Statements from Civil Liberties Organizations

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American Civil Liberties Union

For seventy-five years, the American Civil Liberties Union has been dedicated to upholding First Amendment protections of civil liberties. Consistent with the requirements of the Establishment Clause, the ACLU policy on religion in public schools states that "...any program of religious indoctrination — direct or indirect — in the public schools or by use of public resources is a violation of the constitutional principle of separation of church and state and must be opposed...." In 1980, the Board of Directors further clarified this policy by stating, "ACLU also opposes the inculcation of religious doctrines even if they are presented as alternatives to scientific theories." "Creation science" in all its guises, for example "abrupt appearance theory" or "intelligent design theory", is just such religious doctrine.

Among the problems "creation-science" creates in the academic environment is the foreclosure of scientific inquiry. The unifying principle of "creationism" is not the law of nature, but divinity. A divine explanation of natural data is not subject to experiment, it cannot be proved untrue, it cannot be disputed by any human means. Creationism necessarily rests on the unobservable; it can exist only in the ambiance of faith. Faith — belief that does not rest on logic or on evidence — has no role in scientific inquiry.

The constitutional defect of any law or policy requiring the teaching of creationism, or of "evidence against evolution," is not that it requires instruction about facts which coincide with a religious belief, but that it requires instruction in one religious belief as the unifying explanation of facts. This unifying concept is not a secular topic such as biology, chemistry, art, phonics, or literature which is familiar to the elementary and secondary school curricula. Instead, teachers are required to identify, organize, or teach facts and inferences supporting a specific belief — " special creation". To require public schools to marshal "evidences" and "inferences" in service of one religious belief, or to impose an embargo on a scientific theory that Fundamentalists dislike, is not to use religious works "for the teaching of secular subjects," (Abington School Dist. v. Schempp), but to place "the power, prestige and financial support of government...behind a particular religious belief" (Engel v. Vitale) The year-by-year, school-by-school, and teacher-by-teacher decision-making on whether and how to imbue "creationism" into the sciences and humanities promises continuing anguish in the educational community and assures inordinate involvement of religious groups in the affairs of government.

In our society, government is not permitted to instruct a child in religion, because it is not the government's job to promote a religious form of truth. No provision of the Constitution so firmly assures the essential freedom of the individual as does the Establishment Clause. The provision recognizes that choices about the ultimate meaning of life must be made in the private recesses of the conscience and not in the earthly controversies of political power. Were every person in this country of the same faith, the Establishment Clause would serve as a powerful expression that humans must decide their relationship to God, not at the bidding of the state, but at the calling of the soul. That we are a nation of many religions does not alter this basic function of the Clause; it only enhances the need for vigilance against state manipulation of belief.

Vigilance requires firm and consistent opposition to every effort to use the nation's schools to teach any biblical text, including Genesis, as literal truth, either directly or disguised as "alternative" science. To reject creationism as science is to defend the most basic principles of academic integrity and religious liberty.

American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation is deeply concerned by efforts to include "intelligent design theory" in the proposed science curriculum of Ohio public schools. Intelligent design theory posits that living things are too complex to have developed through the operation of evolution over time, and thus must be the work of an unnamed Creator.

Proponents of intelligent design theory are frequent critics of evolution, and their theory, which has typically been rejected by mainstream science, is closely associated with Biblical creationism. In a number of cases decided in the nineteen-eighties, the United States Supreme Court held that states cannot require that creationism be taught in public schools alongside, or instead of, scientific evolution.

In doing so, the Court has held that creationism cannot be separated from its Biblical roots, and remains an essentially religious doctrine. Foes of Darwinian evolution have adapted their tactics accordingly: "This is a perennial battle," said Christine Link, Executive Director of the ACLU of Ohio. "Advocates of Biblical Creationism have been trying for years to get their doctrine into the public schools, and this is just their latest way of doing so."

Efforts to interject religious critiques of evolution into public school science curricula have come in many guises. Some proponents of creationism have portrayed their efforts as an attempt to teach a more diverse set of beliefs. Others have claimed that teaching creationism alongside evolution promotes critical thinking skills. Still others have claimed the right to teach creationism under the doctrine of academic freedom. Courts have consistently rejected these arguments as fig leaves designed to conceal attempts to teach religious doctrine.

ACLU of Ohio Legal Director Jeffrey Gamso said, "Intelligent design has been proven to be nothing more than a thin cover for those who wish to teach creationism, an idea of human origins endorsed by certain Christian denominations, in science classes."

Gamso went on, "Proponents of intelligent design have been unable to provide any credible scientific evidence to support their theories. The scientific community has, time and again, largely refuted purported evidence supporting intelligent design. By continuing to allow teachers to implement intelligent design into the science curriculum, educators are misinforming Ohio's children on the fundamental principles of science."

