вход по аккаунту


Antievolutionism scientific creationism and physical anthropology.

код для вставкиСкачать
Antievolutionism, Scientific Creationism, and
Physical Anthropology
National Center for Science Education, Berkeley, California 94709;
Sun Jose State University, Sun Jose, California 95192
Science and religion, Science education
Antievolutionism is alive and well in the United States, as
shown by public attitudes toward evolution and the factual truth of Biblical
literalism. High percentages of college students do not accept evolution as a
valid explanation of earth‘s history. One in three think humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time. Antievolutionism has had three phases: (1)
“straight” antievolutionism, during which time the teaching of evolution
was outlawed; (2) pro-creationism,during which the Genesis story was taught
alongside or instead of evolution; and finally, today, (3) “scientific” creationism, in which Biblical literalism is clothed in scientific terms. The strategy
of modern antievolutionists is to move creationism away from religion (hence
scientific creationism) and argue a “free speech” issue: that students being
taught only “one side” of the “origins” issue are being denied a constitutionally guaranteed freedom. Present-day antievolutionists have had surprising
success, as shown by legislation in Arkansas and Louisiana mandating the
teaching of scientific creationism. Textbooks have sharply reduced the coverage of evolution in quantity and quality as a result of antievolutionist pressure. There is a pervasive feeling being generated that evolutionary sciences
are not as reliable as other sciences. Pressure has been exerted on research
institutions and granting agencies to cease funding evolutionary projects.
These trends will continue until opposed by a successful educational effort
both in and out of schools to increase the public understanding of science.
Have you asked students to sex a mounted skeleton and seen them start counting
the ribs? A colleague once discussed the origin of language and had a student angrily
demand “equal time” for Adam and Eve. Have you, as I have, had evaluation forms
come back at the end of the semester with “Evolution is a lot of crap” scribbled on
This paper will discuss antievolutionism among college students and in American
society in general. I will review the history of the antievolution movement and focus
especially on the legal activities of modern “scientific” creationists, the most recent
group of antievolutionists. Although small, they have had a disproportionately large
effect, and I shall discuss some reasons why their strategies have been successful.
To let scientific creationists into the science classroom would be to compound greatly
an already serious public misunderstanding of science. I present at the end some
ideas for diminishing their success.
Do your physical anthropology students “believe” in evolution? You probably
don’t. Physical anthropologists, as scientists, accept evolution as the best explanation for a massive amount of data from many scientific fields. We tend to (or should)
use the term “believe” to refer to opinions rather than scientifically supported
0 1987 Alan R. Liss, Inc.
wol. 30,1987
statements. The general public, by and large, does not. One regularly hears “Do you
believe in evolution” and “DOyou believe in creationism” spoken as parallel constructions. This makes dealing with creation and evolution issues more difficult.
Definition of terms also complicates the matter.
Evolution is the idea that change through time has taken place. It applies to
astronomy, geology, biology, and even cultural anthropology. It is treated by some
as a theory and by others as an observation (“fact”). Technically, the “facts” are that
biochemical systems are more similar between some forms of life than others, or
that fossil remains occur in a particular order, or that stone tools precede pottery.
What explains these observations is a theory: that evolution, or change through
time, has occurred. From the standpoint of philosophy of science, evolution is a
theory, but it is so well corroborated, so well tested, and has held up for such a long
time without being supplanted by another explanation, that most scientists treat it
as a “fact,” and talk about “theories” (natural selection, neutralism, etc.) which
“explain” evolution. Both positions are defensible. Creationism is more difficult to
define, because it has so many more varieties.
In the most general sense, “creationism” refers to supernatural forces bringing
into being the universe and the life within it. There are of course multitudes of
creationist views from people all over the world and through time (Carneiro, 1985).
In countries of Judeo-Christian heritage, “creationism” means that God created the
universe, the world, and living things, as described in the book of Genesis in the
Bible. But even here, we find great variance in what is specifically believed.
Deistic creationists believe God set the forces of nature going but they vary greatly
in belief concerning subsequent events and processes. Some adherents envision a
mechanical world ticking away with no further interference from God. Others allow
intervention by God, but see a predominantly natural universe operating according
to His laws. This view is not incompatible with the idea of “change through time,”
as evolution in the strict sense need not deal with First Cause or the presence or
absence of divine intervention.
DayAge and Gap creationists cope with problems arising from belief in the Genesis account of a 6-day creation and recognition of the great time spans of earth’s
history. They interpret Genesis as true but metaphorical: a “day” in Genesis may
be millions of years long, or gaps of time separate the days of creation. As is deistic
creationism, day-age creationism and gap creationism are not incompatible with
evolution. Creationists can believe that God created and still recognize that change
through time (evolution) has taken place (Frye, 1983).
To many Christians and Jews, evolution is the way God chose to produce the
present universe. Biblical literalist creationists, however, believe the Bible account
of origins is factually and literally true. To them, if the Bible says “and the evening
and the morning were the first day,” that means a 24-hour day. If the Bible says
God told Noah to take two of “every creeping thing of the earth after his kind,” then
everything, from dinosaurs to insects, was on the Ark. This kind of creationism is
completely incompatible with evolution. These creationists are the source of an
antievolution movement which has made surprising inroads in American society.
Polls show much support for creationist ideas and a corresponding lack of support
for evolutionary ideas.
A Gallup poll reported in 1979 that 50% of American adults “believed’ God
“created Adam and Eve to start the human race” (Anonymous, 1979).A more recent
scientific poll of adult Californians asked, “DOyou believe [sic] in Darwin’s theory
of evolution?” Only 39% answered affirmatively (F’ield, 1981). In a surprising account, two out of three lawyers in an American Bar Association (ABA) Journal poll
“believed that the teaching of creationism in public schools does not run afoul of the
First Amendment establishment clause” (Reidinger, 1987:35). College students, as
an educated elite, would be expected to show a higher rate of acceptance of evolutionary ideas. They do, but it is not as high a rate as one might expect.
A recent survey of 1,000 college students at Central Connecticut State University,
University of Texas-Arlington, University of Southern California, and Occidental
College (Los Angeles) found that 58% of their students believed in a literal Adam
and Eve and 44% in an historical Noah’s Ark (Harrold and Eve, 198613). (Earlier
studies showed surprising percentages of college students believing in black magic,
the Loch Ness monster, unidentified flying objects (UFOs), and psychic archaeology;
Harrold and Eve, 1986a; Eve and Harrold, 1986.) The Texas students were more
likely to accept creationism than those from the other states, but acceptance of
creationist ideas was widespread even in the more “liberal” states. One in three of
these college students strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement “Dinosaurs
and humans lived at the same time as is shown by finds of their footprints together.”
These results were not unduly biased by the more conservative Texas students; the
“man and dinosaur” question was answered affirmatively by 28% of the Connecticut
students and 26% of the California students. Thirty-six percent of the Texas students
agreed, perhaps influenced by the alleged Paluxy River “Man Tracks,” which have
received much local publicity (Cole and Godfrey, 1985). Harrold and Eve asked a
1982 Gallup poll question to get at the “hardcore” creationist sample: “God created
man pretty much in his present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.”
Forty-four percent of the general public agreed with this statement, but 23% of the
college students could be described as accepting the major tenet of young-earth
creationism (Texas: 28%; California: 19%;Connecticut 19%)(Harrold and Eve, 1987).
To put this into perspective, consider that up to a third of the students sitting in
front of your podium may be learning what you are telling them about human
evolution but be rejecting a good deal of it. It is especially startling to find this in
science classes.
At one of the nation’s largest universities, 54,000-student Ohio State University,
only 62% of students enrolled in science classes (N=2,387 introductory biology and
anthropology, and advanced genetics students, including 58 in linguistics) answered
affirmatively to the question, “DOyou believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution?’
(Fuerst, 1984).
Why is there a reluctance to accept evolution?
I suspect the explanation has multiple parts. One is the quality of college-level
science teaching, which so frequently stresses facts and state-of-the-art interpretations (“Now we look at fossil __ as beinghot being ancestral to modern Homo
whereas 5 years ago we thought it waslwas not”) rather than the process followed to
get there. A second part is the high-school preparation our students received before
they got to our classes, and a good deal of this reflects the quality of textbooks. A
third part of the explanation lies with the growth of a pervasive notion in society
that evolution somehow is scientifically or intellectually questionable. There have
been a number of books written by ostensibly noncreationist authors (closet creationists?) which take controversial topics about how evolution took place, or how evolution should be studied, and turn them into arguments against evolution having
taken place at all (Fix, 1984; MacBeth, 1973; Rifkin, 1983; Hitching, 1982). People
walking through bookstores and seeing noncreationist books with titles such as The
Myths of Human Evolution (Eldredge and Tattersall, 1985) may also be misled into
thinking there is controversy over whether evolution occurred.
