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GLOSSARY
Evolution, Creationism and Intelligent Design


More detail on many items can be found by clicking on the "[+]" symbol for information from Wikipedia or other sites.  Items on the timeline are linked with a "[T]".

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  Abiogenesis (Origin of Life, Prebiotic Evolution).  Today, abiogenesis refers to the chemical origins of life from non-living chemical compounds billions of years ago.  The long-since discredited concept of "Aristotelian abiogenesis" held that life was generated spontaneously from the natural environment. [+]
  Abington School District v. Schempp (Jun 17, 1963).  The U.S. Supreme Court declares guided or sanctioned bible reading in public schools to be an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment Clause While not directly related to evolution or creationism, it is precedent for Epperson and part of a series of cases that infuriated many social conservatives. [T] [+]
  Adaptation.  Both a verb and a noun, this can refer to both the process of change adapt to environmental and other conditions, and to the change itself (e.g., a new limb or ability).  Evolution depends on natural selection to "pick" which organisms and, hence, which adaptations survive to the next generation. [+]
  Agnosticism.  Agnosticism is the belief that some things—particularly the true nature of God—are unknown or unknowable.  The term was coined by scientist Thomas Huxley in the 1860s, and became inseparable from his views on evolution.  Huxley's so-called agnostic evolutionism was developed in part as a defense from attacks by various proponents of creationism that evolution that evolutionists were inherently atheistic and a threat to Christianity. [+]
  Agnostic Evolutionism.  A somewhat arcane term, this refers to the evolution-related beliefs of those who, like Thomas Huxley, support evolution but (1) do not wish to take a position on related issues of faith and Genesis or (2) do not think there is any necessary relationship between evolutionary science and religious issues.  Agnostic evolutionists may be atheists, agnostics or have strong religious beliefs; they are simply "agnostic" with respect to any connection between scientific and religious realms.  See also Non-Overlapping Magisteria.  Agnostic evolutionists are sometimes contrasted with supporters of atheist evolutionism.
  Anthropic Principle.  Proponents of Intelligent Design claim the "fine-tuning" of the universe that is required to create and sustain life, and human life in particular, cannot be the result of random events.  The anthropic principle supposes that particulars of gravity and other forces, the nature of our planet and solar system, are so well tuned to our needs that an Intelligent Designer must have made it thus.  Opponents of ID respond that this principle presumes an intended outcome (human life exactly as it is today) and is logically flawed in other ways. [+]
  Argument from Design.  One of the earliest and best known arguments in favor of intelligence behind creation was made by William Paley in his 1803 work, Natural Theology.  In this book, Paley proposes that the complexity of nature cannot be explained by natural processes.  One of his most compelling arguments involved discovery of a watch in a field.  You would not assume, simply because you had discovered the watch in nature, that the watch had naturally come into being by natural processes. You would assume that someone designed and manufactured this watch.  Paley's Argument by Design extended this logic to natural systems including the vertebrate eye.  Darwin had read Natural Theology in college, and Origin therefore specifically addresses Paley's argument regarding eyes—showing how the could have developed through natural selection.  The most recent manifestation of Argument by Design is Intelligent Design, which is why Richard Dawkin's recent polemic in opposition to ID is entitled, The Blind Watchmaker. [T] [+]
  Atheist Evolutionism.  Essentially a belief that evolutionary science is the only correct "story" of biological creation and specifically denies the existence of God.  The infamy of some atheist evolutionists such as Karl Marx has led many to assume (incorrectly) that evolution is synonymous with atheism and evil.  Atheist evolutionists are sometimes contrasted with supporters of agnostic evolutionism.  Humanist evolutionism and materialist evolutionism are essentially synonymous from a creationist perspective.

