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Intelligent design

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Specified complexity
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Intelligent designer
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Intelligent design

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Intelligent design in politics
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Critical Analysis of Evolution
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The creation-evolution controversy (also termed the creation vs. evolution debate or the origins debate) is a recurring dispute in the popular arena about the origins of the Earth, humanity, life, and the universe. The debate is most prevalent and visible in certain regions of the United States, where it is often portrayed in the mass media in the broader context of the culture wars or a supposed dispute between religion and science. The main opposing positions are held by those who espouse religious origin beliefs and those who support naturalistic or scientific accounts provided by astrophysics, geology and biology.

The conflict centers primarily on the defensibility of creationism (especially the forms of creationism derived from fundamentalist or religiously conservative Abrahamic accounts of origins) that holds the standard-model scientific explanations of origins to be antithetical to creation theology, and often, more specifically, Creation according to Genesis. The key contention of such creationists is that only a supernatural miracle and not "unguided evolution" can account for origins.

As a means of naming the controversy, the term evolution is used in an overarching sense to represent the sum total of the scientific theories and observational implications that creationists see as being in conflict with their worldview. The proponents of "evolution" therefore are generally those who hold that natural laws alone are sufficient to account for observations in nature and that supernatural origins are beyond the scope of the scientific method. Which specific scientific ideas conflict with creationism, and would therefore comprise "evolution", can vary from creationist to creationist. It should be noted that many people believe that scientific ideas including biological evolution need not contradict their personal religious beliefs, even if it contradicts the beliefs of others. (For more on this see sections on defining evolution and spectrum of creationist beliefs.)

The issue of creation versus evolution is not a matter of controversy within the scientific community or academia, whose members overwhelmingly oppose creationism. Nor is it considered of great importance to most religious groups, even those that tend to support creationism. Rather, the controversy is promoted by vocal creationists who characterize the controversy as an important battle between good and evil and those who actively dispute creationism who characterize the controversy as an important battle between truth and falsehood.

A new school of creationism that has become well known as part of the controversy in schools is the Intelligent Design movement and its associated arguments. Intelligent Design proponents assert that science inappropriately excludes the idea that origins of the biological and physical worlds could derive from an intelligent designer and have advocated a program named Teach the Controversy.

Overview of the controversy[]

Antecedents to the controversy can be seen in the challenges made by various religious people and organizations to the legitimacy of certain scientific ideas since the Age of Enlightenment (see Galileo and his advocacy of "natural philosophy" in relation to the Inquisition of the Roman Catholic Church). The Creation-Evolution controversy itself originated in Europe and North America in the late 18th century, when geological discoveries indicated that the earth is much older than was suggested by the Judeo-Christian Bible. When the theory of evolution by natural selection was introduced and published by English naturalist Darwin in his mid 19th century book, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, many Christian preachers attacked the book believing it to be in conflict with their interpretations of the biblical account of life's development.

Scopes trial

the false dichotomy

). More accommodating viewpoints include believers in theistic evolution, who see science and religion as fully compatible disciplines which ask fundamentally different questions about reality and posit different avenues for investigating it.

As recently as 2005, the Intelligent Design movement has attempted to frame an anti-evolution position by avoiding any 'direct' appeal to religion, although Leonard Krishtalka, a paleontologist and an opponent of the movement, called intelligent design "nothing more than creationism in a cheap tuxedo" (see Neo-Creationism. In addition, in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District (2005) United States district court|United States District Judge John E. Jones III ruled that intelligent design is not science and is essentially religious in nature. Intelligent designn, as a perspective, does not represent a research program within the mainstream scientific community and is opposed by many of the same groups who oppose creationism.

Common venues for debate[]

Conflict occurs mostly in the public arena, as creationists have been unwilling or unable to publish their ideas through academic channels or in scientific journals. Popular-level books and articles by creationists attacking mainstream science and by proponents of mainstream science attacking creationism have been published and numerous public debates have been sponsored by churches, universities, and clubs. With the Internet, the battle between proponents has also been waged on-line. One of the first usenet newsgroups was created for the controversy. Since 1986, the newsgroup has allowed for multiple discussions of nearly every topic and issue ever developed in the controversy. In 1994, an archive of the mainstream science responses to creationist objections was created as a website. Various creationists followed suit with their own clearinghouses, the most famous of which are Ken Ham's Answers in Genesis and the Institute for Creation Research website. Chatrooms, message boards, and blogs continue to promote the controversy with many arguments printed and reprinted.

Most Christian denominations have an official stance on the controversy. In the US, many conservative Protestant denominations unapologetically promote creationism and preach against evolution from the pulpits and sponsor lectures and debates on the subject. Some of the denominations that explicitly advocate for creationism and against evolution include Assemblies of God, Church of Christ, Church of the Nazarene, Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Free Methodist Church, Jehovah's Witnesses, Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, Pentecostal Churches, Seventh-day Adventist Churches, Southern Baptist Convention Churches, Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, and the Christian Reformed Church.

Conflicts inherent to the controversy[]

While debate on the details of scientific theories and their philosophical or religious implications are often the most intense parts of the controversy, ultimately the conflict comes down to opposing definitions of all or parts of science, reality, and religion. Accusations of misleading formulations, incorrect or false statements, and inappropriate mixing of ideas are fundamental points of disagreement.

Accusations involving science[]

Many creationists vehemently oppose certain scientific theories in a number of ways, including opposition to specific applications of scientific processes, accusations of bias within the scientific community, and claims that discussions within the scientific community reveal a crisis. In response to perceived crises in modern science, creationists claim to have an alternative, typically based on faith, creation science, and/or intelligent design. Opponents of creationism spend much of their participation in the controversy defending against the attacks. Some of the more common creationist accusations involving science are listed below, together with their associated debates.

Limitations of the scientific endeavor[]

Creationists who use the controversy as an opportunity for apologetics and evangelism will often refer to scientific theories as being incomplete, incorrect, or inherently flawed due to the infinite regression nature of questions of origins. Typical of these challenges are the somewhat rhetorical questions asked by creationists "What caused the Big Bang?" or "What was the nature of the first lifeform?" These questions are in principle subject to scientific investigation, but if and when answers are provided it is likely that the answers will themselves be subject to similar kinds of regressive inquiry. These first cause arguments are invoked as a means to point to the existence of a deity (and often, in particular, the Judeo-Christian God). Creationists argue that since science cannot supply such answers, their religious discourse is more complete, more reliable, and surpasses the naturalistic descriptions that science provides.

Science is indeed limited in its inquiry of causes, as the scientific method yields descriptive explanations rather than explaining why nature exists in such a way. In addition, the scientific method is generally limited to the material realm of particles and energy (the space-time continuum), and has no way of measuring other realms, or even knowing if such realms exist. The problem with the limits to ontology both in cosmogony and in the origin of life have been sometimes comically referred to by scientists and natural philosophers as the description of turtles all the way down. However such critiques of the limits of science and rational inquiry in general have no single philosophical resolution and are often seen as problems for theistic claims as well. The pronouncement by creationists that such limitations points to the existence of a creator god is criticized by many skeptics as a God of the gaps argument where religious argumentation is reduced to a placeholder for gaps in human knowledge.

