1987 June 19

“Creationism” Violates Separation of Church and State


“Creationism” is a religious-based theory that claims there is scientific evidence for the divine creation of the universe. Intelligent design, one variation of creationism, holds that the evolution and development of the universe reflect a guiding intelligence of a supernatural being. Creationism is one of the theories favored by opponents of the theory of evolution. In 1981, Louisiana passed the “Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science in Public School Instruction” law. Evolution could be taught in public schools only if accompanied by instruction on the theory of Creationism. The Supreme Court on this day, in Edwards v. Aguillard, ruled the law an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Requiring that creationism be taught in public schools was only one strategy by which religious conservatives sought to evade the Supreme Court’s decisions holding that in-school prayer (June 25, 1962) and Bible-reading (June 17, 1963) violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. See also the Pennsylvania case in which a federal judge ruled that the idea of “Intelligent Design” was a form of the concept of creationism (Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District; December 20, 1995).

The Court: “The Louisiana Creationism Act advances a religious doctrine by requiring either the banishment of the theory of evolution from public school classrooms or the presentation of a religious viewpoint that rejects evolution in its entirety. The Act violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because it seeks to employ the symbolic and financial support of government to achieve a religious purpose.”

Learn more: Ashley Montagu and Isaac Asimov, Science and Creationism (1984)

Learn about Creationism at the National Center for Science Educationhttp://ncse.com/creationism

Seee how the Center for Scientific Creationism explains the concept: http://www.creationscience.com/onlinebook/

Read: Jeremy Gunn and John Witte, No Establishment of Religion: America’s Original Contribution to Religious Liberty (2012)

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