Norman L. Geisler, Ph.D.
Norman L. Geisler is Professor of Theology and Apologetics at Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, NC.
The creation evolution controversy has been raging in the courts for over eighty years now, and it shows no signs of subsiding. In recent decisions, including the Edwards 1987 Supreme Court Case, creation has lost all the battles. Two main reasons have been given by the Courts for not allowing the teaching of creation alongside of evolution in public school science classes: (1) Creation is not science and, therefore, has no more place in a science class than astrology or the Flat Earth view. (2) Creation and intelligent design (hereafter ID) are essentially religious and, therefore, violate the First Amendment prohibition against establishing religion.
It is noteworthy that most of the court’s objections were answered in my Scopes II testimony in 1981. But mysteriously the Arkansas court refused to type up my testimony until five years later, just after the Supreme Court ruled on the issue. Hence, it was not available for the Justice to review before they made their decision. Now, for the first time my word–for–word testimony is available in our recent book, Creation in the Courts (Crossway, 2007). But before the court’s objections to creation can be addressed, we must define some crucial terms of the debate.
Creation: For the purposes of this discussion “creation” or “ID,” as many now call it, is defined as it was in the McLean (1982) case: “‘Creation science’ means the scientific evidence for creation and inferences from these scientific evidences” (Section 4). In contrast to evolution which allows only natural causes, creation allows for a supernatural cause. Likewise, creation affirms a common Creator of all basic forms of life, in contrast to evolution which affirms a common ancestry of all forms of life. While opposed to macro–evolution, creation allows for micro–evolution by natural processes that can account for some variation within basic kinds of life.
Evolution: By “evolution” is meant macro–evolution or the view of common ancestry. All higher forms of life are said to have evolved by purely natural processes without intelligent intervention from lower forms which Darwinians believe came ultimately from one simple form of life which came into existence by spontaneous generation from non–living material. So defined, creation and evolution are mutually exclusive views at every level.
A Response to Reasons Given for not Teaching Creation
The two basic reasons given by the Courts for not allowing the teaching of creation are that it is not science and it is religious. Both of these have been used to exclude creation from science curriculum in public schools. McLean (1982) used both, Edwards (1987) used only the latter, but Dover used both (2005).
A Response to the Scientific Arguments Against
The McLean court argued that creation is not science,as did Dover, though they defined “science” differently. This sentiment that creation is not science is commonly echoed in the scientific community.
Creation Does Not Meet the Criteria of Science
The difficulty with this objection is that there is no universally agreeable definition of science. Even Dover and McLean do not agree on the definition of science, and Edward declined defining science in ruling on this point. Dover and McLean agree that science is observable, repeatable, and involves only natural causes. McLean added that it must also be tentative and falsifiable. However, both Dover and McLean incorrectly assume that science about origin events must be observable and repeatable. For origin events are by nature unobserved and unrepeated past events. They can only be approached by way of forensic science that uses the principles of causality and uniformity to reconstruct events they did not observe and cannot repeat.
Furthermore, the Courts that attempt to define science do so only in terms of natural laws, which beg the question in favor of evolution. This is not true since many sciences use intelligent causes, as for example cryptology, archaeology, or the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) program. Why then should an intelligent cause be ruled out in origin science? Only an incurable commitment to naturalism (i.e., anti–supernaturalism) can account for this arbitrary mis–definition of a scientific approach to origins.
Creation is Rejected by the Scientific Community
Another reason sometimes given for not teaching creation in schools is that the majority in the scientific community rejects it. But it is also true that the majority in the scientific community once rejected evolution. If minority views were not allowed a hearing, then students would never have heard about evolution in the first place. In fact, this is precisely what evolutionists argued at the 1925 Scopes trial when evolutionists’ view was being excluded, namely, that their minority view of evolution should be taught.
Further, using current majority opinion to define science is tantamount to saying “science is what current scientists say it is.” But this is simply to determine what is right by majority vote, and it will only add to an already painful history of unacceptable consequences. Science, of all disciplines, should have learned by now to tolerate minority views. In fact, virtually all scientific views now accepted by the majority of scientists were once minority views.
