Evolution vs. Creationism
General Rule: Evolution must only be taught as scientific fact. Creationism may not be
taught as science under any circumstances.
May a public school science teacher's right to teach evolution be restricted?
No. The United States Supreme Court has determined that it is unconstitutional to restrict an
educator's right to teach evolution. 35
May a science teacher who teaches evolution also teach creationism? No. Educators may
not teach, as fact, the theory that humankind was created by a divine being. In science classes,
educators must present only scientific explanations for life on earth and scientific critiques
of evolution. Furthermore, schools may not refuse to teach evolution in an effort to
avoid offending religious individuals. The United States Supreme Court has held that it is
unconstitutional to require educators who teach evolution also to teach creationism. 36
In addition, disclaimers regarding the theory of evolution as the only explanation for the
development of humankind have been found to be unconstitutional. In Freiler v. Tangipahoa
Parish Board of Education, 185 F. 3d 337 (5th Cir 1999), cert. denied, 530 U. S. 1251 (2000), the
court struck down a school board rule requiring teachers to read a disclaimer that said that
the teaching of evolution is "not intended to influence or dissuade the Biblical version of
Creation or any other concept."
May creationism ever be discussed in the public schools? Yes. Creationism may be included
in classes on comparative religion as an example of how some religious groups believe
human life began. However, creationism may never be taught as scientific fact.
Do scientific integrity and equity require that we teach a competing theory of human origins?
Some have argued that equity, intellectual honesty and scientific integrity require the
teaching of creationism as a differing and alternative point of view. However, creationism
may not be taught as a response to the theory of evolution. Indeed, creationism (or "creation
science") does not meet the tenets of science as scientists use the term. 37 Moreover, it is not
a matter of equity to teach a religious point of view in a public school classroom with taxpayer
Additionally, there is a growing movement promoting the teaching of "intelligent design theory"
which asserts that the only reasonable explanation for the very complexity of the world
and development of humans is the existence of God. This "theory," often couched in scientific
terminology, is just another species of creationism, and thus also must not be taught in
the classroom as scientific fact.
Parent Asks Biology Teacher to Stop Teaching Evolution or Include Creationism
Mrs. Anderson teaches a seventh grade biology class which includes a section on
Darwinism and evolution. Jenny Hunter is a student in Mrs. Anderson's class. Jenny's
mother was helping Jenny with her homework one night when she realized that Jenny
was studying evolution, which goes against the family's belief in divine creation.
Jenny's mother asked Mrs. Anderson to either stop teaching evolution or to also include
a section on creationism, creation-science or intelligent design in her biology class.
How should Mrs. Anderson respond?
Mrs. Anderson should continue to teach evolution and should not teach any theory that humankind
was created by a divine being. While Jenny should be expected to learn and understand the theory
of evolution, she should not feel compelled to agree with the theory. Mrs. Anderson should make
sure Jenny is not ridiculed because she believes in divine creation.