Tit_Overview of discussion Creationism-Evolutionism

Overview of discussion creationism-evolutionism in the last hundred years in the USA

Author: Santiago Collado González
Published in: yearbook de Historia de la Iglesia XVIII/2009 pp. 41-53.
Date of publication: 2009 

An outlook on the discussion between Creationism and Evolutionism in the USA over the last 100 years

summary: The study presents the historical context of discussion creationism-evolutionism, and the evolution it has undergone over the last hundred years in the United States. Special attention has been paid to the causes of the controversial nature of the relationship between creation and evolution during this period. An attempt has been made to avoid the simplifications that are common among some of the advocates on both sides, and to avoid adopting a partisan attitude. Finally, a presentation is made of the origin and recent development of the movement called design Intelligent, in order to fill in the picture of discussion and to offer elements of judgement to contrast this movement with classical creationism.

Palabras core topic: evolutionism, creationism, design intelligent, USA

Abstract: This essay presents the historical setting of the discussion between Creationism and Evolutionism and its development over the last 100 years in the United States of America. Special attention has been given to the causes of the controversial nature of the relation between creation and evolution during this period. We have tried to avoid those simplifications common to advocates of both positions and have refrained from adopting a partisan posture. Finally, we present the origin and recent development of the movement known as Intelligent Design in order to complete the framework of the discussion and to offer judgment criteria with which to contrast this movement with classic Creationism.

Key words: Evolutionism, Creationism, Intelligent Design, USA


1. Context and origin of discussion
2. Science-faith relationship
3. Historical overview of creationism
4. The foundations of creationism
5. design Intelligent - new strategies?

Context and origin of the discussion

The so-called discussion evolutionism-creationism can be placed in a broader context that could be called discussion science-faith. This in turn can be inserted into an even broader one, which goes back to a time before the appearance of science and even before the appearance of the Christian faith: it is the theism-atheism discussion , which is already present in a very clear way in the reflections of Hellenistic authors. The struggle between the extremes of this duality, theism-atheism, flares up strongly at certain moments and then remains attenuated for long periods of time, without disappearing completely. In particular, it is noteworthy that important intellectual or methodological innovations are an opportunity for the cord between the two poles to become particularly taut. This happened, for example, on the occasion of the birth of modern science. There is no doubt that the 16th and 17th centuries witnessed an important methodological birth that changed the course of our lives: experimental science. These centuries also witnessed a resurgence of the aforementioned discussion.

Many welcomed the birth of experimental science and the subject of rationality that came with it because, among other things, it offered new possibilities for defending the faith against a materialistic and non-divine vision of the universe. For example, Cardinal Bérulle supported the young Descartes in developing the reform of philosophy that the Church needed to confront the threat of the libertines. It is at this time that the metaphor of the clockmaker god, so widely used in European culture since , was born.1. The enthusiasm for the new rationality of the theists would soon dissipate when they realised that the newfound science held not inconsiderable dangers for faith: mechanics could be used for precisely the opposite of what they intended, i.e. it could be used to explain a world in which it was not necessary to take God into account.

Mechanicism was the subject of rationality and the particular worldview that accompanied the birth of experimental science. Paradoxically, Newton's rational mechanics seemed, at its inception, to offer support both to theists and to those who saw the possibility of explaining a world for which God was superfluous as a success of reason. Laplace's statement to Napoleon when the latter remarked that he had written a book, Traité de Méchanique céleste, without once mentioning God, is well known: "I have had no need of that hypothesis". In any case, the birth and establishment of mechanics as a method of access to natural reality contributed to revitalise the discussion theism-atheism from new perspectives. The poles of discussion then became faith and science.

In the 19th century, mechanics enjoyed undisputed prestige. Many intellectuals envisioned the moment when science, physics in particular, would be able to explain material reality completely with the sole resource of natural causes. This claim, which seemed to have been practically achieved in the inanimate world, met with a major obstacle. The teleological argument had a virtually insurmountable stronghold in the world of life. In a culture dominated by mechanism, and with metaphysical references largely lost, the teleological argument, as formulated by William Paley (1743-1805), was the quintessential resource for addressing the rational defence of faith. But one book seemed to threaten to break down the walls of this impregnable fortress.

Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection made a decisive contribution to the transformation of the foundations of biology in the 19th century. His fundamental thesis was a natural mechanism that sought to explain the increase in complexity, diversity and common descent of living things by means of transformations Materials in whose causes finality is excluded. The theory of evolution was a scientific methodical innovation which, like mechanics, has had a great impact on discussion theism-atheism. Darwin's proposal left Paley's teleological argument in a difficult position. The subject of rationality to which this innovation has given rise is Darwinism. As was previously the case with mechanicism, Darwinism has become in the course of the 20th century an authentic worldview. More than the scientific contribution, it is the attempt to turn the theory of evolution into a global theory, and thus a philosophy, that has provoked rejection in many different areas and cultural traditions from its inception to the present day .2.

One of the focal points of opposition to the theory of evolution was, at the beginning, science itself. But as a theory emerged that synthesised Darwin's proposal with genetics and new contributions from biochemistry, scientific opposition gradually dissolved. Today it can be considered practically non-existent. The other focus of opposition has been of a philosophical nature. This has to do with the aforementioned problem of the elevation of scientific theory to the status of a globalising knowledge and, therefore, it could be said that it is opposition to evolutionism as an ideology, rather than to the scientific theory of evolution. The other focus of opposition has been, also from the very formulation of the theory, the apparent contrast of its theses with Christian revelation: the threat against biblical authority.

Especially in the Protestant sphere, the theory of evolution seemed to be a threat to two pillars that many regarded as immovable: on the one hand, biblical authority and, in continuity with it, a way of conceiving the creation of the world and the appearance of the various species that was closely linked to the literality of the Genesis narrative. The confrontation between the worldview founded on the aforementioned pillars, and the one that was opening up through the nascent biological science, had its own particular pathway in the United States. The cultural rift opened up in society by this confrontation has continued to widen throughout the 20th century. Its chasm continues to divide American society today. This is the most apparent scenario in which the discussion "creationism-evolutionism" can be said to be framed.

 2. Science-faith relationship

The pair of terms "creationism-evolutionism" expresses the confrontation between advocates of creation and advocates of evolution. To say only this would be to oversimplify the problem. Creation and evolution are not necessarily competing notions. In very general terms it can be said that, among Christians, we find four different ways of dealing with the relationship between science and faith, which are the same as those we find between creation and evolution .3. Some of these positions can also be found among non-believers.

The first is what might be called creationist. Its advocates see the main theses of the theory of evolution and the teachings contained in the Bible as incompatible.

A second position defends the independence between scientifically established affirmations and those made by the Holy Scriptures. This position has been defended by some prominent scientists such as Francisco Ayala or Stephen Jay Gould, who explicitly defends the existence of a "double magisterium", science and religion, between which there is no intersection and, therefore, no incompatibility. This is undoubtedly the simplest way to avoid conflict, although it is clear that upholding it does not solve the problems that have in fact arisen between the two.

The third position argues that science has its own method and should not be mixed with religion, but, at the same time, they affirm that science not only does not oppose religion but offers elements that would allow it to be reinforced, even if only indirectly. This is the position of the promoters of the so-called Intelligent design (ID) movement. For its advocates, today's science, in particular biology, offers empirical data that show the inadequacy of natural laws in explaining reality. This data confirms the need for extraterrestrial intervention.

The fourth position, which we could call partnership or mutual collaboration, would be the one that defends the methodical independence of science from other disciplines such as philosophy or theology but, at the same time, recognises their mutual influence and the need for both perspectives in order to draw a complete picture of reality. He does not see threats between the two sides, quite the contrary. A paradigmatic image of this perspective, albeit in a broader context and not limited to science, would be the one offered at the beginning of the introduction of John Paul II's encyclical Fides et Ratio: "Faith and reason are like the two wings with which the human spirit soars towards the contemplation of truth". In this perspective there is no opposition between creation and evolution since both notions move on levels of rationality that are distinct, but not completely independent.

The discussion creationism-evolutionism, understood as a struggle, has been fuelled mainly from the creationist position and from the third, the one led by the design Intelligent, which many see, contrary to what they claim about themselves, as a variant of creationism. Although for different reasons, the second and fourth positions see no conflict between science and faith and, therefore, neither between creation and evolution. Both positions would merit specific treatment and so we will not dwell on them further in this paper.