Many creationists argue that the limitations of science are enough so that they are essentially free to reject any scientific description of origins that contradicts their religious beliefs. This position has been criticized by supporters of science as a failure to distinguish between speculations and descriptions based on evidence. While certain subjects involved in origins-research remain an open-ended question in scientific discourse, there are also scientific descriptions and parameterizations of origins on which there is considerable consensus.

Examples of open questions in origins research within their associated scientific fields include:

  • Cosmogony as the speculative predecessor to the explanations provided by physical cosmology and the Big Bang.
  • The nebular hypothesis as a consistent application of the observations of protoplanetary discs and general principles of planetary science.
  • The giant impact hypothesis as a consistent model for lunar formation in conjunction with the geological timescale.
  • The various scientific inquiries into the origin of life including consistent models of abiogenesis.

Research into understanding these subjects is ongoing.

Defining evolution[]

Many creationists argue that since scientists cannot fully explain origins, evolution as a whole is flawed. Such critiques effectively recast "evolution" as a broader statement than the one typically accepted by mainstream science. Young Earth Creationists, such as Kent Hovind, count no fewer than six different aspects to "evolution" despite the formal scientific definition, which applies only to the modern synthesis. These aspects, as defined by Hovind, are:

  1. Cosmic evolution — origin of time, space and matter (essentially referring to the Big Bang).
  2. Stellar and planetary evolution — origin of stars and planets.
  3. Chemical evolution — origin of higher elements from hydrogen.
  4. Organic evolution — origin of life from inanimate matter.
  5. Macroevolution — origin of major 'kinds' (for a creationist treatment see Created kinds).
  6. Microevolution — origin of variations within 'kinds'.

Such a broad-based grouping of topics from disparate fields of science including cosmology, astronomy, geology, and chemistry expands the controversy well beyond the confines of biological evolution as per the modern synthesis. For example, while almost all biologists consider it a matter of fact that life was formed through natural means, evolutionary theory in and of itself does not necessarily include abiogenesis, the formation of life out of non-living matter.

This approach to redefining the aspects of evolution has been criticized in other ways as well. For example, in the context of evolutionary biology, "microevolution" and "macroevolution" are distinguished only by the total amount of evolutionary change and the number of generations that had passed between ancestors and descendants. Evolutionary changes are often so gradual that biologists can disagree over exactly when speciation occurs. A few scientists have attempted to posit different mechanisms for macroeveolution (see saltation), but none has been generally accepted. Creationists, however, generally accept microevolution while rejecting macroevolution by attempting to reintroduce mechanistic distinctions. An example of this is the creationist endeavor baraminology which purports to study the biology of various "kinds". "Kinds" and "baramin" are terms invented by creationists and derived from the book of Genesis. They are not used in mainstream biological research, and those who debate creationists claim that they are a patchwork-fix meant to allow creationists to accept short-term manifestations of evolution (such as the development of new dog breeds or antibiotic-resistant bacteria) as change within a "kind", while arbitrarily rejecting speciation, the appearance of entirely new species that generally takes much more time; the creationist response is that relatively few modern supporters of creationism reject speciation: They reject the assertion that significant increases in useful genetic information takes place, regardless of speciation.

Theory vs. fact[]

Main article: Theory

The argument that evolution is a theory, not a fact, has often been made against the exclusive teaching of evolution. In commenting on this creationist misunderstanding, Stephen Jay Gould explained that "evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air, pending the outcome.... In science, "fact" can only mean "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent." I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms."

Various levels of incredulity about scientific conclusions have been a constant component of creationist discourse. In particular, creationists are wary of scientific arguments involving events that happened in the distant past. Although some amount of inference characterizes evolution research, as it does all scientific research, the inference proceeds from observed facts. According to Ernst Mayr, these inferences have "enormous certainty" due to agreement of multiple lines of evidence, confirmation of predictions, and the absence of any rational alternative. He has called the distinction between these inferences and direct observations "misleading" Mayr, Ernst, 2002, What Evolution Is, Basic Books; Reprint edition, ISBN 0465044263

Critiques based on the distinction between theory and fact are often leveled against unifying concepts within scientific disciplines, such as uniformitarianism, Occam's Razor/parsimony, and the Copernican principle, that are claimed to be the result of a bias within science toward philosophical naturalism, which equates to atheism. In countering this claim, philosophers of science use the term methodological naturalism to refer to the long standing convention in science of the scientific method which makes the methodological assumption that observable events in nature are explained only by natural causes, without assuming the existence or non-existence of the supernatural, and so considers supernatural explanations for such events to be outside science. Creationists claim that supernatural explanations should not be excluded and that scientific work is paradigmatically close-minded.

Because modern science tries to rely on the minimization of a priori assumptions, error, and subjectivity, as well as on avoidance of Baconian idols, it remains neutral on subjective subjects such as religion or morality.

Darwin ape

A satirical image of Charles Darwin as an ape from 1871 reflects part of the social controversy over whether humans and apes share a common lineage.

Evidence against evolution[]

Creationists are most well-known for their claims that evolutionary theory is incorrect and that evidence contradicting it has been discovered. These claims are not taken seriously by the scientific community, where the evidence for evolution is considered to be overwhelming in quality and amount. Richard Dawkins, biologist and professor at Oxford University, explains that evolution "is a theory of gradual, incremental change over millions of years, which starts with something very simple and works up along slow, gradual gradients to greater complexity. ... If there were a single hippo or rabbit in the Precambrian, that would completely blow evolution out of the water. None have ever been found. Similarly, the evolutionary biologist J.B.S. Haldane when asked what hypothetical evidence would disprove evolution in exchange for a creationist concept replied "fossil rabbits in the Precambrian era", a period more than 540 million years ago, a time when evolutionists claim that life on Earth consisted largely of bacteria, algae, and plankton. The absence of such evidence against evolution serves as one of the primary criticisms of creationism.

A famous instance of creationist evidence against evolution was the supposed human and dinosaur tracks found in Paluxy riverbed near Glen Rose, Texas which was allegedly evidence that showed dinosaurs and humans walked the Earth at the same time. Another example was an argument relating to the accumulation of lunar dust indicating an age for the moon of a few thousand years. These claims have been thoroughly discounted now and many creationists disavow them.

Creationists have also criticized the scientific evidence used to support evolution as being based on faulty assumptions, unjustified jumping to conclusions, or even outright lies, the emergence of new species, which creationists claim hasn't been observed directly, and radiometric dating, which creationists claim is inaccurate due to an inappropriate reliance on assumptions of uniformitarianism. Creationists have also claimed that because Piltdown Man and other paleontology hoaxes were fabricated, all of the pieces of evidence for human evolution were questionable. Certain creationist organizations have, over time, modified or distanced themselves completely from these claims, moving to more sophisticated arguments. In debates, the back-and-forth criticism has a tendency to degenerate into arguments over details of the major ideas, creationists claiming that the problems they point out represent significant "holes" while their opponents respond that the holes are either due to a lack of understanding by creationists or are not detrimental to the paradigm.

