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Evolution, Creationism and Intelligent Design

More detail on many items can be found by clicking on the "[G]" symbol for the glossary, or the "[+]" symbol for information from Wikipedia or other sites.


Jan 18, 2006 (Professor Facchini vs. Intelligent Design).  In a comment intended as support for Judge Jones' decision in Kitzmiller, University of Bologna evolutionary biology professor Fiorenzo Facchini states that Intelligent Design, "doesn't belong to science and the pretext that it be taught as scientific theory alongside Darwin's explanation is unjustified."  His comments on evolution and ID were notable due to their publication in L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's newspaper.
Dec 20, 2005 (Kitzmiller v. Dover School District).  Judge John Jones III of the Third U.S. 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 mandated by a recently ousted Dover, PA school board. [G]

AP File Photo: Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson , Aug. 1, 2000, in Philadelphia (Gene J. Puskar)

Nov 10, 2005 (Pat Robertson vs. Dover, PA).  On the Christian Broadcasting Network's 700 Club, Pat Robertson tells Dover, PA: "If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God. You just rejected him from your city."  All eight of Dover's school council members have just lost reelection bids after trying to introduce Intelligent Design into local school curricula.
  Jul 7, 2005 (Schönborn controversy).  In a New York Times editorial, Christoph Cardinal Schönborn states that, "Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sensean unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selectionis not..."  The editorial sparks a controversy and considerable online debate, with many assuming that Schönborn is advocating Intelligent Design and rejecting Pope John Paul II's 1996 statement of reconciliation between evolutionary science and Catholic faith.  Schönborn later clarifies that he sees, " difficulty in joining belief in the Creator with the theory of evolution, but under the prerequisite that the borders of scientific theory are maintained." [+]

Jan 2005 (Selman v. Cobb County School District).  Judge Clarence Cooper of the U.S. District Court in Atlanta, Georgia rules a Cobb County School District requirement that biology textbooks carry evolution warning stickers to be a violation of the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution.  The stickers read, "This textbook contains material on evolution.  Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things.  This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."
  Jul 2004 (Ratzinger and the Theological Commission).  The Catholic International Theological Commission, under president Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), publishes "Communion and Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God".  This statement includes comments such as, "While the story of human origins is complex and subject to revision, physical anthropology and molecular biology combine to make a convincing case for the origin of the human species in Africa about 150,000 years ago in a humanoid population of common genetic lineage," demonstrating that the Catholic Church remains relatively at ease with evolutionary science. [+]
  2002 (Ohio "Teaches the Controversy").  The Ohio State Board of Education adopts a portion of the "teach the controversy" language advocated by the Center for Science and Culture and other Intelligent Design advocates.  This language is intentionally written to meet the standard established by Aguillard, and leads to a 2004 "Critical Analysis of Evolution" lesson plan for public school teachers. [+]
  1999 (The Wedge Document).  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 Discovery Institute that appears to undermine these assertions by making clearly religious statements regarding the purpose of the Institute and ID in general. [G] [+]
  Aug 11, 1999 (Kansas Nixes Evolution and Big Bang).  The Kansas State Board of Education eliminates macroevolution, any discussion of the earth's age, and the big-bang theory of cosmic creation from standard public school curricula.  Changes in Board membership lead to a reversal of this decision in 2001, and rejection of a proposed Intelligent Design compromise. [+]

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1996 (Darwin's Black Box).  Professor Behe publishes this major book in support of Intelligent Design.  This book argues the concept of irreducible complexity, a supposition that many natural organisms are far too complex to have resulted from natural selection.  Behe's other books and publications can be found (here) on the Access Research Network website. [+]


Oct 23, 1996 (Paul II's "Message").  In his "Message to the Pontifical Academy", Pope John Paul II states that, " knowledge leads to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis.  It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge"essentially restating Humani Generis.

