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Neo-creationism is a movement whose goal is to restate creationism in terms more likely to be well received by the public, policy makers, educators 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. This comes in response to the 1987 ruling by the United States Supreme Court in Edwards v. Aguillard that creationism is an inherently religious concept and that advocating it as correct or accurate in public school curricula violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.[1][2][3]

One of its principal claims is that ostensibly objective orthodox science, with a foundation in naturalism, is actually a dogmatically atheistic religion.[4] Its proponents argue that the scientific method excludes certain explanations of phenomena, particularly where they point towards supernatural elements, thus effectively excluding religious insight from contributing to understanding the universe. This leads to an open and often hostile opposition to what they term "Darwinism", which generally is meant to refer to evolution, but may be extended to include such concepts as abiogenesis, stellar evolution and the Big Bang theory.

Notable neo-creationist organizations are the Discovery Institute and its Center for Science and Culture. Neo-creationists have yet to establish a recognized line of legitimate scientific research and thus far lack scientific and academic legitimacy, even among many academics of evangelical Christian colleges.[5] Neo-creationism is considered by Eugenie C. Scott and other critics as the most successful form of irrationalism.[3] The main form of neo-creationism is intelligent design.[6] A second form, abrupt appearance theory,[3] claims that first life and the universe appeared abruptly and that plants and animals appeared abruptly in complex form, has occasionally been postulated.[7]


The neo-creationist movement is motivated by the fear that religion is under attack by the study of evolution.[8][9][10][11] An argument common to neo-creationist justifications is that society has suffered "devastating cultural consequences"[11][12] from adopting materialism and that science is the cause of this decay into materialism since science seeks only natural explanations. They believe that the theory of evolution implies that humans have no spiritual nature, no moral purpose, and no intrinsic meaning, and thus that acceptance of evolution devalues human life[13] directly leading to the atrocities committed by Hitler's Nazi regime, for example.[14][15] The movement's proponents seek to "defeat [the] materialist world view" represented by the theory of evolution in favor of "a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions".[12] Phillip E. Johnson, 'father' of the intelligent design movement, states the movement's goal is to "affirm the reality of God".[16]


Much of the effort of neo-creationists in response to science consists of polemics highlighting gaps in understanding or minor inconsistencies in the literature of biology, then making statements about what can and cannot happen in biological systems.[17][18][19] Critics of neo-creationism suggest that neo-creationist science consists of quote-mining the biological literature (including outdated literature) for minor slips, inconsistencies or polemically promising examples of internal arguments. These internal disagreements, fundamental to the working of all natural science, are then presented dramatically to lay audiences as evidence of the fraudulence and impending collapse of "Darwinism".[20] Critics suggest that Neo-creationists routinely employ this method to exploit the technical issues within biology and evolutionary theory to their advantage, relying on a public that is not sufficiently scientifically literate to follow the complex and sometimes difficult details. Robert T. Pennock argues that intelligent design proponents are "manufacturing dissent" in order to explain the absence of scientific debate of their claims: "The 'scientific' claims of such neo-creationists as Johnson, Denton, and Behe rely, in part, on the notion that these issues [surrounding evolution] are the subject of suppressed debate among biologists.... According to neo-creationists, the apparent absence of this discussion and the nearly universal rejection of neo-creationist claims must be due to the conspiracy among professional biologists instead of a lack of scientific merit."[21]

Eugenie Scott describes neo-creationism as "a mixed bag of antievolution strategies brought about by legal decisions against equal time laws".[22] Those legal decisions, McLean v. Arkansas and Edwards v. Aguillard, doomed the teaching of creation science as an alternative to evolution in public school science classes. Scott considers intelligent design, and the various strategies of design proponents like Teach the Controversy and Critical Analysis of Evolution, as leading examples of neo-creationism.

Neo-creationists generally reject the term "neo-creation", alleging it is a pejorative term.[23][unreliable source?] Any linkage of their views to creationism would undermine their goal of being viewed as advocating a new form of science. Instead, they identify themselves to their non-scientific audience as conducting valid science, sometimes by redefining science to suit their needs.[24] This is rejected by the vast majority of actual science practitioners.[25][26][27][28][29] Nevertheless neo-creationists profess to present and conduct valid science which is equal, or superior to, the theory of evolution,[30] but have yet to produce recognized scientific research and testing that supports their claims.[31] Instead, the preponderance of neo-creationist works are publications aimed at the general public and lawmakers and policymakers. Much of that published work is polemical in nature, disputing and controverting what they see as a "scientific orthodoxy" which shields and protects "Darwinism" while attacking and ridiculing alleged alternatives like intelligent design.[14][32][33] Examples of neo-creationist polemics include the Discovery Institute's Wedge Document,[34] the book Darwin on Trial by Phillip E. Johnson, and the book From Darwin to Hitler by Richard Weikart.[35] Research for Weikart's book was funded by the Discovery Institute, and is promoted through the institute.[36] Both Johnson and Weikart are affiliated with the Discovery Institute; Johnson is program advisor, and Weikart is a fellow.