Some creationist organizations have recently tried to reposition their criticism against mainstream science by using more subtle critiques involving information science and the laws of thermodynamics. In particular, creationists have adopted many of the arguments of the intelligent design movement such as that specified complexity and irreducible complexity either has not had enough time to develop naturally (see intelligent design) or is impossible to develop due to the second law of thermodynamics. Most of the largest creationist organizations now discourage using the idea that entropy prevents evolution, but similar types of arguments continue to be made in the controversy.

Most scientists do not spend a great deal of time debunking such claims and oftentimes this gives the impression that they are either unwilling or unable to answer the creationist critiques. There are even those that outright refuse to participate so as not to lend the creationists any legitimacy, including Stephen Gould and Richard Dawkins. The latest instance of this was in 2005, when mainstream science organizations boycotted hearings held by the Kansas Board of Education who held what certain evolution pundits described as a "kangaroo court" over whether new science standards should be designed with the "Teach the Controversy" model in mind. The committee members had already stated their positions ahead of time and evolutionary scientists believed that no amount of testimony would be likely to change the outcome.

Accusations of bias[]

Creationists argue that the scientific community's methodological naturalism "could just as well be called atheism, and is really a religion to be accepted on faith." Creationists claim that their ideas are unfairly dismissed as pseudoscience so as to stifle the debate. This claim is hotly disputed by scientists in the relevant fields who point out that creationist ideas about scientific topics have fundamental flaws, misconceptions, errors, and a lack of substantiating facts, rendering them unworthy of inclusion in academic discussion. Creationists tend to respond at length to such criticisms, sometimes to the point of responding line-by-line to anti-creationist articles, though it is disputed whether these succeed in addressing the issues.

Many creationist organizations have tried to address criticism from the scientific establishment by recruiting religious scientists and academics who are sympathetic to their cause. The Institute for Creation Research, the Intelligent Design think-tank Discovery Institute, and Answers in Genesis all employ people with doctoral degrees in scientific or related fields. The use of credentials by some of the creationist experts (notably Kent Hovind) that rely on their non-biological and/or non-accredited doctoral degrees to argue from authority has been criticized as being fraudulent or misleading. Some creationists (for example, the Old Earth creationist astronomer Hugh Ross, who believes in the age of the Earth but questions macroevolution), raise objections to scientific theories outside of their field of expertise.


Creationists, notably Kent Hovind, have made a living debating scientists regarding creationism (intelligent design) and evolution. Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education, claimed debates are not the sort of arena to promote science to creationists.[1] That is because "Evolution is not on trial in the world of science," and "the topic of the discussion should not be the scientific legitimacy of evolution." Rather the issue should be on the lack of evidence in creationism. Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould took public stances against appearing to give legitmacy to creationism by debating its proponents. Stephen Jay Gould noted during the McLean v. Arkansas trial:

Debate is an art form. It is about the winning of arguments. It is not about the discovery of truth. There are certain rules and procedures to debate that really have nothing to do with establishing fact — which creationists have mastered. Some of those rules are: never say anything positive about your own position because it can be attacked, but chip away at what appear to be the weaknesses in your opponent's position. They are good at that. I don't think I could beat the creationists at debate. I can tie them. But in courtrooms they are terrible, because in courtrooms you cannot give speeches. In a courtroom you have to answer direct questions about the positive status of your belief. We destroyed them in Arkansas. On the second day of the two-week trial we had our victory party!

Quote mining[]

As a means to criticize mainstream science, creationists have been known to quote, at length, scientists who ostensibly support the mainstream theories, but appear to acknowledge criticisms similar to those of creationists. Many critics argue that these are quote mines (lists of out of context or misleading quotations) that do not accurately reflect the evidence for evolution or the mainstream scientific community's opinion of it. Many of the same quotes used by creationists have appeared so frequently in internet discussions due to the availability of cut and paste functions, that the TalkOrigins Archive has created "The Quote Mine Project" for quick reference to the original context of these quotations.

Conflation of science and religion[]

The controversy is usually portrayed in the mass media as being between scientists, in particular evolutionary biologists, and creationists, but as almost all scientists do not consider the debate to have any academic legitimacy, it may be more correctly described as a conflict over a conflation of science and religion. Many of the most vocal creationists rely heavily on their criticisms of modern science, philosophy, and culture as a means of Christian apologetics. For example, as a way of justifying the struggle against "evolution", one prominent creationist has declared "the Lord has not just called us to knock down evolution, but to help in restoring the foundation of the gospel in our society. We believe that if the churches took up the tool of Creation Evangelism in society, not only would we see a stemming of the tide of humanistic philosophy, but we would also see the seeds of revival sown in a culture which is becoming increasingly more pagan each day."

Religion and historical scientists[]

A somewhat popular creationist claim in the context of the controversy is that Christianity and belief in a literal Bible are either foundationally significant or directly responsible for scientific progress. To that end, creationists have been known to list scientists such as Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, Pascal, and Mendel as believers in a biblical creation narrative.

Since most of the scientists creationists tend to list as supporters weren't aware of evolution because they were either no longer alive when it was proposed or the idea was outside their field of study, this kind of argument is generally rejected as being specious by those who oppose creationism.

In many cases, the context for the scientist in question opposing evolution was historically situated quite differently than it would be today, and usually involved very early work on the mechanism of evolution. Though biological evolution of some sort became the primary mode of discussing speciation within science since the late 19th century, it was not until the mid-20th century that evolutionary theories more or less stabilized. Some of the historical scientists marshalled by creationists were dealing with quite different issues than any are engaged with today: Louis Pasteur, for example, opposed the theory of spontaneous generation with biogenesis: an advocacy which some creationists describe as a critique on chemical evolution and abiogenesis.

The relationship between science and religion was not portrayed in antagonistic terms until the late-19th century, and even then there have been many examples of the two being reconcileable for evolutionary scientists. Many historical scientists wrote books explaining how pursuit of science was seen by them as fulfillment of spiritual duty in line with their religious beliefs. Even so, such professions of faith were not insurance against dogmatic opposition by certain religious people.

Some extensions to the creationist argument have included suggesting that Einstein's deism was a tacit endorsement of creationism and incorrectly suggesting that Charles Darwin converted on his deathbed and recanted evolutionary theory.

Religion as science[]

Most creationists involved in the controversy posit that they have alternatives to mainstream science in the form of creation science or intelligent design. They argue that science needs a paradigm shift and that a scientific revolution needs to occur in order to remove what they perceive as anti-religious bias from science. This conflation of religious and scientific ideas has come to define the controversy separately from either theological or scientific discourse.

Science as religion[]

Darwin fish

The Darwin fish is a parody of the ichthys, a symbol often used to self-identify Christians and sometimes creationists.

Truth fish

The Truth fish, one of the many creationist responses to the Darwin fish.

T-Rex 200

T-Rex eating the ichthus, motivated by the challenge posed by scientific facts to literal interpretations of the Bible.