 

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  Behe, Michael (1952 - Present).  Professor, biochemist and author of Darwin's Black Box, Behe is one of the best known advocates of Intelligent Design and, specifically, the concept of irreducible complexity.  He is also a fellow at the Center for Science and Culture. [B] [+]
  Biological Evolution This is the specific type of evolution that deals with the development of living organisms, as opposed to prebiotic evolution (origin of life) or cosmic evolution.  Unless otherwise specified, the term "evolution" always refers to biological evolution on this site.
 

Book of Genesis.  This is the first book of the Old Testament, and tells the Christian story of creation.  The specific events and timelines of Genesis I and II are the primary points of potential conflict with evolution. [+]

  Bryan, William Jennings (1860 - 1925).  Jennings was a three-time Democratic presidential nominee and Populist.  Known as the Great Commoner because of his deep faith and lifelong support of ordinary American values, he famously took on the role of prosecutor during the Scopes Trial in 1925.  Bryan was also the driving force behind many antievolution state laws and legislation. [+]
 

Butler Act (1925).  This act made it illegal for schools in Tennessee to teach any form of evolutionary science that implied human beings had descended from animals.  Specifically, the law states, "That it shall be unlawful for any teacher in any of the Universities, Normals and all other public schools of the State which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State, to teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals."1  This act was the basis for the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial. [T] [+]

 

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  Catastrophism (Emerges c. 1817).  The geological theories of French naturalist Georges Cuvier, eventually labeled catastrophism, held that abrupt changes brought about the extinctions revealed by contemporary fossil discoveries.  Cuvier hypothesized that these abrupt changes, or catastrophes, were caused by Godin contrast with more gradual and natural processes suggested by Hutton's uniformitarianism. [T] [+]
  Common Descent (Ancestry).  Evolution as proposed by Darwin in The Origin of Species supposes that all life on earth descends from a common ancestor, often called the universal common ancestor.  This was the first of two major arguments in Origin, the second being the far more controversial process of natural selection. [+]
  Cosmic Evolution.  The general process by which the universe and entire physical world came into being and developed to its current state, as opposed to prebiotic evolution (origin of life) and biological evolution.
  CreationismRefers to Christian belief in the creation of (1) the universe, including the earth (2) the biological world, including all plants and animals and (3) humankind, exactly and literally as described in Genesis.  There is a great deal of variability in creation beliefs and many types of creationism.  Unless otherwise specified, creationism as used on this site refers to any belief based on a literal interpretation of Genesis. [+]
  Creation Science (Scientific Creation).  Creation scientists and Young Earth Creationists argue that scientific evidence fully supports Genesis and other biblical timelines and events, including the literal story of Noah's flood.  The Institute for Creation Research is one of its main advocates. [+]

 

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  Darrow, Clarence (1857 - 1938).  Darrow was a prominent defense attorney and atheist who is perhaps most famous for his role defending John Scopes during the Scopes Trial in 1925. [+]
 

Darwin, Charles Robert (1809 - 1882).  British naturalist and author of the Origin of Species and numerous other books on biology, Darwin is generally credited with the establishment of evolution as a serious science and with originating the core concept of natural selection. [+]

  Darwinian Evolution (Evolution).  This term is most frequently used by opponents of evolution, along with the equally derogative "Darwinism".
  Day-Age Creationism Day-age creationists believe that the days of Genesis are not 24-hour days and can be read more accurately as years (thousands, millions or billions of years).  This prolonged Genesis timeline makes day-age creationists old earth creationists—believing evidence that the earth is far older than 10,000 years—but they do not necessarily support evolution. [+]
  Dawkins, Richard (1941 - Present).  British ethologist (animal behaviorist), writer and atheist, Dawkins is often referred to as Darwin's Rottweiler for the vehemence of this arguments favoring evolution—much as Thomas Huxley was referred to as Darwin's Bulldog more than a century earlier.  Dawkins is the author of numerous books and publications on evolution, including The Selfish Gene in 1976 and a more recent response to Intelligent Design entitled The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design. [+]
 

