Home| Letters| Links| RSS| About Us| Contact Us

On the Frontline

What's New

Table of Contents

Index of Authors

Index of Titles

Index of Letters

Mailing List

subscribe to our mailing list:


Critique of Intelligent Design

Evolution vs. Creationism

The Art of ID Stuntmen

Faith vs Reason

Anthropic Principle

Autopsy of the Bible code

Science and Religion

Historical Notes


Serious Notions with a Smile


Letter Serial Correlation

Mark Perakh's Web Site

Deception by Design

The Intelligent Design Movement in America

by Lenny Flank

Posted August 20, 2006

All Rights Reserved

Permission is granted for the free reprinting and distribution of this book for noncommerical educational purposes.


To Matt Duss and Tim Rhodes, who originally leaked the Wedge Document to the Internet. They did far more to protect democracy than they ever could have realized at the time.


I first became involved with the creation/evolution fight back in 1982, when several members of a local school board in eastern Pennsylvania attempted to introduce a policy requiring "equal time" for creationism and evolution. A local coalition of teachers, clergy, and business leaders formed to oppose the move, and the policy was dropped. By the time the "intelligent design" movement appeared in the mid-90's to replace creation "science" as the spearhead of anti-evolutionism, I was an active contributor to the Talk.Origins Internet newsgroup, the webmaster for the "Creation 'Science' Debunked" website and, within a few years, had formed the DebunkCreation email list, which quickly gained the largest membership of any evolution/creation list at Yahoogroups. Just before the "intelligent design" trial in Pennsylvania, the DebunkCreation group raised money from activists all over the world to purchase and donate a total of 23 science books, including several that were specifically critical of ID, to the Dover Senior High School Library. Since then, I have also been a regular commentator at the well-respected Panda's Thumb blog, which serves as a nerve center for anti-creationist and anti-ID activists, and I am a founding member of Florida Citizens for Science, which acts as a pro-science anti-creationism watchdog in the Sunshine State.

This book has one very clear objective in mind -- to present a history of creation "science" and its latest reincarnation as Intelligent Design "theory", and to lay bare the political and social roots of this movement. There have already been several excellent books that have dissected the scientific distortions and errors made by the creationist/ID movement and the devastating effects they would have on science education. This book aims to go beyond that, and to instead examine the underlying social/political aims of creationism/ID. It is impossible to fully understand the anti-evolution movement in the US without looking at the political Christian fundamentalist movement of which it is a larger part, and for which it has been selected as the "wedge issue". As a longtime grassroots activist, with decades of experience in the environmental, antiwar, labor and consumer rights movements, I have come to view the ID/creationists as a well-defined political movement, with carefully selected theocratic political goals, and a well-financed deliberately-planned strategy to implement them.

It is my opinion that the ID/creationists (along with the rest of their Religious Right companions) represent, in their attempts to re-mold all of American society in accordance with their own narrow sectarian beliefs, the single greatest threat to freedom and democracy in the United States today.


For most of the world, the controversy over creation and evolution was settled way back in the 19th century, after the theory of evolution was presented in a paper by Charles Darwin to the Linnean Society in July 1858. During the five-year around-the-world trip of the Royal Navy ship Beagle, Darwin had collected a variety of specimens from South America and across the globe, including the various finches that inhabited the Galapagos Islands and which now bear his name. Darwin's study led him to conclude that species were not, as was generally accepted at the time, fixed and immutable, but changed over time to become entirely new species, through the process of natural selection. Although he had written about the evolution of species in private notebooks as early as 1844, Darwin did not publish his ideas at first, knowing that they would be highly controversial. Instead, he wrote detailed studies of coral reefs, volcanic islands, and geology -- work which placed him among the best-known and most highly regarded naturalists in Britain. Darwin's hand, though, was forced in 1858, when another naturalist, Alfred Russell Wallace, working in southeast Asia, independently formed the same idea of evolution through natural selection, and wrote to Darwin asking for his opinion about it. Darwin and Wallace jointly submitted their papers to the Linnean Society, and Darwin followed up the next year with On the Origin of Species, which spelled out his ideas with detailed supporting arguments and evidence.

Within the space of a few years, Darwin's theory of evolution was accepted almost universally by the scientific community. Conservative religious groups, however, particularly in the United States, were outraged by the idea. The wave of religious opposition to evolution peaked in the United States in 1925, when Clarence Darrow eviscerated William Jennings Bryan in a country courtroom in Dayton, Tennessee, in the famous "Scopes Monkey Trial". The anti-evolution movement fell to virtually nothing after Scopes.

After decades of quiet, however, the creationist movement surged back into prominence in the 1980s, when the fundamentalist Religious Right took up the anti-evolution cudgel, and allied itself with the conservative elements of the Republican Party to form a powerful political constituency that has dominated American politics for the past 25 years. During this time, anti-evolutionists, first under the name "creation scientists" and then later as "intelligent design theorists", waged pitched battles against evolutionary science, culminating in a series of Federal court fights in Arkansas, Louisiana and Pennsylvania. In Arkansas in 1982, a Federal judge ruled that teaching creation "science" was an impermissible violation of the Constitution, a ruling that the Supreme Court echoed in a 1987 case from Louisiana. Within a few months of the Supreme Court ruling, creation "science" was transformed into Intelligent Design "theory" (ID), and the effort to depose Darwin began anew. In 2005, a Federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled that ID was nothing but creation "science" renamed, and was unconstitutional to teach. Nevertheless, the campaign against the theory of evolution continues, and new courtroom battles are already shaping up in Kansas and elsewhere.

The popular image of intelligent design/creationists tends to picture a group of rural hayseeds with not much education, who continually thump the Good Book as they speak. This image is completely wrong. Modern anti-evolutionists are very slick, tend to be quite well-educated, and are very well-versed in the tactics of sophistry and debate. Their "scientific" arguments, while nonsensical, are very intricate and detailed, and certainly sound convincing to people who do not have enough scientific knowledge to make a good judgment (such as local school board members). The ID/creationist movement is well-organized, well-financed, and is fanatically dedicated. They also exercise an enormous amount of political influence at the federal, state and local levels.

Although the stated aim of the ID/creationist movement is to oppose what they see as the "godless theory of evolution" and to, quite literally, change the definition of "science" to include the religious and to make science "theistic", it must be recognized that the evolution/creation debate is, at core, not really about science or education. The creationists are not concerned in the slightest about scientific questions, or about correctly interpreting data, or about forming better explanations and understanding of the natural world. Instead, creationism/ID is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the fundamentalist Religious Right -- it is a religious and political movement, not a scientific one, and its goals are entirely religious and political, not scientific. The ID/creationists are a part of a larger political movement with radical theocratic aims, and their anti-evolution and anti-science efforts are, as they themselves declare, simply the "wedge issue" which they have chosen in order to gain entry for their wider anti-democratic political agenda. Indeed, the most prominent "intelligent design" group in the United States today, the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, is largely funded by a single extremist Christian fundamentalist billionaire who, for 20 years, preached the Taliban-like idea that the US should repudiate the Constitution, dismantle the wall between church and state, and place the country completely under "Biblical law", to include such Biblical imperatives as stoning sinners and executing nonbelievers or heretics.

What is evolution?

The word "evolution" actually means two quite distinct and separate things (and it is a favorite ID/creationist tactic to attempt to blur the distinction between the two). On the one hand, "evolution" means simply that organisms have changed over time, that some organisms have disappeared from the planet and have been replaced by other organisms that did not exist before. In this sense, "evolution" is not a scientific theory or hypothesis; it is an observable fact, in the same way that the life cycle of a frog is an observable fact. The fossil record is very clear in indicating that organisms once existed which no longer exist (dinosaurs, trilobites, pterodactyls, mastodons), and that organisms exist now which did not exist in earlier geological eras (humans, chimps, white-tailed deer, viperine snakes).

On the other hand, "evolution" is also the word used to indicate the scientific theory of how this process of organism replacing organism occurred. In this sense, "evolution" is not an observable fact; it is a scientific model (more later on the definition of a "model") which purports to explain the fact of evolution (changes in species through time).

Most of the time, when a scientist speaks of "evolution", he or she is talking about the currently accepted model of the process through which organisms have changed over time, not about the actual existence or nonexistence of such change itself. The creationists, on the other hand, like to interpret various scientific criticisms of some aspects of the evolutionary model as an attack on the concept of evolution itself. It is important to recognize that scientific arguments over how evolution happens are not the same as arguments over whether evolution happens. While biologists often engage in scientific argument over how particular aspects of evolution operate, there is no scientific dispute at all that life evolves, and evolutionary theory forms the bedrock of all modern life sciences.

The currently-accepted scientific model of evolution was first laid out in Darwin's book On The Origin of Species Through Natural Selection. The Darwinian theory of evolution can be summed up in a number of simple postulates:

  1. The members of any particular biological population will differ from each other in minor ways, and will have slightly differing characteristics of construction and behavior. This is the principle of "variation".
  2. These variations can be passed from one generation to the next, and the offspring of those possessing a particular type of variation will also tend to have that same variation. This is the principle of "heritability".
  3. Certain of these variations will give their possessor an advantage in life (or avoid some disadvantage), allowing that organism to obtain more food, escape predators more efficiently, or gain some other advantage. Thus, those organisms that possess such a useful variation will tend to survive longer and produce more offspring than other members of that population. These offspring, through the principle of heritability, will also tend to possess this advantageous variation, and this will have the affect of increasing, over a number of generations, the proportion of organisms in the population which possess this variation. This is the principle of "natural selection".

These principles are combined to form the core of the evolutionary model. The Darwinian outlook holds that small incremental changes in structure and behavior, brought about by the natural selection of variations, produce, after a long period of time, organisms that differ so greatly from their ancestors that they are no longer the same organism, and must be classified as a separate species. This process of speciation, repeated over the 3.5 billion year span of time since life first appeared on earth, explains the gradual production of all of life's diversity.

In recent years, two new theories have been widely accepted which complement the traditional Darwinian theory of evolution. The first of these is "punctuated equilibria", a theory set forth by Stephen Gould and Niles Eldredge in the early 1970s. The original Darwinian theory holds that the incremental changes which produce a new species occur throughout the entire population of the "parent" species, and that the entire population gradually becomes replaced by the new species, a scenario known technically as "sympatric speciation" (sympatric means "same place"). In 1972, Gould and Eldredge proposed that the majority of speciations take place not in the entire population of the parent species, but within a small, geographically isolated portion of it. After this isolated transition to a new species has taken place, the new species moves outward from the area of its birth to replace the older species throughout its range, either by outcompeting it or by moving into a niche that is left empty by the subsequent extinction of the older species. This scenario is known as "allopatric speciation", from the words for "different place".

Gould and Eldredge pointed out that an allopatric mode of speciation, in which the evolutionary transition from one species into another takes place only in an isolated geographic area and over a relatively short period of time, would necessarily limit the number of such transitional fossils that would be found by paleontologists, since these transitional populations would be extremely limited in both space and time, and would not be found unless they were preserved as fossils (itself a rare occurrence) and also unless a fossil hunter happened to stumble onto the specific area where such a transition had taken place (Gould and Eldredge did manage to describe one such area--a single small quarry in New York which illustrated the transition from one Phacops species of trilobite to another; the lower levels contained the parent species of trilobites, the upper levels contained the new species, and in between were a series of transitions leading from one to the other).

Another theory of evolution is called "genetic drift", "neutralism" or "nonadaptive evolution". In the Darwinian view, all of an organism's traits are the result of natural selection, which continuously weeds out unsuitable variations and selects suitable ones to be retained in the next generation. However, in at least some instances, the presence of a particular genetic trait may be solely the result of chance. In a small population in which a portion of the members possessed one trait and a portion possessed another, it is possible for an accidental set of circumstances such as a disease or natural disaster to wipe out all of those possessing one of these traits, leaving only one trait left. Thus, this trait would be retained not through natural selection, but solely because of fortuitous circumstances. The most devastating of these circumstances are the periodic mass extinctions which have occurred throughout earth history -- at least one of which, the Cretaceous extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs, was caused by a huge extraterrestrial rock that impacted the earth near the present-day Yucatan peninsula. Under these extreme circumstances, it may be nothing but blind chance that determines which species are wiped out and which are left. This is often referred to as "survival of the luckiest".

There also seem to be a large number of traits which are equal in their "fitness"; none has any selection advantage over the others. In this manner, these traits are said to be "neutral" -- they are neither selected for nor selected against, and the proportion of one trait to another in a population can change haphazardly through purely statistical variations.

Neither the punctuated equilibria theory nor the neutralist theory replaces the Darwinian theory of gradualist natural selection, nor does either consider the Darwinian theory to be "wrong". Rather, both processes are complementary to the Darwinian viewpoint, while at the same time completely separate from it. Thus, it cannot really be said that there is a single "theory of evolution"--there are in fact several. Although much scientific debate today centers around the relative frequency and importance of each of these modes of speciation, none of this debate concerns the actual existence or nonexistence of evolutionary change (although ID/creationists are very fond of citing selected quotations from evolutionary theorists criticizing this or that aspect of evolutionary mechanism theory, in an attempt to cast doubt on the entire model).

It is also important to note here that evolution as a scientific model is completely silent on the ultimate origin of life on earth; although the evolution model asserts that all life is descended from some common source (which may have been a single original organism, or may have been a number of different organisms which appeared at more or less the same time), the model itself has nothing to say about the process through which this original organism or organisms appeared on earth --evolutionary mechanism theory is only concerned with the question of how life can be transformed into new forms of life. There is no evolutionary theory concerning the original development of life from non-living chemicals, since this topic falls outside of the framework of the evolutionary model. The question of origins belongs to an entirely separate biological discipline known as "abiogenesis", which is the province of bio-chemists rather than of evolutionary biologists. In the same vein, the evolution model has nothing whatsoever to do with astronomy or cosmology, and is completely silent about the original formation of the universe.

And, like any other scientific model (gravity, relativity, quantum physics, molecular chemistry), the evolution model presents no moral, religious, ideological, economic or political agenda. Evolution theory does not posit any way that humans "should" act, or any assertions about how society "should" be organized, any more than does the theory of relativity or the theory of quantum electrodynamics. Science is a method; it is not a worldview, not a way of life, and not a philosophy. Science is something one does, not something one believes in.

Evolutionary theory does not assert that history (either human or biological) is inevitably "progressive", moving inexorably from "good" to "better"; all organisms alive today have evolved just as far from life's common ancestor as has any other, and all have reached a level of evolutionary "fitness" to survive and reproduce in their environmental niche. No organism can be viewed as being "more evolved" than any other -- they have all simply evolved in different directions. The process of evolution is totally ad hoc and nondirectional.

Neither does the history of life move from "less complex" to "more complex" -- parasites continually evolve that lose significant portions of their anatomy and are simpler than their hosts, while in the biochemical sense, all the most complex evolution happened in life's earliest stages, three billion years ago, as one-celled organisms. Once multi-cellular animals appeared half a billion years ago, in the pre-Cambrian period, the biochemical story of life became rather routine; life since the pre-Cambrian has consisted largely of relatively simple variations on the same biochemical theme.

ONE: A History of Fundamentalism

In order to fully understand the creation science/intelligent design movement, we must look at the larger movement of which it is a part -- the fundamentalist Christian religious crusade in the United States -- and how the ID/creationists fit into this.

Christian fundamentalism is almost uniquely an American phenomenon. Although most of the development of fundamentalist thought occurs in the United States, this phenomenon was itself, originally, a reaction to a series of intellectual trends that happened in Europe.

From the time of the earliest Christian church in the first century CE, to the time of the European Enlightenment, the dominant view was that the Bible had been directly revealed by God to a small number of authors. The first five books of the Bible, known as the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy), were, according to tradition, all written by Moses during the 40 years of wandering in the Sinai desert.

One of the first criticisms of the traditional view of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch was made in Germany in 1520, when the Reformation scholar Carlstadt wrote an essay pointing out that the description of Moses's death (Deuteronomy 32:5-12) shared several literary characteristics with portions of the rest of Deuteronomy. Since, Carlstadt pointed out, Moses could not have written of his own death, he concluded that the same person had written both sections of the book, and that person could not have been Moses. In 1651, Thomas Hobbes, in his book Leviathan, also concluded that several portions of the Pentateuch could not have been written by Moses. In support of his hypothesis, he cited several Biblical verses which referred to events that happened after Moses's death. Twenty-five years later, the Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza concluded that not only had Moses not written the Pentateuch, but much of the rest of the Old Testament was not written by a single person either, and was probably edited together from pre-existing manuscripts.

The first serious attempt to examine the matter took place in 1753, when a French doctor, Jean Astruc, published a pamphlet (anonymously) titled Conjectures on the Original Documents That Moses Appears to Have Used in Composing the Book of Genesis. Astruc pointed out that many of the incidents and events described in Genesis were "doublets", that is, they often were described twice in back-to-back accounts that differed in details. There are, for instance, two different accounts of the creation story in Genesis 1 and 2, and two different accounts of the Flood story in later chapters. The presence of these repeated but different accounts, Astruc concluded, didn't make sense if, as tradition held, Genesis was a single narrative written in complete form by a single author.

To explain the presence of these doublets, Astruc proposed what later became known as the "Documentary Hypothesis". Using the techniques of literary and textual analysis that had already been used for secular literature, Astruc compared the wording and style of various passages in Genesis and concluded that there were two distinctly different accounts in Genesis which, based on differing literary conventions, were written by two different authors at different times, and then later combined into one book. One of these accounts consistently referred to God as "Elohim", or "The Lord", while the other account consistently referred to God by the name "Jehovah". Astruc labeled these two different sources as "A" and "B".

Within a short time, a group of German scholars expanded upon Astruc's ideas, and produced a school of Biblical study that became known as "Higher Criticism". By taking the linguistic/textual analysis done by Astruc and applying it to the rest of the Old Testament (which also contained doublets or even triplets -- there are for instance three different versions of the Ten Commandments in Exodus and Deuteronomy), the German scholars Eichhorn, Ewal, DeWette, Graf and Wellhausen identified four different sources for the Old Testament. One of these source documents always referred to God by the name "Jehovah", and therefore was labeled the "J" source. The J source was also distinguished by the particular words it used to describe the pre-Israeli inhabitants of the Promised Land, and tended to depict God in anthropomorphic terms. From implicit political assumptions made in the descriptions, it is apparent that the J source was identified with the Aaronid priesthood which was centered in Judah. The second identified source always referred to God as "Elohim", and was called the "E" source. The E source used different words to describe the pre-Israeli inhabitants of the Holy Land, and also tended to avoid anthropomorphic depictions of God. The political opinions implied in the account suggest that this source was allied with the Shiloh priesthood in Israel. The book of Deuteronomy had linguistic styles and topics that did not match either the J or E source, and thus was identified with a different source "D". Literary similarities led to the conclusion that the D source had also written the books of Joshua, Judges, First and Second Samuel, and First and Second Kings. Since the D source makes references to material found in both the J and E source, it was concluded that it had been written later. Finally, there is a fourth source text that seemed to be most concerned with details of rituals and the conduct of priests, as well as a penchant for long lists of dates and geneologies. This has been labeled the "P" source (for "priestly"). This is the source for the detailed laws of Leviticus. The P source is generally held to have been the most recent, chronologically. All of these varying sources were later edited together into their final form by an unknown person or persons known as the Redactor, who probably performed this task in about 400 BC. This view, known as the Documentary Hypothesis, is still held today by most Biblical scholars.

When the Documentary Hypothesis entered the United States during the late 19th century and became widely accepted (under the name "Modernism"), it exploded like a bombshell among the conservative elements of the Protestant churches. Not only did the German school reject the traditional idea that the Pentateuch was the work of a single author who had recorded the words dictated by God, but it concluded that the Bible itself was a collection of different documents by different authors, each with differing theologies and motives. The American conservatives flatly rejected the idea of a Bible that was pieced together years after the events which it describes. William Jennings Bryan, one of the most prominent Christian conservatives, thundered, "Give the modernist three words, 'allegorical,' 'poetical,' and 'symbolically,' and he can suck the meaning out of every vital doctrine of the Christian Church and every passage in the Bible to which he objects."

In response to the Modernist Higher Criticism, conservative Protestants in the United States met, in the Niagara Bible Conference in1897, to hammer out a counter-theology, a process that continued within several of the conservative Protestant denominations for over a decade. By 1910, the conservative traditionalists had settled on a set of five principles which, they argued, defined Christianity. These were (1) the inerrancy of the Bible, (2) the Virgin Birth and the deity of Jesus, (3) the belief that Jesus died to redeem mankind's sin and that salvation resulted through faith in Jesus, (4) the physical resurrection of Jesus, and (5) the imminent Second Coming of Jesus. Between 1910 and 1915, a series of twelve booklets were published, titled The Fundamentals; A Testimony to the Truth, containing 94 articles by 64 authors, setting out and defending these principles. The introduction to the first volume declared, "In 1909 God moved two Christian laymen to set aside a large sum of money for issuing twelve volumes that would set forth the fundamentals of the Christian faith, and which were to be sent free of charge to ministers of the gospel, missionaries, Sunday school superintendents, and others engaged in aggressive Christian work throughout the English speaking world." From these booklets, the conservative Christians became known as "the fundamentalists". Financed by the wealthy oil businessmen Milton and Lyman Stewart, some 3 million copies of The Fundamentals were printed. In 1919, the World Conference on Christian Fundamentals met in Philadelphia. At around the same time, the Moody Bible Institute was formed to publish fundamentalist defenses of Biblical inerrancy, and fundamentalist theologian Cyrus Scofield published an annotated Reference Bible, with margin notes defending literalist interpretations of Biblical passages. The fundamentalist conviction that they alone were the True Christians led to a long series of bitter fights with other Christians, as fundamentalists sought to take over as many theological institutes as they could in order to purge them of "modernists" and "liberals".

In addition to the five Biblical "fundamentals", the conservative Protestants also came to largely accept and embrace a number of other concepts that had not previously been a tenet of any of the major Christian denominations. These included (1) exclusivity, the idea that only the fundamentalists are able to authoritatively interpret the "true meaning" of the Bible, and thus are the only legitimate "True Christians", and (2) separation, the idea that not only are any other Christian interpretations (Catholic, liberal churches) utterly wrong, but it is the duty of fundamentalists to oppose and overcome them, while remaining apart from their corrupting influence. These characteristics, indeed, have today come to be almost the defining characteristics of any "fundamentalist" church.

The majority of the essays included in The Fundamentals were attacks on Higher Criticism, and defenses of an inerrant Bible that was to be taken as literal history and revelation. Other essays attacked the idea of the "Social Gospel", in which many liberal Christians asserted that Christians should ally with other social groups and become active in political movements to improve the living conditions for all humans. The fundamentalists rejected this idea, arguing instead that, since the Second Coming was imminent, the only task of the church should be to save as many souls as possible in the short time left before the world came to an end. The fundamentalists also did not want to associate with what they viewed as heretical and apostate liberal Christians.

It was the third major target of the fundamentalists, however, which ignited a conflict that continues to this day and is the direct ancestor of the creationist/intelligent design movement -- the political campaign targeting science, and, in particular, evolution.

In the years after Darwin first published On the Origin of Species, there was, as Darwin had expected, a storm of criticism from European religious figures who viewed the idea that humans had descended from animals as a direct attack on the Bible. Anglican Bishop Sam Wilberforce, in a public debate with evolution-supporter Thomas Huxley, famously asked if it was on his father's side or mother's side that Huxley claimed descent from apes. In a remarkably short time, however, religion had made its peace with Darwin, and by 1900, nearly every religious authority in Europe accepted the conclusions of science, just as it had accepted the conclusions of the Bible's literary scholars concerning the Documentary Hypothesis.

In America, however, the situation was quite different. The fundamentalists rejected evolution and the scientific outlook with all the fervor and vitriol that they had aimed at the German Biblical scholars. Princeton theologian J. Gresham Machen declared, "The root of the movement (liberalism) is one; the many varieties of modern liberal religion are rooted in naturalism -- that is, in the denial of any entrance of the creative power of God (as distinguished from the ordinary course of nature) in connection with the origin of Christianity . . . our principle concern . . . is to show that the liberal attempt at reconciling Christianity with modern science has really relinquished everything distinctive of Christianity, so that what remains is in essentials only that same indefinite type of religious aspiration which was in the world before Christianity came upon the scene. In trying to remove from Christianity everything that could possibly be objected to in the name of science, in trying to bribe off the enemy by those concessions which the enemy most desires, the apologist has really abandoned what he started out to defend...The plain fact is that liberalism, whether it be true or false, is no mere 'heresy' -- no mere divergence at isolated points from Christian teaching. On the contrary it proceeds from a totally different root, and it constitutes, in essentials a unitary system of its own . . . It differs from Christianity in its view of God, of man, of the seat of authority and the way of salvation . . . Christianity is being attacked from within by a movement which is anti-Christian to the core." Tent revivalist Billy Sunday referred to evolution as a "bastard theory" which was supported only by "hireling ministers".

Fundamentalist religious organizations formed alliances with conservative lawmakers to pass "monkey laws" -- laws which made it illegal to teach evolution -- in almost half of the states. In 1928, for instance, the state of Arkansas passed a law (by referendum) making it illegal to teach "the theory or doctrine that mankind ascended or descended from a lower order of animals." (Arkansas Initiated Act 1, 1928, cited in Eldredge 1982, p. 15 and LaFollette, 1983, p. 5) Another such law was the Butler Act, approved by the Tennessee state legislature in March 1925. The Butler act stated: "It shall be unlawful for any teacher in any of the Universities, Normals and all other public schools of the State which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State, to teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals." (Butler Act, Tennessee State Legislature, 1925)

The American Civil Liberties Union decided to challenge the constitutionality of the new Tennessee law, and announced that it would defend any teacher who would intentionally violate the Butler Act to produce a test case. In Dayton, Tennessee, biology teacher John T Scopes volunteered, probably with the encouragement of local officials who wanted to generate some publicity. William Bell Riley, the founder and president of the World Christian Fundamentals Association, asked William Jennings Bryan (a populist political figure and three-time Democratic Party candidate for President) to join the legal team defending the Butler Act, which in turn led Clarence Darrow, one of the most prominent lawyers in the US, to join the Scopes defense team. The result was the Scopes Monkey Trial, perhaps the most famous court proceeding in American history. Amidst the carnival-like atmosphere (aided by the acid commentary of widely-read journalist HL Mencken), the trial degenerated into an attack and counter-attack concerning the influence of fundamentalism on science and education. Bryan himself took the stand as an "expert witness on the Bible", and was grilled by Darrow for two hours concerning his fundamentalist interpretations:

"DARROW: I will read it to you from the Bible: "And the Lord God said unto the serpent, because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life." Do you think that is why the serpent is compelled to crawl upon its belly?

BRYAN: I believe that.

DARROW: Have you any idea how the snake went before that time?

BRYAN: No, sir.

DARROW: Do you know whether he walked on his tail or not?

BRYAN: No, sir. I have no way to know. (Laughter in audience)." (Scopes trial transcript)

Bryan thundered that Darrow's only purpose was "to cast ridicule on everybody who believes in the Bible", leading Darrow to shoot back, "We have the purpose of preventing bigots and ignoramuses from controlling the education of the United States." (Scopes trial transcript)

Although Scopes was convicted of teaching evolution and was fined $100, the case was overturned on appeal due to a technicality, robbing the ACLU of its chance to take the matter to the Supreme Court. For the fundamentalist movement, however, the Scopes trial was a disaster. Sarcastic newspaper articles, by Mencken and others, as well as novels such as Sinclair Lewis's Elmer Gantry, depicted fundamentalists as uneducated hicks and backwoods country bumpkins. The political victories won by the fundamentalists, including the monkey laws, died within a few years. The infighting within seminaries and theological institutes between fundamentalists and modernists led to a steep decline in students training for the clergy, and a sharp decrease in church memberships. By the time of the Great Depression in 1929, fundamentalism was all but dead as an effective social or political movement.

After the end of World War II, the beginning of the Cold War with the Soviet Union revived the fundamentalist's fortunes. The atheistic Leninists who ran the USSR were a convenient enemy for the fundamentalists, and they quickly entered into alliances with right-wing anti-communist political figures. The era of rampant McCarthyism was a fertile breeding ground for fundamentalist theology, and gave fundamentalists a measure of political influence that they had not enjoyed for decades. It was not until the mid-1970s, however, that the fundamentalist wing of Christianity began to make political influence an aim in itself, and actively sought to use the power of right-wing politicians to enforce their fundamentalist religious and social opinions onto the rest of society. This marked the rise of the Religious Right, the immediate ancestors of the ID/creationists.

Like the fundamentalist movement of the 20s, the Religious Right was a reactionary response to social changes which they found religiously objectionable and intolerable. The late 1960s were a time of intense and far-reaching social change in the US. Within the space of ten years, a new generation had placed all of the traditional American social structures under critical examination, and found them wanting. The civil rights movement broke down traditional social roles and also led to the renewed rise of the Social Gospel advocates, who advocated that Christians work together to improve social conditions for the poor and the oppressed. During the 60s, the anti-war and human rights movements led to questions about patriotism and the role of the US in world affairs; participatory democracy movements challenged traditional political authority; the women's liberation and gay liberation movements challenged sexual mores and family structures; interest in Eastern religious traditions led to skepticism about the role of traditional Christianity in society. All of these were anathema to the fundamentalists.

Fundamentalist hostility was particularly marked towards a number of Supreme Court decisions during the period. The first of these was the 1954 Brown v Board of Education decision, which outlawed segregated schools. Southern fundamentalists in particular viewed segregation as Biblically-approved, and bitterly fought desegregation and the civil rights movement. In response to the 1954 decision, many fundamentalist churches set up their own private schools, which were not subject to the Court's decision and were therefore free to continue to practice segregation. (The fundamentalist Bob Jones University would later sue the Federal government in an effort to be allowed to continue to ban Black students; after losing, BJU banned inter-racial dating among its students, a policy that was only withdrawn in the face of public disapproval in the wake of a visit by President George W. Bush in 2000.) In 1961, the Supreme Court dealt the fundamentalists another blow when, in the Engel v Vitale case, it outlawed government-sanctioned prayer in schools, saying, "We think that, in this country, it is no part of the business of government to compose official prayers for any group of the American people to recite as a part of a religious program carried on by government." (US Supreme Court, Engel v Vitale, 1961) In 1968, the Court ruled, in the case of Epperson v Arkansas, that all of the various anti-evolution "monkey laws" were unconstitutional.

The fundamentalists saw their views as coming under attack on nearly every front. In response, as they did in the 20s, fundamentalists in the 1970s sought to gain political influence by allying themselves with politicians. In the 1976 election, presidential candidate Jimmy Carter caught the attention of fundamentalists when he spoke publicly about his religion and about being "born again". Some elements of the fundamentalists saw Carter's candidacy as an opportunity to have their religious concerns addressed, and supported Carter and the Democratic Party. It quickly became apparent, however, that Carter's policies were far too liberal to suit the fundamentalists, and they turned to the Republican Party instead.

As it happened, the right wing of the Republican Party was also looking for allies to help it defeat not only the Democrats, but also the moderate and traditional-conservative elements within their own party. The marriage was made. After the 1976 elections, Robert Grant formed a group called Christian Voice to channel fundamentalist money and votes to right-wing Republican candidates, including Ronald Reagan and Dan Quayle. One of Christian Voice's most effective members was Richard Viguerie, who turned direct-mail marketing into an astoundingly effective method of raising money and informing supporters which candidates were "godly" and which weren't. After a falling-out with Grant in 1979, Viguerie left and, working together with conservative political figure Paul Weyrich and televangelist Jerry Falwell, formed the first effective national fundamentalist political organization, Moral Majority Inc. The fundamentalists were instrumental in getting Ronald Reagan elected in 1980, and have not left the fold of the Republican Party ever since. Over the next two decades, under a number of organizations such as Christian Coalition, Concerned Women of America, Focus on the Family, Coalition for Traditional Values, and Eagle Forum, fundamentalist Christians allied with the Republican Party gained unprecedented political power and influence -- which they continue to exercise under the Presidency of George W. Bush.

The Religious Right was also quick to take up the anti-evolution crusade. In late 1981, Falwell telecast an appeal for money to help defend the anti-evolution law in Arkansas -- using as the backdrop for his appeal the very same Dayton, Tennessee, courthouse in which the original Scopes trial was held. Moral Majority also ran a number of ads in various magazines to publicize the trial and raise money. One of the ads took the form of a "survey", which asked the reader (with all the appropriate catch words emphasized) to mail in a "ballot":

"Cast your vote for creation or evolution. Where do you stand in this vital debate?

  1. Do you agree with 'theories' of evolution that DENY the Biblical account of creation?

  2. Do you agree that public school teachers should be permitted to teach our children AS FACT that they are descended from APES?

  3. Do you agree with the evolutionists who are attempting to PREVENT the Biblical account of creation from also being taught in public schools?" (TV Guide, June 13, 1981, p. A-105)

Those who sent in their "ballot" (with the proper answers checked) were put on Moral Majority's mailing list for fundraising and further anti-evolution mailings.

Falwell also turned the resources of Liberty University, a large Bible college which was wholly funded by Moral Majority, towards the fight against evolution. All students at Liberty University, regardless of major, were required to take a semester-long course in creationist biology. The state-approved teacher training program at Liberty was heavily focused on creationism. As a symbol of the close affinities between the creationists and the Moral Majority, Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell himself awarded an honorary doctorate to ICR founder Henry Morris during commencement exercises in 1989.

As researcher Philip Kitcher points out, both the creationists and the fundamentalists gained benefits from this partnership. "Jerry Falwell's Old Time Gospel Hour offers a forum for broadcasting creationist ideas. On the other hand, Falwell needs concrete issues around which to build his movement." (Kitcher, 1982, p. 2) The televangelists recognized the creation "scientists" as a powerful apologetic tool to bring new people into the Christian political movement, while the creationists came to depend upon the Religious Right as a powerful political and economic ally.

Moral Majority co-founder Tim LaHaye (he later became the author of the fundamentalist Left Behind series of books) had close ties to the creationists. In his influential fundamentalist manifesto Battle for the Mind, LaHaye put the fight against evolution squarely in the middle of the evangelical Christian world-view. The basic enemy of the Religious Right is something they refer to as "secular humanism", which seems to be a catch-all term for any outlook or philosophy which they find religiously offensive--everything from pornography to feminism to socialism to evolutionary science. "Most of the evils in the world today," says LaHaye, "can be traced to humanism, which has taken over our government, the UN, education, TV and most of the other influential things in life." (LaHaye, 1980, p. 1)

And a major component of this "secular humanism", LaHaye asserts, is evolutionary theory: "The humanistic doctrine of evolution has naturally led to the destruction of the moral foundation upon which this country was originally built. If you believe that man is an animal, you will naturally expect him to live like one. Consequently, almost every sexual law that is required in order to maintain a morally sane society has been struck down by the humanists, so that man may follow his animal appetites." (LaHaye, 1980, p. 64) LaHaye's book depicts a diagram of "secular humanism", which shows a pyramidical construction in which "evolution" rests on the base of "atheism", in turn supporting "amorality" and, at the top, the "socialist one world view" (LaHaye, 1980, p. 63)

Some of the statements made by creationists reveal the underlying connection between creation "science" and LaHaye's religious crusade against "secular humanism". "Since animals are indiscriminate with regards to partners in mating," says Henry Morris, "and since men and women are believed to have evolved from animals, then why shouldn't we live like animals?" (Morris, Troubled Waters of Evolution, 1974, p. 167) Morris declared that evolutionary theory is literally the work of the Devil -- given to Nimrod at the Tower of Babel -- and that most scientists refuse to accept creationism solely because they are atheists. Ken Ham, formerly of the ICR and now leader of the Answers in Genesis organization, says, "As the creation foundation is removed, we see the Godly institutions also start to collapse. On the other hand, as the evolution foundation remains firm, the structures built on that foundation -- lawlessness, homosexuality, abortion, etc -- logically increase. We must understand this connection." (cited in Eve and Harrold, 1991, pp 58-59) The Creation Science Research Center blamed the scientific model of evolution for "the moral decay of spiritual values, which contributes to the destruction of mental health", as well as "a widespread breakdown in law and order" (Creation Science Report, April 1976, cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 285). Evolutionary theory, the CSRC pontificated, is directly responsible for "divorce, abortion, and rampant venereal diseases." (Segraves, The Creation Report, 1977, cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 285)

The creationists and the Religious Right thus shared a world-view, a world-view that revolves around the supposed evils of evolutionary theory. Both groups see evolution as a major pillar which supports Satanic "secular humanism", and both are determined to do away with that pillar and substitute a "Godly" outlook instead -- creationism. "Although they make every effort to be diplomatic about the subject," notes writer Perry Dean Young, "the religious-right leaders are not speaking of teaching the story of the creation in Genesis alongside Darwin's theory; they want it taught instead of evolution. A headline in Religious Roundtable's newsletter that read 'Get Evolution Out of Our Schools' let that fact slip." (Young, 1982, p. 73) The creationists also occasionally let their ultimate goal slip in print too; while pushing the Arkansas "Balanced Treatment Act" through, creationist Paul Ellwanger, who drafted the original bill, wrote to a supporter, "Perhaps this is old hat to you, Tom, and if so, I'd appreciate it your telling me so and perhaps where you've heard it before -- the idea of killing evolution instead of playing these debating games that we've been playing for nigh over a decade already." (Attachment to Ellwanger Deposition, McLean v Arkansas, 1981, cited in Overton Opinion)

But "killing evolution" is not their only stated goal. The Religious Right is defiantly open about its ultimate theocratic political aims. As Bob Werner, a leader of the "Christian shepherding" movement, bluntly put it, "The Bible says we are to . . . rule. If you don't rule and I don't rule, the atheists and the humanists and the agnostics are going to rule. We should be the head of our school board. We should be the head of our nation. We should be the Senators and Congressmen. We should be the editors of our newspapers. We should be taking over every area of life." (cited in Diamond, 1989, p. 45) Paul Weyrich, a co-founder of Moral Majority and director of the fundamentalist Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress, declared, "We are no longer working to preserve the status quo. We are radicals, working to overturn the present power structures of this country." (cited in Young, 1982, p. 321 and Kater 1982, p. 7) Weyrich added, "We are talking about the Christianizing of America." (cited in Vetter 1982, p. 5) Randall Terry, who founded the militant anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, put it, "I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good... Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a biblical duty, we are called on by God to conquer this country. We don't want equal time. We don't want pluralism." (The News Sentinel, Ft. Wayne, IN., August 16, 1993) "This is God's world, not Satan's," declared leading fundamentalist political figure Gary North. "Christians are the lawful heirs, not non-Christians . . . . The long-term goal of Christians in politics should be to gain exclusive control over the franchise. Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of God by submitting to His Church's public marks of the covenant -- baptism and holy communion -- must be denied citizenship, just as they were in ancient Israel." (Political Polytheism: The Myth of Pluralism, Institute for Christian Economics, 1989, p.87, p. 102) North continues, "So let us be blunt about it: We must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will be get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God." ("The Intellectual Schizophrenia of the New Christian Right" in Christianity and Civilization: The Failure of the American Baptist Culture, No. 1, 1982, p. 25)

As the fundamentalists pointed out, one of the most important areas in which "Christians" must "govern" are the local school districts -- and they make it clear that creationism is the issue which provided them with the opportunity to do this. As Tim LaHaye bluntly put it, "The elite-evolutionist-humanist is not going to be able to control education in America forever." (LaHaye 1980, p. 3) Pat Robertson said, "Humanist values are being taught in the schools through such methods as 'values clarification'. All of these things constitute an attempt to wean children away from biblical Christianity". (cited in Boston, 1996, p. 168)

Other fundamentalist apologists were just as clear about their ultimate goals for public education:

"Our purpose must be to spread the gospel on the new mission field that the Lord has opened -- public high schools". (Jay Alan Sekulow, American Center for Law and Justice, CASE Bulletin, July 1990)

"To abandon public education to Satan is to compromise our calling. The attitude and approach of Christians should be that they never expose their children to public education, but that they should work increasingly to expose public education to the claims of Christ. Certain specially suited Christians, in fact, should pray and work tirelessly to obtain teaching and school board and even administrative positions within public education. The penultimate goal of these Christians should be the privatization of these larcenous institutions, and the ultimate aim the bringing of them under the authority of Christ and His word." (Rev. Andrew Sandlin, Chalcedon Report, March 1994)

"There are 15,700 school districts in America. When we get an active Christian parents' committee in operation in all districts, we can take complete control of all local school boards. This would allow us to determine all local policy; select good textbooks; good curriculum programs; superintendents and principals." (Robert Simonds, Citizens for Excellence in Education, 1984)

"The Christian community has a golden opportunity to train an army of dedicated teachers who can invade the public school classrooms and use them to influence the nation for Christ." (D. James Kennedy, Education; Public Problems and Private Solutions, Coral Ridge Ministries, 1993)

A fundraising letter sent from the Creation Science Research Center seconded these sentiments: "We already have a state-mandated religion of atheism -- of Godlessness -- of Satanism -- and no church training of one hour a week will overcome this onslaught of anti-God teachings in the classroom. The Church must get involved." (Letter from CSRC, cited in LaFollette 1983, p. 126) Gary North frankly pointed out, "Until the vast majority of Christians pull their children out of the public schools, there will be no possibility of creating a theocratic republic." (cited in Blaker, 2003, p 187)

During the Reagan/Bush/Gingrich years, creationists were very active in state textbook committees and curriculum boards, where they attempted to pressure various states into dropping biology textbooks which feature evolutionary theory. In the late 1980s, bowing to creationist pressure, the state of Texas mandated that all biology textbooks carry a disclaimer stating that evolution is "only a theory" and "not established fact". And the GOP was quick to attempt to tap this resource. State Republican Parties in Texas, Oklahoma and Iowa all adopted platform planks which advocate teaching creationism in schools.