What is more, almost all the founders of modern science were creationists. This includes Kepler, Pascal, Boyle, Newton, Farraday, Agassiz, Maxwell, Pastuer, and Kelvin. So, if creation is disallowed in our schools, then we must disregard the scientific views on origins of the very founders of modern science. But it is a strange logic by which the views of the very founders of science are not considered scientific.
Creation is Not Observable or Repeatable
Evolutionists often insist that creation is not science because it is not observable or repeatable. They believe that allowing creation to be taught in schools is like permitting the Flat Earth view to be taught. But this argument is based on a misunderstanding of two different kinds of science: empirical science and origin science. Admittedly, creation or ID is not an empirical science which is based on the two principles of observation and repetition, but then again neither is macro–evolution an empirical science. For the criteria of empirical science is that one’s theories can be measured over against some observable and regularly recurring pattern of events in the empirical world. But since both creation and macro–evolution are unobserved events that occurred in the past and are not being repeated in the present, it follows that neither of them is an empirical science. So, if evolutionists insist on this narrow definition of all science as empirical science, then they have also eliminated macro–evolution from the realm of science as well. And if they broaden it to include forensic–like science of origins, then creation is also scientific. This is not unusual for dealing with past events have long been given the name “science” by scientists, as is evident from the sciences of paleontology, archaeology, and astrophysics.
What is more, some sciences deal with intelligent causes such as archaeology, cryptology, information theory, and the SETI program. Hence, if naturalistic evolutionists wish to eliminate all intelligent causes from science, then they must disqualify claims that all these sciences are not really sciences either.
To disallow an intelligent cause of origins is clearly mistaken because to insist on a natural cause in the face of evident marks of intelligence is as absurd as a geology teacher insisting that her class must explain the presidential faces on Mt. Rushmore by some process of natural erosion!
Creation is a “God–of–the–Gaps” View
Naturalistic scientists often appeal to what they call a “God–of–the gaps” fallacy in creationists’ thinking they argue that simply because we cannot now explain the origin of the eye or blood–clotting mechanisms in a strict naturalistic, step by step fashion does not mean that we should invoke a God to fill in the gap with a miracle.1 They point to numerous things for which science once had no natural explanation but now does, including meteors, eclipses, earthquakes, and the flight of the bumble bee. Hence, they believe that, given enough time, they will eventually be able to explain the gaps between non–life and life and the missing links between lower forms of life and higher ones.
But here again there is a serious flaw in their thinking for several reasons. First, it is not the absence of evidence that is the occasion of creationists inferring an intelligent cause of first life. Rather, it is the presence of evidence—very strong evidence—that calls for an intelligent cause. In a similar way, it is not the absence of evidence for a natural cause for the Lincoln Memorial that leads foreign visitors to believe there was a sculptor of it. Rather, it is the presence of clear evidence that it was sculpted by someone (which is based in turn on their uniform experience that only intelligent beings can produce that kind of effect).
Second, while naturalistic evolutionists wrongly criticize creationists for a “God–of–the– gaps” fallacy, they are themselves guilty of a “Nature–of–the–gap” view. For even when there is more than sufficient evidence that something is designed by an intelligent being, they assume a natural cause (like “a blind watchmaker”2 ) must have produced it. Nowhere is this naturalistic assumption more evident than in Harvard’s Richard Lewontin view when he wrote: We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs because we have a prior commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a materialistic explanation of the phenomenal world but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes. Moreover that materialism is absolute for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door.3
Science Deals Only With Natural Causes
While it is true that in empirical science all causes of present repeated events are natural causes, neither macro–evolution nor creation is an empirical science; they do not deal with regular, repeatable, and observable events in the present. But this is not true of origin events since they are unobserved and unrepeated events of the past. Thus, the claim that a scientific understanding of origin science must involve only natural causes lacks cogency for many reasons.
First, it begs the question in favor of naturalistic evolution by assuming that every event must have a natural cause. This is precisely what is to be proven and cannot be assumed to be true up front.
Second, if the term “natural” excludes an intelligent cause, then it is contrary to accepted disciplines of science. For the sciences of archaeology, cryptology, and the SETI program all allowed intelligent causes as explanations.
