Intelligent creation?

The argument over evolution and creationism in public schools

By A.J. Wagner

Brown University professor Kenneth Miller testifies in 2005 in 'Kitzmiller v. Dover School District' on whether intelligent design is a religious belief or a scientific theory.

Brown University professor Kenneth Miller testifies in 2005 in 'Kitzmiller v. Dover School District' on whether intelligent design is a religious belief or a scientific theory.

For those who contend that the U.S. is a Christian nation, this paragraph, taken from the Treaty of Tripoli, is an obstacle of great consequence.

“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion — as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility of Mussulmen — and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

This paragraph, ratified unanimously by the U.S. Senate and signed into law by John Adams in 1797, makes it clear that the founding fathers did not consider the U.S. to be bound by any religion.

Furthermore, the U.S., in 1797, staked its ground with Islam coming down on the side of peaceful coexistence with the Muslim faith. Again, approved unanimously by the Senate and signed by the president.

This statement within the Treaty of Tripoli displays the thought that eventually evolved into a phrase used in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That phrase states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” It is what Thomas Jefferson called, “a wall of separation between church and state.”

More fully, Jefferson said, “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.”

It is with this brief historical background that I ask you to contemplate how the Springboro School Board might require the teaching of creationism in their classrooms. Two of the school board’s members are already on board with the idea and if it is approved by the full board, it will most certainly face a court challenge.

Several courts have already dealt with the issue of creationism and time after time the courts have said that the teaching of “creationism,” “intelligent design” or “creation science” is the teaching of religion, which is forbidden by the First Amendment. Here’s a brief description of three of those cases starting with the granddaddy of them all: Epperson v. Arkansas.
In Epperson, (1968) 393 U.S. 97, the U.S. Supreme Court took on Arkansas where the teaching of evolution had been banned by law. The Court said that the law violated the First Amendment to the Constitution in that it required teaching and learning to be tailored to the principles and prohibitions of a particular religious sect or doctrine. That, according to the Supreme Court, violates the Establishment Clause stated above.

Edwards vs. Aguillard (1987) 482 U.S. 578, is a case from Louisiana where legislation at one time required that if evolution was taught in a classroom then creation science must be given equal treatment. In Edwards, the U.S. Supreme Court said that to teach of a supernatural being that created the humans is to endorse religion, which the U.S. Constitution prohibits.

In the third case, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, (2005) 400 F. Supp. 2d 707, Judge John E. Jones, III rendered a thorough 139-page decision declaring that “intelligent design” could not be taught in the Dover schools. Judge Jones heard significant amounts of testimony from proponents of intelligent design who tried to present the theory as scientific in its underpinnings. After listening to the testimony, Judge Jones concluded intelligent design “is not science and cannot be adjudged a valid, accepted scientific theory as it has failed to publish in peer-reviewed journals, engage in research and testing, and gain acceptance in the scientific community.”

So the courts have been consistent. Call it what you want, but creationism is religious doctrine, not science. Evolution is science. Until such time as spontaneous or abrupt species development can be proven to be based in science and not religion the result is likely to be the same.

The Springboro School Board, should they choose to add creationism to their curriculum, must be prepared to prove such. If they cannot, they risk significant loss of taxpayer dollars engaging in a legal challenge they are not likely to win.

Stop by our website and give us your view on the Springboro proposal.  Do you think the idea is intelligent?

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Disclaimer: The content herein is for entertainment and information only. Do not use this as a legal consultation. Every situation has different nuances that can affect the outcome and laws change without notice. If you’re in a situation that calls for legal advice, get a lawyer. You represent yourself at your own risk. The author, the Dayton City Paper and its affiliates shall have no liability stemming from your use of the information contained herein.

A.J. Wagner is an attorney with the law firm of Flanagan, Lieberman, Hoffman and Swaim at 15 W. Fourth Street in Dayton. A.J. and his firm would be glad to help you with all of your legal needs. You can reach A.J. at (937) 223-5200 or at

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