transmutation of species. The scientific establishment at first dismissed it scornfully and the Church of England reacted with fury, but many Unitarians, Quakers and Baptists opposed to the privileges of the Established church favoured its ideas of God acting through such laws.
Contemporary reaction to Darwin
|“||By the end of the 19th century, there was no serious scientific opposition to the basic evolutionary tenets of descent with modification and the common ancestry of all forms of life.||”|
—Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction 
The publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection in 1859 brought scientific credibility to evolution, and made it a respectable field of study.
There was intense interest in the religious implications of Darwin's book, but the Church of England's attention was largely diverted by theological controversy over higher criticism set out in Essays and Reviews by liberal Christian authors, some of whom expressed support for Darwin, as did many Nonconformists. The Reverend Charles Kingsley, for instance, openly supported the idea of God working through evolution. Other Christians were opposed to the idea and even some of Darwin's close friends and supporters including Charles Lyell and Asa Gray initially expressed reservations about some of his ideas. Gray later became a staunch supporter of Darwin in America, and collected together a number of his own writings to produce an influential book, Darwiniana. These essays argued for a conciliation between Darwinian evolution and the tenets of theism, at a time when many on both sides perceived the two as mutually exclusive. Gray denied that investigation of physical causes stood opposed to the theological view and the study of the harmonies between mind and Nature, and thought it "most presumable that an intellectual conception realized in Nature would be realized through natural agencies". Thomas Huxley, who strongly promoted Darwin's ideas while campaigning to end the dominance of science by the clergy, coined the term agnostic to describe his position that God's existence is unknowable, and Darwin also took this position, but evolution was also taken up by prominent atheists including Edward Aveling and Ludwig Büchner and it was criticised, in the words of one reviewer, as "tantamount to atheism". Following the lead of figures such as St. George Jackson Mivart and John Zahm, Catholics in the United States were accepting of evolution itself while ambivalent towards natural selection and stressing humanity's divinely imbued soul. Though evolution was never condemned by the church, initially the more conservative leaning Catholic leadership in Rome held back but gradually adopted a similar position.
Creationists during this period were largely a premillennialist minority, whose belief in Christ's imminent return depended on a quasi-literal reading of parts of the Bible. They were not as concerned about the new findings in geology or biology, freely granting scientists any time they needed before the Garden of Eden to account for scientific observations, such as the fossil sequence and geological findings. In the immediate post-Darwinian era, few scientists or clerics rejected the antiquity of the earth or the progressive nature of the fossil record. Likewise, few attached geological significance to the Biblical flood, unlike subsequent creationists. Evolutionary skeptics, creationist leaders and skeptical scientists were usually willing either to adopt a figurative reading of the first chapter of Genesis, or to allow that the six days of creation were not necessarily 24-hour days.
The theory of evolution was almost immediately embraced by science professors at liberal northeastern universities, who introduced it to their students. However, in parts of the south and west of the United States, which had been influenced by the preachings of fundamental evangelists, rejected the theory of evolution as immoral.
Creationism in theology
At the beginning of the 19th century most Europeans had accepted the Genesis creation narrative as true, but debate was developing in applying historical methods to Biblical criticism, suggesting a less literal account of the Bible. Simultaneously the developing science of Geology indicated the Earth was ancient, and religious thinkers sought to accommodate this by day-age theory or gap theory. The Neptunianist catastrophism that had earlier proposed that all geological features could be explained by a universal flood, had been replaced by a gradualism based upon the erosion and depositional cycle over millions of years, which gave a better explanation of the sedimentary column. Biology and the discovery of extinction challenged ideas of a fixed immutable Aristotelian "great chain of being". Natural theology had earlier expected that scientific findings based on empirical evidence would help religious understanding. These differences led some to increasingly think that science and theology were concerned with different non-competitive domains. When most scientists came to accept evolution by around 1875, European theologians generally came to accept evolution as an instrument of God. Pope Leo XIII, for instance, referred to longstanding Christian thought that scriptural interpretations could be reevaluated in the light of new knowledge, and Roman Catholics came around to acceptance of human evolution subject to direct creation of the soul. In the United States of America the development of the racist Social Darwinian eugenics movement led a number of Catholics to reject evolution. In this enterprise they received little aid from conservative Christians in Britain and Europe. In Britain this has been attributed to their minority status leading to a more tolerant, less militant theological tradition.
Development of Creationism in the USA
At first in the USA evangelical Christians paid little attention to the developments in geology and biology, being more concerned with the rise of Higher Biblical Criticism which questioned the belief in the bible as literal truth. Those criticising these approaches took the name "fundamentalist" which was originally coined by its supporters to describe a specific package of theological beliefs that developed into a movement within the Protestant community of the United States in the early part of the 20th century, and that had its roots in the Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy of that time. The term usually has a religious connotation indicating unwavering attachment to a set of irreducible beliefs.
Up until the early mid-20th century there was little official resistance to evolution by mainline denominations within the United States of America. Around the start of the 20th century some evangelical scholars had ideas accommodating evolution, such as B. B. Warfield who saw it as a natural law expressing God's will. By then most U.S. high school and college biology classes taught scientific evolution, but several factors including the rise of Christian fundamentalism and social factors of changes and insecurity in more traditionalist Bible Belt communities led to a backlash. The numbers of children taking secondary education increased rapidly, and parents who were fundamentalist or opposed to social ideas of what was called survival of the fittest had real concerns about what their children were learning about evolution.
The main British creationist movement in this period was the Evolution Protest Movement, formed in the 1930s out of the Victoria Institute, or Philosophical Society of Great Britain, which was founded in 1865, as a response to the publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species and Essays and Reviews. The Victoria Institute's stated objective was to defend "the great truths revealed in Holy Scripture ... against the opposition of Science falsely so called." Although it was not officially opposed to evolution, it attracted a number of scientists sceptical of Darwinism, including John William Dawson and Arnold Guyot. It reached a high point of 1,246 in 1897, but quickly plummeted to less than one third of that figure in the first two decades of the twentieth century. Though it was anti-evolution at first, the institute joined the theistic evolution camp by the 1920s, which led to the development of the Evolution Protest Movement in reaction. Amateur ornithologist Douglas Dewar was the main driving force within the EPM, publishing a booklet entitled Man: A Special Creation and engaging in public speaking and debates with supporters of evolution. In the late 1930s he resisted the American creationists call for acceptance of flood geology, which later led to conflict within the organisation. Despite trying to win the public endorsement of C.S. Lewis, the most prominent Christian apologist of his day, by the mid-1950s the EPM came under control of schoolmaster/pastor Albert G. Tilney, whose dogmatic and authoritarian style ran the organisation "as a one-man band", rejecting Flood Geology and unwaveringly promoting Gap creationism and reducing the membership to lethargic inactivity. As a result of being captured by Young Earth Creationists in the 1970s it was renamed Creation Science Movement in 1980, under the Chairmanship of David Rosevear, who has a Ph.D. in organometallic chemistry from the University of Bristol. Today it has formally incorporated flood geology into their 'Deed of Trust' (which all officers were required to sign) and condemned Gap and Day-Age Creationism as unscriptural.
United States legal challenges and their consequences
In 1925, Tennessee passed a statute called the Buttler Act, which prohibited the teaching of the theory of evolution in all schools in the state. Later that year, a similar law was passed in Mississippi, and likewise, Arkansas in 1927. In 1968, these "anti-monkey" laws were struck down by the Supreme Court of the United States as unconstitutional, "because they established a religious doctrine violating both the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution.
The modern struggle of religious fundamentalists accepting creationism, to get their rejection of evolution accepted as legitimate science within education institutions in the USA, has been highlighted through a series of important court cases.