American Civil Liberties Union of Utah

There have been three distinct movements to establish the teaching of the Biblical interpretation of creation in American public schools. The first was made popular by the Scopes "Monkey Trial" after the State of Tennessee prohibited the teaching of evolution in public schools. The second movement attempted to mandate that public schools give equal time to the theory of evolution and Creation Science. And today, the third movement seeks to introduce creationism into the public school science curriculum through either the mandatory teaching of Intelligent Design or Divine Design, or mandatory disclaimers as to the factual nature of the theory of evolution.

All three movements share the idea that all living species in their present form can be attributed to a creator or designer that is supernatural or not knowable by scientific means. All three also share a common goal of undermining or opposing the scientific theory of evolution—that all living species are the result of physical changes over vast periods of time through natural processes knowable through scientific means.

The first movement sought to prohibit the teaching of evolution in public schools altogether, and often mandated the teaching of creationism. This movement is best exemplified by the 1925 Scopes "Monkey Trial" in Scopes v. State, 289 S.W. 363 (Tenn. 1927). The ACLU assisted in the defense of public school teacher John Scopes, charged under a Tennessee state statute prohibiting the teaching of evolution.

Mr. Scopes lost his case and the issue wasn’t resolved until the 1968 U.S. Supreme Court case, Epperson v. State of Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97 (1968), which struck down a similar Arkansas prohibition of the teaching of evolution. In Epperson, the Court held the Arkansas law unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution because its purpose was the advancement of a religious belief in the creation account found in the Book of Genesis, and the protection of such religious belief against a contrary scientific theory.

As the Epperson Court stated, the Establishment Clause of the Constitution draws an "absolute" prohibition against government aiding religion, preferring a religious doctrine, or protecting religious doctrine from an antagonistic theory. Government must remain neutral towards religion and non-religion alike. So while teaching religion in public schools as part of a "literary or historic viewpoint, presented objectively as part of a secular program of education" is acceptable, teaching for the purposes of furthering a religious doctrine or protecting such a doctrine from another theory is constitutionally forbidden.

The second movement attempted to avoid violating the Establishment Clause by mandating the teaching of Creation Science as an alternative theory to evolution. Creation scientists sought to sidestep creationism being classified as a promotion of religion by avoiding reference to a literal interpretation of Genesis and by providing scientific explanations of divine creation. The creation scientists retained the premise that the universe was created by God and creationism's opposition to the theory of evolution in public school science class. Rather than trying to ban the teaching of evolution in favor of creationism, creationists attempted to formulate an alternative scientific theory.

In 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a Louisiana law mandating the equal-time teaching of creationism was unconstitutional (Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578 (1987)). The Court noted that parents entrust their children to the schools "on the understanding that the classroom will not purposely be used to advance religious views that may conflict with the private beliefs of the student and his or her family." Further, the court noted that because children are impressionable and public school attendance is mandatory, the courts are especially vigilant of Establishment Clause violations.

The Louisiana law purported to protect academic freedom by requiring the teaching of creation science in addition to evolution, but the Court found this to be a "sham" secular purpose. Teachers already had the flexibility and freedom to teach any scientific theory. The Court decided that the purpose of the law was the invalid furtherance of a religious doctrine that a supernatural being created humankind, and the prohibition of a theory perceived to be antagonistic to that religious doctrine. The religious nature of Creation Science was unavoidable because of the ties between creationists and creation scientists, the inescapably religious nature of a supernatural creator, and the inherent conflict between creationism and mainstream science. Of particular importance is the Court’s statement in Edwards that the Establishment Clause bars any theory predicated on supernatural or divine creation because such theories are inherently and inescapably religious, regardless of whether "they are presented as a philosophy or as a science."

Today, proponents of creationism are attempting to introduce creationism into the public school curriculum in two ways: 1) disclaimers from either teachers or stickers on books telling students that advocates of creationism dispute the scientific theory of evolution; and 2) advocating equal time for the teaching of Intelligent Design or Divine Design. The disclaimer approach has been struck down as unconstitutional in Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish Bd. of Education, 185 F.3d 337 (5th Cir. 1999) and Selman v. Cobb County School District, 2005 WL 83829. Most recently, parents represented by the ACLU successfully challenged a Dover Pennsylvania School District policy that required high school science teachers to read a statement questioning the theory of evolution and presenting Intelligent Design as an alternative (see Kitzmiller et al v. Dover Area School District).

Divine Design disassociates itself from traditional creationism by theorizing that a non-sectarian supernatural creator designed the universe. Intelligent Design proponents go further and seek to avoid the unconstitutionality of the Creation Science equal-time approaches by not mentioning the nature of the intelligent designer or the Bible altogether. But these approaches are semantic glosses on the underlying creationist concept of a supernatural designer unknowable by science, the creation of all living species by non-natural processes, and opposition to the scientific theory of evolution.

