1986 December 10

Nobel Prize Winners’ Amicus Brief Opposes Creationism


Seventy-two Nobel Prize-winning scientists filed an amicus brief in Edwards v. Aguillard on this day, challenging the teaching of “creation science” in Louisiana public schools. Louisiana had passed a law providing for “balanced treatment” of the teaching of evolution and creation science. The Supreme Court ruled, in the Edwards case on June 19, 1987, that the law promoted religion in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

The scientists’ brief (excerpt): “The Act’s unconstitutional purpose is also evident in its requirement that both ‘creation-science’ and ‘evolution-science’ be taught as ‘theory’ and not as “proven scientific fact.’ To a scientist or a science educator, the distinction between scientific theories and scientific facts is well understood. A ‘fact’ is a property of a natural phenomenon. A ‘theory’ is a naturalistic explanation for a body of facts. That distinction permeates all fields of scientific endeavor. It is no more relevant to discussions of the origin of the universe and life than to any other area of research. By singling out one topic in science — ‘origins’ — for special treatment, the legislature conveys the false message that the prevailing theory of ‘origins’ — evolutionary theory — is less robust and reliable than all other scientific concepts. This misleadingly disparaging treatment of evolution confirms that the Act favors a particular religious belief.”

Read the Nobel Prize winners’ complete Amicus Brief: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/edwards-v-aguillard/amicus1.html

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

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

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