Deistic Evolutionism.  A creation belief wherein God started the universe of (with a Big Bang, if you will), and let it run on its own without further interference.  The outcome of evolution and other processes are not, therefore, deterministic (they lack teleology).  This is considered less conservative than theistic evolution at least in part because some deists believe God ceased to exist or otherwise distanced himself from the material world after setting the universe in motion. [+]

  Dembski, William Albert (1960 - Present).  Mathematician, creationist and author of Science and Evidence for Design in the Universe, Dembski is one of the best known advocates of Intelligent Design and, specifically, the concept of specified complexity. [B] [+]

 

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Supreme Court: Public Domain Image

Edwards v. Aguillard (1987).  In this case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the teaching of Creation Science along with evolution in public schools, as required by Louisiana law, unconstitutional.  However, the court opened the door for future challenges to evolution by allowing the teaching of alternative theories that had a clear secular and scientific intent.  Intelligent Design, and its nominally scientific packaging, came about at least partially in response to this ruling. [T] [+]
Supreme Court: Public Domain Image Engel v. Vitale (Jun 25, 1962).  The U.S. Supreme Court declares school prayer to be a violation of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.  While not directly related to evolution or creationism, Vitale is part of a series of cases that infuriated many social conservatives. [T] [+]
Supreme Court: Public Domain Image Epperson v. Arkansas (1968).  The U.S. Supreme Court rules that an Arkansas law prohibiting the teaching of evolution in public schools is an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment Clause, but does not explicitly prohibit the teaching of creationism.  This would not happen until Edwards in 1987. [T] [+]
  Establishment Clause.  This section of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."  There is some disagreement on whether this should be interpreted to prevent government intrusion in religion, religious influence in government, or both.  The "separation or church and state" interpretation implies that both types of influence are prohibited. [+]
  Evolution In simplest terms, evolution is the process by which biological organisms change (in a beneficial manner) over time.  As developed by Darwin in the Origin of Species, evolution comprised at least two major concepts: common ancestry (descent) and natural selection.  Common descent is the theory that all life on earth descends from a common ancestor.  Natural selection is the process by which the changes resulting from mutation are "selected" for their contribution to an organism's viability and survival.  The modern synthesis of evolution incorporates Mendelian inheritance to describe how adaptive changes are passed to future generations. [+]
  Evolutionary Creationism.  A conservatives take on theistic evolution, evolutionary creationism holds that evolution and literal Genesis creation are or can be true, with biblical events occurring outside of normal time. [+]
  Evolutionism.  This somewhat vague term refers to the embrace of not only evolution-as-science, but evolution-as-worldview.  Many creationists regard atheism and evolutionism as equivalent materialist worldviews. [+]

 

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  Fine-tuned Universe.  See the anthropic principle. [+]
  Flat Earthism.  Flat Earthism is more than a type of creationism; it is an extraordinarily conservative and vanishingly rare worldview based on a strict biblical literalism.  In addition to believing in an exact interpretation of Genesis, Flat Earthers believe the earth is a circular disc rather than a sphere.  This belief is based on scriptural references such as angels standing at the "four corners" of the earth.  Almost no one believes in Flat Earthism and it's doubtful the "movement" will long survive the (pending) passing of its modern leader, Charles Johnson and his International Flat Earth Society.  Most modern creationists consider flat earthism absurd and founded on a misinterpretation of scripture. [+]
  Fundamentalism (Emerges c. 1905).  Emerges in early 1900s as a Protestant view that stressed the inerrancy of the Bible, at least partially in reaction to the increasing popularity of evolution and Catholic immigration.  Catholics were then and remain more accepting of evolution. [T] [+]

 