Third, if “natural” is meant to exclude a supernatural cause (which is the normal reading of the term), then it is contrary to history, logic, and to the scientific evidence. It is contrary to history since this is exactly what most of the founders of modern science did, namely, held that a Creator of the universe and first life was a reasonable inference from the scientific evidence. Further, it is contrary to sound logic, for there are only two basic kinds of explanations, natural or non–natural (or supernatural). But eliminating any reasonable possibility is unscientific by its very nature since scientists should be open to whatever direction the evidence leads. It is also contrary to the evidence of modern astrophysics which affirms (in the Big Bang theory) that the universe had a beginning. This is based on multiple evidence such as the II Law of Thermodynamics, an expanding universe, the radiation echo of the same wavelength of that expected from a gigantic explosion, and Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. All of these point to a beginning of the entire material space–time universe at a definite moment in the past. If this is so, then there must have been a supernatural cause of the universe since it was beyond the natural universe. As agnostic astronomer, Robert Jastrow put it:
Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth. And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover.4
Indeed, Jastrow went on to say “that there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.”5 Thus, not only should the supernatural not be eliminated from science, but it has also exploded back onto the scientific scene with a Big Bang!”
Speculation about Supernatural Causes is Philosophy, Not Science
Some scholars insist that once one infers a cause beyond the natural world, he has left the realm of science and has entered into the realm of philosophy. In response, we note several things. First, he certainly has left the realm of empirical science, but he has not left the realm of forensic science.
Second, it is not unscientific to ask the causal question wherever it may lead, as long as it is about what caused the physical world and physical life. The principle of causality has been at the basis of science from the very beginning. The Father of modern science, Sir Francis Bacon declared that true knowledge is “knowledge by causes.”6 Pierre Laplace spoke of “the evident principle that a thing cannot occur without a cause which produces it.7 Even the great British skeptic, David Hume, declared: “I never asserted so absurd a proposition as that a thing could arise without a cause.”8 So, there is nothing unscientific about pursuing the causal question as far as it will go. Indeed, as already noted, the founders of almost every area of modern science felt that there is no contradiction with their discipline to posit a Creator of the world.
Third, if positing an unobserved supernatural cause of the universe goes beyond the realm of science, then so does positing an unseen natural cause of evolutionary origins. In this sense, both views are metaphysical since they are opposing views in the same domain. In short, if the affirmation of a supernatural cause is not science but philosophy, then neither is the denial of one. If one view is philosophical, then so is the other. In which case, naturalistic macro–evolution would also have to be taken from the science class and put in philosophy classes, and creationists would happily accompany the evolutionists down the hall to the philosophy class room.
Teaching Creation Would Necessitate Teaching Other Pseudo–Scientific Views as Well
Some evolutionists liken creation to the Flat Earth view and conclude that allowing creation into science classes would also demand that other outmoded and pseudo–scientific views like the Flat Earth or alchemy be allowed as well. However, this is not the case because these views are subjects of empirical science where observability and repeatability are the operating principles. And there are no observable and repeatable bases in the world or in the laboratory that support these views. Hence, they are not the proper domain of empirical science. Thus, they have no place in a public school science class except to be noted as non–scientific views that do not come under the purview of empirical scientific methodology.9 Not so, however, with macro–evolution or creation science which are properly scientific in the forensic sense, as shown above.
Allowing Creation Necessitates Allowing the Views of Origin of Other Religions
According to this objection, once the Judeo–Christian view of creation is allowed, then public schools would also have to make room for Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and numerous other religious views as well. However, this is clearly not the case for two basic reasons.
First, the public schools should not allow any religious view as such into the science classroom. There are other classes, like history, sociology, and literature, where one can legitimately teach about religion without engaging in the teaching of religion (see below). But science classes should stick to scientific evidences and reasonable inferences drawn from that evidence.
Second, there are only two scientific views on all the major points of origin. For the origin of the universe, life, and new life form can be explained in only two ways: either each is a result of purely natural causes or else intelligent intervention was involved. So, allowing creation would not open the door to a vast number of views. There are only two possible kinds of cause for all the events of origin. Hence, religious views based strictly on religious sources should not be allowed
A Response to the Religious Arguments Against Creation
Two Federal courts, McLean [1982) and Edwards (1987), ruled that teaching creation is a violation of the First Amendment forbidding the establishment of religion. But these are clearly flawed decisions for many reasons. Let’s consider the arguments used to pronounce creation a religious view and, thus, outlaw it from public school science classes.