The mandatory inclusion of Intelligent or Divine Design theory in public school science curriculum is thus likely to be held unconstitutional for reasons similar to those articulated in the Edwards v. Aguillard equal-time decision. Just as in Edwards, Intelligent or Divine Design advances an inherently religious belief in an unknowable creator and it opposes the scientific theory of evolution. The conflict between Intelligent or Divine Design and mainstream science, the inherently religious nature of a universal designer, and the historical link between proponents of Intelligent Design and creationism is likely just as fatal today as it was when Edwards was decided in 1987. The religious nature of Intelligent or Divine Design proposals cannot be avoided, as the U.S. Supreme Court noted in Edwards, "merely because they are presented as a philosophy or as a science."

Americans United for Separation of Church and State (1994)

In recent years, a great deal of conflict has erupted over the issue of religion in public education. Although some individuals and organizations have worked to interject sectarian dogma into the schools, the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that public education must remain neutral on religious matters.

One area of especially sharp conflict has been creationism. While all religious denominations espouse a particular theology regarding the origins of the universe and humankind, these theological beliefs vary widely among faith groups. "Creationism" as a term commonly used by Christian fundamentalists in this country refers specifically to the belief that the creation story found in Genesis 1 and 2 is literally true and that the universe and humankind were created by God 6,000 years ago. This view, which is at odds with modern scientific understanding, is not shared by all American Christians.

As such, the teaching of creationism as science in the public schools would promote a particular religious viewpoint and would discount the theologies of other faith groups, thus amounting to an establishment of religion and a violation of the First Amendment.

The Supreme Court has dealt with the issue twice. The Court ruled that public schools may not forbid the teaching of evolution just because some religious groups find it offensive (Epperson v. Arkansas, 1968) and that the teaching of creationism as science in public schools violates church-state separation since it is a theological concept (Edwards v. Aguillard, 1987).

Ideas concerning the origins of humans and the universe that are based on religion are appropriate when used within the context of religious education, such as sabbath schools and private church school instruction. These ideas are not appropriate for use in public schools, where students of many different religious faiths gather. Public school curricula — including science classes — must be kept free of sectarian dogma.

Public school educators and administrators should resist pressures to introduce creationism into science classes. While creationism could be discussed objectively in comparative religion courses or classes on the history of science, it has no place as a viable theory in science classes because it amounts to the introduction of sectarian dogma into the curriculum and violates the separation of church and state.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State (2006)

An Evolving Controversy

Around the country, disputes have arisen over the teaching of creationism, or its closely aligned cousin, "intelligent design" (ID), in public schools. Aggressive Religious Right activists are working feverishly to undercut the teaching of evolution by insisting that students be exposed to "both theories."

This approach threatens the separation of church and state and sound science education. Creationism and its variants are religious doctrines, not science. While some religious believers accept the validity of these ideas, many others do not. In addition, the scientific community is in overwhelming agreement that creationism and its more modern variants are not legitimate science.

In its traditional form, creationism is a literal reading of the Book of Genesis repackaged as science. It makes several claims that clash with modern scientific understanding. For example, supporters of this viewpoint contend that the Earth is only a few thousand years old and that humans lived alongside dinosaurs.

Other advocates of creationism concede that the Earth is ancient and admit that evolution may operate in a limited capacity or on lower forms of life. Yet they reject the idea that humans evolved because, they say, people are the products of a special creation by God.

Tellingly, when trying to reconcile disputes over issues such as the age of Earth and the evolution of lower life forms, advocates of creationism turn to the Bible to buttress their arguments, not the scientific laboratory. In fact, virtually all of the groups in America promoting creationism are incorporated as religious ministries. Leaders of these organizations are often fundamentalist clergy who speak openly of their desire to cast doubt on evolution and win new converts to their faith. This is not in any way a true scientific movement.

On the surface, intelligent design appears to be something different. ID advocates claim that they have uncovered scientific evidence that an intelligent force, i.e. God, created humankind and the universe. The concept sidesteps some of the more far-fetched claims of traditional creationists and does not address issues such as the age of the Earth.

But just below ID's surface lurk many of the same discredited anti-evolution arguments that have been promoted by creationists for years. It seems obvious that ID is a form of "creationism lite," deliberately created by fundamentalists to get a foot in the door of the public school science classroom.

A Long-Running Battle

Fundamentalists have opposed the theory of evolution since Charles Darwin conceived it. This issue has been prominent in many states lately because Religious Right activists are gaining political power. They are pressuring state and local school boards to water down or remove evolution from the curriculum.

