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Evolution Revolution

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1961: Genesis Flood
(Evolution Challenged)

Genesis Flood spawns young-Earth creationism. Prior to the 1960s, few fundamentalists embrace the ideas of flood geology that George McCready Price proposed in the 1910s. Even strident anti-evolutionists accept that Earth may be millions of years old. Many conservative Christians interpret Genesis using the "day-age" and "gap" theories. But this changes dramatically with the publication of The Genesis Flood. Authors Henry Morris, a hydraulic engineer, and John Whitcomb, an Old Testament scholar, maintain that the Bible's description of a seven-day Creation should not be overly interpreted. Their book prompts the conversion of vast numbers of evangelical Christians to young-Earth creationism.

1962-63: School Prayer Ban
(Battle in the Schools)

Supreme Court bans prayer in school. The Supreme Court outlaws compulsory school prayer and Bible reading in two landmark cases, Engel v. Vitale and Abington School District v. Shempp. The rulings still allow, however, for voluntary prayer in school. In areas with large conservative Christian populations, prayer in school continues to be a regular practice after the court's rulings.

1967: Humans and Apes
(Rise of Evolution)

A new view of humans and apes. Breakthroughs in genetic science allow researchers to see striking similarities in the DNA blueprints for humans and apes. Comparing the DNA of humans, orangutans, and African apes (gorillas and chimps), Vincent Sarich and Allen Wilson find evidence that humans are more closely related to African apes than African apes are to orangutans. In 1971, Mary-Claire King and Allen Wilson estimate that humans and chimps share more than 98 percent of their genes.

1968: Supreme Court on Evolution
(Battle in the Schools)

Supreme Court strikes law against evolution. In the wake of the Sputnik-era push for better science education, lawsuits begin challenging anti-evolutionist legislation in the South. In Little Rock, Ark., the state teachers' organization launches Epperson v. Arkansas. (A young biology teacher named Susan Epperson, like John Scopes decades earlier, has volunteered for the cause.) The case eventually reaches the Supreme Court, which rules the Arkansas law unconstitutional. This effectively puts an end to laws barring the teaching of evolution in public schools.

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