We in physical anthropology are excited by new fossil discoveries and how they
require us to rethink our old theories and interpretations. It is a measure of the
scientific nature of our field that new data are fitted into old schemata and may or
may not force the frameworks into new shapes. The general public (from whence our
students come) has a less-than-clear understanding of this characteristic of science.
To many, “science” means physical sciences, and unless the theories and generalizations are “laws” (i.e., so solidly based as to be unlikely to change) then a discipline
is not truly scientific. Many times the changeable nature of our hypotheses is
grounds for a suspicion that human evolution is not a scientific field. This is fed by
an unfortunate tendency of the press to treat so many new fossil discoveries as
“shaking the foundations of human evolution.” It is important to remember that
the nonprofessional audience may take literally statements such as “everything
about human evolution will now have to be rethought,” which of course is not likely
[Vol. 30,1987
to be the case. Our own colleagues may unwittingly contribute to this tendency by
providing the journalists with snappy quotes which make good copy but which if
unqualified can mislead the public into believing, with President Reagan, that “It
is a theory, it is a scientific theory only. And in recent years it has been challenged
in the world of science and is not believed in the scientific community to be as
infallible as it once was. I think that recent discoveries down through the years [sic]
have pointed up great flaws in it” (Edwords, 1980:45).
A more important source of this pervasive suspicion about evolution, however, is
the activities of the scientific creationists, an important part of the recent upsurge
in antievolutionism.
Modern “scientific creationism,” the doctrine that the Biblical view of creation
can be scientifically supported, is only the most recent episode in a long history of
antievolutionism in America (Numbers, 1982). It is an interesting variant on antievolutionism, however, and a look at the history of those who oppose Darwin is
There have been three cycles of antievolutionism in American history: antievolution, pro (Biblical)-creationism,and finally, “scientific” creationism. The goal during
each has been to limit the teaching of evolution, which is “at the foundation of
communism, fascism, Freudianism, social Darwinism, behaviorism, Kinseyism, materialism, atheism, and in the religious world, modernism and neo-orthodoxy”(Morris, 1964:24).
Although by the third decade of this century evolution was well established as a
scientific principle, it was by no means universally accepted by members of the
public. The period after the First World War was a time of considerable social
turmoil, as “isolationism, coupled with a desire to return to what was essentially
American: the old, tried and true ways” met with considerable scientific and technological innovation (Grabiner and Miller, 19742336) It was also the time of a great
fundamentalist religious revival. These elements were able to coalesce around antievolutionism, which incorporated fundamentalism, isolationism, and an antitechnology, antiprogress, “back to basics” approach to life. These elements are certainly
extant today, and the increase in support of scientific creationism is perhaps not
surprising (see Hargrove, 1986; Kehoe, 1985).
Early antievolutionists pressed in numerous states for the passage of legislation
outlawing the teaching of evolution, actually achieving their goals in Florida,
Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Mississippi (Numbers, 1982). The famous
Scopes trial in 1925 was a direct outgrowth of the Tennessee antievolution law. The
media made a mockery of the law and its supporters, and even though Scopes lost
his case, antievolutionism appeared to quiet down somewhat. No more bills were
passed, though little effort was made to remove the ones in place. Ironically, even
though public opinion appeared to be on the side of evolutionists, the amount of
evolution covered in high-school textbooks actually declined after 1925, as I shall
discuss later (Grabiner and Miller, 1974).
Finally, in 1968, the Supreme Court struck down the Arkansas antievolution law
in Epperson u. Arkansas, stating that a state may not forbid the teaching of evolution. This decision was based on the First Amendment establishment clause, which
prohibits the state from promoting or hindering religion. This judgment did not
mean that evolution would necessarily be taught, only that it could not be legally
Creationists were, of course, not pleased. Evolution could not be outlawed, but it
was still important that its effects be blunted, and the best way to do this would be
to teach Biblical creationism as well. The next strategy of the antievolutionists was
the promotion of creationism. They appeared to take to heart the old expression, “If
you can’t lick ’em,join ’em.”
This strategy was defeated in several decisions, the most prominent being Daniel
u. Waters (1975). The Tennessee legislature had passed a bill requiring that any
textbook which discussed human evolution must have a qualifying statement identifying it as a theory, “not represented as scientific fact.” Texts also had to give equal
space to other “theories” of origins, “including, but not limited to, the Genesis
account in the Bible.” An amendment added the proscription that no ‘bccult or
satanic” theories be taught. A Federal District Court again used the First Amendment establishment clause to strike down another antievolution law.
So,antievolutionists were unable to ban evolution, and because of constitutional
church-state separation, were unable to teach creationism either. A new strategy
began to evolve, that of presenting evolution as unscientific and creationism as
scientific. Readers of scientific creationist literature will recognize that much of the
“evidence in support of creation” is actually “evidence” purporting to show the
factual shortcomings of evolution.
Attorney Wendell R. Bird is the main strategist of the modern-day antievolutionist
legal approach (Larson, 1985). Bird’s Yale Law Journal paper suggested two approaches. First, he set forth the importance of decoupling creationism from religioni.e., “scientific creationism (no reliance upon Biblical revelation, using only scientific
data to support and expound the creation model)” (italics in original) (Morris, 1980:i).
Second, Bird invoked a free speech issue: that students who were deprived of the
opportunity to hear “all sides” were being deprived of an essential, constitutionally
guaranteed freedom (Bird, 1978). Ironically, Epperson’s lawyer had argued the same
thing regarding the Arkansas statute forbidding the teaching of evolution.
Bird’s argument has been a persuasive one, especially the “freedom to learn”
component. Americans like to hear “both sides.” “Equal time” for Biblical creationism would encounter little support among most Americans today, who even if
religious, are not necessarily Biblical literalists. But if creationism is scientific, the
equal time argument takes on considerable strength. A 1986 Oklahoma legislature
bill (stopped in committee) would have mandated “When public school instruction
presents any explanation for the origin of the universe, the earth, or of life, both
strengths and weaknesses of that explanation must be presented from available
scientific evidences and data. Such openness in science on origins would provide
better education while being conducive to better science” (Fezer, 1986b9).
Note the new strategy in this 1986 antievolution legislation. As Oklahoma biologist Frank Sonleitner suggests, “It did not require the teaching of alternative models
based on religious beliefs, but simply provided a legal basis for requiring the
promulgation of all the creationist objections to the legitimate scientific theories.
Thus the only objection to it would be that it could force teachers to give time to
invalid pseudoscience, which is not unconstitutional” (Fezer, 1986b:g).
Scientific creationism, of course, is not scientific. It has been scrutinized by scientists and found wanting (see Godfrey, 1985; Committee on Science and Creationism,
NAS, 1984; Kitcher, 1982). Most Americans are unfamiliar with the reasons why
scientific creationism is not a science, and thus the issue appears to be merely a
conflict between two competing scientific ideologies. Under such circumstances,
most Americans would accept the argument to “let students hear both sides.”
Harrold and Eve asked their college students whether “Creationism should be
taught in public schools as an account of origins” and 51% agreed or strongly agreed
(Texas: 57%; Connecticut: 46%; California: 47%) (Harrold and Eve, 1987). (One
should note the problems with referring to just “creationism” in questions like this
as opposed to asking specifically about teaching scientific creationism in science
Bird’s strategy is echoed in legislation introduced in over 30 states during the past
decade. Most of these bills are clones of model legislation produced by South Carolinan Paul Ellwanger, founder of Citizens for Fairness in Education (Nelkin, 1982).In
the majority of cases, the bills died in committee, or in some other way met oblivion,
but Arkansas and Louisiana both passed versions of the Ellwanger bill, and in both
cases, lawsuits were filed.
