Evolution and Creationism at the Supreme Court

n August 18, 1986, a press conference was held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to announce the filing of an amicus curiae brief on behalf of seventy-two Nobel laureates, seventeen state academies of science, and seven other scientific organizations. This brief supported the appellees in Edwards v. Aguillard, the Supreme Court case testing the constitutionality of Louisiana's Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act, an equal-time law passed in 1982 requiring, essentially, that the Genesis version of creation be taught side-by-side with the theory of evolution in public school classrooms in Louisiana. Attorneys Jeffrey Lehman and Beth Shapiro Kaufman from the firm of Caplin and Drysdale, Nobel laureate Christian Anfinsen, biologist Francisco Ayala from the University of California, Davis, and paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould from Harvard University faced a room filled with television, radio, and newspaper reporters from across the country.

Gould and Ayala made opening statements, and a statement by Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann was read in absentia. The emotional commitment of these representatives from the scientific community was clear from the outset and baldly disclosed in their statements. Gould noted, "As a term, creation-science is an oxymoron—a self-contradictory and meaningless phrase—a whitewash for a specific, particular, and minority religious view in America—Biblical literalism." Ayala added, "To claim that the statements of Genesis are scientific truths is to deny all the evidence. To teach such statements in the schools as if they were science would do untold harm to the education of American students, who need scientific

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