3. Historical overview of creationism 

The early 20th century witnessed a productive battle within biological science that pitted biometricians (defenders of Darwin's ideas) against Mendelians. A few years after the publication of the Origin of Species, the fact of evolution or descent of all living things from common ancestors, including human organic characteristics, was not in question. What was being debated was the compatibility of Darwin's gradualist ideas with the ideas advocated by the followers of Mendel, rediscovered just at the beginning of the century. In 1918, R. A. Fisher (1890-1962) was able to show that the laws formulated by the biometricians could be explained within the framework established by Mendel's laws. This opened the door to the formulation of a synthetic theory of evolution, which became established and consolidated in the following years.

Also in these early years of the 20th century, in the United States, a growing number of Christians, especially of Protestant origin, became aware of the threat to their faith posed by modernism coming from Europe, and by Darwinism, which was becoming increasingly established in the scientific sphere. A growing number of Christians, some in politics or business, felt the need to save what these threats seemed to be demolishing.4. Between 1910 and 1915 the Californian businessman Lyman Stewart financed a written work that sought to meet the new challenges posed by modernism and science. The twelve volumes were entitled The Fundamentals. The work, which, as one can easily imagine, had a combative character, led many evangelical Protestants down a path that soon after was called Fundamentalism. The authors of these volumes were much more aggressive in their attack on biblical criticism, which was then being practised in the Germanic area, than on biological evolution: they "tolerated", for example, the possibility of the existence of evolution if it could be scientifically proven. None of them saw the need, for example, to wage an open struggle to eradicate the teaching of evolution from schools.

The moment core topic, when the real struggle of newborn Fundamentalism against evolutionary thought was triggered, came after the First World War. William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925), a Presbyterian lawyer, defeated three times as a Democrat candidate for the presidency of the United States, delivered in 1921 a well-known speech graduate "The Menace of Darwinism". instructions In it he alerted society to the danger of this doctrine for the Christian faith and accused it of setting the stage for the bloodiest war in history. Bryan, in the same speech, affirmed the need to publicly condemn Darwinism. In fact, Bryan thought that Darwinism was associated with the war that had just ended.

Before the decade was out, more than twenty states had debated anti-evolutionary laws. Three of them (Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas) banned the teaching of evolution in public schools. Oklahoma banned the use of evolutionary textbooks. In Florida, Darwinism was condemned as "improper and subversive". Even the US Senate debated, and ultimately rejected, an amendment that would have banned pro-evolution radio broadcasts. In this bitter and open polemic pitting Fundamentalism against evolution the undisputed catalyst was Bryan5.

Bryan had the occasion to carry out a public condemnation of evolution in 1925 when a trial was held in Dayton, Tennessee, against Professor John Scopes. The trial was actually provoked by the advocates of evolutionism. The trial was widely known as the Scopes Monkey Trial. Scopes was accused of teaching the theory of evolution against the law in the state of Tennessee. It was a legal victory for fundamentalism: the professor was sentenced to a symbolic fine so small that it could not be appealed to a federal court, which was the intent of those who provoked the trial.

Tempers seemed to cool, at least outwardly, in the following years. Biology made remarkable advances in this period. Haldane, Fisher and Wright developed theoretical models that gave rise to population genetics. The integration of the earlier work with the rest of biology was the main task of Theodosius Grygorovych Dobzhansky (1900-1975). His most important book was published in 1937 and was entitled Genetics and the Origin of Species. The direction of his work was continued in subsequent years and led to a synthesis of genetics and biology that is now known as the Synthetic Theory or neo-Darwinism. The name Synthetic Theory was established thanks to Julian Huxley's popularisation of these ideas in a book published in 1947 entitled Evolution: Modern Synthesis. finding A moment of great importance for the consolidation of neo-Darwinism as the dominant scientific theory was the discovery of the structure of DNA by Crick and Watson in 1953. Biochemistry opened up new theoretical and experimental perspectives for evolutionary explanations.

In the calm after the storm of the first quarter of the century, the gap between the implementation of Darwinism in the socio-cultural sphere and in the scientific world was widening. Scientific curricula adapted to the new demands of biology and gave evolution a central role in the explanation of biological processes. In 1958, for example, the "Biological Sciences Curriculum Study" was founded, financed by the federal government. The text gave a central role to the theory of evolution, thus setting the general trend in scientific texts at the time, despite the anti-evolutionary laws still in force in some states. It was not until 1968 that these laws were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (Epperson v. Arkansas).6.