A First Cause or Creator is Inherently Religious Object
The Courts objected that since creation implies a Creator and since the Creator is the object of religion, then to teach creation is to teach religion which violates the First Amendment. However, this does not follow for several reasons.
First, not every first cause or creator is necessarily an object of religion. As I testified in the Arkansas McLean case, Aristotle’s First Cause was not an object of religion; it was simply the result of a reasoned process. He never worshiped his Unmoved Mover. The same is true of Plato’s Creator (Demiurgos); he functioned as a world’s Designer but not as the object of ultimate worth as the Good (the Agathos) did. Other religions such as Gnosticism and many preliterate religions did not worship the Creator of the universe either, even though they acknowledged there was one. So, the concept of a first cause or creator need not function in a religious sense.
Second, almost anything has been an object of religion at some time to some people. Some have worshiped rocks. Crystals have religious significance in many New Age religions. Should we then forbid students to study them in geology classes because they have religious meaning to many? Likewise, if the Court is right, then we must not present any historical evidence for the existence of either Buddha or Christ in history classes. For both are the objects of religious devotion to millions. And presenting this evidence might have the effect of encouraging their follower’s religious devotion to them.
Third, used by the 1961 Torcaso court to help define religion, Paul Tillich affirmed that one and the same Creator can be approached in a scientific detached way as the first cause of the universe. Or, this creator can be approached as an object of ultimate commitment or worship.10 There is nothing religious about positing a first cause of the world as an objective object of detached scientific or philosophical inquiry. One only oversteps his constitutional bounds when he asks the students to consider this cause an object of ultimate commitment or worship.
Fourth, our Founding Fathers never considered it a violation of the First Amendment (which forbids the establishment of religion) to posit a Creator. Indeed, our founding legal document, The Declaration of Independence, speaks of a “Creator” and humans being “created” without violating the First Amendment.11 So, reference to a Creator as the first cause of the universe or of life, or even as the giver of “Nature’s Laws” does not thereby establish religion. It is simply the result of a reasoned process beginning with the scientific evidence and following the principles of origin science (causality and uniformity) to their logical conclusion. To forbid this is to forbid scientific inquiry in the proper forensic and origin senses of the terms.
Fifth, even using the term “God” need not be a religious violation of the First Amendment. The Declaration of Independence uses the term “God,” and our National Birth Certificate has never officially been declared to be unconstitutional by the courts! Nor has the phrase “under God” in the National Anthem, on our coins, or on the front wall of the House of Representatives. As shown above, the same object (God) can be approached in an objective way as the ultimate cause of the world and life without calling on the students to make a religious commitment or to worship this first cause.12
Sixth, even if the use of the term “God” or “Creator” is considered religious, it does not mean that public school teachers cannot refer to it as one of two possible theories which some people believe. For allowing a view of origins, religious or not, which is only one of two possible views on the subject, to be taught along with its only alternative does not thereby prefer that view over another. On the contrary, allowing only one view to be taught rather than both possible views is to give preference to beliefs of one religion over another. Certainly, it is a twisted logic to conclude that teaching a balance of two views should never be viewed as preferring or establishing one view.
Seventh, even if referring to a Creator is held to be religious, it does not necessarily mean it is a violation of the Establishment Clause. One must claim that it is the true view in order to violate the First Amendment. For only the teaching of religion is a violation of the First Amendment, not teaching about religion (see Abington, 1963). In this way, one could teach about the theory that there is a Creator of the world and of life, without engaging in the teaching of religion. For it would not be teaching that one view is the truth on the matter but simply offering the teaching of two views about origins. Further, as noted above, it is a twisted logic to claim that even the teaching of one religious view along with the only other view would be preferring one view over another.
Creation Comes from a Religious Book (the Bible)
The essence of this argument, which was given by the judge in the McLean case, is that if the source of a theory is religious, then the theory is religious and cannot be allowed in public schools. However, this logic does not follow for a number of reasons.