A popular accusation among creationists is that evolution is itself a religion based on secular humanism, scientific materialism, or philosophical naturalism. Creationists argue that there is an atheistic bias in the scientific community that systematically discriminates against their religious views. Creationists involved in the controversy often do not believe distinction can be made between science and religion, and hold that the modern philosophy of science is informed inappropriately by rejection of a deity. They do not accept a priori rejection of claims of supernatural events or miracles. Richard Dawkins, biologist and professor of public understanding of science at Oxford University, argues that science and religion are not mutually exclusive: "Science does not produce evidence against God, Science and religion ask different questions."

Creationists and their supporters often use derisive neologisms such as evolutionism and Darwinism to refer to the modern theory of evolution, and evolutionists and Darwinists to those who accept it. Many opponents to creationism object to such terms as inaccurate and misleading. In particular, the -ist/-ists/-ism suffixes are claimed to evoke similarity to religious or philosophical rather than scientific ideas (e.g. creationist, fundamentalist, Calvinist, communist). It is claimed that in the case of evolutionism the label implies that evolution is just another religious belief system without empirical support, while in the case of Darwinism, the implication is that modern evolutionary theory is the static work of just one individual, Charles Darwin, as though he were not a scientist but rather the founder of a religious sect.

In the nineteenth century, there was a movement by certain scientists and intellectuals to form a quasi-religion out of science, known as scientism. Since that time, most members of the scientific community have moved to maintain a pragmatic separation between scientific theories and religious faith; the term "scientism" has come to be used as a slur for dogmatism in scientific matters. Creationist participants in the controversy continue to charge that there is a conspiratorial movement on the part of evolutionists to maintain paradigmatic hegemony over all aspects of culture (see, for example the Wedge strategy which is an attempt to combat the perceived attack on religious thought). Additionally, some atheists involved in the controversy extrapolate from some scientific facts to declare that religious faith is falsified.

Examples of the conflation[]

Following are some examples of well known participants in the debate who conflate science and religion:

  • Henry M. Morris, a young earth creationist, says: "Divine revelation from the Creator of the world states that He did it all in six days, several thousand years ago. The Bible is a book of science! It contains all the basic principles upon which true science is built".
  • Julian Huxley, a British biologist and author, says: "The truth will set us free. Evolutionary truth frees us from subservient fear of the unknown and supernatural, and exhorts us to face this new freedom. It shows us our destiny and our duty. The evolutionary vision is enabling us to discern the outline of the new religion that will arise to serve the needs of the coming era".

Claims of immorality[]

A common creationist claim is that their opponents are bound by an inherently atheistic and immoral cult of scientific materialism and evolutionary philosophy either partially or wholly responsible for the ideological structures of modern social movements and governments which, they claim, promoted racism, sexism, eugenics, and genocide. In particular, it is often claimed that Nazism and Marxism-Leninism were inspired by evolutionary theory. Creationists point to early racial theories and theories of sex promoted by many 19th century scientists and natural philosophers who were responsible for the early development of the principles of evolution (including Charles Darwin) that promote an evolutionary explanation for hierarchical social structures.

Modern scientists are careful to distinguish between the scientific facts of evolution and the philosophies that claim inspiration from evolution but are based on external assumptions. In particular, the notion of progress in evolutionary process is associated not with the Neo-Darwinian model of evolution but rather with the now-discredited ideas of Lamarckism (for more on this subject see devolution). "Evolution-as-progress" was somewhat popular in 19th century philosophy, for example it was the positivistic explanations offered by Herbert Spencer that served as the progenitor of survival of the fittest idealizations and eventually Social Darwinism. While creationists often claim this to be evidence that evolution promotes a structurally violent hierarchy opponents point to such argumentation as an example of the naturalistic fallacy. While advocates of Nazism and communism may adopt evolutionary rhetoric to support their ideas, it does not necessarily follow that it was evolution that spawned these perspectives. There are also examples of religious discourse used to support many of the same ideas, including various religious attitudes to racism, slavery, gender, and even communism. Futhermore, Darwin in Origin of Species calls his theory "the doctrine of Malthus applied with manifold force to the whole animal and vegetable kingdoms; for in this case there can be no artificial increase of food, and no prudential restraint from marriage." The Rev. Thomas Malthus wrote his doctrine as a critique of secular hopes for social reform, and applied it to humanity alone.

False dichotomy[]

Most supporters of evolution (especially religious ones) disagree with the claim made by creationists and some "evolutionists" that there exists an inherent, irresolvable conflict between religion and evolutionary theory. Since many, if not most religious people do accept evolution (see evolutionary creationism), they argue that this is a false dichotomy. Religious beliefs cover a very wide spectrum, from strict Biblical literalism (which implies Young Earth creationism) to atheism.

Strict (Intelligent Design, Old Earth, and Young Earth) creationists strenuously reject evolutionary creationism on two grounds:

  1. Strict creationists claim that "evolution" is an attempt to remove God from the natural world. "Evolution as understood by its ablest advocates is an inherently atheistic explanation," claims one. Such creationists claim that, because probability, chance, and randomness are used as explanations for mutations and genetic drift, God is necessarily excluded from the mechanisms of evolution. Creationists who are actively involved in the conflict tend to criticize those who advocate theistic evolution as having missed a claimed fundamental disparity between the naturalistic mechanisms described as explanations for the natural sciences and the theistic action inherent to the doctrine of creation.
  2. Strict creationists claim that there are two and only two positions that can possibly be correct: creation science (or intelligent design) and the scientific mainstream (evolution). This automatically precludes discussions of other origin beliefs and allows such advocates to claim that the only plausible explanation of origins that permits God is that which they are advocating. On this basis they claim that science itself is inherently atheistic, and lobby for a reversion to faith based natural philosophy.

A point concerning this apparent Dichotomy is provided by some Christian apologists, notably Stanley Jaki and Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), that God in his omnipotence, is fully capable of creating a universe which would bring forth the desired result - that is, humanity - as a consequence of the Laws of Creation inherent in it. Also, the literal view of creationism therefore propounds a "small" view of God's greatness. They qualify this theory with the assumption that after evolution brought forth the biology of humans, God breathed the Spirit into them to give them Life in His image. Furthermore they promote the idea that there is no contradiction between the biblical account of creation and the latest scientific understanding.

Beyond the dichotomy[]

Opponents of creationist argumentation claim that there is no way to distinguish between creationism's objection to mainstream science and objections to mainstream science that are derived from groups that are not followers of creationism. The following list gives an idea of the many diverse views on origins beyond the creation-evolution dichotomy:

  • With Zen and New Age religions, everything and nothing are all interconnected, inseparable, a made whole. These conceptions deny that the person is the first cause and posit a guiding non-anthropomorphic consciousness that balances the universe and serves as a source for all being.
  • Theogony by Hesiod contains a poetic rendering of the Greek myth that the Cosmos was created through sexual intercourse.
  • Panspermia is a theory explaining the existence of life on the Earth as a result of seed organisms coming from some other planet through outer space.
  • Norse mythology says that Odin and his brothers used the body of Ymir, the giant, to create the world.

