America's Anti-Evolution movement

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-78
Number of pages10
JournalAcademic Questions
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002

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Vilification. Many creationists and anti-evolution organizations (e.g., the Institute for Creation Research; ICR) spend much of their time and re- sources vilifying evolution because of their inaccurate belief that evolution is inherently anti-religious. These and other creationists believe that if humans were not created specially according to a literal reading of the Bible, then society and religion crumble, the Scriptures lose their authority, and salvation disappears. These creationists view evolution as incompatible with their religious beliefs and blame the teaching of evolution for virtually all societal problems, including wars, prostitution, abortion, and murder. Like William Jennings Bryan at the Scopes trial (who claimed that "All the ills from which America suffers can be traced back to the teaching of evolution"), many creationists view the evolution-creationism controversy as a holy war. Famed creationist Henry Morris believes that Satan originated the concept of evolution, and Judge Braswell Deen of the Georgia State Court of Appeals claims that "The monkey mythology of Darwin is the cause of permissiveness, promiscuity, pills, prophylactics, perversions, abortion, pornotherapy, pollution, poisoning and proliferation of crimes of all types." More recently, a state legislator in Louisiana introduced a bill blaming evolution for racism, and U.S. House of Representatives majority whip Tom DeLay linked the teaching of evolution with school violence. Although many creationists are quick to point out how some people have used evolution to justify societal problems such as eugenics, they ignore the longstanding relationships of creationism with racism and other such societal ills. 4 Public relations and social activism. Many creationists use attacks on the teaching of evolution to publicize their commitment to God and further their religious and political agendas. These creationists want to convert science teachers into missionaries, and schools and federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Smithsonian Institution into churches to promote their religious beliefs (i.e., the Biblical story of creation). Not surprisingly, many of the creationists who have instigated attacks on evolution have done so because of religious conviction; for example, when evangelist William Willoughby sued the NSF because of its support of pro-evolution textbooks, he claimed that he was acting "in the interest of 40 million evangelical Christians in the United States" ( Willoughby v. Stever, Table 1). Similarly, James Hoisted sponsored the Arkansas "equal time" legislation (later ruled unconstitutional by the McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education decision) because of his religious convictions; according to Hoisted, the legislation was "of course" related to religion. 5 Politics. The Republican Party's platforms in several states endorse the teaching of creationism, as do most politicians. 6 Political correctness. Growing numbers of people consider evolution to be an oppressive political ideology; for example, many people believe that if humans are animals, and if any aspects of human behavior are driven genetically by instinct and conditioning, then our behaviors and potential are limited. This "biological determinism" is unacceptable because it is a threat to freedom. Rather than admit to limits on human behavior, these so-called "secular creationists"--like traditional creationists--declare that humans are fundamentally different from other forms of life and should be immune to the basic laws of nature. 7 Disclaimers. In 1997, a U.S. District Court struck down an attempt by Louisiana school officials to force teachers to read aloud a disclaimer favoring the Biblical version of creation (Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish Board of Education, Table 1 ). Today, Alabama requires that all state-approved biology textbooks include a disclaimer stating that evolution is a "theory, not fact. ''8 These disclaimers, like many of the anti-evolution laws, single out evolution for attack; other facts of science that creationists consider inconsequential to their religious beliefs (e.g., cell theory, laws of thermodynamics) are not questioned.

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