Teaching Creationism in Schools

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Teaching Creationism in Schools

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 the teaching of creationism in public schools is that creationism is a scientific theory and 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 for 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 that "creation be 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 science is only an attempt to side step the religious issue. Since religious beliefs cannot be taught in public schools the creationists "repackaged the Bible as science" (10). This statement causes one to consider if the Bible is a scientific book. Many creationists would agree that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, and not a scientific book. Yet, creation scientists want us to believe that the Bible is scientific.

By comparing creation science to evolution, creation scientists attempt to logically show creation is a science. They draw parallels which attempt to put creation science at the same level as evolution. The definitions of creation science and evolution science in the Arkansas law demonstrate this attempted parallel. The law states, "Creation-science means the scientific evidences for creation and inferences from those scientific evidences" and, "Evolution-science means the scientific evidences for evolution and inferences from those scientific evidences" (Ruse 292-93).

There are also those who believe creationism should not be taught because it is bad science. Scientists who have studied the claims of scientific creationism state that it "misstates evolutionary theory, presents erroneous data, and reveals a gross misunderstanding of the nature of science" (Scott 10). For example, creation scientists often use quotes that look as if to challenge evolution, but they are often taken out of context and these quotes from scientific literature actually are questioning the 'how' of evolution (Ruse 289). In _Scientific Creationism_ a quote by Theodosius Dobzhansky is used which makes the...
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