Spectrum of creationist beliefs[]

Creationism covers a spectrum of beliefs which have been categorised into the broad types listed below. Not all creationists dispute various scientific theories. Some are opposed to the theory of evolution and some are not. Belief in creation exists in many forms:

  • Flat Earth creationism — God created the world with a flat surface 6,000 years ago. All that modern science says about shape, size, and age of the Earth is wrong, and evolution does not occur. It is not known if any creationists of this type still remain.
  • Modern geocentrism — God recently created a spherical world, and placed it in the center of the universe. The Sun, planets and everything else in the universe revolve around it. All scientific claims about the age of the Earth are lies; evolution does not occur. Very few people today maintain such a belief. See, for example, the Creation Science Association for Mid-America, in Cleveland, MO, USA.
  • Young Earth creationism — The belief that the Earth was created by God a few thousand years ago, literally as described in Creation according to Genesis, within the approximate timeframe of the Ussher-Lightfoot Calendar or somewhat more according to the interpretation of biblical genealogies. As such, it rejects not only radiometric and isochron dating of the age of the Earth, arguing that they are based on debatable assumptions, but also approaches such as ice core dating and dendrochronology, which make the barest of assumptions of uniformitarianism, and which hint that the Earth is far older than the Ussher-Lightfoot Calendar suggests. Instead, it interprets the geologic record largely as a result of the biblical global flood. This view is held by many Protestant Christians in the USA, and by many Haredi Jews. For Christian groups promoting this view, see the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), El Cajon, California, USA, and the Creation Research Society (CRS), St. Joseph, MO, USA.
  • God created the Earth only recently, but made it appear much older. This is the belief of a subgroup of Young Earth creationists, which is sometimes termed the Omphalos argument. This argument was first made by Philip Henry Gosse in 1857. He held that the universe is only about 6,000 years old, but that God faked the appearance of the world, and planted fake fossils, to fool humans into believing that the world is really much older. This, in his view, was done as a test of faith. However, most modern Young-Earth Creationists no longer see this as deliberate attempt by God at trickery but merely a natural result of having a fully functioning earth and ecosystem in only six days. The standard argument goes that if one could travel back in time and see Adam on the seventh day of creation, he would appear to be perhaps twenty years old despite being no older than a day. Likewise, one could cut down a tree in the Garden of Eden and counting its rings conclude the Garden is at least a hundred years old. Then one could dig up a rock and date it to be millions of years old — all along the entire universe has only been in existence for barely a week.
  • Old Earth Creationism — which maintains that the physical universe was created by God, but that the creation event of Genesis is not to be taken strictly literally. This group generally believes that the Universe and the Earth are as described by astronomers and geologists, but that details of the evolutionary theory are questionable.
Old-Earth creationism itself comes in at least three types:
  • Gap creationism, also called Restitution creationism — the view that life was immediately created on a pre-existing old Earth. This group generally translates Genesis 1:2 as "The earth became without form and void," indicating a destruction of the original creation by some unspecified cataclysm. This was popularized in the Scofield Reference Bible, but has little support from Hebrew scholars.
  • Day-age creationism — the view that the "six days" of the Priestly Source of Genesis are not ordinary twenty-four-hour days, but rather much longer periods (for instance, each "day" could be the equivalent of millions of years of modern time). Another theory states that the Hebrew word was mistranslated, and it's supposed to be seven ages. Some adherents, such as Hugh Ross, claim we are living in the sixth or seventh age, while opponents say that the seventh day of creation must be the same type of day as the Sabbath for the Sabbath command to make sense. Opponents also argue that this theory cannot be true since plants (day 3) were created before the sun (day 4) and thus could not have survived an age.
  • Progressive creationism — the view that species have changed or evolved in a process continuously guided by God, with various ideas as to how the process operates. This accepts most of modern physical science including the age of the earth, but rejects much of modern biology or looks to it for evidence that evolution by natural selection is incorrect.
  • Intelligent design — The intelligent design movement, as a matter of policy and strategy, distances itself from other forms of creationism, preferring to be known as wholly separate from creationism as a philosophy. Outwardly, in addressing the public, education officials, and public policymakers, ID proponents claim to support an uncritical look at origins as a means to discover the inherent supernatural design of the natural and biological worlds". But when addressing their constituency, who are largely evangelical Protestants, they present their arguments primarily in theistic terms. Since the ID premise relies on a supernatural explanation for natural events, it is by necessity another form of creationism. Leading ID proponents, notably law professor Phillip E. Johnson, have stated that the goal of ID is to cast creationism as a scientific concept: "Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools." "This isn't really, and never has been a debate about science. It's about religion and philosophy. Ongoing attempts by ID proponents to include ID alongside evolution in public schools often present a "teach the controversy" slogan to appeal to a sense of fairness and open-mindedness. Opponents reply that this is inappropriate for a science classroom because the "controversy" is a matter of religion and politics and there is no scientific controversy about evolution.
  • Theistic evolution — the general belief that some or all classical religious teachings about God and creation are compatible with some or all of the scientific theory of evolution. It views evolution as a tool used by God and can synthesize with gap or day-age creationism, although many adherents (but not Catholics) deny that Genesis was meant to be interpreted as history at all. It can still be described as "creationism" in holding that divine intervention brought about the origin of life or that divine Laws govern formation of species, but in the creation-evolution controversy its proponents generally take the "evolutionist" side while disputing that some scientists' methodological assumption of materialism can be taken as ontological as well. Many creationists would deny that this is creationism at all, and should rather be called "theistic evolution", just as many scientists allow voice to their spiritual side.

Noteworthy participants in the controversy[]


Organizations and websites[]

The Creation Research Society, founded in 1963 by a number of creationists, including Henry Morris, is a membership organisation with voting membership limited to holders of an earned postgraduate degree. CRS has a voting membership of about 650, and a total membership of 1700 people. It publishes the CRS Quarterly, a peer-reviewed journal for creationists, conducts research, and operates a web-site.

The Institute for Creation Research is based in San Diego and was founded in 1970 by Henry Morris. It is now led by his son, John Morris. ICR publishes a number of books and newsletters, as well as producing radio spots and operating a web-site and a small museum.

Answers in Genesis (AiG) is a Christian apologetics organization devoted to the beliefs of Young Earth creationism, specifically a plain reading of the first chapters of the Book of Genesis. Ken Ham is a notable creationist from AiG.

The Discovery Institute is a Seattle-based intelligent design think tank whose members include Michael Behe and William Dembski. It has a stated goal of introducing intelligent design into the scientific community and society by a wide range of methods as described on its web site and in the Wedge strategy document.

The American Scientific Affiliation is an organization of professional scientists who also have a commitment to the Christian faith and has been in existence since 1948. There has been long-standing dialog in this organization between members who believe that there is no conflict between evolutionary science and religious ideas and other members who believe that there is a conflict.

Reasons to Believe is a progressive creationist organisation founded in 1986 by Hugh Ross. It publishes a number of books and operates a web-site. Ross opposes biological evolution but accepts mainstream theories of geological and astronomical history.

Answers In Creation is an old-earth creationist website which supports both progressive creationists and theistic evolutionists. This is accomplished by examining young-earth creationist arguments and showing the flaws they contain.