First, evolution is also found in religious books. Indeed, it is part of a self–confessed religion of Humanism.13 Does that thereby disqualify evolution from being taught as a scientific view in public schools? Certainly not.
Second, the Bible has been the source that prompted numerous archaeological findings in the Holy Land. That does not make these findings unscientific or religious and thereby disqualify them as being part of the science of archaeology.
Third, many scientific and philosophical pursuits had a religious source. Socrates was inspired in his philosophical pursuits from the Oracle of Delphi. The founder of modern rationalistic philosophy, Rene Descartes, began his philosophical pursuits when inspired by some dreams. We would also have to reject Kekule’s model of the benzene molecule since he got it from a vision of a snake biting it’s tail!14 And we must also consider the alternating current motor unscientific because Nikolai Tesla received the idea for it in a vision while reading a pantheistic poet.15 Should all these scientific and philosophical views be rejected because their source was religious? Indeed, Herbert Spencer, whom Charles Darwin called “our great philosopher,” came up with the idea of Cosmic Evolution while he was meditating on the ripples in a pond one Sunday morning. Finally, it is widely acknowledged that the belief in a supernatural Cause played a vital role in the very origin of modern science.16 Indeed, for the first two and a half centuries of modern science (1620–1860), most of the leading lights in science believed the universe and life gave evidence of a supernatural Creator. Indeed, it is widely acknowledged that the biblical doctrine of creation played a significant role in the origin of modern science. In a landmark article on this point in the prestigious philosophy journal Mind (1934), M. B. Foster stated that the Christian doctrine of creation is the source of modern science.17 It is strange, indeed, to hear evolutionists and the courts argue that the foundation of science was based on a supernatural cause, but science today only allows natural causes of origin events.
Teaching Creation in Schools is Inspired by Religious Motives
The above discussion shows repeatedly that creation laws and teaching are inspired by religious motivation. On this ground it is ruled unconstitutional. But the fallacy of this has already been clearly shown.
First, as just noted, many scientific views were inspired by religious motives, including evolutionary beliefs themselves. But no evolutionists would eliminate these because they are religiously motivated.
Second, this confuses purpose and motive. It is a given in the courts that a law must have a secular purpose. And the secular purposes for teaching both views have been repeatedly stated by creationists. They include enhancing student choice, encouraging critical thinking, providing a balanced education, promoting scientific understanding, prompting scientific discovery, etc. These secular purposes are sufficient to justify the laws proposed. So, when the court goes beyond this and judges these laws unconstitutional because those who proposed and/or voted for them were religiously motivated, they go beyond a proper way to judge a law. For most laws exist in part because people from variously religious backgrounds were religiously motivated to see them enacted. Certainly all laws dealing with moral actions, and most are, were religiously motivated. But should we get rid of all laws—including those against perjury, stealing, spouse abuse, child abuse, pedophilia, and murder because they are the result, in part or in whole, of religious motivation.
One and the same law—including a creation/evolution law—can be religiously motivated and still have a good secular, non–sectarian, purpose. And what law promotes a non–sectarian secular purpose better than the creation laws since McLean (1982) that has been open, fair, and balanced to both opposing points of view
Finally, the same High Courts that point to religiously motivated laws as unconstitutional sometimes argue it is a good thing. For example, the McCollum decision (1948) praises the motives of Horace Mann, a primary forefather of current secular public school education of which the denial of creation in schools has become an essential part. McCollum noted with pride that “Horace Mann was a devout Christian, and the deep religious feelings of James Madison are stamped upon the Remonstrance. The secular public school did not imply indifference to the basic role of religion in the life of the people, nor rejection of religious education as a means of fostering it.”18 Apparently it is all right for secularists and evolutionists to be religiously motivated without being unconstitutional but not for creationists whose views are expressed in The Declaration of Independence!
Creation is Part of Judeo–Christian Religions
The courts are fond of noting the religious beliefs and alleged motivations of those who want creation taught in public schools (see chap. 3). However, this is an unsound conclusion both logically and constitutionally.
