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Creationism's evolution, caught on tape
A nonprofit's archives track the rise and fall of attacks on evolution
Oakland, California, May 20, 2008 ─ Evolution's opponents have taken another round of losses recently, with the failures of the creationist propaganda movie Expelled, a creationist bid to grant science education degrees in Texas, and antievolution legislation in Florida, Alabama, and Missouri. A new video from the National Center for Science Education shows how the nonprofit's archives preserves the history of creationist attacks on science education, and how NCSE uses information from its archives to block new attacks.
"With creationists," explains Eugenie C. Scott, NCSE's executive director, "there's a lot of recycling: the same arguments are made over and over, just with new labels and rhetoric. So when we needed to show that 'intelligent design' was a rebranding of creationism, we went to the archives and proved that the same people had been making the same arguments, just dressed up with a fancy new name."
The new video, "Jesus in My Classroom," posted today at www.ExpelledExposed.com, shows how NCSE's archives helped win the seminal Kitzmiller v. Dover trial by tracing the history of the "intelligent design" textbook at issue in the trial. As the video shows, a clipping in NCSE's archives tipped off lawyers for the Dover parents that the textbook was originally intended to present "both evolution and creation." After a Supreme Court decision holding it unconstitutional to teach creationism in science class, the textbook authors replaced references to "creation" with "design." Careful review even found a so-called missing link: a passage in which "creationists" was revised to "cdesign proponentsists," rather than the intended "design proponents."
"Our archives aren't just for lawyers," says Charles Hargrove, NCSE's archivist. "Historians and other social scientists who need access to back issues of creationist periodicals like the Bible-Science Newsletter or tapes of creationist debates rely on these archives. The fight over creationism is an important part of American history, and our archives are vital for researchers at NCSE and beyond." NCSE's archives include over 2500 books, nearly 100 linear feet of magazines, pamphlets and personal papers, and over 500 hours of video and audio recordings.
Josh Rosenau, a spokesman for NCSE, describes how he uses these archives. "When a new creationist textbook or pamphlet or video emerges, we can locate previous works by the same authors, and trace the inspiration for their bogus scientific claims." Echoing NCSE's motto, he added, "When you're defending the teaching of evolution in the public schools, you have to know what you're up against - even if it turns out to be something familiar."
The National Center for Science Education is a non-profit organization dedicated to defending the teaching of evolution in the public schools. The NCSE maintains its archive of source material on the history of creationism at its Oakland, California, headquarters. On the web at www.ncseweb.org.
NCSE's other website, www.ExpelledExposed.com, is a resource for journalists, teachers, and curious moviegoers who want the full story behind the creationist movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.