The True.Origins Archive is a web-site set up to respond to claims made on The Talk.Origins Archive (see below); it includes a page of purchasable material of interest to creationists. The only links present are to other pro-creation sites; is conspicuous by its absence.


Henry Morris

Henry M. Morris

Henry Morris and John Whitcomb in the early 1960s co-authored The Genesis Flood, the book credited with reviving interest in creation as an alternative to evolution. Dr. Morris is considered the "father" of modern creationism.

Robert V. Gentry concluded that a phenomenon he claimed to observe, "polonium haloes", was an indication of a young earth. Additionally, Gentry has invented his own creationist cosmology.

Duane Gish is a creationist who has become well-known for debating evolutionists across America and in other countries. He is also Senior Vice President of ICR. His Creation Scientists Answer Their Critics was a creationist response to Strahler's book (see below) and many other anti-creationist books.

Kent Hovind, aka Dr. Dino, is a creationist enthusiast who started a creationist theme park and tours churches arguing against evolution. He has been the proponent of a number of ideas including advocating that dinosaurs lived at the same time as human beings. Hovind has been at the center of a number of controversies including a questionable doctoral degree granted by a university without official accredation and investigation by the IRS for tax evasion.

Phillip E. Johnson is considered many to be the father of the intelligent design movement but has advocated for big tent inclusion of creationists in his proposed attack on philosophical naturalism.

Walt Brown is a famous proponent of creation science including flood geology and creationist cosmologies. He runs his own ministry called the Center for Scientific Creation and is famous for claiming that "evolutionists" refuse to debate him.

Scientific Community[]

Organizations and websites[]

The United States National Academy of Sciences has made a number of statements opposing creationism. They state, "Creationism, intelligent design, and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life or of species are not science because they are not testable by the methods of science." [2]

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (the world's largest general scientific society) contrasts the "scientific robustness of the contemporary theory of biological evolution"[3] with the proposed teaching of intelligent design that will "confuse students about the nature of science." [4]

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) supports the teaching of evolutionary biology in schools, and opposes the teaching of creationism. They hold that science classes should teach evolution; that teachers should be "nonjudgmental" of students' religious views; and that "creation science" and "intelligent design" should not be taught. [5]

The National Center for Science Education was founded in 1981 to oppose creationism and is led by Eugenie Scott. It has 4,000 members and operates a web-site.

The American Association of Physics Teachers states that "we do not endorse teaching the 'evidence against evolution,' because currently no such scientific evidence exists. Nor can we condone teaching "scientific creationism," "intelligent design," or other non-scientific viewpoints as valid scientific theories."[6]

The American Astronomical Society supports teaching evolution, noting that many astronomical observations show changes in the universe over a long period of time consistent with evolution. They state that "'Intelligent Design' fails to meet the basic definition of a scientific idea" and "does not belong in the science curriculum." [7]

The American Geophysical Union states that "Earth History and the Evolution of Life Must Be Taught: Creationism Is Not Science," thus the AGU "opposes all efforts to require or promote teaching creationism or any other religious tenets as science." [8] In addition, the American Geological Institute, the Association for Women Geoscientists, the Geological Society of America, the Paleontological Society, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology and The Society for Organic Petrology all have position statements supporting the teaching of evolution and opposing the teaching of non-scientific ideas.

The Board of Directors of the American Chemical Society supports "evolution as the only scientifically accepted explanation for the origin and diversity of species." [9]

The American Physical Society's governing Council has long expressed its opposition to the inclusion of religious concepts such as intelligent design and related forms of creationism in science classes. [10] APS is the world's largest professional body of physicists, representing over 43,000 physicists in academia and industry in the US and internationally.

Kansas Citizens for Science is a group that is trying to fight the revision of science standards in Kansas.

CSICOP and The Skeptics Society are anti-pseudoscience organizations with creationism among their targets.

The Talk.Origins Archive is a large web-site of articles critiquing creationary ideas, plus a discussion forum; there is an extensive set of links to sites of interest on both sides of the debate - including True.Origins.

Talk Reason is a take-off of the archive that deals exclusively with debunking intelligent design.


Stephen Jay Gould by Kathy Chapman

Stephen Jay Gould

Richard Dawkins, Michael Ruse, and the late Carl Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould figure among the well-known scientists who have been outspoken against creationism. Unlike Dawkins, Ruse takes the position that it is possible to reconcile the Christian religion with Evolutionary Theory.

Philip Kitcher is a philosopher of science who wrote a book, Abusing Science: The Case Against Creationism (1982), answering creationist arguments and explaining scientific vs. unscientific methodology.

Simon Conway Morris is an evolutionary biologist who is also a Christian, and who has publicly supported the acceptance of evolutionary biology by moderate Christians.

Arthur Peacocke was one of the first to have developed a rigorously argued, complex argument for the compatibility of modern evolutionary theory with Christianity. He famously refers to evolution as "the disguised friend" of faith.

Arthur N. Strahler, author of the 1987 book Science and Earth History: The Evolution/Creation Controversy.

Wesley R. Elsberry hosts The Panda's Thumb weblog which sponsors articles and posts by some of the most active debaters of creationists and Intelligent Design advocates.

PZ Myers, a biologist at the University of Minnesota, Morris, an outspoken critic of creationism online [11].

Ramifications of the controversy[]

Public education in the United States[]

Main article: Creation and evolution in public education

Evolution and creationism in public education in the United States have been the subjects of often acrimonious contention since the Scopes trial. Locally controlled school boards in regions of the country dominated by creationists have made numerous and varied attempts over the years to undermine evolution and/or promote creationism in public school science classrooms.

Those who do not consider creationism to be legitimate science strongly oppose having children taught these beliefs as science, though most do not object to objective discussions about these beliefs in humanities classes, e.g., in a comparative religions course. On the other hand, religious conservatives often perceive the teaching of evolution as a threat to their religious beliefs and prerogatives as parents and clergy.

Scientists opposed to the teaching of faith-based origins argue that science and religion are wholly separate realms, and that teaching creationism as science confuses students about the proper nature of science.

Controversy also surfaces frequently in school textbook/curriculum reviews. Creationists lobby for equal time, Teach the Controversy, or replacement of science curriculum with creation "science" or intelligent design. They allege science textbooks are biased, out of date and contain factual errors. A perennial hot-spot is Kansas, where the school board favors creationism whenever its proponents command a majority.

Some creationists seek to redefine Constitutional limitations on religious advocacy in public school by lending their support to school voucher programs. They endorse those voucher programs that allow parents to send their children to private religiously-affiliated schools that teach that creationism or intelligent design in science classes. Opponents say this violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, but the Supreme Court had not yet ruled decisively on the matter as of 2006.

Surveys of views in the United States[]

In a 2001 Gallup poll on the origin and development of human beings [12] [13] a sample of about one thousand Americans were asked which statement came closest to their views on the origin and development of human beings. Of those polled, 45% chose "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so", 37% chose "Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process", 12% chose "Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process", and the remainder (6%) either volunteered a different response or had no opinion. When asked by name whether they believe in or lean more towards the "theory of creationism" or the "theory of evolution", 57% indicated creationism, 33% indicated evolution, and 10% responded "not sure." The Religious Tolerance website claims that the poll also found that 5% of American scientists (not necessarily working in fields connected with evolution) believed in biblically literal creation, 40% believed in "theistic evolution", and 55% believed in "naturalistic evolution" [14].

