Chapter Neocreationism

In 1987, the Supreme Court decision Edwards v. Aguillard struck down a Louisiana law requiring equal time for creationism and evolution. Creationism is a religious idea, said the Court, and the First Amendment prohibits the government from promoting religion. Antievolution strategies subsequently were developed that avoided the use of any form of the words creation, creator, and creationism. In effect, proponents shifted their strategy from proposing to balance evolution with creation science to proposing to balance evolution with creation science in other guises. Antievolutionists proposed the teaching of "scientific alternatives" to evolution or evidence against evolution— avoiding referring to such purported disciplines as creationism. A school district in Louisville, Ohio, which had an equal time for evolution and creation science regulation in place before Edwards, rewrote the science curriculum to "avoid mention of creationism in its curriculum guide, calling it alternative theories to evolution and adding it to the science classes" (Kennedy 1992). The avoidance of creation science terminology and the development of creation science-like alternatives to evolution, plus the renaming of the content of creation science as evidence against evolution, constitute what I call neocreationism, which continues into the twenty-first century. These approaches were encouraged by creationist interpretations of the Edwards v. Aguillard decision.

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