Even the national Republican leadership demonstrated a willingness to kowtow to the creationists. In its 1994 "Contract for America", the GOP asserted, of its proposed "Family Reinforcement Act", that it "will strengthen the rights of parents to protect their children against education programs that undermine the values taught at home" -- a code word for removing evolution, sex education, and other things which offend fundamentalist sensibilities. During the 1996 campaign, Presidential candidate Pat Buchanan appealed to fundamentalist support by attacking evolution. When asked by a commentator if he favored the teaching of creationism in public schools, Buchanan replied, "You may believe you descended from monkeys -- I don't believe it. I think you're created --I think you're a creature of God." When asked, "Do parents have the right, in your judgment, to insist, if they believe in creationism, that it also be taught in public schools?", Buchanan declared, "I think they have a right to insist that godless evolution not be taught to their children, or their children not be indoctrinated into it." Several days later, fellow GOP candidate Alan Keyes was asked about creationism and its critics. "I think they ought to take a look at our country's founding document," Keyes replied. "It says, 'All men were created', and 'endowed by their creator with inalienable rights'. . . I don't think it is only a question of Judeo-Christian beliefs. It is of American beliefs."

To the initiated faithful, the creationists also make no secret of their political goals. As Henry Morris of the Institute for Creation Science admits, the ultimate goal of the creationists is to bring first science, then the rest of society under Biblical proscriptions: "A key purpose of the ICR is to bring the field of education -- and then our whole world insofar as possible -- back to the foundational truth of special creation and primeval history as revealed first in Genesis and further emphasized throughout the Bible".

In essence, the fundamentalists and their creationist allies want to do for the United States what the fundamentalist Taliban did for Afghanistan and the Ayatollahs have done for Iran -- they want to run the country in accordance with their interpretation of "God's will". As they make clear, they are perfectly willing to dismantle most of American democracy in order to save America from Satan. Rev. James Robison put it like this, "Let me tell you something else about the character of God. If necessary, God would raise up a tyrant -- a man who might not have the best ethics -- to protect the freedom and the interests of the ethical and the godly." (cited in Vetter 1982, p. 6)

In the United States, however, any such attempt to rule in accordance with any "Christian" religious doctrine runs head-on into a solid wall -- the Constitutional wall between church and state.

TWO: Separation of Church and State

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

With those words, in the First Amendment to the Constitution, the fledgling United States of America became the first nation to place into law the notion that religious beliefs were a private matter for individuals who had the legal right to freedom of conscience, and that no government had the right or authority to dictate what religious opinions people shall or shall not hold. Since then, the "wall of separation between church and state" has been a bedrock principle of democracy -- and it is this very principle that has become the focus of attack by the fundamentalist political movement in the US today. The openly-declared aim of the fundamentalist Christian movement is precisely to dismantle the wall between church and state, and to legally establish the US as a fundamentalist version of a "Christian Nation".

In order to understand the significance of the First Amendment's "establishment clause", it is helpful to look at the reasons why it was adopted, and the history that made it necessary. That history begins in Europe.

For 1500 years, the Roman Catholic Church was the only religious authority in Europe. The Papal organization had also come to enjoy a significant secular political influence, as well. By the beginning of the 16th century, the Catholic Church was the most powerful (and wealthy) organization in Europe. Not surprisingly, it had also become riddled with corruption and abuses of both religious and secular power, and these provoked criticism, opposition, and, eventually, outright rebellion.

The explosion happened in 1517, when an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther nailed his "95 Theses" to the door of the Wittenburg Church in Germany. The Theses protested the corruption and abuses that Luther saw in the Church hierarchy, including such practices as the sale of indulgences, the marriage of priests, and the secular power and wealth of the Pope. Three years later, Luther wrote three books which attacked the doctrine of papal infallibility and the status of priests as intermediaries between humans and God. Instead, Luther argued, every man was entitled to be his own priest, to read and interpret the Bible for himself. The resulting "Protestant" movement soon spread throughout Europe. In 1535, the city of Geneva overthrew the local prince (who was also a Bishop in the Catholic Church) and declared itself a Protestant city. In response, Protestants in Bern sent John Calvin to Geneva to help organize the new churches. Calvin followed a severely strict interpretation of the Bible, and imposed a harsh set of moral laws on the city of Geneva. The citizens of Geneva, in turn, viewed Calvin as no better than the Pope, and exiled him three years later. Calvin settled in the city of Strasbourg, where he wrote "The Institutes of the Christian Church". Along with Luther, Calvin would become one of the most influential founders of Protestant Christianity.

Calvin popularized two ideas which would later become important in Christian fundamentalism (indeed, most modern fundamentalists are heavily Calvinist in their views). The first of these was "biblical literalism", the idea that every word written in the Bible had to be followed totally and unquestioningly, and, conversely, any religious doctrine that was not found in the Bible was false and must be rejected. Calvin's second idea was that of "predestination", the idea that the vast majority of Christians would not be saved and would go to Hell, while only a tiny minority of Christians had already been selected by God to enjoy salvation. While nobody knew who had been predestined to be saved or not, Calvin asserted that, since the truly saved would naturally gravitate towards the correct Christian beliefs, his own church would be made up mostly of the selected elite. They were, Calvin declared, "living saints".

The Protestant Reformation split Europe in two, leading to centuries of political and religious conflicts. Between 1560 and 1715, there were only thirty years during which there were no large-scale wars between Catholic and Protestant rulers. In Germany, various Catholic and Protestant principalities fought each other until the Peace of Augsburg in 1555 divided Germany into Catholic and Protestant regions. In France, a Calvinist group known as Huguenots rebelled against the Catholic king. The French Wars of Religion lasted from 1562 to 1598. The climax of the French Wars of Religion was the St Bartholomew Massacre in 1572, when the French King's troops rounded up over 3,000 French Huguenots in Paris and systematically killed them all. By 1609, Europe was divided into two hostile armed camps, the Catholic League and the Protestant Union. In 1618, all of Europe was consumed by the Thirty Years War, in which Catholics and Protestant slaughtered each other on a scale not seen again in Europe until the Napoleonic Wars. The war ended in 1648, leaving Europe fragmented into over 300 different kingdoms and principalities, each with its own state religion of Catholicism, Lutheranism or Calvinism.

In England, a group known as the Puritans shrilly criticized the Church of England, which, though Protestant, was not "reformed" enough for Puritan taste. The Anglican Church itself had broken from the Catholics in 1534, when Henry VIII, angered by Pope Clement's refusal to grant an annulment of the King's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, declared himself the head of the Church of England, installed his own bishops and church hierarchy, and made it a crime punishable by death to refuse to acknowledge the King's supreme religious authority.

In 1603, the Puritans (who were largely Calvinists) demanded a set of reforms to be applied to the Church of England which would have imposed Puritan religious opinions onto the entire country. These proposed reforms were rejected, and under Archbishop William Laud, the Church of England attempted to marginalize and repress the Puritans -- a difficult task, since the Puritans made up a large section of the English population. The Puritans, meanwhile, viewed King Charles I with suspicion, pointing to his French wife and his reluctance to enter the Thirty Years War as evidence of his "papist" leanings. When the English Civil War broke out in 1642, the Puritans made up most of the Parliamentarian forces under Oliver Cromwell, which defeated the Royalist armies of King Charles I and beheaded him in 1649.

For the next four years, Parliament ruled England. In 1653, however, Cromwell and his army took over, disbanded Parliament ("in the name of God", he announced to them, "go"), and declared himself the "Lord Protector" of England. Until his death in 1658, Cromwell ruled as king in all but name, and placed England under the harshly strict moral code demanded by his Calvinist faith. Theaters were closed; work on the Sabbath was forbidden; even swearing was outlawed under penalty of a fine or, for repeat offenders, prison. His anti-Catholic stance prompted him to invade Ireland and "tame" it with a large force of troops. By the time he died in September 1658, Cromwell was a hated man. Within two years, England no longer had any functional central government, and in 1660, at the behest of the Army, Charles II, the son of the beheaded Charles I, was restored to the throne. In 1662, the Act of Uniformity expelled all of the remaining Puritans from the Church of England, and other laws outlawed any non-Anglican religious gatherings and required all public officeholders to swear allegiance to the Church of England.

All of this had a direct effect on what would become the United States. In 1608, a sect of Puritans, called the Separatists, were convinced that the Church of England was so corrupt that it could not be reformed, and decided to form their own church. They quickly came to the attention of Anglican Archbishop Laud's efforts to repress religious dissenters, and left England for the more religiously open Netherlands. By 1620, 88 Separatist "Pilgrims" embarked on the ship Mayflower for Delaware, in the New World, where they hoped to establish their own version of the "pure church". By mistake, they landed at a spot in Massachusetts now known as "Plymouth Rock" in December 1620. Within a few years, other Puritans had formed the Massachusetts Bay Company, which obtained a charter from Charles I (who was glad to be rid of them) for a colony in the New World. In 1630, the Massachusetts Bay colony was formed, with John Winthrop as its governor. By 1640, there were some 17,800 Puritan colonists in New England, growing to over 100,000 by 1700. The bulk of immigration from England to North America, known as The Great Migration, took place in the twelve years before the outbreak of the English Civil War. Between the English Civil War and the American War of Independence, the flow of people from England to America slowed to a mere trickle; most New Englanders in 1776 were descendents of ancestors who had come over in the Great Migration.

The Puritans who founded the New England colonies may have fled what they perceived as "religious intolerance" (it was, after all, the Puritans themselves who were attempting to force their religious extremism onto the English state), but this did not prevent them from practicing religious intolerance themselves. The Puritans believed themselves to be God's Elect, and each of their colonies was a tiny Cromwellian theocracy, ruled in strict accordance with Biblical strictures. In most respects, Puritans in America were even stricter and more harsh than their English counterparts. Although ministers were not usually members of the civil government, they exercised enormous influence, and the secular authorities scrupulously enforced Puritan religious ideals. Laws required all colony members to attend Sunday church services, and taxes were used directly for church expenses. Contrary to English law, the Puritan colonists in Massachusetts required voters and public office-holders to be Puritans, rather than Anglican -- a defiance which led the King of England to revoke the colony's charter in 1684.

Religious dissent, however, infested the Puritan colonies, and they reacted in the same manner that Cromwell did -- by repressing it. Quakers, Anglicans and other non-Puritans were denied the right to either vote or hold public office. In 1635, one of the most prominent dissenters, Roger Williams, was banished by the Massachusetts Bay colony. Williams had argued on Biblical grounds that no human government could have any power over the church, and that the Puritan theocracy was heretical. After his banishment, Williams founded his own colony at Rhode Island, and declared that the colonial government there would not support or repress any religious views, including Quaker, Jew or Anglican.

By 1776, economic and political realities had turned most of the colonies away from strict Puritan theocracy. The religious influence of the Puritans, however, continued to be evident, and after Independence was gained in 1783, many state constitutions continued to establish official religions and use public funds to support favored churches. Of the thirteen colonies, eleven had religious requirements for voting or holding public office. Massachusetts, Delaware and Maryland required all public officials to be Christians; Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont, North and South Carolina and Georgia all required, more specifically, that officeholders be Protestants. Even Rhode Island, which had been founded on Roger Williams' principle of religious freedom, specified that only Protestants could vote or hold office. At this time, Protestants of various sects dominated the colonies -- the entire United States in 1780 contained only 56 Catholic churches and 5 Jewish synagogues. In the southern colonies, which had all been established by Royal Charter, the state constitutions established the Church of England as the official state church.

These official state endorsements, naturally, were opposed by members of competing sects, and after Independence, the colonies faced the question of how to placate the critics. In New England, several colonies tried to solve the problem by collecting taxes for the support of churches, but allowing each individual taxpayer to decide which church would receive his payment. This, however, produced problems of its own. The Quakers and the Baptists objected on religious grounds to any state involvement in their church, even if the state was giving the money to their own church. The colonial governments responded by allowing Quaker and Baptist objectors to apply for certificates which exempted them from paying these taxes. This, however, provoked even more problems. Members of other denominations could not object to paying these taxes unless they "converted" to Baptism or Quakerism. This led to complaints that many of the objectors weren't really Baptists or Quakers at all, which necessitated the state deciding who really was or wasn't a Baptist or Quaker, and thus "entangling" itself in delicate matters of religious doctrine.

A similar program was attempted in Virginia in 1784. After the Anglican Church was disestablished, a group of Virginian legislators introduced a proposed law that would tax citizens to support all churches in the state equally. According to the proposed law, the result would be "a General and equal contribution of the whole State upon the most equitable footing that it is possible to place it", and "would have no Sect or Denomination of Christians privileged to encroach upon the rights of another." (cited in Feldman, 2005, p 35) This proposal became known as General Assessment.

General Assessment was opposed by many prominent Virginians, including James Madison. Although proponents of General Assessment argued that the bill only supported religion in general, and was "nondenominational" and "nonsectarian" because it did not favor one religious group over another, Madison argued that this was not enough -- the state had no business supporting or interfering with religion at all:

"Because we hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth, 'that religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence.' The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right. It is unalienable, because the opinions of men, depending only on the evidence contemplated by their own minds cannot follow the dictates of other men . . . The preservation of a free Government requires not merely, that the metes and bounds which separate each department of power be invariably maintained; but more especially that neither of them be suffered to overleap the great Barrier which defends the rights of the people. The Rulers who are guilty of such an encroachment, exceed the commission from which they derive their authority, and are Tyrants. The People who submit to it are governed by laws made neither by themselves nor by an authority derived from them, and are slaves. . . . Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects? that the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute three pence only of his property for the support of any one establishment, may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever? . . . Because the Bill implies either that the Civil Magistrate is a competent Judge of Religious Truth; or that he may employ Religion as an engine of Civil policy. The first is an arrogant pretension falsified by the contradictory opinions of Rulers in all ages, and throughout the world: the second an unhallowed perversion of the means of salvation." (Madison, "Memorial and Remonstrance" 1785)

When the Constitutional Convention met in 1787, the topic of religion, and its relation to the government, weighed heavily in the minds of the delegates. The bloody carnage of recent European history, including the French Wars of Religion, the Thirty Years War, and the English Civil War, were all directly the result of governmental support for and action on behalf of religions, and the Founding Fathers were determined that the new United States would not fall victim to the same mistakes. As Madison told the Constitutional Convention, ""Religion itself may become a motive to persecution and oppression." (http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_reli.html) Citing the English Test Laws (which required all public officials to be Anglicans), future Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth, argued, "The business of civil government is to protect the citizen in his rights. . . Civil government has no business to meddle with the private opinions of the people . . . A test law (is) the offspring of error and the spirit of persecution. Legislatures have no right to set up an inquisition and examine into the private opinions of men." (cited in Kramnick and Moore, 1996, p 42)

The delegates' goal of keeping the Federal Government independent of religion was the topic of very little actual debate at the Convention. The matter of religion was only mentioned twice in the Constitution. The first reference, in Article Six, specifies that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." This was a direct rejection of the European practice (taken up by the Puritan colonies) of requiring public officials to swear loyalty to one religion or another, and to exclude any others from office. The second reference to religion is more obscure -- it occurs in the Oath of Office required of the President: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." The option to either "swear" or "affirm" the oath of office is a direct result of the delegates' desire to avoid government siding for or against any religion. Several colonial churches, including the Quakers, considered it un-Christian to "swear" oaths, and the Constitution therefore protected the right of these dissidents, as well as non-religious people, to instead "affirm" the Oath of Office in a religiously neutral or non-religious form.

When the Constitution was finished and presented for ratification, it did not contain the listing of individual rights and liberties that we now refer to as the Bill of Rights. The Framers had not thought it necessary to specifically list these, but the omission sparked a storm of criticism, including that of religious figures who were alarmed that no specific freedom of religious thought had been enumerated. Influential Baptist minister John Leland objected that the Constitution didn't specifically guarantee freedom of religion, pointing out that "if a Majority of Congress with the President favour one System more than another, they may oblige all others to pay to the support of their System as much as they please." (http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel06.html)

When the state legislature of Virginia ratified the US Constitution, it did so with the understanding that the new Congress would pass a bill of rights, based on twenty recommendations proposed by the Virginia delegates. One of these was that "no particular religious sect or society ought to be favored or established by Law in preference to others." (http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel06.html) This proposal was based on a law written by Thomas Jefferson (Jefferson was absent for the entire Consitutional Convention -- he was in France serving as Ambassador), that had been passed in Virginia in 1777, stating "our civil rights have no dependance on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry . . . WE, the General Assembly of Virginia, do enact that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities."

As a result of the Virginia stipulation and other criticism, the First Congress passed ten amendments to the new constitution, the Bill of Rights. And the first of these amendments took up the topic of the relationship of government to religion. Several different versions were introduced, but they were distilled down to "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof", and this was the wording that was codified into the First Amendment. The Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791.

When the new Constitution was presented to the state legislatures for ratification, it came under immediate attack by religious groups and political figures, on the grounds that it did not support religion and did not officially establish the US as a Christian nation. The "no religious test" provision in Article 6 was the object of severe criticism. A critic in New Hampshire argued that the lack of a religious test would allow "a papist, a Mohomatan, a deist, yea an atheist at the helm of government". In North Carolina, one delegate complained that "pagans, deists and Mahometans might obtain offices among us", while another delegate was terrified that "Jews and pagans of every kind" could take office. In Massachusetts, another critic declared that he hoped Christians would be voted into office, but "by the Constitution, a papist, or even an infidel was as eligible as they". In the south, the slavery issue was raised; a writer in Charleston, South Carolina, pointed out that without any religious test for office, anti-slavery sects such as the Quakers "will have weight, in proportion to their numbers, in the great scale of the continental government". A Virginia writer declared, "The Constitution is deistical in principle, and in all probability the composers had no thought of God in all their consultations." (cited in Kramnick and Moore, 1996, p 33-34)

One of the most widely read attacks on the new Constitution was a satirical pamphlet by "Aristocrotis", titled The Government of Nature Delineated, or an Exact Picture of the New Federal Constitution. In it, the writer argued that the Constitution was a godless document, written by a handful of apostates, with the express goal of stamping out religion:

"There has been but few nations in the world where the people possessed the privilege of electing their rulers; of prefixing a bill of rights to their constitutions, enjoyed a free press. or trial by jury; but there was never a nation in the world whose government was not circumscribed by religion. . . .What the world could not accomplish from the commencement of time till now, they easily performed in a few moments, by declaring, that 'no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust; under the united states.' "(Anti-Federalist #51, cited in http://www.members.tripod.com/candst/testban5.htm)

Other opponents attacked the Constitution in the same vein. In New Hampshire, a delegate to the Ratifying Convention argued that under the Constitution, "Congress might deprive the people of the use of the Holy Scriptures". In Massachusetts, another writer declared that "without the presence of Christian piety and morals, the best Republican Constitution can never save us from slavery and ruin". Other Anti-Federalists warned ominously that the godless Constitution would cause God to turn his back on the US, "because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee". (cited in Kramnick and Moore, 1996, p 35-36)

Members of several state ratifying conventions moved to change the Constitution by adding a religious test to it; all these efforts were voted down. Other states tried to add amendments banning only government establishment of a "particularly religious sect or society . . . in preference to others". (cited in Feldman, 2005, p 49)This was rejected on the grounds that it would still allow an unacceptable General Assessment type of government support for "nondenominational" or "nonsectarian" religion. The Constitution, with its explicit rejection of all governmental support for religion, was ratified in 1788, and the First Amendment banning establishment of religion was passed three years later.

Decades later, Jefferson summarized the stance of the Constitution towards religion with a famous phrase: "Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State" (Letter to the Danbury Baptists, 1802).

The Courts and Church/State Issues

It is not enough, however, to consider solely what the Founding Fathers intended for the church/state relationship when they wrote the Constitution. After all, those same Founding Fathers also clearly supported and legitimized human slavery in the Constitution, as well as specifically limiting the right to vote to white male property-owners (less than five percent of the colonial population actually had the right to vote under the Constitution). In the centuries since, of course, the American understanding of civil rights and human rights has evolved, and the Constitutional status of voting rights and civil rights has changed in response. Just as no sane person would argue today that slavery should be legalized or that 95% of the US should be denied the right to vote since that is what the Founding Fathers intended, neither can we base current laws concerning the relationship between religion and state solely on the opinions of the Founding Fathers on the matter. As Chief Justice William Brennan wrote in a 1997 essay, "The genius of the Constitution rests not in any static meaning it may have had in a world that is dead and gone, but in the adaptability of its great principles to cope with current problems and present needs." (quoted in Washington Post, July 25, 1997, p. A1) In the years since the US was founded, several Supreme Court cases have therefore played major roles in deciding exactly where the wall between church and state lies, and how much, if any, intercourse there can be through this wall.

For its first half-century, the United States was fairly homogenous in its religious outlooks. Protestants dominated every state, and while these all squabbled with each other over doctrinal differences, for the most part they were able to live in harmony with each other. >By the second half of the 19th century, however, serious religious conflicts began to appear in the US. In the 1840s, large numbers of Catholics began emigrating to the US from Ireland. Not long after, the Mormons founded the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints. Theological conflict between these groups and the dominant Protestants invariably led to both sides seeking political support for their religious views, and this ran directly into the wall between church and state.

The first major Supreme Court ruling involving church/state issues was the 1878 Reynolds v United States decision. In this case, a Mormon defendant argued that he should not have been convicted of bigamy, since his religion mandated multiple wives, and therefore the state's anti-bigamy law violated the free practice of his religion.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court noted: "Congress cannot pass a law for the government of the Territories which shall prohibit the free exercise of religion. The first amendment to the Constitution expressly forbids such legislation. Religious freedom is guaranteed everywhere throughout the United States, so far as congressional interference is concerned. The question to be determined is, whether the law now under consideration comes within this prohibition." (Supreme Court, Reynolds v US, 1878)

The Court ruled that, although people have the right to hold whatever religious opinions they like, they do not have the right to act upon them if such actions have been banned in the interests of public order or safety. "Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices. Suppose one believed that human sacrifices were a necessary part of religious worship, would it be seriously contended that the civil government under which he lived could not interfere to prevent a sacrifice? Or if a wife religiously believed it was her duty to burn herself upon the funeral pile of her dead husband, would it be beyond the power of the civil government to prevent her carrying her belief into practice? So here, as a law of the organization of society under the exclusive dominion of the United States, it is provided that plural marriages shall not be allowed. Can a man excuse his practices to the contrary because of his religious belief? To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government could exist only in name under such circumstances." (Supreme Court, Reynolds v US, 1878)

The real basis for most of 20th century law concerning church/state issues was set by the Supreme Court in 1947, in the Everson v Board of Education ruling. In this case, a state law in New Jersey allowed state funds to be used to reimburse parents of children who had to use public transportation in order to get to school. Since a number of parents who sent their children to parochial Catholic schools were also reimbursed under this plan, a resident of New Jersey filed suit, arguing that this practice was an unconstitutional support for religion.

In its decision, the Court spelled out what has become the legal basis for every "establishment clause" case since:

"The 'establishment of religion' clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. . . . New Jersey cannot consistently with the "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment contribute tax-raised funds to the support of an institution which teaches the tenets and faith of any church. On the other hand, other language of the amendment commands that New Jersey cannot hamper its citizens in the free exercise of their own religion. Consequently, it cannot exclude individual Catholics, Lutherans, Mohammedans, Baptists, Jews, Methodists, Non-believers, Presbyterians, or the members of any other faith, because of their faith, or lack of it, from receiving the benefits of public welfare legislation." (Supreme Court, Everson v Board of Ed, 1947, emphasis in original)

Oddly enough, the Court then decided, by a 5-4 vote, that the state of New Jersey had not violated this principle by using state funds to transport parochial students to their schools -- it was simply providing public transportation for all. The "establishment clause" test spelled out by Justice Hugo Black in the majority opinion, however, remains as the basis for all subsequent church/state decisions. Specifically, the Everson ruling was the basis for one of the most divisive Supreme Court cases of the 20th century, one resulting in the rise to political prominence of the Christian fundamentalist movement -- the 1962 Engel v Vitale school prayer case.

The New York Board of Regents had issued a "Statement on Moral and Spiritual Training", which recommended daily prayers at the beginning of the school day. In response, a school district in New Hyde Park, New York, instructed its teachers to lead their students in reciting, "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country" each morning.

In its 6-1 ruling, the Supreme Court flatly concluded that state-sponsored or endorsed prayer was unconstitutional and violated the Establishment Clause. "We think that by using its public school system to encourage recitation of the Regents' prayer, the State of New York has adopted a practice wholly inconsistent with the Establishment Clause. There can, of course, be no doubt that New York's program of daily classroom invocation of God's blessings as prescribed in the Regents' prayer is a religious activity. It is a solemn avowal of divine faith and supplication for the blessings of the Almighty." (Supreme Court, Engel v Vitale, 1961)

The Court concluded by saying:

"It has been argued that to apply the Constitution in such a way as to prohibit state laws respecting an establishment of religious services in public schools is to indicate a hostility toward religion or toward prayer. Nothing, of course, could be more wrong. . . . It is neither sacrilegious nor antireligious to say that each separate government in this country should stay out of the business of writing or sanctioning official prayers and leave that purely religious function to the people themselves and to those the people choose to look to for religious guidance." (Supreme Court, Engel v Vitale, 1961)

The Engel ruling was expanded upon in the Abington School District v Schempp case two years later. The Abington case was actually a consolidation of two different cases which dealt with the same question --- Bible readings in public schools. The Pennsylvania Abington case involved a requirement to read ten Bible verses daily at the beginning of the school day; the Murray v Curlett case involved a Maryland school requiring a passage from the Bible or the Lord's Prayer daily.

In its ruling, the Court cited the Establishment Clause principle laid out in the Engel case, and concluded "In light of the history of the First Amendment and of our cases interpreting and applying its requirements, we hold that the practices at issue and the laws requiring them are unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause, as applied to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment." (Supreme Court, Abington v Schempp, 1963) The Court then went on to specify the "secular purpose" and "primary effect" tests to be used in Establishment Clause cases: "The test may be stated as follows: what are the purpose and the primary effect of the enactment? If either is the advancement or inhibition of religion then the enactment exceeds the scope of legislative power as circumscribed by the Constitution. That is to say that to withstand the strictures of the Establishment Clause there must be a secular legislative purpose and a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion." (Supreme Court, Abington v Schempp, 1963)

The "purpose" and "effect" tests laid out in Abington v Schempp were expanded upon in the 1971 Lemon v Kurtzman case, in a ruling which has served ever since as the principle guideline for Establishment Clause cases. The Lemon case was a consolidation of three different cases, all of which involved state funds being used to supplement teacher salaries in non-public parochial schools. The Court, in ruling that these actions were unconstitutional, set out what has since been known as the Lemon Test, a three-pronged approach to be used in determining whether or not a law violates the Establishment Clause. As spelled out in the opinion, written by Chief Justice Burger, "First, the statute must have a secular legislative purpose; second, its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion; finally, the statute must not foster "an excessive government entanglement with religion." (Supreme Court, Lemon v Kurtzman, 1971) If any of these three prongs is violated, the law is unconstitutional.

In a concurring opinion in the 1984 Lynch v Donnelly case, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor reduced the "purpose" and "effect" prongs of the Lemon Test to the single idea of "Endorsement": "The proper inquiry under the purpose prong of Lemon, I submit, is whether the government intends to convey a message of endorsement or disapproval of religion. . . What is crucial is that the government practice not have the effect of communicating a message of government endorsement or disapproval of religion.." (Supreme Court, Lynch v Donnelly, 1984)

In recent years, the Lemon Test has come under fire, mostly from conservative-leaning scholars. Justice Antonin Scalia has been one of the fiercest critics, for instance writing, in a dissenting opinion in the June 2005 McCreary County v ACLU case, "Nothing stands behind the Court's assertion that governmental affirmation of the society's belief in God is unconstitutional except the Court's own say-so, citing as support only the unsubstantiated say-so of earlier Courts going back no farther than the mid-20th century. And it is, moreover, a thoroughly discredited say-so. It is discredited, to begin with, because a majority of the Justices on the current Court (including at least one Member of today's majority) have, in separate opinions, repudiated the brain-spun "Lemon test" that embodies the supposed principle of neutrality between religion and irreligion." (Supreme Court, McCreary County v ACLU, 2005)

Criticism of the Lemon Test has been particularly vocal from the fundamentalist Christian wing and its political supporters, who, in addition to advocating the elimination of the Lemon test, have also argued that the First Amendment does not really require that the government be neutral in matters of religion --- only that it cannot advocate preference for one view over another. As a critic from the religious magazine First Things says, "A good beginning would be to recognize that the First Amendment does not, and never did, require strict neutrality as between religion and non-religion for purposes of the Establishment Clause. Requiring the state to be neutral as between sects is both constitutionally necessary and morally desirable. Requiring it to be neutral as between religion and non-religion generally produces a decidedly unneutral result—the triumph of practical atheism in the public square." (Michael M Uhlmann, First Things, Oct 2005) This assertion is the source of the ID/creationist penchant for labeling evolution and science as "religion" or "materialist philosophy" or "secular humanism".

Fundamentalist Efforts to Undermine Church/State Separation

One of the primary goals of the fundamentalist movement in the US has been to go far beyond merely modifying the legal tests which are used to adjudicate the boundary between church and state -- they openly declare that they want to dismantle that wall completely. And in support of that goal, they have attempted to re-write history by declaring that the Constitution was intended by the Founding Fathers to set up a "Christian Nation", and that it was only after the secular humanists and atheists seized control of the Supreme Court that the concept of "separation of church and state" was allowed to interfere with the original wishes of the Framers.

That this argument is contrary to historical fact has not prevented the fundamentalists from endlessly repeating it. According to the fundamentalists, the principle of separation of church and state is illegal and communistic. Pat Robertson declared: "We often hear of the constitutionally-mandated 'separation of church and state'. Of course, as you know, that phrase appears nowhere in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. . . We do find this phrase in the constitution of another nation, however: 'The state shall be separate from the church, and the church from the school.' These words are not in the constitution of the United States, but that of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics -- an atheistic nation sworn to the destruction of the United States of America." (Testimony before Senate Judiciary Committee, Aug 18, 1982, cited in Boston, 1996, p. 70) Robertson also said: "They have kept us in submission because they have talked about separation of church and state. There is no such thing in the constitution. It is a lie of the left, and we're not going to take it anymore." (cited in Boston, 1996, p. 71)

The Christian Roundtable, an umbrella group of Religious Right figures, flatly stated, "The Constitution was designed to perpetuate a Christian order." (cited in Vetter 1982, p. 5) "It is time," declares the Moral Majority Report, "to reject the godless, communistic definition of separation of church and state that says there is no place for Biblical moral law in public policy." (cited in Hill and Owen 1982, p. 45) The Colorado chapter of the Christian Coalition echoed: "There should be absolutely no 'separation of church and state' in America. (cited in Boston, 1996, p. 76)

In 1995, a resolution was introduced that would add a statement to the Texas Republican Party's platform, "The Republican Party is not a church . . . A Republican should never be put in the position of having to defend or explain his faith in order to participate in the party process" (cited in Kramnick and Moore, 1996, p 19) The resolution was defeated. Indeed, by 2002, the Texas Republican Party Platform declared instead: "Our Party pledges to do everything within its power to dispel the myth of separation of church and state." At a Christian Coalition rally, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore referred to the separation of church and state as "a fable" that "has so warped our society it's unbelievable." Sen. James Inhofe called church/state separation "the phoniest argument there is." Televangelist Joyce Meyer referred to church/state separation as "really a deception from "Satan", while in 2001, Tom DeLay, former House Majority leader, called for "standing up and rebuking this notion of separation of church and state that has been imposed upon us over the last 40 or 50 years . . . You see, I don't believe there is a separation of church and state." (http://www.theocracywatch.org/separation_church_state2.htm)

The modern fundamentalists have always openly declared that they intended to create a "Christian government" that will make America "godly" again. Jerry Falwell pontificates, "I have a Divine Mandate to go into the halls of Congress and fight for laws that will save America." (cited in Vetter 1982, p. 119) Falwell made his idea of the role of government very clear: "A politician, as a minister of God, is a revenger to execute wrath upon those who do evil . . . The role of government is to minister justice and to protect the rights of its citizens by being a terror to evildoers within and without the nation." (cited in Conway and Siegelman, 1984, p. 89)

The most militant of the Ayatollah-wanna-be's are the members of the "Reconstructionist" movement. The Reconstructionists were founded by Rousas John Rushdoony, a militant fundamentalist. According to Rushdoony's view, the United States should be directly transformed into a theocracy in which the fundamentalists would rule directly according to the will of God. "There can be no separation of Church and State," Rushdoony declares. (cited in Marty and Appleby 1991, p. 51) "Christians," a Reconstructionist pamphlet declares, "are called upon by God to exercise dominion." (cited in Marty and Appleby 1991, p. 50) The Reconstructionists propose doing away with the US Constitution and laws, and instead ruling directly according to the laws of God as set out in the Bible---they advocate a return to judicial punishment for religious crimes such as blasphemy or violating the Sabbath, as well as a return to such Biblically-approved punishments as stoning. In effect, the Reconstructionists are the "Christian" equivalent of the Taliban.

Rushdooney was a guest on Pat Robertson's 700 Club several times. ICR has had close ties with Reconstructionists. Rushdoony was one of the financial backers for Henry Morris's first book, The Genesis Flood, and Morris's son John was a co-signer of several documents produced by the Coalition On Revival, a Reconstructionist coalition founded in 1984. ICR star debater Duane Gish was a member of COR's Steering Committee, as was Richard Bliss, who served as ICR's "curriculum director" until his death. Gish and Bliss were both co-signers of the COR documents "A Manifesto for the Christian Church" (COR, July 1986), and the "Forty-Two Articles of the Essentials of a Christian Worldview" (COR,1989), which declares, "We affirm that the laws of man must be based upon the laws of God. We deny that the laws of man have any inherent authority of their own or that their ultimate authority is rightly derived from or created by man." ("Forty-Two Essentials, 1989, p. 8).

The Discovery Institute, the chief proponent of "intelligent design theory", is particularly cozy with the Reconstructionists. The single biggest source of money for the Discovery Institute is Howard Ahmanson, a California savings-and-loan bigwig. Ahmanson's gift of $1.5 million was the original seed money to organize the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, the arm of the Discovery Institute which focuses on promoting "intelligent design theory". Ahmanson is a Christian Reconstructionist who was long associated with Rushdooney, and sat with him on the board of directors of the Chalcedon Foundation -- a major Reconstructionist think-tank -- for over 20 years In 1995, Ahmanson resigned from Chalcedon, and now sits on the Board of Directors of Discovery Institute.

