The On-going Debate: Evolution, Creationism, and Intelligent Design

This controversy is not a recent phenomenon. If we consider an historical timeline, the conflict between religion and science can be traced far beyond Darwin and his Origin of the Species. The famous “Scopes Monkey Trial” in 1925 debated the enforcement of a Tennessee law prohibiting the teaching of evolution in public schools. Court cases in 1968 (Epperson vs. Arkansas) and 1987 (Edwards vs. Aguillard) again exposed the raw social nerve surrounding this topic.

Considering a more recent time frame of 1999 and 2000, the state of Kansas has seen considerable debate and vote on removing and then re-instating evolution in science teaching; however, in 2004 a majority of the Kansas Board of Education proposed that the concept of intelligent design be presented to students. In 2005, the local school board of Dover, Pennsylvania voted to require that teachers introduce intelligent design prior to discussing evolution in biology classrooms. The case of Kitzmiller vs. Dover was decided in December 2005, ruling the Dover mandate unconstitutional.

Closer to home are events affecting science education in South Carolina. In March 2006 the SC Board of Education rejected a proposal from the Education Oversight Committee to expand “critical analysis” language in the new state science standards concerned with evolution. There are some who believe that the term “critical analysis” simply suggests a more objective study of evolution; there are others who believe it is merely an attempt to discredit evolution. In April 2006 a sub-committee of the SC House Committee on Education and Public Works voted to approve amended Senate Bill 114 that “directs the state Board of Education to approve only textbooks that “emphasize critical thinking and analysis in each academic content.” (The State, April 2006). On May 16th the House Education and Public Works committee rejected the amendment to the bill and “then killed the entire bill.” (The Post and Courier, May 17, 2006).

All of these examples serve to illustrate the very long- time controversy between religion and science and the teaching of evolution.

This summer the GGC will offer a new course in its Summer Teachers Educational Program. This course, Contemporary Topics in Genetics: A Hands-on Approach” will provide factual information on many genetic topics presented in the popular media and seek to dispel any misconceptions regarding these topics. As a part of this new course, a special evening lecture will focus on the creation/evolution dispute with invited speaker, John Leslie, Ph.D. professor at Kansas State University.

Although the course will be open to course enrollees only, the evening lecture will be open to the public. The GGC invites and welcomes those interested in this topic to attend on June 22nd at 7:00pm in the Curry Auditorium of the JC Self Research Institute.