For their part, Protestant proponents of fundamentalist propositions felt that their thesis, and even their faith itself, was under attack in educational establishments. It became increasingly clear to them that creationist principles had to be defended in the same scientific arena in which evolution was enjoying so much success, i.e., to get creationism recognised as a science as well: the science of creation. The person who now assumed the leadership of this new challenge and catalysed the resurgence of the new creationism was Henry Madison Morris (1918-2006).

Morris, a civil engineer, set up a centre for creation science research and a fundamentalist Christian college in San Diego in 1970. During the 1970s and 1980s, he and a group of collaborators ( group ) started the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), an organisation with a markedly anti-evolutionary character that initially succeeded in winning back ground for creationism. In the early 1980s, they succeeded in getting laws enacted in at least 27 states to balance the teaching of evolution with creation science. However, their attempts to be accepted by the scientific world clearly failed. In the judicial sphere, too, they were losing ground. The Arkansas creation science case, a court case in January 1982, is one of the most representative examples. The evolutionists succeeded in getting Judge Overton to overturn the Arkansas state law that had been in force since 1981, which required both sides to balance their teaching time. In Louisiana, creationists worked to introduce a teaching law of the same subject trying to avoid the problems that led to their defeat in Arkansas, but in 1987 the Supreme Court ruled that Louisiana's Balanced Treatment law violated the requirement of the First Amendment of the Constitution, which establishes the separation of church and state. The ruling stated that the law endorsed the teaching of religion in a public school (Edwards v. Aquillard).

Some authors such as Eugenie Scott7 claim that this defeat was one of the most important factors in the creationist movement's change of strategy. Creationism would now embrace a new label, that of the Intelligent design . While there is certainly a temporal continuity between this defeat in the courts and the emergence of the Intelligent design (ID), and we find people committed to both creationism and the new movement, the reality is that the latter does not appear to have been a product of the "intellectual laboratories" of creationism. What does seem clear is that creationists saw ID, which was only beginning to take shape in the late 1980s, as a lifeline to keep their pulse on evolution, at least in academia. However, the differences between the creationism we have discussed so far, and the Intelligent design , make it convenient to outline a synthesis of the ideas defended by creationists, and to describe the intellectual and historical pathway of the new movement.

4. The foundations of creationism 

Despite the tight summary outlined above, only a few simple brushstrokes of a much larger picture have been presented. Creationism is a complex phenomenon which, moreover, has been evolving throughout the 20th century. Although the scientific world has been resistant to its theses, it should not be simplified into a simple expression of a struggle between science and religion. Certainly there are deep religious motivations, but, for example, among the advocates of creationism we can find men of science, and among its opponents we can also find members of the clergy. Nevertheless, it could be argued that the essential strands running through the various forms of creationism could be expressed very succinctly as follows:

For creationists, the Bible is the first authority in all areas of knowledge. They argue that there should be total subordination of science to what is said in the Sacred Scripture. The differences between some versions of creationism and others derive largely from the subject reading of the holy books, in particular Genesis. Creationists of the early 20th century, interestingly, were more flexible in their interpretation of the sacred texts than the advocates of later scientific creationism. William Bryan, for example, understood the days of the creation account as geological ages that could last millions of years. He also admitted the organic evolution of living things as long as it did not contradict the supernatural origin of Adam and Eve. Morris, the main proponent of creation science, gave a more literal reading of the biblical account, although his claims, which were intended to conform to what was divinely revealed in the texts, sought to be supported by scientific arguments. One could say that he makes a "scientific" interpretation of the text. For Morris, the biblical account of the global flood is of great importance in the understanding of natural history. The scientific catastrophist theses and the "gaps" in the fossil record would be a scientific confirmation of the biblical accounts, in particular of the flood. This very literal interpretation of the sacred text led scientific creationists to give the earth a history of no more than ten thousand years.

It is paradoxical that among the advocates of the early forms of fundamentalist creationism there are almost no men of science or academia. By contrast, by the time the ICR appeared, five of its ten founders had earned doctorates in science or engineering from prestigious American universities. This helps to explain the greater weight given to scientific arguments in this phase of creationism. But these arguments are in the service of defending certain passages of the Bible read, as has been said, in a literal sense.

