People have been fighting against the teaching of evolution for years, most notably since the Scopes Monkey trial of 1925. Since then, there have been a number of legal challenges to teaching science in classrooms, especially since the advent of “Intelligent Design” as a way for creationists to challenge science. In 2005, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania found that teaching Intelligent Design in schools violated the Firsts Amendment and since then, challenges to evolution have, ironically, evolved.
According to Dr. Nick Matzke of the Australian National University, anti-evolution legislature has evolved (pun totally intended) since 2004, and can be traced back to earlier creationist writing. He found this by applying a genealogy program to 65 bills passed around the world that target the teaching of science in classrooms. He used a software that has been applied to living animals, fossils, and even literature to determine the genealogy of these subjects.
Some legislation is simply copied from other states, but as creationism loses ground, wording has evolved to allow legislation to support “questioning” things like evolution, cloning, and climate change. Such adaptations allow proponents to protect teachers who offer pseudo-science alternatives to recognized scientific fact from punishment by administration for teaching what is, essentially, theology. Such laws have already passed in Louisiana and Tennessee.
The legislation “can be tied back to creationism through the presence of absence of phrases that give away their shared history.” Dr. Matske’s study found a common ancestor in a 2006 school board policy in Louisiana. The irony that anti-evolution arguments have evolved over time might be funny, but the attempts of creationists to undermine real science and the education of children is anything but.
Anti-evolution arguments have become more subtle and insidious, but they are no less intent on forcing the religious views of some on the experience of others. They do a disservice to students, and it is the duty of all educators to resist them at all turns.