However, following another opinion poll by DYG Inc., it seems that such results may reveal a false dichotomy. According to the DYG poll, about 70% of Americans indicated that they did not see the theories of evolution and creation as in conflict [15].

A poll conducted in July 2005 by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press and reported in the New York Times on August 31, 2005, "found that 42 percent of respondents held strict creationist views, agreeing that 'living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.' In contrast, 48 percent said they believed that humans had evolved over time. But of those, 18 percent said that evolution was 'guided by a supreme being,' and 26 percent said that evolution occurred through natural selection. In all, 64 percent said they were open to the idea of teaching creationism in addition to evolution, while 38 percent favored replacing evolution with creationism." In contrast, the Times reported on August 30, 2005, that 20% of the U.S. population believes that the Sun revolves around the Earth.

A study published by the journal Science in August 2006 reported that the United States had the second lowest acceptance of evolution among 34 developed countries (Turkey was first). It also reported that the number of adults who were unsure about their stand on human evolution had risen from 7% to 21% in the past 20 years; the number of adults who accept human evolution had dropped from 45% to 40% over the past 20 years, and the number of adults who overtly reject human evolution had dropped from 48% to 39%. Reasons cited for the low acceptance of evolution were "widespread fundamentalism" and "politicization of science"

Survey of views in German speaking countries[]

A 2002 survey commissioned by the conservative evangelical Verein ProGenesis (Switzerland, Zurich) and a closely associated conservative evangelical magazine, factum (Switzerland, Berneck), interviewed 500 people each in Austria, Switzerland, and Germany. Results: About 20% believed that the universe, life and humans were created by God within the last 10,000 years. 21% held the position that they came about by a process of evolution and development guided by God, and 40% believed in evolution by natural selection. (The remaining 19% were of unknown/undecided/other opinion.) The poll was conducted by IHA-Gfk. As is the case for all polls published by advocacy groups, it is biased. Another poll, conversely biased, by the Forschungsgruppe Weltanschauungen in Deutschland of the German atheist think tank Giordano Bruno Stiftung yielded 12.5% for the literal interpretation, 60.9% for an atheistic evolution and 25.2% for theistic evolution (deliberately called intelligent design by the poll). Polls by independent sources, such as Die Zeit and Der Spiegel show results quite accurately at the mean of the two.

Survey of views in the United Kingdom[]

A 2006 survey [16] conducted by Ipsos-MORI for the BBC Horizon programme interviewed 2,112 adults aged 15+ in the United Kingdom.

Results: About 48% chose the 'evolution theory', which stated that human kind has developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life and that God had no part in this process; about 17% chose the 'intelligent design theory'; which stated certain features of living things are best explained by the intervention of a supernatural being, e.g. God; about 22% chose the 'creationism theory', which stated that God created human kind pretty much in his/her present form at one time within the last 10 000 years, whilst the remaining 12% did not know.

The poll did not include the option which explicitly stated that humans came about by a process of evolution and development guided by God or a higher being. It is therefore possible that many of those who chose the 'intelligent design theory' would find themselves in agreement with this position, even though the term has different connotations elsewhere, particularly in the United States.

The poll then went on to ask people's attitudes to the teaching of the three given theories in school science classes:

For the 'evolution theory', 69% of the people asked believed that it should be taught in school science classes, 15% believed that it should not be taught in school science classes and the remaining 17% were unsure. For the 'intelligent design theory', 41% of the people asked believed that it should be taught in school science classes, 40% believed that it should not be taught in school science classes and the remaining 20% were unsure. Finally, for the 'creationism theory', 44% of the people asked believed that it should be taught in school science classes, 39% believed that it should not be taught in school science classes and the remaining 17% were unsure.

Controversy in education world-wide[]

Education in the United Kingdom comes under different systems in the constituent counties, all of which provide schools with a particular religious ethos as part of the state system alongside essentially secular schools. Both types of schools teach evolution by natural selection in their biology curricula, not creationism. An exception has arisen with the introduction of private sponsorship of state schools, known as city academies, which where introduced by Tony Blair’s government in 2000. This has allowed millionaire car dealer Peter Vardy to introduce the teaching of creationism alongside evolution in 2 - 7 city academies accepting sponsorship from his fund, which is called the Emmanuel Schools Foundation. This resulted in public controversy which drew attention to one private Seventh-day Adventist school and a few private Muslim schools teaching creationism. Despite protests by scientists, bishops and politicians, the government has so far not prohibited the teaching of creationism or intelligent design as long as National Curriculum guidelines on teaching evolution are met. Independent schools, which teach around 10 per cent of the population, are free to choose what they teach. Creationism is taught in science lessons, but as a non-scientific theory.

In September 2004, the teaching of evolution in primary schools was briefly banned in Serbia, but the ban was lifted days later after an outcry from scientists and even Serbian Orthodox bishops. The incident led to the resignation of education minister Ljiljana Čolić.

The Netherlands education minister Maria van der Hoeven suggested that discussion of Intelligent design in schools might promote dialogue between religious groups. Widespread opposition from scientists led to proposals for a conference on the plan being dropped.

Turkey, a secular state, has a small creationist movement, initiated after contact with creationists from the USA. However members of the Turkish scientific community strongly oppose creationism, and only evolution is taught in universities. There is an ongoing debate on including intelligent design in high school text books.

In Pakistan, evolution is no longer taught in universities.

Brazilian scientists protested in 2004, when the education department of Rio de Janeiro started teaching creationism in religious education classes. Since then, most of the Christian colleges teach evolution as science and creationism as religion, and only in special non curricular classes. Public schools teach only evolution.