The consequence of the above, apart from the calculation of the age of the Earth, is to maintain that the theory of evolution is not capable of explaining either the origin of the world or the origin and diversity of the species we see in nature. The essential theses of creation science are those included in the characterisation of creation science in the Arkansas law of 1981.8:

1. Sudden creation of the universe, energy and life out of nothing.

Mutation and natural selection are insufficient to explain the development of all types of living things from a single organism.

3. Changes occur only, within certain limits, in certain types of plants and animals originally created.

4. Separate ancestors for apes and humans.

5. Explanation of the Earth's geology through catastrophism, including the occurrence of a global flood.

6. Relatively recent beginnings of the Earth and living things.

There are no explicit references to the Bible in these points. But it is clear that a literal reading of the Bible is their main source of inspiration source . This is also admitted by the creationists themselves. Morris claims, for example, that only in the Bible can the concept of special creation be found. Unlike pre-1960 creationists, for scientific creationists the crucial point of conflict between evolutionary and creationist cosmologies lies in the flood narrated in the book of Genesis.

Obviously, much of the creationist thesis, particularly that of the age of the earth, was unlikely to find favour with mainstream scientists. The result has been a repeated humiliation of creationists in academia. In contrast, the impact of creationist proposals has been very different among the lay public, where books by leading creationist authors have achieved wide circulation.

Paradoxically, evolutionists find themselves in the opposite situation: they have managed to dominate the scientific arena in a convincing manner throughout the 20th century. The principles of neo-Darwinism have been taught in universities over the past decades, and creationists have so far been unable to offer a scientifically credible alternative. On the other hand, among the non-scientific public, Darwinism creates a great deal of suspicion. The cause of this rejection is not easy to analyse, but it seems to be at least partly related to the materialistic naturalism and thus militant atheism of some of its best-known advocates and, by contrast, the deep-rooted religiosity of the American people.

5. design Smart new strategies? 

contact The so-called Intelligent design movement has points of contact with creationism, at least from a historical and sociological point of view. There is a strong interest on the part of Darwinists in the ID being perceived as an updated re-edition of creationism and, on the other hand, its advocates are trying hard to distinguish themselves clearly from creationists. We will briefly outline how this movement came about, in order to give a rough idea of its relationship to creation science.

The closest antecedent of Intelligent Design are two books published in the 1980s. The first, entitled The Mystery of the Origin of Life, was written by three authors then working in science or technology: Thaxton (chemistry), Bradley (engineering) and Olson (geochemistry). The second, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, was written shortly afterwards by Michael Denton, an agnostic and a specialist in molecular genetics. Both works coincided in questioning the neo-Darwinian theory and, moreover, in doing so with arguments that did not appeal to faith or to attempts to justify biblical passages, but to strictly scientific reasoning .9.

Very shortly before, in 1977, a group from the University of Santa Barbara in California created Students for Origins Research (SOR). Its aims coincided with the existing ICR in its confrontation with a materialist view of science, although it distanced itself from the ICR in important respects: for example, it did not limit itself to proposing an explanation of creation that literally followed the biblical text and, in general, it distanced itself from the ICR in questions concerning the style of argumentation and the authority on which reasoning should be based. The SOR presented itself as a forum at discussion where the main scientific arguments for and against evolution could be put forward so that everyone could form their own opinion on these issues.

The new initiatives, regarded by many scientists as neo-creationist, were naturally not frowned upon by the creationists of the time, i.e. the advocates of creation science. They were hopeful about the spread of the new ideas, which could achieve what they had never achieved: an alternative to Darwinism that, according to them, would not oppose faith and, at the same time, would be respected and respected in the scientific and academic sphere. At final, they saw in ID the possibility of competing with and even displacing Darwinist theories. What was still lacking was people who would work with this orientation and, moreover, achieve a certain unity of action among them.