Ahmanson prefers to work behind the scenes, and does his best to avoid publicity and attention. By 2002, though, his extremist views were becoming more widely known in political circles, and some politicians began returning campaign contributions from him. In October 2002, the Republican candidate for Governer in Hawaii, Linda Lingle, returned a $3,000 campaign contribution from Ahmanson's Fieldstead Foundation after she learned who he was and what his views were.

The incident set off alarm bells for Ahmanson -- as his wife Roberta pointed out, "When a politician sends money back, it's serious". (Orange County Register, August 8, 2004) Ahmanson has therefore tried to backpeddle from his extremist views, and present a kinder, gentler image of himself. With his wife as his spokesperson (Ahmanson suffers from Tourrette's syndrome and avoids public speaking), he went on a media blitz to declare that he's not as nutty as he used to be in his Chalcedon Foundation days. But Ahmanson just could not bring himself to repudiate his Reconstructionist views on such things as stoning sinners: "I think what upsets people is that Rushdoony seemed to think -- and I'm not sure about this - that a godly society would stone people for the same thing that people in ancient Israel were stoned. I no longer consider that essential. It would still be a little hard to say that if one stumbled on a country that was doing that, that it is inherently immoral, to stone people for these things." (Ahmanson, quoted in Orange County Register, August 10, 2004)

Among the most prominent Reconstructionist political activists are Randall Terry (founder of Operation Rescue), Gary North (head of the Institute for Christian Economics), David Chilton (the late author of Paradise Restored), David Barton (founder of Wallbuilders), Gary DeMar (founder of American Vision), and Larry Pratt (founder of Gun Owners of America). Tim LaHaye, author of the Left Behind series of books, has prominent ties to the Reconstructionists, and while he has always been coy about his own sympathies for them, he is considered by most right-wing watchers as a key part of the movement. His wife, Beverley LaHaye, is the head of Concerned Women for America.

While most fundamentalist Christian political figures disavow the radically extremist excesses of the Reconstructionists, most of them nevertheless accept the broad outlines of Reconstructionist ideas that the US is, or should be, a Christian Nation, and that national policies and laws should be based on the fundamentalist version of Biblical Christianity. Although the extremist Reconstructionists and the less radical fundamentalists start from different assumptions, the end result is the same.

But the Reconstructionists are not the only political extremists who find a level of support among fundamentalists and creationists. In the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995, Americans learned of a shadowy network of far-right "patriot" groups at the very fringe of extremist politics, who considered themselves to be at war with the United States government. The "patriot" movement was a loose collection of anti-government activists, including tax protestors, conspiracy theorists, anti-gun-control extremists, radical anti-environmentalists, militias, and a smattering of neo-Nazis and other ultra-right political groups. Much of the movement fell under the label of "Christian Patriots", who believed that the United States had become a godless oppressor, and therefore God wanted the movement to defend themselves from this godless government and ultimately to bring about its downfall, therefore making the US godly again. The more extremist "patriots" armed themselves to form "militias". Some, but not all, of the Christian Patriots followed a particularly virulent form of fundamentalist religion called "Christian Identity", which argued that white people were the true "Chosen People" of the Bible, and that Jews, along with all of the nonwhite races, were descended from the Devil. The various neo-Nazi, Klan, and other anti-Semite and racists who embraced Christian Identity referred to the federal government as "ZOG", or "Zionist Occupation Government".

Many of the people in the 1990's Christian Patriot movement were motivated by apocalyptic fundamentalist Christian notions that the end of the world was near and that the return of Jesus was imminent. The best-known example was a group of religious extremists called the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, led by David Koresh, who stockpiled weapons and waited for Armageddon. Most of Koresh's followers were killed in a confrontation with the Federal government in 1993. The Federal building in Oklahoma City was bombed exactly two years later to the day, by militia-movement supporters Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, in retaliation for the Waco raid.

Several prominent Reconstructionists have had close ties to the right-wing "patriots". Gun Owners of America, a radical pro-gun group (which criticizes the NRA for being too tame) is run by Reconstructionist Larry Pratt, while the US Taxpayers Party, a patriot-type tax protestors organization, was founded by Reconstructionist Howard Phillips. The patriot/militia movement also generated some sympathy from several prominent fundamentalist Christians, who shared the theocratic aims of the Christian Patriots. Pat Robertson invited a guest from the Militia of Montana to serve as an "expert" for a story on the BATF and FBI that ran on The 700 Club after the Oklahoma City bombing. "A lot of it goes right back to what happened with the Branch Davidians, Randy Weaver and these other people," Robertson said. "It's reminiscient of the Nazis, and something's got to be done". (700 Club, July 11, 1995, cited in Boston, 1996, p. 141) In his book The New World Order, Robertson manages to parrot virtually every one of the canards tossed around by the paranoid far-right wing of the patriot/militia movement. According to Robertson, a secret cabal of "international bankers and financiers", along with the Illuminati, the Trilateral Commission and various other groups, is trying to destroy Christianity, take over the world and impose a satanic "one world government". Among other things, says Robertson, these conspirators killed Lincoln, started the First World War, have taken over the world monetary system, and are using the education system to destroy morality so the US can be taken over by UN troops.

Another evangelist with ties to right-wing Christian Patriot and militia movements was Jack van Impe. On several occasions, van Impe presented "news stories" about foreign troops in the US which are training to take over the country at the behest of the UN -- a standard tale of the far right. He further stated that the armed militias were one way to counter the evils of the "one world government". Van Impe's sources for his "news stories" included The Spotlight, the publication of the anti-Semitic and racist Liberty Lobby, and the Patriot Report.

Finally, there was Chuck Missler, founder of Koinonia House in Idaho and a minister with the Cavalry Chapels in california. Missler published the newsletter "Personal Update", which used at its sources The Spotlight and the American Patriot Fax Network, run by various far-right groups. Among other things, Missler suggested that the Federal government itself blew up the Alfred Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in an attempt to blame the bombing on the militia movement and discredit it.

A number of creationists also parroted a lot of standard militia and "Christian Patriot" conspiracy theories. In a "Back to Genesis" article that discusses the Pope's 1996 announcement concerning evolution, ICR's Henry Morris presents a picture that could could have come from any of a number of far-right loons and militia types. After noting that the Pope had announced that it's not ungodly to believe the theory of evolution, Morris makes the curious statement: "One cannot help suspecting that the recent spate of events and media articles 'puffing' evolution is being orchestrated somewhere to combat the modern resurgance of creationism around the world." (ICR, Back to Genesis, "Evolution and the Pope", December 1996, p. 1)

Veteran right-wing watchers will immediately recognize this schtick -- the "worldwide conspiracy to destroy god, mother and country". The Pope's pronouncement comes as no surprise to Morris, since after all, he< points out, Teilhard de Chardin, a Catholic priest, was an early supporter of evolutionary theory. "Evolution was, to all intents and purposes," says Morris, "Teilhard's 'god', and his goal was globalism, a unified world government, culture and religion, with all religions merged into one." (Back to Genesis, December 1996)

And who is behind this "globalist conspiracy"? Morris declares: "There are more and more signs that such globalism is also the aim of Pope John Paul II and other modern liberal Catholics. If so, this publicized commitment to evolutionism would contribute substantially to such a goal. All world religions -- including most of mainline Protestantism, as well as Hinduism, Buddhism and the rest -- except for Biblical Christianity, Orthodox Judaism and Fundamentalist Islam, have embraced some form of evolutionism (either theistic, deistic or pantheistic) and rejected or allegorized the true record of origins in Genesis. The Pope has participated in important meetings with leaders of Communism, Zen Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Lamaism and others, as well as the World Council of Churches, the Trilateral Commission, the B'nai B'rith of liberal Judaism, and a wide assortment of still others." (Back to Genesis, December 1996)

Morris, like the militias and extremist Christian Patriots, refers to this shadowy behind-the-scenes group of conspirators as "the new world order", that international conglomeration of dark forces who are conspiring to destroy Christianity and impose a secular humanist socialist one-world-government upon everyone. As Morris puts it, "All cults and movements associated with the "new world order" of the so-called New Age Movement have two things in common -- evolutionism as their base and globalism as their goal." (Back to Genesis, December 1996)

The creationist with the strongest ties to the lunatic fringes of the political right, however, is "Dr" Kent Hovind, also known as "Dr Dino". A prominent young-earth creationist, Hovind tirelessly passed around the militia movement's paranoid conspiracy theories, and even made up a few of his own. At various times, "Dr" Hovind (his degree comes from an unaccredited diploma mill) has argued that the American government knew that the 9-11 attacks were about to happen and allowed it to proceed, that AIDS is a biowarfare weapon developed by the United States, that there were United Nations forces at Waco during the Branch Davidian siege, that the UN is using black helicopters and black tanks to prepare for an invasion of the US, and that the US government was really behind the Oklahoma City bombing. Hovind has also spoken in favor of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a staple among anti-Semitic hard-righters.

Hovind also has strong ties to the "tax protestor" movement. Following the standard "patriot" line, he has announced that he is a "sovereign citizen" and that the US government has no jurisdiction over him. He also announced that, as a minister of God, he doesn't own anything and all his million-dollar-a-year income belongs to God (so he doesn't have to pay any taxes on it). Hovind is currently facing a slew of tax-evasion charges from the IRS.

While they each have different (sometimes contradictory) motives, the religious goals of the Reconstructionists, the "Christian Patriots" and the creation "scientists" all converge on the same place. Each of these factions argue that the US should be run according to "Christian" values and beliefs; each of these factions argue that they are the final arbiters of what "God's will" really is, each of these factions view creationism as a weapon with which to bring about this "Christian order". And all of them want to erode and eliminate the separation of church and state.

And what would this fundamentalist utopia look like? Although the creationists liked to speak about "academic freedom" and about allowing students to make a "choice", statements by creationists and their fundamentalist supporters made it clear that this is just rhetoric. The fundamentalists have a deep and barely-concealed contempt for democracy and free choice -- an attitude which is not surprising given their world-view, which is based upon unquestioned obedience to an inerrant Bible and the infallible authority of those who interpret it. Jerry Falwell, in a moment of remarkable candor, once remarked that "Christians, like slaves and soldiers, ask no questions." (cited in Vetter 1982, p. 17) Democracy, then, with its messy guarantees of freedom of thought and popular control over authority, is dangerous to the fundamentalists and their world-view. "Our Founding Fathers," Falwell declared, "would not accept the tyranny of a democracy because they recognized that the only sovereign over men and nations was Almighty God." (cited in Young, 1982, p. 184, emphasis added) Charles Stanly of Moral Majority made this anti-democratic attitude even more plain: "We do not want a democracy in this land because if we have a democracy a majority rules," (cited in Young 1982, p. 65) while Rich Anguin of the Minnesota Moral Majority added, "Freedom of speech has never been right. We've never had freedom of speech in this country and we never should have." (cited in Young, 1982, p. 65) Gary Potter, a Weyrich partner and head of Catholics for Political Action, stated his theocratic goals with chilling clarity: "After the Christian majority takes control, pluralism will be seen as immoral and evil and the state will not permit anybody the right to practice evil." (cited in Conway and Siegelman, 1984, p. 115-116)

And this contempt for political democracy was reflected by the creationists as well. Kelly Segraves, the co-founder of the Creation Science Research Society, declared, "Humanism is a far-reaching social program that aims for the establishment throughout the world of democracy (lowest common denominator mob rule), peace and a high standard of living." (Segraves, Creation-Science Report, January 1980, cited in LaFollette, 1983, p. 182) Apparently, Segraves views democracy, peace and a high standard of living as the work of the Devil, and is determined to use creation "science" to help stamp these evils out. His view is echoed by prominent creationist "Dr" Kent Hovind, who flatly declared, "Democracy is evil and contrary to God's law." (http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?aid=205)

This, then, is the picture that emerges of the ultimate aims of the fundamentalists and their creationist allies: a "theocratic republic" in which a "Christian order" will "take over every area of life"; in which democracy is contemptuously referred to as "mob rule" and a "tyranny", and where we "never should have" freedom of speech; in which "pluralism will be seen as immoral and evil" and "the state will not permit anybody the right to sin"; a nation in which people, "like slaves and soldiers", ask no questions; where the separation of church and state is "communistic" and Christians rule by "Divine mandate"; where laws are ordained by God and the "sinful" are executed by the state.

In short, the fundamentalists want a theocratic police state. After all, a police state is great -- if you get to be the police.

THREE: Creation "Science" Appears

As we have seen, the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925 marked the downfall of the fundamentalist movement in the United States and the end of its efforts to pass laws forcing its religious opinions into science classrooms. However, the Scopes trial also had a negative effect on science education in the US, particularly as it related to evolution. Although the teaching of evolutionary theory was not illegal in every state, and the existing "monkey laws" were not enforced where they remained, the affects of these laws permeated biology education throughout the country. The textbook that Scopes had used in Tennessee, Civic Biology by George W. Hunter, had been adopted by the State Textbook Commission in 1919, and treated the subject of evolution in a fair amount of detail. In the wake of the Scopes trial, however, a new version, entitled New Civic Biology, appeared. In this version, evolution was not mentioned at all.

Other publishers bowed to economic realities and followed suit. As researchers Raymond Eve and Francis Harrold note, "Publishers are in business to make money. Books containing too much evolution might be rejected where the topic was illegal or unpopular. It was easier on the balance sheet to issue a simple nationwide edition of a book that contained material offensive to no one." (Eve and Harrold, 1991, p. 27) The effect on science education was profound. Almost overnight, evolution as a topic was banished from nearly every science textbook in the country. As Judith Grabiner and Peter Miller note, "It is easy to identify a text published in the decade following 1925. Merely look up the word 'evolution' in the index or glossary; you almost certainly will not find it." (Grabiner and Miller, "Effects of the Scopes Trial", Science, Sept 6, 1974, p. 833) While Darrow and the evolutionists had won the Scopes battle by discrediting the fundamentalists, they had lost the war. The creationist "monkey laws" had a chilling effect on biological education in the United States for several decades.

The United States was shocked out of its intellectual complacency in 1957, when the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite. In response, US government officials were forced to confront the dismal state of science education, including the biological sciences, and were forced to institute a crash program to bring American science education up to par. One of these new programs was the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, begun in 1959, to produce new up-to-date biology textbooks. Written by professional scientists in their fields, the BSCS texts prominently featured evolutionary theory as the foundation of all the biological sciences. Within a few years, nearly half the high schools in the country were using BSCS biology textbooks, despite the fact that anti-evolution laws were still on the books in a number of states.

Creationists were quick to respond. The Institute for Creation Research, in California, was formed by a group of anti-evolutionists including Henry Morris and Duane Gish, with money from several fundamentalist church groups. It quickly became the largest anti-evolution organization in the US. Smaller creationist groups included the Creation Research Society and the Creation Science Research Center.

In 1961, the Tennessee state legislature attempted to repeal the Butler Act (the law which had prompted the Scopes trial), but failed after an acrimonious debate, during which one legislator equated evolutionists with communists: "Any persons or any groups who assist in any way to undermine faith in the teachings of the Bible are working in harmony with communism." (W. Dykeman and J. Stokely, "Scopes and Evolution--The Jury is Still Out", New York Times Magazine, March 12, 1971, p. 72) In 1967, teacher Gary Scott of Jacksboro, Tennessee was fired for violating the Butler Act. He fought his firing in court and won, and the Butler Act was finally ruled unconstitutional by the Federal courts.

Shortly afterwards, Arkansas biology teacher Susanne Epperson filed a court challenge to the Arkansas monkey law. When the Arkansas Supreme Court upheld the law, Epperson appealed to the US Supreme Court, which ruled in 1968 that all state monkey laws were unconstitutional, on the grounds that they served to establish a state-supported religion and eroded the separation of church and state. The anti-evolution laws, the Court decided, were nothing more than "an attempt to blot out a particular theory because of its supposed conflict with the Biblical account, taken literally." (US Supreme Court, Epperson v Arkansas, 1968)

In 1973, just six years after repealing the Scopes anti-evolution law, the Tennessee State Legislature passed a replacement for the Butler Act. The new law stated, "Any biology textbook used for teaching in the public schools, which expresses an opinion of, or relates a theory about origins or creation of man and his world shall [give] . . . an equal amount of emphasis on . . . the Genesis account in the Bible." (Public Acts of Tennessee, 1973, Chapter 377, cited in LaFollette, 1983, p. 80) Within two years, this law had also been struck down by the Federal Courts, which ruled that the Tennessee law was "a clearly defined preferential position for the Biblical version of creation as opposed to any account of the development of man based on scientific research and reasoning. For a state to seek to enforce such preference by law is to seek to accomplish the very establishment of religion which the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States squarely forbids." (US District Court, Daniel v Waters, 1975)

The creation "science" movement was a response to these Court decisions. Creationists from the Institute for Creation Research and Creation Research Society wanted, in effect, to turn the clock back to 1925, when evolution was illegal and the Biblical story of origins was mandated by law. As CRS co-founder Walter Lammerts put it, "Our aim is a rather audacious one, namely, the complete re-evaluation of science from the theistic viewpoint." (Lammerts, 1975, p. 2) Henry Morris echoed, "A key purpose of the ICR is to bring the field of education -- and then our whole world insofar as possible -- back to the foundational truth of special creation and primeval history as revealed first in Genesis and further emphasized throughout the Bible." (Morris, Back to Genesis, July 1995)

The creationists cited several reasons why they believe creationism should be taught in the public schools, and one of these, they flatly admitted, was that it encouraged belief in a personal Deity and thus encouraged a "Christian lifestyle": "There is no greater stimulus to responsible behavior and earnest effort, as well as honesty and consideration for others, than the awareness that there may well be a personal Creator to whom one must give account." (Morris, Scientific Creationism, 1974, p. 14)

However, since the Supreme Court had now prohibited as unconstitutional the teaching of religious doctrines in the public schools, creationists were no longer able to make these religiously-based arguments in court, and instead had to resort to a new strategy -- arguing, in an Orwellian inversion, that (1) creationism is science, not religion, and (2) evolution is religion, not science. As Morris summarizes, "Since creationism can be discussed effectively as a scientific model, and since evolution is fundamentally a religious philosophy rather than a science, it is clearly unsound educational practice and even unconstitutional for evolution to be taught and promoted in the public schools to the exclusion or detriment of special creation. . . . Creationist children and parents are thereby denied 'equal protection of its laws' and the state has, to all intents and purposes, made a law establishing the religion of evolutionary humanism in its schools." (Morris, 1975, p. 14) Therefore, in response to the Supreme Court decisions, the creationist movement made the strategic decision to downplay the religious aspects of creationism, and to argue that creationism could be supported solely through scientific evidence, without any reference to God or the Bible. Thus was born "creation science" -- it was nothing more than an attempt by the fundamentalists to dishonestly sneak their religious views into the classroom by pretending that they are really a "science". It was, in fact, a deception by design.

A large variety of people have claimed the mantle "creation scientists". According to one source, there were in 1984 no less than 22 national creationist organizations in the United States, and at least 54 state and local organizations. As in any political and religious movement, there are several schools of creationist thought, separated by doctrinal differences in their interpretations of the Bible.

The "day-age" faction of creationism argues that the "days" referred to in Genesis are really symbolic of enormous stretches of time, and not 24-hour days. Perhaps the best-known of the "day-age" groups today are the Jehovah's Witnesses. Another school of thought is that of the "gap" theorists, who argue that there is an unmentioned lapse of time between the first and second verses of Genesis, and that the six-day creation event did not happen until after a long period of time had already passed. Several of the televangelists were "gap" theorists. Finally, there are the "strict" creationists, who assert that creation happened as described in Genesis, and that the universe and all life was created within six days, several thousand years ago. The first two schools, the "day-age" and the "gap", accept the geological evidence of a very ancient earth (but not the evidence of evolution), and are usually referred to collectively as the "old earth creationists" or OECs. The strict creationists, however, assert that the earth is, based on the geneologies in Genesis, just 6,000 to 10,000 years old, and they are referred to as "young-earth creationists" or YECs.

There is also another school of thought, the "theistic evolutionists", who argue that evolution is simply the method which God used to create life, and that there is no conflict between science and the Bible. Nearly all mainstream religious denominations (as well as most scientists) are supporters of theistic evolution. Although they could be considered "creationist", since they do assert that the universe was made by God, theistic evolutionists are viewed by the fundamentalists as "the liberal enemy" who is doing the work of Satan. It would be more proper to view the fundamentalist creationists as "anti-evolutionists", since the one thing that unites them all is the belief that evolutionary theory is contrary to the tenets of Christianity. Since, on this matter, the theistic evolutionists are on the "wrong" side, they are not accepted as "creationists" by the fundamentalists.

Throughout the 80s, however, it was the young-earth creationists who dominated the creation "science" movement and who headed all of the major creationist organizations, and it was the viewpoints of the young-earthers which found their way into the various anti-evolution or "balanced treatment" laws which they sought to pass. The pivotal 1981 Arkansas Balanced Treatment Act, for instance, defined "creation science" in terms of young-earth creationism:

"'Creation-science' includes the scientific evidences and related inferences that indicate: (1) Sudden creation of the universe, energy and life from nothing, (2) The insufficiency of mutation and natural selection in bringing about development of all living kinds from a single organism, (3) Changes only within fixed limits of originally created kinds of plants and animals, (4) Separate ancestry for men and apes, (5) Explanation of the earth's geology by catastrophism, including the occurrence of a world- wide flood, and (6) A relatively recent inception of the earth and living kinds." (Arkansas Legislature Act 590, 1981)

Young-earth creationism (which later became "scientific creationism") can essentially be traced back to one man, George McCready Price, a fundamentalist Seventh Day Adventist who accepted the literal truth of the Bible as a matter of course. In 1923, Price published a book called The New Geology, in which he argued that all of the geological features we see today were the result of Noah's Flood, and not the slow geological processes described by scientists. The geological column, Price asserted, was nothing more than the deep sediments deposited by the Flood, while all of the various fossils were merely the dead bodies of organisms that had drowned in the Deluge. Conventional geology, Price asserted, was a fraud, fostered upon an unsuspecting public by scientists who were doing the work of the Devil: "Some of the tricky methods used by the Great Deceiver to befuddle the people of the last days". (cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 137) Price's ideas became known as "Flood geology".

While geologists dismissed Price as a crank and ridiculed The New Geology as being riddled with error and distortion, the book caused a sensation among religious fundamentalists, who cited it as the first book to use science to show that the Bible is literally correct. Price (who was not a geologist) was even cited during the Scopes trial as a scientific expert. For a time, he traveled to England, where a disciple of his, Douglas Dewar, enthusiastically echoed his mentor, saying bluntly, "The Bible cannot contain false statements, and so if its statements undoubtedly conflict with the views of geologists, these latter are wrong." (cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 146) Much of Price's "flood geology" can be found, nearly intact, in the writings of modern young-earth creationists.

In 1935, Price helped to form the Religion and Science Association, the first nationwide creationist organization. The RSA had as its acknowledged purpose that of using scientific data to support the Bible. Shortly after it was formed, however, the RSA was torn by an internal feud between those who accepted Price's Flood geology and those who rejected it. One of RSA's founding members, the Lutheran theologian Theodore Graebner (an old-earth creationist who taught biology in several fundamentalist universities) flatly declared that Flood geology had no supporting evidence: "In spite of all that I have read about the Flood theory to account for stratification, erosion and fossils, I cannot view the mountains without losing all faith in that solution of the problem." (cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 112) By 1937, the Religion and Science Association had collapsed under the weight of this feuding.

Shortly after the death of the RSA, the Price supporters formed their own organization, the Deluge Geology Society, with the specific purpose of supporting the theories of Flood geology. Price was a co-founder and the most illumined member. Another co-founder was fellow Seventh Day Adventist Harold W. Clarke, who had also been a founding member of the RSA while teaching biology at an Adventist college in California. Another person who joined the DGS was a grad student from the University of Minnesota named Henry Morris, whose name will crop up very often in later creationist history.

To prevent the kind of internecine fighting that destroyed the RSA, the Deluge Geology Society only admitted committed Flood geologists as members. Despite this precaution, however, internal feuding broke out anyway, over the question of the age of the solar system. The old-earthers argued that the scientific evidence which indicated a very old solar system did not conflict with Genesis, a position which the young-earthers found heretical. The organization collapsed in 1948.

During this period, a new creationist organization appeared, one which became much more influential than the oft-ignored DGS. This was the American Scientific Affiliation, which was formed in 1941 to explain how science supported the Bible. Unlike the RSA and DGS, which were more concerned with theology than science, the ASA required all of its members to have legitimate scientific credentials. It also required all members to sign an oath of membership, swearing:

"I believe the whole Bible, as originally given, to be the inspired Word of God, the only unerring guide of faith and conduct. Since God is the Author of this Book, as well as the Creator and Sustainer of the physical world about us, I cannot conceive of discrepancies between statements in the Bible and the real facts of science." (cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 159)

This tactic of limiting membership to scientists who already agreed to the literal truth of Genesis would later be repeated by other creationist groups. In effect, by using scientific knowledge as an apologetic for Biblical truth, the ASA became the first "creation science" organization.

Although the ASA had no connections to the Deluge Geology Society when it was formed, it was quickly approached by the DGS, which wanted to publish a joint anti-evolution periodical. The ASA leadership, distrustful of the "strong Seventh-Day Adventist flavor" of the Deluge Society (cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 161), turned them down.

In the end, however, it was the ASA's insistence on a semblance of scientific respectability which proved to be its undoing. Once again, Flood geology was at the center of the dispute. Dr. J. Laurence Kulp, a chemist and geologist, flatly rejected Flood geology and pointed out that it was demonstrably untrue, and to insist upon it as Biblically-inspired would make a laughingstock out of creationism. "This unscientific theory of Flood geology," Kulp wrote, "has done and will do considerable harm to the strong propagation of the Gospel among educated people." (cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 167) Kulp was soon joined by biologist J. Frank Cassell, who presented a paper to the ASA in 1951 bluntly stating, "Evolution has been defined as 'the gradual or sudden change in animals and plants through successive generations' . . . Such changes are demonstrable. Therefore, evolution is a fact." (cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 174-175) Cassell argued that ASA's entire attitude on evolution had to change if it was to maintain any scientific respectability, and urged ASA to adopt an attitude of theistic evolution. (This effort was partially successful. ASA took no official position on the question of creation "science", and most of its members are theistic evolutionists--although the group did publish a booklet entitled Teaching Science in a Climate of Controversy, which defended old-earth creationism.)

The young earthers defended their "science" against the attacks of Kulp and Cassell. During the 1953 ASA annual convention, Henry Morris presented a paper entitled "The Biblical Evidence for a Recent Creation and Universal Deluge". Morris, a staunch Biblical literalist and young-earth creationist, had deliberately chosen to major in hydraulic engineering and minor in geology, so he could study the effects that flood waters would have on the earth. In 1946, the year he entered graduate school at the University of Minnesota, he published a pamphlet called "That You Might Believe", which defended Flood geology. Morris joined the Deluge Geology Society while still a graduate student.

At the 1953 ASA convention, Morris first met John C. Whitcomb, Jr., a theologian with an interest in Flood geology and young-earth creationism. In 1957, Whitcomb finished a ThD dissertation entitled "The Genesis Flood", which presented a detailed defense of the historicity and geological affects of Noah's Flood. Shortly afterwards, he decided to publish the thesis as a book, but thought it would have more impact if a geologist wrote the sections dealing with Flood geology. Whitcomb approached several creationist geologists for help in the book, but was turned down by all of them, who rejected Flood geology for various reasons. Finally, he approached hydraulic engineer Henry Morris, who, after some initial hesitation, agreed to co-author the book. The Genesis Flood was financed by a number of religious fundamentalists (including Rousas J. Rushdooney, who would go on to begin the Christian "Reconstructionist" movement). The book was published in February 1961.

For geologists, The Genesis Flood was a yawn, merely an updated rehash of McCready Price's New Geology. The book also received criticism from the old-earth creationists, who argued that the very idea of a global Flood was not supported by any of the geological evidence. In response, Whitcomb and Morris answered simply that Genesis said there had been a global Flood, therefore there must have been one: "The real issue is not the correctness of the interpretation of various details of the geological data, but simply what God has revealed in His Word concerning these matters." (Whitcomb and Morris, 1961, p. xxvii) To the ASA Journal, which was vocal in its criticism of the book, Morris wrote, "The real crux of the matter is 'What saith Scripture?' " (cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 208)

The Southern Baptist Church where Morris taught apparently disagreed, and Morris left over theological differences concerning the Flood. Shortly afterwards, Morris formed his own College Baptist Church, and one of his guest pastors was Jerry Falwell, a then-obscure minister in nearby Lynchburg, Virginia. Since then, Falwell and Morris became (and have remained) silent partners -- Falwell's Moral Majority Inc. gave financial support to Morris's creationist institutions, and Falwell has plugged Morris's creationist books to his large television audience.

The dispute within the American Scientific Affiliation over Flood geology soon convinced the young-earthers that the ASA was getting "soft on evolution". In late 1961, the plant breeder Walter Lammerts, who had long been affiliated with creationist organizations, joined with Henry Morris and Duane Gish to form an "anti-evolution caucus" within the ASA. Lammerts was an extremist even for a creationist -- unlike most young-earthers, who accepted a limited form of evolution within "created kinds", Lammerts rejected even this and asserted that no speciation of any sort was possible. Gish, a Regular Baptist and a fundamentalist, had joined the ASA in the late 1950s, after getting his PhD in bio-chemistry from Berkeley. He worked as a protein researcher for the Upjohn Company. Together, the three formed a breakaway creationist organization called the Creation Research Committee in 1963. The Committee later changed its name to the Creation Research Society, the name it still bears today.

The CRS was the first national group to be headed by Henry Morris, the "Father of Creation Science", and it quickly came to reflect the views of its leader. The purpose of the CRS, it declared, is "to publish research evidence supporting the thesis that the material universe, including plants, animals and man are the result of direct creative acts by a personal God." (Creation Research Society, Articles of Incorporation, Lansing, Michigan, cited in Nelkin, 1982, p. 78) Morris had by this time decided that scientific data could be used as an effective tool for bringing people to Christ, and he began to point to his Flood geology model as an "alternative science", one that proved the literal correctness of the Bible. He also began to explore the possibility of using the state legislatures to have "Balanced Treatment" acts passed, mandating equal treatment of "evolution science" and "creation science" in biology classrooms.

To help legitimize this viewpoint, CRS maintained the old ASA tactic of admitting only credentialled scientists as members. And, in an effort to avoid the faction- fighting and ideological bickering that had marked the earlier creationist organizations, CRS also adopted a long, detailed oath which all members had to swear, which bound them firmly to a literal interpretation of Genesis, a young-earth outlook, and acceptance of the Flood geology model: "The Bible is the Written Word of God, and because it is inspired thruout, all its assertions are historically and scientifically true in all the original autographs. To the student of nature, this means that the account of origins in Genesis is a factual presentation of simple historical truths. (By-Laws of the Creation Research Society, cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 230-231)

It may seem strange for an institution which tried to present itself as "scientific" to require all of its members to swear an oath affirming their belief in certain specific conclusions, regardless of the scientific evidence, but clearly the purpose of the Creation Research Society had less to do with scientific investigation than it had in proselytizing people to fundamentalist Biblical literalism. In fact, a large number of creationists objected to the use of science at all, arguing that the religious message was weakened and cheapened by attempting to use scientific data to "prove" the act of creation. One of the most vociferous objectors was Morris's former co-author John C. Whitcomb, who complained that "One might just as well be a Jewish or even a Muslim creation scientist as far as this model is concerned . . . By avoiding any mention of the Bible, or Christ as the Creator, we may be able to gain an equal time in some schools. But the cost would seem to be exceedingly high, for absolute certainty is lost and the spiritual impact that only the living and powerful Word of God can give is blunted." (Whitcomb, Grace Theological Journal, 1983, cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 246)

In 1978, Walter Lang, the editor of the creationist Bible Science Newsletter, echoed the sentiments of many creationists who felt that scientific justification for creation was unnecessary and detracted from the spiritual message: "Only about five percent of evolutionists-turned-creationists did so on the basis of the overwhelming evidence for creation in the world of nature." (Lang, Bible Science Newsletter, June 1978, cited in Numbers, 1992, p. 233) Indeed, Lammerts, Gish and Morris had all been staunch creationists before they had gained any scientific experience.

Morris, however, was completely committed to his strategy of using "creation science" to get around the Supreme Court's Epperson decision and win a place for Genesis in American science classrooms, and took steps to present creationism as a scientific, not a religious, outlook. "Thus," Morris explained, "creationism is on the way back, this time not primarily as a religious belief, but as an alternative scientific explanation of the world in which we live." (Morris, Troubled Waters of Evolution, 1974, p. 16, emphasis added) Morris's book Scientific Creationism was intended to be the definitive book on the science of creationism, suitable for use in public school biology courses.

In 1970, Morris and Christian fundamentalist preacher Tim LaHaye (of the Moral Majority Inc), working with the Scott Memorial Baptist Church, raised money and set up the Christian Heritage College in San Diego, an unaccredited Bible college. In its 1981 academic catalogue, the College offered several courses in science, all taught, it says, in a "consistently creationist and Biblical framework". As for evolutionary theory, the catalogue stated, "Biblical criteria require its rejection as possible truth." (1981-1982 General Catalogue, Christian Heritage College, p. 10, cited in LaFollette, 1983, p. 107) Morris himself was teaching a course in "creation science" at the College.

Working with fellow creationists Kelly and Nell Segraves, who had helped establish a local chapter of the Bible Science Association -- a hardline creationist organization -- Morris helped establish the Creation Science Research Center, for the specific purpose of producing "creation science" materials which could be used in public classrooms once the creationists succeeded in having creation "science" put into the schools. Morris also founded the Institute for Creation Research as a scientific laboratory for the Christian Heritage College, with the avowed purpose of attempting to scientifically "prove" the literal validity of Genesis.

Shortly afterwards, however, a power struggle broke out in the CSRC between Morris and the Segraves. The Segraves wrested control of the Center, and promptly disaffiliated it from the Christian Heritage College and from the ICR. ICR remained affiliated with the Christian Heritage College until the early 1980s, when it became expedient for the creationists to downplay ICR's religious connections and attempt to paint its Bible science research as a purely secular, scientific institution. ICR attempted to maintain the fiction that it was a scientific institute with no religious affiliations, but most ICR staffers, including Henry Morris and Duane Gish, were still adjunct professors at the Christian Heritage College. The ICR carried out no field research in any of the life sciences, and, despite its claim to be purely scientific, it maintained its tax-exempt status with the IRS on the grounds that it is a religious institution carrying out "non-scientific research".

A number of smaller creationist organizations also existed. The old Geoscience Research Institute was still active. It was based at Loma Linda University, a Seventh-Day Adventist college. For the most part, GRI avoided legislative or political work, and focused instead on providing creationist reference materials to biology and geology teachers. GRI adheres to old-earth creationism.

Another small organization which got some press occasionally was the Creation Evidences Museum near Glen Rose, Texas. The Museum is still run today by the Rev Carl Baugh, who has a PhD in anthropology from the College of Advanced Education, an unaccredited Bible college on the grounds of the Sherwood Park Baptist Church. (Baugh also claims several other doctoral degrees -- all of them come from diploma mills owned by either himself or his business partner). The primary attractions of the Museum are the so-called "man tracks" from nearby Dinosaur Valley State Park, along the Paluxy River. According to the creationists, the state park contains dinosaur tracks alongside those of modern humans, proving that the two lived together on a young earth. Baugh has also claimed to have found a fossil human tooth buried among the dinosaur bones. Ever since his claims have been debunked, Baugh is viewed as somewhat of an oddball by the major creationist groups.

Perhaps some mention should be made of the fringe creationist groups which even the ICR and CSRC acknowledged were a bit loony. The best known of these has to be the Flat Earth Society, which argues on both scientific and religious grounds that the earth is really flat, and that geological and astronomic data, if properly interpreted, prove this to be true. Another fringe group is the Tychonian Society, which, unlike the Flat Earth Society, accepts that the earth is round, but which argues, on scientific and religious grounds, that the earth is at the center of the universe and the sun revolves around it.

ICR, however, was (and still is) the shining star of the young-earth creationist movement, and is responsible for most of the creationist literature that is available. The ICR makes a lot of self-congratulatory noise about its "scientific credentials". Members of the ICR, it proudly declares, are required to have an advanced degree in at least one of the sciences. They usually fail to mention, however, that, like the CRS, all of its members must sign an oath affirming their belief in a literal interpretation of Genesis and their acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, and any other non-fundamentalist creationists are not allowed membership in the ICR unless they renounce those beliefs and sign the ICR's oath of Biblical infallibility.

When Henry Morris died in February 2006, his son, John Morris, took over as head of ICR.

Not all of the young-earth creationists are scientists. One of the creationist witnesses at the Arkansas trial was Dr. Norman Geisler, a fundamentalist theologian at the Dallas Theological Seminary. During his pre-trial deposition, Geisler was asked if he believed in a real Devil. Yes, he replied, he did, and cited some Biblical verses as confirmation. The conversation then went:

"Q. Are there, sir, any other evidences for that belief besides certain passages of Scripture?

GEISLER: Oh, yes. I have known personally at least 12 persons who were clearly possessed by the Devil. And then there are the UFOs.

Q. The UFOs? Why are they relevant to the existence of the Devil?

GEISLER: Well, you see, they represent the Devil's major, in fact, final attack on the earth.

Q. Oh. And sir, may I ask how you know, as you seem to know, that there are UFOs?

GEISLER: I read it in the Readers Digest." (Trial Transcript, US District Court, McLean v Arizona, 1981, cited in Gilkey, 1985, p. 76)

At trial, Geisler testified under oath (apparently with a straight face) that flying saucers were "Satanic manifestations for the purposes of deception". (Trial transcript, US District Court, McLean v Arkansas, 1981, cited in Gilkey, 1985, p. 77, LaFollette, 1983, p. 114 and Nelkin, 1982, p. 142)

Geisler also testified that the Arkansas creationism bill did not introduce religion into the schools for the simple reason that God is not a religious concept. "It is possible," Geisler intoned, "to believe that God exists without necessarily believing in God." In support of this idea, Geisler argued that the Devil acknowledged the existence of God but did not worship Him, and therefore treated God as a non-religious concept. (Trial transcript, McLean v Arkansas, 1981, cited in Berra, 1990, p. 134) Judge Overton rather politely concluded that Geisler's notion "is contrary to common understanding". (Overton Opinion, McLean v Arkansas, 1981)

Recently, ICR's dominance of the young-earth creationist movement has been challenged by two others. The first is "Dr" Kent Hovind, a Florida preacher who is perhaps best-known for his "challenge" offering $250,000 to anyone who can prove (to him, anyway) that evolution happens. "Dr" Hovind (the "doctoral degree" comes from an unaccredited diploma mill) is an unabashed "patriot" tax-protestor type, and has spouted all sorts of "government conspiracy" theories. Hovind also thinks that flying saucers come from the Devil. Most other creationist organizations view Hovind as an embarrassment.

