Evidence Against Evolution

The Edwards decision, as mentioned, rejected equal time for creationism and evolution but allowed secular, scientific alternatives to evolution legally to be taught. Antievolutionists generated abrupt appearance theory and ID because scientific alternatives to evolution were not found in the scientific community. Creationists looking for an alternative to the now-unconstitutional creation science had another option suggested to them in the dissent to Edwards written by Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote, "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, dissenting, Edwards, 482 u.S. 578, 634 (emphasis added)).

A month after the Edwards decision was published, the attorney Wendell Bird, who had argued the creationist side before the Supreme Court in Edwards, analyzed the decision in a joint paper published with ICR staff. The ICR staff seized on teaching evidence against evolution as a potential legal strategy for creationists—as creation science was no longer legal to teach. The article said: "In the meantime, school boards and teachers should be strongly encouraged at least to stress the scientific evidences and arguments against evolution in their classes (not just arguments against some proposed evolutionary mechanism, but against evolution per se), even if they don't wish to recognize these as evidences and arguments for creation (not necessarily as arguments for a particular date of creation, but for creation per se)" (Bird 1987: 4).

Teaching evidence against evolution (EAE) thus was viewed as a way of teaching creationism on the sly. Given the two models mind-set of young-Earth creationism, this made perfect sense: evidence against evolution is considered evidence for creationism. Creationists believe (probably correctly) that students think in the same dichotomous way: if students learn that evolution is weak or invalid science, they automatically will conclude even without urging from a teacher that special creationism is the true explanation for nature. Given this reasoning, denigrating evolution by teaching the evidence against or a critical analysis of evolution becomes a backdoor way of teaching creationism.

A dissent, however, is not legally binding, and so there is no legal directive to teach EAE, though this is how creationists often present Scalia's dissent to the public.

After Edwards (1987), there were a number of efforts by creationists to pass legislation requiring not equal time for creationism and evolution, but equal time for evolution and the alleged evidence against evolution. A series of bills with similar wording got their start with a 1996 Ohio bill resulting from the grassroots efforts of a retired Wisconsin teacher. John Hansen founded Operation T.E.A.C.H.E.S. (Teach Evolution Accurately, Comprehensively, Honestly, Equitably, Scientifically) and traveled around the country between 1995 and 2000 trying to persuade state legislators in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, Iowa, ohio, Kentucky, Alaska, Georgia, and New Mexico to sponsor his model bill (Hansen 1997, 1999, 2000). Ohio State Representative Ron Hood formatted Hansen's idea as legislation (Trevas 1996) and introduced it (without success) in 1996 and 2000. A Georgia legislator also introduced the Hood bill, and when Hansen retired to Arizona, he persuaded an Arizona legislator to introduce the bill as well. None of these bills passed. Hansen claimed in his newsletter that legislators in Alaska, New Mexico, and Kentucky also introduced his legislation, but I could find no record of such bills.

The Ohio legislation submitted by Representative Hood (HB 62, submitted in 1996, and HB 679, submitted in 2000) was virtually identical to the Georgia and Arizona bills: "Whenever a theory of the origin of humans or other living things that might commonly be referred to as 'evolution' is included in the instructional program provided by any school district or educational service center, both scientific evidence and related arguments supporting or consistent with the theory and scientific evidence and related arguments problematic for, inconsistent with, or not supporting the theory shall be included."

A 2001 Arkansas bill (HB 2548) forbade educational agencies to use public funds to purchase textbooks or other instructional materials lacking antievolution arguments from ID and traditional creation science sources: "No state agency, city, county, school district or political subdivision shall use any public funds to provide instruction or purchase books, documents or other written material which it knows or should have known contain descriptions, conclusions, or pictures designed to promote the false evidences set forth in subsection (d) of this section."

subsection (d) of the bill listed supposed examples of evolutionary fraud taken from ID proponent Jonathan Wells's book, Icons of Evolution: Haeckel's embryos, the Miller-Urey experiment, Archaeopteryx (the ancient bird), and the peppered moth example of natural selection. From traditional creation science (Chick 2000) the bill's author took such staples as Piltdown man, Nebraska man, and Neanderthal man—all claimed to be fraudulent, though only the first actually was. Elsewhere in the bill were references to other creation science claims such as gaps in the fossil record, falsity of the geological column, and flaws in radiometric dating. Even if one were not familiar with creation science literature, the reference to evidences—a term from Christian apologetics rather than science—would reveal the inspiration for this bill.

In addition to assuming that scientific evidence against evolution exists, such bills—like the equal time bills they supplanted—appeal to the American public's appreciation of fairness; the third "pillar of creationism." The American political tradition of local decision making (e.g., by town councils or local school boards) encourages a wide variety of voices to contend for influence and authority. Part of the American political and cultural tradition is for all voices to have an opportunity to be heard, even if later rejected. This is enshrined in the First Amendment's Free Speech and Assembly clauses and manifests even in journalistic traditions in which the reporter is expected to present both views of a controversy. As will be discussed elsewhere (chapter 11), the fairness approach, though culturally very powerful, is misapplied in the realm of science, which actually is highly discriminating—against those views that fail to accurately explain nature.

Scientific knowledge grows because ideas are considered, weighted against the evidence, and provisionally accepted or rejected depending on how well they fare. In the initial stages of the consideration of a scientific explanation, a variety of positions are likely to be entertained, but as any scientist will be quick to admit, most explanations eventually end up on the cutting room (or perhaps laboratory) floor, or are seriously reworked. once rejected, however, there must be a compelling reason for discarded explanations to be taken seriously again. Scientific claims for the world and its inhabitants suddenly coming into being, at one time, in their present form, have not been taken seriously since the end of the eighteenth century, and it is unfair to pretend to students that this view is a viable scientific option in the twenty-first century. On reflection, the American cultural tradition of fairness is most appropriately applied in matters of opinion, rather than in matters of fact and logic. The 1897 attempts by an Indiana legislator to pass a law setting the value of pi to 3.0 (Mikkelson 2007) are viewed as comical: we would respond the same way to an effort by an enthusiast of the

Old South to require textbooks to report that General Grant surrendered to General Lee at the end of the Civil War. There are some things that one's preferences simply cannot change.

Evidence against evolution is emerging as a popular antievolution approach, especially after the failure of ID to survive a constitutional challenge in the federal district court case Kitzmiller v. Dover (see chapter 7). It is attractive to legal specialists among the antievolutionists because it appears to avoid the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by not obviously promoting religion. It remains to be seen whether this strategy will be effective; as discussed in chapter 7, in a small number of cases, judges have alluded to the importance of looking at the historical context of policies promoting evidence against evolution and have declared them, in effect, creationism in disguise.

There are many phrases that express the underlying idea of EAE—that evolution is weak science that warrants careful student examination. one approach is to require students to critically analyze evolution—meaning that students should criticize it. Another phrase used is "strengths and weaknesses of evolution"; yet another is presenting evolution as "theory not fact," meaning to present evolution as a theory in the popular rather than the scientific sense as a guess or hunch. Frequently these theory-not-fact policies take the form of disclaimers that are to be read to students or pasted into textbooks.

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