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  Gap Creationism (Gap Theory).  There are many variants of Gap Creationism, all of which represent efforts to bring science and religion together by looking between the lines of Genesis to see where geologic (but not evolutionary) science might fit.  Geological exploration and research exploded in the 1800s, providing almost limitless proof that the Earth is older than the 6,000 or so years allowed for by biblical timelines.  Gap Theory addresses this by inserting much of geological time (millions or billions of years) between either (1) Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 or (2) Genesis 1 and 2 (the creation of Adam and Eve).  Because Gap Theory allows for an almost literal reading of the bible, retains the 24-hour days of creation, and rejects evolution, it is considered one of the more conservative interpretations of Genesis—but is still ejected by biblical literalists.  Gap Theory is easily confused with the distinct term, "God of the Gaps". [T] [+]
  Geocentrism.  Geocentrism is a belief that the sun rotates around the earth, which is at the center of the universe.  Like Flat Earthism, this is based on a literal interpretation of certain biblical passages particularly Joshua 10:12-13 and Isaiah 66:1.  Most modern creationists consider geocentrism ridiculous and founded on a misinterpretation of these and other scriptural readings.  As noted on Answers in Genesis, "While geocentrists present some interesting scientific results, their scientific arguments are often based upon improper understanding of theories and data.  Much of their case is based upon a misunderstanding of general relativity and the rejection of that theory.  While geocentrists are well intended, their presence among recent creationists produces an easy object of ridicule by our critics."2 (emphasis added). [+]
  God of the Gaps.  A term generally used to deride efforts to insert God into areas (gaps) where science has not yet offered a complete explanation for natural events or processes.  This is distinct from Gap Creationism. [+]
  Gould, Steven Jay (1941 - 2002).  Biologist and scientific historian, he coined the term "Non-Overlapping Magisteria" to describe the separate and independent realms of science and religion.  He also co-developed the concept of punctuated equilibrium. [+]
  Gray, Asa (1810 - 1888).  A medical doctor, professor and naturalist, Asa Gray was a contemporary and friend of Darwin and a strong supporter of evolution.  He also tried to combat the controversy created by Huxley and other atheist and agnostic naturalists by minimizing the conflict between evolution and faith.  His beliefs, that evolution and faith could exist hand-in-hand, are generally described as the first form of theistic evolution.  He is most commonly known today as the creator of Gray's Anatomy. [+]

 

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  Haeckel, Ernst (1834 - 1919) A German biologist and philosopher who wrote and spoke widely on evolution.  He developed his biogenic theory, a form of eugenics loosely based on evolutionary theory, into a religion called Monism.  Monism was adopted by the Nazis as (partial) intellectual justification for Hitler's genocide of Jews, gypsies and other "lesser" peoples.  Haeckel also coined the idea that "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" (development of an organism in the womb reveals its evolutionary history).  He supported his views on phylogeny with now discredited and infamous drawings of embryonic development.  These drawings were one of the many targets of Jonathan Wells in his criticism of evolution, The Icons of Evolution. [+]
  Humani Generis (1950).  In this papal encyclical, Pope Pius XII states that, "The Church does not forbid that...research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter."  In other words, Catholicism has no conflict with evolution. [T]
  Humanist Evolution/ism (Materialist Evolution).  A derogatory term most often used by creationists to describe evolution itself as inherently materialist, atheist and secular humanist Atheist evolutionism and materialist evolutionism are essentially synonymous from a creationist perspective.
  Huxley, Thomas Henry (1825 - 1895).  A British biologist, Huxley was one of the most vehement 19th Century defenders of evolution Huxley was often referred to as Darwin's Bulldog, much as Dawkins is now referred to as Darwin's Rottweiler.  In truth, Huxley was often more concerned with the advocacy of materialism than evolution (evolution was imply a useful too to that end).  Huxley's co-mingling of materialism and evolution provided a great deal of ammunition to Christians who increasingly associated evolution with atheism.  Huxley himself coined the term agnostic to describe his views of science, faith and world in general. [+]

 

