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Keywords:

  • Science and religion;
  • Science education

Abstract

Antievolutionism is alive and well in the United States, as shown by public attitudes toward evolution and the factual truth of Biblical literalism. High percentages of college students do not accept evolution as a valid explanation of earth's history. One in three think humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time. Antievolutionism has had three phases: (1) “straight” antievolutionism, during which time the teaching of evolution was outlawed; (2) pro-creationism, during which the Genesis story was taught alongside or instead of evolution; and finally, today, (3) “scientific” creationism, in which Biblical literalism is clothed in scientific terms. The strategy of modern antievolutionists is to move creationism away from religion (hence scientific creationism) and argue a “free speech” issue: that students being taught only “one side” of the “origins” issue are being denied a constitutionally guaranteed freedom. Present-day antievolutionists have had surprising success, as shown by legislation in Arkansas and Louisiana mandating the teaching of scientific creationism. Textbooks have sharply reduced the coverage of evolution in quantity and quality as a result of antievolutionist pressure. There is a pervasive feeling being generated that evolutionary sciences are not as reliable as other sciences. Pressure has been exerted on research institutions and granting agencies to cease funding evolutionary projects. These trends will continue until opposed by a successful educational effort both in and out of schools to increase the public understanding of science.