At that moment, the person who managed to catalyse and attract to the same goal all those who, in one way or another, were working on such ideas, appeared on the scene. His name is Phillip E. Johnson. In the 1980s, Johnson had achieved great prestige as a lawyer. He also taught law at the University of Berkeley. He became very popular among the defenders of creationism as a result of a dialectical confrontation he had with Stephen Jay Gould (well known for giving rise to the theory of punctuated evolutionism), who was then also a prestigious and well-known evolutionary biologist and an avowed agnostic. The occasion for this confrontation was a symposium organised at a Jesuit centre in Weston, Massachusetts, called by its organisers Science and Creationism in Public Schools. Many of the protagonists of the "creationism-evolutionism" discussion of the 1980s gathered there. Johnson's intervention managed to raise the spirits of the anti-evolutionists who saw how the war, in the scientific sphere, could be kept alive.

In the late 1980s Johnson was Visiting Professor at University College London, where he read Richard Dawkins' controversial book The Blind Watchmaker. After a careful study of the book, he came to the conclusion that the arguments put forward by Dawkins could not be considered legitimately scientific, but rather resembled the arguments used in court defences, with which Johnson was so familiar. Driven by this idea, he continued to work on the then most popular books on evolution. As result of this study he published a book in 1991, graduate Darwin on Trial, in which he made a harsh criticism of Darwinism, accusing it of not being a scientific theory but a materialistic philosophy. The book was widely distributed and made the author even more famous.

While still in England, Johnson went to contact with Stephen C. Meyer, a young PhD student philosophy student and member of a group that later became the Discovery Institute, which is now the main logistical infrastructure of design Intelligent. Originally, this group was formed out of the interest of its members in the study and development of the ideas contained in the book The Mysteries of the Origin of Life, mentioned above. Meyer and his colleagues were completely in tune with Johnson. As a result of this meeting the author of Darwin in Trial became the undisputed leader of what we know today as design Intelligent.

Throughout the 1990s, largely due to Johnson's effective impetus, the ID movement was consolidated from various points of view. Johnson claimed that ID was like a "wedge" with which he would be able to break through the monolithic materialist culture that had been firmly established in science up to that time. At the beginning of the 1990s, their main achievements were in the organisational and infrastructural fields. At the end of the 1990s, they also managed to bring several prestigious personalities in the academic and scientific world into dialogue with them. One sample of the ID's influence is that the SOR, which was then called the Access Research Network, changed the name of its journal Origins Research to Origins and Design. Over the course of the decade, they also managed to significantly increase the number of scientists and students interested in collaborating with the new movement. Two of the most important additions were Michael Behe and William Dembski, who have played a decisive role in the development and dissemination of design Intelligent .

Michael Behe, biochemist and professor at Lehigh University, became a prominent member of the ID, especially after his intervention in a symposium organised by Johnson at campus of the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, in 1992, graduate: Darwinism: Scientific Inference or Philosophical Preference? On that occasion he brilliantly defended his ideas before such prominent evolutionists in the scientific world as Leslie K. Johnson, Michael Ruse and Arthur M. Shapiro. Four years later, he set out these ideas, well ordered and developed, in a popular science book graduate Darwin's Black Box.10. The book was a great success publishing house. It also received, along with a multitude of criticisms for and against, the recognition of most of the specialists in these areas, for the good work of popularisation achieved. It has probably been the book that has contributed the most to disseminate the design Intelligent and to make it gain ground, at least initially, in the academic field .11.

The same symposium was attended by William A. Dembski, who finished his doctoral dissertation in philosophy at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the same year as the publication of Darwin's Black Box. Dembski has been the most prolific and combative member of the ID. He has done graduate work in mathematics at MIT, in physics at the University of Chicago and in computer science at Princeton. His ability to work and his mathematical, philosophical and theological background have enabled him to assume leadership within the movement since the late 1990s. goal Dembski has set out to make design Intelligent a scientific discipline and to be recognised as such by the scientific community.

The development of the design Intelligent, as was the case with early 20th century creationism or creation science, has by no means been peaceful. Its emergence has sparked an interesting discussion in the realm of ideas. But also, as happened with creationism, it is trying to gain scientific and academic citizenship by trying to enter the "curricula" of schools through laws that, in school districts in different states, promote it and equate it with the teaching of evolution. The judicial confrontation has not been long in coming.

The occasion was the lawsuit filed on 14 December 2004 in federal court by eleven parents against the management committee of the Dover Area School District in Pennsylvania. What they were trying to prevent was the rule voted in that district whereby the following text was to be read to ninth graders at class Degree in biology:

"Like all theories, Darwin's theory is being tested as new evidence is discovered. A theory is not a fact. There are gaps in that theory for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a wide range of observations.