Butler Act and Scopes monkey trial
In the aftermath of World War I, the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy had brought a surge of opposition to the idea of evolution, and following the campaigning of William Jennings Bryan several states introduced legislation prohibiting the teaching of evolution. By 1925, such legislation was being considered in 15 states, and had passed in some states, such as Tennessee. The American Civil Liberties Union offered to defend anyone who wanted to bring a test case against one of these laws. John T. Scopes accepted, and he confessed to teaching his Tennessee class evolution in defiance of the Butler Act. The textbook in question was Hunter's Civic Biology (1914). The trial was widely publicized by H. L. Mencken among others, and is commonly referred to as the Scopes Monkey Trial. Scopes was convicted but the widespread publicity galvanized proponents of evolution. When the case was appealed to the Tennessee Supreme Court, the Court overturned the decision on a technicality (the judge had assessed the minimum $100 fine instead of allowing the jury to assess the fine).
Although it overturned the conviction, the Court decided that the law was not in violation of the Religious Preference provisions of the Tennessee Constitution (section 3 of article 1), which stated "that no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship." The Court, applying that state Constitutional language, held
We are not able to see how the prohibition of teaching the theory that man has descended from a lower order of animals gives preference to any religious establishment or mode of worship. So far as we know, there is no religious establishment or organized body that has in its creed or confession of faith any article denying or affirming such a theory.... Protestants, Catholics, and Jews are divided among themselves in their beliefs, and that there is no unanimity among the members of any religious establishment as to this subject. Belief or unbelief in the theory of evolution is no more a characteristic of any religious establishment or mode of worship than is belief or unbelief in the wisdom of the prohibition laws. It would appear that members of the same churches quite generally disagree as to these things.
... Furthermore, [the Butler Act] requires the teaching of nothing. It only forbids the teaching of evolution of man from a lower order of animals.... As the law thus stands, while the theory of evolution of man may not be taught in the schools of the State, nothing contrary to that theory [such as Creationism] is required to be taught.... It is not necessary now to determine the exact scope of the Religious Preference clause of the Constitution ... Section 3 of Article 1 is binding alike on the Legislature and the school authorities. So far we are clear that the Legislature has not crossed these constitutional limitations.—Scopes v. State, 289 S.W. 363, 367 (Tenn. 1927).
The interpretation of the Establishment clause up to that time was that the government could not establish a particular religion as the State religion. The Tennessee Supreme Court's decision held in effect that the Butler Act was constitutional under the state Constitution's Religious Preference Clause, because the Act did not establish one religion as the "State religion". As a result of the holding, the teaching of evolution remained illegal in Tennessee, and continued campaigning succeeded in removing evolution from school textbooks throughout the United States.
Epperson v. Arkansas
In 1968, the United States Supreme Court invalidated a forty-year-old Arkansas statute that prohibited the teaching of evolution in the public schools. A Little Rock high school biology teacher, Susan Epperson, filed suit charging the law violated the federal constitutional prohibition against establishment of religion as set forth in the Establishment Clause. The Little Rock Ministerial Association supported Epperson's challenge, declaring, "to use the Bible to support an irrational and an archaic concept of static and undeveloping creation is not only to misunderstand the meaning of the Book of Genesis, but to do God and religion a disservice by making both enemies of scientific advancement and academic freedom." The Court held that the United States Constitution prohibits a state from requiring, in the words of the majority opinion, "that teaching and learning must be tailored to the principles or prohibitions of any religious sect or dogma". But the Supreme Court decision also suggested that creationism could be taught in addition to evolution.
Daniel v. Waters
Daniel v. Waters was a 1975 legal case in which the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit struck down Tennessee's law regarding the teaching of "equal time" of evolution and creationism in public school science classes because it violated the Establishment clause of the US Constitution. Following this ruling, creationism was stripped of overt biblical references and renamed "Creation Science", and several states passed legislative acts requiring that this be given equal time with the teaching of evolution.
As biologists grew more and more confident in evolution as the central defining principle of biology, American membership in churches favoring increasingly literal interpretations of scripture also rose, with the Southern Baptist Convention and Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod outpacing all other denominations. With growth and increased finances, these churches became better equipped to promulgate a creationist message, with their own colleges, schools, publishing houses, and broadcast media.
In 1961, the first major modern creationist book was published: Henry M. Morris and John C. Whitcomb Jr.'s The Genesis Flood. Morris and Whitcomb argued that creation was literally 6 days long, that humans lived concurrently with dinosaurs, and that God created each 'kind' of life individually. On the strength of this, Morris became a popular speaker, spreading anti-evolutionary ideas at fundamentalist churches, colleges, and conferences. Morris' Creation Science Research Center (CSRC) rushed publication of biology text books that promoted creationism. Ultimately, the CSRC broke up over a divide between sensationalism and a more intellectual approach, and Morris founded the Institute for Creation Research, which was promised to be controlled and operated by scientists. During this time, Morris and others who supported flood geology adopted the terms scientific creationism and creation science. The "flood geology" theory effectively co-opted "the generic creationist label for their hyperliteralist views".
McLean v. Arkansas
In 1982 another case in Arkansas ruled that the Arkansas "Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act" was unconstitutional because it violated the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution. Much of the transcript of the case was lost, including evidence from Francisco Ayala.
Edwards v. Aguillard
In the early 1980s, the Louisiana legislature passed a law titled the "Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science in Public School Instruction Act". The act did not require teaching either evolution or creationism as such, but did require that when evolutionary science was taught, Creation Science had to be taught as well. Creationists had lobbied aggressively for the law, arguing that the act was about academic freedom for teachers, an argument adopted by the state in support of the act. Lower courts ruled that the State's actual purpose was to promote the religious doctrine of Creation Science, but the State appealed to the Supreme Court.
In the similar case of McLean v. Arkansas (see above) the federal trial court had also decided against creationism. Mclean v. Arkansas was not appealed to the federal Circuit Court of Appeals, creationists instead thinking that they had better chances with Edwards v. Aguillard. In 1987 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Louisiana act was also unconstitutional, because the law was specifically intended to advance a particular religion. At the same time, it stated its opinion that "teaching a variety of scientific theories about the origins of humankind to school children might be validly done with the clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction," leaving open the door for a handful of proponents of Creation Science to evolve their arguments into the iteration of creationism that later came to be known as intelligent design.
In response to Edwards v. Aguillard, the neo-creationist intelligent design movement was formed around the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. Its goal is to restate creationism in terms more likely to be well received by the public, policy makers, educators, and the scientific community, and makes the claim that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." It has been viewed as a "scientific" approach to creationism by creationists, but is widely rejected as unscientific by the science community—primarily because intelligent design cannot be tested and rejected like scientific hypotheses (see for example, list of scientific societies rejecting intelligent design).
Kansas evolution hearings
In the push by intelligent design advocates to introduce intelligent design in public school science classrooms, the hub of the intelligent design movement, the Discovery Institute, arranged to conduct hearings to review the evidence for evolution in the light of its Critical Analysis of Evolution lesson plans. The Kansas Evolution Hearings were a series of hearings held in Topeka, Kansas, 5 May to 12 May 2005. The Kansas State Board of Education eventually adopted the institute's Critical Analysis of Evolution lesson plans over objections of the State Board Science Hearing Committee, and electioneering on behalf of conservative Republican candidates for the Board. On 1 August 2006, 4 of the 6 conservative Republicans who approved the Critical Analysis of Evolution classroom standards lost their seats in a primary election. The moderate Republican and Democrats gaining seats vowed to overturn the 2005 school science standards and adopt those recommended by a State Board Science Hearing Committee that were rejected by the previous board, and on 13 February 2007, the Board voted 6 to 4 to reject the amended science standards enacted in 2005. The definition of science was once again limited to "the search for natural explanations for what is observed in the universe."
Following the Edwards v. Aguillard decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, in which the Court held that a Louisiana law requiring that Creation Science be taught in public schools whenever evolution was taught was unconstitutional, because the law was specifically intended to advance a particular religion, creationists renewed their efforts to introduce creationism into public school science classes. This effort resulted in intelligent design, which sought to avoid legal prohibitions by leaving the source of creation to an unnamed and undefined intelligent designer, as opposed to God. This ultimately resulted in the "Dover Trial", Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, which went to trial on 26 September 2005 and was decided on 20 December 2005 in favor of the plaintiffs, who charged that a mandate that intelligent design be taught in public school science classrooms was an unconstitutional establishment of religion. The Kitzmiller v. Dover decision held that intelligent design was not a subject of legitimate scientific research, and that it "cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and hence religious, antecedents".
