1982 January 5

Coalition Challenges Arkansas Creation Science Law


A coalition of parents, biologists, and civil libertarians had challenged the Arkansas Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act, which mandated the teaching of creation science in conjunction with evolution in public school biology courses. A U.S. District Court judge ruled on this day, in McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, that “creation science” is a religion, and that the state law violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The state chose not to appeal the decision.

The issue of creationism reached the Supreme Court five years later regarding a similar law in Louisiana. The Court, in Edwards v. Aguillard, decided on June 19, 1987, that the law in that state violated the Establishment Clause.

The Court: “The facts that creation science is inspired by the Book of Genesis and that Section 4(a) is consistent with a literal interpretation of Genesis leave no doubt that a major effect of the Act is the advancement of particular religious beliefs. The legal impact of this conclusion will be discussed further at the conclusion of the Court’s evaluation of the scientific merit of creation science.”

Learn more about the McLean case: http://ncse.com/creationism/legal/mclean-v-arkansas

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

Learn more about science and education: https://www.aclu.org/religion-belief

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

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