Intelligent design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's perspective. It is available the reference bookOn Pandas and People for students to explore, if they wish, this viewpoint, so that they can acquire knowledge on what intelligent design actually implies. As with any theory, students are encouraged to keep their minds open."12.

The trial, which lasted forty days, concluded with a judgment contrary to the district's management committee stating that, here too, the requirement of the First Amendment of the Constitution was violated. This was tantamount to saying that teaching the Intelligent design is teaching religion and not science. For evolutionists, this ruling was a confirmation that the movement is nothing more than the heir, in a different guise, to traditional creationism. Although the ruling was a blow to the aspirations of design Intelligent, its advocates have not abandoned their activity and the ID remains fully alive to its goals.

Some believe that creationists, including ID, are still trying to achieve their goals of academic recognition by changing their strategy again. The law passed in June 2008 by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, advocating the need to maintain critical thinking at classroom, would be an example of what many evolutionists interpret as re-opening a door to the teaching of creationism in the classroom.

From the summary description given in this text of the discussion evolutionism-creationism issue, its great complexity can be inferred. Although the struggle between the two is made explicit and visible in the courts, there are underlying philosophical issues at stake, such as the nature and scope of the scientific knowledge , the possibility of arriving at the knowledge of God starting from our knowledge of nature, the notion of finality and others. The idiosyncrasies and history of the American people also play an important role here. It would be too hasty and simplistic to say that this discussion is just another episode in the struggle between science and religion. It can be framed in such a scenario if we take into account that presenting the relationship between science and religion as equivalent to a struggle is already an unjustified simplification, as we have shown in the second section of this work. We have also tried to show that it is a great simplification to see ID as a mere continuation of creationism, even though it has important points in common with it contact.

The discussion creationism-evolutionism has negative aspects as a consequence, for example, of the harshness of the confrontations between the two sides, but it is also bearing important fruits. Reflection on this discussion is forcing us to dust off the great themes of the philosophy of nature in the light of the data that science offers us today. Having more knowledge of natural reality also allows for a richer philosophical reflection. The discussion sample shows the need to adopt a perspective that is not seduced by either fundamentalism or materialism: both are mutually reinforcing and easily lead reflection down blind alleys.


(1) Cfr. Evandro Agazzi, Scienza e fede. Nuove prospettive su un vecchio problema, "XXVIII Rencontre International du S.I.E.S.C (Varese, 1982)", Massimo, Milano 1983. pp. 99-100.

(2 ) Cfr. Creacione ed Evoluzione. Un convegno con Papa Benedetto XVI a Castel Gandolfo, edited by Stepahn Otto Horn and Siegfried Wiedenhofer on behalf of the "Schülerkreis" (group of students) of Pope Benedict XVI. Edizioni Dehoniane Bologna, Bologna 2007. pp. 6-7.

(3) Cfr. Richard F. Carlson, (edited by), Science & Christianity. Four Views, InterVarsity Press, Illinois 2000.

(4) Cfr. Karl W. Giberson & Donald A. YERXA, Species of Origins. America's Search for a Creation Story, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. Oxford 2002. p. 3 ff.

(5) Cfr. Ronald L. Numbers, The Creationists. From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design, Harvard University Press, Cambridge 2006. pp. 55 ff.

(6) Cf. Glenn Branch and Eugenie Carol Scott, Stratagems of Creationism, Research and Science, January 2009. p. 76.

(7) Cfr. Eugenie Carol Scott, Evolution vs. creationism: an introduction, University of California Press, Berkeley 2005; Stratagems of creationism, cit. p. 77.

(8) The Creationists, cit. p. 272.

(9) Cfr. Species of Origins, cit. pp. 198 ff.

(10) Michael J. Behe, Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York, 1998.

(11) A critical appraisal and summary of his ideas can be found in: Santiago Collado, "Analysis of Intelligent design ", Scripta Theologica 39 (2007/2) 573-605. The content of this article can be found with slight modifications in Santiago Collado, Teoría del design Inteligente (Intelligent Design), in Francisco Fernandez - Juan Andrés Mercado (editors), Philosophica: Enciclopedia filosófica on line.

(12) Taken, by the author of this paper, from the lawsuit filed in court by Tammy Kitzmiller and others against management committee of the Dover Area District Court.