The most successful young-earth challenger to ICR, though, is Answers in Genesis, led by Carl Weiland and former ICR staffer Ken Ham. Unlike the creation "scientists", AIG is openly adamant about the religious basis of its opposition to evolution, and makes no attempt to hide the fact that it is a "Christian apologetics organization". In general, AIG's theology and "science" are much the same as ICR's. AIG's significance, however, comes from the fact that it is much more active in supporting international efforts to expand creationism than is ICR (AIG funds anti-evolution movements in England, Russia, South America and elsewhere). AIG has also distinguished itself by publishing a long list of "arguments creationists should not use". In response, AIG has drawn criticism from other young-earthers (including Hovind) for "fragmenting" the Christian movement. Historically, fundamentalists have never been very good at tolerating any criticism or dissent, particularly from within their own ranks.

In April 2006, AIG announced that it was splitting into two distinct organizations. Ken Ham's American section would continue under the name "Answers in Genesis", while Carl Weiland and the Australian section would become the independent "Creation Ministries". It's not clear what led to the split, but it appears to revolve around funding issues for the American section's "creation science museum" in Kentucky, and around disputes regarding publishing practices. It probably also involved some personality conflicts between the two groups. Even after the split, however, the American AIG rivals ICR in size, and plays a far more active role in supporting and funding creation "science" movements overseas.

The young-earth creationists, while dominating most of the creation "science" movement, have been opposed by the "old-earth" groups. The old-earthers accept that the earth is billions of years old and that the young-earth "flood geology" is largely wrong, but agree with the young-earthers that evolution is wrong, false and anti-Christian. The largest and best-known of the old-earth creationist groups is Reasons to Believe, founded by astronomer Hugh Ross. The very name of the group makes its aim apparent. Ross's credibility is perhaps best illustrated by his recent book (co-authored with two other fundamentalists) entitled Lights In the Sky and Little Green Men: A Rational Christian Look at UFO's and Extraterrestrials (NavPress, Colorado Springs CO, 2002). Over several chapters, Ross dismisses, on scientific and Biblical grounds, the existence of any life other than terrestrial. But, he declares, there are so many reliable UFO reports that they can't all be mistakes or hoaxes (he calls the remaining reliable reports "Residual UFO's"). His "rational Christian" conclusion is something he calls the "trans-dimensional hypothesis" -- flying saucers are actually entities that come from "beyond our space and time dimensions" and which, although real entities, are not physical beings. OK, so what are the flying saucers, then? According to Ross: "It can now be determined who is behind the RUFO experiences. Only one kind of being favors the dead of night and lonely roads. Only one is real but nonphysical, animate, powerful, deceptive, ubiquitous throughout human history, culture, and geography, and bent on wreaking psychological and physical harm. Only one entity selectively approaches those humans involved in cultic, occultic or New Age activities. It seems apparent that residual UFO's, in one or more ways, must be associated with the activities of demons." (pages 122-123).

Ross is not the only creationist who seems to be obsessed with flying saucers (or demonology). As we have already seen, Dr Norman Geisler testified at the Arkansas trial that flying saucers come from the Devil, an opinion echoed by "Dr" Kent Hovind. In my years of online discussions with creationists, three different creationists, at different times, have told me in all apparent seriousness that flying saucers are actually time machines that are used by atheistic scientists to travel back into the past and plant fake fossils as evidence for evolution.

Another active old-earth creationist organization is the Foundation for Thought and Ethics. The FTE produced a proposed creationist biology textbook, Of Pandas and People, which had not been approved by any state education boards but occasionally turned up in local school districts. Although FTE claims it is a scientific group, on the tax exemption forms it files with the IRS, it states that the organization's purpose is "proclaiming, publishing and preaching . . . the Christian gospel and understanding of the Bible" (cited in Eve and Harrold, 1991, p.131) Pandas lists two authors, Percival Davis and Dean Kenyon. Davis later co-wrote a book titled Case for Creation with young-earth creationist Wayne Frair in which he wrote: "We accept by faith the revealed fact that God created living things. We believe God simultaneously created those crucial substances (nucleic acids, proteins, and so on) that are so intricately interdependent in all of life's processes, and that He created them already functioning in living cells." (cited in NCSE's review of Pandas and People,) In 1994, Davis was asked by the Wall Street Journal if he had religious motives in writing Pandas. "Of course my motives were religious," Davis replied. "There's no question about it." (Wall Street Journal, cited in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jan 9, 2005) As for Dean Kenyon, he was one of the creation "scientists" who testified during hearings on the Louisiana "balanced treatment" bill that creationism was science and had no religious basis whatsoever. Kenyon is now a Fellow at the Discovery Institute, the leading proponent of Intelligent Design "theory". His Pandas book, ironically, would serve as the instrument of death for ID "theory".

FOUR: Creation "Science" and its Arguments"

Although the basic tenet of creation "science" -- the notion that God created the world by Divine fiat -- is not testable and cannot be investigated scientifically, many of the secondary conclusions and assertions of the creationists are subject to empirical data and examination. As we will now see, in every instance, the data do not support any of the scientific conclusions reached by the creationists.

The creationists write voluminously about their interpretations of scientific data, but for reasons of space we cannot discuss all of those various elements here (the entire "scientific" case for creationism has been thoroughly refuted, in great detail, by writers such as Strahler, Kitcher, Montague and Godfrey). Instead, we will present the creationist case in a handful of scientific areas and show how the data they present is misinterpreted, misunderstood and, in many cases, blatantly misrepresented by creation "scientists". The creationist failure in these areas will indicate how much weight we should give to the rest of their claims.

What is the scientific theory of creation?

One of the most common accusations heard from creationists is that "evolution is only a theory and hasn't been proven". Such assertions are also heard from right-wing conservatives who give political support to the creationists. For instance, during the 1980 Presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan told an audience, concerning evolution, "Well, it's a theory -- it is a scientific theory only, and it has in recent years been challenged in the world of science and is not yet believed in the scientific community to be as infallible as it was once believed." (cited in Berra 1990, p. 123, Wills 1990 p. 120, and Eldredge 1982 p. 28)

This accusation demonstrates a basic ignorance of the methods and principles of science. The scientific method holds as a matter of course that all conclusions are tentative, and that nothing can ever be absolutely proven to a certainty. Every conclusion reached by any scientist must always include, even if it is only assumed, the unspoken preface that "This is true only to the best of our current knowledge". Science does not deal with absolute truths; it deals with hypotheses, theories and models. The distinction between these is important in understanding and in countering ID/creationist arguments, since the word "theory" also has a popular usage that is quite different from its scientific meaning.

In the popular view, the word "theory" means simply something that is unproven -- an assertion which may or may not be true. It is this meaning which the creationists refer to when they assert that evolution is "just a theory", the implication being that, if evolution hasn't been proven, then it should have no more standing than creation "science". In science, however, the word "theory" has a very definite meaning. Under the scientific method, the first step in investigation is to gather data and information, in the form of verifiable evidence. Once data has been gathered, the next step is to form a hypothesis which would explain the data. This hypothesis is, quite simply, nothing more than an intelligent guess. A hypothesis is, in fact, the closest scientific term to what most people mean when they say "theory".

Once a hypothesis has been formed, it is compared against the data (both old and new) to see how well it fits with the established facts. If the hypothesis is contradicted by the data, then it must be either modified and tested again, or discarded completely and a new hypothesis formed. Once a hypothesis has passed the test of verification through data, it becomes a scientific theory -- i.e., it becomes an established framework within which to interpret the relationship of various bits of raw data. On the basis of this theory, new hypotheses are formed, and areas in which new data may be gathered are identified. If the theory continues to correctly explain new data (and indeed serves to correctly predict the outcome of scientific experiments), it is said to have a high degree of reliability. Such a theory is not a mere supposition or guess; it is a hypothesis that has been verified by direct experimentation and which has demonstrated a high degree of predictive ability. When it fits data well and makes accurate predictions, scientists refer to it as being "robust".

When a related group of theories are correlated to one another and demonstrate the ability to be predictive and to explain the data, they form a scientific model. Models are the intellectual framework within which vast areas of particular data are explained and described. They also serve to indicate potential new areas of research and new hypotheses which can be tested to see if they can be integrated into the model.

An example may help to illustrate these distinctions. Observational data indicates to us that we can see the masts of tall ships while they are still far out on the horizon, before we can see the deck or the hull. We can also observe that the shadow of the earth, cast upon the moon during a rare eclipse, appears to be circular. We can therefore formulate the hypothesis that the earth is round. This would explain all of our data. Using this hypothesis, we can predict that, if the earth is indeed a sphere, we should be able to sail completely around the earth without falling off or coming to an edge. And, if this experiment is performed, we find that we can indeed do so. Our hypothesis has now been verified by experimentation, shows itself capable of correlating a variety of disparate data, and shows an ability to be predictive, and is therefore established as a scientific theory, the Theory of the Round Earth.

If we combine our theory of the round earth with other theories such as the theory of a round moon and a theory of heliocentrism (the sun is at the center of the solar system), we can formulate a model -- the moon orbits around the earth, the earth orbits around the sun, and all are part of a system of planets orbiting around a central star. This is the model of the heliocentric solar system.

Please note that none of this is to be treated as an absolute fact -- all scientific models are tentative, and are valid only insofar as they continue to explain and predict new findings. It is entirely possible that some later observation or data will completely upset our model. Many times, a model must be modified and altered in order to explain new data or to expand its explanatory power. No scientific model can be viewed as an absolute proof. Perhaps at some point in time the shadow of the earth upon the moon will be seen to be a square, or perhaps one day we will see that the moon does not really revolve around the earth. However, based upon all of the data we possess currently, we can conclude that neither of these possibilities is very likely, and we are justified in having a high degree of confidence in the solar system model. Although it has not been (and cannot logically be) proven to an absolute certainty, it has been verified by every experiment we have conducted so far, and it has proven to have profound predictive power.

This model then becomes a basis on which to formulate new hypotheses and to investigate new areas of research. As various scientists produce new data and formulate new theories and hypotheses, a consensus will be reached about which theories are better suited to the data and which have a higher degree of confidence. In this manner, the model is constantly being modified, improved and expanded in order to encompass more and more data. Scientific models can never be stagnant -- they are constantly changing and expanding as our knowledge of the universe increases.

Thus, scientific models can never be viewed as "the truth". At best, they are an approximation to truth, and these approximations become progressively closer to "the truth" as more testing of new evidence and data is done. However, no scientific model can ever reach "the truth", since no one will ever possess knowledge of all facts and data. As long as we do not have perfect and complete knowledge, our scientific models must be considered tentative, and valid only within the current limits of what we know.

The current theories of evolutionary mechanisms (Darwinian gradualism through natural selection, punctuated equilibria and neutralist evolution) together constitute a scientific model. This model has survived (with some modifications) every experimental test, and has not been invalidated by any data or evidence that we now possess. Evolutionary theory has demonstrated an ability to correlate and explain a wide variety of disparate data with a high degree of confidence, and has proven to have the ability to predict experimental results and to point out new areas that may be investigated for new data. As a scientific theory, the theory of evolution has the same robust standing and authority that atomic theory, germ theory, the theory of relativity and the theory of quantum physics possess.

As a complement to labeling evolution as "just a theory", the creationists also like to refer to their own particular outlook as a "model". Examination will quickly show that this is simply not true -- creationism is not a scientific model in any sense of the word. Scientific hypotheses, theories and models are all based upon several basic criteria. First, they must explain the world as it is observed, using naturalistic mechanisms which can be tested and verified by independent observation and experimentation. Although the existence of God is not necessarily denied by science, supernatural explanations which are based upon the unseen and undetectable actions of God are excluded from science as a matter of necessity. As biologist J.B.S. Haldane pointed out, science is dependent upon the assumption that the world is real and operates according to regular and predictable laws, which are not changed from moment to moment at the whim of supernatural forces: "My practice as a scientist is atheistic. That is to say, when I set up an experiment I assume that no god, angel or devil is going to interfere with its course." (cited in Montagu, 1984, p. 241) Geologist and theologian Dr James Skehan also notes, "I undertake my scientific research with the confident assumption that the earth follows the laws of nature which God established at creation . . . . My studies are performed with the confidence that God will not capriciously confound scientific results by 'slipping in' a miracle!" (Strahler, 1987, pp. 40-41)

The creationist idea that God divinely created the universe may or may not be true, but, by postulating a supernatural event which occurs outside of the natural laws of the universe, such an idea places itself firmly outside the realm of science. There is simply no experiment which can verify any of its assertions and no predictions of future data that can be drawn from this hypothesis, and those who hold such conclusions can do so only on the basis of faith. This is fine for a religious outlook or an ideology, but it has nothing at all in common with science.

Another characteristic of science is that it must be falsifiable. As we have seen, it is not possible to "prove" that any scientific model is absolutely true and correct. It is, however, quite possible to prove that any given scientific model is not correct -- that is, it can be conclusively shown to be false. The evolution model, for instance, could be falsified in any number of ways--a new species could be reliably observed to suddenly poof! into existence from nowhere, for instance. On a more realistic level, the evolution model would be conclusively falsified if any of the three basics we pointed out earlier--variation, heritability or selection, were shown by experiment to be invalid (i.e., if some genetic mechanism were to be found which made it chemically impossible for mutations to occur in the DNA, or for any such mutations to be passed down from one generation to the next). The evolutionary model would also be falsified if the fossil remains of a fully modern human being or a flowering plant were to be reliably found in strata that have been dated to the Cambrian period of earth's history, or the Devonian, or the Permian, or if it were to be conclusively shown that all fossils found to date are elaborate fakes, planted by an international conspiracy of evolution scientists to impose secular humanism upon the earth. So far, however, no evidence has been reliably presented, by the creationists or by anyone else, which falsifies the evolution model. Every experiment that has been performed and every bit of data which has been collected has tended to confirm its validity.

For legal reasons, the creationists (and their Intelligent Design successors) are insistent that their outlook is really "science", and is not merely a rehash of their fundamentalist religious beliefs. However, when pressed to tell us exactly what their scientific theory is, they usually either do not respond at all, or else they respond with a long list of inaccurate criticisms of evolutionary theory (which of course do nothing at all to demonstrate the scientific validity of the creationist outlook).

However, the creation "scientists" have published what they refer to as their "scientific model" of creation, and it is worth examining. Looking at what they present as their "scientific model", it is no wonder that the creationist prefer to depend on their tried-and-untrue criticisms of evolutionary theory, since their own "scientific model" is so patently religious in nature.

The ICR begins by pointing out:

"Creationism can be studied and taught in any of three basic forms, as follows: (1) 'Scientific creationism' (no reliance on Biblical revelation, utilizing only scientific data to support and expound the creation model). (2) 'Biblical creationism' (no reliance on scientific data, using only the Bible to expound and defend the creation model). (3) 'Scientific Biblical creationism' (full reliance on Biblical revelation but also using scientific data to support and develop the creation model)." (All quotes are from ICR Impact No, 85, "The Tenets of Creationism", Henry Morris, July 1980)

The second and third of these, of course, rely explicitly on religious doctrines (as indicated by the Book of Genesis and the rest of the Christian Bible), and are, therefore, illegal to teach in public schools in the United States, under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The first form, then, is the one that creation "scientists" were investigating and defending, and also the one that the creationists wanted to have taught in science classrooms as an alternative to the scientific model of evolution.

That these three forms are, in fact, one and the same is explicitly acknowledged by the creationists themselves. The ICR points out, "These are not contradictory systems, of course, but supplementary, each appropriate for certain applications. For example, creationists should not advocate that Biblical creationism be taught in public schools, both because of judicial restrictions against religion in such schools and also (more importantly) because teachers who do not believe the Bible should not be asked to teach the Bible. It is both legal and desirable, however, that scientific creationism be taught in public schools as a valid alternative to evolutionism."

Leaving aside for now the fact that it is most definitely not "legal and desirable" for "scientific creationism" to be taught in a public school, it is worth noting that, according to the creationists themselves, "scientific" creationism and "biblical" creationism are the same doctrines'; they differ only according to their audience. In churches and Sunday Schools, where teaching religious doctrine is perfectly acceptable, the ICR recommends teaching Biblical creationism. But in public schools, where openly religious instruction is illegal, the ICR advocates teaching these same religious doctrines as "science".

Evidence that it is plain old Biblical literalism that the creation "scientists" are preaching can be found in one of the most important major works of creation "science", the book Scientific Creationism, published by the ICR in 1974 (Henry Morris, ed., Scientific Creationism, Creation Life Publishers, San Diego CA, 1974). This book, the ICR informs us, was written by "the scientific staff of the Institute for Creation Research" (p. i). It is, the editor declares, a work of science, and "makes no reference to the Bible or other religious literature as its authority, but only on the facts of science" (p. v): "It is possible to discuss the evidences relating to evolution versus creation in a scientific context exclusively, without reference to religious literature or doctrine." (p. 3) "The purpose of Scientific Creationism (Public School edition) is to treat all of the more pertinent aspects of the subject of origins and to do this on a scientific basis, with no references to the Bible or to religious doctrine." (p. iv) Morris emphasizes again that the book treats creationism in "a strictly scientific context" (p. iii) and as a "scientifically sound alternative to evolution" (p. iii). This is all a deliberate calculated attempt on the part of fundamentalist creationists (and their conservative politicalscience.

And after all this high-sounding talk about the scientific data and the lack of reference to religious doctrines or beliefs, what do we find as the very first tenet of "scientific creationism"? "The physical universe of space, time, matter and energy has not always existed, but was supernaturally created by a transcendent personal Creator." Morris's book echoes: "The creation model involves a process of special creation which is: (1) supernatural, (2) externally directed, (3) purposive, and (4) completed." (p. 11) The "scientific" creationists, who ask us to judge them solely on the data of science, without any reference to any religious or Biblical doctrine, have blown it already, since the very core of their "scientific model" is based on a religious belief that a "transcendent Creator" made the universe "supernaturally".

The creationists did try to explain this, though -- and their argument was quite clever: "There is nothing inherently religious about the terms 'creator' or 'creation', as used in the context of Act 590. Act 590 is concerned with a non-religious conception of 'creation' and 'creator', not the religious concepts dealt with in the Bible or religious writings. . . All that creation- science requires is that the entity which caused creation have power, intelligence and a sense of design." (Defendant's Trial Brief, McLean v Arkansas, 1981) In other words, the creationists argue, their first tenet of "scientific creationism" is not religious even though it mentions a personal supernatural Creator, because this Creator doesn't necessarily refer to God. As creationist witness Norman Geisler argued in court (apparently with a straight face), a supernatural Creator is not a religious concept. The Judge in the Arkansas creationism case rather charitably commented that this argument was "contrary to common understanding".

After telling us that creation is a science with no need for any religious references or beliefs, the creationists finally admit that they do need to bring in one teeny tiny little religious concept after all -- the concept of God as creator. Their excuse for this? "The rationalist, of course, finds the concept of special creation insufferably naive, even 'incredible'. Such a judgement, however, is warranted only if one categorically denies the existence of an omnipotent God." (p. 17) "The only reason for saying that special creation is incredible would be if one had certain knowledge that there was no God. Obviously, if no Creator exists, then special creation is incredible. But since a universal negative can only be proved if one has universal knowledge, such a statement requires omniscience." (p. 8)

Morris seems to have forgotten that he himself was the one who promised to discuss creationism "in a scientific context exclusively, without reference to religious literature or doctrine." In fact, a casual reading of Morris's book reveals a total of 19 times when a "personal", "omnipotent", or "supernatural" "Creator" is mentioned, and a total of 12 instances when "God" specifically is mentioned. Awfully strange for a book that is supposed to be about science, written specifically for a public school science classroom, and claims not to be based upon religious doctrines or references.

The ICR's "science" consists of nothing more than one fundamentalist religious assertion and Biblical doctrine after another, not one of which can be supported by any scientific data whatsoever. Every single tenet of the ICR's "science" makes it clear that these conclusions are based, not on any scientific data, but on the fundamentalist Christian religious doctrines of the creationists. Thus, using the ICR's own description of creation "science", we can demonstrate that there is simply no science in creation "science".

And, since creationism is not science, it is not surprising to find that all of the "scientific arguments" made by the creationists are demonstrably wrong -- and many of them are based on flat-out dishonesty. Most of these creationist arguments would be repeated, nearly verbatim, decades later by the Intelligent Design "theorists".

The Age of the Earth

The modern science of geology tells us that the planet earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old, while the science of astronomy concludes that the universe itself is approximately 13.7 billion years old. The young-earth creation "scientists", however, reject these conclusions, and assert instead that the universe (and the earth along with it), is only between 6,000 and 10,000 years old -- a view which has not been held by any reputable scientist for over 150 years.

Although the creationists attempt to justify this date using scientific data, their writings make it apparent that they prefer a young earth because of religious factors, not because of any scientific evidence. Henry Morris, for instance, points out, "Although the creation model is not necessarily linked to a short time scale, as the evolution model is to a long scale, it is true that it does fit more naturally in a short chronology. Assuming the Creator had a purpose in His creation, and that purpose centered primarily in man, it does seem more appropriate that He would not waste aeons of time in essentially meaningless caretaking of an incomplete stage or stages of His intended creative work." (Morris, Scientific Creationism, 1974, p. 136). Assertions about the "purpose" and "intention" of the Creator have no scientific meaning whatsoever, but they do have particular religious meanings for the creationists. Morris goes on to say, "There is no sure way (except by divine revelation) of knowing the true age of any geologic formation." (Morris, Scientific Creationism, 1974, pp. 137-138) And in case we miss the point, Morris explicitly states: "The only way we can determine the true age of the earth is for God to tell us what it is. And since He has told us, very plainly, in the Holy Sciptures that it is several thousand years in age, and no more, that ought to settle all basic questions of terrestrial chronology." (Morris, 1972, p. 94)

During the Arkansas trial, Harold Coffin, a Creation Research Society member from Loma Linda University, was asked about the Burgess Shale fossil site, which has been dated to the early Cambrian period:

"Q: The Burgess Shale is said to be 500 million years old, but you think it is only 5,000 years old, don't you?


Q: You say that because of information from the Scriptures, don't you?

COFFIN: Correct.

Q: If you didn't have the Bible, you could believe the age of the earth to be many millions of years, couldn't you?

COFFIN: Yes, without the Bible." (Trial transcript, McLean v Arkansas, cited in Berra, 1990, p. 135)

Duane Gish also makes the religious preconceptions of the creationists plainly apparent when he writes, "The genealogies listed in Genesis and elsewhere in the Bible, it is believed, would restrict the time of creation to somewhere between six thousand and about ten thousand years ago." (Gish, 1972, General Edition, p. 60)

The creationist efforts to demonstrate a young earth are, therefore, nothing more than a direct result of their religious efforts to show that their literalist interpretation of the Bible is correct.

Fossil Record

One of the best-selling of the creationist books was Evolution? The Fossils Say No!, written by Duane Gish in 1972 (reprinted in 1978 and 1981, and re-issued later under the new title Evolution: The Challenge of the Fossil Record). In the book, Gish argued that the fossil evidence proves the sudden creation of all life, and shows that evolutionary descent with modification never happened: "Ever since Darwin the fossil record has been a source of embarrassment to evolutionists. The predictions concerning what evolutionists expected to find in the fossil record have failed miserably. Not only have they failed to find the many tens of thousands of undoubted transitional forms that are demanded by evolutionary theory, but the number of arguable, let alone demonstrable, transitional forms that have been suggested are few indeed. This has placed evolutionists in a most difficult situation, made even more embarassing by the fact that the fossil record is remarkably in accord with the predictions based on special creation." (Gish, 1972, p. i)

In reality, the creationists' arguments concerning the fossil record have no more validity than the rest of their "science". Contrary to Gish's assertion, the fossil record provides no support whatsoever for the creation "model", and much evidence for evolutionary descent.

Like all of the other parts of creationism, the creationist view of the fossil record is based directly upon Biblical Scripture, and centers around the "type" or "kind", also sometimes called a "baramin" (from the Hebrew words bara, or "created", and min, or "kind"). This comes from the description of creation given in Genesis, which states, "And God said, let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yeilding seed, and the fruit tree yeilding fruit after his kind . . . And God created great whales and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind . . . And God said, let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind, and it was so." (Genesis 1:12-24)

Thus, the creationists assert:

"By creation we mean the bringing into being by a supernatural Creator of the basic kinds of plants and animals by the process of sudden, or fiat, creation." (Gish, 1978, p. 40)

"The creation model, on the other hand, postulates that all basic animal and plant types (the created kinds) were brought into existence by acts of a supernatural Creator using special processes which are not operating today." (Gish, 1978, p. 11)

Nevertheless, the creationists also realize that overwhelming evidence exists in nature for the transformation of organisms and the appearence of new species. Unlike the creationists of the 19th century, therefore, who refused to believe that speciation of any sort was possible, modern creationists instead assert that some "variation" is possible, but only within the Divine limits imposed upon the original "created kinds":

"The variation that has occurred since the end of creation has been limited to changes within kinds." (Gish, 1978, p. 40)

"All present living kinds of animals and plants have remained fixed since creation, other than extinctions, and genetic variation in originally created kinds has occurred within narrow limits." (ICR Impact, May 1981)

And what is the biological mechanism which the creationists propose for producing all of these "variations" within the original "created kinds"? Surprisingly enough, it is evolution. As Morris puts it: "Modern creationists recognize and accept all the observed biological changes which evolutionists offer as proof of evolution. New varieties of plants and animals can be developed rather quickly by selection techniques, but creationists point out that no new basic kind has ever been developed by such processes." (Morris, The Troubled Waters of Evolution, 1977, p. 16) Richard Bliss of the ICR echoes, "We accept change one hundred percent. We accept the same change that the evolutionist is accepting, only he's calling it micro-evolution and we're calling it variation." (Conway and Siegelman, 1984, p. 152)

Thus, the basic creationist hypothesis has been, in effect, that "evolution happens, but only a little bit".

The fossil record, of course, demonstrates clearly that evolutionary change has been profound -- indeed, all life that exists today, everything from dogs to daffodils, evolved over a period of 3.75 billion years, from a tiny primitive one-celled organism. Entire series of fossils have been found documenting the evolutionary change from small dinosaurs to modern birds (as shown in the famous Archaeopteryx fossil). Another series of fossils demonstrates that modern mammals developed over a period of millions of years, from reptiles known as therapsids. A series of fossils including Ambulocetus and Pakicetus shows how modern sea-going whales evolved from land animals over millions of years, while fossil discoveries of Australopithecus and early Homo tell the story of how modern humans evolved from apelike primates in Africa some 4-5 million years ago.

The creationists, of course, must answer this clear evidence for evolution, and demonstrate in some way that this apparent evolutionary sequence is not valid. And, as usual, they turn to their Biblical source for this -- specifically, to the Flood of Noah described in Genesis. As Morris puts it, "The creationist suspects that the fossil record and the sedimentary rocks, instead of speaking of a long succession of geological ages, may tell rather of just one former age, destroyed in a great worldwide aqueous cataclysm." (Morris, Troubled Waters of Evolution, 1974, p. 21) "In effect," Morris further concludes, "this means that the organisms represented in the fossil record must all have been living contemporaneously, rather than scattered in separate time frames over hundreds of millions of years. . . The only reason to think that all should not have been living contemporaneously in the past is the assumption of evolution. Apart from this premise, there is no reason to doubt that man lived at the same time as the dinosaurs and trilobites." (Morris, Scientific Creationism, 1974, p. 112)

In other words, according to the creationists, all of the organisms whose remains we find in the fossil record -- everything from trilobites to dinosaurs and the wooly mammoths and human beings -- were all actually living together, simultaneously and side by side, until the Flood of Noah drowned them all and then sorted their dead remains into an order that just happens to make it look as though all of these organisms developed slowly by a long process of evolutionary descent. This is the creationist's "scientific" explanation for the fossil record, which they refer to as "Flood geology".

The entire structure of Flood geology is nonscientific and is based directly on the creationists' religious beliefs. As the creationists themselves admit, there is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support any of their Flood geology: "The study of the Flood, especially its scientific aspects, is often called 'Flood geology' or 'Deluge geology'. However, it has not yet reached that state of development where it can be rightfully called a science, and I doubt that it ever will. It is only a model of the action of the Flood described in Genesis." (Clarke, 1977, p. 8)

One of the most commonly heard arguments made by creationists centers around the laws of thermodynamics. Basically, the creationist argument goes like this: The Second Law of Thermodynamics deals with something called "entropy", which is a measure of the amount of disorder in a system. In most systems, entropy tends to increase over time. This is based on the fact that there is a limited amount of free energy in any closed system, and once that energy is used to do work (and thus produce order) it becomes unavailable for any further work (and therefore the order it produces tends to break down over time). I can use energy to do work and build a house, for instance. But once that energy is expended, the house will begin to decay and fall into disrepair-unless I keep expending more free energy to keep fixing it. In the absence of additional free energy, the house will eventually collapse. And unless I add energy to the system by performing more work, the collapsed pieces will never re-assemble themselves. The system always tends towards disorder, not towards increased order.

Evolution, however, the creationists assert, constantly creates order as it moves from small less complex organisms to larger more complex ones. And this process of increasing order, they assert, is in violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which, they claim, specifies that no system can move from a state of simplicity to more complexity. Therefore, evolutionary progression of life, they conclude, could not have happened without some sort of "intelligent intervention".

The creationist argument is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of thermodynamics and the Second Law. The laws of thermodynamics only apply within a thermodynamically "closed" system, in which no free energy can enter from outside the system. Under such circumstances, the available free energy is used up and degraded until it can no longer do work, leading to thermodynamic decay and increase in entropy and disorder, just as the house in our example falls inevitably into disrepair.

However, there is a way to reverse this trend towards disorder and maintain order -- by expending new energy and do more work. A system in which free energy is available from the outside is a thermodynamically "open" system, and in such a system it is possible to reverse entropy (by adding new free energy). This new energy comes at a cost, however-it reduces the amount of free energy that is available elsewhere and thus increases the entropy of the entire system.

Life on earth is not a thermodynamically closed system -- it is constantly receiving free energy from the outside in the form of sunlight and solar energy. Life on earth is capable of channeling this free energy to do work and thus to decrease entropy and actually move from disorder to a higher state of organization. However, while the earth is using this free energy from the sun to decrease its entropy, the solar system as a whole is experiencing increased entropy, and will inevitably die out as the sun uses up all its free energy and reaches heat death. Until that point, however, free energy is available on earth to do work and reduce entropy locally, and this allows life to become more and more organized (less entropy) even though the solar system as a whole is losing free energy (more entropy).

An analogy may be useful here: all streams and rivers run downhill, but near rocks and other obstructions small portions of the stream can use kinetic energy to temporarily and locally reverse this flow and actually swirl uphill for a time. The water molecules use free energy from the outside to do work and thus temporarily circumvent the flow of gravity. The fact that parts of a vortex flow uphill does not invalidate the affects of gravity on water, any more than the fact that life locally decreases its entropy invalidates the Second Law. Both processes are temporary and completely dependent on an outside source of energy.

Thus, the evolution of life does not violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics -- it merely uses available free energy to circumvent it temporarily, just as some parts of a water vortex move upstream without violating the laws of gravity. Chemical processes, powered by free energy from the sun, allow life to grow in complexity, without in any way violating any of the laws of thermodynamics.

Information Theory and "Genetic Information"

It did not take creationists long to link their "second law of thermodynamics" argument to their (mis)understanding of information theory, and declare yet another "disproof of evolution". Now, they argued, entropy, as applied to information theory, makes it impossible for any "new genetic information" to appear, and therefore evolution cannot happen:

"Genes do not evolve new information. They remain stable in their function or they degenerate and go through various steps of loss of efficiency which are increasingly detrimental to the organism." (AIG, Creation Magazine, Nov 1980)

"All observed biological changes involve only conservation or decay of the underlying genetic information." (Carl Weiland, AIG Creation Magazine, April 1991)

Despite creationist claims, however, there are observed instances of mutations which have produced totally new proteins with new functions. In 1975, for instance, Japanese biologists caused a stir when they discovered a variety of flavobacteria that had the unique ability to digest nylon. Since nylon itself didn't even exist until it was artificially produced in 1935, it was apparent that this bacteria couldn't have existed prior to that. When its genetics was examined, researchers discovered that the gene which normally produced the protein that helped the bacteria digest carbohydrates had suffered a mutation known as a "frame shift", in which an extra nucleotide had been inserted into the beginning of the gene. The effect of this was drastic; since the genetic code produces proteins by reading the nucleotides in groups of three, putting an extra nucleotide at the beginning produces different groups of three all along the gene, and thus results in a completely different protein, as this example illustrates:


insert nucleotide: C

frame-shifted gene: CATCCTGCGCTACGTCGT

Instead of reading the gene as ATC CTG CGC TAC GTC GTA, it is now read as CAT CCT GCG CTA CGT CGT, a completely different protein.

In most circumstances, this would be a disaster -- the new protein would likely be nonfunctional, and the organism would likely die. In the case of the Japanese flavobacteria, however, the new protein had the very weak ability to break down nylon into edible components, thus allowing the bacteria to digest previously-inedible nylon, instead of its normal food of carbohydrates. And, since nylon itself didn't exist until 1935, and wasn't very abundant in the environment for several years after that, the bacteria must have undergone this mutation only recently, within the last 40 years.

What good is half an eye?

This argument is a longtime creationist favorite because, they say, it comes from Darwin himself:

"To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree" (Darwin, "Origin of Species, 1859)

The creationists, of course, neglect to finish the rest of Darwin's paragraph:

"Reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist, each grade being useful to its possessor, as is certainly the case; if further, the eye ever varies and the variations be inherited, as is likewise certainly the case and if such variations should be useful to any animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, should not be considered as subversive of the theory." (Darwin, "Origin of Species", 1859)

Nevertheless, creationists soon took to taking the "what good is half a . . . . ?" argument and applying it to anything and everything they could think of. The argument, put simply, is that no complex structure can appear through step-by-step evolution, since it would all have to appear at once with all its parts, or it would not work at all and would not be able to be selected into the next generation. Therefore, the argument goes, these complex structures must have been created, all at once, intact:

"No known mechanism of mutation, either at the gene level or the chromosome level has been discovered which will produce evolutionary advancement. This is particularly so because all molecules involved in replication (DNA, RNA, protein) are interdependent with each other, and do not function in isolation. In other words the cell and its genetic contents, give the appearance of having been an initially created complex unit ready to work." (J.G. Leslie, AIG, "In Brief—D.N.A. mutation and design", Creation Magazine, May 1984)

"The tiny bombardier beetle could not possibly have evolved. His defence mechanism is amazingly complicated, and could only have been created with all the parts working together perfectly." (AIG, Creation Magazine, Dec 1989)

Some have come to call this the "argument from personal incredulity" -- "I can't see how this could have happened, therefore it could not have happened". Others have pointed out that it's just another version of "god of the gaps". It is virtually impossible to deal with these creationist arguments since (1) the creationist can multiply them indefinitely simply by asking about each and every living organism on earth, and (2) no explanation will satisfy them unless it specifies every genetic change in every individual organism within every member of the evolutionary lineage -- an impossible task for anyone.

Nevertheless, evidence does exist illustrating how many of these supposedly "unevolvable structures" could have evolved. So, how can an eye evolve step by step? Well, we start with an eyespot, a small spot on the skin of a small invertebrate that contains pigments (and nearly ALL organisms have pigments in their skin). Some pigments (such as rhodopsin) are light-sensitive and produce chemical changes in the presence of light. Hence, an organism with a crude "eyespot" like this would have the selective advantage of telling light from dark -- all with nothing but a patch of pigmented skin. This is the sort of eye that many unicellular organisms and some very simple multicellular organisms like worms have.

Let's make a small improvement, and add a mutation which allows a layer of transparent skin to cover the eyespot (two or three genes at most -- largely a change in the growth pattern of the skin). This will protect it from damage and give a selective advantage to the worms that have it.

Now let's make a minor change in how the pigmented spot grows, and change one regulatory gene to make the central portion of the spot grow faster than the outer< portions. This has the effect of pulling the center of the spot in to make a shallow dish or bowl shaped area, lined with light-sensitive pigment. A simple change, but a very large advantage -- it allows differing areas of pigment to react according to the way in which light is falling on it -- allowing the organism to detect the direction of the light. It is the type of eye found in some worms and in some mollusks (clams and scallops).

Another small change in regulatory genes deepens the cup, making it more and more direction-sensitive (and thus gives more and more selective advantage). The result is a hollow ball, lined with light-sensitive cells, with a small pinhole in front, and a fiber at the back that is connected to the nervous system. This is nothing but a pinhole camera. It gives maximum direction sensitivity, and also allows a crude image to be focused on the back of the eyeball, where each individual light-sensitive cell is impinged upon by differing intensities of light, thus providing the nervous system with the information necessary to form an image. This is the type of eyeball found in the nautilus.

Next, another minor change in regulatory genes causes the transparent skin covering the front of the eye to thicken. This changes the refraction of the light entering the eyeball. Mutations which allow the center of this transparent layer to grow more quickly than the edges, form a semi-spherical transparent layer in the front of the eyeball -- a lens. This is the type of eye that many fish have.

Now, a mutation which doubles the transparent layer, allowing the inner one to grow and form the spherical lens, while the outer layer remains thin. Now we have a cornea. Just as in many fish today.

Now, we add a change in regulatory genes which alters the growth pattern of some of the muscles and connective tissue just inside the cornea, one which allows them to form a flat circular sheet in front of the lens, which can be pulled in or out against the sides of the eyeball. Now we have an iris. The same sort of eye found in many fish today.