This fight has deep roots in America. At the turn of the 20th century, some states had religiously motivated laws banning the teaching of evolution in public schools. In 1925, Tennessee teacher John Scopes was convicted of violating a state statute barring instruction about evolution. (His conviction was later overturned on a technicality.)

Many people believe that the creationists were humiliated by the Scopes trial and went into a period of withdrawal after it was over. In fact, fundamentalists simply shifted tactics and assumed a lower profile but continued their crusade. They began pressuring textbook publishers to water down material about evolution in science textbooks, and many did so.

The launch of the Sputnik satellite by the Soviet Union in October of 1957 seriously rattled the American scientific community. There were numerous calls for better science education in public schools. In response, science instruction was beefed up in many schools, and biology classes were improved. Evolution was reintroduced in many areas, but a problem remained: Many states still had anti-evolution statutes on the books.

In 1968, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated an Arkansas law that banned public school instruction about evolution (Epperson v. Arkansas). Undaunted, creationists began pressing legislatures to pass laws mandating "balanced treatment" between evolution and "creation-science." The Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law like this in 1987 (Edwards v. Aguillard), holding that it was obviously religiously motivated.

Creationists continued to regroup. Throughout the 1980s and '90s they repackaged their ideas under several different names, among them "evidence against evolution" and "the theory of abrupt appearance."

But these efforts were also non-starters. Contemporary anti-evolutionists did not really begin to gain traction until the formation of the Discovery Institute, an outfit based in Washington state that promotes intelligent design.

Creationism In The 21st Century

One of the most visible threats to the teaching of evolution is intelligent design. At first glance, ID appears to have some key differences from standard creationism. It strips away some of the more implausible claims of traditional creationism and professes a secular approach.

Yet a closer look shows that ID remains a religious concept. The "designer" whom Religious Right proponents herald could only be God. They have offered no other plausible candidates. (Some ID boosters have actually suggested that a space alien could be the designer — an assertion that can hardly be taken seriously by science. It also begs the question: Who "designed" the space creature?)

ID proponents have conducted a slick public relations campaign aimed at local schools. They often bypass state officials and apply strong-arm tactics directly to local school boards. Board members, who in most parts of the country are democratically elected, can be subject to considerable community pressure. Thus, ID proponents are primarily waging a political, not scientific, battle.

In fact, ID backers' attempts to publish peer-reviewed research have failed. While they have published many books, these works have been subjected to great criticism in the scientific community.

Some ID advocates are forthright about their religious agenda when speaking to sympathetic audiences. Phillip Johnson, considered a founding guru of the movement, told a religious gathering in 1999 that he uses ID to convince people of the truth of the Bible and talk to them about "the question of sin." From there, Johnson said, people are "introduced to Jesus." Jonathan Wells, another prominent ID proponent, says he was persuaded to criticize evolution after becoming a member of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church.

In December 2005, a federal district court in Pennsylvania ruled against ID promotion in Dover public schools. The Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District decision sends a clear message that intelligent design is constitutionally unacceptable in science classes.

Proposing ID as an "alternative" to evolution is not the only tactic being used to push evolution out of schools. Opponents also use disclaimers, either printed inside a textbook or read aloud by a teacher or school administrator, as another way to undermine the scientific validity of evolution. This kind of effort has the same goal as the ID movement to cast doubt on the theory of evolution but doesn't usually put forth any specific alternative, scientific or otherwise.

It's worth pointing out that ID and other forms of creationism are grounded only in certain varieties of religion. Most major denominations made their peace with evolution long ago because the scientific evidence for it is so compelling. Today, only militantly fundamentalist groups tend to oppose evolution.

Thus, efforts to claim that evolution is somehow hostile to religion are easily disproved, as are claims that evolution promotes a "godless" universe. In fact, evolution says nothing about the origin of the universe or the meaning of life. It merely addresses the non-controversial idea that living things have the ability to change over time.

Nor is evolution incompatible with conservative theology. Pope John Paul II was hardly considered a theological liberal. Yet on at least two occasions John Paul stated that there need be no conflict between religion and science on this matter. The Bible, the pope said, "does not wish to teach how heaven was made but how one goes to heaven." In October of 1997, John Paul issued a statement asserting that "fresh knowledge leads to recognition of the theory of evolution as more than just a hypothesis."

What Is At Stake

Why is this issue important? At its core, creationism undermines the wall of separation between church and state. Parents are free to teach their children religious concepts at home and in houses of worship. That is not enough for the creationists. They want to expose all children to those concepts in public school science classes. They want to use a captive audience to spread their theology. This they cannot legally do. Public schools, the Supreme Court has repeatedly said, are not allowed to promote religion.