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  Inherit the Wind (1955, 1960).  A 1955 play first adopted for film in 1960, Inherit the Wind tells a story loosely based on the events of the Scopes Trial.  In the 1960 film, Spencer Tracey plays the equivalent of Clarence Darrow, portraying him as a clear and articulate modern thinker.  The creationist position is portrayed far less flatteringly.  Given that far more Americans probably saw the movie than witnessed the trial or heard the radio-broadcast trial, the negative portrayal of creationists as backward and ignorant added substantial fuel to the backlash against evolution. [T] [+]
  Intelligent Design (Emerges Late1980s)  Intelligent Design, a modern adaptation of Paley's Argument from Design, supposes that some biological systems are so complex and/or unlikely that the randomness of evolution cannot explain their existence or function.  To solve this problem, ID offers up an unknown "Intelligent Designer", but offers no related scientific research or experimentation to help define this designer or how he/she/it acts on the natural world.  The science of ID (described as pseudo-science by most evolutionists) is brought to bear in a direct attack on macroevolution, while generally accepting of microevolution as factual.  This attack comes in three forms: irreducible complexity, specified complexity, and the anthropic principle.  Opponents of ID contend that it is just Creation Science in scientific clothes, which is why ID is often called stealth creationism or neo-creationism. This position strongly supported by ID's history, the creationist beliefs of many ID advocates, and the Wedge Document of the Discovery Institute. [T] [+]
  Intelligent Design Creationism (IDC)Many regard Intelligent Design as a form of stealth creationism, and refer to ID as Intelligent Design Creationism.
  Intelligent Designer.  See Intelligent Design.  Most advocates of ID state that the intelligent designer in question is not necessarily God—and could presumably be an extra-terrestrial or supernatural force.  The sincerity of this statement has been broadly questioned, especially since publication of The Wedge document.
  Irreducible ComplexityOne of the key concepts of Intelligent Design, irreducible complexity supposes that many biological systems (e.g., vertebrate eyes, blood clotting, flagella) could not have developed through the step-wise process of evolution.  Take away any of the subcomponents of the eye, for instance, and ID proponents believe the remaining parts serve no purpose; evolution cannot explain how these simple but independently useless components self-assembled to create the eye, so a designer is required.  Most evolutionary scientists obviously disagree, believing that no biological system is irreducibly complex. [+]

 

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Kitzmiller v. Dover School District (December 20, 2005).  Judge John Jones III of the Third US District Court in Harrisburg, PA rules that, "Our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in a public school classroom" as had  been proposed by a recently ousted Dover, PA school board. [T]

 

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Lamarck, Jean-Baptiste (1774 - 1829).  Major French biologist and originator of so-called Lamarckism.  Lamarck's work on heredity, while quickly discredited, was noted by Darwin as important early thinking on the subject of evolution. [+]

 

LamarckismA pre-Origin theory of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck formally called the "inheritance of acquired traits", holding that people adapt during their lifetimes and pass these adaptations on to their offspring. [+]

Supreme Court: Public Domain Image

Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971).  In this ruling against the subsidization of Catholic private schools and teacher salaries, the U.S. Supreme Court states that all laws must have a secular purpose.  The Court further provided the the so-called "lemon-test" by which laws could be evaluated:
  1. The law or regulation (government action) must have a legitimate secular purpose;
  2. The government action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion; and
  3. The government action must not result in an "excessive entanglement" of the government and religion

Application of this test is instrumental in later rulings on evolution. [T] [+]

 

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  Macroevolution This somewhat ambiguous term generally refers to large evolutionary developments such as speciation.  In the debate over evolution, many antievolutionists concede microevolution (small changes) as a legitimate scientific process while reserving macroevolution for God or an Intelligent Designer. [+]
  Materialism A philosophy that everything is matter and matter is everything, the term "materialism" is generally used as a pejorative reference by creationists to describe the secular humanist (liberal atheist/evolutionist) worldview [+]
  Materialist Evolution/ism (Humanist Evolutionism).  A derogatory term most often used by creationists to describe evolution itself as inherently materialist, atheist and secular humanist Atheist evolutionism and humanist evolutionism are essentially synonymous from a creationist perspective.

