Almost 150 years after Charles Darwin published his groundbreaking work On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, Americans are still fighting over evolution. If anything, the controversy has recently grown in both size and intensity. In the last five years alone, for example, debates over how evolution should be taught in public schools have been heard in school boards, town councils and legislatures in more than half the states.
Throughout much of the 20th century, opponents of evolution (many of them theologically conservative Christians) either tried to eliminate the teaching of Darwin’s theory from public school science curricula or urged science instructors also to teach a version of the creation story found in the biblical book of Genesis. The famous 1925 Scopes “monkey” trial, for instance, involved a Tennessee law prohibiting the teaching of evolution in the state’s schools. (See The Social and Legal Dimensions of the Evolution Debate in the U.S.)
In this research package
The Conflict Between Religion and Evolution
An overview of the American debate over evolution.
Social and Legal Dimensions
The battle over evolution has been largely fought in courtrooms.
Darwin and His Theory of Evolution
At first glance, Charles Darwin seems an unlikely revolutionary.
Religious Groups’ Official Positions on Evolution
A breakdown of 13 major religious groups’ views on evolution.
Evolution: A Timeline
This timeline highlights key events in the debate surrounding evolution.
Religious Differences on the Question of Evolution
The Pew Forum’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey found that views on evolution differ widely across religious groups.
Fighting Over Darwin, State by State
A review of battles over whether – or how – public school students should learn about evolution and the origins of life.
But beginning in the 1960s, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a number of decisions that imposed severe restrictions on those state governments that opposed the teaching of evolution. As a result of these rulings, school boards, legislatures and government bodies are now barred from prohibiting the teaching of evolution. Teaching creation science, either along with evolutionary theory or in place of it, is also banned.
Partly in response to these court decisions, opposition to teaching evolution has itself evolved, with opponents
via Pew Forum: Overview of the Conflict Between Religion and Evolution.
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