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The theories of evolution and creationism have been clashing in courtrooms for over 70 years. The debate over teaching creationism or evolution as scientific theory dates back to the 1925 trial of John T. Scopes, who was convicted of teaching evolution in a Dayton, Tenn., high school. Scopes was held in violation of the 1925 Butler Act, which made it unlawful to "teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible." The Tennessee supreme court dismissed his conviction on appeal, and the law was repealed in 1967.
The theory of evolution holds that self replicating, single-celled organisms developed from complex organic molecules in our planet's nutrient-rich seas about 3.5 billion years ago. Over time, genetic mutations produced increasingly varied and complex organisms which were better adapted to an ever-changing environment. Scientists say evidence supporting the theory of evolution includes fossil records, the existence of similar structures in different animals, and the fact that all living things share similar biochemistry. They say the theory of evolution is not only scientifically valid, it is the unifying theory of biology.
That mankind evolved from apelike creatures much less a one-celled organism remains impossible for some people to believe. Creationists, by contrast, hold to a literal interpretation of the Biblical story of Genesis that God created the world in a single act approximately 6,000 years ago and that human beings, animals, and other forms of life exist today much as they did then. To many creationists, suggesting otherwise is heresy.
During the 1970s and 1980s, bills to require the teaching of creation science were introduced in more than 20 states. Only Arkansas and Louisiana, though, passed such laws. The Arkansas law was overturned by a federal district court in 1982. And in 1987, in Edwards v. Aguillard, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Louisiana law, which prohibited the teaching of evolution unless it was accompanied by a "balanced treatment" of creation theory.
9-12-99 The Kansas Board of Education voted six to four to eliminate references to evolution as a central principle of biology from the state school syllabus. The new Kansas curriculum cannot prevent science teachers from referring to evolution, but high-school students will no longer be expected to know or understand Darwin's On the Origin of Species, published in 1849, and evolutionary concepts such as natural selection.
Under a 1987 Supreme Court ruling, public schools can neither teach creation science nor ban the teaching of evolution. But by simply taking the subject off standardized tests, the boardís majority of conservatives have given teachers a reason not to bother and left lawyers with little meat to get their teeth into. The final decision about whatís taught is still in the hands of local school boards.
National polls consistently show that nearly 50 percent of Americans still donít accept Darwinism," says TIME science reporter Andrea Dorfman. "They believe that humans were created in their present form as according to Genesis -- just 10,000 years ago."
Most scientists and educators and the other 50 percent of America trust Darwinism as the theoretical skeleton of modern biology, and believe it is backed up by plenty of scientific evidence.
Creationists argue that evolution is an unproven theory based on faulty science. "It's deception," Tom Willis, director of the Creation Science Association for Mid-America, said. "You can't go into the laboratory or the field and make the first fish. When you tell students science has determined evolution to be true, you're deceiving them."
Textbooks in Alabama must bear a sticker saying evolution is "a controversial theory" and that "no one was present when life first appeared. Therefore any statement about life's origins should be considered a theory and not a fact."
A good example of politics trying to control science is T.D. Lysenko an almost illiterate agronomist, who gained almost absolute control of Soviet biology and agriculture from 1937 to 1964. His work became notorious in the West, because he claimed that modern genetics was nonsense and that he could produce greatly increased crop yields by using techniques which were not accepted by orthodox scientists. The matter came to a head when Stalin backed him at a major conference in 1948. While the rest of the world was using the new information to improve their crops the Soviets were accusing geneticists and supporters of genetics of sabotage, espionage, terrorism, and trotskyism. He ultimately set Soviet genetics and plant physiology back by 30 years.
I believe that the Kansas Board of Education has taken a step in the right direction. The legal system has tied everyone's hands behind their backs by declaring it illegal to teach Creationism, or to prohibit teaching Evolutionism. Somehow, though, no one figured that they could sidestep the whole issue by merely eliminating the educational requirement for teaching evolution. In other words: it is ok to teach evolution, or not, based upon the community's (teacher, school, or parents) wishes. Honestly, I think that if creationism cannot be given equal time in the education system, why not eliminate the requirement of learning that which might be 'flawed science' anyway? Submitted by Ernest Vance
If we put all the anti evolution people in one world, who finds a vaccine for polio or who discovers the secrets of plant hybridization? When the anti forces start winning Nobel prizes for science, then I'll be inclined to listen.