Supreme Court: Public Domain Image

McCollum v. Board of Education (Mar 8, 1948).  The U.S. Supreme Court declares religious classes in public schoolrooms to be a violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.  While not directly related to evolution or creationism, it is precedent for Schempp and part of a series of cases that infuriated many social conservatives.
  McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education (1982).  A U.S. District Court rules that Arkansas' 1981 Act 590 (requiring "balanced treatment of Creation-Science and evolution in public schools"), violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. [T] [+]
  Mendel, Gregor (1822 - 1884).  Mendel was an Austrian monk who labored in obscurity to understand the processes of generic inheritance.  Mendel's Laws of Inheritance were later combined with evolution to create the modern (evolutionary) synthesis. [+]
  Mendelian Inheritance.  See Gregor Mendel. [+]
  MicroevolutionThis somewhat ambiguous term generally refers to small evolutionary developments such as changes in skin or hair color within a species.  In the debate on evolution, many antievolutionists concede microevolution as a scientific process while reserving macroevolution for God or an Intelligent Designer. [+]
  Modern Synthesis (Neo-Darwinism).  A combination of evolutionary theory and Mendelian inheritance that emerged in the 1940s.  Today, the modern synthesis incorporates a broad range of scientific disciplines in support of various aspects of evolution, including biology, microbiology, biochemistry, anthropology and paleontology. [+]

 

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  Natural Selection This is Darwin's explanation of how natural organisms adapt to and survive in nature—the process by which the randomness of mutation becomes the order of evolution.  In essence, only those adaptations which most benefit an individual's survival and reproduction are passed to later (surviving) generations by genetic inheritance.  Natural selection was one of two major arguments in Origin, the other being that all life on Earth has a common ancestor.  Neither of these two arguments explained the process or mechanism for genetic inheritance, a weakness that Darwin acknowledged.  This weakness was overcome in the modern synthesis of evolution, which combined evolution with Mendelian genetics.  Natural selection was first described in 1858 papers by Darwin and Alfred Wallace (Darwin's paper predated Wallace's), and was far more controversial than the idea of evolution itself.  Even Thomas Huxley, a vehement supporter of evolution, thought natural selection was inadequate to explain the variation seen in nature. [+]
  Neo-Creationism (Stealth Creationism).  The concept that Intelligent Design (and similar efforts) are efforts to force Christian creationism into public schools in a scientific disguise. [+]
  Neo-Darwinism (New-Darwinian Synthesis).  See the modern synthesis.
  Non-Overlapping Magisteria (NOMA).  A term coined by Steven Gould to describe the separation of natural and supernatural (scientific and religious) worlds. [+]

 

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Old Earth Creation (OEC)A version of creationism that allows for a very old age for the earth, as determined by geology and other sciences, while remaining doubtful about biological evolution.  This is a more liberal form of creationism than Young Earth Creationism, but more conservative than theistic evolution. [+]

  The Omphalos HypothesisThis is one of many 19th century attempts to reconcile geological discoveries with biblical creation.  The hypothesis was that God had created the earth in the exact timeline presented in Genesis, but had also created a vast array of geological and physical evidence that the earth was older than it actually was.  This was quickly rejected by scientists as un-falsifiable, and by most Christians because it asserts that God is deceitful.  Young Earth Creationists also reject this hypothesis, addressing similar geological issues using Creation Science to (attempt to) show that the biblical timeline is correct. [+]
  Origin of Life (Abiogenesis, Prebiotic Evolution).  This is the theory of how life started, as opposed to evolution which is the theory of how life developed.  These issues are often confused, sometimes intentionally by antievolutionists who maintain that evolution cannot explain the origin of life—which is of course true, if irrelevant.  Darwin made little effort to address the origin of life, concerning himself with how life adapted and changed after it came into existence.  There is, unfortunately, far less scientific research into abiogenesis than evolution. [+]
  Origin of Species (Nov 24, 1859).  The evidence and research Darwin summarized in Origin can be reduced to two basic concepts.  First, Darwin asserted that all living things had evolved (descended with adaptation) from common ancestors.  Second, he stated that natural selection was the primary process by which this adaptation occurred.  He specifically did not know how adaptations were preserved and passed down to next generations, and this would be a major point of controversy with Darwinian evolution until its synthesis with the older but lesser known theory of Mendelian genetics.  It is important to note that Darwin had no idea life originally came to be in its simplest form (the origin of life); he was only concerned with how life evolved once it had come into being. [T] [+]