[vol. 30, 1987
The Arkansas statute
The version of the Ellwanger bill passed in Arkansas required that whenever
evolution was taught in the public schools, a “balanced view” must be presented
which included “but was not limited to” the scientific evidence for creation. “Creation science” was defined as:
the scientific evidence for creation and inferences from those scientific
evidences. . . . (1)Sudden creation of the universe, energy and life from
nothing; (2) The insflicience of mutation and natural selection in bringing about development of all living kinds from a single organism; (3)
Changes only within fixed limits of originally created kinds of plants and
animals; (4) Separate ancestry for man and apes; (5) Explanation of the
earth’s geology by catastrophism, including the occurrence of a worldwide flood; and (6) A relatively recent inception of the earth and living
kinds (Anonymous, 1982:937).
“Evolution-science” was also defined, though not as evolutionists would define it.
Plaintiffs in the case were the Methodist minister William McLean, and a large
number of religious organizations including Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, African Methodist Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Southern Baptists, and Jews. They
were joined by the Arkansas Educational Association, a teachers’ union affiliated
with the National Educational Association (NEA). The grounds of their suit were
that Act 590 (1)violated the establishment of religion clause of the First Amendment, (2) denied the academic freedom of students and teachers (based on the free
speech clause of the First Amendment), and (3) was impermissibly vague (based on
the due process clause of the 14th Amendment). Arkansas denied the charges and
argued that as evolution was also a religious doctrine, it needed to be balanced by
the presentation of scientific creationism. Bird‘s strategy was clearly in evidence.
Bird himself was a consultant to the Arkansas Attorney General, but withdrew
before the decision was rendered, charging a “sellout” of the creationist cause
(Wetherly, 1982).
In his ruling, Judge William Overton made reference to the earlier Supreme Court
Lemon u. Kurtzman (1971)decision, which required any statute to meet three “tests”
to avoid interference with the establishment clause:
(1)The statute must have a secular purpose.
(2)The principal effect of the statute must be one that neither advances nor hinders
(3)The statute must not foster an excessive government entanglementwith religion.
Overton concluded that indeed, there was definitely a nonsecular purpose to the
Act, based on testimony of witnesses who made it clear that they had a sectarian
purpose in promoting the bill. This purpose, of course, was the promotion of Christian fundamentalism by introducing the Biblical version of origins into the publicschool curriculum. The judge also concluded that the Act failed the effect test by
advancing religion, and a specific one at that. The definition of “creation-science”in
the Act was specifically the Genesis version, sacred to a particular religion; “creation-science” was not just any creation story. Furthermore, said Overton, creation
science was not a scientific doctrine, as it failed to pass even rudimentary tests of
scientific methodology. He summarized clearly the key element which sets scientific
creationism apart from science:
“The methodology employed by creationists is another factor which is indicative
that their work is not science. A scientific theory must be tentative and always
subject to revision or abandonment in light of facts that are inconsistent with, or
falsify, the theory. A theory that is by its own terms dogmatic, absolutist and never
subject to revision is not a scientific theory. . . . While anybody is free to approach a
scientific inquiry in any fashion they choose, they cannot properly describe the
methodology used as scientific if they start with a conclusion and refuse to change
it regardless of the evidence developed during the course of the investigation”
(Anonymous, 1982:939).
Finally, the judge felt that it would be impossible for the state to avoid entanglement with religion under the Act. As Overton said, “There is no way teachers can
teach the Genesis account of creation in a secular manner” (Anonymous, 1982:941).
As the bill was declared unconstitutional on the plaintiffs first complaint, the judge
did not closely address the other two points. The academic freedom complaint
surfaced later as a creationist argument in Louisiana.
McLean v. Arkansas (1981)was a resounding refutation of scientific creationism.
Most scientific creationist-watchers were quite disappointed that the Arkansas case
was not appealed, as prospects for being upheld on appeal were very good. A defeat
at the Appeals Court level would have made McLean controlling precedent over the
whole circuit. As it is, outside of its district, the decision is only persuasive rather
than controlling.
With the decision, most scientists breathed a sigh of relief, and too many assumed
the controversy was over. Most did not notice that 6 months before Overton’s
decision, the state of Louisiana had passed a very similar law.
The Louisiana statute
The Louisiana bill is very similar to the Arkansas bill, but different in significant
ways. The science of scientific creationism may be substandard, but scientific creationists have learned from mistakes made in Arkansas.
The Arkansas act was very specific about what constitutes “creation-science,’’and
this was partly responsible for the Act’s demise. The Louisiana bill merely states
“Creation-science’ means the scientific evidences for creation and inferences from
those scientific evidences.” That is the extent of the definition, and it eliminates
some of the challenges to the bill which would otherwise have been raised. To avoid
challenges on the “secular purpose” clause of Lemon, the Purpose chapter states the
bill “is enacted for the purposes of protecting academic freedom.” This was also part
of the Arkansas Act, but the Arkansas Act went well beyond this simple statement.
It declared its intent to “(ensure) neutrality toward students’ diverse religious
convictions, ensuring freedom of religious exercise . . . ; preventing establishment of
Theologically Liberal, Humanist, Nontheist, or Atheist religions” and so on. The
Louisiana Act sounds much more “secular” because it consciously leaves out religious and philosophical references. This also eliminates challenges previously raised
successfully in Arkansas.
The Louisiana case has had a long history. Initially there were two Federal District
Court lawsuits-one in which the creationists were plaintiffs and one in which
anticreationists filed suit. The creationist-plaintiffs requested that the judge declare
the state law constitutional and also issue an injunction to begin implementing the
law, which had been put on hold immediately &er passage. This case was dismissed
for lack of jurisdiction, and the way was cleared to hear the other suit, brought by
the anticreationists. The district judge ignored the First Amendment issues and
declared the Act violated Louisiana state constitutional provisions regarding which
state body has authority to determine curricula. The Court of Appeals sent the case
to the Louisiana Supreme Court, which reversed the decision, declaring that the
legislature did have authority to determine curricula in the fashion proposed in the
Bill opponents then had to start over. The strategy of the American Civil Liberties
Union (ACLU)and other plaintiff lawyers was to avoid the expense of a full trial: In
fact, they would have been perfectly happy to avoid trying the case at all if the
original judgment on state issues had been upheld. The considerably better-funded
scientific creationists, however, wanted a full trial for its publicity value, but were
foiled when plaintiffs asked for a summary judgment. This allows a case to be tried
[vol. 30, 1987
on materials submitted to the judge, without oral arguments, witnesses, transcripts,
and other expensive elements of the court system.
Federal District Judge Adrian Duplantier declared the Louisiana Act in violation
of the First Amendment establishment clause: it did not have a secular purpose, and
the effect of the Act was the advancement of religion. The scientific creationists, of
course, appealed, but the Court of Appeals upheld Duplantier very strongly, stating
in one part, ‘‘this particular case is a simple one, subject to simple dispersal: the Act
violates the establishment clause of the first amendment because the purpose of the
statute is to promote a religious belief’ Gguillard u. Edwards, 1985a:1253).
Scientific creationists were far from despondent over these results, however, as the
Appeals Court voted by only a one-member majority to uphold the lower ruling.’
The split was 8-7, and a strongly worded dissent was filed by the minority. The
dissenters accepted the idea that “creation science” was supported by scientific
evidence and that the bill “has no religious reference whatever and merely requires
that the whole scientific truth be taught on the subject if any is” (Aguillard u.
Edwards, 1985b). The dissenting judges restated the scientific creationist position
that evolution is “only a theory” and shouldn’t be presented as “fact.” In fundraising literature, scientific creationists have argued that this strong dissent by a
large minority of judges will help them in their Supreme Court appeal. Wendell R.
Bird assisted the state as a deputized “Special Assistant Attorney General.”
Bird also presented the defendant’s position in oral arguments before the Supreme
Court in December 1986. In his opening statement, Bird said, “The State today
hopes to address two key questions: first, the procedural question of the material
factual issues. . . and second, the Constitutional question, particularly of the abundant evidence in the record of a secular purpose, although not an exclusively secular
purpose, we concede” (Edwin W. Edwards, Etc., et al., Appellants v. Don Aguillard,
et al., 1986:3). Much of the ensuing discussion centered around whether the summary judgment was appropriate. Bird claimed that “scientific creationism” was a
“technical term of art” requiring a trial with expert testimony to define it (the
“material factual issues” of his opening statement). Another topic, of course, was
determining whether there was a “secular purpose” to the Act. Bird denied any
intent to exclude the teaching of evolutionary science. Much conversation ensued
between Bird and a justice over whether it was possible for an individual to hold
both creationist (as in First Cause) and evolutionist ideas. The defendant’s lawyer,
Jay Topkis, stressed the religious purpose of the bill, and how the history of the
legislation shows the concern with balancing the “religion” of evolution with another religious view: creationism.
