The Darwin Debate

Source Organization: Pew Research Center

06/14/2007 - Twenty years ago, on June 19, 1987, the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling that dramatically reshaped the debate over teaching evolution in public schools. In Edwards v. Aguillard, the high court struck down a Louisiana law requiring that schools teach creation science whenever students learn about evolution. The court ruled that the law's purpose was to promote religion and thus that it violated the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. In issuing its ruling in Edwards, the court effectively closed the door on efforts to teach the biblical creation story in public school science classes. (For a fuller explanation of Edwards and related cases, see the Pew Forum's legal backgrounder From Darwin to Dover.)

Even though Edwards ended efforts to teach creation science in public schools, it has not stifled the debate over how students should learn about the origins and development of life. One major reason the debate continues is public sentiment. Indeed, even though acceptance of evolutionary theory is nearly unanimous in the scientific community, polls have consistently shown that many Americans are skeptical of Darwin's theory.

Read full article "The Darwin Debate" on the Pew Research Center Web site.

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