  • 1785 - James Hutton presented his theory of uniformitarianism, explaining that the Earth must be much older than previously supposed to allow time for mountains to be eroded and for sediment to form new rocks at the bottom of the sea, which in turn were raised up to become dry land.
  • 1794 to 1796 - Erasmus Darwin published Zoönomia with ideas on evolution and all warm-blooded animals arising from one living filament.
  • 1809 - Jean-Baptiste Lamarck proposed a theory of evolution by acquired characteristics, later known as Lamarckism.
  • 1857 - Philip Henry Gosse published Omphalos: An Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot. Omphalos is Greek for "belly button" or "navel". Gosse was a brilliant naturalist who invented the first stable seawater aquarium. Gosse's book was an attempt to reconcile biblical literalism with geological uniformitarianism by addopting a Surrealist or Surrogate Realist (an anti commonsenese realist) view of uniformitarianism & science generally. The books Surrealism interpretation of science can be summed up God created the world AS IF the teachings of geology & science are true Philosopher's of Science(see Jarrett Lepin for less trivial examples of Surrealism) calls Gosse's position Theological Surrealism. Gosse's theme within the book about whether Adam & Eve had belly buttons (remnants of a link between the placenta and a baby). But since Adam & Eve did not have human parents they should not have belly buttons. This theme underlies the tension between geological records and biblical fundamentalism. His book was rejected by both sides of the debate because Gosse's book "cuts no ice". Much of 21st century Creationist, Intelligent Design Theories flirt with Gosse's surrealist tenets to create an alternative & competing science.
  • 1859 - Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species regarding the theory of evolution, after over 20 years of research and discovery. Darwin was prompted to publish by the publication of an essay by Alfred Russel Wallace, which independently summarized the theory. The theory's most profound element, "natural selection," challenged the generally accepted idea of divine intervention in species formation, leading to strong reaction to Darwin's theory.
  • 1860 - Liberal theologians published Essays and Reviews supporting Darwin. A debate of Darwin's theory was arranged at the Oxford Museum, with Thomas Huxley among its defenders and Samuel Wilberforce, the Bishop of Oxford leading its critics. Later accounts indicate Sir Joseph Hooker was most vocal in defending Darwinism.
  • 1925 - The Scopes Trial (Dayton, TN U.S.A.) tested the new Butler Act, which made it illegal to teach that man descended from animals in public schools. Scopes was found guilty and fined $100; prosecution lawyer William Jennings Bryan offered to pay it, but it was later set aside on a technicality after appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court.
  • 1950 - Pope Pius XII issued the papal encyclical Humani Generis, which states that evolution is compatible with Christianity insofar as to discover "the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter," but to apply evolution to matters of spirituality is inappropriate. The Roman Catholic Church has since refined its interpretations of Genesis as symbolic of spirituality.
  • 1958 - The National Science Foundation started the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, which emphasizes evolution in high school biology textbooks. This was part of a broad-based improvement of education in the United States in response to the launch of the Soviet Sputnik satellite. (See Sputnik crisis, "New Math")
  • 1960 - The Genesis Flood by Henry Morris and John C. Whitcomb, Jr. reinvigorated the creationist movement.
  • 1968 - A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Epperson v. Arkansas case repealed all remaining creationist laws. The Court supported a District Court ruling that the "Creationism Act" violated the Establishment Clause because it prohibited the teaching of evolution and it required the teaching of a particular religious doctrine.
  • 1973 - Tennessee passed a law requiring textbooks with a theory of origin to give equal emphasis to the Genesis account of Creation. In 1975 it was ruled unconstitutional because it violated the principle of separation of church and state.
  • 1991 - Darwin on Trial by Phillip E. Johnson popularized the intelligent design movement.
  • 1996 - Michael J. Behe wrote Darwin's Black Box, which proposed that some biological systems are irreducibly complex.
  • 1996 - On October 22, Pope John Paul II sent the message On Evolution to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, stating that "fresh knowledge" requires one to realize that evolution is "more than a hypothesis."
  • 1999 - On August 11, the Kansas State Board of Education deleted discussion of evolution and the Big Bang from standards relating to state assessments.
  • 2001 - The Kansas State Board of Education reinstated the discussion of evolution and the Big Bang after the removal of three board members.
  • 2002 - After much debate, the Ohio State Board of Education partially adopted the new "Teach the Controversy" initiative of intelligent design activists. In 2004 the board created a "Critical Analysis of Evolution" lesson plan for teachers.
  • 2004 - On January 30, Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter released a statement condemning the suggestion that the word "evolution" be banned from textbooks used in schools in the state of Georgia. [17]
  • 2004 - On February 19, Italian Education Minister Letizia Moratti issued a legislative decree that Italian children will learn about creationism. On April 23, Top Italian scientists responded with an open letter and a petition, signed by more than 50,000 citizens, claiming that her proposal would sacrifice the "scientific curiosity of youth." [18] Moratti clarified that her proposal didn't ban the teaching of evolution, but rescinded the decree nonetheless and even acted to bolster the presence of evolution in Italian academic curricula. [19]
  • 2004 - On July 23, the International Theological Commission issued the document Communion and Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God.
  • 2005 - Evolution went on trial once again in the Kansas State Board of Education. Advertisements pushing intelligent design started to appear in European cities like Budapest that had been untouched by creationism up to this point. [20]
  • 2005 - In September, parents in the Dover Area School District legally challenged intelligent design after a statement read to students claimed that there are "gaps" in evolution and that intelligent design is an alternative about which they can learn from Of Pandas and People. In December, the federal court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania issued a sweeping decision asserting that intelligent design is just another name for creationism, that it is not science, and that it cannot be taught as science in public schools. [21]
  • 2005 - In November, eight of the nine-member Dover, Pennsylvania school board were voted out and replaced with a coalition of Democratic and Republican candidates who oppose the previous board's decision to introduce intelligent design and lay doubts on evolution. The coalition ran on the Democratic ticket. The newly elected board members agreed to not appeal the court decision in Kitzmiller and have removed the intelligent design requirements from the school district's curriculum. (See Teaching Intelligent Design: Incumbent Dover PA school board fails reelection.)

See also[]

Published books and other resources[]

  • Burian, RM: 1994. Dobzhansky on Evolutionary Dynamics: Some Questions about His Russian Background. In The Evolution of Theodosius Dobzhansky, ed. MB Adams, Princeton University Press.
  • Samuel Butler, Evolution Old and New, 1879, p. 54.
  • Darwin, "Origin of Species," New York: Modern Library, 1998.
  • Dobzhansky, Th: 1937. Genetics and the Origin of Species, Columbia University Press
  • Henig, The Monk in the Garden: The Lost and Found Genius of Gregor Mendel, the Father of Genetics, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000.
  • Kutschera, Ulrich and Karl J. Niklas. 2004. "The modern theory of biological evolution: an expanded synthesis." Naturwissenschaften 91, pp. 255-276.
  • Mayr, E. The Growth of Biological Thought, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1982.
  • James B. Miller (Ed.): An Evolving Dialogue: Theological and Scientific Perspectives on Evolution, ISBN 1-56338-349-7
  • Morris, H.R. 1963. The Twilight of Evolution, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
  • Numbers, R.L. 1991. The Creationists: The Evolution of Scientific Creationism, Berkely: University of California Press.
  • Pennock, Robert T. 2003. "Creationism and intelligent design." Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics 4, pp. 143-163.
  • Carl Sagan. The Demon-Haunted World. New York: Ballantine Books, 1996.
  • Scott, Eugenie C. 1997. "Antievolution and creationism in the United States." Annual Review of Anthropology 26: 263-289.
  • Maynard Smith, "The status of neo-darwinism," in "Towards a Theoretical Biology" (C.H. Waddington, ed., University Press, Edinburgh, 1969.
  • D.L. Hull: The Use and Abuse of Sir Karl Popper. Biology and Philosophy 14:4 (October 1999), 481–504.

External links[]

Creation vs Evolution links[]

Evolution links[]

Creationist links[]

Formal Debates[]

  • The 1997 Firing Line Creation-Evolution Debate featuring Kenneth R. Miller, Michael Ruse, Eugenie Scott, Barry Lynn (evolution) vs. Phillip E. Johnson, Michael Behe, David Berlinski, William F. Buckley (creationism or intelligent design)
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