 

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  Paley, William (1743 - 1805).  English philosopher Paley was one of the first advocates of a form of design from intelligence, and his 1803 Argument from Design is the intellectual predecessor of modern Intelligent Design Darwin acknowledged Paley's views in Origin, and specifically addressed these views in his discussion of the vertebrate eye. [+]
  Prebiotic Evolution.  See the origin of life.
  Progressive Creationism.  This is a somewhat liberal interpretation of Genesis that allows billions of years for cosmic evolution, including the Big Bang.  Progressive Creationists also allows some roll for natural development of life forms (microevolution), but only after God has stepped in to create the major species at various points in time—culminating with the creation of man.  Intelligent Design recycles many Progressive Creation ideas in scientific terms. [+]
  Punctuated Equilibrium An argument by Steven Gould and others that evolution is lumpy (takes place in jumps and starts), not smooth and gradual.  This is one of many scientific theories that antievolutionists have (wrongly) used as an example of the controversial nature of evolution. [+]

 

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  Reliquae Diluvianae (Observations on the Organic Remains attesting the Action of Universal Deluge) (1823).  This is the scientific summary of William Buckland's claim to have discovered evidence of Noah's flood in Yorkshire, England.  Publication of Reliquae sparked a fierce debate on he age of the earth, helping set the stage of the controversy over Origin of Species thirty years later. [T] [+]
  Restitution Creationism.  See Gap Creationism.
  Ruin-Reconstruction (Creationism).  See Gap Creationism.

 

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  Scientific Creationism See Creation Science.
 

Scopes, John T. (1900 - 1970).  A high school teacher in Dayton Tennessee, who agreed to be the defendant in a local publicity stunt based on challenging the state's Butler Act. The resulting Scopes Trial attracted national attention. [+]

  Scopes "Monkey" Trial (1925).  One of the most infamous and misunderstood trials in American history, this test of of Tennessee's Butler Act pitted evolutionists against creationism.  When the Butler Act was passed, the ACLU publicly announced that it would finance the trial of anyone who challenged the new law.  John Scopes of Dayton, TN, volunteered after encouragement by local businessmen who saw the opportunity for free publicity.  Famous attorney and atheist Clarence Darrow agreed to argue for the defense.  Three-time presidential candidate an d creationist William Jennings Bryan argued for the state.  The trial was radio-broadcast and became a national spectacle.  In the end, Scopes lost and was fined $100 (a decision that was turned over on appeal), but the damage had been done.  Creationists regard this trial as an unfair national humiliation to this day.  The resulting antievolutionist anger was only exacerbated by the 1960 film, Inherit the Wind, which was loosely based on the trial. [T] [+]
  Scott, Eugenie (1945 - Present).  Physical anthropologist, secular humanist, creationism opponent, and executive director of the National Center for Science Education, Scott is also the author of the recent Evolution vs. Creationism.  One of her better known arguments is that people are not simply "creationists" but, rather, hold more nuanced beliefs somewhere on the evolution-creation continuum. [B] [+]
 

Secularism.  In elementary terms, this is a general belief that supernatural and religious issues should not influence public policy or science. [+]

  Secular Humanism.  A worldview and philosophy based on rationality, science, justice and a focus on human rather than supernatural issues.  Many creationists (and many secular humanists) regard evolution and atheism as inseparable. [+]
  St. Augustine of Hippo (354 - 430).  Theologian and saint of the Roman Catholic Church, St. Augustine argued that it was a "disgraceful and dangerous thing" to hold literal biblical views that contrasted with common experience.  Adherence to these literal interpretations would appear foolish and undermine the Christian message. [+]
 