Furthermore, creationism and ID threaten good science education in America. The core findings of evolutionary theory are no longer questioned by the scientific community. Evolution is taught without controversy in secular universities all over the nation. Failing to teach it in high school does a disservice to our students and leaves them ill-prepared for higher education.

Resistance to standard science instruction could cause our country to fall behind other nations. Religious opposition to evolution is practically non-existent in Western Europe, Japan, Canada and Australia. As a result, the United States' position as the leader in cutting-edge biotechnology is now in jeopardy. Our country will not continue to lead in this area if our students are not adequately educated about modern science.

In light of this, claims that schools should teach both evolution and some form of creationism and let young people decide are unpersuasive. There is no longer a controversy in the scientific community about the validity of evolution. Pretending that there is only does a disservice to our students. We cannot substitute theology for science in our classrooms and expect to remain the world leader in increasingly important scientific fields.

Because so many different religions and cultures have different beliefs about origins, public schools must take care not to elevate any one understanding over others. For this reason, intelligent design and other forms of creationism must be kept out of our science classrooms.

Americans for Religious Liberty

A free and secular democratic state values education in science. It recognizes that a strong country needs citizens who are trained in the methods of science and makes it available through public institutions. Since it protects the integrity of science and free inquiry it refuses to allow public school classrooms to be used for religious indoctrination. It especially defends the integrity of modern biology. The evolution of life is science. It is more than speculation. It is an established truth, which over one hundred years of biological research has confirmed.

Council of Europe

The dangers of creationism in education

1. The aim of this resolution is not to question or to fight a belief — the right to freedom of belief does not permit that. The aim is to warn against certain tendencies to pass off a belief as science. It is necessary to separate belief from science. It is not a matter of antagonism. Science and belief must be able to coexist. It is not a matter of opposing belief and science, but it is necessary to prevent belief from opposing science.

2. For some people the Creation, as a matter of religious belief, gives a meaning to life. Nevertheless, the Parliamentary Assembly is worried about the possible ill-effects of the spread of creationist ideas within our education systems and about the consequences for our democracies. If we are not careful, creationism could become a threat to human rights, which are a key concern of the Council of Europe.

3. Creationism, born of the denial of the evolution of species through natural selection, was for a long time an almost exclusively American phenomenon. Today creationist ideas are tending to find their way into Europe and their spread is affecting quite a few Council of Europe member states.

4. The prime target of present-day creationists, most of whom are of the Christian or Muslim faith, is education. Creationists are bent on ensuring that their ideas are included in the school science syllabuses. Creationism cannot, however, lay claim to being a scientific discipline.

5. Creationists question the scientific character of certain areas of knowledge and argue that the theory of evolution is only one interpretation among others. They accuse scientists of not providing enough evidence to establish the theory of evolution as scientifically valid. On the contrary, creationists defend their own statements as scientific. None of this stands up to objective analysis.

6. We are witnessing a growth of modes of thought which challenge established knowledge about nature, evolution, our origins and our place in the universe.

7. There is a real risk of serious confusion being introduced into our children's minds between what has to do with convictions, beliefs, ideals of all sorts and what has to do with science. An "all things are equal" attitude may seem appealing and tolerant, but is in fact dangerous.

8. Creationism has many contradictory aspects. The "intelligent design" idea, which is the latest, more refined version of creationism, does not deny a certain degree of evolution. However, intelligent design, presented in a more subtle way, seeks to portray its approach as scientific, and therein lies the danger.

9. The Assembly has constantly insisted that science is of fundamental importance. Science has made possible considerable improvements in living and working conditions and is a rather significant factor in economic, technological and social development. The theory of evolution has nothing to do with divine revelation but is built on facts.

10. Creationism claims to be based on scientific rigour. In reality the methods employed by creationists are of three types: purely dogmatic assertions; distorted use of scientific quotations, sometimes illustrated with magnificent photographs; and backing from more or less well-known scientists, most of whom are not specialists in these matters. By these means creationists seek to appeal to non-specialists and spread doubt and confusion in their minds.

11. Evolution is not simply a matter of the evolution of humans and of populations. Denying it could have serious consequences for the development of our societies. Advances in medical research, aiming at combating infectious diseases such as Aids, are impossible if every principle of evolution is denied. One cannot be fully aware of the risks involved in the significant decline in biodiversity and climate change if the mechanisms of evolution are not understood.

12. Our modern world is based on a long history, of which the development of science and technology forms an important part. However, the scientific approach is still not well understood and this is liable to encourage the development of all manner of fundamentalism and extremism. The total rejection of science is definitely one of the most serious threats to human and civic rights.

13. The war on the theory of evolution and on its proponents most often originates in forms of religious extremism closely linked to extreme right-wing political movements. The creationist movements possess real political power. The fact of the matter, and this has been exposed on several occasions, is that some advocates of strict creationism are out to replace democracy by theocracy.

