The Evolution of Creationism In America by ProQuest


More Info
									                                                       Austin M. Hitt

                 The Evolution of Creationism
                         In America
      This article examines the creationist movement and discusses the implications
      for science educators.

   Recently, I was in a large chain         the context of the larger social, political   Individuals with an orthodox view
bookstore when I noticed something          and legal debates within American             believe that evolutionary theory
odd about the way the books were            Society the titles made sense.                threatens traditional religious and
organized. On the same shelf, I                Research in the fields of political        moral values because it is viewed as
found creationist books like Michael        science, sociology, and moral                 one of the foundational principles for
Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box and               psychology reveals that an individual’s       secular humanism (Coulter, 2007;
Phillip E. Johnson’s Darwin On Trial        positions on issues like the death            Dawkins, 2006; Jacoby, 2004). In
alongside pro-evolution books such          penalty, abortion, or the teaching            contrast, individuals with a progressive
as Eugenie Scott’s Evolution Versus         of evolution are not formed in a              perspective see evolutionary theory as
Creationism and Michael Shermer’s           vacuum; instead, they are the product         adding to the collective knowledge of
Why Darwin Matters: The Case                of underlying moral and ethical               mankind (Coulter, 2007; Dawkins,
Against Intelligent Design. Tucked          frameworks (Haidt, Kohler, Dias,              2006; Jacoby, 2004).
in between these attention-grabbing         1993; Hunter, 1991, 2006; Sowell,                In the culture war, science educators
texts were desultory science books          1987). Differences between moral              have become the front line defenders
with relatively tame titles. I found this   perspectives are responsible for              of evolution. Therefore, it is critical
arrangement strange, because the sign       seemingly irreconcilable conflicts            that we understand creationist agenda
on top of the shelf read “Science.”         over issues such as abortion, the             and tactics. This article addresses
I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t the          death penalty, and gun control.               these issues by (1) identifying the
Religion section be more appropriate,       Sociologist James Davidson Hunter             different varieties of creationism,
because the theme of both the pro-          (1991, 2006) devised the concept of           (2) summarizing the evolution of
creation and the anti-creation books        a culture war in order to describe the        creationism in the United States,
is God’s role in creating life on           conflict over the values and beliefs          and (3) addressing the issues that are
earth? Isn’t that clearly a theological     that will become dominant in society.         pertinent to the defense of evolution.
issue?”                                     One side is comprised of individuals
                                                                                          I. Creationism, The Diversity of
   My next thought was, “Why do             with a conservative “orthodox faith”
these books have such assertive and         who believe that there are eternal,
defensive titles?” As I read the front      transcendent laws and guidelines                 One of the misconceptions people
and back covers of the books, I felt        for moral behavior. Alternatively,            have about creationism is that it
like I was in the middle of a verbal        individuals with a liberal “progressive       is a unified movement. In reality,
sparring match between the creationist      faith” believe that it is necessary to        creationism exists along a continuum
and evolutionist authors. On the            change values and laws in order to            of beliefs (Numbers, 2006; Scott,
creationist side, there was a call for      reflect contemporary society (Hunter,         2004). At one end of the continuum is
putting Darwin On Trial and there           1991, 2006).                                  the idea that God personally created all
was a response from evolutionists for          Evolution is an example of an issue        life and actively intervenes to ensure
Defending Evolution. However, once I        that can create rifts between individuals     its progress. At the opposite end of
was able to put the authors’ words into     with orthodox and progressive faiths.         the continuum is the view that life is

58                                                                                                              Science educator
planned and initiated by God, and it        site, <>,            Biblical lands, and all life-forms on
progresses without any intercession.        that they can both be a Christian and         earth (with the exception of humans)
    The most God-centered creationist       believe in an old earth as long as they       evolved from simpler ancestral forms.
group is the Young Earth Creationists.      accept the central doctrine of salvation      It 
To top