First, if the court pronounces a view religious because it is consistent with some religions, then most cosmological and ethical beliefs ever held by mankind, including evolution, are religious and thereby unconstitutional. For most of such beliefs and laws inspired by them have been parts of some religion. Surely we do not want to forbid teaching school children that intolerance, rape, murder, and cruelty are wrong simply because many religions also prohibit these activities. Why, then, should one claim that creation is religious simply because some religions believe in it? Teaching what is compatible with certain religious beliefs or motivations is not necessary to teach that religion, let alone to establish its priority over others.
Furthermore, macro–evolution is compatible with the beliefs of religious humanists and other non–theists. But in teaching the scientific evidence for biological macro– evolution in origin science is not necessarily to teach the religion of Secular Humanism or the like. Likewise, simply because creation is compatible with certain other forms of Christian and non–Christian religions does not mean that to teach the scientific evidences for creation in origin science is to teach those religions.
What is more, as already noted, it is not the reference to an object which some people worship that makes something religious but whether it is presented as an object of worship or ultimate commitment. We do not forbid the study of natural forces in science classes (such as rain, wind, and sun) because some native religions have worshiped these forces. We simply insist that these forces be studied in an objective way, without attempting to evoke a religious response or commitment to them from the students. Indeed, as note above, we don’t forbid the teaching of scientific evidence for macro–evolution simply because some have made evolution into a religion or religious object19 or because some religions hold that evolution is part of their beliefs. Hence, as long as a Creator is posited as a causal explanation for origins, and not an object of worship, there should be no religious objection to presenting creationist views in public school science classes. Indeed, as noted, the courts have never ruled that studies about religion or study about religious beings are unconstitutional. It is the teaching of religion which is considered illegal, not teaching about religion or religious objects (see Abington, 1963). Otherwise, it would be illegal to study religious art such as those of Michelangelo, one of which was the famous painting of God creating Adam.
Dr. Langdon Gilkey (who testified for teaching only evolution in the McLean case) notes that it is like two climbers scaling a mountain from different sides. They are not approaching two different peaks. There is only one summit. But there is more than one way this same ultimate can be approached.20
In view of this distinction, we would conclude that if one approaches a Creator from the objective, detached vantage point of scientific inference, he has not thereby taught religion. But this is exactly what creationists propose should be done with regard to positing a Creator as a possible scientific explanation of origins. But the proper domain for a Creator is origin science. The idea of a Cause or Designer of the universe is religiously innocuous when presented as an explanation of origins in origin science. This is even more so when creation must be presented as only one of two possible ways to explain the data. How can balanced teaching about two possible explanations in origin science be favoring or establishing only one? Indeed, it can be argued that allowing only evolution to be taught is establishing a religion of naturalistic evolution. For evolution is an essential part of many naturalistic (non–theistic) religions, and by the Court’s disallowing any opposing view to be taught, the Courts have thereby established that religious view.
Summary and Conclusion
There are two main arguments leveled against allowing creationists’ views of origin to be taught in public school science classes. It is argued that (1) it is not science, and (2) it is really teaching religion. The first of these objections against teaching creation is based on a failure to distinguish operation science and origin science. The former is empirical science, but the latter is more like a forensic science. Operation science deals with observed regularities in the present. In this sense of the word, neither special creation nor macro–evolution is science. Origin science, which includes both special creation and macro–evolution, deals with unobserved singularities in the past. So while only natural (secondary) causes are to be allowed in operation science, a primary supernatural cause is possible in origin science.
Second, to insist that to posit a primary cause of creation is religious because that view is compatible or congruent with certain religious beliefs about the supernatural (such as are found in traditional Judaism, Islam, and Christianity), is no more fair than claiming macro–evolution is religious because it is compatible or congruent with certain naturalistic cause religions (such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Secular Humanism). To insist that since the idea of creation should be rejected because it comes from a religious source (e.g., the Bible) we must, for consistency’s sake, also reject the idea for the Benzene molecule model or the alternating current motor because they too came from a religious source. If a primary cause of the origin of life is presented simply as one possible (or plausible) explanation of the origin of living things, then it has no more religious significance than presenting natural forces or even “evolution,” to which some people have given religious significance.
A Summary of Reasons for Teaching Creation in Public School
Most of these reasons have been stated or implied in the above discussion. They will be spelled our here for simplicity and clarity.