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1991 (Johnson's Darwin on Trial).  University of California, Berkeley law professor Phillip Johnson challenges evolutionary theory as a "creation myth" and posits evidence of design in natureestablishing himself as the father of the modern Intelligent Design movement and theory.  The book was written at least in part as a response to Aguillard. [+]

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1989 (Of Pandas and People).  This first textbook of Intelligent Design is targeted at public schools and published by the Foundation for Thought and Ethics.  To address concerns raised in lawsuits that the book was still based on a creationist conception of origins despite the Intelligent Design packaging, the name of the pending third edition has been changed to The Design of Life.  [+]
  Late 1980s (Intelligent Design emerges).  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".  Intelligent Design was developed at least in part as a response to Aguillard. [G] [+]

Supreme Court: Public Domain Image

Jun 19, 1987 (Edwards v. Aguillard).  The U.S. Supreme Court rules that giving "equal time" to the teaching of Creation Science and evolution in public schools, as required by Louisiana law, violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. [G] [+]


1982 (McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education).  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. [G] [+]

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1975 (Wilson's Sociobiology).  While sociobiology is not a new term, this highly controversial book by Edward Wilson popularizes the idea that human behavior is based on genetic traits.  Regarded by many as (potential if not intentional) support for eugenics, racism and Nazism, sociobiological concepts have also been criticized by Christians as an attempt to base morality on natural rather than religious foundations. [+]


1972 (Institute for Creation Research).  Henry Morris founds ICR as the primary voice for Creation Science.  The Institute maintains the Museum of Creation in San Diego, California. [+]

Supreme Court: Public Domain Image

1971 (Lemon v. Kurtzman).  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. [G] [+]

Supreme Court: Public Domain Image

1968 (Epperson v. Arkansas).  The U.S. Supreme Court rules that an Arkansas law prohibiting the teaching of evolution in public schools violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, but did not specifically prohibit the teaching of creationism.  This would not happen until Edwards in 1987. [G] [+]

Supreme Court: Public Domain Image

Jun 17, 1963 (Abington School District v. Schempp).  The U.S. Supreme Court declares guided or sanctioned bible reading in public schools to be a violation of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.  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. [G] [+]

Supreme Court: Public Domain Image

Jun 25, 1962 (Engel v. Vitale).  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 while pleasing church-state separatists. [G] [+]

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1961 (The Genesis Flood and Young Earth Creationism).  This book by John Whitcomb and Henry Morris gives birth to Young Earth Creationism by positing scientific bases for pure biblical creationism.  The book also revives the 17th Century concept of flood geology; the idea that modern geological formations and rock strata were laid down by the Noachian flood—expanding on the work of McCready's New Geology. [+]

Internet Movie Databas: IMDB

1960 (Inherit the Wind).  A 1955 play first adopted for film in 1960, Inherit the Wind tells a story loosely based on the events of the Scopes Trial. [G] [+]

Wikipedia Commons: Public Domain

Oct 4, 1957 (Sputnik launch spurs scientific education).  Stunned by Soviet success in space, the US launches wide-ranging reforms of science education.  In the realm of biology, this meant the return of evolution to high school biology textbooksfrom which evolutionary science had been almost universally absent since the Scopes Trial. [+]
  1953 (Miller-Urey experiment).  In this infamous experiment, University of Chicago graduate student Stanley Miller attempts to replicate the conditions of primitive earthand specifically to generate the organic compounds necessary for the creation of life.  This experiment has generally been discredited as inaccurately reflecting initial atmospheric conditions, and has therefore been used by antievolutionists as an example of bad evolutionary science (despite the fact that the experiment dealt with abiogenesis, and not evolution). [+]
  1953 (DNA).  Watson and Crick publish their groundbreaking paper on DNA, quite literally showing the world the physical backbone of genetic inheritanceand how evolutionary changes can be conveyed from one generation to another. [+]
  1950 (Pius XII's Humani Generis).  In this papal encyclical, Pope Pius XII states that there is no conflict between Catholicism and evolution, provided there is no attempt to apply evolutionary concepts to issues of faith. [G]