The court spent much time on the academic freedom issue. For example, Bird was
given a hypothetical proposition: Because a school did not like German but did like
French, all students who took German also had to study French. Did this advance
academic freedom? Because of the obvious parallels between the hypothetical proposition and the Louisiana “equal time” bill, Bird was forced t o answer, “Yes, it
The academic freedom issue was not as important in the Arkansas case, being
addressed only briefly as a secondary issue when the Act was thrown out on the
establishment clause.
On June 19,1987, the Supreme Court declared the Louisiana Act invalid because
it violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment. The decision, written
by Justice Brennan, addressed the academic freedom issue in its first holding. The
syllabus summarized the decision:
The act does not further its stated secular purpose of ‘protecting academic
freedom.’ It does not enhance the freedom of teachers to teach what they
‘The appeal was heard by a panel of three judges rather than the entire Appeals Court. Creationists then moved to
have the case heard en banc, but their request w&sdenied in the above-mentioned 8-7 vote. Technically, the dissent was
written in protest to the decision not to hear a case en banc.
choose and fails to further the goal of ‘teaching all of the evidence.’
Forbidding the teaching of evolution when creation science is not also
taught undermines the provision of a comprehensive scientific education.
Moreover, requiring the teaching of creation science with evolution does
not give school teachers a flexibility that they did not already possess
(Edwards u. Aguillard, 1987:I).
The law, then, had a definite nonsecular purpose. It was also rejected because it
“endorses religion by advancing the religious belief that a supernatural being
created humankind” (Eduards u. Aguillard, 1987:II).
Justice Scalia authored a dissent signed by Chief Justice Rehnquist which accepted Wendell Bird‘s argument that “creation science” was a term of art needing a
full trial to explicate (Scalia, 1987). While not actually stating that scientific creationism was indeed scientific, Scalia advocated a trial which would define its scientific nature and determine whether it should be taught in science classes. “The
people of Louisiana, including those who are Christian fundamentalists, are quite
entitled, as a secular matter, to have whatever scientific evidence there may be
against evolution presented in their schools, just as Mr. Scopes was entitled to
present whatever scientific evidence there was for it” (Scalia, 1987:25). Most of
Scalia’s dissent was, from a legal standpoint, an attack on the purpose prong of
Considering the alternative, the Louisiana decision at the Supreme Court level
was most welcome. The scientific community responded with predictable cheers, and
the creationist community with further plans for additional challenges to evolution.
Additional legislation, however, currently has little prospect for passage. State
legislatures do not want the expense of a very predictable court challenge. However,
the Supreme Court decision applied to the specific Louisiana decision, not to another
bill which might be drafted in the future. A more probable creationist approach will
be to intensify efforts at the grass-roots level, increasing pressures on teachers and
school boards to promote creationism and/or deemphasize evolution. Creationism
has always had its strongest support from the grass roots, and has lost repeatedly in
the courts. But courts, even the Supreme Court, can change their minds as popular
opinion presses. Antievolutionism traditionally has had strong popular support, and
this support can be increased by skillful organization on the part of the scientific
creationists. The Reagan administration has tended to appoint conservative judges
and Supreme Court justices, and before the President departs more will be appointed. Future legislation may fare better than the Louisiana Act.
Other legal challenges to the teaching of evolution
In Hawkins County, Tennessee, parent Vicki Frost and others objected to a series
of reading texts produced by Holt, Rinehart, and Winston. These Christian fundamentalist parents objected that the texts presented topics offensive to their faith:
witchcraft, magic, astrology, evolution, feminism, humanism, vegetarianism, internationalism, nontraditional sex roles, Catholicism and other religious ideas, and so
on (Beck et al., 19861. They requested the district provide them with alternate texts
which would not be offensive. Plaintiff Frost argued, among other points, that
“Evolution teaches there is not a God-creator, and that violates my religious beliefs.
. . . God made the animals of a different flesh and man and woman of a different
flesh. We did not descend from a common ancestor” (Chronicle Wire Services,
District Judge Thomas G. Hull decided in late October, 1986 that:
The plaintiffs have sincerely held religious beliefs which are entitled to
protection under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and
which are offended by certain recurring themes in the Holt series. In
forcing the plaintiff-students to read from the Holt series or to forfeit a
free public education, the defendants have burdened the plaintiffs’ right
[vol. 30,1987
of free exercise of their religion. . . .The defendants cannot accommodate
the plaintiffs’ needs within the context of the school system without risk
of violating the establishment clause of the First Amendment. The plaintiffs are therefore entitled to opt out of the Hawkins County public school
reading program while still enjoying the benefit of the rest of the curriculum” (Mozert et aL u. Hawkins County Public Schools et al., 1986).
Judge Hull’s decision accommodating the religious views of the parents was
roundly criticized in editorials all over the country because of the implications such
accommodating has for the rest of the curriculum. Although the judge tried to
restrict his decision to the reading program and the Holt series only, it remains to
be seen whether topics in other parts of the curriculum-such as evolution in the
science class-will be equally offensiveto the parents. People for the American Way
Executive Director Anthony Podesta called it a “recipe for disaster for public education [inviting] every sect in the country to pick and choose which books it will
accept” (Clendinen, 1986:8).
A similar “secular humanism in textbooks” trial was held in Alabama in the fall
of 1986. Fundamentalist parents further established the right to control what their
children learn in public school. We should expect even greater consequences for the
teaching of evolution in the precollege classroom. Evolution is not widely supported
by the American public. Teachers are already disinclined in many parts of the
country to teach about evolution, for fear of controversy. An amicus brief submitted
by the National Academy of Sciences in the Louisiana Supreme Court case points
out that “Science teachers who wish to avoid confusing, misinforming or manipulating their students may choose to avoid areas which trigger the Act’s “balanced
treatment” requirement by refraining from teaching evolution altogether.”
The textbook issue
Textbooks have fluctuated greatly in their coverage of evolution. Without demand
for the teaching of evolution, publishers will not be inclined to include the topic in
their books. Unfortunately, with few exceptions, what is in the textbooks is what
the teacher teaches.
After the turn of the century, as evolution was accepted in scientifc circles, the
concept began to appear in textbooks. Some of the leading high-school texts presented a fair amount of evolution. Moon’s Biology for Beginners began by saying,
“The course emphasizes the fact that biology is a unit science, based on the fundamental idea of evolution rather than a forced combination of portions of botany,
zoology and hygiene” (in Gould, 1982:6). This progressive statement appeared in the
first edition of the book, published in 1921, accompanied by a frontispiece of a photo
of Charles Darwin. The next edition was in 1926, the year after the Scopes trial.
Biology was “based on the fundamental idea of development” (my italics), but
evolution was still an important part of the book, although some religious quotations
appeared as well. Darwin’s picture was replaced by a picture of the digestive system
(Grabiner and Miller, 1974).By the next edition, in 1933, evolution had not just been
camouflaged as “development” but had been removed completely from the text
(Benneta, 1985a). Other textbooks similarly downplayed or removed the topic of
evolution, and they sold better than the competition. In the 1930s, a few books
appeared with a decent coverage of evolution, but they commanded only a very
small share of the market. It is significant, I think, that professional biologists were
authors of only two of the scores of textbooks available between 1900 and 1960
(Grabiner and Miller, 1974).Most were written by professional writers, with greatly
varying backgrounds in science.
Then came Sputnik, and rising concern for the quality of American science education. The federal government supported the development of new science curricula in
mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology. Professional scientists took on the
task of writing high-school science books. The AIBS produced the series of texts
known as the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, or BSCS, which had evolution
as the foundation of biology, thus returning to the foresight of the 1921 edition of
Social changes over the years plus “The prestige, power, and financial support of
the federal government (being) behind the scientists and the new textbooks” gave
the new books a large market share, and publishers took note (Grabiner and Miller,
1974:836). Gerald Skoog’s analysis of textbooks shows that “more was written on
the topics concerned with the concept of evolution in 17 textbooks of the 1960s than
in 66 textbooks published during the period from 1900 to 1959” (Skoog, 1978:24).