- Creation as defined in the McLean (1982), Edwards (1987), and Dover (2005) court cases is properly science in both a historic and contemporary sense. It was defined in McLean as “the scientific evidences for creation and inferences from those scientific evidences.” But the founders of modern science and contemporary scientists engage in science, particularly forensic–type sciences, in this same manner.
- Science has been in general and should always be open to minority views. In fact, if science had not been open to minority views among scientists, then evolution would never have taken a foothold since evolution was once a minority view. Indeed, minority views are what make progress in science possible since all new views are in the minority when they are first presented.
- Forbidding creation views in schools, which are held by over the vast majority of Americans (up to 90%),21 is a violation of the First Amendment right to freedom of speech to a majority of our citizens. Indeed, in Thomas Jefferson’s words, “Taxation without representation is tyranny.” In these terms, forbidding the teaching of creation is a form of tyranny!
- Even an ACLU attorney at the 1925 Scopes Trial claimed that both views should be taught. Here are his words from the Trial transcript: “For God’s sake let the children have their minds kept open––close no doors to their knowledge; shut no door from them. Make the distinction between theology and science. Let them have both. Let them both be taught.”22
This raises an important question: If the ACLU wanted both evolution and creation to be taught at Scopes I in 1925 when only creation was being taught, then why in 1981 at “Scopes II” did the ACLU argue that only one view should be taught when only evolution is being taught? If it is bigotry (a word use repeatedly by the ACLU of creationists at the Scopes Trial) in 1925 when only creation was being taught, why was it not bigotry in 1981 (and today) when only evolution is being taught?
- John Scopes, the teacher found guilty of teaching evolution contrary to the laws of Tennessee in 1925, declared: “If you limit a teacher to only one side of anything, the whole country will eventually have only one thought, be one individual.” But is this not precisely what is happening by the exclusion of creation from of classrooms? Likewise, even the Secular Humanist Declaration (1981) affirmed that “a pluralistic, open democratic society allows all points of view to be heard.” Why then cannot our children hear about creation in their classes?
- If, as even many evolutionists admit, it is possible that creation is true, then by excluding creation are we not thereby declaring, in effect, that we do not want our children exposed to what may be true and the vast majority of their tax–paying parents believe is true? With the exception of some vocal zealots for evolution,23 most serious–minded scientists recognize that it is at least possible that creation may be true and evolution may be false. If this is so, then any court decision, which forbids teaching creation, will have the consequence of legislating the impossibility of teaching what admittedly may be true. It is difficult to believe that fair–minded scientists are willing to say in effect: “Creation may be true, but we will not allow it to be taught anyway!” Certainly, we do not want to legislate the possibility of the truth out of the science class room.
- Insisting that only natural causes count as a scientific explanation (which naturalistic evolutionists claim) is akin to demanding that science teachers not allow any explanation other than physical erosion for the faces on Mt. Rushmore. Or it is like forbidding the SETI program to proclaim that an intelligible message from outer space cannot be anything but the result of natural laws. Or, that the writing on a newly discovered ancient manuscript must be explained by natural processes and not by an intelligent cause.
- Legally, to insist that only natural causes can be discussed in science classes dealing with origins is to unconstitutionally favor one religious point of view—the one embracing a naturalistic cause over other religions that favor a supernatural cause of origins. That is to say, by denying a hearing for supernatural causes (such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam hold), the courts have favored (and thereby established the tenets of non–theistic religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Secular Humanism. So, contrary to popular misconception, by disallowing creation the courts have not established Judeo–Christian beliefs but anti–Judeo–Christian beliefs. For example, in 1933 Secular Humanism declared itself a religion and the Supreme Court noted that it is a religion protected by the First Amendment (Torcaso, 1961). But three of the essential beliefs of the religion of Secular Humanism are: (1) there is no Creator, (2) there was no creation, and (3) there are no supernaturally caused events.24 Therefore, to insist that only these points of view can be taught in schools is to “establish” (that is, to prefer) these essential tenets of the religion of Secular Humanism in the public schools.
