1981: "Equal Time" Bills
(Battle in the Schools) (Evolution Challenged)
Creationists lobby for "equal time" bills. In Louisiana and
Arkansas, bills are adopted that compel public high schools teaching evolution
to give "balanced treatment" to creation science. The Arkansas bill alludes to
the study of a worldwide flood and other events noted in the Bible, yet avoids
using explicitly biblical terms. The Louisiana bill makes no reference to the
flood, even though creation science is rooted in the ideas of flood geology.
Senator Bill Keith sponsors the Louisiana bill and argues he is lobbying on
behalf of the majority will. The grass-roots movement for creation science is
1982: McLean v. Ark. Board of Ed
(Battle in the Schools) (Reconciliation)
McLean v. Ark. Board of Ed is not science v. faith.
In the federal court case striking down Arkansas's recent "equal-time" bill,
most groups testifying against the creationist bill are religious, rather
than scientific. Methodist, Catholic, and Jewish organizations argue that
evolution is the mainstay of biology, and that biblical creationism does not
belong in science classrooms. Judge William Overton's final ruling notes that
creation science fails to meet the essential characteristics of science:
creationists "do not take data, weigh it against the opposing scientific data,
and thereafter reach conclusions."
1982: First Gallup Poll
(Evolution Challenged) (Reconciliation)
Gallup Poll gauges support for creationism. The first major
poll on the subject finds a widespread unease among Americans with accepting
that humans evolved from other species. Yet many Americans see ways to
reconcile evolutionary science with their religious beliefs. "Debate over the
origin of man is as alive today as it was at the time of the famous Scopes
trial in 1925," notes pollster George Gallup, "with the public now about evenly
divided between those who believe in the biblical account of creation and those
who believe in either a strict interpretation of evolution or an evolutionary
process involving God." The poll also finds that roughly 76 percent of Americans
want to see creationist theories taught in public schools, although not
necessarily in science classrooms.
1987: Supreme Court on "Equal Time"
(Battle in the Schools)
Supreme Court overturns "equal time" bill. Louisiana's 1981
bill calling for "balanced treatment" of creation science in classrooms avoids
references to religion. Yet the Supreme Court rules that the bill's intent is
to "restructure the science curriculum to conform with a particular religious
viewpoint." The defeat for creationists in the case of Edwards v. Aguillard
does not, however, put an end to a nationwide campaign to place creation science
in public schools.
c. 1980-1990: Global Spread of Creationism
Creationism spreads worldwide. A movement born in the U.S.
-- and for many years exclusively American -- now has converts around the globe.
Australia is a particular stronghold; one of the three largest centers for
creation research lies in Queensland. And leaders of the creationist movement
claim that five percent of the Australian population now believe that Earth is
thousands, rather than billions, of years old. The movement also gains ground
in New Zealand, Korea, Russia, and even among Muslims in Turkey and the Middle
-> Go to 1990