The December 2005 ruling in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial supported the viewpoint of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and other science and education professional organizations that Teach the Controversy proponents seek to undermine the teaching of evolution while promoting intelligent design, and to advance an education policy for US public schools that introduces creationist explanations for the origin of life to public-school science curricula.
Texas Board of Education support for intelligent design
On March 27, 2009, the Texas Board of Education, by a vote of 13 to 2, voted that at least in Texas, textbooks must teach intelligent design alongside evolution, and question the validity of the fossil record. Don McLeroy, a dentist and chair of the board, said, "I think the new standards are wonderful ... dogmatism about evolution [has sapped] America's scientific soul." According to Science magazine, "Because Texas is the second-largest textbook market in the United States, publishers have a strong incentive to be certified by the board as 'conforming 100% to the state's standards'." The 2009 Texas Board of Education hearings were chronicled in the 2012 documentary The Revisionaries.
The controversy continues to this day, with the mainstream scientific consensus on the origins and evolution of life continuing to be challenged by creationist organizations and religious groups who desire to uphold some form of literal creationism (usually Young Earth creationism, Creation Science, Old Earth creationism or intelligent design) as an alternative. Most of these groups are literalist Christian, and more than one sees the debate as part of the Christian mandate to evangelize. Some groups see science and religion as being diametrically opposed views that cannot be reconciled. More accommodating viewpoints, held by many mainstream churches and many scientists, consider science and religion to be separate categories of thought (non-overlapping magisteria), which ask fundamentally different questions about reality and posit different avenues for investigating it. Public opinion in regards to the concepts of evolution, creationism, and intelligent design is fluctuating.
More recently, the intelligent design movement has attempted an anti-evolution position that avoids any direct appeal to religion. Scientists argue that intelligent design does not represent any research program within the mainstream scientific community, and is still essentially creationism. Its leading proponent, the Dominionist funded Discovery Institute, made widely publicised claims that it was a new science, though the only paper arguing for it published in a scientific journal was accepted in questionable circumstances and quickly disavowed in the Sternberg peer review controversy, with the Biological Society of Washington stating that it did not meet the journal's scientific standards, was a "significant departure" from the journal's normal subject area and was published at the former editor's sole discretion, "contrary to typical editorial practices". President Bush commented endorsing the teaching of intelligent design alongside evolution "I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught ... so people can understand what the debate is about."
In the controversy a number of divergent opinions can be recognised, regarding both the acceptance of scientific theories and religious practice.
Young Earth creationism
Young Earth creationism rejects completely the conventional scientific approach and argues for the belief that the Earth was created by God within the last 10,000 years, literally as described in Genesis, within the approximate timeframe of biblical genealogies (detailed for example in the Ussher chronology). Young Earth creationists often believe that the Universe has a similar age to the Earth's. Creationist cosmologies are attempts by some creationist thinkers to give the universe an age consistent with the Ussher chronology and other Young-Earth timeframes. This belief generally has a basis in a literal and inerrant interpretation of the Bible.
Old Earth creationism
Old Earth creationism holds that the physical universe was created by God, but that the creation event of Genesis within 6 literal days is not to be taken strictly literally. This group generally accepts the age of the Universe and the age of the Earth as described by astronomers and geologists, but that details of the evolutionary theory are questionable. Old Earth creationists interpret the Genesis creation narrative in a number of ways, that each differ from the six, consecutive, 24-hour day creation of the Young Earth creationist view.
Neo-creationists intentionally distance themselves from other forms of creationism, preferring to be known as wholly separate from creationism as a philosophy. Their goal is to restate creationism in terms more likely to be well received by the public, education policy makers and the scientific community. It aims to re-frame the debate over the origins of life in non-religious terms and without appeals to scripture, and to bring the debate before the public. Neo-creationists may be either Young Earth or Old Earth creationists, and hold a range of underlying theological viewpoints (e.g. on the interpretation of the Bible). Neo-creationism currently exists in the form of the intelligent design movement, which has a 'big tent' strategy making it inclusive of many Young Earth creationists (such as Paul Nelson and Percival Davis).
Theistic evolution is the general view that, instead of faith being in opposition to biological evolution, some or all classical religious teachings about God and creation are compatible with some or all of modern scientific theory, including, specifically, evolution. It generally views evolution as a tool used by a creator god, who is both the first cause and immanent sustainer/upholder of the universe; it is therefore well accepted by people of strong theistic (as opposed to deistic) convictions. Theistic evolution can synthesize with the day-age interpretation of the Genesis creation myth; most adherents consider that the first chapters of Genesis should not be interpreted as a "literal" description, but rather as a literary framework or allegory.
Theistic evolutionists have frequently been prominent in opposing creationism (including intelligent design). Notable examples have been biologist Kenneth R. Miller and theologian John Haught, who testified for the plaintiffs in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. Another example is the Clergy Letter Project, an organization that has created and maintains a statement signed by American Christian clergy of different denominations rejecting creationism, with specific reference to points raised by intelligent design proponents. Theistic evolutionists have also been active in Citizens Alliances for Science that oppose the introduction of creationism into public school science classes (one example being evangelical Christian geologist Keith B. Miller, who is a prominent board member of Kansas Citizens for Science).
Materialistic evolution is the position of acceptance of biological evolution, combined with the position that the supernatural does not exist (a position common to philosophical naturalists, humanists and atheists). It is a view championed by what have been called "The New Atheists", who argue strongly that the creationist viewpoint is not only dangerous, but is completely rejected by science.
Arguments relating to the definition and limits of science
Critiques such as those based on the distinction between theory and fact are often leveled against unifying concepts within scientific disciplines. Principles such as uniformitarianism, Occam's Razor or parsimony, and the Copernican principle are claimed to be the result of a bias within science toward philosophical naturalism, which is equated by many creationists with atheism. In countering this claim, philosophers of science use the term methodological naturalism to refer to the long standing convention in science of the scientific method. The methodological assumption is that observable events in nature are explained only by natural causes, without assuming the existence or non-existence of the supernatural, and therefore supernatural explanations for such events are outside the realm of science. Creationists claim that supernatural explanations should not be excluded and that scientific work is paradigmatically close-minded.
Because modern science tries to rely on the minimization of a priori assumptions, error, and subjectivity, as well as on avoidance of Baconian idols, it remains neutral on subjective subjects such as religion or morality. Mainstream proponents accuse the creationists of conflating the two in a form of pseudoscience.
Fact: In science, an observation that has been repeatedly confirmed and for all practical purposes is accepted as "true". Truth in science, however, is never final, and what is accepted as a fact today may be modified or even discarded tomorrow.
Hypothesis: A tentative statement about the natural world leading to deductions that can be tested. If the deductions are verified, it becomes more probable that the hypothesis is correct. If the deductions are incorrect, the original hypothesis can be abandoned or modified. Hypotheses can be used to build more complex inferences and explanations.Theory: In science, a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses.—National Academy of Sciences, Science and Creationism
- Law: A descriptive generalization about how some aspect of the natural world behaves under stated circumstances.
Limitations of scientific endeavor
|This section requires expansion. (June 2008)|
In science, explanations are limited to those based on observations and experiments that can be substantiated by other scientists. Explanations that cannot be based on empirical evidence are not a part of science.—National Academy of Sciences, Science and Creationism
The scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. What I believe in my heart must make sense in my mind. In other words, truth is not only a matter of offense, in that it makes certain assertions. It is also a matter of defense in that it must be able to make a cogent and sensible response to the counterpoints that are raised. Truth by definition excludes.—Ravi Zacharias, RZIM International
Theory vs. fact
The argument that evolution is a theory, not a fact, has often been made against the exclusive teaching of evolution. The argument is related to a common misconception about the technical meaning of "theory" that is used by scientists. In common usage, "theory" often refers to conjectures, hypotheses, and unproven assumptions. In science, "theory" usually means "a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena".
Evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from ape-like ancestors whether they did so by Darwin's proposed mechanism or by some other yet to be discovered.—Stephen Jay Gould, Evolution as Fact and Theory
|This section's factual accuracy is disputed. (June 2013)|
Philosopher of science Karl R. Popper set out the concept of falsifiability as a way to distinguish science and pseudoscience: testable theories are scientific, but those that are untestable are not. In Unended Quest, Popper declared "I have come to the conclusion that Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory but a metaphysical research programme, a possible framework for testable scientific theories," while pointing out it had "scientific character".
In what one sociologist derisively called "Popper-chopping", opponents of evolution seized upon Popper's definition to claim evolution was not a science, and claimed creationism was an equally valid metaphysical research program. For example, Duane Gish, a leading Creationist proponent, wrote in a letter to Discover magazine (July 1981): "Stephen Jay Gould states that creationists claim creation is a scientific theory. This is a false accusation. Creationists have repeatedly stated that neither creation nor evolution is a scientific theory (and each is equally religious)."
Popper responded to news that his conclusions were being used by anti-evolutionary forces by affirming that evolutionary theories regarding the origins of life on earth were scientific because "their hypotheses can in many cases be tested." Creationists claimed that a key evolutionary concept, that all life on Earth is descended from a single common ancestor, was not mentioned as testable by Popper, and claimed it never would be.
In fact, Popper wrote admiringly of the value of Darwin's theory. Only a few years later, Popper wrote, "I have in the past described the theory as 'almost tautological' ... I still believe that natural selection works in this way as a research programme. Nevertheless, I have changed my mind about the testability and logical status of the theory of natural selection; and I am glad to have an opportunity to make a recantation." His conclusion, later in the article is "The theory of natural selection may be so formulated that it is far from tautological. In this case it is not only testable, but it turns out to be not strictly universally true."
Debate among some scientists and philosophers of science on the applicability of falsifiability in science continues. Simple falsifiability tests for common descent have been offered by some scientists: for instance, biologist and prominent critic of creationism Richard Dawkins and J.B.S. Haldane both pointed out that if fossil rabbits were found in the Precambrian era, a time before most similarly complex lifeforms had evolved, "that would completely blow evolution out of the water."
Falsifiability has caused problems for creationists: in his 1982 decision McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, Judge William R. Overton used falsifiability as one basis for his ruling against the teaching of Creation Science in the public schools, ultimately declaring it "simply not science".
Conflation of science and religion
Creationists commonly argue against evolution on the grounds that "evolution is a religion; it is not a science", in order to undermine the higher ground biologists claim in debating creationists, and to reframe the debate from being between science (evolution) and religion (creationism) to being between two equally religious beliefs—or even to argue that evolution is religious while intelligent design is not. Those that oppose evolution frequently refer to supporters of evolution as "evolutionists" or "Darwinists".
This is generally argued by analogy, by arguing that evolution and religion have one or more things in common, and that therefore evolution is a religion. Examples of claims made in such arguments are statements that evolution is based on faith, that supporters of evolution revere Darwin as a prophet, and that supporters of evolution dogmatically reject alternative suggestions out-of-hand. These claims have become more popular in recent years as the neocreationist movement has sought to distance itself from religion, thus giving it more reason to make use of a seemingly anti-religious analogy.
In response, supporters of evolution have argued that no scientist's claims, including Darwin's, are treated as sacrosanct, as shown by the aspects of Darwin's theory that have been rejected or revised by scientists over the years, to form first neo-Darwinism and later the modern evolutionary synthesis.
Appeal to consequences
A number of creationists have blurred the boundaries between their disputes over the truth of the underlying facts, and explanatory theories, of evolution, with their purported philosophical and moral consequences. This type of argument is known as an appeal to consequences, and is a logical fallacy. Examples of these arguments include those of prominent creationists such as Ken Ham and Henry M. Morris.
Disputes relating to science
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Many creationists strongly oppose certain scientific theories in a number of ways, including opposition to specific applications of scientific processes, accusations of bias within the scientific community, and claims that discussions within the scientific community reveal or imply a crisis. In response to perceived crises in modern science, creationists claim to have an alternative, typically based on faith, Creation Science, or intelligent design. The scientific community has responded by pointing out that their conversations are frequently misrepresented (e.g. by quote mining) in order to create the impression of a deeper controversy or crisis, and that the creationists' alternatives are generally pseudoscientific.
Disputes relating to evolutionary biology are central to the controversy between creationists and the scientific community. The aspects of evolutionary biology disputed include common descent (and particularly human evolution from common ancestors with other members of the Great Apes), macroevolution, and the existence of transitional fossils.
[The] Discovery [Institute] presents common descent as controversial exclusively within the animal kingdom, as it focuses on embryology, anatomy, and the fossil record to raise questions about them. In the real world of science, common descent of animals is completely noncontroversial; any controversy resides in the microbial world. There, researchers argued over a variety of topics, starting with the very beginning, namely the relationship among the three main branches of life.—John Timmer, Evolution: what's the real controversy?
A group of organisms is said to have common descent if they have a common ancestor. A theory of universal common descent based on evolutionary principles was proposed by Charles Darwin and is now generally accepted by biologists. The most recent common ancestor of all living organisms is believed to have appeared about 3.9 billion years ago.
Human evolution is the study of the biological evolution of humans as a distinct species from its common ancestors with other animals. Analysis of fossil evidence and genetic distance are two of the means by which scientists understand this evolutionary history.
Fossil evidence suggests that humans' earliest hominid ancestors may have split from other primates as early as the late Oligocene, circa 26c24 Ma, and that by the early Miocene, the adaptive radiation of many different hominoid forms was well underway. Evidence from the molecular dating of genetic differences indicates that the gibbon lineage (family Hylobatidae) diverged between 18 and 12 Ma, and the orangutan lineage (subfamily Ponginae) diverged about 12 Ma. While there is no fossil evidence thus far clearly documenting the early ancestry of gibbons, fossil proto-orangutans may be represented by Sivapithecus from India and Griphopithecus from Turkey, dated to around 10 Ma. Molecular evidence further suggests that between 8 and 4 Ma, first the gorillas, and then the chimpanzee (genus Pan) split from the line leading to the humans. We have no fossil record of this divergence, but distinctively hominid fossils have been found dating to 3.2 Ma (see Lucy) and possibly even earlier, at 6 or 7 Ma (see Toumaï). Comparisons of DNA show that 99.4 percent of the coding regions are identical in chimpanzees and humans (95–96% overall), which is taken as strong evidence of recent common ancestry. Today, only one distinct human species survives, but many earlier species have been found in the fossil record, including Homo erectus, Homo habilis, and Homo neanderthalensis.
Creationists dispute there is evidence of shared ancestry in the fossil evidence, and argue either that these are misassigned ape fossils (e.g. that Java man was a gibbon) or too similar to modern humans to designate them as distinct or transitional forms. Creationists frequently disagree where the dividing lines would be. Creation myths (such as the Book of Genesis) frequently posit a first man (Adam, in the case of Genesis) as an alternative viewpoint to the scientific account.
Creationists also dispute science's interpretation of genetic evidence in the study of human evolution. They argue that it is a "dubious assumption" that genetic similarities between various animals imply a common ancestral relationship, and that scientists are coming to this interpretation only because they have preconceived notions that such shared relationships exist. Creationists also argue that genetic mutations are strong evidence against evolutionary theory because the mutations required for major changes to occur would almost certainly be detrimental.
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Many creationists accept the possibilities of microevolution within "kinds" but refuse to accept and have long argued against the possibility of macroevolution. Macroevolution is defined by the scientific community to be evolution that occurs at or above the level of species. Under this definition, macroevolution can be considered to be a fact, as evidenced by observed instances of speciation. Creationists tend to apply a more restrictive, if vaguer, definition of macroevolution, often relating to the emergence of new body forms or organs. The scientific community considers that there is strong evidence for even such more restrictive definitions, but the evidence for this is more complex.
Recent arguments against (such restrictive definitions of) macroevolution include the intelligent design (ID) arguments of irreducible complexity and specified complexity. Neither argument has been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, and both arguments have been rejected by the scientific community as pseudoscience. When taken to court in an attempt to introduce ID into the classroom, the judge wrote "The overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory."