Now, mutations which change the rate at which different portions of the lends grow will change its focusing length and thus the sharpness of the image it is able to form. Since sharper images will be selected for, these will tend to transform the spherical lens into a lenticular one, fastened to the side of the eyeball by the same connective tissue and muscles which held the original transparent layer in place (and from which the iris developed). As yet, these muscles are incapable of changing the focal length of the eye by pulling the lens into different shapes. At best, they can pull the lens a short distance to and fro to change the focal length. This is the same sort of eye that modern snakes and frogs have.

Mutations which produce stronger and more controlled muscles will allow the eye to be focused by pulling on the lens to alter its shape, rather than by moving the whole lens back and forth. And this is the type of eye found in birds and mammals.

And there we have an eye, produced step by step, each with just small changes, each change being fully functional and a selective advantage for the organism that has it.

And how do we know that each of these steps is not only possible, but actually works? Because all of them still exist today in various organisms.

Cambrian explosion

The creationists liked this argument because it not only allowed them to criticize evolution, but also allowed them to claim that this part of the fossil record supported their own ideas about the sudden creation of all life.

The Cambrian was a period of life that began about 540 million years ago, and lasted until about 480 million years ago. For over 3 billion years previous to the Cambrian, life existed almost exclusively as single-celled organisms. At the time of the Cambrian period, however, multicellular life appeared, and rapidly diversified to produce organisms as different as sponges, trilobites, and strange animals that resembled nothing alive today. (The process was "rapid" when view in geological terms -- the actual process required at least 10 or 15 million years). The Cambrian organisms are best known from the Burgess Shale fossils, which were described by Stephen Jay Gould in his best-selling book Wonderful Life.

The creationist argument is that since all the major groups of life appeared suddenly in the Cambrian, and there were no life forms prior to that, and evolution can't explain where they came from, then this must represent the time when all the major "kinds" of life were first created: "In the supposedly 600-million-year-old layers of rock designated as Cambrian (the first appearance of multicelled life), sponges, clams, trilobites, sea urchins, starfish, etc., etc., are found with no evolutionary ancestors. Evolutionists don't even have any possible ancestors to propose." (John Morris, Dr John's Q&A, June 1, 1989)

Indeed, this argument was so commonly heard that Stephen Jay Gould was asked about it when he testified during the Arkansas trial in 1981:

Q: Professor Gould, are you familiar with the creation science argument that there are unexplained gaps between pre-Cambrian and Cambrian life?

A: Yes, indeed. The pre-Cambrian fossil record was pretty much nonexistent until twenty or thirty years ago. Creationists used to like to make a big point of that. They argued, `Look, for most of earth's history until you get rocks that you say are six hundred million years old, there were no fossils at all.'

Starting about 30 years ago, we began to develop a very extensive and impressive fossil record of pre-Cambrian creatures. . . . These fossils are pre-Cambrian. They are not very ancient pre-Cambrian fossils. They occur in rocks pretty much just before the Cambrian. They are caught all over the world invariably in strata below the first appearance of still invertebrate fossils. And the creation scientists, as far as I can see, for the most part, just simply ignore the existence of the Ediacaran fauna. (Gould testimony, McLean v Arkansas transcript, 1982)

The creationist assertion that "all the major groups of life" appear suddenly in the Cambrian period without any ancestors, is simply wrong. There are, for instance, no plants at all anywhere in the Cambrian. Reptiles, fish, birds and mammals didn't exist then -- the only vertebrate that existed at the time was Pikaia, a tiny creature that looked something like the modern lancelet fish. No terrestrial organisms of any sort existed -- the Cambrian animals were entirely ocean-living.

The Probability of Life

According to this argument, the complex molecules of life, DNA or amino acids or proteins, are, "too complicated" and "too improbable" to have arisen on their own through random chance or chemical interactions, and therefore they must have been deliberately strung together by a creator with supernatural powers. Some creationists illustrate their claim by pointing out that the odds of an intact strand of DNA forming all at once from chance are the same as the odds of a tornado sweeping through a junkyard and assembling a functional Boeing 747.

"The fact is that the remarkable DNA molecule provides strong evidence of original creation (since it is far too complex to have arisen by chance) and of conservation of that creation (since the genetic code acts to guarantee reproduction of the same kind, not evolution of new kinds)." (Henry Morris, ICR Impact #107)

"What was the incredibly powerful force operating within the naturalistic world that managed to overcome the fantastically impossible odds against getting the first living cell? There simply was none, and thus the origin of life by naturalistic, mechanistic process is totally impossible." (Gish, ICR Impact #43)

There are a number of things wrong with the creationist "probability" argument, however. The first and most obvious is that wildly improbable things happen all the time. How improbable must a thing be before it is "too improbable" to have happened without Divine Influence? The odds of any human being being struck by lightning are enormously improbable, yet every year at least a dozen people are killed in the United States by lightning bolts. Is the chance of any particular person being struck by lightning "too improbable" to have happened by chance? Have they all been struck down by God?

Another example: in an ordinary deck of playing cards there are 52 cards. If we deal these out face up, the odds of that particular combination arising in order, by chance, are 52-factorial; that is, 52 x 51 x 50 . . . x 3 x 2. That is one heck of a big number, and the odds are astronomically against dealing that particular hand at that particular time. Yet there it will be, staring us right in the face. If we were to take ten decks of cards and deal them all out, face up, the odds against that particular combination arising by chance are higher than the number of electrons in the universe. Yet again, there it will be. Is it therefore impossible for that particular combination to have arisen by chance? Is the appearance of this particular combination "too improbable" to have happened by chance? Do we witness a Divine Miracle every time we deal out ten decks of playing cards?

Even more fatal to the creationist "probability" argument, however, is the simple fact that the odds they are talking about are irrelevant, since neither biomolecules nor living cells are formed "randomly" or "by chance". Life is a chemical process, and like all chemical processes it is governed by the deterministic laws of chemistry and physics. These laws are not "random". Thus, in their "probability" argument, the creationists conveniently neglect to mention that the combination of the components of those biomolecules is not "random"--they are precisely determined by the laws of chemistry and nuclear physics.

FIVE: Arkansas and Louisiana

By 1980, creation "science", with financial support from the Religious Right and political support from the Reaganite right wing of the Republican Party, reached the pinnacle of its power. >In January 1979, the Institute for Creation Research, the largest creationist group in the US, had bragged in its newsletter, "Efforts to introduce the teaching of the scientific evidence for the creation model of origins, distinctly apart from the use of any part of the Bible, along with the evolution model at the state and local level is meeting with increasing success. The scientific, educational, and Constitutional basis for this approach has been set forth in a number of Impact articles and in booklet form. It has recently been given strong support by an article in the Yale Law Journal. Action to implement the teaching of the creation model along with the evolution model has been taken by the Columbus, Ohio and the Dallas school districts, among others. Some action has been taken at the state level in several states, most recently in South Carolina, as described later in this article. Mr. Paul Ellwanger of Anderson, South Carolina, after many months of effort, appears to have succeeded in efforts to have the scientific evidence for the creation model presented in his school district. The school board of the local district, apparently due mainly to the opposition of the district superintendent, refused several requests even to hear Mr. Ellwanger's proposal. Mr. Ellwanger refused to be discouraged, and his persistence is now being rewarded." (ICR Impact #67, Jan 1979)

Ellwanger, the head of a creationist organization in South Carolina called "Citizens for Fairness in Education", had based his arguments on an article written by Wendell Bird (who would shortly afterwards become the ICR's staff lawyer) in the Yale Law Journal. In this article, Bird argued that the Constitutional prohibition on teaching religious doctrines in public schools could be evaded if, instead of presenting fundamentalist beliefs as religious, they were presented as science instead -- science which just so happened to echo all of their religious opinions. Bird repeated his arguments in several ICR newsletters: "Is instruction in scientific creationism an establishment of religion? Scientific creationism is not a religious doctrine, and unlike classroom prayer and Bible reading it can be taught in public schools. Instruction in scientific creationism involves presentation of the scientific evidence for creation rather than use of Genesis in the classroom. For example, it discusses the evidence that man does not have an ape-like ancestor rather than the Biblical statement that God created Adam and Eve; it summarizes the scientific proof that a worldwide flood shaped this planet's geology rather than the scriptural teaching that Noah and his family survived the flood in an ark." (ICR Impact #69, March 1979)

Shortly after this, ICR published a "Model Resolution" that parroted all of Bird's legal arguments: "The theory of special creation is an alternative model of origins at least as satisfactory as the theory of evolution, and that theory of special creation can be presented from a strictly scientific standpoint without reference to religious doctrine (special creation from a strictly scientific standpoint is hereinafter referred to as "scientific creationism"), because many scientists accept the theory of scientific creationism, and because scientific evidences have been presented for the theory of scientific doctrine. Public school presentation of both the theory of evolution and the theory of scientific creationism would not violate the Constitution's prohibition against establishment of religion, because it would involve presentation of the scientific evidences for each theory rather than any religious doctrine". (ICR Impact #71, May 1979, emphasis added)

Ellwanger, in turn, modified this Resolution slightly and turned it into a Model Bill to grant "equal time" between "evolution science" and "creation science". ICR had intended for its Resolution to be put into effect only by local school districts (where the fundamentalists had enormous political influence). Ellwanger, however, used his connections to Republican political figures to have the Model Bill introduced into state legislatures with the intention of making it law. By 1980, 16 different states were considering versions of Ellwanger's model bill. The first test of it came in 1981, in Arkansas.

In 1981, the state of Arkansas passed a law, Act 590, based on Ellwanger's Model Bill, mandating that "creation science" be given equal time in public schools with evolution: "Public schools within this State shall give balanced treatment to creation-science and to evolution-science . . . Creation-science is an alternative scientific model of origins and can be presented from a strictly scientific standpoint without any religious doctrine just as evolution-science can, because there are scientists who conclude that scientific data best support creation-science and because scientific evidences and inferences have been presented for creation-science."(Act 590, Arkansas Legislature, 1981)

The Bill was signed into law on March 19, 1981. On May 27, 1981, the ACLU filed suit on behalf of a number of plaintiffs to have the law declared unconstitutional on church/state grounds. The plaintiffs, who included a dozen or so clergymen of differing denominations, argued that creation "science" was nothing more than fundamentalist Biblical literalism pretending to be science. Creationists from the Creation Research Society and the Institute for Creation Research argued to the court that their viewpoint was a scientific model and not based at all on religion. ICR's own lawyer, Wendell Bird, sought to have himself appointed as a special state attorney for Arkansas so he could be allowed to argue the case himself. His request was refused, but he stayed on as an advisor to the state attornies. ICR's chief debator, Dr Duane Gish, also advised the state attornies, and was often seen passing them notes in court regarding various testimony.

Judge William Overton, after listening to both sides, was unconvinced by the creationists' arguments, and ruled that creation "science" was not a science, but was merely an attempt to introduce religious beliefs into the public school system, and was therefore unconstitutional. "The evidence is overwhelming," Overton wrote, "that both the purpose and the effect of Act 590 is the advancement of religion in the public schools." (Overton Opinion, McLean v Arkansas, 1981) Citing a number of letters and statements made by the creationists themselves, the judge concluded that "Act 590 is a religious crusade, coupled with a desire to conceal this fact". (Overton Opinion, McLean v Arkansas, 1981)

"The proof in support of creation science consisted almost entirely of efforts to discredit the theory of evolution through a rehash of data and theories which have been before the scientific community for decades. The arguments asserted by creationists are not based upon new scientific evidence or laboratory data which has been ignored by the scientific community." (Overton Opinion, McLean v Arkansas, 1981)

"The creationists' methods do not take data, weigh it against the opposing scientific data, and thereafter reach the conclusions stated in Section 4(a). Instead, they take the literal wording of the Book of Genesis and attempt to find scientific support for it." (Overton Opinion, McLean v Arkansas, 1981)

The creationists, of course, had argued that creationism was not religious at all, but was purely based on science. Judge Overton flatly rejected that assertion:

"Defendants argue that : (1) the fact that 4(a) conveys idea similar to the literal interpretation of Genesis does not make it conclusively a statement of religion; (2) that reference to a creation from nothing is not necessarily a religious concept since the Act only suggests a creator who has power, intelligence and a sense of design and not necessarily the attributes of love, compassion and justice; and (3) that simply teaching about the concept of a creator is not a religious exercise unless the student is required to make a commitment to the concept of a creator.

The evidence fully answers these arguments. The idea of 4(a)(1) are not merely similar to the literal interpretation of Genesis; they are identical and parallel to no other story of creation." (Overton Opinion, 1981)

"The two model approach of the creationists," Overton concluded, "is simply a contrived dualism which has no scientific factual basis or legitimate educational purpose. It assumes only two explanations for the origins of life and existence of man, plants and animals: it was either the work of a creator or it was not. Application of these two models, according to creationists, and the defendants, dictates that all scientific evidence which fails to support the theory of evolution is necessarily scientific evidence in support of creationism and is, therefore, creation science "evidence" in support of Section 4(a)." (Overton Opinion, 1981)

The cynicism and intellectual dishonesty of the creationist movement was best illustrated by documents presented during the Arkansas trial, which showed that the creationists were advising potential witnesses to downplay the religious dogma behind creationism in an attempt to avoid having the law declared unconstitutional. Paul Ellwanger, the creationist who actually drafted the Arkansas law, wrote to one supporter: "It would be very wise, if not actually essential, that all of us who are engaged in this legislative effort be careful not to present our position and our work in a religious framework. For example, in written communications that might somehow be shared with those other persons whom we may be trying to convince, it would be well to exclude our own personal testimony and/or witness for Christ, but rather, if we are so moved, to give that testimony on a separate attached note." (Attachment to Ellwanger deposition, McLean v Arkansas, 1981, cited in Overton Opinion) In another letter, Ellwanger wrote: "We'd like to suggest that you and your co- workers be very cautious about mixing creation-science with creation-religion. . . Please urge your co-workers not to allow themselves to get sucked into the 'religion' trap of mixing the two together, for such mixing does incalculable harm to the legislative thrust." (Attachment to Miller deposition, McLean v Arkansas, 1981, cited in Overton Opinion). And in yet another letter, he says, "If you have a clear choice between having grassroots leaders of this statewide bill promotion effort to be ministerial or non- ministerial, be sure to opt for the non-ministerial. It does the bill effort no good to have ministers out there in the public forum, and the adversary will surely pick up at this point. . . . . " (Attachment to Ellwanger Deposition, McLean v Arkansas, 1981, cited in Overton Opinion).

As for the argument that the teaching of evolution, which is offensive to the religious beliefs of fundamentalist students, infringes upon students in their free exercise of religion, Overton simply and clearly concluded, "The argument has no legal merit." (Overton Opinion, McLean v Arkansas, 1981) Overton cited the Epperson case, in which the US Supreme Court had ruled that "There is and can be no doubt that the First Amendment does not permit the State to require that teaching and learning must be tailored to the principles and prohibitions of any religious sect or dogma . . . It forbids alike the preference of a religious doctrine or the prohibition of a theory which is deemed antagonistic to a particular dogma." (US Supreme Court, Epperson v Arkansas , 1968)

The most common argument heard from creationists was the "fairness" approach--since there are two "models" of origins, evolution and creationism, and since neither can be "proved", why not simply present both arguments and let the students decide for themselves which is the better supported? As Morris puts it, "Both models should be taught, as objectively as possible, in public classrooms, giving arguments pro and con for each. Some students and parents believe in creation, some in evolution, and some are undecided . . . This is clearly the most equitable and constitutional approach." (Morris, ICR Impact, January/February 1973)

In support of their "fairness" argument, the creationists liked to cite a long string of opinion polls and surveys which demonstrated widespread support for the idea. In 1981, during the Arkansas trial, an NBC News poll showed that 76% of the public thought that both creation and evolution should be taught in the schools, with 10% believing that only the creation story should be taught, and only 7% believing that evolution alone should be taught. A 1986 study of American college students concluded that 50% believed in the Divine Creation of life (33% of college students, it was also pointed out, believed in flying saucers). And in 1987, a survey of college students in several states concluded that approximately half of American students believed that both creationism and evolution should be taught in schools. The percentages ranged from 46% in Connecticut to 47% in California to 57% in Texas. (On the other hand, the percentages were much lower when the question was changed to whether "there is a good deal of scientific evidence against evolution and in favor of the Bible's account of creation" -- the percentage in agreement dropped to 25% in California, 30% in Connecticut and 47% in Texas.)

The creationist "fairness" argument was also dealt with by Judge Overton. Under a Constitutional form of government, Overton pointed out, the rights of a minority are protected against the opinions of even an overwhelming majority. "The application and content of First Amendment principles," Overton concluded, "are not determined by public opinion or by a majority vote. Whether the proponents of Act 590 constitute the majority or minority is quite irrelevant under a constitutional system of government. No group, no matter how large or small, may use the organs of government, of which the public schools are the most conspicuous and influential, to foist its religious beliefs on others." (Overton Opinion, McLean v Arkansas, 1981) The First Amendment was clear, Overton ruled, that religious doctrines may not be introduced into public school curricula, whether such an idea was popular or not.

The "balanced treatment" requirement also presented enforcement difficulties. The bill explicitly states that religious instruction and discussion of religious doctrines must be avoided: "Treatment of either evolution-science or creation-science shall be limited to scientific evidence for each model and inferences from those scientific evidences, and must not include any religious instruction or references to religious writings." (Arkansas Legislature Act 590, 1981) However, as Judge Overton points out, "The Act is self-contradictory and compliance is impossible . . . . There is no way teachers can teach the Genesis account of creation in a secular manner." (Overton Opinion, McLean v Arkansas, 1981) In order to see that the law is upheld, and that no illegal references to religious doctrines or religious writings are introduced into the classroom, the state would have no choice but to scrutinize every creationist textbook and to listen in on classroom discussions.

Overton describes where this process leads: "How is the teacher to respond to questions about a creation suddenly and out of nothing? How will the teacher explain the occurrence of a worldwide flood? How will the teacher explain the concept of a relatively recent inception of the earth? The answer is obvious because the only source of this information is ultimately contained in the Book of Genesis. . . . Involvement of the State in screening texts for impermissible religious references will require State officials to make delicate religious judgments. The need to monitor classroom discussion in order to uphold the Act's prohibition against religious instruction will necessarily involve administrators in questions concerning religion. These continuing involvements of State officials in questions and issues of religion create an excessive and prohibited entanglement with religion." (Overton Opinion, McLean v Arkansas, 1981)

In other words, the creationist "balanced treatment" bill would lead to direct state involvement in religious decisions. The creationists, of course, have no problem with this, since, as we have seen from their writings, they would in any case like to do away with the separation between church and state. For those who believe in the free expression of religion without interference from the state, however, the prospect of direct state involvement in such religious matters is chilling.

"Creation science," Overton concluded, "has no scientific merit or educational value as science . . . Since creation science is not science, the conclusion is inescapable that the only real effect of Act 590 is the advancement of religion." (Overton Opinion, McLean v Arkansas, 1981)

The creationists, however, were unbowed. As the state representative who sponsored Act 590 told the newspapers, "If we lose, it won't matter that much. If the law is unconstitutional, it'll be because of something in the language that's wrong . . . . So we'll just change the wording and try again with another bill . . . We got a lot of time. Eventually we'll get one that is constitutional." (Washington Post, December 7, 1981) On the very day that Judge Overton ruled the Arkansas law unconstitutional, the Mississippi State Legislature passed a similar "Balanced Treatment" bill by a vote of 48-4. Within a short time, Ellwanger had produced another Model Bill, titled "Unbiased Presentation of Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Bill", and was peddling it to state legislatures..

Creationists tended to view the Arkansas ruling as a fluke, pointing out that the state Attorney General had refused to allow prominent creationist lawyers to assist in the case (prompting charges from fundamentalists that he "hadn't really been trying" to win the case). Duane Gish whined, "From his decision it is obvious that Judge Overton (as well as most of the news media) completely ignored the scientific evidence presented by the defense witnesses while accepting without question evidence offered by the plaintiffs' witnesses. Many remarks made by Judge Overton during the trial revealed his bias against the creationist side." (ICR Impact #105, March 1982) Wendell Bird sniffled, "The Arkansas district court gave a constitutionally erroneous and factually inaccurate opinion in McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education. It is regrettable that the Arkansas defense did not adequately present or adequately support the strong constitutional arguments that could have been made in favor of balanced treatment of creation-science and evolution-science."

When the Louisiana State Legislature passed a "Balanced Treatment" bill mandating equal classroom time for "creation science" and "evolution science", the creationists finally got their chance for an all-out attack, led by Wendell Bird, the creationist lawyer who had drafted the original "balanced treatment" arguments, and who had now won his request to be appointed as a special Louisiana state attorney to argue the case.

The legal history of the Louisiana creationism bill is somewhat convoluted. On December 2, 1981, a group of state legislators, religious representatives and parents (led by the state legislator who had introduced the bill), filed an action in Baton Rouge (Keith v Louisiana) asking the Federal Court to issue a declaratory judgment that the Louisiana law was not unconstitutional and did not violate the separation of church and state. A day later, the ACLU filed a lawsuit of its own in New Orleans, challenging the constitutionality of the law. In June 1982, the Baton Rouge case was dismissed, and the ACLU's case (Edwards v Aguillard) was scheduled for a 1983 trial. The ACLU, however, then filed a motion for summary judgment (an immediate ruling without a trial), on the grounds that the Louisiana Constitution granted the state's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) sole authority to set curricula in public schools. The judge agreed and issued a summary finding that the state legislature did not have any authority to mandate what is or isn't taught in science classrooms. That finding was appealed to the Louisiana Supreme Court, which ruled in October 1983, in a 4-3 decision, that the state legislature did after all have the legal authority to pass laws concerning curricula content. So the case was once again scheduled for trial.

The ACLU, however, quickly filed another motion for summary judgment, citing the Mclean decision and arguing that no facts disputed the religious nature of creationism, and that therefore the law was manifestly unconstitutional and there were simply no legal issues to be decided. Federal Judge Adrian Duplantier agreed, and ruled summarily that creation "science" was nothing but religious doctrine, and the Louisiana law was unconstitutional "because it promotes the beliefs of some theistic sects to the detriment of others." (US District Court, Edwards v Aguillard, 1985, cited in Berra, 1990, p. 137) This ruling was upheld by a Judge on the Federal Court of Appeals six months later, who concluded that the only purpose of the law was "to discredit evolution by counterbalancing its teaching at every turn with the teaching of creationism, a religious belief." (US Circuit Court, Edwards v Aguillard, 1985). The creationists appealed to the US Supreme Court, petitioning the Justices to issue an order for the Federal Circuit Court to meet "en banc", that is, to have all the appellate judges meet together to hear the arguments.

In June 1987, the Supreme Court ruled against the creationists, concluding by a vote of 7-2 that there was no need for any en banc hearing, since "The Act is facially invalid as violative of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, because it lacks a clear secular purpose." (Supreme Court, Edwards v Aguillard, 1987) The real purpose of creation "science", the Court concluded, was "to restructure the science curriculum to conform with a particular religious viewpoint. . . .The pre-eminent purpose of the Louisiana Legislature was clearly to advance the religious viewpoint that a supernatural being created humankind." (US Supreme Court, Edwards v Aguillard, 1987)

One of the arguments made by the creationists was that the real purpose of the law was to promote "academic freedom" and not "religion". The Supreme Court rejected this argument:

"While the Court is normally deferential to a State's articulation of a secular purpose, it is required that the statement of such purpose be sincere and not a sham. . . . In this case, the purpose of the Creationism Act was to restructure the science curriculum to conform with a particular religious viewpoint. Out of many possible science subjects taught in the public schools, the legislature chose to affect the teaching of the one scientific theory that historically has been opposed by certain religious sects." (US Supreme Court, Edwards v Aguillard, 1987)

"We do not imply," the Court concluded, "that a legislature could never require that scientific critiques of prevailing scientific theories be taught. Indeed, the Court acknowledged in Stone that its decision forbidding the posting of the Ten Commandments did not mean that no use could ever be made of the Ten Commandments, or that the Ten Commandments played an exclusively religious role in the history of Western Civilization. In a similar way, teaching a variety of scientific theories about the origins of humankind to schoolchildren might be validly done with the clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction. But because the primary purpose of the Creationism Act is to endorse a particular religious doctrine, the Act furthers religion in violation of the Establishment Clause." (US Supreme Court, Edwards v Aguillard, 1987)

As a result of this decision, all existing "Balanced Treatment" laws were thrown out.

Following this defeat, however, the creation scientists once again changed their tactics. Instead of arguing that creationism is a science and should therefore be taught in public schools, they now argued that creationism really is religion, but so is evolution -- evolution is, they now said, really nothing more than the "religion" of "secular humanism", and therefore evolution should not be taught in public schools either.

This argument had already failed in a Federal court. In 1981, a prominent creationist in California sued to have the teaching of evolution removed from the classroom on the grounds that it violated his and his children's Constitutional right to free exercise of their religion. In response, the California Superior Court ruled that teaching evolution in science class does not establish a religion or interfere with the religious rights of any citizens (Sacramento Superior Court, Segraves v California, 1981).

In the wake of the Supreme Court's Aguillard decision, however, the issue came up again in 1994, when a California biology teacher sued the state and the local school district, claiming that teaching evolution illegally established the "religion of secular humanism". The teacher also claimed that the state and school district were conspiring against him as a result of their "group animus towards practicing Christians" (US Circuit Court, Peloza v New Capistrano School District, 1994).

The Court ruled, "Adding 'ism' does not change the meaning nor magically metamorphose 'evolution' into a religion. 'Evolution' and 'evolutionism' define a biological concept: higher life forms evolve from lower ones. The concept has nothing to do with how the universe was created; it has nothing to do with whether or not there is a divine Creator (who did or did not create the universe or did or did not plan evolution as part of a divine scheme). " (US Circuit Court, Peloza v New Capistrano School District, 1994)

"Evolutionist theory is not a religion," the Court ruled. "Plaintiff's assertions that the teaching of evolution would be a violation of the Establishment Clause is unfounded." (US Circuit Court, Peloza v New Capistrano School District, 1994) The court concluded that Peloza's case was "frivolous" and ordered him to compensate the state and school board for costs and attorney fees. An appelate court later upheld the decision, but removed the "frivolous" conclusion.

The real stage for the next act in the fundamentalist war against evolution had already been spelled out in a press release that Wendell Bird sent out after the Supreme Court's Aguillard ruling:

"The U.S. Supreme Court held on June 19 that Louisiana's 'Act for Balanced Treatment of Creation-Science and Evolution' is unconstitutional because it had an unconstitutional legislative purpose. However, the Court Ruling was narrow and did not say that teaching creation-science is necessarily unconstitutional if adopted for a secular purpose. In fact, the Court said the exact opposite: 'Teaching a variety of scientific theories about the origins of human-kind to school children might be validly done with the clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction.' " (p. 14).(ICR Impact #170, August 1987)

ICR was quick to echo:

"The ICR staff concurs with Attorney Bird that the Majority Opinion of the Court does not preclude teaching the scientific evidences for creation, as long as this is done with the "secular purpose" of good science and good education, rather than the "religious purpose" of supporting belief in a supernatural God." (ICR Impact #170, August 1987)

The dissenting opinion in the Aguillard case, written by Antonin Scalia, gave particular hope to the anti-evolutionists -- and painted the path they would follow in the future. "The Act's reference to 'creation'," Scalia writes, "is not convincing evidence of religious purpose. The Act defines creation science as 'scientific evidence', and Senator Keith and his witnesses repeatedly stressed that the subject can and should be presented without religious content. We have no basis on the record to conclude that creation science need be anything other than a collection of scientific data supporting the theory that life abruptly appeared on earth. Creation science, its proponents insist, no more must explain whence life came than evolution must explain whence came the inanimate materials from which it says life evolved. But even if that were not so, to posit a past creator is not to posit the eternal and personal God who is the object of religious veneration. Indeed, it is not even to posit the 'unmoved mover' hypothesized by Aristotle and other notably nonfundamentalist philosophers. Senator Keith suggested this when he referred to 'a creator however you define a creator.' " (Scalia, Dissenting Opinion, Edwards v Aguillard, 1987)

Within a year, the movement would begin which would directly attempt to get around the Aguillard ruling, using Scalia's own argument concerning "scientific data supporting the theory that life abruptly appeared on earth . . . whatever scientific evidence there may be against evolution . . . however you define a creator".

SIX: The Birth of Intelligent Design "Theory"

Although the one-two punch of the Mclean and Aguillard rulings was devastating to the creationists, it did not lessen their determination to slay the Darwinist dragon.

The post-Louisiana strategy of the creation "scientists" depended upon the enormous political pressure that the fundamentalists could bring to focus at the local level. Creationists had been very active in state textbook committees and curricula boards, where they attempted to pressure various states into dropping biology textbooks which feature evolutionary theory. In June 1996, for instance, three families in Cobb County, Georgia asked that the Cobb County Board of Education remove a chapter from a fourth grade science textbook. The offending chapter discussed the age and formation of the universe.

Historically, this had been one of the creationist's most effective tactics -- campaigns for book-banning had long been a staple of fundamentalist moralists. In the anti-evolution fight, the idea was to influence the treatment of evolution in biology textbooks, insuring that the subject is mentioned only briefly or not at all. Dorothy Nelkin describes how this tactic works:

"Twenty-two states, including Texas and California (the largest consumers of textbooks), make major educational decisions through centralized state school boards and textbook commissions. These are composed of teachers and layman, often political appointees. The commissions meet every five or six years to select textbooks in various subject areas for the state board of education. While local school districts can use textbooks that do not appear on the list, there are financial incentives to order state-approved textbooks, for these are usually the only books that are subsidized. Thus, it becomes extremely important for publishers to have their books on these lists, especially in the more populous states. State recommendations also influence the general policies of textbook publishers, who normally do not print separate editions for each state. A decision in California or Texas may have repercussions throughout the industry, affecting the character of books available in the whole country. Thus, textbook watchers direct much of their energy toward the state boards of education and curriculum committees, hoping to influence the state-approved textbook lists." (Nelkin, 1982, pp 93-94)

The creationist effort to influence the state textbook committees usually focused on a handful of large states, where they can the get maximum effect for a minimum expenditure of money and manpower. The state of California alone, for instance, accounted for over ten percent of all money spent on textbooks in the United States. Another large state, Texas, has traditionally been sympathetic to the creationists (in 1994, the Republican Party in Texas adopted a platform plank advocating teaching creationism in the schools), and also accounts for a large portion of the textbook market. In both of these states, creationists attempt to win a majority on the textbook selection committees so they can influence the content of biology textbooks.

By pressuring these large markets towards expunging or limiting mention of evolution in textbooks, the creationists hoped to influence the textbooks which are made available to other states as well. And such efforts seem to have been at least partially successful. In the late 1970s, when creationists were attempting to pressure the California state education committee to mandate "equal treatment" for creation science, the most widely-used biology textbook in the state (also used throughout the country), Biology: Living Systems, dropped the number of index entries under "evolution" from 17 lines of references in 1973 to just 3 lines in 1979.

The textbook publisher's interest is economic (it is, after all, much less expensive for publishers to produce a single "safe" version for nationwide use rather than a version without evolution for use in those states which have rejected such texts, and a separate version, including evolution, for other states). Some publishers who caved in to this sort of creationist pressure attempted to justify this by trying to sound open-minded. Louis Arnold, the senior science editor of Prentice-Hall, remarked in 1980, "We don't advocate the idea of scientific creation, but we felt we had to represent other points of view." (Godfrey, 1983, p. 25) Other publishers were more blunt about their motivations: "Creation has no place in biology books," one publisher acknowledged, "but after all we are in the business of selling textbooks." (Nelkin, 1982, p. 154)

In the late 1980s, the Texas State Board of Education mandated that all biology textbooks carry a disclaimer stating that evolutionary science was "only a theory" and was "not established fact". (This provision was withdrawn in 1990.) Despite this symbolic victory, however, efforts to have creationist textbooks adopted by state education committees were not very successful. Creationists in 1995 managed to convince the Alabama state school board to include a disclaimer in all biology textbooks stating that evolution was a "controversial theory", and listing all the standard creationist arguments against evolution (ICR Acts and Facts, January 1995, p. 4), but it was later dropped.

Efforts were also made to coerce state textbook committees into adopting anti-evolution books as texts. Early efforts focused on Duane Gish's Evolution: The Fossils Say NO! or Henry Morris's Scientific Creationism, but both of these books were shot down by textbook committees as being religiously-based apologetics for creation "science", which the Supreme Court had already ruled could not be taught. In 1990, though, a church campaign in Alabama gathered over 11,800 signatures on a petition to place a new book, Of Pandas and People, on the list of approved textbooks. After a storm of public criticism, the book was withdrawn. A similar campaign in Idaho also failed. >In 1995, the school board in Plano, Texas, voted unanimously to reject Pandas as a "supplementary textbook".

Of Pandas And People was the first major post-Aguillard book that was produced by the anti-evolutionists. It was also the first to introduce a new incarnation of the creationist movement known as "intelligent design", which deliberately attempted to get around the legal restrictions of the Supreme Court's Aguillard ruling by dropping all references, explicit or implicit, to "a creator" and referring instead only to an unspecified "intelligent designer".

The concept of "design" had long been a staple of the creation "scientists":

"Life is something like an amazingly well-designed machine, but much more complex than those designed by humans. Such evidence of design speaks eloquently for a Designer, and those who choose to disbelieve are still "without excuse" (Romans 1:20). (John Morris, Dr Johns Q&A, ICR, March 1, 1990)

"By its very nature, creation involves the intelligent application of design information, which it would seem logical to conserve." (Ken Ham, AIG Creation Magazine, October 1978)

It was Of Pandas And People, however, produced by the Foundation for Thought and Ethics, which really set the stage for the introduction of the Intelligent Design movement. The book, written by two creationist authors (one of whom had testified on behalf of the Louisiana "equal time" bill) was in the process of preparation during the Louisiana legal proceedings, and the original draft mentioned the word "creationism" prominently. The book was being edited by creationist chemist Charles Thaxton. After the Supreme Court decision making it illegal to teach "creationism", however, simply FTE edited all the references to "creationism" to refer to "intelligent design" instead. As a later Federal court document put it:

"Intelligent design followed the Supreme Court's rejection of creation science as night follows day: At the time that Edwards was decided, the Foundation for Thought and Ethics (a publisher of Christian texts) had been developing Of Pandas and People as a creationist work to advance the FTE's religious and cultural mission. After the Supreme Court rejected the proffered expert opinions in Edwards claiming that creation science is 'science,' Kenyon and FTE took their draft textbook (which advocated for creationism) and, with all the elegance of a word processor's algorithm, replaced references to 'creationism' with the new label 'intelligent design.' When they issued Pandas's first edition just two years later, they presented intelligent design as if it were a new intellectual endeavor rather than merely a rechristening of creationism. But Pandas defines 'intelligent design' exactly as an earlier draft had defined 'creationism.'" ("Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgement, Kitzmiller v Dover, Aug 8, 2005)

The Discovery Institute's history of design theory phrases this change somewhat differently:

As the academic editor for the Foundation of Thought and Ethics, Thaxton was then serving as the editor for a supplemental science textbook co-authored by Kenyon, named Of Pandas and People: The Central Question of Biological Origins. As it neared completion, Thaxton continued to cast around for a term that was less ponderous and, at the same time, more general, a term to describe a science open to evidence for intelligent causation and free of religious assumptions. He found it in a phrase he picked up from a NASA scientist. "That's just what I need," Thaxton recalls thinking. "It's a good engineering term…. After I first saw it, it seemed to jibe. When I would go to meetings, I noticed it was a phrase that would come up from time to time. And I went back through my old copies of Science magazine and found the term used occasionally." It was soon incorporated into the language of the book

With the crushing defeat of the creation "science" movement, anti-evolutionists were forced to adopt a new tactic, one that attempted to unify all of the various sects and dogmas into a single "big tent" which could set aside their internal doctrinal differences and focus on their common enemy. As a matter of legal necessity, moreover, the new incarnation of anti-evolutionism had to distance itself as far as it could from the creation "science" movement, which had already had its day in court and lost, and it could not be built around the now-discredited leaders of the young-earth creation groups. This new movement was called "intelligent design theory", and it's intellectual forefather is Phillip Johnson.

