The issue of teaching creationism in the public schools has long been debated. Over the years, many different arguments have been made. First, creationists tried to have the teaching of evolution outlawed. This issue went to the Supreme Court in 1968, where in Epperson v. Arkansas the high court ruled against banning the teaching of evolution. Soon after this decision, creationists began to call for 'equal time', or the equal treatment of creation theory and evolution theory. When this attempt also failed, creationists turned to 'creation science' (Grunes 465). Today, the major argument for teaching creationism in public schools is that it is a scientific theory. Thus, should be taught alongside evolution. The combatants against creationism being taught in public schools are those who believe creation science is bad science and those who believe it violates the separation of church and state. Supporters of creation science are organizations that are collectively referred to as the New Christian Right, such as the Institute for Creation Research. On the other hand, those who oppose creation science are usually scientists, educators, and civil liberties organizations (Grunes 466).
The majority of those people who desire creationism to be taught in the public schools cite that it is scientific. They push for the teaching of creation science, which is defined as "scientific evidence for creation and the inferences from that evidence" (Tatina 275). The inferences from that evidence are "sudden creation of the universe from nothing, recent formulation of the earth, creation of man and other biological kinds, a worldwide flood" and "the insufficiency of mutation and natural selection in bringing about development of living kinds from a single organism" (Grunes 470). These creation scientists, as they are called, want the teaching of the two scientific theories, evolution and creation science, to be taught side by side. In 1992, a Vermont school district passed a resolution stating "creation is presented as a viable theory on an equal status with the various theories of evolution" (Scott 12). The main desire is that creation be given the same time as evolution to be presented as a possible theory on the beginnings of this universe.
Many people feel that creation sc...
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... has become, for all potential purposes, the official state religion promoted in the public schools" (Morris iii).
This issue may never end up being resolved. States have passed laws pertaining to the teaching of creation, but these laws have ended up being ruled illegal by the federal courts. The real issue may not be if creationism is scientific, or if it is religious. It may be whether the law, and those who enforce the law, will ever allow anything other than the evolution theory to be taught in the public schools.
Grunes, Rodney A. "Creationism, the Courts, and the First Amendment." Journal of Church and State 31.3 (Autumn 1996): 465-86.
"In the beginning God created...." The Economist 19 August 1999:17.
Morris, Henry M. Ph.D., ed. Scientific Creationism. San Diego: Creation- Life Publishers, 1998.
Ruse, Michael, ed. But Is It Science? Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books, 1998.
Scott, Eugenie C. "The Struggle for the Schools." Natural History 103.7 (July 1997): 10-13.
Tatina, Robert. "South Dakota High School Biology Teachers & the Teaching of Evolution & Creationism." The American Biology Teacher" 51.5 (May 1999): 2750.
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