Biologist Richard Dawkins published a book The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution giving evidence for evolution and macroevolution.
It is commonly stated by critics of evolution that there are no known transitional fossils. This position is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of what represents a transitional feature. A common creationist argument is that no fossils are found with partially functional features. It is plausible that a complex feature with one function can adapt a different function through evolution. The precursor to, for example, a wing, might originally have only been used for gliding, trapping flying prey, or mating display. Today, wings can still have all of these functions, but they are also used in active flight.
As another example, Alan Haywood stated in Creation and Evolution that "Darwinists rarely mention the whale because it presents them with one of their most insoluble problems. They believe that somehow a whale must have evolved from an ordinary land-dwelling animal, which took to the sea and lost its legs ... A land mammal that was in the process of becoming a whale would fall between two stools—it would not be fitted for life on land or at sea, and would have no hope for survival." The evolution of whales has been documented in considerable detail, with Ambulocetus, described as looking like a three-metre long mammalian crocodile, as one of the transitional fossils.
Although transitional fossils elucidate the evolutionary transition of one life-form to another, they only exemplify snapshots of this process. Due to the special circumstances required for preservation of living beings, only a very small percentage of all life-forms that ever have existed can be expected to be discovered. Thus, the transition itself can only be illustrated and corroborated by transitional fossils, but it will never be known in detail. Progressing research and discovery managed to fill in several gaps and continues to do so. Critics of evolution often cite this argument as being a convenient way to explain off the lack of 'snapshot' fossils that show crucial steps between species.
The theory of punctuated equilibrium developed by Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge is often mistakenly drawn into the discussion of transitional fossils. This theory pertains only to well-documented transitions within taxa or between closely related taxa over a geologically short period of time. These transitions, usually traceable in the same geological outcrop, often show small jumps in morphology between periods of morphological stability. To explain these jumps, Gould and Eldredge envisaged comparatively long periods of genetic stability separated by periods of rapid evolution. For example, the change from a creature the size of a mouse, to one the size of an elephant, could be accomplished over 60,000 years, with a rate of change too small to be noticed over any human lifetime. 60,000 years is too small a gap to be identified or identifiable in the fossil record.
Experts in evolutionary theory have pointed out that even if it were possible for enough fossils to survive to show a close transitional change critics will never be satisfied, as the discovery of one "missing link" itself creates two more so-called "missing links" on either side of the discovery. Richard Dawkins says that the reason for this "losing battle" is that many of these critics are theists who "simply don't want to see the truth".
Many believers in Young Earth creationism – a position held by the majority of proponents of flood geology – accept biblical chronogenealogies (such as the Ussher chronology, which in turn is based on the Masoretic version of the Genealogies of Genesis).[undue weight? ] They believe that God created the universe approximately 6000 years ago, in the space of six days. Much of creation geology is devoted to debunking the dating methods used in anthropology, geology, and planetary science that give ages in conflict with the Young Earth idea. In particular, creationists dispute the reliability of radiometric dating and isochron analysis, both of which are central to mainstream geological theories of the age of the Earth. They usually dispute these methods based on uncertainties concerning initial concentrations of individually considered species and the associated measurement uncertainties caused by diffusion of the parent and daughter isotopes. A full critique of the entire parameter-fitting analysis, which relies on dozens of radionuclei parent and daughter pairs, has not been done by creationists hoping to cast doubt on the technique.
The consensus of professional scientific organisations worldwide is that no scientific evidence contradicts the age of approximately 4.5 billion years. Young Earth creationists reject these ages on the grounds of what they regard as being tenuous and untestable assumptions in the methodology. They have often quoted apparently inconsistent radiometric dates to cast doubt on the utility and accuracy of the method. Mainstream proponents who get involved in this debate point out that dating methods only rely on the assumptions that the physical laws governing radioactive decay have not been violated since the sample was formed (harking back to Lyell's doctrine of uniformitarianism). They also point out that the "problems" that creationists publicly mentioned can be shown to either not be problems at all, are issues with known contamination, or simply the result of incorrectly evaluating legitimate data. The fact that the various methods of dating give essentially identical or near identical readings is not addressed in creationism.
While Young Earth creationists believe that the Universe was created by the Judeo-Christian God approximately 6000 years ago, the current scientific consensus is that the Universe as we know it emerged from the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago. The recent science of nucleocosmochronology is extending the approaches used for Carbon-14 dating to the dating of astronomical features. For example, based upon this emerging science, the Galactic thin disk of the Milky Way galaxy is estimated to have been formed 8.3 ± 1.8 billion years ago.
Old Earth creationists and some others do not necessarily dispute these figures.
Creationists point to experiments they have performed, which they claim demonstrate that 1.5 billion years of nuclear decay took place over a short period of time, from which they infer that "billion-fold speed-ups of nuclear decay" have occurred, a massive violation of the principle that radioisotope decay rates are constant, a core principle underlying nuclear physics generally, and radiometric dating in particular.
The scientific community points to numerous flaws in these experiments, to the fact that their results have not been accepted for publication by any peer-reviewed scientific journal, and to the fact that the creationist scientists conducting them were untrained in experimental geochronology.
In refutation of Young-Earth claims of inconstant decay-rates affecting the reliability of radiometric dating, Roger C. Wiens, a physicist specialising in isotope dating states:
There are only three quite technical instances where a half-life changes, and these do not affect the dating methods [under discussion]":
- Only one technical exception occurs under terrestrial conditions, and this is not for an isotope used for dating.... The artificially-produced isotope, beryllium-7 has been shown to change by up to 1.5%, depending on its chemical environment. ... [H]eavier atoms are even less subject to these minute changes, so the dates of rocks made by electron-capture decays would only be off by at most a few hundredths of a percent.
- ... Another case is material inside of stars, which is in a plasma state where electrons are not bound to atoms. In the extremely hot stellar environment, a completely different kind of decay can occur. 'Bound-state beta decay' occurs when the nucleus emits an electron into a bound electronic state close to the nucleus.... All normal matter, such as everything on Earth, the Moon, meteorites, etc. has electrons in normal positions, so these instances never apply to rocks, or anything colder than several hundred thousand degrees....
- The last case also involves very fast-moving matter. It has been demonstrated by atomic clocks in very fast spacecraft. These atomic clocks slow down very slightly (only a second or so per year) as predicted by Einstein's theory of relativity. No rocks in our solar system are going fast enough to make a noticeable change in their dates....—Roger C. Wiens , Radiometric Dating, A Christian Perspective
Misrepresentations of science
The "Discovery Institute" has a "formal declaration" titled "Scientific Dissent from Darwinism" which has many evangelicals, people from fields irrelevant to biology and geology and few biologists. Many of the biologists who signed have fields not directly related to evolution. Some of the biologists signed were deceived into signing the "declaration". In response, there is Project Steve.
As a means to criticise mainstream science, creationists have been known to quote, at length, scientists who ostensibly support the mainstream theories, but appear to acknowledge criticisms similar to those of creationists. Almost universally these have been shown to be quote mines that do not accurately reflect the evidence for evolution or the mainstream scientific community's opinion of it, or highly out-of-date. Many of the same quotes used by creationists have appeared so frequently in Internet discussions due to the availability of cut and paste functions, that the TalkOrigins Archive has created "The Quote Mine Project" for quick reference to the original context of these quotations. Creationists often quote mine Darwin, especially with regard to the seeming improbability of the evolution of the eye, to give support to their views.
Public policy issues
The creation-evolution controversy has grown in importance in recent years, particularly as a result of the "Southern Strategy" of the Republican Party strategist Kevin Phillips, during the Nixon and Reagan administrations in the USA. He saw that the Civil Rights movement had alienated many poor white southern voters of the Bible Belt and set out to capture this electorate through an alliance with the "new right" Christian fundamentalist movement.
Creationists promoted the idea that evolution is a theory in crisis with scientists criticizing evolution and claim that fairness and equal time requires educating students about the alleged scientific controversy.
Opponents, being the overwhelming majority of the scientific community and science education organizations, reply that there is no scientific controversy and that the controversy exists solely in terms of religion and politics.
