Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism

By George M. Marsden | Go to book overview

6. Why Creation Science?

IN THE UNITED STATES during the past century “evolution” has symbolized some of the nation's most bitter religious and cultural conflicts. In a widely held view that perhaps is gaining in popularity, biological evolution is regarded as an opposite of divine creation and hence incompatible with traditional Christian belief. So widespread is this belief that in 1981 the so-called “creationist” movement persuaded two state legislatures to adopt laws that purport to ensure “balanced treatment” of the subject of origins in public schools by countering any treatment of “evolution science” with equal treatment of “creation science.”1 The very appropriation of the name “creationist” for the movement that promotes such legislation reflects a belief in, and even an insistence on, the absolute antithesis between faith in a Creator and biological evolution. In fact the creation-science movement does not advocate creationisni in the general sense of any belief in a Divine Creator or even in the more limited sense of belief in creation by the God of Scripture; rather it defends only one view of

1. Act 590 of 1981, State of Arkansas, 73rd General Assembly,
Regular Session, 1981. Cf. a similar Louisiana law of 1981. The Arkansas
law was declared unconstitutional in Federal District Court. The Louisiana
law was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

-153-

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