These days were short lived. By the late 70s publishers had begun to reduce the
coverage of evolution, even by as much as 50% (Skoog, 1983). Those which did not
remove evolution tended to qualify it in ways in which no other scientific idea was
Dorothy Nelkin has analyzed this trend toward watering down statements about
evolution in successive editions of textbooks. Where a book might talk about some
phenomenon as having “developed” or “evolved,” the new version states that it
“occurred”-with causation unexplained. “The evidence that shows how.. .” is
changed to “Evidence that is often interpreted to mean. . . .” “Modern animals that
are descendants . . .” evolves into “Modern animals that seem to be direct descendants. . . .” “Scientists can reconstruct the [prehistoric]animal” becomes “Scientists
do their best to reconstruct the [prehistoric] animal.” (Nelkin, 1976:38). A highschool textbook by a major publisher says, “If we had a time machine we could
observe the kinds of changes that might have occurred in the past. Unfortunately,
we do not have a time machine. Therefore, it does not matter how much evidence is
gathered in support of the theory of evolution. As long as there is no positive proof
it will remain a theory” (Tiede, 1984:2).
“Some scientists believe . . .” is frequently read in textbooks. Scientists in these
books “believe,” “think,” and “speculate” a great deal when it comes to evolution,
though not in regard to other scientific ideas. Somehow, evolutionary topics inspire
extensive wishy-washiness. “Humans are indeed unique; but because they are
organisms, many scientists believe that humans have an evolutionary history”
(DeSilva, 1986:ll). “Many scientists believe the theory that humans developed from
earlier forms of life” (Moyer and Mayer, 1985:24). Vome scientists believe that
strange animals with dry scaly skins roamed the earth 225 to 65 million years ago”
(Bennetta, 1985b330, 32). In many cases, “some scientists believe” things that most
scientists would disagree with “Scientists believe that Archaeopteryx is an ancestor
of today’s birds” (Bennetta, 1986:25). “Many scientists think that dinosaurs were
the ancestors of reptiles” (Bennetta, 1985b:32). And so on.
These qualifiers leave a student with the overall impression that evolution is
somehow scientifically shakier, or less trustworthy, than other theories. One is not
led to conclude that evolutionary science proceeds from observation, evidence, hypothesis testing, and theory building. Rather, evolution appears to be founded on
belief and speculation. And of course, it is “only” a theory.
“Theory” has a specific meaning in science but a much broader meaning in
everyday parlance. To a scientist, theory building is the ultimate goal of what he/
she does; to the man on the street, a ‘Yheory” is more like a guess or shot in the
dark. If evolution must be “only a theory,” then it can’t be taken as seriously as
“real” science. The public is confused about “laws” vs. “theories,” placing much
more confidence in the former than the latter. A colleague who does a great deal of
public speaking has recently begun to refer to the “law of evolution” rather than
the “theory” of evolution for precisely this reason (D.C. Johanson, personal communication). I have always liked James Gavan’s comment: “If we had a law of evolution
and a theory of gravity, we wouldn’t have scientific creationists, nor would people
take elevators.”
Recent analyses of available textbooks suggest that evolution is getting short
shrift (Moyer and Mayer, 1985). Woodward and Elliot show not only the omission or
deemphasis of evolution, but even the presentation of creationism in some books.
Others may discuss evolution but stop at human evolution. The BSCS and a few
[Vol. 30, 1987
other publishers manage to cover both human and nonhuman evolution fully (Woodward and Elliott, in press), but they do not have a very big share of the market.
The dilution of evolution in modern texts is a direct result of pressure from
antievolutionists, who, even though they cannot legally ban evolution from the
classroom (Epperson) nor include Biblical creationism (Daniel) nonetheless have not
given up the fight. They are aided in their attempts to rid texts of evolution by the
existence of statewide adoption of texts in 22 states. These states account for about
one-half of all the textbooks sold, and California and Texas alone account for about
11%. What sells in California and Texas, then, has a strong influence upon what is
sold elsewhere. Creationists and other textbook censors have been very active in
precisely these two states for just that reason.
In California, the San Diego-based Creation Science Research Center (CSRC) has
engaged in considerable lobbying of the State Board of Education and has even
litigated against the teaching of evolution. Kelly Segraves, who with his mother
directs the CSRC, sued the state of California over his child’s being taught evolution
(Segraves v. California, 1981). The California Board of Education had a Science
Framework, drafted by professional scientists as well as educators, which included
evolution as one of the required topics to be covered in science classes (California
State Board of Education, 1978). Segraves’ protests were not upheld by the judge,
who felt that the Framework in itself was unobjectionable, and that a separate
Board memo sufficiently protected the religious rights of students like Segraves’
son. This memo, known as the “antidogmatism policy,” states that textbooks must
be edited so “1) That dogmatism be changed t o conditional statements where speculation is offered for explanation for origins. 2) That science emphasize how and not
ultimate cause of origins” (italics in original) (Jukes, 19821212-213).
The other big state in the textbook controversy, Texas, also has singled out
evolution for special treatment. For over a decade, the Texas State Board of Education has required that any
Textbooks that treat the theory of evolution shall identify it as only one
of several explanations of the origins of humankind and avoid limiting
young people in their search for the meaning of their human existence.
Each textbook must carry a statement on the introductory page that any
material on evolution included in the book is clearly presented as theory
rather than fact (Bennetta, 1985a:27).
Of course a good science teacher will teach alternate explanations of scientific
theories. But the Texas policy was made to refer not generally to science but only to
evolutionary science. No other scientific theory or principle is set aside for such
clarification. To illustrate this, consider if the Texas caveat were worded “Textbooks
that treat the theory of plate tectonics shall identify it as only one of several
explanations of continental drift.” Or “Textbooks that treat the theory of radioactive
decay shall identify it as only one of several explanations of daughter isotopes.” For
a state bureaucracy to determine curricula at this minute level would seem extreme.
The policy also had the unfortunate effect of making evolution appear once again
to be a less-than-valid scientific discipline, especially when the second part of the
requirement about “theory rather than fact” is presented.
To accommodate the California and especially the Texas guidelines, textbook
publishers have been inclined to dilute the treatment of evolution in the fashion I
described above. Texans Me1 and Norma Gabler and their company Educational
Research Analysis have pressed for years to have evolution removed from the books,
as well as other subjects offensiveto Christian fundamentalist parents. In April of
1984, however, under pressure from educators, scientists, and especially the anticensorship organization People for the American Way, the Texas Board of Education
rescinded its antievolution rules (Lewin, 1984).A few years earlier, the city of New
York refused to adopt three texts because of their poor coverage of evolution (MaeroR, 1982). Furthermore, the California State Board of Education, in a highly
publicized move, refused in the fall of 1985 to accept any of the books submitted for
adoption in seventh- and eighth-grade science classes, on the grounds that, among
other things, they covered evolution too poorly to be used in California schools
(Bennetta, 198513). The California board ultimately adopted a series of “revised”
books that still did not meet the expectations of scientists who had worked on the
issue (Marshall, 1986). The books continued to cover evolution poorly and were
inadequate in other ways as well. Feynmann’s evaluation of science texts of the 60s
still holds true: “They said things that were useless, mixed-up, ambiguous, confusing, and partially incorrect. How anybody can learn science from these books, I don’t
know, because it’s not science” (Feynmann, 1985:298).
The easing of the Texas rule and the murmurs of defiance from California and
New York were welcome, but meant only that publishers didn‘t have to qualify or
exclude evolution from their books. They don’t have to present it, and won’t, unless
pressure is maintained from the academic community. It appears as if students may
continue to graduate from high school thinking humans and dinosaurs coexisted,
and such students will continue to show up in our classes.
Other educational problems
Our students’ poor background in evolution arises partly from their reduced
exposure to the subject in high school, largely due to the downplaying of evolution
in textbooks. Another question is: What do students find in the school and public
libraries? Members of politically conservative, religiously oriented organizations
(Moral Majority, Christian Voice, etc.) have protested the presence in public-school
libraries of books and magazines dealing with many subjects, including evolution
(Parker and Weiss, 1983; Berman, 1985). Sometimes, instead of trying to ban the
books, they opt for the familiar “equal time” strategy, and lobby to increase holdings
of creationist materials. As a recent news story reported, television evangelist Jerry
Falwell felt that “Among the volumes that should be in every school and library but
aren’t, are ‘Phyllis Schlafly: the Sweetheart of the Silent Majority’; ‘The Right to
Live, the Right to Die’; . . . ‘The Fossils Say NO by Duane Gish’; and ‘Gay is Not
Good” (my italics) (UPI, 1983:61).