George Mason University Biology Department introduced a course on the creation/evolution controversy, and apparently as students learn more about biology, they find objections to evolution less convincing, suggesting that "teaching the controversy" rightly as a separate elective course on philosophy or history of science, or "politics of science and religion," would undermine creationists' criticisms, and that the scientific community's resistance to this approach was bad public relations.
Freedom of speech
Creationists have claimed that preventing them from teaching creationism violates their right of freedom of speech. Court cases (such as Webster v. New Lenox School District and Bishop v. Aronov) have upheld school districts' and universities' right to restrict teaching to a specified curriculum.
Issues relating to religion
Religion and historical scientists
Creationists often argue that Christianity and literal belief in the Bible are either foundationally significant or directly responsible for scientific progress. To that end, Institute for Creation Research founder Henry M. Morris has enumerated scientists such as astronomer and philosopher Galileo, mathematician and theoretical physicist James Clerk Maxwell, mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal, geneticist monk Gregor Mendel, and Isaac Newton as believers in a biblical creation narrative.
This argument usually involves scientists who were no longer alive when evolution was proposed or whose field of study did not include evolution. The argument is generally rejected as specious by those who oppose creationism.
Many of the scientists in question did some early work on the mechanisms of evolution, e.g., the modern evolutionary synthesis combines Darwin's theory of evolution with Mendel's theories of inheritance and genetics. Though biological evolution of some sort had become the primary mode of discussing speciation within science by the late-19th century, it was not until the mid-20th century that evolutionary theories stabilized into the modern synthesis. The orthodox believer, Theodosius Dobzhansky, called the Father of the Modern Synthesis, argued that "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution," and saw no conflict between evolutionary and his religious beliefs. Nevertheless some of the historical scientists marshalled by creationists were dealing with quite different issues than any are engaged with today: Louis Pasteur, for example, opposed the theory of spontaneous generation with biogenesis, an advocacy some creationists describe as a critique on chemical evolution and abiogenesis. Pasteur accepted that some form of evolution had occurred and that the Earth was millions of years old.
The relationship between science and religion was not portrayed in antagonistic terms until the late-19th century, and even then there have been many examples of the two being reconcilable for evolutionary scientists. Many historical scientists wrote books explaining how pursuit of science was seen by them as fulfillment of spiritual duty in line with their religious beliefs. Even so, such professions of faith were not insurance against dogmatic opposition by certain religious people.
Many creationists and scientists engage in frequent public debates regarding the origin of human life, hosted by a variety of institutions. However, some scientists disagree with this tactic, arguing that by openly debating supporters of supernatural origin explanations (creationism and intelligent design), scientists are lending credibility and unwarranted publicity to creationists, which could foster an inaccurate public perception and obscure the factual merits of the debate. For example, in May 2004 Dr. Michael Shermer debated creationist Kent Hovind in front of a predominantly creationist audience. In Shermer's online reflection while he was explaining that he won the debate with intellectual and scientific evidence he felt it was "not an intellectual exercise", but rather it was "an emotional drama", with scientists arguing from "an impregnable fortress of evidence that converges to an unmistakable conclusion", while for creationists it is "a spiritual war". While receiving positive responses from creationist observers, Shermer concluded "Unless there is a subject that is truly debatable (evolution v. creation is not), with a format that is fair, in a forum that is balanced, it only serves to belittle both the magisterium of science and the magisterium of religion." (see Non-overlapping magisteria). Others, like evolutionary biologist Massimo Pigliucci, have debated Hovind, and have expressed surprise to hear Hovind try "to convince the audience that evolutionists believe humans came from rocks" and at Hovind's assertion that biologists believe humans "evolved from bananas".
In September 2012, educator and television personality Bill Nye of Bill Nye the Science Guy fame spoke with the Associated Press and aired his fears about acceptance of creationist theory, believing that teaching children that creationism is the only true answer and without letting them understand the way science works will prevent any future innovation in the world of science.(video) In February 2014, Nye defended evolution in the classroom in a debate with creationist Ken Ham on the topic of whether creation is a viable model of origins in today's modern, scientific era.
Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education, a nonprofit organization dedicated to defending the teaching of evolution in the public schools, claimed debates are not the sort of arena to promote science to creationists. Scott says that "Evolution is not on trial in the world of science," and "the topic of the discussion should not be the scientific legitimacy of evolution" but rather should be on the lack of evidence in creationism. Stephen Jay Gould adopted a similar position, explaining:
Debate is an art form. It is about the winning of arguments. It is not about the discovery of truth. There are certain rules and procedures to debate that really have nothing to do with establishing fact—which [creationists] are very good at. Some of those rules are: never say anything positive about your own position because it can be attacked, but chip away at what appear to be the weaknesses in your opponent's position. They are good at that. I don't think I could beat the creationists at debate. I can tie them. But in courtrooms they are terrible, because in courtrooms you cannot give speeches. In a courtroom you have to answer direct questions about the positive status of your belief.—Stephen Jay Gould, lecture 1985
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A wide range of organisations, on both sides of the controversy, are involved in lobbying in an attempt to influence political decisions relating to the teaching of evolution, at a number of levels. These include the Discovery Institute, the National Center for Science Education, the National Science Teachers Association, state Citizens Alliances for Science, and numerous national science associations and state Academies of Science.
The controversy has been discussed in numerous newspaper articles, reports, op-eds and letters to the editor, as well as a number of radio and television programmes (including the PBS series, Evolution and Coral Ridge Ministries' Darwin's Deadly Legacy). This has led some commentators to express a concern at what they see as a highly inaccurate and biased understanding of evolution among the general public. Edward Humes states:
There are really two theories of evolution. There is the genuine scientific theory and there is the talk-radio pretend version, designed not to enlighten but to deceive and enrage. The talk-radio version had a packed town hall up in arms at the Why Evolution Is Stupid lecture. In this version of the theory, scientists supposedly believe that all life is accidental, a random crash of molecules that magically produced flowers, horses and humans – a scenario as unlikely as a tornado in a junkyard assembling a 747. Humans come from monkeys in this theory, just popping into existence one day. The evidence against Darwin is overwhelming, the purveyors of talk-radio evolution rail, yet scientists embrace his ideas because they want to promote atheism.—Edward Humes, Unintelligent Designs on Darwin
Outside the United States
Europeans have often regarded the creation-evolution controversy as an American matter. In recent years the conflict has become an issue in other countries including Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Turkey and Serbia.
On 17 September 2007 the Committee on Culture, Science and Education of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe issued a report on the attempt by American-inspired creationists to promote creationism in European schools. It concludes "If we are not careful, creationism could become a threat to human rights which are a key concern of the Council of Europe.... The war on the theory of evolution and on its proponents most often originates in forms of religious extremism which are closely allied to extreme right-wing political movements ... some advocates of creationism are out to replace democracy by theocracy."
With declining church attendance, there has been some growth in fundamentalist and Pentecostal Christian denominations. Under the former Queensland state government of Joh Bjelke-Petersen, in the 1980s Queensland allowed the teaching of creationism in secondary schools. In 2010 the Queensland state government introduced the topic of creationism into school classes within the "ancient history" subject where its origins and nature are discussed as a significant controversy. Public lectures have been given in rented rooms at universities, by visiting American speakers, and speakers with doctorates purchased by mail from Florida sites. One of the most acrimonious aspects of the Australian debate was featured on the science television program Quantum, about a long-running and ultimately unsuccessful court case by Ian Plimer, Professor of Geology at Melbourne University, against an ordained minister, Dr. Allen Roberts, who had claimed that there were remnants of Noah's Ark in eastern Turkey. Although the court found that Dr Roberts had made false and misleading claims, they were not made in the course of trade or commerce, so the case failed.
In recent times, the controversy has become more prominent in Islamic countries. In Egypt, evolution is currently taught in schools, but Saudi Arabia and Sudan have both banned the teaching of evolution in schools. Creation Science has also been heavily promoted in Turkey and in immigrant communities in Western Europe, primarily by Harun Yahya. In Iran, traditional practice of Shi'a religion isn't preoccupied with Qur'anic literalism as in case of Saudi Wahhabism but ijtihad, many influential Iranian Shi'ite scholars, including several who were closely involved in Iranian revolution, are not opposed to evolutionary ideas in general, disagreeing that evolution necessarily conflicts with the Muslim mainstream. Iranian pupils since 5th grade of elementary school learn only about evolution, thus portraying geologists and scientists in general as an authoritative voices of scientific knowledge.