Supreme Court: Public Domain Image

Mar 8, 1948 (McCollum v. Board of Education).  The U.S. Supreme Court declares religious classes in public schoolrooms to be an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment Clause.  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 while pleasing church-state separatists.
  1925 (Scopes "Monkey" Trial).  One of the most infamous and misunderstood trials in American history, this test of of Tennessee's Butler Act pits evolution against Christianity.  While advocates of evolution lose, book publishers immediately start pulling evolutionary references from textbooks to avoid further controversy. [G] [+]
  1925 - 1967 (Tennessee's Butler Act).  The Butler Act makes it illegal for schools in Tennessee to teach any form of evolutionary science that implies human beings descended from animals.  This act is the basis for the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial, but similar acts pass in other states in the 1820s.  The act was repealed 1967 to avoid further litigation. [G] [+]
  1921 (Bryan's "Menace of Darwinism").  William Jennings Bryan rallies fundamentalism into a crusade against evolution with speeches such as the "Menace of Darwinism" in 1921, and the later "Bible and its Enemies."  Bryan's emphasis on evolution makes him the perfect state advocate in the Scopes Monkey Trial.
  1914 - 1918 (World War I backlash).  Horror at the atrocities of the war creates backlash against Social Darwinism and evolution by association.
  1918 (Modern Synthesis/Neo-Darwinism).  In simplest terms, the modern synthesis combines Darwin's evolutionary theory of natural selection with Mendelian inheritance and population genetics.  The synthesis unifies otherwise disparate disciplines ranging from botany to paleontology.  [+]
  1923 (McCready's New Geology).  This fundamentalist perspective on geology is written by Seventh-day Adventist George McCready Price and revives the concept of flood geology—the idea that earth's geology, including fossil-bearing sedimentary layers, are the result of the Noachian flood.  New Geology is embraced by many fundamentalists, and is later adopted by Morris and Whitcomb in The Genesis Flood in support of Creation Science. [+]
Barnes & Noble 1909 (Scofield Reference Bible).  This innovative and wildly popular Bible includes cross-references to literal biblical timelines.  The Bible introduces many fundamentalists to creationism and Ussher's calendar, which establishes the date of Creation on the evening before October 23, 4004 BC. [+]
  1905 - 1915 (Fundamentalism emerges).  Fundamentalism emerges as a form of Protestantism that stresses biblical inerrancy, at least partially in reaction to the increasing popularity of evolution and Catholic immigration to the U.S.  Various fundamentalist groups have long been the primary U.S. antievolutionists. [G] [+]
  Early 1900s (Public Schools Expand).  The U.S. public school system expands throughout the early 1900s, in no small part to provide children with a common moral foundation.  While nominally non-sectarian, these schools were predominantly Protestant and encouraged prayer, Bible reading and other religious practices.
  c. 1900 (Mendel noticed).  Scientists rediscover Mendel's work on biological inheritance.  Years later, Mendelian "genetics" becomes a keystone of the modern evolutionary synthesis. [+]
  c. 1880 (Social Darwinism emerges).  Social Darwinism applies Darwin's evolutionary concepts to human social behavior.  Some Social Darwinists use Herbert Spencer's concept of "survival of the fittest" to justify racism and other oppressive ideologies.  This has the unfortunate effect of (erroneously) associating evolutionary science with eugenics, racism and even the holocaust. [+]
  c. 1887 (Theistic Evolution emerges).  Theistic evolution comprises a collection of beliefs holding that there is no necessary conflict between evolutionary science and religion.  The concepts of theistic evolution emerge in the late 1800s and are generally attributed to evolution supporters such as Asa Gray.  Harvard Professor Gray, most commonly known today as the creator of Gray's Anatomy, was an active supporter of Darwin and a devout Christian. [+]

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1871 (Darwin's Descent of Man).  Darwin publishes his second book on evolutionary theory, explicitly addressing issues of human development and sexual selection that he had avoided in Origin.  Sexual selection is important as a counter to antievolutionary arguments that some traits (e.g., beauty) could not be explained by the process of natural selection. [+]
  1865 (Mendel's unnoticed "Experiments").  Gregor Mendel publishes "Experiments on Plant Hybridization", proposing a mechanism for the inheritance of biological traits.  Just such a mechanism has evaded Darwin, but neither he nor much of anyone else notices of Mendel's work.  Mendel labors in relative obscurity until his death in 1884. [+]