It is difficult to argue against having a variety of books on library shelves, but
where are scientific creationism books to be shelved? A book must be put in one
location or another: Do scientific creationism books belong with the science books or
someplace else? Most school libraries use the Dewey Decimal system, which has a
notation called “Specific topics in Christian doctrinal theology” with a subheading
“Creation.” The Library of Congress has a descriptor “Creationism.” Materials in
scientific creationism are cross referenced to this entry, along with religious aspects
of evolution, and Bible and evolution topics. These are not the only places in a
library where one will encounter scientific creationist materials, however. In many
cases, these books will be found in the “Science” section; for example, under Dewey
575: Evolution, or LC Q.
The Library of Congress determines both the Dewey Decimal and LC numbers,
and unfortunately, it is not consistent in its classification of creationism or other
pseudosciences (Thompson and Flowers, 1984). Montagu’s collection Science and
Creationism (1984),although dealing with creationism, is classified under Evolution,
whereas What is Creation Science? (1982), by creationists Morris and Parker, is
under Philosophy and Theory of Science. Gish’s book Evolution, the Fossils Say NO!
(1979) is classed under Evolution (Berman, 1984).This may be confusing to students
trying to sort out real science from bogus, but the alternatives are not simple. Some
creationist books, like Gish’s, are about evolution, even though the science in these
books is substandard. There is no requirement that the Evolution or Science categories must contain only good science, and some scientific creationism works probably belong there. The difficulty, of course, occurs for the student who sees two books
on the same shelf and assumes both are on the same topic. This is not an unreasonable assumption. Animal Species and Evolution (Mayr, 1965) and Evolutiox the
Fossils Say No! become de fact0 equally scientific in the eyes of the uninitiated-
[Vol. 30, 1987
which is the majority of the browsers. Further confusion about scientific creationism
as science is likely to ensue. Librarian Sanford Berman suggests using neutral
classifications for such disputed books, and extensive cross referencing (Berman,
1981). Evolutionists have protested the listing of Gish‘s book under Evolution in
some communities, although to no avail.
To increase the number of creationist books in public libraries, creationists are
encouraging the donation of materials and protesting when librarians decline to
accept them. The problem may not be so much censorship of unpopular ideas as
limited space and a desire to maintain a balance (Fezer, 1985). As creationism does
not represent competent scholarship, it should not be necessary to stock several feet
of scientific creationist materials to enable the public to have access to these ideas.
The problem for libraries is the volume of creationist books, donated by enthusiastic
citizens, compared to a small number of legitimate scientific books.
Library materials are likely to have smaller effects on students than are textbooks.
The most important influence on whether a student is exposed to evolution before
he reaches our classes is the training received by the teacher. In all states, regular
teachers must be graduates of accredited institutions; thus the recent accreditation
of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University’s Biology Education Program is significant.
Schools in the state of Virginia may now be hiring creationist biology teachers to
teach in public schools, as may schools in any state with reciprocity with Virginia.
Similarly, Christian Heritage College, to which the Institute for Creation Research
is tied, is now accredited, and applications for admission have increased over 50%
(Fezer, 1984).The implication of this, of course, is that not only will we have students
in our classes who have had little or no background in evolution, we will also have
others who have actually been taught that “dinosaurs and humans lived at the same
time, because their footprints are found together.”
Scientific creationism and research
The effect that antievolutionists have on our students is one way in which antievolutionism affects physical anthropology. Pressure against research institutions
and funding agencies is another way. Antievolutionists have not had much success,
although their failures have not caused them to abate their efforts.
Museums have been faced with or threatened with lawsuits for producing displays
featuring evolution. The National Foundation for Fairness in Education sued the
Smithsonian Institution in 1978 to protest the proposed Emergence of Man exhibit,
and also to request that the Smithsonian spend as much money on creationism
displays as it spends on evolution displays. A familiar accusation is that by supporting evolution in museums (and elsewhere) the federal government is spending tax
money supporting the religion of “secular humanism,” and thus is itself in violation
of the First Amendment. The Federal District judge dismissed the case, as did the
Appeals Court (Skoog, 1980; Edwords, 1981b).The Milwaukee Public Museum also
encountered persistent creationist opposition to their new Earth Science wing, but
no lawsuits were filed (Edwords, 1981b).
A few years ago Paul Ellwanger, author of the “balanced view” legislation passed
in Louisiana and Arkansas and introduced in numerous other states, attempted to
convince southern congressmen to introduce a federal creationist bill. The bill was
entitled An Act to Protect Academic Freedom and to Prevent Federal Censorship in
Scientific Inquiry Funded with Federal Tax Monies (Edwords, 1981a:46).This bill is
an “equal time” (and money) argument to ensure that whatever federal money is
allocated to research, curriculum development, museum exhibits, National Park
Service lectures and exhibits, and so on is matched by equal amounts allocated to
creationism. Might one imagine a new National Science Foundation directorate on
creationism? Obviously such a bill would result in far less money allocated for
evolutionary science, as it is more likely that the pie would just be subdivided rather
than that new monies would be produced for creationist research.
The bill was never passed, but one of the supporters, Representative William
Dannemeyer of California, has tried to tack pro-creationism amendments onto
important bills. In one attempt, he tried to amend the Interior Appropriations Bill
for 1982 to restrict money going to the Smithsonian: “That none of these funds be
made available for museum programs that present the theory of evolution as the
sole explanation of life’s origins” (Congressional Record, 1981). In his argument in
support of the bill, Dannemeyer brought up the notion that evolution is a tenet of
secular humanism-therefore, by presenting it, we foster advancement of religion.
His amendment was defeated, but the conservative representative continues to
argue the position of the religious right wing. As he remarked in conjunction with
some antihomosexual regulations, “God‘s plan is Adam and Eve, not Adam and
Steve” (Zane, 19855).
A creationist organization called the Origins Data Center in St. Cloud, Minnesota,
has been circulating a “Sample Resolution’’ which it would like to see adopted by
the Democratic and Republican parties’ platform committees before the next presidential election. It is another example of the “new” approach of the creationists:
Don’t even mention creationism, but argue for the “arguments against evolution”
on the basis of the student’s right to know. “When public school instruction includes
a theory addressing the origin and development of life on earth, and that theory is
claimed to be based on data and authentic scientific reasoning, the students’ right
to hear the data and reasoning which may cast doubt on the theory or suggest an
alternative view of origins may not be denied” (Fezer, 1986a:7).
Indeed, physical anthropologists teach and do research on a topic which many of
our fellow citizens would consider untrue, unscientific, and unacceptable to have
taught to their children. Many of our students come into our classes unfamiliar with
the “E word” or even already reject our teachings about evolution. In many cases,
the only teachings they have received about origins are religiously based, and in the
worst scenarios, they have been taught the pseudoscience of scientific creationism
as a legitimate explanation of the world‘s history. The numbers of the last category
are likely to increase, as teachers from accredited creationist institutions bring their
“mission” (their term) to public schools. The National Association of Christian
Educators is a group of teachers and administrators (numbering in the tens of
thousands) whose goal is to “return” Christianity to the public schools (Pawley,
1982). I predict more, not less, scientific creationism in the future.
Does it matter whether evolution is understood by Americans? Certainly there are
practical consequences. Would anyone who knew anything about the evolutionary
relationship of baboons and humans expect a baboon heart to not be rejected by the
immune system of Baby Fae? Dr.Leonard Bailey, Baby Fae’s surgeon, says “I don’t
see the connection between cross-speciestransplants and evolutionary philosophy’’
(Lowenstein, 1986:32). Biblically inspired oil prospectors are depending on “old maps
of ancient tribal lands and on readings of the Scriptures” rather than modern
geology to find (Jacob’s son) Asher’s land (in which he would “dip his feet in oil”)
(Getschow, 1985). More examples could be found of this type, but less practical
reasons for understanding what evolution is about are also important.
There are undeniable philosophical implications of the idea that change through
time has taken place. One can teach evolution without philosophical trappings, of
course, and it has been my experience that this is the norm. Still, evolution has
favorable connotations for some and negative ones for others. Religion is concerned
with the relationship of people to the supernatural. Evolution does not substitute for
it. Nonetheless, without it, one loses an important perspective on the relationship of
human beings, and even oneself, to the rest of life. How the individual integrates
the idea of “descent with modification” into hidher own philosophy may vary
considerably from person to person, as it should. It is unfortunate from a practical
standpoint and sad from a philosophic one that so many students are not offered an
opportunity to find out about evolution.