- Evolution Sunday
- Evolutionary origin of religions
- Hindu views on evolution
- History of the creation-evolution controversy
- Jainism and non-creationism
- Jewish views on evolution
- List of participants in the creation-evolution controversy
- Mormonism and evolution
- Objections to evolution
- Politics of creationism
- Project Steve
- Relationship between religion and science
- Stereotypes of Americans
- Teach the Controversy
- Theology of creationism and evolution
- See Hovind 2006 for example.
- Curry 2009, p. 1159 "News coverage of the creationism-versus-evolution debate tends to focus on the United States ... But in the past 5 years, political clashes over the issue have also occurred in countries all across Europe. ... 'This isn't just an American problem,' says Dittmar Graf of the Technical University of Dortmund, who organized the meeting."
- Larson 2004, pp. 247–263. Chapter titled "Modern Culture Wars". See also Ruse 1999, p. 26, who writes "One thing that historians delighted in showing is that, contrary to the usually held tale of science and religion being always opposed [Conflict thesis] ... religion and theologically inclined philosophy have frequently been very significant factors in the forward movement of science."
- Numbers 1992, pp. 3–240.
- Peters & Hewlett 2005, p. 1.
- s:Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District/r Area School District, page 20
- Sleven 2005, p. A01.
- Renka 2005.
- Wilgoren 2005.
- Forrest 2002, p. 80.
- Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District, pages 7–9, also pages 64–90
- Myers 2006.
- NSTA 2007.
- IAP 2006.
- AAAS 2006.
- Pinholster 2006.
- Ruling, Kitzmiller v. Dover page 83
- Larson 2004, p. 258 "Virtually no secular scientists accepted the doctrines of creation science; but that did not deter creation scientists from advancing scientific arguments for their position." See also Martz & McDaniel 1987, p. 23, "By one count there are some 700 scientists (out of a total of 480,000 U.S. earth and life scientists) who give credence to creation-science, the general theory that complex life forms did not evolve but appeared 'abruptly'."
- Newport, Frank (June 1, 2012). "In U.S., 46% Hold Creationist View of Human Origins". Gallup.
- NAS 2008.
- Desmond & Moore 1991, pp. 34–35.
- van Wyhe 2006.
- Desmond & Moore 1991, pp. 321–323, 503–505.
- Dixon 2008, p. 77.
- Baxter, Craig; Darwin Correspondence Project. "Dramatized extracts from the Darwin Gray Correspondence". Archived from the original on 2007-04-21.
- Gray – Darwinania
- Hodge 1874, p. 177.
- Numbers 1992, p. 14.
- Burns et al. 1982, p. 965.
- Huxley 1902.
- Witham 2002.
- Barbour 1997.
- Numbers 1992, pp. 14–15.
- Numbers 1992, p. 17.
- Numbers 1992, p. 18, noting that this applies to published or public skeptics. Many Christians may have held on to a literal six days of creation, but these views were rarely expressed in books and journals. Exceptions are also noted, such as literal interpretations published by Eleazar Lord (1788–1871), David Nevins Lord (1792–1880), and E. G. White (1829–1915). The observation that evolutionary critics had a relaxed interpretation of Genesis is supported by specifically enumerating: Louis Agassiz (1807–1873); Arnold Henry Guyot (1807–1884); John William Dawson (1820–1899); Enoch Fitch Burr (1818–1907); George D. Armstrong (1813–1899); Charles Hodge, theologian (1797–1878); James Dwight Dana (1813–1895); Edward Hitchcock, clergyman and Amherst College geologist, (1793–1864); Reverend Herbert W. Morris (1818–1897); H. L. Hastings (1833?–1899); Luther T. Townsend (1838–1922; Alexander Patterson, Presbyterian evangelist.
- The Origin of Rights, Roger E. Salhany, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver:Carswell p. 32
- Numbers 2006, p. 161.
- Buescher, John. "A History of Fundamentalism", Teachinghistory.org, accessed August 15, 2011
- Nagata, Judith (Jun 2001). "Beyond Theology: Toward an Anthropology of "Fundamentalism"". American Anthropologist 103 (2).
- Numbers(2006) p162
- Numbers(2006) p355-356
- The Origin of Rights, Roger E. Salhany, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver:Carswell p. 32-34
- Similar legislation was passed in two other states prior to the Scopes trial, in Oklahoma and Florida. The efforts to enact "Butler Acts" in other jurisdictions were abandoned after the Scopes trial. See Pierce 2006 (describing the Florida and Oklahoma acts) and (Cole 2008).
- The statute required a minimum fine of $100, and the state Constitution required all fines over $50 to be assessed by a jury. Court Opinion of Scope's Trial.
- In his closing argument, Darrow told the jury that they essentially had no choice but to convict Scopes on the evidence, and he did not hold that against them. The jury was out for a total of nine minutes (including time for egress and ingress). The jury informed the Court that they "passed" the question of the sentence to the Court, a move the judge accepted despite the Constitutional provision establishing a $50 limit on judge-imposed fines.[original research?]
- The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution was not, at the time of the Scopes decision in the 1920s, deemed applicable to the states. Thus, Scopes' constitutional defense on establishment grounds rested solely on the state constitution. See (Scopes Appeal 1927) See generally Incorporation doctrine and Everson v. Board of Education (seminal U.S. Supreme Court opinion finally applying the Establishment Clause against states in 1947). See also: Book review of Professor Larson's Pulitzer Prize winning Summer for the Gods (Kerr 2005) at point 4 ("The constitutional case was largely based on state constitutional law; this was before most of the Bill of Rights had been incorporated and applied to the states."); Cantwell v. Connecticut (1940 Supreme Court case stating that the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment is incorporated into the Fourteenth Amendment and is therefore applicable against the states); (Cookson 2003, p. 132) (explaining incorporation doctrine relative to First Amendment); "Incorporation Doctrine Explained". Archived from the original on 2010-12-03. by Constitutional Rights Foundation.
- The Court accordingly did not address the question of whether the teaching of Creationism in the public schools was unconstitutional.
- The Court stated in its opinion that "England and Scotland maintained State churches as did some of the Colonies, and it was intended by this clause of the Constitution [the Religious Preference Clause] to prevent any such undertaking in Tennessee."
- s:Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District/2:Context#Page 19 of 139
- Forrest 2007.
- Flank 2006.
- Nelkin, Dorothy (2000). The Creation Controversy: Science or Scripture in Schools. New York: iUniverse. p. 242. ISBN 0-595-00194-7.
- U.S. Supreme Court 1968.
- Larson 2003, p. 276.
- Larson 2004, p. 248,250.
- Dobzhansky 1973.
- Larson 2004, p. 251.
- Larson 2004, p. 252.
- Larson 2004, p. 255.
- Numbers 1992, pp. xi, 200–208.
- Numbers 1992, pp. 284–285.
- Numbers 1992, pp. 284–6.
- Quoting Larson 2004, pp. 255–256: "Fundamentalists no longer merely denounced Darwinism as false; they offered a scientific-sounding alternative of their own, which they called either 'scientific creationism (as distinct from religious creationism) or 'creation science' (as opposed to evolution science)."
- Larson 2004, pp. 254–255.
- Numbers 1998, pp. 5–6.
- Ruling, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District pp. 7–9.
- NCSE 2002.
- Discover Institute 2007.
- School Board Elections 2006.
- msnbc.com staff and news service reports 2006.
- Associated Press 2007.
- Editor - People for the American Way 2006.
- Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 04 cv 2688 (December 20, 2005). , Conclusion of Ruling.
- support the view that "ID's backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not ID itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard. The goal of the IDM is not to encourage critical thought, but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with ID."Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, whether ID is science, page 89
- "Some bills seek to discredit evolution by emphasizing so-called "flaws" in the theory of evolution or "disagreements" within the scientific community. Others insist that teachers have absolute freedom within their classrooms and cannot be disciplined for teaching non-scientific "alternatives" to evolution. A number of bills require that students be taught to "critically analyze" evolution or to understand "the controversy". But there is no significant controversy within the scientific community about the validity of the theory of evolution. The current controversy surrounding the teaching of evolution is not a scientific one." AAAS Statement on the Teaching of Evolution American Association for the Advancement of Science. 16 February 2006 (PDF file)
- "In summary, the disclaimer singles out the theory of evolution for special treatment, misrepresents its status in the scientific community, causes students to doubt its validity without scientific justification, presents students with a religious alternative masquerading as a scientific theory, directs them to consult a creationist text as though it were a science resource, and instructs students to forgo scientific inquiry in the public school classroom and instead to seek out religious instruction elsewhere." Ruling - disclaimer, pg. 49 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.
- "ID's home base is the Center for Science and Culture at Seattle's conservative Discovery Institute. Meyer directs the center; former Reagan adviser Bruce Chapman heads the larger institute, with input from the Christian supply-sider and former American Spectator owner George Gilder (also a Discovery senior fellow). From this perch, the ID crowd has pushed a 'teach the controversy' approach to evolution that closely influenced the Ohio State Board of Education's recently proposed science standards, which would require students to learn how scientists 'continue to investigate and critically analyze' aspects of Darwin's theory." Chris Mooney. The American Prospect. 2 December 2002 Survival of the Slickest: How anti-evolutionists are mutating their message
- Teaching Intelligent Design: What Happened When? by William A. Dembski. "The clarion call of the intelligent design movement is to 'teach the controversy'. There is a very real controversy centering on how properly to account for biological complexity (cf. the ongoing events in Kansas), and it is a scientific controversy."
- Nick Matzke's analysis shows how teaching the controversy using the Critical Analysis of Evolution model lesson plan is a means of teaching all the intelligent design arguments without using the intelligent design label.No one here but us Critical Analysis-ists ... Nick Matzke. The Panda's Thumb, 11 July 2006
- "has the effect of implicitly bolstering alternative religious theories of origin by suggesting that evolution is a problematic theory even in the field of science".... The effect of Defendants' actions in adopting the curriculum change was to impose a religious view of biological origins into the biology course, in violation of the Establishment Clause
- The viewpoint of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, Conclusion, page 134
- Science, 3 April 2009
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- Dewey 1994, p. 31, and Wiker 2003, summarizing Gould.
- Larson 2004, p. 258, "Virtually no secular scientists accepted the doctrines of creation science; but that did not deter creation scientists from advancing scientific arguments for their position."
- Martz & McDaniel 1987, p. 23, "By one count there are some 700 scientists (out of a total of 480,000 U.S. earth and life scientists) who give credence to creation-science, the general theory that complex life forms did not evolve but appeared 'abruptly'."
- Biological Society of Washington 2007.
- Bumiller 2005.
- Peters & Hewlett 2005, p. 3.
- Scott (2005), p. 65.
- Scott (2005), pp. 65–66.
- Johnson 1998, Hodge 1874, p. 177, Wiker 2003, Peters & Hewlett 2005, p. 5—Peters and Hewlett argue that the atheism of many evolutionary supporters must be removed from the debate
- Lenski 2000, p. Conclusions
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- Einstein 1930, pp. 1–4
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- Free Executive Summary, Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences, Second Edition, Steering Committee on Science and Creationism, National Academy of Sciences, 1999, ISBN 978-0-309-06406-4.
- Ravi Zacharias (2000). Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message. Thomas Nelson (publisher). p. 55. ISBN 9780849943270.
- Johnson 1993, p. 63, Tolson 2005, Moran 1993 ; Selman v. Cobb County School District. US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia (2005); Talk. Origins; Bill Moyers et al., 2004. "Now with Bill Moyers". PBS. Accessed 2006-01-29. Interview with Richard Dawkins
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- The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design: "To solve the age-old problem of distinguishing science from metaphysics or pseudoscience, Popper invoked the criterion of falsifiability as a substitute for the less rigorous test of verifiability.", page 274
- "Popper described the demarcation problem as the "key to most of the fundamental problems in the philosophy of science". He refuted verifiability as a criterion for a scientific theory or hypothesis to be scientific, rather than pseudoscientific or metaphysical. Instead he proposed as a criterion that the theory be falsifiable, or more precisely that "statements or systems of statements, in order to be ranked as scientific, must be capable of conflicting with possible, or conceivable observations". Popper presented this proposal as a way to draw the line between statements belonging to the empirical sciences and "all other statements – whether they are of a religious or of a metaphysical character, or simply pseudoscientific". It was both an alternative to the logical positivists’ verification criteria and a criterion for distinguishing between science and pseudoscience." Science and Pseudo-Science, Hansson, Sven Ove, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Sep 2008
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- Wilkins, John S, Evolution and Philosophy: Is Evolution Science, and What Does 'Science' Mean?, TalkOrigins Archive
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- Unknown sociologist quoted in Numbers 1992, p. 247
- Kofahl 1989 as quoted by Numbers 1992, p. 247
- Lewin 1982 "Stephen Jay Gould states that creationists claim creation is a scientific theory," wrote Gish in a letter to Discover magazine (July 1981). "This is a false accusation. Creationists have repeatedly stated that neither creation nor evolution is a scientific theory (and each is equally religious)."
- Numbers (2006), p. 274.
- Kofahl 1981, p. 873
- "Talkorigins summary of Karl Popper attitudes towards evolution". Talkorigins.org. 2005-11-02. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
- Karl Popper (1978). "Natural selection and the emergence of mind". Dialectica 32 (3/4): 339–355., Massimo Pigliucci (Sept-October 2004). "Did Popper refute evolution?". Skeptical Inquirer.
- Ruse 1999, pp. 13–37, which discusses conflicting ideas about science among Karl Popper, Thomas Samuel Kuhn, and their disciples.
- As quoted by Wallis 2005, p. 32. Also see Dawkins 1986 and Dawkins 1995
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- "One thing we have come to realise in Creation Science is that the Lord has not just called us to knock down evolution, but to help in restoring the foundation of the gospel in our society. We believe that if the churches took up the tool of Creation Evangelism in society, not only would we see a stemming of the tide of humanistic philosophy, but we would also see the seeds of revival sown in a culture which is becoming increasingly more pagan each day.
... It is also worth noting the comment in the book, By Their Blood—Christian Martyrs of the 20th Century (Most Media) by James and Marti Helfi, on page 49 and 50: 'New philosophies and theologies from the West also helped to erode Chinese confidence in Christianity. A new wave of so-called missionaries from mainline Protestant denominations came teaching evolution and a non-supernatural view of the Bible. Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregationalist, and Northern Baptist schools were especially hard hit. Bertrand Russell came from England preaching atheism and socialism. Destructive books brought by such teachers further undermined orthodox Christianity. The Chinese Intelligentsia who had been schooled by Orthodox Evangelical Missionaries were thus softened for the advent of Marxism.' Evolution is destroying the Church and society, and Christians need to be awakened to that fact!" Ham, Ken. Creation Evangelism (Part II of Relevance of Creation). Creation Magazine '6'(2):17, November 1983.
- "... I want to list seventeen summary statements which, if true, provide abundant reason why the reader should reject evolution and accept special creation as his basic world-view. ...
13. Belief in special creation has a salutary influence on mankind, since it encourages responsible obedience to the Creator and considerate recognition of those who were created by Him. ...
16. Belief in evolution and animal kinship leads normally to selfishness, aggressiveness, and fighting between groups, as well as animalistic attitudes and behaviour by individuals." Henry M. Morris, The Remarkable Birth of Planet Earth (Creation-Life Publishers, 1972), pp. vi–viii. Cited in Appeal to Consequences, Fallacy Files
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- Gallup public opinion poll in regards to the concepts of Evolution, Creationism, and Intelligent Design as of May 2007
- Data by country regarding the percentage of the population that believes in evolution
- Opinion of Tennessee Supreme Court in Scopes v. State
- National Center for Science Education. Ten Major Court Cases about Evolution and Creationism