That would be special creationism, a term referring to the two conflicting myths contained in the opening pages of the Holy Bible. Ever since the 1968 U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned an Arkansas mandate prohibiting the teaching of evolution in public schools, Bible pushers–perennially as resistant to ceding gracefully to reason as they are prone to misguided complaining–have been trying to recast their supernatural explanation for the virtually simultaneous production of the universe and everything within it, including all known life forms, as “science” in a transparent effort to evade the SCOTUS decision.
In this aim the creationists have not been entirely unsuccessful. Although Epperson v. Arkansas set the stage for a litany of setbacks to backers of creationism, the teaching of this disjointed myth in public schools was not officially made illegal until 1987 (Edwards v. Aguilard), by which time the Biblically skewed had farcically relabeled their faery tale “creation science.”
As described in an article in the December issue of Scientific American, “The Latest Face of Creationism in the Classroom,” the series of new names given to creationism and the strategies for disseminating it where it doesn’t belong have evolved in direct response to the various court decisions subsequent to Epperson v. Arkansas, all of which have exposed the creationists’ real agenda in ways that would embarrass anyone with integrity and a passing familiarity with intellectual honesty. But there’s no danger of finding these in the “evolution? Lulz!” camp; the unifying trait among creationists is not ignorance–some of them know quite well that the fable they stump for is scientifically vacuous–but lying. Creationists lie as if being paid by the whopper, and when caught, they lie some more and without pausing to blink. They’re like little kids in this way, but without the appropriate guilt.
In the late 1980s, knowing that overt references to Biblical creationism would not survive legal challenges, the Intelligent Design concept began taking its first lurching steps from the primordial ooze of antievolutionist minds. However, this shambling creature could not help but drag along with it more than a few obvious and inextricable ties to the same-old, same-old, and despite the staunch and well-funded efforts of the Discovery Institute, ID was dealt a crushing blow in 2005 in Kitzmiller v. Dover. From the SciAm article:
At issue was a policy in a local school district in Pennsylvania requiring a disclaimer to be read aloud in the classroom alleging that evolution is a “Theory…not a fact,” that “gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence,” and that intelligent design as presented in Of Pandas and People is a credible scientific alternative to evolution. Eleven local parents filed suit in federal district court, arguing that the policy was unconstitutional. After a trial that spanned a biblical 40 days, the judge agreed, ruling that the policy violated the Establishment Clause and writing, “In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether [intelligent design] is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that [intelligent design] cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.”
The expert witness testimony presented in the Kitzmiller trial was devastating for intelligent design’s scientific pretensions. Intelligent design was established to be creationism lite: at the trial philosopher Barbara Forrest, co-author of Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design, revealed that references to creationism in Of Pandas and People drafts were replaced with references to design shortly after the 1987 Edwards decision striking down Louisiana’s Balanced Treatment Act was issued. She even found a transitional form, where the replacement of “creationists” by “design proponents” was incomplete–“cdesign proponentsists” was the awkward result. More important, intelligent design was also established to be scientifically bankrupt: one of the expert witnesses in the trial, biochemist Michael Behe, testified that no articles have been published in the scientific research literature that “provide detailed rigorous accounts of how intelligent design of any biological system occurred”–and he was testifying in defense of the school board’s policy.
So it was time for another regrouping in response to sudden and pronounced environmental challenges, and the adaptation has now taken the form of cries for “academic freedom” so as to permit, if not teaching creationism outright, the need to “teach the controversy” and expose students to the “evidences against evolution”–the only such “evidence,” of course, being found in the minds of creationists and ultimately in the Bible itself.
Much of what follows in the article is familiar to readers here–the ludicrously disingenuous and inflammatory Ben Stein masturbation fantasy film Expelled!, the Louisiana Science Education Act founded just as blatantly on pro-religious interest as its ancestors, and various derivative forms of misrepresentation and misinformation campaigns that are both necessary and inescapable along those attempting to “debunk” a rock-solid theory in favor of a categorically implausible sham of an alternative. Overall the article is a nice review that includes a number of helpful links for those seeking to arm themselves for “debates” with creationists, and hence worth a bookmark in whatever folder you reserve for such matters (mine is called “Science and its adversaries”). But it also underscores the fact that no matter how powerful the objective weight of facts and legal precedents opposing creationist marches toward bygone eras in human knowledge may be, nothing is sufficient to make the faithful give up their hyperkinetic sojourn toward darkness. This endeavor is, after all, what a just and knowing god wants them to undertake.