I have painted a fairly dismal picture of modern antievolutionism and its effects
on education. Colleagues are always surprised at students’ lack of understanding of
[Vol. 30,1987
evolution, and are even more surprised to hear about the enlarging core of antievolutionists among even college-educatedpeople. The backbone of physical anthropology, more than any biological science except paleontology, is evolution. It is possible
to teach introductory biology without evolution (though it is inferior biology). It is
impossible to teach introductory anthropology without it. Given the focus on vocational training in colleges, we err if we conclude physical anthropology is indispensable. Because of budget cuts, the entire anthropology department at Colorado State
University-Greeley,tenured or untenured, was “let go,” and more departments may
follow. Philosophy and geography departments, also considered irrelevant, have also
suffered around the country. An increasing perception that our main organizing
principle is flawed does not boost the status of physical anthropology in the eyes
of the tax-paying (and university supporting) public. Animosity toward evolution
hurts us.
I have elsewhere addressed in more detail some suggestions for opposing scientific
creationism (Scott, 1986).First, it is essential that everyone realize that the creation/
evolution controversy is a political controversy only marginally related to science. It
is a battle being fought not in the pages of scientific journals (Scott and Cole, 1985)
but in the mailboxes and television screens of the general public. It is truly a battle
for the “hearts and minds” of the people, and it requires different strategies than
normally used by scientists.
The public needs to know that scientific creationism is inadmissible in the science
classroom because it is poor science. (It is also objectionable on First Amendment
grounds, but I will not address that topic here.) It is factually wrong, and it is
methodologically unscientific. It is necessary to publicize critiques of scientific creationist positions: Why their dust on the moon argument does not mean the earth is
young, or why the presence of polonium halos in granite is not evidence for a young
earth. Physical anthropologists and other scientists are good at analyzing competing
positions and have produced much material of this sort. These activities are important because of the “equal time” argument. It is only “fair” to give equal time to
scientific creationism if it is indeed an alternate scientific point of view. This,
however, is only part of the story.
Even more important than specifically responding to specific scientific creationist
statements is responding to misuses of scientific methodology by scientific creationists. The public understanding of science in this country, as shown in survey after
survey, is among the lowest of any developed country. Americans have a very narrow
and often erroneous view of science: It is experimental; it is factual; it is observational; it leads to the %uth” in an absolute sense; “laws” are better than “theories”;
and so on. Scientific creationist statements that “Evolution is not a science because
no one was there to see it occur” are readily accepted as correct. Students should be
exposed to the philosophy of science as early as junior high school, when they are
systematically exposed to the theories of science. Most of the time they are not; nor
are they given explicit training in philosophy of science in high school or even
In my experience, the physical sciences are least explicit in presenting the methodology (as opposed to the techniques) of science to their students. Most engineers
come from, or have extensive instruction, in the physical sciences, and have a very
narrow understanding of the breadth of approaches which are scientific. The view
predominates that only experimental and observational research designs are acceptable, because that is the sort of science which they use in their daily work. It is not
surprising to me that the Ph.D.-holding scientists among the scientific creationists
are disproportionately engineers. The perspective of science held by the general
public is closer to that of engineers than to that of scientists such as anthropologists
and geologists who recognize other research designs.
The scientific creatiodevolution controversy is ultimately a matter of the education of the public. Our nation requires a public which can distinguish between
science and pseudoscience. Part of public education is the school system, and it is
perhaps the most important part. Many people on the college level castigate schools
of education for producing teachers who are poorly versed in science, who then pass
along misinformation and misunderstanding t o schoolchildren. Pedagogy is the
province of the schools of education, but science is the province of physicists, chemists, biologists, geologists, and anthropologists. If teachers are poorly trained in
physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and anthropology, and don’t know anything
about philosophy of science, it is not the fault of the department of education but of
the departments of physics, chemistry, biology, and so forth. My recommendation
for improvement of science on the pre-college level is to improve the teaching of
science to the teachers, which is the responsibility of many people reading this
Much more can be done by college teachers to improve the quality of their
teaching, especially in communicating what science is, its strengths and limitations.
Less time could be spent on memorizing facts and conclusions and more time on how
these facts are discovered and put into a framework providing answers. To understand science “as a way of knowing” would assist the layman in recognizing when
science is being presented rather than something masquerading as science.
Because scientific creationism is a social and political controversy, and a grass
roots one at that, the role of professional associations is limited. An obvious role is
to participate in legal exchanges, such as the filing of amicus briefs. Several scientific societies, including the American Anthropological Association, signed an amicus brief for the Louisiana Supreme Court case. It was also signed by 72 Nobel
laureates. But a centralized, national organization is not going to be especially
effective at the level of the local school board, where much of the controversy is
played out. The main role for scientific associations is to educate their members
about scientific creationism, so that when local issues arise, local scientists will be
prepared. On too many occasions, well meaning but unprepared scientists have
agreed to debate scientific creationists and been “beaten” when the public left with
a more positive attitude toward scientific creationism than when it came in. In
Canada and in the United States, there are nationwide networks of local organizations named Committees of Correspondence which promote education in the evolutionary sciences and oppose scientific creationism. National organizations have
helped to publicize this network, which is coordinated by the organization I direct,
the National Center for Science Education. Anthropologists and other scientists
have often been called upon to assist local committees with technical information,
addresses to the public or to school boards, or debates with creationists. Many state
committees have been founded and are run by anthropologists, including past
presidents of The American Association of Physical Anthropologists. Because scientific creationism is a grass-roots movement, it must be countered by a grass-roots
movement. This movement needs to be aided by professional scientific organizations.
As suggested by the history of antievolutionism presented here, antievolutionism
has been with us for a long time and will be here for a long time to come. Our
American history of antievolutionism is of course unique, but antievolutionism itself
is not. Scientific creationism has been exported to several foreign countries and,
although it has not taken root successfully everywhere, it has made inroads in
Australia, Canada, and Holland (see the CreatiodEuolutwn Newsletter for discussion). In the United States, scientific creationism has been more successful than
anywhere else. This type of antievolutionism can, with sufficient educational effort,
be relegated to history with previous types. However, it will take time and considerable effort to educate the public to a level of understanding of the facts of science
and especially of what the nature of science is.
[vol. 30,1987
Aguillard u. Edwards 765 F.2d 1251 (5th Cir.,
Aguillard u. Edwards 778 F.2d 225 (5th Cir., 1985b)
at 227.
Anonymous (1979) Christianity Today Gallup poll:
An overview. Christianity Today Dec. 21,1979, p.
Anonymous (1982) Creationism in schools: The decision in McLean versus the Arkansas Board of
Education. Science 215:934-943. (This is an easily
accessible source for the McLean us. Arkansas
Beck, M, Carroll, G, Wright, L, and Burgower, B
(1986) A reprise of Scopes. Newsweek July 28,
1986, pp. 18-20.
Bennetta, WJ (1985a) Looking backward. Pacific
Discovery 38(4):23-28 (October-December).
Bennetta, W J (1985b) Faking it. Pacific Discovery
38(4):29-34 (October-December).
Bennetta, WJ (1986) Experiences in publishing. In
W J Bennetta (ed): Crusade of the Credulous. A
Collection of Articles About Contemporary Creationism and the Effects of That Movement on Public Education. San Francisco: California Academy
of Sciences Press, p. 25.
Berman, S (1981) The Joy of Cataloging.
~Oryx Press.
Berman, S (1984) Berman comments (Librarv issues). CreatiodEvol. IFl4-15.
Berman, S (1985) “In the Beginning”: The creationist agenda. Library J. 110(17):31-34.
Bird, WB (1978) Freedom of religion and science
instruction in public schools. 87 Yale Law J. 515,
California State Board of Education (1978) Science
Framework for California Public Schools: Kindergarten and Grades One Through Twelve. Sacramento: California State Board of Education.
Carneiro, RL (1985) Origin Myths. Brochure #E4.
Washington, DC: American Anthropological
Chronicle Wire Services (1986) Trial over “unChristian” books begins. San Francisco Chronicle
July 15, 1986, p. 1.
