The trials of creationismand intelligent designJohn Wilkins
Why creationismgoes to courtUnique factors to United StatesSeparation of church and stateDemocracy at all government levelsSchool boards decide curriculum and teachingmaterials by popular voteGeneral factorsSocial movements, particularly the Christian lobby, seekinggreater impact on social discourseReactionism against evolution as a surrogate for othersocial concerns
The Scopes TrialDayton, Ohio, 1925Usual view: forces on enlightenment against forcesof reactionary conservatism (Inherit the Wind)Context: the “Eclipse of Darwinism” periodNot yet clear how evolution workedNeo-Lamarckism, progressivism, saltationismJohn Thomas Scopes
The protagonistsClarence DarrowWilliam Jennings BryanH. L. Mencken
The Scopes Trial theonly trial in historywhere:The defence kept the defendant off the stand to keep secret that the defendantmay not have violated the law.The defence wanted the jury to convict the clientThe chief prosecutor was expert witness (indeed the only witness) for defenceThe three main defence attorneys were scheduled to be expert witnesses forthe prosecutionOn a topic that the judge had already ruled was irrelevant to the trialNation-wide radio broadcast (first time in history)The jury were about the only people in the country who didn’t hear the keytestimonyHighly illegal phone call from the Governor, telling the judge that the trial wasembarrassment for Tennessee.The chief prosecutor offered to pay the defendant’s fine.
The trialCross-examination ended in screaming match between chiefprosecutor and his expert witness (who loathed each other):Bryan (pounding his fist in rage): “I am simply trying to protectthe word of God against the greatest atheist or agnostic in theUnited States. … I want the papers to know that I am not afraidto get on the stand in front of him and let him do his worst.”Final Testimony: Bryan: “The only purpose Mr. Darrow has is to slur the Bible, butI will answer his questions.”Darrow: “I object to your statement. I am examining your foolideas that no intelligent Christian on Earth believes.”
The outcomeScopes was found guilty, but the judgement wasoverturned on a technicalityNever went to state or federal Supreme Courtson appealLegislation remained on the books until the1980sThe play and film Inherit the Wind set up amythology of religion against science
What was the realissue?Given that creationism per se was still being formulated, andMost evangelicals (even most Fundamentalists) were notcommitted to biblical historical literalism yet or to opposingevolution,… what was the issue?Bryant was a social liberalOpposed eugenicsOpposed racialismOpposed social engineeringMencken, at any rate, was a racist and antisemite
McLean v Arkansas1981/2“Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science andEvolution-Science Act 1981”Challenged as against First AmendmentLemon TestCreationism as “science”Popperian demarcation (Ruse)
The Lemon TestFrom Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 612-613(1971):First, the statute must have a secular legislativepurpose; second, its principal or primary effectmust be one that neither advances nor inhibitsreligion ...; finally, the statute must not foster "anexcessive government entanglement with religion."Overton held that the Act did not survive tests 1 and 3,and was therefore unconstitutional.
Ruse on PopperIronic that Ruse made Popperian demarcation a legalprecedent as philosophers were abandoning it:“More precisely, the essential characteristics of scienceare:(1) It is guided by natural law;(2) It has to be explanatory by reference to nature law;(3) It is testable against the empirical world;(4) Its conclusions are tentative, i.e. are not necessarilythe final word; and(5) It is falsifiable. (Ruse and other science witnesses).”Overton held that creation-science was not science
Edwards v Aguillard1987Tested Louisiana act substantially the same as theArkansas one (down to the title)Used Lemon Test explicitly and more rigorouslythan McLean v Arkansas
What next forcreationism?They can’t call creationism scienceThey can’t get the religious element into publicschoolsSo they devise a strategy: The WedgePhase I. Scientific Research, Writing & PublicityPhase II. Publicity & Opinion-makingPhase III. Cultural Confrontation & Renewal
Intelligent DesignTaking the ideas of the Natural Theologymovement of the 18th and 19th centuriesThe idea is that it can be scientifically proven thatan intelligence is responsible for evolutionFront loadingIrreducible complexityAttacks on natural selection
Of Pandas andPeoplePublished in 1993Selected by various school boards across USADover, Pennsylvania school board adopted it as aschool textbook in 1995They required a disclaimer to be read in schools
The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn aboutDarwins Theory of Evolution and eventually to take a standardizedtest of which evolution is a part.Because Darwins Theory is a theory,it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory isnot a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. Atheory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broadrange of observations.Intelligent Design is an explanation of theorigin of life that differs from Darwins view. The reference book, OfPandas and People, is available for students who might beinterested in gaining an understanding of what Intelligent Designactually involves.With respect to any theory, students are encouragedto keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the Originsof Life to individual students and their families. As a Standards-drivendistrict, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieveproficiency on Standards-based assessments.
The Dover Trial2004–5Brought by Tammy Kitzmiller and a number ofother parents; hence Kitzmiller v Dover AreaSchool DistrictACLU again, supported by NCSEConflict of Interest: I was peripherally involved asan advisor to plaintiffs
The judgement andtrialThe textbook was written as a creationist book and revised asan intelligent design: cdesignproponentsistID advocates William Dembski, Stephen Meyer and otherswithdrew as witnessesJudge John E. Jones IIIID is clearly an end-run abound the second amendment“Breathtaking inanity”Involvement of philosopher/sociologist of science, SteveFuller:ID is like any nascent science and deserves room to grow
The outcomes65% of Americans are in favour of teaching ID orsome other form of creationismThis has risen since the 1960s [oxygen theory?]More laws have been passed, most die incommittee
What is going on?Religious movements arise when religious peoplefeel they are sidelined in the public forumIn the 1970s, Catholics and Evangelicals madecommon cause against secularisation of AmericansocietySo-called “religious right” arose, and started aprocess of “regaining the public debate for Jesus”Creationism is predominantly about controllingeducation
SCOPES 1925EDWARDS VAGUILLARD 1981MCLEAN VARKANSAS 1987KITZMILLER VDOVER 2004WHITCOMB ANDMORRIS 1960WHAT ELSE HAPPENED?RISE OF RELIGIOUS BLOCIN 1970SHOW INFLUENTIAL IS CREATIONISM?
ReferencesMcLean v. Arkansas Documentation ProjectCrimes and Trials of the CenturyThe Creationists: The evolution of scientific creationismKitzmiller v. Dover Area School District Intelligent Design caseMcLean v. Arkansas Board of EducationCreationism and the Law | NCSETen Major Court Cases about Evolution and Creationism | NCSECreationism and the Law | NCSEEdwards v. Aguillard; Cornell Law SchoolCreation–evolution controversy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaWilliam Jennings Bryan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaClarence Darrow - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaH. L. Mencken - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia