Creationism has been a controversial topic ever since the 19th century. Before then, it was taught in nearly all the schools in the United States of America. The theory of evolution was first introduced in 1859 and was widely accepted by 1860. There have been numerous attempts to introduce creationism in the classroom to be taught to students, but they have failed. A strategy that has been tried numerous times is considering the theory of evolution a religion also so that creationism can be taught.
Bills have been introduced in the state legislature between 2004 and 2008 called “Academic Freedom Bills” that “teachers, students, and college professors face intimidation and retaliation when discussing scientific criticisms of evolution, and therefore require protection.” Critics of the bills point out that there are no credible scientific critiques of evolution. Investigations of the allegations of intimidation and retaliation have come up empty and found no evidence that such things occur (Marris).
According to the Wall Street Journal, “the common goal of these bills is to expose more students to articles and videos that undercut evolution, most of which are produced by advocates of intelligent design or Biblical creationism.” They have spent years working school boards, with only minimal success. Now critics of evolution are turning to a higher authority: state legislators. In a bid to shape biology lessons, they are promoting what they call “academic freedom” bills that would encourage or require public-school teachers to cast doubt on a cornerstone of modern science (The Wall Street Journal).
Legislators have been vigorously trying to make the theory of evolution on the same level and the same status as the theory of creationism. So far, they have been rejected every time and have not succeeded. As of May 2008, none of the bills have been successfully passed into laws. There have been five bills total since 2001: the Santorum Amendment (2001), the Alabama bill (2004), the Alabama bill (2005), the Alabama, Oklahoma, Maryland bills; Ouachita Parish School Board policy in Louisiana (2006), and the Discovery Institute petition and model statute; Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed released; Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, Michigan bills (Marris).
The Santorum Amendment was proposed by former Republican United States Senator Rick Santorum to the education funding bill which became knows as the “No Child Left Behind Act.” This promoted teaching of intelligent design while questioning the academic standing of evolution in United Stated public schools. The amendment was passed as part of the education funding bill by the Senate on a vote of 91-8 on June 14, 2001. Here is the final text of the Santorum Amendment as included in the Conference Report. The Conferees recognize that a quality science education should prepare students to distinguish the data and testable theories of science from religious or philosophical claims that are made in the name of science. Where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society (Conference Report).
This was considered a major victory for the believers of creationism and intelligent design in the United States. The amendment did not become law, but a version of it appears in the Conference Report as an explanatory text about the legislative history and purposes of the bill (Marris).
Between 2004 and 2006, anti-evolution bills were introduced to the Alabama Legislature, but they were all unsuccessful. On April 8, 2004, a bill, called “The Academic Freedom Act,” was unanimously passed by the Alabama Senate. The bill would have given teachers at public schools “the affirmative right and freedom to present scientific, historical, theoretical, or evidentiary information pertaining to alternative theories or points of view on the subject of origins” and gives students the right to hold a “particular position on origins, so long as he or she demonstrates acceptable understanding of course materials.” On May 17, 2004, the Alabama House adjourned the 2004 legislative session without voting on the bill, allowing it to lapse. A pair of virtually identical bills were simultaneously introduced in the Alabama Senate and House on February 8, 2005, again under the description of “The Academic Freedom Act.” These bills claimed to protect the right of teachers “to present scientific critiques of prevailing scientific theories” and the right of students to “hold positions regarding scientific views,” using language reminiscent of the Santorum Amendment. A third, near-identical bill (also dubbed the “Academic Freedom Act”) was introduced in the Alabama House on April 5, 2005. On May 3, 2005, the legislative session closed without passing any of these three bills, so that they lapsed. Another pair of identical bills, closely resembling the previous anti-evolution bills, were introduced in the Alabama legislature on January 10, 2006, again under the description of “The Academic Freedom Act.” On April 18, 2006 the Alabama Legislature again adjourned without passing them, again allowing them to lapse. David Grimes introduced an Academic Freedom bill, on April 24, 2008, into the Alabama House and it was referred to the Education Policy Committee (Marris).