Clendinen, D (1986) Fundamentalists win a Federal suit over textbooks. New York Times October
25,1986, pp. 1,8.
Cole, JR,and Godfrey, LR (1985) The Paluxy River
footprint mystery-solved. CreatiodEvol. F(1).
Committee on Science and Creationism, National
Academy of Science (1984) Science and Creationism: A View From the National Academy of Science. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Congressional Record-House July 22, 1981, H
Daniel u. Waters 545 Fed.2d 485 (6th Cir., 1975).
DeSilva, B (1986) Schoolbooks: A Question of Quality. Hartford Courant Special Report. Hartford,
CT: Hartford Courant.
Edwin W. Edwards, Etc., et al., Appellants v Don
Aguillard, et al. Official Transcript Proceedings
Before the Supreme Court of the United States.
DKT/Case #85-1513. December 10,1986. Alderson
Printing, 202 F. St. NW, Washington, DC 20001.
Edwards u. Aguillard U.S. Sup. Ct. No. 85-1513
(June 19, 1987).
Edwords, F (1980) Short items. CreatiodEvol. E45.
Edwords, F (1981a) News briefs from the editor.
Creation/Evol. VI:4549.
Edwords, F (1981b) New creationist bills, resolutions, and court cases appear nationwide. Creation/Evol. IV27-34.
Eldredge, N, and Tattersall, I(1985) The Myths of
Human Evolution. N Y Columbia University
Epperson u. Arkansas 393 U.S. 97 (1968).
Eve, RA, and Harrold, FB (1986) Creationism, cult
archaeology and other pseudoscientific beliefs: A
study of college students. Youth SOC.17(4):396421.
Fezer, KD (1984) Accreditation of creationist colleges. Creation/Evol. Newslett. 4(3):4.
Fezer, KD (1985) Library issues. CreatiodEvol.
Newslett. 5(6):21.
Fezer, KD (1986a) The national scene. Creation/
Evol. Newslett. 6(1):7 (Januarypebruary).
Fezer, KD (1986b) News from the states, provinces,
and elsewhere. CreatiodEvol. Newslett. 6(1):9
Feynmann, RP (1985) “Surely You’re Joking, Mr.
Feynmann!” NY: WW Norton.
Field, MD (1981) Press release #1124, May 14,1981.
San Francisco: The Field Institute.
Fix, WR (1984) The Bone Peddlers: Selling Evolution. NY: Macmillan.
Frye, RM (ed) (1983) Is God a Creationist? The
Religious Case Against Creation-Science. New
York Charles Scribner’s Sons.
Fuerst, PA (1984) University student understanding of evolutionary biology’s place in the creation/
evolution controversy. Ohio J. Sci. 84:218-228.
Getschow, G (1985) Biblical petroleum: Prophets
and profits motivate evangelicals hunting for Israeli oil. Wall Street Journal August 22, 1985.
Gish, DT (1972) Evolution? The Fossils Say NO!
San Diego, CA. Creation Life Publishers.
Godfrey, LR (ed) (1985) What Darwin Began. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Gould, SJ (1982) Moon, Mann, and Otto. Nat. Hist.
Grabiner, JV,and Miller, PD (1974) Effects of the
Scopes trial. Science 185:832-837.
Hargrove, B (1986) The creationist movement: A
sociological view. CreatiodEvol. XVIE30-38.
Harrold, FB, and Eve RA (1986a) Noah’s Ark and
ancient astronauts: Pseudoscientific beliefs about
the past among a sample of college students.
Skeptical Inquirer 11(1):61-75.
Harrold, FB, and Eve, RA (1986b) Patterns of creationist belief among college students. Paper delivered at 51st Annual Meeting of the Society for
American Archaeology, April 23-27, 1986.
Harrold, FB, and Eve, RA (1987) Patterns of creationist belief among college students. In Harold,
FB, and Eve, RA (eds) Cult Archaeology and Creationism: Understanding Pseudoscientific Beliefs
About the Past. Ames: Univ. Iowa Press.
Hitching, F (1982) The Neck of the Giraffe. NY:
Jukes, TH (1982) Creationists in Court: Sacramento, 1981. Perspect. Biol. Med. 25:207-219.
Kehoe, AB (1985) Modern antievolutionism: The
scientific creationists. In LR Godfrey (ed): What
Darwin Began: Modern Darwinian and Non-Darwinian Perspectives on Evolution. Boston: Allyn
and Bacon, pp. 165-185.
Kitcher, P (1982) Abusing Science: The Case
Against Creationism. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Larson, E J (1985) Trial and Error: The American
Controversy Over Creation and Evolution. N Y
Lemon u. Kurtzman 403 U.S. 602,612-613 (1971).
Lewin, R (1984) Antievolution rules are unconstitutional. Science 223:1373.
Lowenstein, J M (1986) Where there’s smoke. . . .
Pacific Discovery 39(2):30-32 (April-June).
MacBeth, N (1973) Darwin Retried: An Appeal to
Reason. NY. Dell.
Maeroff, GI (1982) City schools bar 3 textbooks as
inadequate on Darwinism. New York Times June
24, 1982, p. 15.
Marshall, E (1986) Dinosaurs ruffle some feathers
in California. Science 231:18-19.
Mayr, E (1965) Animal Species and Evolution.
Cambridge, M A Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
McLean u. Arkansas Board of Education 663 F.2d
47, 48 (8th Cir., 1981).
Montague, A (ed) (1984) Science and Creationism.
NY: Oxford University Press.
Morris, HR (1964) The Twilight of Evolution. Grand
Rapids: Baker Book House.
Morris, HM (1980) The tenets of creationism. Acts
and facts. Impact #85, July.
Moyer, WA, and Mayer, WV (1985) A Consumer’s
Guide to Biology Textbooks. Washington, DC:
People for the American Way.
Mozert et al. u. Hawkins County Public Schools et
aL No. CW-2-83-401(E.D. Tenn, Oct. 24,1986).
Nelkin, D (1976) The science textbook controversy.
Sci. Am. 234(4):33-39.
Nelkin, D (1982) The Creation Controversy. NY:
Numbers, RL (1982) Creationism in 20th century
America. Science 218:538-544.
Parker, B, and Weiss, S (1983) Protecting the Freedom to Learn; A Citizen’s Guide. Washington,
D.C.: People for the American Way.
Parker, GE and Mom’s, HM (1982) What is Creation Science? San Diego, CA: Creation Life
Pawley, DW (1982) Can God still be found in any
public schools? Christianity Today September 3,
1982, pp. 63-66.
Reidinger, P (1987) Creationism and the first
amendment. Am. Bar Assoc. J. 73:35 (January 1,
Rifkin, J (1983) Algeny. N Y Viking Press.
Scalia, J Dissent from Edwards u. Aguillard U S .
Sup. Ct. No. 85-1513 (June 19,1987).
Scott, EC, and Cole, H P (1985) The elusive scientific basis of creation “science”. Q. Rev. Biol.
Scott, EC (1986) Anti-evolutionism, scientific creationism, and education. Practicing Anthropol. 8(34):24-25.
Segraues u. California No. 278978 (Sacramento Co.
Cal. Super. Ct. June 12, 1981),6.
Skoog, G (1978) Does creationism belong in the
biology curriculum? Am. Biol. Teacher 40:23-26,
Skoog, G (1980) Legal issues involved in evolution
vs. creationism. Educ. Leadership 38:154-156.
Skoog, G (1983) Equal time for creationism? No.
Texas Tech J. Educ. 10237.
Thompson, JC, and Flowers, KA (1984) Pseudoscience, creationism and the library. Catholic Library World 56(4):176-179.
Tiede, S (1984) Textbook critics ask for delay. Dallas Times Herald March 26, pp. 1,2.
United Press International (1983) Falwell to push
“moral” books. San Francisco Chronicle April 15,
1983, p. 1.
Wetherly, J (1982) Creationists lose in Arkansas.
Christianity Today January 22, 1982, pp. 28-29.
Woodward, A, and Elliot, DL (1987)Evolution, creationism, and textbooks: A study of publishers’
perceptions of their markets. Am. Biol. Teacher.
Zane, M (1985)Congressman seeks masks for AIDS
nurses. San Francisco Chronicle September 7,
1985, p. 5.
Без категории
Размер файла
1 790 Кб
physical, scientific, creationism, antievolution, Anthropology
Пожаловаться на содержимое документа