All of the following names make explicit the connections between traditional creationism, neo-creationism and intelligent design. Not all critics of neo-creationism are on the evolution side of the debate. Henry M. Morris, a notable young earth creationist, accepted the term[1] but opposed the logic of neo-creationism for the very reason that it does not embrace the Bible.[37] The Baptist Center for Ethics calls for "Baptists to recommit themselves to the separation of church and state, which will keep public schools free from coercive pressure to promote sectarian faith, such as state-written school prayers and the teaching of neo-creationism..."[38][39]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Neocreationism Henry M. Morris, Institute for Creation Research
  2. ^ On Language: Neo-Creo William Safire. The New York Times. August 21, 2005.
  3. ^ a b c Scott, Eugenie C. (1996). "Creationism, ideology, and science". Ann. NY Acad. Sci. The Flight from Science and Reason 775. pp. 505–22. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.1996.tb23167.x. Retrieved 2009-11-12. 
  4. ^ Darwinism is Materialist Mythology, Not Science Phillip E. Johnson.
  5. ^ Goodstein, Laurie, "IDEAS & TRENDS; Intelligent Design Might Be Meeting Its Maker" (Subscription required), NY Times, December 4, 2005, Section 4, Page 1, Column 1.
  6. ^ Pigliucci, Massimo (September 2001). "Design Yes, Intelligent No". Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  7. ^ Wendell R. Bird (December 1992). The Origin of Species Revisited: The Theories of Evolution and of Abrupt Appearance. Thomas Nelson. p. 13. ISBN 0-8407-6848-6. 
  8. ^ Charles W. Colson, Nancy Pearcey, Harold Fickett. 1999 How Now Shall We Live?
  9. ^ "Both Defendants and many of the leading proponents of ID make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general. Repeatedly in this trial, Plaintiffs’ scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science, is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator." wikisource:Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District/6:Curriculum, Conclusion#H. Conclusion Ruling, pg. 136 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.
  10. ^ "Johnson has concluded that science must be redefined to include the supernatural if religious challenges to evolution are to get a hearing. (11:8–15 (Forrest); P-429). Additionally, Dembski agrees that science is ruled by methodological naturalism and argues that this rule must be overturned if ID is to prosper. (Trial Tr. vol. 5, Pennock Test., 32–34, Sept. 28, 2005)." wikisource:Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District/2:Context#Page 30 of 139 Ruling - Context, pg. 30 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.
  11. ^ a b TV Producer Defends Documentary Exposing Darwin-Hitler Link Allie Martin and Jenni Parker. Agape Press. August 25, 2006.
  12. ^ a b The Wedge Document (PDF file), a 1999 Discovery Institute fundraising pamphlet. Cited in Handley P. Evolution or design debate heats up. The Times of Oman, 7 March 2005.
  13. ^ Does Darwinism Devalue Human Life? Richard Weikart. The Human Life Review. Discovery Institute, March 1, 2004.
  14. ^ a b Intelligent Design Theory: Why it Matters Jay W. Richards., July 25, 1999.
  15. ^ Darwin's Deadly Legacy Television documentary. James Kennedy (televangelist), Coral Ridge Ministries. Aired August 26, 27 2006.
  16. ^ Phillip E. Johnson, Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1997), 91–92.
  17. ^ Devolution—Why intelligent design isn't H. Allen Orr. Annals of Science. New Yorker May 2005.
  18. ^ Defending science education against intelligent design: a call to action American Society for Clinical Investigation, Journal of Clinical Investigation. 116:1134-1138 (2006)
  19. ^ Back to the Quote Mines Gary Hurd. The Panda's Thumb, May 4, 2005.
  20. ^ Barbara Forrest, Paul R. Gross (2004-01-08). Creationism's Trojan Horse. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-515742-7. 
  21. ^ Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics: Philosophical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives Robert T. Pennock. MIT Press, 2001. Page 322.
  22. ^ Antievolutionism and Creationism in the United States Eugenie C. Scott. National Center for Science Education.
  23. ^ FAQs IDEA Club, University of Texas, Dallas.
  24. ^ Whether Intelligent Design is Science, Discovery Institute, Seattle, 2006, p. 2
  25. ^ List of scientific societies rejecting intelligent design
  26. ^ Kitzmiller v. Dover page 83.
  27. ^ The AAAS, the largest association of scientists in the U.S., has 120,000 members, and firmly rejects ID.
  28. ^ More than 70,000 Australian scientists and educators condemn teaching of intelligent design in school science classes.
  29. ^ List of statements from scientific professional organizations on the status intelligent design and other forms of creationism.
  30. ^ The Scientific Status of Intelligent Design: The Methodological Equivalence of Naturalistic and Non-Naturalistic Origins Theories Stephen C. Meyer. Ignatius Press, 2005.
  31. ^ Ruling, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District 4: whether ID is science December, 2005.
  32. ^ Creationists Open a New Front David Applegate. GeoTimes, July 2000.
  33. ^ Intelligent Design Advocates Seem Unserious And Insincere John McCarthy. Department of Computer Science, Stanford University, November 5, 2005.
  34. ^ Wedge Document Discovery Institute, 1999.
  35. ^ From Darwin to Hitler Discovery Institute
  36. ^ Nota Bene July Discovery Institute, July 27, 2004,
  37. ^ Design Is Not Enough! Henry M. Morris, Institute for Creation Research
  38. ^ Some Baptists Supporting Government-Run Schools Brian D. Ray. National Home Education Research Institute, April 25, 2006.
  39. ^ A Baptist Pastoral Letter Supporting Public Education Baptist Center for Ethics, April 21, 2006.
  40. ^ Design Yes, Intelligent No: A Critique of Intelligent Design Theory and Neocreationism Massimo Pigliucci, Skeptical Inquirer. September, 2001
  41. ^ Eugenie C. Scott (December 1997). "Creationists and the Pope's Statement" (subscription required). Quarterly Review of Biology 72 (4): 403. doi:10.1086/419952. Retrieved 2007-10-14. "Phrases like "intelligent design theory," "abrupt appearance theory," "evidence against evolution," and the like, have sprung up, although the content of many of the arguments is familiar. This view can be called "neocreationism." ... Neocreationists are by no means identical to their predecessors, however.... Neither biblical creationists nor theistic evolutionists.... Most of them are "progressive creationists."" 

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