14. All leading representatives of the main monotheistic religions have adopted a much more moderate attitude. Pope Benedict XVI, for example, as his predecessor Pope John-Paul II, today praises the role of science in the evolution of humanity and recognises that the theory of evolution is "more than a hypothesis".

15. The teaching of all phenomena concerning evolution as a fundamental scientific theory is therefore crucial to the future of our societies and our democracies. For that reason it must occupy a central position in the curriculums, and especially in the science syllabuses, as long as, like any other theory, it is able to stand up to thorough scientific scrutiny. Evolution is present everywhere, from medical overprescription of antibiotics that encourages the emergence of resistant bacteria to agricultural overuse of pesticides that causes insect mutations on which pesticides no longer have any effect.

16. The Council of Europe has highlighted the importance of teaching about culture and religion. In the name of freedom of expression and individual belief, creationist ideas, as any other theological position, could possibly be presented as an addition to cultural and religious education, but they cannot claim scientific respectability.

17. Science provides irreplaceable training in intellectual rigour. It seeks not to explain "why things are" but to understand how they work.

18. Investigation of the creationists' growing influence shows that the arguments between creationism and evolution go well beyond intellectual debate. If we are not careful, the values that are the very essence of the Council of Europe will be under direct threat from creationist fundamentalists. It is part of the role of the Council of Europe's parliamentarians to react before it is too late.

19. The Parliamentary Assembly therefore urges the member states, and especially their education authorities to:

19.1. defend and promote scientific knowledge;

19.2. strengthen the teaching of the foundations of science, its history, its epistemology and its methods alongside the teaching of objective scientific knowledge;

19.3. make science more comprehensible, more attractive and closer to the realities of the contemporary world;

19.4. firmly oppose the teaching of creationism as a scientific discipline on an equal footing with the theory of evolution and in general the presentation of creationist ideas in any discipline other than religion;

19.5. promote the teaching of evolution as a fundamental scientific theory in the school curriculums.

20. The Assembly welcomes the fact that 27 academies of science of Council of Europe member states signed, in June 2006, a declaration on the teaching of evolution and calls on academies of science that have not yet done so to sign the declaration.

Freedom from Religion Foundation

Evolution is a fact, and schools should teach facts.

The phrase "theory of evolution" does not suggest uncertainty about the fact of evolution any more than the phrase "music theory" questions the existence of music. A theory is a framework by which a known process is understood.

The prevailing theory of biological evolution is Darwin's idea of the hereditary transmission of slight variations through successive generations. Some variations are naturally "selected" due to adaptiveness. Biology makes no sense without recognizing the fact that all species of plants and animals (including humans) have developed from earlier forms. Natural selection has withstood more than a century of rigorous scientific testing.

Creationism, a religious belief, has withstood no testing. Whereas scientists will tell you exactly what would falsify evolution (for example, routinely discovering horse skeletons mixed in with trilobite fossils in the Cambrian strata), creationists never volunteer what set of circumstances, if true, would count against their idea that all species emerged at one time. Since creationism is not assailable, not vulnerable to experiment, it is not science.

The bulk of creationist literature consists of attacks against evolution, pretending that the eradication of the idea of evolution would cause creationism to win by default. The only "evidence" creationists present is the story in Genesis, or other religious texts, that must be accepted by faith, not by rational principles of verification.

Creationism can be discussed in the context of comparative religion, philosophy, politics, or culture. It should not be taught in the science classroom.

Many religious people welcome the fact of evolution, just as they accept the theory of relativity with no threat to their faith. They see evolution as one of the tools their God used in creation.

All human beings, religious or not, should feel enriched by discovering our place in nature and the interconnectedness of all living things. The understanding of evolution by natural selection is wonderfully enlightening to science. It should be loudly and proudly taught.

Institute for First Amendment Studies

A popular bumper sticker reads: "God says it, I believe it, that settles it." For most Christian fundamentalists, that statement neatly sums up their belief in Biblical inerrancy. They believe in creationism because the Bible says that Got created everything in six days at some point less than 10,000 years ago.

"Creation scientists" take that viewpoint a step further. By faith they begin with belief in creationism- then they search for evidence to back that belief.

True scientists study the evidence, drawing their conclusions from that evidence. Science does not deal in "truths," but in models which have predictive values. Evolution is a truly scientific model; it is open to examination and challenge. Over the years scientists have modified their evolutionary viewpoints to fit the latest evidence. Because it is Bible-based, creationists never modify their hypothesis, or even admit it could be in error.

