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Category Archive: Evolution and the Law

Nov 19 2007

From Scopes to Dover-20: The birth of ‘creation science’

(For previous posts in this series, see here.) Following the overturning of the 1974 Tennessee “equal emphasis” law, neighboring Axis of Weevils member state Arkansas took the lead in trying to find ways to undermine evolution and introduce religious ideas of creation into the biology curriculum in ways that would not violate the establishment clause. …

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Nov 16 2007

From Scopes to Dover-19: The Lemon test for the establishment clause

(For previous posts in this series, see here.) The 1968 Epperson ruling left open the question of what should be done about the teaching of some scientific theory that went clearly went against a religious belief. Wouldn’t allowing the teaching of just that theory without balancing it with the teaching of the religious belief violate …

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Nov 15 2007

From Scopes to Dover-18: The Epperson opinions

(For previous posts in this series, see here.) The landmark 1968 Epperson case is interesting for a couple of reasons. The shadow of Scopes influenced the ruling and, although the verdict was unanimous, the differences in reasoning by the various justices influenced the strategies adopted in later attempts to combat the teaching of evolution. In …

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Nov 14 2007

From Scopes to Dover-17: Teaching of evolution is back in court

(Note this has been updated) (For previous posts in this series, see here.) 1968 was a watershed year for attempts to ban the teaching of evolution in schools. The events of that year arose because of the rise of creationist thinking in the 1960s. Influential in the rise of the creationist movement was the publication …

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Nov 13 2007

From Scopes to Dover-16: The rise of creationist thinking

(For previous posts in this series, see here.) In the 1962 Engel case, the Supreme Court had ruled that having students say a state-drafted ‘official’ prayer, however generic, was an unconstitutional violation of the establishment clause. But this left open the constitutionality of ‘spontaneous’ prayers not written by the state. Soon after in 1963, a …

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Nov 12 2007

From Scopes to Dover-15: Religion gets edged out of schools even more

(For previous posts in this series, see here.) In the previous posts, we saw that by the first half of the twentieth century, the idea of the separation of church and state had taken such hold in the country that most religion-based practices had been taken out of the schools, although a few practices still …

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Nov 09 2007

From Scopes to Dover-14: Religion gets edged out of the schools

(For previous posts in this series, see here.) Following their failure to have the separation of church and state incorporated as an amendment into the US constitution, proponents of separation in the late 19th century then shifted strategy, urging changes in state constitutions and arguing that the federal constitution had implicitly advocated separation all along …

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Nov 08 2007

From Scopes to Dover-13: Rising calls for the separation of church and state

(For previous posts in this series, see here.) At the dawn of the 19th century, while explicit support for specific religious instruction to advance a particular sectarian view was frowned upon, the fact that almost all the colonialists were Protestants meant that much of what we would now view as religious education was seen by …

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Nov 07 2007

From Scopes to Dover-12: The history of religion in US public schools

(For previous posts in this series, see here.) It is interesting to note that in 1925, the attempt that was being made by religious believers was to keep evolution from being taught in the schools because Biblical creation theories had already been eliminated. William Jennings Bryan was essentially arguing for two things: (1) If religion …

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Nov 06 2007

From Scopes to Dover-11: The Scopes verdict appealed

(For previous posts in this series, see here.) The Scopes ‘monkey trial’ came to an abrupt end on the eighth day, Tuesday, July 21, 1925. The judge began the day by stopping the questioning of Bryan from continuing and ordered his previous day’s testimony stricken from the record. But the damage had been done since …

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