Representative Sally Kern introduced an anti-evolution bill to the Oklahoma House in early 2006 called the “Academic Freedom Bill.” It passed 77-10 on March 2, 2006. Another anti-evolution bill, this one based upon language in the Santorum Amendment, in the Oklahoma Senate, was proposed in 2006 by Senator Daisy Lawler. All of the bills lapsed with the end of the 2006 legislative session (Marris).
A bill was introduced into the Maryland House of Delegates on February 16, 2006, to enact a “Teachers Academic Freedom Act” and a “Faculty Academic Freedom Act,” that closely resembled the 2006 Alabama bills. The bill lapsed with the end of the 2006 legislative session (Marris).
Courts throughout the United States have consistently supported the teaching of evolution and have rejected the teaching of creationism in the science classes of public schools. Although knowledge of these court decisions can help teachers resist pressures to spurn evolution or to teach creationism, many teachers have a poor understanding of the legal issues associated with the teaching of evolution and creationism. Incorporating these court decisions into undergraduate courses, pre-service training, and in-service workshops would educate and support teachers who want to teach evolution, while helping them avoid costly and embarrassing lawsuits (Moore).
Steps are being taken to prevent costly lawsuits and people from embarrassing themselves in court because they are constantly getting denied. Undergraduate courses have been created to help teachers want to teach the theory of evolution. Taking these classes will help them better understand the theory and, as stated, avoid lawsuits because they will have more and better knowledge of the subject. In February 2008, the Discovery Institute announced the Academic Freedom Petition campaign, which it is conducting with assistance from Brian Gage Design, who provides the Discovery Institute graphic design professional services. The petition states: We, the undersigned American citizens, urge the adoption of policies by our nation’s academic institutions to ensure teacher and student academic freedom to discuss the scientific strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian evolution. Teachers should be protected from being fired, harassed, intimidated, or discriminated against for objectively presenting the scientific strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian Theory. Students should be protected from being harassed, intimidated, or discriminated against for expressing their views about the scientific strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian Theory in an appropriate manner.
This is what I agree with most. There is nothing wrong with expressing one’s views about a topic in an appropriate manner. Students and teachers alike should have the freedom to believe in and to discuss whatever they want. Children should be exposed to both Darwinism and Creationism, so when a situation comes up later in life that requires knowledge of either or, they will know what to expect and how to deal with it. Students should be taught both theories at an early age so they can choose which one suits them best and which one they believe in for later on in life. Schools should offer both courses with teachers that are well-trained in whichever one they are teaching, and let the students choose which one they want to learn about, after they have learned both at an earlier age, of course.
My opinion on the two theories is as follows. I believe in evolution more than creationism. There is just too much physical evidence to completely shut down the idea of evolution. The logic also makes perfect sense. After having gone to a Catholic School for twelve years and having some sort of “religion class” every single one of those years, I can honestly say that my understanding of religious beliefs and creationism is enhanced. Having said classes, believe it or not, made me believe less into what he Bible teaches and the idea of creationism.
Bowman, Kristi L. “An empirical study of evolution, creationism, and intelligent design instruction in public schools.” The Journal of Law and Education 36.3 (July 2007): 301-380. Academic OneFile. Gale. Slippery Rock University-Bailey Library.
Goodstein, Laurie. “Teaching of Creationism Is Endorsed in New Survey.” The New York Times (August 31, 2005): A9(L). Academic OneFile. Gale. Slippery Rock University-Bailey Library.
Marris, Emma. “Professors bristle as states act to mould lecture content.” Nature 434.7034 (April 7, 2005): 686(1). Academic OneFile. Gale. Slippery Rock University-Bailey Library.
Moore, Randy. “How well do biology teachers understand the legal issues associated with the teaching of evolution?.” BioScience 54.9 (Sept 2004): 860(6). Academic OneFile. Gale. Slippery Rock University-Bailey Library.
“Pa. Board Of Education Rejects Effort To Open Door To Creationism In Public Schools.” Church & State 54.8 (Sept 2001): 17. Academic OneFile. Gale. Slippery Rock University-Bailey Library.