- The founder of the evolutionary revolution in modern science called evolution only a “theory” alongside the “theory of creation.”25 But to allow only one view to be taught is to treat it like a fact, not merely one theory. Indeed, in his “Introduction” to his famous On the Origin of Species Darwin wrote words worth pondering:
For I am well aware that scarcely a single point is discussed in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have arrived. A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question; and this cannot possibly be here done.
What is this but precisely what creationists have expressed in their attempt to have creation or intelligent design presented in our public school science classrooms.
In summation, the naturalistic arguments against allowing creationists views in science classes are baseless. They are in fact rooted in a metaphysical and/or methodological naturalistic assumption. Thus, they beg the question in favor of naturalistic explanations. As such, they are opposed to the history of science, the nature of science as an open inquiry, fail to distinguish empirical and forensic science, and are contrary to strong scientific evidence to the contrary. Therefore, there is no basic in the history or nature of modern science to rule out creationist or intelligent design explanations of origins.
1 . See Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box (New York: Free Press, 1996).
2 . A case in point is Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (New York: Norton, 1987).
3 . Richard Lewontin, “Billions and Billions of Demons,” New York Review of Books (January 9, 1996), [emphasis added].
4 . Robert Jastrow, “A Scientist Caught Between Two Faiths,” Christianity Today (August 6, 1982): 15, [emphasis added].
5 . Ibid.
6 . See Francis Bacon, Novum Organum (New York: Colonial Press, 1899).
7 . Pierre Laplace, A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities, trans. A. I. Dale (New York: Springer–Verlage, 1995), 4.
8 . David Hume, The Letters of David Hume, ed. J. Y. T. Greig (New York: Garland, 1983), 1:187.
9 . Of course, science as such cannot deny the possibility of the supernormal since by its very nature empirical science is limited to observable and repeatable events. Making statements about the impossibility of such events is not science but scientism.
10 . See Paul Tillich, Ultimate Concern, 7–8, 12.
11 . Furthermore, as Supreme Court Justice Antony Scalia has pointed out, the simple belief that there is a God—which is common to almost all religions before modern times—does not thereby violate the First Amendment by establishing one religion over others.
12 . See Anthony Kenny, The Five Ways: St. Thomas Aquinas’ Proofs of God’s Existence (New York: Schocken, 1969).
13 . Julian Huxley called it the religion of “Evolutionary Humanism” in his book, Religion Without Revelation (New York: Harper, 1957), chap. 9.
14 . Ian Barbour, Issues in Science and Religion (New York: Harper and Row, 1965), 158.
15 . See O’Neill, John Jacob, Prodigal Genius: The Life of Nikola Tesla (1944; repr., Blue Ridge Summit, PA: Brotherhood of Life, 1994).
16 . Langden Gilkey, Maker of Heaven and Earth (1965; repr., Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1985), 35.
17 . See M. B. Foster, “The Christian Doctrine of Creation and the Rise of Modern Natural Science,” Mind 42/172 (1934): 448. In this British journal he stated that the Christian doctrine of creation is the source of modern science.
18 . See McCollum v. Board of Education (1948).
19 . Henri Bergson, in his Creative Evolution, trans. Arthur Mitchell (New York: Macmillan, 1911), sees evolution as a divine Life Force within nature.
20 . See Gilkey, Maker of Heaven and Earth, 35.
21 . Multiple surveys and polls reveal that around 90% of Americans believe in some form of creation (see Jerry Bergman, “Teaching Creation and Evolution in Public Schools” (www.answersingenesis.og/docs/4178). Also, some 70% of attorneys believe that both views should be taught in schools.
22 . See, Million Hilleary, The World’s Most Famous Trial, 187. It matters not that He called creation “theology.” Whatever the name, he still wanted it taught in the public schools alongside evolution.
23 . See Isaac Asimov, “Asimov on Science Fiction,” Science Digest (Oct. 1981): 85.
24 . Paul Kurtz, ed. Humanist Manifestos I (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus, 1973), 8.
25 . See Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species, 6th ed. (1872; repr., New York: University Press, 1988), chap. 15.
Christian Apologetics Journal Volume 6. 2007 (vnp.6.1.127-6.2.20). Matthews, NC: Southern Evangelical Seminary.