Speciation.  The division of one species into two or more species which are no longer able to exchange genetic material or reproduce.  Speciation is on the cusp between microevolution and macroevolution, and is a hotly contested part of the evolution-creationism debate. [+]

  Specified Complexity.  William Dembski developed this key concepts of Intelligent Design, which supposes that many biological systems cannot have occurred by the allegedly random processes of evolution.  Specified complexity argues that certain patterns found in nature are posses a specified type of non-random complexity indicative of guidance and, hence, of design.  Most evolutionary scientists obviously disagree. [+]
 

Stealth Creationism.  See Neo-Creationism.

 

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  Teaching the Controversy.  Advocates of Intelligent Design are encouraging local schools to encourage "teaching the controversy" of evolution, thereby including concepts of Design.  The argument is that critical thinking in any discipline should be encouraged, so why not teach the weaknesses of evolution?  The counter-argument is that the "controversy" has been manufactured to force schools to teach neo-creationism. [+]
  Teleology.  Teleology is the assertion that nature and natural processes have a purpose or direction.  In Christian terms, the teleology of creation is that the purpose of creation is a human species created in God's image.  This is contrasted with naturalist or materialist perspectives that deny extrinsic teleology and suppose a lack of purpose in evolution. [+]
 

Theistic Evolution (Evolutionary Creationism).  A belief that evolution is just like any other science and is completely compatible with Christian beliefs, but not with a literal interpretation of Genesis. Theistic evolutionists tend to believe that God set the wheels of cosmic and biological creation rolling at the dawn of creation and then stepped back, letting things unfold as they may.  The lack of teleology, or direction, to theistic evolution is one major reason for its rejection by more conservative creationists. [+]

 

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  Uniformitarianism (Emerges 1785).  In contrast to generally-held young-earth views supported by biblical timelines such as Ussher's, James Hutton's  uniformitarian theory posits a very old earth in order to allow sufficient time for the erosion of mountains and the deposition of sedimentary layers on the sea floor.  Uniformitarianism is generally contrasted with catastrophism. [+]
  Ussher's Biblical Timeline (1650).  Bishop James Ussher publishes the Annals, using biblical timelines to claim that the earth was created on the evening before October 23, 4004 BC.  Ussher's work is often referenced by Young Earth Creationists, who also believe the earth is now roughly 6,000 years old. [+]

 

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  The Wedge Document (1999).  The Discovery Institute and many other advocates of Intelligent Design frequently state that ID is not stealth creationism, and the Intelligent Designer is not necessarily the God of Christianity.  The Wedge is a nominally secret publication of the Institute that appeared on the internet in 1999, and appears to undermine these assertions by making clearly religious statements regarding the purpose of the Institute and ID in general.  For instance, "The Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies...[re-opening] the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature" (emphasis added.  This is part of the Institute's overall Wedge Strategy. [T] [+]
  Wedge Strategy.  A strategy of the Discovery Institute to bring about broad social and political change based on reaffirmation of Christian beliefs.  Intelligent Design was revealed to be part of this strategy in the infamous Wedge Document. [+]

 

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  Young Earth Creationism (YEC).  A belief that the timeline of cosmic and natural creation, and later historical events, all take place within the literal biblical timeline (i.e., during the last 6,000 to 10,000 years).  YEC is commonly associated with Henry Morris, founder of the Institute for Creation Research, and with fundamentalist Protestantism.  Creation Science has been part of an historical effort to frame creationism in scientific terms so that these Christian beliefs can be taught alongside evolution in public schools.  Failure of this effort appears to be one of the main drivers behind the development of Intelligent Design. [+]


Other Glossaries or Sources


1 UMKC Law Web Site on Nov 16, 2005

2 Danny Faulkner, "Geocentrism and Creation," Answers In Genesis, Nov 29, 2005

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