Creationism is clearly based upon religion. AS such, teaching it in church, Sunday school, parochial school (or even in comparative religion classes in public school) is fine. However, because it is faith-based, teaching creationism as science in tax-supported public schools violates the separation between church and state.

National Committee for Public Education and Religious Liberty

The National Committee for Public Education and Religious Liberty (National PEARL) is a coalition of over fifty* grassroots, civic, educational and religious groups committed to maintaining the First Amendment's guarantee of separation of church and state in our nation's public schools. National PEARL believes that maintenance of the wall of separation helps to assure a strong public education system and safeguards religious liberty. National PEARL is committed to keeping the nation's public schools a safe haven for the nation's children, free of religious indoctrination and discrimination.

National PEARL opposes teaching creationism, in lieu of or as a "companion" theory to, theories of scientific evolution in public schools. There are several versions of creationism; all share the common view that life, matter, and the universe were designed and created by a divine creator/supreme spiritual being. According to many creationists, all life developed relatively recently. Creationism cannot be taught without reference to the religious ideology from which it springs, namely the account of Genesis in the Bible. Consequently, National PEARL holds that creationism is a form of religious belief.

The teaching of creationism in a public school amounts to use of state-financed, state-run schools to indoctrinate children in a particular set of religious beliefs. This is best demonstrated by the fact that when creationists demand creationism be taught, they insist on the exclusion or denigration of legitimate science. For example, the Louisiana state legislature's consideration of legislation in 1981 that prohibited "discrimination" against teaching creationism but did not prohibit "discrimination" against teaching evolution.

As A Matter of Education Policy

A host of thorny educational issues arise from teaching creationism. These problems generate strife among teachers, between teachers and administrators, students and teachers, parents and the school, parents and students, and among students. If creationism were taught in the schools, it would foment religious strife over the following issues:

Who writes the curriculum? How could a religious curriculum be monitored objectively? Could an administrator require a teacher to teach creationism? If students attempted to opt out of the lesson, how would they be graded, much less treated? What if a teacher refuses to teach creationism?

Teaching creationism would mean that a teacher could answer a student's questions by reference to the book of Genesis or materials that are designed to support a theory of creation that is consistent with Genesis. Teaching creationism in lieu of science could also open a Pandora's box by requiring teachers to teach other religious or less-than-scientific views of other topics, on the theory that if the Biblical treatment of an issue is permitted, all other religious treatment of other scientific issues must have "equal access" to student's minds to avoid inter-religious strife. Conceivably, a Wicca theory of fire, or the Aryan Nation's or the Church of the Creator's theories that God did not create all people equal because some, by virtue of their race, are inferior, or other views like these would have to be permitted in science classes if creationism were permitted.

As a result, students would be presented with a dizzying array of religious doctrines but would not have the scientific training necessary to evaluate them or compete with other students. Preparing students to be well-informed and well educated is the cornerstone of the public school system, and concomitantly, of a functioning democracy.

This is not a case of abrogation of teachers' academic freedom. Proponents of creationism incorrectly appropriate the notion of academic freedom to argue for the right to teach their religious views. Proponents of creationism cannot equate academic freedom with their intent to indoctrinate students in a public school. The fact is, teachers' academic and religious freedom is undermined when they are forced to teach religious doctrines in science class.

Notably, no major union of teachers, including the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, have ever characterized it in this manner. Most teachers are perfectly capable of simultaneously holding private, religious beliefs and teaching scientific evolution. In fact, teachers throughout the United States espouse the sentiment of the Louisiana Science Teachers Association, which stated in 1981 it considered creationism "to be outside the boundaries of bona fide science."

As a Matter of Law

Teaching creationism is impermissible as a matter of law, either in lieu of scientific evolution or as a "companion theory." In both contexts, it has continuously been found to violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution because it puts government-run schools in the position of establishing religion by using their power to teach children compelled to attend school.

Precisely because the state would use its power, in the form of publicly financed schools, to further a particular religious doctrine, teaching creationism violates the major precept of the Establishment Clause, namely that "neither [a state nor a federal government] can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another.' Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1, 15 (1947). This kind of governmental support for private, religious belief and indoctrination goes against the philosophy of the Founding Fathers when they wrote the First Amendment. That such teachings are promulgated by legislative authorities, not educational experts, testifies to the reality that the real motivation and purpose is the advancement of a particular religious ideology.

Application of the most widely used legal test, known as Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971), to the practice of teaching creationism in public schools has found it unconstitutional. See Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578 (1987). Under Lemon, if a practice has a) a religious purpose, b) the effect of advancing religion, or c) it causes or necessitates entanglement of church and state officials to administer it, the practice violates the Establishment Clause.