Johnson was a law professor at Berkeley when he underwent a painful divorce that crushed him deeply and prompted him to turn to fundamentalist religion in a search for meaning. One of the pet projects that Johnson has undertaken since then has been an effort to demonstrate that AIDS is not caused by HIV, but by what he terms "an unhealthy lifestyle". Johnson has declared that it is the "science establishment" that is hiding "the cracks in the official story" and preventing "more open investigation" by "ridiculing opponents" and "deception" which is "fostered by the AIDS industry". (http://www.virusmyth.net/aids/index/pjohnson.htm)

But it was the fight against evolution that Johnson made his life's work (although all of his paranoid conspiratorial approach to AIDS would be echoed in his crusade against Darwin). In the same year that the Supreme Court struck down creation 'science', Johnson read Evolution; A Theory in Crisis, a creationist book by Michael Denton. And here, Johnson later recalled, he found his purpose in life; "This is it. This is where it all comes down to, the understanding of creation." (Christianity Today, "The Making of a Revolution", December 8, 1997) In 1991, Johnson published his first book, Darwin on Trial, which argued that evolution was not science but an atheistic religion based on "philosophical materialism". In Darwin on Trial, Johnson did not offer any alternative to evolution, but the book's publication lead directly to the formation of the Intelligent Design Movement. In 1992, a group of scientists and philosophers who were influenced by Johnson's book met at Southern Methodist University, which brought together Johnson, William Dembski (a mathematician and theologian), Michael Behe (a biochemist), Stephen Meyer (a geophysicist), and Paul Nelson (a young-earth creationist with a PhD in philosophy). They formed the core of the ID movement for the next 15 years. When paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould published a withering critique of Johnson's book in Scientific American, Johnson responded with a letter that noted:

"What divides Gould and me has little to do with scientific evidence and everything to do with metaphysics. Gould approaches the question of evolution from a philosophical starting point in scientific naturalism. From that standpoint the blind watchmaker thesis is true in principle by definition. Science may not know all the details yet, but something very much like Darwinian evolution simply has to be responsible for our existence because there is no acceptable alternative. If there are gaps or defects in the existing theory, the appropriate response is to supply additional naturalistic hypotheses. Critics who disparage Darwinism without offering a naturalistic alternative are seen as attacking science itself, probably in order to impose a religious straitjacket upon science and society. One does not reason with such persons; one employs any means at hand to discourage them. But maybe Darwinism really is false--in principle, and not just in detail. Maybe mindless material processes cannot create information-rich biological systems. That is a real possibility, no matter how offensive to scientific naturalists. How do Darwinists know that the blind watchmaker created animal phyla, for example, since the process can't be demonstrated and all the historical evidence is missing? Darwinists may have the cultural power to suppress questions like that for a time, but eventually they are going to have to come to grips with them. There are a lot of theists in America, not to mention the rest of the world, and persons who promote naturalism in the name of science will not forever be able to deny them a fair hearing." (Johnson, "Response to Gould")

When Scientific American refused to publish Johnson's religious criticism, Dembski, Behe and Meyer and 36 other anti-evolutionists responded by mass-mailing a copy of it, along with a supporting letter, to scientists and biology departments all over the US. In its supporting letter, the group, calling itself the "Ad Hoc Origins Committee", identified itself as "Scientists Who Question Darwinism", and declared: "We are a group of fellow professors or academic scientists who are generally sympathetic to Johnson and believe that he warrants a hearing -- thus this mailing. Most of us are also Christian Theists who like Johnson are unhappy with the polarized debate between biblical literalism and scientific materialism. We think a critical re-evaluation of Darwinism is both necessary and possible without embracing young-earth creationism. It is in service of this re-evaluation that we commend the Johnson/Gould discourse to you." (available at http://www.apologetics.org/news/adhoc.html#3, emphasis added)

In 1993, the nascent ID movement met again in California, and this meeting is generally acknowledged as the birth of the Intelligent Design movement. As young-earth creationist turned IDer Paul Nelson later reported:

"In June 1993, Johnson invited several of the (mostly younger) members of that community to a conference at the California beach town of Pajaro Dunes. Present were scientists and philosophers who themselves would later become well known, such as biochemist Michael Behe, author of Darwin s Black Box (1996); mathematician and philosopher William Dembski, author of The Design Inference (1998) and Intelligent Design (1999); and developmental biologist Jonathan Wells, author of Icons of Evolution (2000). Of the 14 participants at the Pajaro Dunes conference, only three (microbiologist Siegfried Scherer of the Technical University of Munich, paleontologist Kurt Wise of Bryan College, and me) could be seen as traditional creationists. Moreover, theological diversity marked the meeting: in addition to the expected presence of evangelicals, Behe was Roman Catholic; Wells was a member of the Unification Church; and one participant, paleontologist David Raup of the University of Chicago, was an agnostic. Pajaro Dunes thus became a model for what has come to be known as the intelligent design movement. Unlike other science and faith organizations (such as the traditional creationist CRS or the moderate American Scientific Affiliation [ASA]), no statement of faith was required at Pajaro. What united the participants (with the possible exception of Raup) was a deep dissatisfaction with neo-Darwinism and its naturalistic philosophical foundation and an interest in scientifically exploring the possibility of design.

Until recently, the majority of active dissenters from neo-Darwinian (naturalistic) evolution could be classified as young-earth (or what I call traditional) creationists. Their dissent could be dismissed as motivated by biblical literalism, not scientific evidence. While this criticism of traditional creationists is unfair to the actual content of their views many prominent creationists are outstanding scientists the absence of a wider community of dissent from Darwinism hindered the growth of scientific alternatives to the naturalistic theory. Such a wider community now exists in the intelligent design (ID) movement. Within the past decade, the ID community has matured around the insights of UC Berkeley professor Phillip Johnson, whose central insight is that science must be free to seek the truth, wherever it lies. The possibility of design, therefore, cannot be excluded from science. This outlook has deep roots in the history of Western science and is essential to the health of science as a truth-seeking enterprise. Under the canopy of design as an empirical possibility, however, any number of particular theories may also be possible, including traditional creationism, progressive (or old-earth ) creationism, and theistic evolution. Both scientific and scriptural evidence will have to decide the competition between these theories. The big tent of ID provides a setting in which that struggle after truth can occur, and from which the secular culture may be influenced." (Paul Nelson, "Life in the Big Tent", Christian Research Journal, 2002, available at: http://www.equip.org/free/DL303.htm)

At this conference, biochemist Michael Behe first presented his ideas about "irreducible complexity", the idea that certain structures within a cell could not have evolved piece-by-piece because if any one piece were missing, the entire structure would be nonfunctional and thus could not be preserved by natural selection. This, of course, was just a rehash of the old "what good is half an eye" argument used by creation "scientists", but in 1996, Behe released his book, Darwin's Black Box, laying out his arguments. It was this book which first brought ID to public attention; it was followed two years later by William Dembski's Mere Creation and The Design Inference. With the publication of these books, the anti-evolution movement was transformed; no longer did they talk about old ICR staples like thermodynamics or transitional fossils or radiodating -- now they talked about irreducible complexity and complex specified information. ID did not, of course, actually present anything new -- it simply introduced new verbiage for the same "scientific arguments against evolution" that the creation "scientists" had already made decades ago. ID's innovation was to refer to an unspecified "designer" instead of a "creator", and to drop any discussion of the age of the earth, the descent of humans, or "flood geology" -- all of which would have tied ID directly to creation "science", which the courts had already rejected.

Shortly after this conference, the ID movement reached organizational maturity. In 1995, Johnson released another book, Reason in the Balance; The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law and Education, which argued against atheistic "methodological materialism" (which he defines as "The Creator belongs to the realm of religion, not scientific investigation" (Johnson, 1995, p. 208) ) in favor of "theistic realism", which Johnson defined as:

"A theistic realist assumes that the universe and all its creatures were brought into existence for a purpose by God. Theistic realists expect this "fact" of creation to have empirical, observable consequences that are different from the consequences one would observe if the universe were the product of nonrational causes . . . . Many important questions -- including the origin of genetic information and human consciousness -- may not be explicable in terms of unintelligent causes." (Johnson, 1995, p. 208-209)

That same summer, Johnson and the IDers organized a conference titled "The Death of Materialism and the Renewal of Culture". A year later, in 1996, the conservative Seattle think tank Discovery Institute, using a grant provided by extremist fundamentalist Howard Ahmanson, founded a division specifically to carry on the political work of expanding "intelligent design theory" into education. The Discovery Institute had been founded in 1990, by conservative Republican political figures Bruce Chapman (a former official in the Reagan Administration) and George Gilder. The Institute embraced a number of conservative political causes, including free-market economics, opposition to assisted suicide and euthenasia, opposition to the animal-rights movement, and opposition to human stem cell research and human cloning. The Discovery Insitute's Cascadia Project involves improving regional public transportation, and is partially funded by a grant from Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

The Discovery Institute's new Intelligent Design division grew directly out of Philip Johnson's "Death of Materialism and the Renewal of Culture" conference, and was itself originally named the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture. Shortly afterwards, the name was changed to the Center for Science and Culture because the old name produced too much religious connotation. At about the same time, the Center's logo, showing Michealangelo's God reaching out to touch a strand of DNA, was dropped and replaced by some photos from the Hubble Space Telescope -- apparently the old logo was too explicit about the Center's religious aims. All along, the ID movement has made every possible effort to downplay its religious motives.

All of the founding figures in the design movement -- Johnson, Dembski, Meyer, Behe, Nelson, Wells -- are Fellows or Senior Fellows at Discovery Institute, and the Center for Science and Culture remains the largest, most prominent and most prolific advocate of Intelligent Design "theory". Indeed, the Discovery Institute has become so thoroughly linked with Intelligent Design in the public mind that its other projects have been led to publicly distance themselves from the ID movement. Bill Gates, for example, who helps fund the Institute's Arcadia transportation project, has publicly stated that he does not agree with Intelligent Design theory and does not provide any funding for the Center for Science and Culture.

The "intelligent design" movement, like the earlier creation "scientists", claims to be a solely scientific group with no religious motives or goals, and which simply argues that the "scientific evidence" supports the view that "an unknown intelligent designer" manipulated the development of life. Unlike the creation "science" movement, though, which published book after book detailing their conclusions about evolution (or the lack of it) and a young earth, the intelligent design movement is very careful to avoid any and all discussion about such topics as the age of the earth, or whether humans are descended from primates. This is a deliberate strategy on their part to avoid the internal doctrinal schisms which have always destroyed creationist organizations -- it is also a deliberate effort to distance themselves from the earlier creation "scientists" who the Supreme Court had rejected. IDers are also very careful to make no statement or implication about who or what this "intelligent designer" is, or what exactly it is supposed to have done. In particular, they deny strenuously that ID is just creationism renamed, or that the "intelligent designer" is really just God, instead asserting that it could just as easily be space aliens who "intelligently designed" life:

"Creationism is focused on defending a literal reading of the Genesis account, usually including the creation of the earth by the Biblical God a few thousand years ago. Unlike creationism, the scientific theory of intelligent design is agnostic regarding the source of design and has no commitment to defending Genesis, the Bible or any other sacred text." (Discovery Institute website)

"Intelligent design theory may hold implications for fields outside of science such as theology, ethics, and philosophy. But such implications are distinct from intelligent design as a scientific research program." (Discovery Institute website)

"Although intelligent design fits comfortably with a belief in God, it doesn't require it, because the scientific theory doesn't tell you who the designer is," Behe said. "While most people -- including me -- will think the designer is God, some people might think that the designer was a space alien...". Michael Behe (quoted in Pittsburg Post-Gazette")

"It could be space aliens. There are many possibilities." (William Dembski, quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle)

"For this purpose, it does not matter whether the intelligence is thought to belong to God, or to some alien race of intelligent beings, or to some entity we cannot yet imagine." (Phillip Johnson, posting in the ARN discussion forum)

In their candid moments, though, in front of their core supporters -- fundamentalist Christian anti-evolutionists -- the prominent IDers are open about their real aims:

"We are building on this momentum, broadening the wedge with a positive scientific alternative to materialistic scientific theories, which has come to be called the theory of intelligent design (ID). Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions." -- Discovery Institute's "Wedge Document"

"1. To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies. 2. To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God." -- Discovery Institute's "Wedge Document"

"What I always say is that it's not just scientific theory. The question is best understood as: Is God real or imaginary?" Phillip Johnson quoted, The Search for Intelligent Design in the Universe, Silicon Valley Magazine, January 9, 2000.

"Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools." (Phillip Johnson, American Family Radio, Jan 10, 2003 broadcast)

"Intelligent design is the Logos of John's Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory." (William Dembski, Jul/Aug 1999, Touchstone, p. 84)

"Intelligent design theory" is simply a watered-down version of creationism which attempts to avoid falling afoul of Constitutional conflicts by removing mention of nearly all of the previously accepted tenets of creationism. It is, as one reviewer memorably referred to it, "creationism in a cheap tuxedo". Rather than a "creator", ID "theory" speaks of an un-named "intelligent designer", which they now make no effort to identify. In order to avoid associations with Genesis or with other religious beliefs, "intelligent design theory" makes no statements about the age of the earth, or any of the particular actions which the "intelligent designer" may or may not have done. By limiting ID "theory" to vague assertions and inferences, advocates hoped to avoid identifying their "scientific theory" with religion, and thus to avoid the Constitutional issues that had doomed all of the previous anti-evolution efforts.

The Center for Science and Culture's real aims, however, can be revealed by looking at its funding sources. Nearly all of the Discovery Institute's money for the Intelligent Design project comes in the form of grants from wealthy fundamentalists and from Christian political groups. In 2003, the Discovery Institute received some $4.1 million in donations and grants. At least twenty-two different foundations give money to the Intelligent Design project; two-thirds of these are religious institutions with explicitly Christian aims and goals. In its first year of operations, Center for Science and Culture got around $450,000 from the Maclellan Foundation, a fundamentalist lobbying group in Tennessee. The executive director of the Maclellan Foundation was explicit about the purpose of its donation; "We give for religious purposes. This is not about science, and Darwin wasn't about science. Darwin was about a metaphysical view of the world." (NY Times, Aug 21, 2005) The ID movement has also received donations from the Henry P. and Susan C. Crowell Trust of Colorado Springs. The trust's website states, "Our Mission: The teaching and active extension of the doctrines of Evangelical Christianity through approved grants to qualified organizations." Another donor is the AMDG Foundation in Virginia, run by Mark Ryland, a former Microsoft exec and Discovery vice president. According to the New York Times, "the initials stand for Ad Majorem Dei Glorium, Latin for 'To the greater glory of God,' which Pope John Paul II etched in the corner of all his papers." (NY Times, Aug 21, 2005) The Stewardship Foundation gave the group more than $1 million between 1999 and 2003. According to their website, "The Stewardship Foundation provides resources to Christ-centered organizations whose mission is to share their faith in Jesus Christ with people throughout the world."

The single biggest source of money for the Discovery Institute's anti-evolution fight, though, is Howard Ahmanson, a California savings-and-loan bigwig and a longtime supporter of Christian Reconstruction fundamentalist extremism. Ahmanson's gift of $1.5 million was the original seed money to organize the Center for Science and Culture, the arm of the Discovery Institute which focuses on promoting "intelligent design theory". By his own reckoning, Ahmanson gives more of his money to the IDers than to any other politically active group -- only a museum trust in his wife's hometown in Iowa and a Bible college in New Jersey get more. In 2004, he reportedly gave the Center another $2.8 million. Ahmanson has, by himself, provided about one-third of the total donations to the ID movement during its existence, and funds about one-fourth of the Center's annual operating expenses. He sits on the Board of Directors of Discovery Institute.

After the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture was established, one of its first tasks was to organize the fledgling ID movement and make it ready for political and legal action. At the 1996 "Mere Creation" conference at Biola University in California, over 160 ID supporters met to plan strategy. Participant John Angus Campbell reported:

The theme of the talks on Friday morning was "Foundations for a Theory of Design" and in the afternoon "Biological Evidence for Design." . . . Dembski gave what I thought was one of his most cogent accounts of how and where "intelligent design" fits into science as an explanation. His talk was titled "Redesigning Science"--and that clearly is what he had in mind. He offered us the Explanatory Filter, explaining how the three levels (law, chance, design) functioned in scientific explanation. Meyer was just as cogent and came through with an exceptionally lively and detailed talk on "DNA and the Origin of Information." . . . . Of this trinity presaging the designed philosophic wrath to come, Nelson spoke last, on "Applying Design Within Biology." He stressed that worries about making erroneous design inferences (as, for instance, Kepler did concerning intelligent life on the moon) should not exclude design from science generally. In the afternoon Michael Behe (Lehigh) weighed in with the most entertaining and one of the most effective talks of the conference. . . . What I thought was particularly helpful and new in Mike's talk was his theme, which as his title indicated was "Intelligent Design As a Tool for Analyzing Biochemical Systems." I came away from Mike's talk in particular impressed with the point that "intelligent design" offers real research program. (Campbell, "Report on the Mere Creation Conference", Origins and Design, 1997)

William Dembski's first book, Mere Creation, was an edited compilation of presentations from this conference. Other books by IDers followed; William Dembski's Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science and Theology, and No Free Lunch; Jonathan Wells' Icons of Evolution; Privileged Planet, by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards; and Darwinism, Design, and Public Education, by John Angus Campbell and Stephen Meyer.

The most important document in understanding the Intelligent Design movement, however, was one that was not intended for publication at all.

SEVEN: Intelligent Design Arguments

In 1999, an internal Discovery Institute document was leaked to the Internet by two people in Seattle. In January 1999, Matt Duss, a part-time employee in a copy center, was handed a document from the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, stamped TOP SECRET and NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION, to copy. Having an interest in evolution and science, Duss glanced through the document and was amazed at what he saw -- he promptly made himself an extra copy and passed it on to friend Tim Rhodes, who scanned the entire document and put it up on the World Wide Web on February 5, 1999 . The document appears to have been written in 1998, and it outlines the Discovery Institute's longterm plan to, as it states, replace science with a "broadly theistic understanding of nature" (Discovery institute, The Wedge Document, 1999), and its tactic of using the fight against evolution as a "wedge" to do this. The authenticity of the "Wedge Document", as it quickly became known, was later admitted by the Discovery Institute.

The Wedge Document is crucial in understanding exactly what the goals of the ID movement are, and how they planned to meet them. The document is reproduced, in its entirety, as an appendix at the end of this book.

It is a remarkable document. It lays out, in clear detail, a deliberate calculated five-year plan to, in effect, undo the Enlightenment and replace the entire idea of a secular society with the ID movement's own vision of religious supremacy. Not just biology or science, but all of civil society, including law, politics and even art, would bow before fundamentalist religious views.

The Wedge outlines its plan for "cultural renewal" in three phases, containing a number of different tracks and approaches. All of them have been instituted.

Phase I: Research, Writing and Publication

Phase I is the essential component of everything that comes afterward. Without solid scholarship, research and argument, the project would be just another attempt to indoctrinate instead of persuade. A lesson we have learned from the history of science is that it is unnecessary to outnumber the opposing establishment. Scientific revolutions are usually staged by an initially small and relatively young group of scientists who are not blinded by the prevailing prejudices and who are able to do creative work at the pressure points, that is, on those critical issues upon which whole systems of thought hinge. So, in Phase I we are supporting vital witting and research at the sites most likely to crack the materialist edifice.

Phase II: Publicity and Opinion-making

Phase II. The primary purpose of Phase II is to prepare the popular reception of our ideas. The best and truest research can languish unread and unused unless it is properly publicized. For this reason we seek to cultivate and convince influential individuals in pnnt and broadcast media, as well as think tank leaders, scientists and academics, congressional staff, talk show hosts, college and seminary presidents and faculty, future talent and potential academic allies. Because of his long tenure in politics, journalism and public policy, Discovery President Bruce Chapman brings to the project rare knowledge and acquaintance of key op-ed writers, journalists, and political leaders. This combination of scientific and scholarly expertise and media and political connections makes the Wedge unique, and also prevents it from being "merely academic." Other activities include production of a PBS documentary on intelligent design and its implications, and popular op-ed publishing. Alongside a focus on influential opinion-makers, we also seek to build up a popular base of support among our natural constituency, namely, Chnstians. We will do this primarily through apologetics seminars. We intend these to encourage and equip believers with new scientific evidence's that support the faith, as well as to "popularize" our ideas in the broader culture.

Phase III: Cultural Confrontation and Renewal

Phase III. Once our research and writing have had time to mature, and the public prepared for the reception of design theory, we will move toward direct confrontation with the advocates of materialist science through challenge conferences in significant academic settings. We will also pursue possible legal assistance in response to resistance to the integration of design theory into public school science curricula. The attention, publicity, and influence of design theory should draw scientific materialists into open debate with design theorists, and we will be ready. With an added emphasis to the social sciences and humanities, we will begin to address the specific social consequences of materialism and the Darwinist theory that supports it in the sciences.

The very first sentence of the Wedge Document makes plain the underlying religious aim of the Discovery Institute's anti-evolution campaign: "The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western Civilization was built." (Wedge Document) The Discovery Institute, like other fundamentalist Christians, refers to the rejection of this religious idea as "the philosophy of materialism" or "naturalism" or sometimes "darwinism" (all are phrases which have long been the fundamentalist code words for "atheism"), and explicitly states that this materialistic atheism is the direct result of science: "This cardinal idea came under wholesale attack by intellectuals drawing on the discoveries of modern science. Debunking the traditional conceptions of both God and man, thinkers such as Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud portrayed humans not as moral and spiritual beings, but as animals or machines who inhabited a universe ruled by purely impersonal forces and whose behavior and very thoughts were dictated by the unbending forces of biology, chemistry, and environment. This materialistic conception of reality eventually infected virtually every area of our culture, from politics and economics to literature and art." (Wedge Document) Thus, the Discovery Institute's basic complaint can be summed up as "science is atheistic". Under the heading "Governing Goals", the Discovery Institute lists, "To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God." (Wedge Document, 1999)

The goal of Discovery Institute's "intelligent design theory", then, is to replace "materialism" with . . . . well . . . they are very careful in court and in legislation to not name their replacement. In public, the IDers are studiously circumspect about their views, attempting to maintain the fiction that ID is all about science and doesn't have any religious aims, purpose or goals. However, since "materialism" and "naturalism" have long been the fundamentalist code words for "atheism", and since nothing but a god or deity is capable of using any non-"materialistic" or super-"naturalistic" mechanism or process, it's not hard to see that what Discovery Institute wants is to introduce theism into science and to force science to bow before its religious opinions. Of course, the IDers must be coy about their aims, since the Supreme Court has already concluded repeatedly that religious opinions cannot be legally taught in public schools. Nevertheless, in the Wedge Document (which of course was not intended for public release) the IDers can afford to be open about their ultimate aims: "Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies. Bringing together leading scholars from the natural sciences and those from the humanities and social sciences, the Center explores how new developments in biology, physics and cognitive science raise serious doubts about scientific materialism and have re-opened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature."

The Discovery Institute, after a long silence, has attempted to deflect concerns about the Wedge Document in a web article ("The Wedge Document; So what?", Discovery Institute website, March 1, 2004). Their "response" is fraught with deception and evasion.

The Institute first tries to downplay the significance of the document, by dismissing it as a mere "early fundraising proposal". Even a cursory reading of the document, however, demonstrates this claim to be nonsense. Nowhere in the entire document is there any appeal for funds, nor any mention of fundraising. What is mentioned, however, are things such as "The Wedge Strategy", "Five Year Strategic Plan Summary", "Governing Goals", "Five Year Goals", "Twenty Year Goals", and "The Wedge Strategy Progress Summary".

The document also lists a number of steps to be taken to advance the ID agenda -- every one of which Discovery Institute subsequently carried out (or attempted to). The DI's claim that the Wedge Document is just a "fundraising proposal" and not actually a planning document outlining the goals of the Institute and the steps it plans to take in order to reach those goals, is not only dishonest and plainly untrue, it is also completely irrelevant. It makes no difference whether the Wedge Document is a strategy guide, a fundraising proposal, or a memo for the Institute's janitor. What does matter (and what the Discovery Institute's "response" fails utterly to acknowledge or defend) is that the Wedge Document clearly, unequivocably and unmistakably declares, in print, that the "governing goal" of the Institute is to advance their religious beliefs, that "intelligent design theory" is the primary method they have chosen to pursue that goal, and that they have an articulated pre-planned 20-year strategy to use ID "theory" as a method of using public schools to advance their religious goals. All of this is, of course, completely illegal under US law. Despite all the DI's statements to the contrary, the Wedge Document demonstrates that the sole aim of the Institute is to use "intelligent design theory" in classrooms as a means of advancing a religious renewal -- exactly what the US Constitution says they cannot do. And when they claim that ID "theory" has no religious aims or purpose, the Wedge Document demonstrates that IDers are simply lying.

Phillip Johnson, who talks openly about the explicit theistic goals of "intelligent design theory", specifically contrasts "scientific materialism" with "divine intervention";

"Science also has become identified with a philosophy known as materialism or scientific naturalism. This philosophy insists that nature is all there is, or at least the only thing about which we can have any knowledge. It follows that nature had to do its own creating, and that the means of creation must not have included any role for God. . . . The reason the theory of evolution is so controversial is that it is the main scientific prop for scientific naturalism. Students first learn that "evolution is a fact," and then they gradually learn more and more about what that "fact" means. It means that all living things are the product of mindless material forces such as chemical laws, natural selection, and random variation. So God is totally out of the picture, and humans (like everything else) are the accidental product of a purposeless universe." (Johnson, "The Church of Darwin", Wall Street Journal, August 16, 1999).

"For now we need to stick to the main point: In the beginning was the Word, and the 'fear of God'-- recognition of our dependence upon God-is still the beginning of wisdom. If materialist science can prove otherwise then so be it, but everything we are learning about the evidence suggests that we don't need to worry. (Johnson, "How to Sink a Battleship; A Call to Separate Materialist Philosophy from Empriical Science", address to the 1996 "Mere Creation Conference")

Johnson explicitly calls for "a better scientific theory, one genuinely based on unbiased empirical evidence and not on materialist philosophy" (Johnson, "How to Sink a Battleship). Johnson doesn't tell us what this non-materialistic philosophy might be that he wants to base science on, but it is clear from the rest of his statements that he, like every other IDer, wants to base science on his religious beliefs.

DI associate Michael Behe also makes the connection between fighting "scientific materialism" and "theistic understanding of nature" explicitly clear.

"Darwinism is the most plausible unintelligent mechanism, yet it has tremendous difficulties and the evidence garnered so far points to its inability to do what its advocates claim for it. If unintelligent mechanisms can't do the job, then that shifts the focus to intelligent agency. That's as far as the argument against Darwinism takes us, but most people already have other reasons for believing in a personal God who just might act in history, and they will find the argument for intelligent design fits with what they already hold. With the argument arranged this way, evidence against Darwinism does count as evidence for an active God, just as valid negative advertising against the Democratic candidate will help the Republican, even though Vegetarian and One-World candidates are on the ballot, too. Life is either the result of exclusively unintelligent causes or it is not, and the evidence against the unintelligent production of life is clearly evidence for intelligent design." (Behe, "The God of Science", Weekly Standard, June 7, 1999, p. 35)

"Naturalism is a philosophy which says that material things are all that there is. But philosophy is not science, and therefore excluding ideas which point to a creator, which point to God, is not allowed simply because in public schools in the United States one is not allowed to discriminate either for or against ideas which have religious implications." (Behe, Speech at Calvary Chapel, March 6, 2002)

Another DI associate, William Dembski, makes the connection between ID and Christian apologetics even more explicit:

"Not only does intelligent design rid us of this ideology, which suffocates the human spirit, but, in my personal experience, I've found that it opens the path for people to come to Christ. Indeed, once materialism is no longer an option, Christianity again becomes an option. True, there are then also other options. But Christianity is more than able to hold its own once it is seen as a live option. The problem with materialism is that it rules out Christianity so completely that it is not even a live option. Thus, in its relation to Christianity, intelligent design should be viewed as a ground-clearing operation that gets rid of the intellectual rubbish that for generations has kept Christianity from receiving serious consideration." (Dembski, "Intelligent Design's Contribution to the Debate Over Evolution", Designinference.com website, February 2005).

Indeed, Dembski titled one of his books Intelligent Design; the Bridge Between Science and Theology (Dembski, 1999). In that book, Dembski makes the religious basis of ID "theory" explicit: "The conceptual soundings of the theory can in the end only be located in Christ." (Dembski, 1999, p. 210).

As the Wedge Document puts it:

"We are convinced that in order to defeat materialism, we must cut it off at its source. That source is scientific materialism. This is precisely our strategy. If we view the predominant materialistic science as a giant tree, our strategy is intended to function as a "wedge" that, while relatively small, can split the trunk when applied at its weakest points. The very beginning of this strategy, the "thin edge of the wedge," was Phillip Johnson's critique of Darwinism begun in 1991 in Darwinism on Trial, and continued in Reason in the Balance and Defeatng Darwinism by Opening Minds. Michael Behe's highly successful Darwin's Black Box followed Johnson's work. We are building on this momentum, broadening the wedge with a positive scientific alternative to materialistic scientific theories, which has come to be called the theory of intelligent design (ID). Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions." (Wedge Document, 1999)

The Wedge Document also explicitly and clearly linked "intelligent design theory" with creationism, by acknowledging that one of its "governing goals" was "Major Christian denomination(s) defend(s) traditional doctrine of creation." (Wedge Document, 1999, emphasis added)

The IDers recognized, however, that their aims were in direct conflict with US law and previous Supreme Court decisions, and explicitly laid out tactics that would, they hoped, allow them to get around those obstacles:

"Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools." (Phillip Johnson, American Family Radio, Jan 10, 2003 broadcast)

"So the question is: "How to win?" That's when I began to develop what you now see full-fledged in the "wedge" strategy: "Stick with the most important thing"—the mechanism and the building up of information. Get the Bible and the Book of Genesis out of the debate because you do not want to raise the so-called Bible-science dichotomy. Phrase the argument in such a way that you can get it heard in the secular academy and in a way that tends to unify the religious dissenters. That means concentrating on, "Do you need a Creator to do the creating, or can nature do it on its own?" and refusing to get sidetracked onto other issues, which people are always trying to do." (Phillip E. Johnson, Touchstone Magazine interview, June 2002.)

"The first thing that has to be done is to get the Bible out of the discussion. ...This is not to say that the biblical issues are unimportant; the point is rather that the time to address them will be after we have separated materialist prejudice from scientific fact." (Phillip Johnson, "The Wedge", Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity, July/August 1999.)

"(T)he Wedge strategy stops working when we are seen as just another way of packaging the Christian evangelical message." (Phillip Johnson. "Keeping the Darwinists Honest", an interview with Phillip Johnson, Citizen Magazine, April 1999.)

In these public statements by DI associates and its own internal documents, we see the legal and political strategy of "Intelligent Design theory" in a nutshell -- ID wants to eliminate "materialism" and "atheism" in favor of "theistic understanding", but since it's illegal in the US to advance religion in public schools, ID advocates have no choice but to downplay and avoid mentioning their clearly stated goal of doing exactly what the law says they cannot do -- using the public schools to advance their religious beliefs. In other words, they must be dishonest and evasive, and practice a deception, by design.

It is important to understand that intelligent design "theory" is, if you will pardon the pun, intelligently designed, specifically to evade and get around all of the Federal court cases which make it illegal to use the schools to advance religion. However, the fundamentalist IDers seem to be their own worst enemies, and their own incessant compulsion to attack "materialism", "atheism", "darwinism" and "naturalism", gives the lie to their claims to be non-religious. The entire approach of ID is fatally flawed, right from the start, by an insoluble contradiction. In order for the ID strategy to be successful, it absolutely requires that all of its supporters keep quiet, indefinitely, about the one thing they care most about in the whole world -- their fundamentalist religious opinions. As the history of ID shows, they can't do it. They don't want to do it. What IDers want to do is preach, and it is simply an impossible task to preach while at the same time claiming that one is not preaching. Intelligent Design "theory" is, as the Discovery Institute admitted from the beginning in its own internal document, simply a legal and political strategy to "wedge" their religious opinions into public schools and from there to larger society. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. It has the sole and only aim of advancing religion by attacking science's presumed "atheism" and "materialism". ID "theory" is nothing but an advancement of religious beliefs, and IDers are denying their own statements when they claim otherwise.

Since ID is, at root, merely an attempt to continue the creationist program of teaching religious opinions in public schools, it is no surprise that all of the "scientific arguments" made by the IDers are simply rehashed versions of decades-old creation "science" boilerplate (although the IDers must strenuously deny this for legal reasons, since creation "science" has already been ruled illegal to teach). All of the ID arguments are subordinated to the overall political goal laid out in the Wedge Document.

What is the Scientific Theory of Intelligent Design?

Like the creationists before them, the IDers are faced with the seemingly unsolvable problem of arguing an explanation for the material world that is patently religious in nature, but at the same time attempting to argue to everyone that it is really "science" and not religion. The creationists unsuccessfully tried to get around this by arguing that the concept of a "creator" wasn't necessarily religious but could be treated scientifically. The IDers apparently learned a lesson from that creationist failure -- so the IDers instead refuse to present or discuss their "alternative theory" at all. They categorically refuse to say anything at all about the topic of what their "designer" is, what it does, or what methods it uses to do whatever it does.

During the Kansas school board hearings in 2005, several IDers were asked about the "alternative explanation" offered by ID "theory", and flatly refused to present any:

Q. So the answer, which ID attempts to provide, is a supernatural one, is it not?

A. I won't go there. (Wells testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

Q. What's your alternative explanation how the human species came into existence if it is not through common descent?

A. Design.

Q. And design would imply a designer?

A. Implies a designer, but we don't go there. . . .

Q. Isn't design a philosophical assumption?

A. No.

Q. How do we falsify the designer?

A. We don't go there. We're not going to talk about the designer. . . . (Ely testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

Q. You think it's wise for science without a supernatural model to attempt to answer those questions that we still don't understand?

A. You know, I don't really work in that area, so I'm not going to venture any more opinions about the topic.(Meyer testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

Let's be blunt. As a careful reading of the transcript reveals, there is no scientific theory of ID. When pressed, the most that IDers can do is recite a long list of criticisms of evolution -- all of which are untrue, none of which is accepted by the scientific body at large, and most of which are simply restatements of the same tired old "criticisms" that creation "scientists" have been making for almost 40 years now. By declaring that "evidence against evolution, equals evidence for design", the IDers are just continuing the very same "two models" idea that the creation "scientists" tried to argue. Unfortunately for them, the "two models" argument was decisively and explicitly rejected by the 1981 Maclean v Arkansas case, and also in the 1987 Edwards v Aguillard Supreme Court ruling.

Furthermore, and significantly in the legal sense, in the 1982 Maclean v Arkansas case, the federal court listed the characteristics of what constituted "science". That list consisted of:

"More precisely, the essential characteristics of science are:

  1. It is guided by natural law;
  2. It has to be explanatory by reference to natural law;
  3. It is testable against the empirical world;
  4. Its conclusions are tentative, i.e. are not necessarily the final word; and
  5. It is falsifiable. (Ruse and other science witnesses)"
(Overton Opinion, Maclean v Arkansas, 1981)

Let's see how Intelligent Design "theory" measures up to those criteria:

  1. "It is guided by natural law." Not only is ID 'theory' not "guided by natural law", but ID "theorists" explicitly, clearly and plainly reject the idea that science should be based on "natural law". Indeed, their most strident complaint is that science in general and evolution in particular are "philosophical materialism" (their code word for "atheism") and that this, they say, unfairly rules out the IDers' non-materialist or non-natural "explanations". Not only is ID "theory" not based on natural law, it explicitly rejects natural law in favor of supernatural methods, i.e., in favor of religious doctrine.
  2. "It has to be explanatory by reference to natural law". Once again, not only does ID not explain anything by reference to natural law, it tries to argue that it doesn't have to. What the IDers are complaining about in the first place is that science, they say, unfairly rejects anything but reference to natural law -- i.e., that science rejects religious explanations.
  3. "It is testable against the empirical world". ID 'theory' makes no testable statements. It can't tell us what the designer did. It can't tell us what mechanisms the designer used to do whatever it did. It can't tell us where we can see these mechanisms in action. And it can't tell us how to go about testing any of this. Of course, they can't make any statements about this topic, since any honest answer would clearly reveal that ID is religious doctrine -- the "designer" is God, and uses supernatural methods to create.
  4. "Its conclusions are tentative, i.e. are not necessarily the final word". Well, we don't know whether ID passes this test, since ID "theory" refuses to make any conclusions. As noted before, ID can't even give a coherent hypothesis, or even tell us how to form one.
  5. "It is falsifiable". The core argument of ID 'theory', that "An Unknown Intelligent Designer" created life, is inherently unfalsifiable. After all, if we know nothing about the Designer, nothing about its nature, and nothing about what it can or can't do (as the IDers claim), then there is simply no way we can falsify any statement made about it. The entire "argument" of ID boils down to "we think an unknown thing did an unknown thing at an unknown time using unknown methods". How can anyone falsify that?

ID simply does not meet any of the criteria listed by the federal court in determining what is "science". That, of course, is because ID is not science; it is fundamentalist religious doctrine pretending, for legal reasons, to be science.

But how accurate is the ID whining that science unfairly rules out, a priori, supernatural or non-material explanations? As with everything else in ID "theory", this claim is based solely on deception and dishonesty.

The scientific method is very simple, and consists of five basic steps. They are:

  1. Observe some aspect of the universe
  2. Form a hypothesis that potentially explains what you have observed
  3. Make testable predictions from that hypothesis
  4. Make observations or experiments that can test those predictions
  5. Modify your hypothesis until it is in accord with all observations and predictions

Nothing in any of those five steps excludes on principle, a priori, any "supernatural cause". Indeed, scientific experiments have been proposed (and carried out and published) on such "supernatural causes" as the effects of prayer on healing, as well as such "non-materialistic" or "non-natural" causes as ESP, telekinesis, precognition and "remote viewing". So ID's claim that science unfairly rejects supernatural or non-material causes out of hand on principle, is demonstrably quite wrong. However, what science does require is that any supernatural or non-material hypothesis, whatever it might be, then be subjected to steps 3, 4 and 5. And here is where ID fails miserably. Despite all their voluminous writings and arguments, IDers have never yet given any testible predictions from their ID hypothesis that can be verified through experiment. It is not any presupposition of "philosophical naturalism" on the part of science that stops ID dead in its tracks -- it is the simple inability (or refusal) of ID "theory" to make any testable predictions.

Deep down inside, what the IDers are really complaining about is not that science unfairly rejects their supernaturalistic explanations, but that science demands ID's proposed "supernaturalistic explanations" be tested according to the scientific method, just like every other hypothesis has to be. Not only can ID not test any of its "explanations", but it wants to modify and re-define science so it doesn't have to. In effect, the IDers want their supernaturalistic "hypothesis" to have a privileged position -- they want their hypothesis to be accepted by science without being tested. And that is what their entire argument over "materialism" (or "naturalism" or "atheism" or "sciencism" or "darwinism" or whatever else they want to call it) boils down to.

There is no legitimate reason for the ID hypothesis to be privileged and have the special right to be exempted from testing, that other scientific hypotheses do not. If IDers cannot put their "hypothesis" through the same scientific method that everyone else has to, then they have no claim to be "science".

Irreducible Complexity

The most widely-known proponent of this view has been Michael Behe, a Roman Catholic biochemist at Lehigh University who, unlike most creationists, accepts that life evolved over billions of years and also accepts that humans are evolved from apelike primates, but who thinks that God (or "an Unknown Intelligent Designer") intervenes at certain points to manipulate the evolutionary process. In his book Darwin's Black Box, Behe uses a concept he calls "irreducible complexity" to illustrate this intervention. "Irreducible complexity" means, according to Behe, that there are systems in the natural world that are made up of a number of interdependent parts, and these systems are so interdependent that they cannot function without the simultaneous presence of all the components. They are "irreducibly complex", and can exist only as a total collection or not at all. As he puts it: "By irreducibly complex I mean a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning. An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly (that is, by continuously improving the initial function, which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional." (Behe, p. 39)

Behe cites the example of a mousetrap, which, he says, must be complete with all its parts or it will not work. A mousetrap cannot appear once piece at a time -- it can only appear if all its required components are assembled, at the same time, by a guiding intelligence. Since the odds that all of these necessary components would have evolved all at once, intact and functional, at the same time are too improbable, and since it is impossible for them to have arisen step by step, Behe concludes, they must have been deliberately placed together by an "intelligent designer". Behe cites a number of biological processes, including the bacterial flagellum, the human immune system and the human blood clotting system, which, he says, are "irreducibly complex" and must be the product of an "intelligent designer".