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Nov 24, 1859 (Darwin's Origin of Species).  Spurred by the development of similar evolution concepts developed by Alfred Wallace, Charles Darwin finally puts aside his study of barnacles and publishes his much anticipated masterwork, On the Origin of Species.  While Darwin is not by any means the first person to suggest some process of natural evolution, he is the first to support a specific developmental mechanism (natural selection) with a vast array of scientific evidence and observation.  Like it or not, the world hasn't been the same since. [G] [+]
  1858 (Wallace's "Tendency").  Biologist Alfred Russell Wallace sends Darwin a copy of his essay, "On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type."  The essay proposes a theory of natural selection very similar to Darwin's own.  This essay and an unpublished 1844 paper of Darwin's are presented to a scientific group by fellow scientists--where Darwin is acknowledged as having first developed the theory--but Wallace's work spurs Darwin to publish the Origin of Species the next year. [+]

Public Domain: Wikipedia Commons

1831 - 1836 (Darwin's Beagle voyage).  Darwin spends almost five years on the second scientific expedition of the HMS beagle, exploring the coastal waters and coastlines South America.  Darwin gains considerable fame from his travel memoirs, published as Journal of Remarks (now commonly published as Voyage of the Beagle) in 1839.  The Origin of Species, based largely on notes and observations made during this voyage, does not come out for another twenty years. [+]
  1830s (Gap Creationism emerges).  Gap Creationism (Gap Theory) is a collection of modified creationist beliefs that try to reconcile geological and cosmological timelines (but not evolution) with the biblical story of Genesis.  These theories emerge in the early 1800s, apparently the original idea of Scottish mathematician Thomas Chalmers. [G] [+]
  1830 - 1833 (Lyell's Principles of Geology).  Charles Lyell publishes this highly influential multi-volume work on geology, showing how the earth's geological formations may have developed over very long periods of time and in a supposedly gradual manner.  Principles builds largely on Hutton's brilliant but less eloquent uniformitarian arguments. [+]
  1823 (Buckland's Reliquae Diluvianae).  Geologist William Buckland publishes this claim to have discovered evidence of Noah's flood in Yorkshire, sparking one of many fierce debates on he age of the earth. [G]
  c. 1817 (Catastrophism emerges).  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. [+]
  c. 1809 (Lamarckism emerges).  French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck suggests that biological traits (e.g., strength and musculature) developed during one's lifetime are passed on to immediate descendents.  While long-since discredited, Lamarckism is one of the first major theories of biological inheritance in support of natural development. [+]
  1803 (Paley's Natural Theology and Argument from Design).  One of the earlier and most eloquent arguments in favor of intelligence behind creation was made by William Paley in this 1803 work.  The most recent manifestation of Paley's Argument by Design is Intelligent Design. [G]
  1794 - 1796 (Erasmus Darwin's Zoönomia).  Charles Darwin's grandfather suggests that all warm-blooded animal life on earth may have developed from simpler life forms "in the great length of time since the earth began to exist." [+]

Public Domain

1789 - 1791 (US Bill of Rights).  This collection of ten amendments to the US Constitution is passed by Congress on Sep 25, 1789 and ratified in 1791, thereby granting constitutional protection to a wide range of human rights.  Among these are religious rights protected under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."  This clause is the basis for many modern court rulings against the teaching of creationism, Intelligent Design and other religious subjects in public schools. [+]
  Mar - Apr 1785 (Hutton proposes uniformitarianism).  Scottish geologist James Hutton presents his theory of uniformitarianism to the Royal Society of Edinburgh.  In contrast to generally-held young-earth views supported by biblical timelines such as Ussher's, Hutton's  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. [+]
  1749 - 1788 (Buffon's Natural History).  Mathematician, biologist and author Georges-Louis Leclerc (Comte de Buffon) publishes this seminal work in 42 volumes (8 published after his death) covering everything then known about the natural world.  Buffon explicitly discusses the possibility of the common ancestry of humans and apes. [+]

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1650 (Ussher's Annals of the Old Testament).  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. [+]

Public Domain: Wikipedia Commons

c. 1470 (Augustine's City of God).  In this wide-ranging religious work, theologian and (later) saint of the Roman Catholic Church, Augustine of Hippo 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. [+]

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