THE RISE AND FALL OF THE LOUISIANA CREATIONISM LAW
Part 1: A Bold Trick
by WILLIAM J. BENNETTA
[Republished, with the kind permission of the author and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, from the July/August 1988 issue of the museum’s magazine Terra, vol. 26, no. 6, pp. 20–22, 24–27.]
Creationism is a political arm of fundamentalism. The creationists seek to impose onto the population at large, by political means, a body of religious beliefs derived from literal readings of the King James version of the Holy Bible+ read
In 1984, three years before the Supreme Court ruled in the well-known Edwards v. Aguillard decision that "balanced treatment" of evolution and "creation science" is unconstitutional, the Attorney General of Texas put an end to another anti-evolution practice. In answer to an inquiry from a state legislator, the Attorney General gave an official opinion that the Board of Education policy requiring "disclaimers" in biology textbooks violated the First Amendment.
However, disclaimers were never actually tested in court, and in
Readers of NCSE Reports know that a new creationist book, Of Pandas and People, is making the rounds. Scott Brande has described the efforts of Haughton Publishing Co. to get Pandas adopted in Alabama as a supplementary text (NCSE Reports 9(6):5 and 10(1):8). Pandas presents the "intelligent design" version of the origin of species in an attractive wrapper without any explicit sign of religious creationism (see review, NCSE Reports 10(1):16).
Those curious about the origin of Pandas
Steve Gould wrote like no one else in our field — or in any other field. His sentences were long, erudite, and full of parenthetical phrases, allusions to classical literature, intellectual history, philosophy of science, art, music, historical personages, and baseball. His short pieces always had a moral, and usually it was about how important it is to see biology through the glass of evolution. His point was often that evolution uses what is available to form new structures and functions; it is not necessary to create structures de novo, to wait for new complexes of genes to+ read
In connection with the discussion of Karl Popper's philosophy of science (Reports 13(1) and 13(3)), it should be recalled that this philosophy played a small but significant role in the creation-evolution controversy in the early 1980s, and it is still used by anti-evolutionists a decade later.
Popper asserted that making testable (and thus potentially falsifiable) predictions of previously unobserved phenomena was a necessary condition for a theory to be called "scientific." This was known as the "falsifiability" criterion. Popper himself concluded that
Televangelist James Dobson's group, "Focus on the Family," is a leading proponent of the religious right agenda. In the summer 1992 edition of his Citizen newsletter, Dobson directs his supporters to march down to the school board and demand of Of Pandas and People be used when evolution is taught. Pandas, of course, is a creationist "intelligent design" book intended as a supplement to high school biology courses. It was submitted for state adoption in Idaho and Alabama, and, with NCSE and committee of correspondence help, was
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