Behe's entire argument is best viewed as a version of the "argument from ignorance". In essence, his entire argument boils down to "I can't see how this process could have evolved step-by-step, therefore it could not have." The fact that Behe (or anyone else) cannot determine how a process evolved step-by-step does not constitute evidence that it did not, however. In fact, in several of the cases that Behe cites as "irreducibly complex", new discoveries in biochemistry have indeed led to descriptions of precisely the sort of step-by-step development that Behe claimed was impossible.

In his work, Behe discounts a very important concept of biological evolution, the idea of "exaptation". This occurs when a biological trait is modified for use in a completely different system, and takes up a new function that it did not have before. Exaptations explain many of the "complex systems" we see in living things.

We can illustrate this with Behe's own example. Behe cites a mousetrap as an illustration of an "irreducibly complex system", and argues that since each component of the mousetrap -- the spring, the wooden base, the wire hammer -- is necessary for the functioning of the mousetrap, no functional trap can have developed step by step, without all of these things being present. Let us, then, show how a mousetrap could indeed evolve step by step, using exaptation.

We begin with the simplest possible "mousetrap" -- a simple piece of bait left out on the floor. When the mouse approaches the bait, we hit it with a hammer. A slight modification to our existing system. We place the bait in a small hole or hollow in the wall. This has the advantage of momentarily confusing the mouse when we surprise it at the bait, since it takes a moment for the mouse to find the exit hole, giving us more time to hit it with the hammer. Another slight modification -- we place a small metal hinged door over the opening to the hole, which swings freely back and forth. This confuses the mouse slightly more and it takes a little bit more time to find the exit -- giving us a bit more time to hit it with the hammer. >Next, we add a spring mechanism that can be tripped by the mouse as it takes the bait, thus causing the door to close behind it. The advantage is that we no longer have to be waiting there when the mouse enters -- instead, the mouse is now confined and can be hit with us by a hammer at any convenient later time. Another modification: we turn the whole apparatus 90 degrees so it rests horizontally instead of vertically. In other words, our baited hole is now in the floor instead of in the wall. This has the advantage of allowing the mouse to approach our trap from any direction, instead of limiting access to just one side of the wall. Another modification: We eliminate the hole and simply place the spring door apparatus on the floor in such a way that, when tripped, the trap door slams down forcefully on the floor where the trigger is located, mashing the mouse for us when it trips the trigger. The new advantage is that we no longer have to hit the mouse with the hammer at all -- the new trap in effect does that for us. A final modification. We cut out the part of the floor that surrounds our trap and attach the trap mechanism directly to it. This allows us to deploy our trap anywhere we like, instead of limiting it to one locality.

And there we have it -- step by step development of something that is supposed to be "irreducibly complex". Each step is fully functional by itself, and in each step, the intended result is achieved -- a dead mouse. Each successive step builds upon the preceding one by small modifications, yet each step is more efficient in some way than its predecessor. And each step uses "exaptation" -- it co-opts whatever happens to be handy and incorporates it into our growing system.

Evolution is full of examples of such exaptation, in which previously unrelated structures are incorporated into developing systems and given new functions. One example is the development of feathers for insulation in small theropod dinosaurs -- feathers which were later incorporated into wings as flying mechanisms. There is no evolutionary requirement for any of the parts to appear for the particular "irreducibly complex" purpose -- each part can appear independently for entirely separate reasons, with entirely different functions, only to be cobbled together later by evolution for a completely different purpose, just as the mammalian inner ear bones were cobbled together from jawbones that originally had nothing to do with hearing.

Another biological process, ignored by Behe, which can build "irreducibly complex" systems, is "scaffolding". This concept can be best illustrated by using the example of a stone arch, such as those built by the Romans and Greeks. It is, as any engineer knows, impossible to build a stone arch one stone at a time, since if any of the stones is missing, the stones fall apart and the arch collapses. The arch can only maintain its shape if all of the stones are simultaneously present -- a situation exactly analogous to Behe's idea of "irreducible complexity".

So how are stone arches built? With scaffolds. A scaffold is a structure, outside the structure of the arch itself, which holds all the pieces in place until the complete arch is formed, at which point the scaffolding is taken away and the arch stands on its own. Biochemical processes can follow a similar pathway.

Behe also asserted in his book that, "There has never been a meeting, or a book, or a paper on details of the evolution of complex biochemical systems." (Behe, 1996, p. 179) As a matter of fact, there have been dozens of scientific papers published concerning the evolutionary history of the "irreducibly complex" systems that Behe cites -- most of them published before Darwin's Black Box was written, and many of which were presented to Behe on the witness stand during his Dover testimony. As the judge described in his decision, "Although in Darwin's Black Box, Professor Behe wrote that not only were there no natural explanations for the immune system at the time, but that natural explanations were impossible regarding its origin. However, Dr. Miller presented peer-reviewed studies refuting Professor Behe's claim that the immune system was irreducibly complex. Between 1996 and 2002, various studies confirmed each element of the evolutionary hypothesis explaining the origin of the immune system. In fact, on cross-examination, Professor Behe was questioned concerning his 1996 claim that science would never find an evolutionary explanation for the immune system. He was presented with fifty-eight peer-reviewed publications, nine books, and several immunology textbook chapters about the evolution of the immune system; however, he simply insisted that this was still not sufficient evidence of evolution, and that it was not 'good enough'". (Jones Opinion, 2005)

In effect, Behe's "irreducible complexity" is nothing but a restatement of the old ICR "what good is half an eye?" argument, applied this time to cellular structures rather than multicelled organisms. Indeed, Behe's very favorite example of "irreducible complexity", the bacterial flagellum, first appeared in a creation "science" publication, the Creation Research Society Quarterly, in June 1994, some two years before Behe offered it as evidence of Intelligent Design in Darwin's Black Box.

Complex Specified Information and Dembski's Filter

Perhaps the most celebrated of the Intelligent Design "theorists" is William Dembski, a mathematician and theologian. A prolific author, Dembski has written a number of books defending Intelligent Design.

The best-known of his arguments is the "Explanatory Filter", which is, he claims, a mathematical method of detecting whether or not a particular thing is the product of design. As Dembski himself describes it:

"The key step in formulating Intelligent Design as a scientific theory is to delineate a method for detecting design. Such a method exists, and in fact, we use it implicitly all the time. The method takes the form of a three-stage Explanatory Filter. Given something we think might be designed, we refer it to the filter. If it successfully passes all three stages of the filter, then we are warranted asserting it is designed. Roughly speaking the filter asks three questions and in the following order: (1) Does a law explain it? (2) Does chance explain it? (3) Does design explain it? . . . . . . . . I argue that the explanatory filter is a reliable criterion for detecting design. Alternatively, I argue that the Explanatory Filter successfully avoids false positives. Thus whenever the Explanatory Filter attributes design, it does so correctly." (http://www.arn.org/docs/dembski/wd_explfilter.htm)

The most detailed presentation of the Explanatory Filter is in Dembski's book No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased Without Intelligence. In the course of 380 pages, heavily loaded with complex-looking mathematics, Dembski spells out his "explanatory filter", along with such concepts as "complex specified information" and "the law of conservation of information". ID enthusiasts lauded Dembski for his "groundbreaking" work; one reviewer hailed Dembski as "The Isaac Newton of Information Theory", another declared Dembski to be "God's Mathematician".

Stripped of all its mathematical gloss, though, Dembski's "filter" boils down to:

According to Dembski, the first step of applying his "filter" is:

"At the first stage, the filter determines whether a law can explain the thing in question. Law thrives on replicability, yielding the same result whenever the same antecedent conditions are fulfilled. Clearly, if something can be explained by a law, it better not be attributed to design. Things explainable by a law are therefore eliminated at the first stage of the Explanatory Filter." (http://www.arn.org/docs/dembski/wd_explfilter.htm)

Right away, the filter runs into problems. When Dembski refers to laws that explain the thing in question, does he mean all current explanations that refer to natural laws, or does he mean all possible explanations using natural law? If he means all current explanations, and if ruling out all current explanations therefore means that Intelligent Design is a possibility, then Dembski is simply invoking the centuries-old "god of the gaps" argument -- "if we can't currently explain it, then the designer diddit".

On the other hand, if Dembski's filter requires that we rule out all possible explanations that refer to natural laws, then it is difficult to see how anyone could ever get beyond the first step of the filter. How exactly does Dembski propose we be able to rule out, not only all current scientific explanations, but all of the possible ones that might be found in the future? How does Dembski propose to rule out scientific explanations that no one has even thought of yet -- ones that can't be made until more data and evidence is discovered at some time in the future?

Science, of course, is perfectly content to say "we don't know, we don't currently have an explanation for this". Science then moves on to find possible ways to answer the question and uncover an explanation for it. Dembski's filter, however, completely sidesteps the whole matter of possible explanations that we don't yet know about, and simply asserts that if we can't give an explanation now, then we must go on to the second step of the filter:

"Suppose, however, that something we think might be designed cannot be explained by any law. We then proceed to the second stage of the filter. At this stage the filter determines whether the thing in question might not reasonably be expected to occur by chance. What we do is posit a probability distribution, and then find that our observations can reasonably be expected on the basis of that probability distribution. Accordingly, we are warranted attributing the thing in question to chance. And clearly, if something can be explained by reference to chance, it better not be attributed to design. Things explainable by chance are therefore eliminated at the second stage of the Explanatory Filter." (http://www.arn.org/docs/dembski/wd_explfilter.htm)

This is, of course, nothing more than the standard creationist "X is too improbable to have evolved" argument, and it falls victim to the same weaknesses. But, Dembski concludes, if we rule out law and then rule out chance, then we must go to the third step of the "filter":

"Suppose finally that no law is able to account for the thing in question, and that any plausible probability distribution that might account for it does not render it very likely. Indeed, suppose that any plausible probability distribution that might account for it renders it exceedingly unlikely. In this case we bypass the first two stages of the Explanatory Filter and arrive at the third and final stage. It needs to be stressed that this third and final stage does not automatically yield design -- there is still some work to do. Vast improbability only purchases design if, in addition, the thing we are trying to explain is specified. The third stage of the Explanatory Filter therefore presents us with a binary choice: attribute the thing we are trying to explain to design if it is specified; otherwise, attribute it to chance. In the first case, the thing we are trying to explain not only has small probability, but is also specified. In the other, it has small probability, but is unspecified. It is this category of specified things having small probability that reliably signals design. Unspecified things having small probability, on the other hand, are properly attributed to chance." (http://www.arn.org/docs/dembski/wd_explfilter.htm)

But Dembski and the rest of the IDers are completely unable (or unwilling) to give us any objective way to measure "complex specified information", or how to differentiate "specified" things from nonspecified. He is also unable to tell us who specifies it, when it is specified, where this specified information is stored before it is embodied in a thing, or how the specified design information is turned into an actual thing.

Dembski's inability to give any sort of objective method of measuring Complex Specified Information does not prevent him, however, from declaring a grand "Law of Conservation of Information", which states that no natural or chance process can increase the amount of Complex Specified Information in a system. It can only be produced, Dembski says, by an intelligence. Once again, this is just a rehashed version of the decades-old creationist "genetic information can't increase" argument.

With the Explanatory Filter, Dembski and other IDers are using a tactic that some like to call "The Texas Marksman". The Texas Marksman walks over to the side of the barn, blasts away randomly, then draws bullseyes around each bullet hole and declares how wonderful it is that he was able to hit every single bullseye. Of course, if his shots had fallen in different places, he would then be declaring how wonderful it is that he hit those marks, instead.

Dembski, it seems, simply wants to assume his conclusion. His "filter", it seems, is nothing more than "god of the gaps" (if we can't explain it, then the Designer must have done it), written with nice fancy impressive-looking mathematical formulas. That suspicion is strengthened when we consider the carefully specified order of the three steps in Dembski's filter. Why is the sequence of Dembski's Filter, "rule out law, rule out chance, therefore design"? Why isn't it "rule out design, rule out law, therefore chance"? Or "rule out law, rule out design, therefore chance"? If Dembski has an objective way to detect or rule out "design", then why doesn't he just apply it from the outset? The answer is simple -- Dembski has no more way to calculate the "probability" of design than he does the "probability" of law, and therefore simply has no way, none at all whatsoever, to tell what is "designed" and what isn't. So he wants to dump the burden onto others. Since he can't demonstrate that any thing was designed, he wants to relieve himself of that responsibility, by simply declaring, with suitably impressive mathematics, that the rest of us should just assume that something is designed unless someone can show otherwise. Dembski has conveniently adopted the one sequence of steps in his "filter", out of all the possible ones, that relieves "design theory" of any need to either propose anything, test anything, or demonstrate anything

I suspect that isn't a coincidence.

Cambrian Explosion

While the public-relations and political efforts of the Wedge strategy were spectacular successes for the ID movement, the effort to publish scientific articles in peer-reviewed science journals supportive of ID has been an utter failure. Only one ID article has ever appeared in any peer-reviewed science journal, and it did more harm for ID than good.

In their 2003 book Darwinism, Design and Public Education, DI Fellows Stephen Meyer and John Angus Campbell devoted an entire chapter to what they called "The Cambrian Explosion: Biology's Big Bang". In it, they repeated, almost word for word, all of the "Cambrian explosion" arguments that had been made thirty years earlier by the creation "scientists": "Organisms such as trilobites (phylum Arthropoda), with their articulated body plans, intricate nervous systems, and compound eyes, first appear fully formed at the beginning of the Cambrian explosion along with many other phyla of equal complexity."

A year later, this ID tract reappeared in shortened form as a peer-reviewed article in The Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, a scientific journal that normally devoted itself to routine taxonomic descriptions. The article, by Stephen Meyer, was entitled, "The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories", and it repeated most of the chapter from Darwinism, Design and Public Education, and added a few other standard ID arguments:

"During the Cambrian, many novel animal forms and body plans (representing new phyla, subphyla and classes) arose in a geologically brief period of time. The following information-based analysis of the Cambrian explosion will support the claim of recent authors such as Muller and Newman that the mechanism of selection and genetic mutation does not constitute an adequate causal explanation of the origination of biological form in the higher taxonomic groups. It will also suggest the need to explore other possible causal factors for the origin of form and information during the evolution of life and will examine some other possibilities that have been proposed.

The Cambrian explosion represents a remarkable jump in the specified complexity or "complex specified information" (CSI) of the biological world. . . .An experience-based analysis of the causal powers of various explanatory hypotheses suggests purposive or intelligent design as a causally adequate--and perhaps the most causally adequate--explanation for the origin of the complex specified information required to build the Cambrian animals and the novel forms they represent." (Meyer, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 2004, pp 213 - 239)

The article provoked a storm of protest from scientists, who flooded the journal with letters pointing out that Meyer's piece was not only inaccurate and mistaken, but also simply repeated the same arguments that had been made decades before by creation "scientists". As it turned out, the paper had been accepted for publication by editor Richard von Sternberg, who was himelf on the editorial board of a creation "scientist" organization called the Baraminology Study Group at Bryan College in Tennessee. "Baramin" is the term that creation "scientists" use for "created kind" when they want to sound nice and scientific.

In the very next issue of the journal, Meyer's paper was withdrawn, with the Biological Society explaining: "The paper by Stephen C. Meyer, 'The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories,' in vol. 117, no. 2, pp. 213-239 of the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, was published at the discretion of the former editor, Richard v. Sternberg. Contrary to typical editorial practices, the paper was published without review by any associate editor; Sternberg handled the entire review process. The Council, which includes officers, elected councilors, and past presidents, and the associate editors would have deemed the paper inappropriate for the pages of the Proceedings . . . . (T)here is no credible scientific evidence supporting ID as a testable hypothesis to explain the origin of organic diversity. Accordingly, the Meyer paper does not meet the scientific standards of the Proceedings."

EIGHT: The Rise of Intelligent Design

One of the most effective ID/creationist tactics has been to lobby state textbook committees to either drop mention of evolutionary biology altogether, or to add a "disclaimer" to their texts opining that evolution is "just a theory". On January 16, 1998, for instance, the Washington State Senate introduced a bill requiring that all science textbooks contain a printed disclaimer stating that evolution is only a "theory", and listing a series of inaccurate criticisms of evolution. The bill is a virtual word-for-word copy of an earlier proposal passed by the Alabama state Board of Education in November, 1995. The Washington bill reads:

"All science textbooks purchased with state moneys must have the following notice placed prominently in them.


This textbook discusses evolution, a controversial theory some scientists present as a scientific explanation for the origin of living things, such as plants, animals, and humans.

No one was present when life first appeared on earth. Therefore, any statement about life's origins should be considered as theory, not fact.

The word "evolution" may refer to many types of change. Evolution describes changes that occur within a species. (White moths, for example, may "evolve" into gray moths.) This process is microevolution, which can be observed and described as fact. Evolution may also refer to the change of one living thing to another, such as reptiles into birds. This process, called macroevolution, has never been observed and should be considered a theory. Evolution also refers to the unproven belief that random, undirected forces produced a world of living things.

"There are many unanswered questions about the origin of life which are not mentioned in your textbook, including:

- Why did the major groups of animals suddenly appear in the fossil record (known as the "Cambrian Explosion")?

- Why have no new major groups of living things appeared in the fossil record for a long time?

- Why do major groups of plants and animals have no transitional forms in the fossil record?

- How did you and all living things come to possess such a complete and complex set of "Instructions" for building a living body?"

In April 1994, the Tangipahoa School Board, in Louisiana, passed a policy mandating that a disclaimer be presented before any discussion of evolutionary theory. The disclaimer states:

"It is hereby recognized by the Tangipahoa Board of Education, that the lesson to be presented, regarding the origin of life and matter, is known as the Scientific Theory of Evolution and should be presented to inform students of the scientific concept and not intended to influence or dissuade the Biblical version of Creation or any other concept. It is further recognized by the Board of Education that it is the basic right and privilege of each student to form his/her own opinion and maintain beliefs taught by parents on this very important matter of the origin of life and matter. Students are urged to exercise critical thinking and gather all information possible and closely examine each alternative toward forming an opinion." (US Circuit Court, Freiler v Tangipahoa Board of Ed, 1999)

A number of parents in the school district filed suit. In the Freiler v Tangipahoa Board of Education case, the Federal District judge ruled that the disclaimer was an unconstitutional establishment of religion. This decision was upheld on appeal by the Federal Circuit Court. In its opinion upholding the appeal, the Circuit Court writes, "We conclude that the primary effect of the disclaimer is to protect and maintain a particular religious viewpoint, namely belief in the Biblical version of creation," and noted that the stated purpose of the disclaimer, to "exercise critical thinking", was "a sham" (US Circuit Court, Freiler v Tangipahoa Board of Ed, 1999). In June 2000, the US Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the Freiler case and let the Circuit Court's ruling stand.

The Freiler ruling made it likely that all the remaining "disclaimers" would also be rejected by the Courts on Constitutional grounds. And indeed, the creationists lost yet another "disclaimer" case in January 2005, when a Federal judge in Georgia ruled that such disclaimers violated the separation of church and state. "Due to the manner in which the sticker refers to evolution as a theory, the sticker also has the effect of undermining evolution education to the benefit of those Cobb County citizens who would prefer that students maintain their religious beliefs regarding the origin of life," Judge Clarence Cooper wrote in his ruling. "The distinction of evolution as a theory rather than a fact is the distinction that religiously motivated individuals have specifically asked school boards to make in the most recent anti-evolution movement, and that was exactly what parents in Cobb County did in this case," he ruled. (Selman v Cobb County School District, US District Court, January 2005)

However, despite their steady string of losses regarding "disclaimer stickers", the ID movement at the same time was pursuing an alternative strategy.

In 2001, the Discovery Institute took the anti-evolution issue to the Federal level. The "Intelligent Design" movement got its first legal test in June 2001, when the US Senate was debating the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Authorization Bill (later renamed the "No Child Left Behind" Act). During the debate, Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum introduced an amendment that had been partially written by Discovery Institute adviser Phillip Johnson (and based on a law journal article written by Discovery Institute activist David DeWolf). The Santorum Amendment read:

"It is the sense of the Senate that (1) good science education should prepare students to distinguish the data or testable theories of science from philosophical or religious claims that are made in the name of science; and (2) where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why the subject generates so much continuing controversy, and should prepare the students to be informed participants in public discussions regarding the subject."

Because the House version of the No Child Left Behind Act did not include any corresponding version of the Santorum Amendment, a House/Senate Conference Committee was required to reach agreement on a joint bill to be agreed upon by both chambers of Congress. After a flood of letters and testimony from prominent science and education groups pointed out that the Santorum amendment was nothing but a thinly veiled excuse for teaching "intelligent design theory" in classrooms, the conference committee dropped the amendment, noting, in their Conference Report, "The conferees recognize that a quality science education should prepare students to distinguish the data and testable theories of science from religious or philosophical claims that are made in the name of science. Where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society." When the final version of the No Child Left Behind bill was passed by both the House and the Senate, it did not contain any portion of the Santorum Amendment.

Creationists/IDers and their supporters have, however, attempted to claim that the No Child Left Behind bill not only permits but actually requires schools to teach "intelligent design theory". Santorum himself, for instance, wrote in March 2002, "At the beginning of the year, President Bush signed into law the 'No Child Left Behind' bill. The new law includes a science education provision where Congress states that 'where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist. If the Education Board of Ohio does not include intelligent design in the new teaching standards, many students will be denied a first-rate science education.' " (Washington Times, March 14, 2002, cited in "ID-Activists-Guide", NCSE website). Two Ohio Congressmen also claimed, "The Santorum language is now part of the law". (Washington Times, March 20, 2002, cited in "ID-Activists-Guide"). Neither of these claims, of course, are true -- the Santorum language was dropped from the bill in committee, and the only time it is mentioned is in the accompanying Conference Report, which is not a part of the bill and has no legal force or authority.

The topic of the Santorum Amendment was brought up in Ohio as the result of another legal effort to force "intelligent design theory" into school classrooms. In early 2002, the state of Ohio was carrying out a review of its statewide science curriculum, when chemist Robert Lattimer, of a pro-ID "citizens group" called Science Excellence for All Ohioans (SEAO), objected to the prominence of evolution in the science standards, and lobbied for inclusion of "intelligent design theory" as a "scientific alternative" to evolution. IDers had also captured the state education board's standards committee, where five of the eight members were ID supporters. At a meeting in January 2002, they argued in favor of making, in the standards, "a clear distinction between the different understandings of evolution as minor genetic variation versus evolution as a single common ancestry", and referred to evolution as "a theory, or an assumption, but not a fact". (cited in Forrest and Gross, p.228) When word of this got out, a statewide organization, Ohio Citizens for Science, was formed to oppose the ID efforts and to protect the integrity of Ohio's science standards.

The IDers on the standards committee invited Lattimer to join the team that was writing the new standards, and held hearings which included a presentation by attorney John Calvert, from IDNet, a national ID organization. Calvert tried to argue to the committee that it might face legal action if it excluded ID from the standards:

"The effect of modern origins science is to imbue a belief in naturalism . . A Constitutional issue arises when the state decides to teach origins science. The reason is that origins science unavoidably takes students into a religious arena . . . Are you causing the state to be neutral or are you causing it to imbue Ohioans in a belief in naturalism -- a non-religion?

The effort soon attracted the attention of the Discovery Institute, which unleashed all its lobbying abilities in an effort to push ID "theory" into the Ohio science standards. However, it also attracted a widespread effort by science and education groups to oppose the IDers. In the face of this opposition, the IDers introduced a "compromise" which would, according to Meyer, "permit, but not require" students to be taught about ID's "alternative theory". "Instead," Meyer offered, "I proposed that Ohio teachers should teach the scientific controversy about Darwinian evolution."(cited in Forrest and Gross, p 231)

Friendly legislators introduced a bill into the State House of Representatives which read:

"(T)he instructional program provided by any school district or educational service center shall do all of the following: (A) Encourage the presentation of scientific evidence regarding the origins of life and its diversity objectively and without religious, naturalistic, or philosophic bias or assumption; (B) Require that whenever explanations regarding the origins of life are presented, appropriate explanation and disclosure shall be provided regarding the historical nature of origins science and the use of any material assumption which may have provided a basis for the explanation being presented; (C) Encourage the development of curriculum that will help students think critically, understand the full range of scientific views that exist regarding the origins of life, and understand why origins science may generate controversy." (Ohio House Bill 481)

The Discovery Institute brought out all its big guns in Ohio, including such luminaries as Johnson and Dembski, but in the end, the legislative bills all failed in the face of heavy public opposition, led by the Ohio Citizens for Science group. Not only did the Ohio board not include "intelligent design theory" in its final standards, but it specifically excluded it by name:

The next major event in the ID political campaign, however, happened in May 2005, when what was planned as a huge propaganda blitz to finally make ID respectable, instead turned ID into a laughingstock across the nation.

In August 1999, a group of creationists on the Kansas State Education Board, led by veterinarian Steve Abrams, had tried to cut evolution from the state standards. The action failed, but caused so much popular outrage (led by anti-ID watchdog group Kansas Citizens for Science) that most of the board members were kicked out of office in the next election.

In 2004, however, riding on George W. Bush's coattails, the fundamentalists again captured most of the seats on the Education Board, and once again made plans to advance an ID/creationist agenda. A routine periodic evaluation of the state's science curriculum led to a split in the curriculum committee, as the majority report, written by seventeen professional scientists, described evolution as the core concept of modern biology, and the minority report, written by eight non-scientist creationists/IDers, rejected evolution. The Education Board in turn refused to accept the majority report and instead announced that it would hold a "trial" between evolution supporters and deniers, since there was, they said, "significant disagreement . . . about issues that seem to be of legal and scientific substance, particularly with respect to the issue of the definition of science and the issue of origins and evolution." (Kansas State Board Of Education Resolution, February 9, 2005). The Board drew up a list of 23 "witnesses", most of them IDers, and invited state science groups to name its own representatives to testify. Instead, science groups throughout the state denounced the proposed hearings (which quickly became known as the Kansas Kangaroo Court) as a fraud which had the sole intent of propping up the minority report so the creationist-dominated Board could vote to accept it. Instead of participating in what they viewed as a fraud, the state's pro-science groups and universities announced a complete boycott of the hearings. As the President of Kansas Citizens for Science Harry McDonald put it, "Intelligent design is not going to get its forum, at least not one in which they can say that scientists participated. We have learned too much to continue participating in this charade." (Associated Press, April 8, 2005) Not a single evolution defender testified at the hearing. Instead, civil rights lawyer Pedro Irigonegaray was allowed to question all of the 23 ID witnesses and then make a statement defending science. "We're not calling scientists to debate evolution," Irigonegaray said. "That's not going to happen. To debate whether evolution is true is to debate whether the Earth is round or flat. There's no argument. It is a minority view of a religious group asserting that all other Christians are wrong." (Pitch.com, May 5, 2005)

The real aim of the hearings became apparent even before the first witness was called. In an interview in April, Board member Kathy Martin remarked, "We are not going to give up until the standards say what we want them to say. Evolution has been proven false. ID is science-based and strong in facts." When asked if ID had a religious agenda, Martin declared, "Of course this is a Christian agenda. We are a Christian nation. Our country is made up of Christian conservatives. We don't often speak up, but we need to stand up and let our voices be heard. (Pitch.Com, May 5, 2005) To add to the air of surrealism, a week before the hearings were to begin, Irigonegaray was ordered to produce a list of any witnesses he planned on calling. Board member Connie Morris explained that she would be "praying over" the proposed witness list. (Kansas Star, April 20,2005) Irigonegary refused to call any witnesses.

The hearings were a disaster for the ID/creationists right from the beginning. Chemist William Harris, who had helped write the minority curriculum report supporting ID, said in an opening statement, "The Minority Report does not introduce religion into this discussion. This is not to introduce creationism. . . . The Minority Report does not mandate the teaching of Intelligent Design. Intelligent Design is not a code word for creationism." (Harris testimony, Kansas Hearing transcripts) The IDers then presented a parade of its own witnesses, who demolished every one of Harris's own statements.

Every witness made it clear that his or her objections to evolution were religiously motivated. Harris himself stated:

"We want to make the point that this controversy has profound implications for religion and philosophy. If this didn't have implications to religion this room would be far emptier today. Because it impacts religion and the reason that this issue does impact religion is because we're dealing with what we call origin science. " (Harris Testimony, Kansas Hearing Transcripts).

Other witnesses also complained about science's "atheism" and its exclusion of "theism":

Q. Is it your job that evolution as it is taught in mainstream America today is atheistic?

A. Well --

Q. Yes or no?

A. Yes, by definition it is. . . . (DeHart testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

Q. Do you believe that the issue of evolution and origins impact religion?

A. Yes.

Q. And what is the effect in your mind-- in your view of methodological naturalism as applied to the issue of origin, the origin of life?

A. Well, if we insist on methodological naturalism, then that is inconsistent and excludes any theistic ideas.

Q. So it excludes evidence that would support theistic views?

A. Yes. (Bryson testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

In addition to pointing out the religious motivations of all the ID witnesses, Irigonegaray further demonstrated the close links between ID and creation 'science' by asking each of the witnesses how old they thought the earth was. Some frankly admitted to a young-earth creationist position:

Q. What is your opinion in years the age of the earth?

A. I'm fine with 5,000 to 100,000.

Q. You're fine with 5,000 to 100,000?

A. Correct. (DeHart testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

Some of the witnesses, on the other hand, recognized the danger in the tactic that Irigonegaray was pursuing, and tried to evade the question, with some still leaving a crack open for a young earth.

Q. The first thing I'd like to ask you is what is your personal opinion as to what the age of the world is?

A. I'm undecided.

Q. What is your best guess?

A. I'm totally undecided.

Q. Give me your best range.

A. Anywhere from 4.5 billion years to ten thousand years.

Q. And, of course, you have reached that conclusion based on the best scientific evidence available?

A. Yes. (Bryson testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

Q. What is your personal opinion as to what the age of the earth is?

A. I don't know. And that's my final answer.

Q. Do you have an opinion as to what the age of the earth is?

A. I'm not giving an opinion.(Menuge testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

Perhaps the oddest of the ID witnesses in Kansas was Warren Nord, who declared that religious people were an oppressed minority, comparable to women or blacks, and that as a matter of cultural fairness, their views should be taught in all school classes:

A. Simply the title of my second book, "Taking Religion Seriously Across the Curriculum," suggests that religion should be taken seriously in most all disciplines. I used to say except mathematics and driver's education, but the Amish let me know that driver's education is religiously very important. And, actually, a case can be made for mathematics because the philosophy -- well, I'm not going to get into that. . . .

Q. Is it also your opinion, sir, that it is important to have religion taught in economics?

A. Oh, for sure.

Q. Mathematics?

A. That's a harder case, but you can actually make a case for that. I'll be happy to do it if you like. (Nord testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

Despite its efforts to gain credibility and respectability for ID, the Kansas Kangaroo Court was an unmitigated PR disaster for the IDers. Nearly every major newspaper in the US ran editorials denouncing ID. The Washington Post noted, "But there is no serious scientific controversy over whether Darwinian evolution takes place. Intelligent design is not science. Whatever its rhetoric, the public questioning of evolution is fundamentally religious, not scientific, in nature." (Washington Post, May 8, 2005) The New York Times editorialized, "The minority even seeks to change the definition of science in a way that appears to leave room for supernatural explanations of the origin and evolution of life, not just natural explanations, the usual domain of science. All this is wildly inappropriate for a public school curriculum. The Kansas board, which held one-sided hearings this month that were boycotted by mainstream scientists on the grounds that the outcome was preordained, is expected to vote on the standards this summer. One can only hope that the members will come to their senses first." (New York Times, May 18, 2005) The Baltimore Chronicle stated "Intelligent Design is a cleverly packaged form of Creationism which the Religious Right is attempting to sneak into public classrooms through a variety of means, including this farcical 'hearing' in Kansas." (Baltimore Chronicle, May 10, 2005)

Despite the fact that ID was beaten into a bloody pulp during its own one-sided hearings, however, it was expected that the Board's creationist majority would vote to accept the minority report and reject the majority report, and to enshrine ID's "criticisms" into the Kansas curriculum. It was also expected that they would alter the definition of "science" contained in the standards, specifically so it could be read as including supernatural or non-material explanations.

Before that could happen, though, the ID movement faced its biggest challenge yet, in a courtroom in rural Pennsylvania.

NINE: The Fall of Intelligent Design

In 1999, a new player emerged in the Intelligent Design campaign. Conservative Catholic businessman Tom Monoghan, the founder of the Domino's Pizza chain, joined forces with former Michigan prosecutor Richard Thompson, best-known for his repeated attempts to jail assisted-suicide doctor Jack Kevorkian, to form the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC). Describing itself as "the sword and shield for people of faith", the TMLC declared its aim as "Defending the religious freedom of Christians". (TMLC website, 2005) From the beginning, the TMLC sought out a fight with the ACLU, and the issue over which TMLC most wanted to cross swords with ACLU, was evolution.

Beginning in early 2000, the TMLC actively sought out a test case involving evolution and intelligent design that it could take to the Supreme Court. In April, TMLC lawyer Robert Muise went to Charleston, West Virginia, recommending that these school districts adopt the ID textbooks Of Pandas and People into their science courses, and offering to provide "a world class defense" for free when the ACLU sued. "We'll be your shield against such attacks," Muise told the school board. The Charleston board turned TMLC down because, as board President John Luoni recalled, "It's not really a scientific theory. It's more of a religious theory. It should be taught if a church or a denomination believes in it, but I didn't think that religious viewpoint should be taught as part of a science class." (New York Times, Nov 4, 2005) One school district after another, in Minnesota and Michigan, turned down the offer. Then, in rural central Pennsylvania, the TMLC hit paydirt.

In June 2004, the Dover School District, near York, Pennsylvania, was carrying out a routine review of the textbooks being used by the district's biology students. During the review, School Board Curriculum Committee member William Buckingham complained that the biology textbooks were "laced with darwinism" (York Daily Record, Dec 26, 2005). In a TV interview a week later, Buckingham declared, "My opinion, it's OK to teach Darwin, but you have to balance it with something else such as creationism". (York Daily Record, Jan 16, 2005). A month later, in July 2004, an "anonymous donation" of 60 copies of the intelligent design textbook Of Pandas and People, was made to the school district for use as a "supplemental text" in classrooms. In October 2004, the full School Board voted 6-3 to amend the district's curriculum to include intelligent design "theory". The amended curriculum guide read, "Students will be made aware of gaps/problems in Darwin's Theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to, Intelligent Design. The Origin of Life is not taught." (York Daily Record, Dec 26, 2004)

The Board, meanwhile, wrote up a brief "statement" to be announced in each biology class, which read:

The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin's Theory of Evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part. Because Darwin's Theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations. Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves. With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the Origins of Life to individual students and their families. As a Standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency on Standards-based assessments." (York Daily Record, Jan 8, 2005)

In December, eleven parents contacted the ACLU in Pennsylvania, which filed a lawsuit on their behalf charging the district with violating church/state provisions by teaching the religious doctrine of Intelligent Design "theory". The ACLU was joined by Americans United for Separation of Church and State in the suit, and advice and assistance was also offered by the National Center for Science Education, a national nonprofit group that opposes efforts to weaken science education with creationism or intelligent design. NCSE's legal advisory counsel, Eric Rothschild, offered to head up the plaintiff team. The Thomas Moore Law Center, in turn, immediately offered to defend the Board for free. School Board members, meanwhile, were making statements to the press acknowledging that their aims were indeed religious:

"If the Bible is right, God created us. If God did it, it's history and also science". -- Dover School Board member John Rowand (Washington Post, Dec 26, 2004, p A01)

"Our country was founded on Christianity and our children should be taught as such." -- Board Member William Buckingham (Washington Post, Dec 26, 2004, p A01)

"Nearly 2000 years ago, someone died on the cross for us. Shouldn't we have the courage to stand up for him?" -- Board Member William Buckingham (New York Times, Jan 16, 2005)

"Our country was founded on Christian beliefs and principles. . . . You can teach creationism without it being Christianity. It can be presented as a higher power." -- Board Member Heather Geesey (York Daily Record, June 27, 2004)

The Discovery Institute was lukewarm about the case right from the beginning, and was particularly wary since the Dover board members had made so many public religious comments: "Although Discovery Institute believes that there are a number of secular purposes in teaching students about intelligent design, it was not evident whether the Dover board had based its policy on these purposes." (Discovery Institute press release, Nov 4, 2005) The Thomas More Law Center planned to call prominent IDers William Dembski, Stephen Meyer, Michael Behe, John Angus Campbell and Scott Minnich as "expert witnesses". During the deposition process, however, problems arose that quickly led to a split. Just before their depositions, Dembski, Meyer and Campbell were all fired (or left) as experts. Behe and Minnich had already been deposed -- the Discovery Institute apparently wanted them to withdraw from the case too, but both decided to stay.

It is still not entirely clear what happened. Dembski, it turned out, had close ties to the Pandas book -- he worked as an editor for the Foundation for Thought and Ethics, the publisher of Pandas, and in fact was himself writing a section of the newest version of the book, already in the works. In addition, as Barbara Forrest noted in an online interview with Americans United, "Although the website is registered under the organizational name, William Dembski is the administrative contact, and the FTE mailing address is actually Dembski's." (Forrest, AU website, Feb 2005)

The DI's sensitivity over the Foundation for Thought and Ethics may have had something to do with FTE's own attempts to join the lawsuit as a defendant. In May 2005, the FTE filed a motion to join the case on the grounds that it had an economic interest in the Pandas book which would be adversely effected if the Kitzmiller case were to rule that ID is religious and is illegal to teach. Judge Jones concluded that FTE had nothing new or relevant to bring to the case, and rejected the motion in July.