Under the "endorsement" test, which courts often use in lieu of or in conjunction with the Lemon test, a practice is judged according to how much the state is perceived as endorsing religion. Teaching creationism obviously violates this test because the power of the state is used to endorse a particular religious belief. Furthermore, there is no way to "mitigate" the state's endorsement of the religious message. As PEARL founder and noted constitutional scholar Leo Pfeffer reflected, "In respect to those pupils who do understand what the teachers are saying, teaching creationism as being only a theory would violate the First Amendment's ban on inhibiting religion. To teach pupils that the account of Moses splitting the sea or Jesus walking on it is only a theory could hardly be reconciled with the Amendment's ban on the inhibition of religion. The last thing in the world fundamentalist Christians want is for public schools to teach that God's creation of the world or His relationship to Jesus, or Moses' receipt of the Ten Commandments from Him, are only theories."

Under the "coercion" test, which courts often use in lieu of or in conjunction with the Lemon test, the teaching of creationism in public schools also violates the Establishment Clause. First, children are compelled to attend public school; they cannot "opt out" of science class and assume they will pass statewide, year-end tests. Consequently, forcing students to listen to creationist lectures would use students' captive status coercively. By the very nature of creationist theory, and student questioning or challenging the theory would be put in the position of questioning the religious belief system behind it, and risking the chance of invoking the disapproval of a teacher who espouses the creationist perspective.

For all the foregoing reasons — educational and constitutional — creationism should not be taught in the public schools.

*American Association of School Administrators// American Association of University Women// American Civil Liberties Union// American Ethical Union, American Federation of Teachers// American Humanist Association// American Jewish Congress// Americans for Democratic Action// Americans for Religious Liberty// Americans United for Separation of Church & State (and Rochester Chapter)// Anti Defamation League// A. Philip Randolph Institute// Arizona Citizens Project// Association of Reform Rabbis of New York City & Vicinity// Baptist Joint Committee // Central Conference of American Rabbis// City Club of New York// Community Church of New York, Social Action Committee// Council of Churches of the City of New York// Council for Democratic and Secular Humanism// Council of Supervisors and Administrators// Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, Committee on Social Concerns & Peace// Episcopal Diocese of New York// Federation of Reconstructionist Congregations & Havurot// Freedom to Learn Network// Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia// Humanist Society of Metropolitan New York, Inc.// Institute for First Amendment Studies// League for Industrial Democracy, NYC Chapter// Michigan Council About Parochiaid// Minnesota Civil Liberties Union // Monroe County PEARL// National Council of Jewish Women (& New York Section)// National Center for Science Education// National Education Association// National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee// National PTA// New York Jewish Labor Committee// New York Society for Ethical Culture// New York State Congress of Parents and Teachers// New York State Council of Churches// New York State United Teachers// Ohio PEARL// Public Education Association// Union of American Hebrew Congregations (& New York Federation of Reform Synagogues)// Unitarian-Universalist Association// United Community Centers, Inc.// United Federation of Teachers// United Synagogues of America, New York Metropolitan Region// Washington Area Secular Humanists// Women's American O.R.T.// Women's City Club of NY, Inc.// Workmen's Circle, NY Division

People for the American Way Foundation

People For the American Way Foundation is a staunch defender of public education. We believe that public education—like an independent judiciary and fair elections—is an essential component of our American democracy. We support comprehensive science education including the best scientific knowledge about evolution and Darwin's theory of natural selection.

Science education has long been under attack from right-wing religious activists who have attempted to remove evolution from the classroom. The campaign against evolution is not a scientific movement or an educational movement. It is a political campaign being waged by people who think their religious beliefs should be taught as science in our public school classrooms. Holding science curriculum hostage to religious ideologies is not only educationally unsound, but also violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

Teaching genuine science, including evolution and natural selection, is the only acceptable choice for public schools. "Creationism" and "Intelligent Design" (more accurately called Intelligent Design Creationism) are not science; they are religious beliefs, as federal courts have recognized. As such, they cannot and should not be taught in a science classroom.

The deceptive call to "teach the debate" is just another way to attack science. There is no real scientific debate about evolution. Pretending otherwise for political or religious reasons doesn't change the reality; it only undermines the quality of science our students are taught.

When science education is controlled by religious rather than scientific belief, our children will be unprepared for higher education, citizenship, and life. Americans need critical skills to function in the twenty-first century, and that requires a quality science education.

This does not mean that public school students cannot be taught about religion and religious beliefs. To the contrary, in appropriate courses (such as World Religions), students can and should learn about the beliefs of different faith groups, including beliefs about the origin of the universe and development of humankind. This teaching simply does not belong in science classes.

People For the American Way Foundation strongly defends the teaching of evolution as an essential component of a quality science education. PFAWF works with students, parents, teachers, and community leaders to defend public schools and the integrity of science education when they come under attack from the Religious Right and its political allies.