Although the motion for FTE to join the case was rejected, the testimony that was given in support of the motion revolved around the Of Pandas and People book, and it turned out to be central to the trial. The National Center for Science Education, a national anti-ID watchdog group, maintained an extensive archive of materials pertaining to virtually every ID text ever published. One of these was Pandas, and in its files, NCSE found a 1987 book proposal to a larger publisher, offering them the opportunity to publish Pandas (then known under the title Biology And Origins), and describing the book as supporting "creation". Nick Matzke, who was serving as NSCE's liaison to the Kitzmiller legal team, wondered if these pre-Aguillard manuscripts about "creation" had mutated, after the Aguillard ruling, into manuscripts about "intelligent design". If so, this would help establish a direct link between ID and creation "science". (It was already known that both of the co-authors of Pandas were creationists -- indeed, one of them, Percival Davis, had also co-authored A Case for Creation with young-earther Wayne Frair, who had testified for the creationists at Arkansas; the other co-author, Dean Kenyon, had written the foreward to Morris and Parker's What is Creation Science?, and had also filed a deposition defending creationism for the Louisiana trial). During the "discovery" phase of the Dover trial, in which each side is obliged to turn over to the other all requested documents that are relevant to the issue at hand, therefore, the plaintiffs asked for copies of any existing draft versions of what was to become Of Pandas and People. It turned out that all of these drafts still existed; the first, in 1983, was titled Creation Biology; the second in 1986 was titled Biology and Creation; another version titled Biology And Origins was written in 1987; two different versions with the title Of Pandas and People were both written in 1987. The final draft was published in 1989, and a revised edition was published in 1993. Another expanded version, with the working title The Design of Life, was being drafted at the time of the trial.

In the summer of 2005, the plaintiffs received the early drafts from 1983-1993. They were dynamite.

In all of the earlier draft manuscripts, the definition of "creationism" was given as: "Creation means that the various forms of life began abruptly through the agency of an intelligent creator with their distinctive features already intact -- fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc." (Biology and Creation 1986, FTE 3014-3015, pp. 2-13, 2-14)

In 1987, however, immediately after the Supreme Court issued its Edwards v Aguillard ruling that outlawed creationism in schools, there was an abrupt change in the Pandas manuscript: "Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact—fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc." (Pandas 1987,

As Burt Humburg and Ed Brayton wrote in their post-trial account published in eSkeptic, "This was truly a 'Eureka!' moment for the plaintiff's team. Here was undeniable proof that Pandas had begun as a creationist textbook and, after the Edwards ruling ruled creationism out of schools, the creationists simply changed their terminology, replacing 'creation' with 'intelligent design' and giving both terms an identical definition. This provided substantial evidence that intelligent design was simply creationism retrofitted to adapt to modern court rulings." (http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/05-12-20.html)

The trial opened on September 26, 2005, and both sides declared their intentions in their opening statements. Plaintiff attorney Eric Rothschild pointedly noted:

"What we will prove at this trial is that the Dover board policy has the same characteristics and the same constitutional defects as the creation science policy struck down in Edwards. . . . What the board did was add creationism to the biology curriculum under its new name, intelligent design. They have tried forbidding the teaching of evolution, promoting creationism or creation science as an alternative to evolution, and singling out evolution for special criticism. Each of those tactics have been found unconstitutional by courts. Confronted with that inhospitable legal environment, creationists have adapted to create intelligent design, creationism with the words 'God' and 'Bible' left out." (Rothschild Opening Statement, Kitzmiller v Dover)

TMLC lawyer Patrick Guillen declared:

"Defendants' expert will show this Court that intelligent design theory, IDT, is science, a theory that's advanced in terms of empirical evidence and technical knowledge proper to scientific and academic specialties. It is not religion."

Testimony in the case lasted over a month.

In his ruling, the Judge concluded that Intelligent Design was indeed nothing more than creation "science", rehashed in an attempt to get around the Supreme Court's ruling:

"Dramatic evidence of ID's religious nature and aspirations is found in what is referred to as the 'Wedge Document.' . . . The CSRC expressly announces, in the Wedge Document, a program of Christian apologetics to promote ID. A careful review of the Wedge Document's goals and language throughout the document reveals cultural and religious goals, as opposed to scientific ones. ID aspires to change the ground rules of science to make room for religion, specifically, beliefs consonant with a particular version of Christianity."

"The evidence at trial demonstrates that ID is nothing less than the progeny of creationism. . . . The weight of the evidence clearly demonstrates, as noted, that the systemic change from "creation" to "intelligent design" occurred sometime in 1987, after the Supreme Court's important Edwards decision. This compelling evidence strongly supports Plaintiffs' assertion that ID is creationism re-labeled." (Jones Opinion, 2005)

The Judge also concluded that Intelligent Design "theory" was not science and had nothing scientific to offer:

"ID is not science. We find that ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science. They are: (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980s; and (3) ID's negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community. . . . Moreover, ID's backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not ID itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard." (Jones Opinion, 2005)

"The overwhelming evidence at trial," Judge Jones concluded, "established that ID is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory":

Judge Jones bluntly concluded his ruling by stating:

"The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy."

"This case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board's decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources." (Jones Opinion, 2005)

TEN: "Teach the Controversy"

Even before the Dover decision was handed down, the ID movement realized that they simply could not demonstrate their religious views to be scientific. They were therefore forced to produce a parallel strategy to wedge their religious opinions into science classes. If their religious opinions aren't science, the IDers decided, then they'll simply use legal fiat to change the definition of science so it does include their religious opinions. As a newspaper interview with DI spokesman Stephen Meyer noted, "Meyer, however, says he's a scientist, who starts with scientific evidence, not the Bible. His goal -- a big one -- is to change the very definition of science so that it doesn't rule out the possibility that an intelligent designer is actively at work." (Seattle Times, March 2005) In Ohio, Meyer proposed that "Ohio should enact no definition of science that would prevent the discussion of other theories". (cited in Forrest and Gross, p. 232)

In Kansas, the religious aim of redefining science was just as explicit, and more successful. The existing science standards in Kansas stated "Science seeks natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us." (Kansas State Curriculum Standards, 2001) Since ID "science" cannot explain anything through "natural explanations" and indeed doesn't think it should have to, IDers on the Board successfully introduced a measure that changed the standards to read: "Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory-building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena." (http://www.evolutionnews.org/2005/11/kansas_definition_of_science_c.html) There is, of course, only one reason why IDers in Ohio and Kansas would wish to alter the legal definition of "science" to drop any reference to "natural explanations" -- such a definition explicitly rules out ID, which is not based on any natural explanations. Indeed, ID is based on supernaturalistic explanations. It is religious doctrine. The efforts in Ohio and Kansas to use legal powers to force science into accepting religious explanations provoked the ire of scientists from all over the world. To the public, ID's effort to redefine science reached a low point when Dr Michael Behe, author of Darwin's Black Box, admitted on the witness stand that, under the Discovery Institute's proposed definition of "science", even astrology would have to be considered scientific.

During the Ohio fight, however, after Intelligent Design theory was specifically excluded from the state education standards, the IDers had already realized that ID would never prevail as an "alternative scientific theory", and that, in addition to re-defining science, a different strategy must be simultaneously pursued if the goals of the Wedge Document were to have any chance of success. Out of this understanding, the strategy of "teach the controversy" was born.

There is, of course, no scientific "controversy" over evolution. No serious biologist rejects it, and while there are healthy and interesting debates within science over how evolution happens, there is no debate at all over whether it happens. The only "controversy" over evolution is the social/political/religious one created by the anti-evolutionists themselves. However, after the annihilation of ID "theory" in Dover in 2005, "teach the controversy" became the only game in town. As it did several times previously in its history, the anti-evolution movement responded to a crushing court loss by simply altering the presentation of its religious message to avoid whatever language it was that had just been struck down. When the Epperson case banned religious anti-evolution arguments in schools, creation "science" was born, which presented itself as scientific and not religious. When the Supreme Court killed creation "science" because of its reliance on Biblical literalist interpretations of Genesis, "intelligent design theory" was born, and presented itself as science that depended on no particular conception of a creator or designer. When the Dover case killed ID because its "alternative design theory" was inherently religious in nature, "teach the controversy" was born, which presented itself solely as "scientific criticism of evolution" and offered no "alternative theory" at all. From now on, instead of attempting to push "intelligent design theory" into schools, the Discovery Institute and its supporters were forced to retreat to the much weaker notion of teaching the alleged "scientific problems" with evolution instead. The new strategy dropped any mention of "intelligent design" -- which, IDers hoped, would allow them to do an end run around the Dover decision, just as ID had been intended to do an end run around the Aguillard decision and creation "science" had been intended to do an end run around the Epperson decision. "Teach the controversy" was, in fact, just the latest attempt in a long string of deceptions by design.

Unfortunately for the IDers, it is not difficult to demonstrate, using the IDers' own statements, that "teach the controversy" is nothing but the same old creation "science" and intelligent design "theory" under a different name, and has the same religious motivation and effect that creation "science" and ID did. After all, the switch was explicitly made, publicly, by the director of the Center for Science and Culture himself, DI vice president Stephen Meyer, during a presentation sponsored by the Ohio Board:

"(1) First, I suggested -- speaking as an advocate of the theory of intelligent design -- that Ohio not require students to know the scientific evidence and arguments for the theory of intelligent design, at least not yet.

(2) Instead, I proposed that Ohio teachers teach the scientific controversy about Darwinian evolution. Teachers should teach students about the main scientific arguments for and against Darwinian theory." (Meyer, found at http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?program=CSC&command=view&id=1134)

In other words, if it was impossible to teach a "scientific theory of intelligent design", then IDers would attempt to re-introduce the very same arguments, but presenting them this time as "scientific criticisms of evolution" rather than as an "alternative scientific theory". After almost a decade of preaching their "alternative scientific theory of design", IDers now hotly denied that they even wanted to have any "Intelligent Design theory" taught.

Under this new "teach the controversy" strategy, members of the Ohio Board of Education, seizing on language in the standards requiring students to be able to "critically analyze" evolution and other sciences, proposed a "model lesson plan" that was largely written by Discovery Institute members and supporters, entitled "Critical Analysis of Evolution". The model lesson pointed out the same supposed "scientific problems with evolution" that the Discovery Institute had been preaching for years as "evidence of design", but the new reincarnation of these arguments said nothing at all about "design theory". The model lesson plan, however, included links to several Internet websites from the Discovery Institute and other supporters of intelligent design "theory", listed as "sources of information". These websites were later dropped after heavy criticism. Also dropped was a direct reference to the anti-evolution book Icons of Evolution, written by Discovery Institute member Jonathan Wells. However, in March 2003, the Board passed a modified version of the lesson plan which, while erasing all of the references to intelligent design "theory", nevertheless accepted most of the Discovery Institute's "teach the controversy" strategy and included many of the supposed "scientific criticisms of evolution".

Meanwhile, similar moves were being made in Kansas. Board Chairman Steven Abrams presented the new party line; "Teaching the arguments against evolution is not a code word for creationism. It is simply good science education. At this point, however, we do not think it's appropriate to mandate the teaching of Intelligent Design. It's a fairly new science, it's a modern science of Intelligent Design, it's a maturing science and perhaps in time it would be there, but at this point we think mandating it is inappropriate." (Kansas Hearings transcript) In 2006, the State Education Board in Kansas, not unexpectedly, rejected evolution as the core concept of modern biology, and adopted the Discovery Institute's new "teach the controversy" strategy instead.

It can be readily seen, however, that "teach the controversy" is not different in any substantial way from either ID or creation "science". All of the "scientific evidences against evolution" listed by the proposed "teach the controversy" advocates are lifted, word for word, from the same old ID books and websites. Indeed, the standards in Ohio even attempted to list these ID resources themselves as part of the lesson plan. None of these "scientific arguments against evolution" has appeared in any peer-reviewed science journal with any supporting data or evidence. All of the anti-evolution arguments offered in "teach the controversy" are found in ID/creation "science" texts, and only in ID/creationist texts. The arguments are not substantially changed, in form or in substance, from the very same arguments previously made in support of the "alternative scientific theories" of ID and/or creationism. Indeed, the state standards adopted in Kansas and Ohio specifically include all of the common ID/creationist arguments, including the "no transitional fossils" argument, the "Cambrian explosion" argument, and the "created kinds" argument.

Not only are the aims, intent and arguments presented in the "teach the controversy" approach identical in every way with ID and/or creation "science", but it is the very same people presenting them. In the case of Ohio, the "teach the controversy" policy was itself proposed by the Discovery Institute, as a "compromise" over teaching intelligent design "theory". Board members Deborah Owens-Fink and Michael Cochran, and ID supporter Robert Lattimer, all initially spoke in favor of including ID "theory" in the Ohio academic standards -- and then later switched in mideam, spoke in

In short, "teach the controversy" is creationism/intelligent design. There is no substantive difference between them, nor can there be. After all, there simply is no scientific theory of Intelligent Design. ID was never anything other than a string of unrelated criticisms of evolution -- the very same string of unrelated criticisms of evolution which now make up the "controversy" that IDers want to teach. "Teach the controversy" is, transparently, nothing more than an attempt to respond to the Dover court decision by dropping the words "intelligent design" altogether, while leaving the arguments the same.

Such a strategy seems doomed to failure, however. >The "teach the controversy" advocates must, after all, sooner or later specify, in a lesson plan, what exactly these "arguments against evolution" are that they insist on presenting -- and as soon as they do, it becomes apparent that these are just the same old ID/creationist arguments that have already been made for forty years, and which have already been rejected by the courts.

Indeed, in Ohio, where "teach the controversy" was first introduced as a policy, the Dover decision caused some re-thinking. In early February 2006, Ohio Governor Bob Taft asked for a legal review of the state's "teach the controversy" curriculum standards. While declaring that he remained in favor of requirements to "critically examine evolution", Gov Taft nevertheless stated, "But if there is an issue here where they are actually teaching intelligent design, that's another matter, and that's what the court said as well." (Herald-Dispatch, Feb 3, 2006) Less than two weeks later, Ohio State Board of Education members voted 11-4 to drop all of the "teach the controversy" language from the state's science standards.

It was the financial effects of the Dover ruling, however, that seems to have had the deepest impact on the ID movement. The expenses on the plaintiff side totalled over $2.4 million for witness fees, deposition costs, attorney costs, and other expenditures (after the ruling, the plaintiff attornies agreed to accept a reduced amount of just $1 million as reimbursement). The political impact of Dover was also not lost on public officials -- of the eight pro-ID Dover school board members who faced re-election during the proceedings, every one of them was defeated.

It was enough to send horrified shudders through school districts across the country. Within months of the Dover decision, the El Tejon School District, in Lebec, California, offered a "Philosophy of Intelligent Design" course. "This class," school officials stated, "will take a close look at evolution as a theory and will discuss the scientific, biological, and Biblical aspects that suggest why Darwin's philosophy is not rock solid. This class will discuss Intelligent Design as an alternative response to evolution." (http://www.mountainenterprise.com/IntellDesign-stories/060106-holiday_mtg.html) The course materials included several ID and young-earth creationist books and videos, and was taught by Sharon Lemburg, who wrote in a statement, "The idea of this class was not created on the spur of the moment. I believe that this is the class that the Lord wanted me to teach." (http://www.mountainenterprise.com/IntellDesign-stories/060113-SharonLemburg.html). Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed suit. After being pointedly reminded about the financial settlement to the Dover decision and "the limited resources of our small school district" (http://www.mountainenterprise.com/IntellDesign-stories/060113-Community-Forum2.html), the El Tejon District quickly caved in, and dropped the course.

All of the legal rulings against Intelligent Design "theory", however, or against its latest "teach the controversy" clone, will not end the anti-evolution fight. The anti-evolution movement will simply be back later, with yet another repackaged version of the same old arguments. Pro-ID Ohio board member Michael Cochran perhaps put it best, after the vote which withdrew "teach the controversy" from the state standards: "We'll do this forever, I guess." (Akron Beacon Journal, Feb 15, 2006)


Many people have treated the evolution/creation controversy as if it were a scientific dispute -- as if the two viewpoints were merely differing ways of interpreting scientific data. (This, in fact, is precisely how the ID/creationists wish to present it.) Scientists in particular have tended to respond to the ID/creationist movement by first ignoring it in the hopes that it would go away, and then with long technical explanations of how the scientific conclusions of the ID/creationist arguments are unsupported, incomplete or just plain wrong. All of the scientific refutations of ID/creationism have not, however, lessened the conflict -- if anything, they have heightened it. The reason for this is simple; ID/creationism is not science and it does not have scientific goals. Because of this, it will not be beaten by science or by scientific arguments -- these are essentially irrelevant to the real goals of the ID/creationist movement. The ID/creationist movement is a political movement with political goals, and it must be beaten the same way that every other political movement is beaten -- by out-organizing it.

The first step in beating the ID movement, then, is to recognize that IDers have a specific agenda that they want to follow -- and people do not support that agenda. The creationist/IDers have a clearly articulated, deliberately planned strategy for theocracy -- and people simply don't want a theocracy.

The ID/creationists go to great lengths to hide their political agenda and to be deceptive about their real political goals. The only thing that will beat ID/creationism (and all of its future derivatives), then, is an informed public that recognizes this deception, and makes it clear that it does not want a fundamentalist Christian theocracy, won't support it, won't allow it, and will do whatever it takes to prevent it.


NOTE FROM LENNY FLANK: The Wedge Document is an internal memorandum from the Discovery Institute (the leading proponent of Intelligent Designer "Theory") that was leaked to the Internet in 1999. The Discovery Institute later admitted to its authenticity. Since then, Discovery Institute hasn't talked very much about the document, or the strategy it outlines. The reason is obvious, since the Wedge Document makes it readily apparent that the Discovery Institute is dishonest, deceptive and evasive when it claims that its Intelligent Designer campaign is concerned only with science and does not have any religious/political aims, purpose or effect.

The Wedge Document is reproduced here, in full.



The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built. Its influence can be detected in most, if not all, of the West's greatest achievements, including representative democracy, human rights, free enterprise, and progress in the arts and sciences.

Yet a little over a century ago, this cardinal idea came under wholesale attack by intellectuals drawing on the discoveries of modern science. Debunking the traditional conceptions of both God and man, thinkers such as Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud portrayed humans not as moral and spiritual beings, but as animals or machines who inhabited a universe ruled by purely impersonal forces and whose behavior and very thoughts were dictated by the unbending forces of biology, chemistry, and environment. This materialistic conception of reality eventually infected virtually every area of our culture, from politics and economics to literature and art

The cultural consequences of this triumph of materialism were devastating. Materialists denied the existence of objective moral standards, claiming that environment dictates our behavior and beliefs. Such moral relativism was uncritically adopted by much of the social sciences, and it still undergirds much of modern economics, political science, psychology and sociology.

Materialists also undermined personal responsibility by asserting that human thoughts and behaviors are dictated by our biology and environment. The results can be seen in modern approaches to criminal justice, product liability, and welfare. In the materialist scheme of things, everyone is a victim and no one can be held accountable for his or her actions.

Finally, materialism spawned a virulent strain of utopianism. Thinking they could engineer the perfect society through the application of scientific knowledge, materialist reformers advocated coercive government programs that falsely promised to create heaven on earth.

Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies. Bringing together leading scholars from the natural sciences and those from the humanities and social sciences, the Center explores how new developments in biology, physics and cognitive science raise serious doubts about scientific materialism and have re-opened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature. The Center awards fellowships for original research, holds conferences, and briefs policymakers about the opportunities for life after materialism.

The Center is directed by Discovery Senior Fellow Dr. Stephen Meyer. An Associate Professor of Philosophy at Whitworth College, Dr. Meyer holds a Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of Science from Cambridge University. He formerly worked as a geophysicist for the Atlantic Richfield Company.


Phase I.

* Scientific Research, Writing & Publicity

Phase II.

* Publicity & Opinion-making

Phase III.

* Cultural Confrontation & Renewal


Phase I. Scientific Research, Writing & Publication

* Individual Research Fellowship Program

* Paleontology Research program (Dr. Paul Chien et al.)

* Molecular Biology Research Program (Dr. Douglas Axe et al.)

Phase II. Publicity & Opinion-making

* Book Publicity

* Opinion-Maker Conferences

* Apologetics Seminars

* Teacher Training Program

* Op-ed Fellow

* PBS (or other TV) Co-production

* Publicity Materials / Publications

Phase III. Cultural Confrontation & Renewal

* Academic and Scientific Challenge Conferences

* Potential Legal Action for Teacher Training

* Research Fellowship Program: shift to social sciences and humanities


The social consequences of materialism have been devastating. As symptoms, those consequences are certainly worth treating. However, we are convinced that in order to defeat materialism, we must cut it off at its source. That source is scientific materialism. This is precisely our strategy. If we view the predominant materialistic science as a giant tree, our strategy is intended to function as a "wedge" that, while relatively small, can split the trunk when applied at its weakest points. The very beginning of this strategy, the "thin edge of the wedge," was Phillip ]ohnson's critique of Darwinism begun in 1991 in Darwinism on Trial, and continued in Reason in the Balance and Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds. Michael Behe's highly successful Darwin's Black Box followed Johnson's work. We are building on this momentum, broadening the wedge with a positive scientific alternative to materialistic scientific theories, which has come to be called the theory of intelligent design (ID). Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.

The Wedge strategy can be divided into three distinct but interdependent phases, which are roughly but not strictly chronological. We believe that, with adequate support, we can accomplish many of the objectives of Phases I and II in the next five years (1999-2003), and begin Phase III (See "Goals/ Five Year Objectives/Activities").

Phase I: Research, Writing and Publication

Phase II: Publicity and Opinion-making

Phase III: Cultural Confrontation and Renewal

Phase I is the essential component of everything that comes afterward. Without solid scholarship, research and argument, the project would be just another attempt to indoctrinate instead of persuade. A lesson we have learned from the history of science is that it is unnecessary to outnumber the opposing establishment. Scientific revolutions are usually staged by an initially small and relatively young group of scientists who are not blinded by the prevailing prejudices and who are able to do creative work at the pressure points, that is, on those critical issues upon which whole systems of thought hinge. So, in Phase I we are supporting vital witting and research at the sites most likely to crack the materialist edifice.

Phase II. The primary purpose of Phase II is to prepare the popular reception of our ideas. The best and truest research can languish unread and unused unless it is properly publicized. For this reason we seek to cultivate and convince influential individuals in print and broadcast media, as well as think tank leaders, scientists and academics, congressional staff, talk show hosts, college and seminary presidents and faculty, future talent and potential academic allies. Because of his long tenure in politics, journalism and public policy, Discovery President Bruce Chapman brings to the project rare knowledge and acquaintance of key op-ed writers, journalists, and political leaders. This combination of scientific and scholarly expertise and media and political connections makes the Wedge unique, and also prevents it from being "merely academic." Other activities include production of a PBS documentary on intelligent design and its implications, and popular op-ed publishing. Alongside a focus on influential opinion-makers, we also seek to build up a popular base of support among our natural constituency, namely, Christians. We will do this primarily through apologetics seminars. We intend these to encourage and equip believers with new scientific evidences that support the faith, as well as to "popularize" our ideas in the broader culture.

Phase III. Once our research and writing have had time to mature, and the public prepared for the reception of design theory, we will move toward direct confrontation with the advocates of materialist science through challenge conferences in significant academic settings. We will also pursue possible legal assistance in response to resistance to the integration of design theory into public school science curricula. The attention, publicity, and influence of design theory should draw scientific materialists into open debate with design theorists, and we will be ready. With an added emphasis to the social sciences and humanities, we will begin to address the specific social consequences of materialism and the Darwinist theory that supports it in the sciences.


Governing Goals

* To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.

* To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and hurnan beings are created by God.

Five Year Goals

* To see intelligent design theory as an accepted alternative in the sciences and scientific research being done from the perspective of design theory.

* To see the beginning of the influence of design theory in spheres other than natural science.

* To see major new debates in education, life issues, legal and personal responsibility pushed to the front of the national agenda.

Twenty Year Goals

* To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science.

* To see design theory application in specific fields, including molecular biology, biochemistry, paleontology, physics and cosmology in the natural sciences, psychology, ethics, politics, theology and philosophy in the humanities; to see its influence in the fine arts.

* To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life.


1. A major public debate between design theorists and Darwinists (by 2003)

2. Thirty published books on design and its cultural implications (sex, gender issues, medicine, law, and religion)

3. One hundred scientific, academic and technical articles by our fellows

4. Significant coverage in national media:

* Cover story on major news magazine such as Time or Newsweek

* PBS show such as Nova treating design theory fairly

* Regular press coverage on developments in design theory

* Favorable op-ed pieces and columns on the design movement by 3rd party media

5. Spiritual & cultural renewal:

* Mainline renewal movements begin to appropriate insights from design theory, and to repudiate theologies influenced by materialism

* Major Christian denomination(s) defend(s) traditional doctrine of creation & repudiate(s)

* Darwinism Seminaries increasingly recognize & repudiate naturalistic presuppositions

* Positive uptake in public opinion polls on issues such as sexuality, abortion and belief in God

6. Ten states begin to rectify ideological imbalance in their science curricula & include design theory

7. Scientific achievements:

* An active design movement in Israel, the UK and other influential countries outside the US

* Ten CRSC Fellows teaching at major universities

* Two universities where design theory has become the dominant view

* Design becomes a key concept in the social sciences Legal reform movements base legislative proposals on design theory


(1) Research Fellowship Program (for writing and publishing)

(2) Front line research funding at the "pressure points" (e.g., Daul Chien's Chengjiang Cambrian Fossil Find in paleontology, and Doug Axe's research laboratory in molecular biology)

(3) Teacher training

(4) Academic Conferences

(5) Opinion-maker Events & Conferences

(6) Alliance-building, recruitment of future scientists and leaders, and strategic partnerships with think tanks, social advocacy groups, educational organizations and institutions, churches, religious groups, foundations and media outlets

(7) Apologetics seminars and public speaking

(8) Op-ed and popular writing

(9) Documentaries and other media productions

(10) Academic debates

(11) Fund Raising and Development

(12) General Administrative support



William Dembski and Paul Nelson, two CRSC Fellows, will very soon have books published by major secular university publishers, Cambridge University Press and The University of Chicago Press, respectively. (One critiques Darwinian materialism; the other offers a powerful alternative.)

Nelson's book, On Common Descent, is the seventeenth book in the prestigious University of Chicago "Evolutionary Monographs" series and the first to critique neo-Darwinism. Dembski's book, The Design Inference, was back-ordered in June, two months prior to its release date.

These books follow hard on the heals of Michael Behe's Darwin's Black Box (The Free Press) which is now in paperback after nine print runs in hard cover. So far it has been translated into six foreign languages. The success of his book has led to other secular publishers such as McGraw Hill requesting future titles from us. This is a breakthrough.

InterVarsity will publish our large anthology, Mere Creation (based upon the Mere Creation conference) this fall, and Zondervan is publishing Maker of Heaven and Earth: Three Views of the Creation-Evolution Controversy, edited by fellows John Mark Reynolds and J.P. Moreland.

McGraw Hill solicited an expedited proposal from Meyer, Dembski and Nelson on their book Uncommon Descent. Finally, Discovery Fellow Ed Larson has won the Pulitzer Prize for Summer for the Gods, his retelling of the Scopes Trial, and InterVarsity has just published his co-authored attack on assisted suicide, A Different Death.

Academic Articles

Our fellows recently have been featured or published articles in major scientific and academic journals in The Proceedings to the National Academy of Sciences, Nature, The Scientist, The American Biology Teacher, Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Biochemistry, Philosophy and Biology, Faith & Philosophy, American Philosophical Quarterly, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Analysis, Book & Culture, Ethics & Medicine, Zygon, Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith, Religious Studies, Christian Scholars' Review, The Southern Journal of Philosophy, and the Journal of Psychology and Theology. Many more such articles are now in press or awaiting review at major secular journals as a result of our first round of research fellowships. Our own journal, Origins & Design, continues to feature scholarly contributions from CRSC Fellows and other scientists.

Television and Radio Appearances

During 1997 our fellows appeared on numerous radio programs (both Christian and secular) and five nationally televised programs, TechnoPolitics, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Inside the Law, Freedom Speaks, and Firing Line. The special edition of TechnoPolitics that we produced with PBS in November elicited such an unprecedented audience response that the producer Neil Freeman decided to air a second episode from the "out takes." His enthusiasm for our intellectual agenda helped stimulate a special edition of William F. Buckley's Firing Line, featuring Phillip Johnson and two of our fellows, Michael Behe and David Berlinski. At Ed Atsinger's invitation, Phil Johnson and Steve Meyer addressed Salem Communications' Talk Show Host conference in Dallas last November. As a result, Phil and Steve have been interviewed several times on Salem talk shows across the country. For example, in ]uly Steve Meyer and Mike Behe were interviewed for two hours on the nationally broadcast radio show ]anet Parshall's America. Canadian Public Radio (CBC) recently featured Steve Meyer on their Tapestry program. The episode, "God & the Scientists," has aired all across Canada. And in April, William Craig debated Oxford atheist Peter Atkins in Atlanta before a large audience (moderated by William F. Buckley), which was broadcast live via satellite link, local radio, and internet "webcast."

Newspaper and Magazine Articles

The Firing Line debate generated positive press coverage for our movement in, of all places, The New York Times, as well as a column by Bill Buckley. In addition, our fellows have published recent articles & op-eds in both the secular and Christian press, including, for example, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Times, National Review, Commentary, Touchstone, The Detroit News, The Boston Review, The Seattle Post-lntelligenter, Christianity Toady, Cosmic Pursuits and World. An op-ed piece by Jonathan Wells and Steve Meyer is awaiting publication in the Washington Post. Their article criticizes the National Academy of Science book Teaching about Evolution for its selective and ideological presentation of scientific evidence. Similar articles are in the works.

Sources and Reading List:

Intelligent Design "Theory"

John Angus Campbell and Stephen Meyer, Darwinism, Design and Public Education, Michigan State University Press, 2004

Percival Davis and Dean H Kenyon, Of Pandas And People; The Central Question of Biological Origins, Foundation for Thought and Ethics, 1993

William Dembski, Mere Creation; Science, Faith & Intelligent Design, Intervarisity Press, 1998

William Dembski, The Design Inference : Eliminating Chance through Small Probabilities (Cambridge Studies in Probability, Induction and Decision Theory), Cambridge University Press, 1998

William Dembski, No Free Lunch, Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased without Intelligence, Rowman and Littlefield, 2001

William Dembski, Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science And Theology, Intervarsity Press, 2002

Michael J Behe, Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, 1998

Phillip E Johnson, Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds, Intervarsity Press, 1997

Phillip E Johnson, Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law & Education, Intervarsity Press, 1998

Phillip E Johnson, Darwin on Trial, Intervarsity Press, 1993

Guillermo Gonzalez, The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery, Regnery Publishing, 2004

Jonathan Wells, Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? Why Much of What We Teach About Evolution is Wrong , Regnery Publishing, 2002

Scientific Criticism of ID:

Barbara Forrest and Paul R Gross, Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design, Oxford University Press, 2004

Robert T Pennock, Tower of Babel; The Evidence Against the New Creationism, MIT Press, 2000

Robert T Pennock, Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics: Philosophical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives, MIT Press, 2001

Mark Perakh, Unintelligent Design, Prometheus Books, 2003

Matt Young and Taner Edis (editors), Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism, Rutgers University Press, 2004

Creation "Science"

Harold W. Clark, The Battle Over Genesis, Review and Herald Pub Association,

Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Adler and Adler, 1986

Duane Gish, Evolution? The Fossils Say No! Creation-Life Publishers, 1972, re-printed 1978

Robert Kofahl and Kelly Segraves, The Creation Explanation, Shaw Pub., 1975

Walter Lammerts, Ed., Why Not Creation? Presbyterian and Reformed Pub Co., 1975

Life--How Did it Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation?, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1985.>

Henry Morris, The Twilight of Evolution, Baker Book House, 1963

Henry Morris, Science, Scripture and Salvation: The Genesis Record, Baptist Publications, 1965

Henry Morris, Studies in the Bible and Science, Presbyterian and Reformed Pub Co., 1966

Henry Morris, Evolution and the Modern Christian, Presbyterian and Reformed Pub Co, 1967

Henry Morris, Biblical Cosmology and Modern Science, Craig Press, 1970

Henry Morris, The Remarkable Birth of Planet Earth, Creation-Life Publishers, 1972

Henry Morris, Scientific Creationism, Creation-Life Publishers, 1974

Henry Morris, The Troubled Waters of Evolution, Creation-Life Pub.,1974

Henry Morris, The Scientific Case for Creation, Creation-Life Publishers,

Henry Morris, A History of Modern Creationism, Master Books,1984

Carl Weiland, Stones and Bones: Powerful Evidence Against Evolution, Creation Science Foundation, Ltd., 1994.

John C. Whitcomb and Henry Morris, The Genesis Flood, 38th Printing, Presbyterian and Reformed Pub Co, 1961

History of Creationism:

Raymond A. Eve and Francis B. Harrold, The Creationist Movement in Modern America, Twayne Publishers, 1991

Ronald L. Numbers, The Creationists, Alfred Knopf, 1992

Scientific Criticism of Creationism:

Tim M. Berra, Evolution and the Myth of Creationism: A Basic Guide to the Facts in the Evolution Debate, Stanford U Press, 1990

Niles Eldredge, The Monkey Business: A Scientist Looks at Creationism, Washington Square Press, 1982

Niles Eldredge, The Triumph of Evolution : and the Failure of Creationism, Owl Books, 2001

Langdon Gilkey, Creationism on Trial: Evolution and God at Little Rock, Winston Press, 1985

Philip Kitcher, Abusing Science: The Case Against Creationism, MIT Press, 1982

Marcel C. LaFollette, Creationism, Science and the Law: The Arkansas Case, MIT Press, 1983

Chris McGowan, In the Beginning: A Scientist Shows Why the Creationists Are Wrong, Prometheus Books, 1984

Ashley Montagu, Ed., Science and Creationism, Oxford U Press, 1984

Dorothy Nelkin, The Creation Controversy: Science or Scripture in the Schools, WW Norton Co., 1982

Michael Ruse, Darwinism Defended: A Guide to the Evolution Controversies, Addison-Wesley Pub. Co., 1982

James W. Skehan, Modern Science and the Book of Genesis, National Teachers Association, 1986

Arthur N. Strahler, Science and Earth History: The Evolution/Creation Controversy, Prometheus Books, 1987

Stan Weinberg, Ed., Review of Thirty-One Creationist Books, National Center for Science Education, 1984

Evolution and the Fossil Record:

Sean B Carroll, Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom, WW Norton, 2005

Edwin Colbert and Michael Morales, Evolution of the Vertebrates; A History of Backboned Animals Through Time, Wiley-Liss, 1991

Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design, WW Norton, 1986

Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, Oxford University Press, 1990

Richard Dawkins, The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution, Houghton Mifflin, 2004

Adrian J. Desmond, The Hot-Blooded Dinosaurs, A Revolution in Paleontology, Dial Press, 1976

Niles Eldredge, Time Frames: The Rethinking of Darwinian Evolution and the Theory of Punctuated Equilibria, Simon and Schuster, 1985

Niles Eldredge, Darwin: Discovering the Tree of Life, WW Norton, 2005

Niles Eldredge, The Pattern of Evolution, WH Freeman, 1998

Stephen Jay Gould, The Panda's Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History, WW Norton,

Stephen Jay Gould, Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes, WW Norton, 1983

Marc W Kirschner, The Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwin's Dilemma, Yale University Press, 2005

Ernst Mayr, What Evolution Is, Basic Books, 2002

Mark Norell, Unearthing the Dragon, Pi Press, 2005

Colin Patterson, Evolution, Cornell University Press, 1978

Alfred S. Romer, The Vertebrate Story, University of Chicago Press, 1967

Steven M. Stanley, The New Evolutionary Timetable: Fossils, Genes, and the Origin of Species, Basic Books Inc, 1981

Carl Zimmer, Evolution; The Triumph of an Idea, Harper Perennial, 2002

Religious Discussions of Creationism:

Isaac Asimov, Asimov's Guide to the Bible, Vol I; The Old Testament, Avon Pub., 1968

Daniel C Dennett, Darwin's Dangerous Idea; Evolution and the Meanings of Life, Simon and Schuster, 1996

Roland Mushat Frye, Is God a Creationist? The Religious Case Against Creation-Science, Scribner's Sons, 1983

John F Haught, God After Darwin: A Theology of Evolution, Westview Press, 2001

Tim LaHaye, Battle for the Mind, Fleming H. Revell Co., 1980

Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby, Fundamentalisms Observed, University of Chicago Press,

Kenneth R Miller, Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution, Harper Perennial, 2000

Richard Overman, Evolution and the Christian Doctrine of Creation, Westminster Press, 1967

Janelle Rohr, Ed., Science and Religion: Opposing Viewpoints, Greenhaven Press,

Michael Ruse, Can a Darwinian be a Christian? : The Relationship between Science and Religion, Cambridge University Press, 2004

John Shelby Spong, Rescuing the Bible From Fundamentalism, Harper, 1991

Howard J. Van Till, The Fourth Day: What the Bible and the Heavens are Telling Us About the Creation, William B. Eerdmans Pub Co, 1986

Christian Political Movements:

Robert Boston, The Most Dangerous Man in America? Pat Robertson and the Rise of the Christian Coalition, Prometheus Books, 1996.

Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman, Holy Terror: The Fundamentalist War on America's Freedoms in Religion, Politics, and Our Private Lives, Dell Pub Co,

Sam Diamond, Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right, South End Press,

Jerry Falwell, Listen, America, Doubleday Co., 1980

Jerry Falwell, Ed., The Fundamentalist Phenomenon; The Resurgence of Conservative Christianity, Doubleday Co., 1981

Noah Feldman, Divided by God: America's Church-State Problem--and What We Should Do About It, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005

Samuel S. Hill and Dennis E. Owen, The New Religious/Political Right in America, Abington Co., 1982

John L. Kater, Jr., Christians on the Right: The Moral Majority in Perspective, Seabury Press, 1982

Isaac Kramnick and R Laurence Moore, The Godless Constitution: The Case Against Religious Correctness, WW Norton, 1996

Chris Mooney, The Republican War on Science, Basic Books, 2005

Pat Robertson, The Turning Tide: The Fall of Liberalism and the Rise of Common Sense, Word Publishing, 1993

Cass R. Sunstein, Radicals in Robes: Why Extreme Right-Wing Courts are Wrong for America, Basic Books, 2005

Herbert F. Vetter, ed., Speak Out Against the New Right, Beacon Press, 1982

Gary Wills, Under God: Religion and American Politics, Simon and Schuster,

Perry Dean Young, God's Bullies, Holt Rhinehart and Winston, 1982