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Creationism: If it’s supernatural it’s not science

Creationism: If it's supernatural it's not science

National media attention focused on suburban Cobb County, Ga., last week as a federal court heard constitutional challenges to a school district policy requiring that a biology textbook carry this disclaimer: “Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.” Plaintiffs complain that the disclaimer, which is similar to others popping up in school districts from Alabama to Wisconsin, violates the separation of church and state. But scientists themselves call evolution a theory. Why can’t a school district?

Typically, when scientists refer to the “theory” of evolution, they mean what’s called Darwinism, the specific concept of evolution by natural selection — survival of the fittest — or its synthesis with modern genetics. By contrast, the big picture of evolution — the concept that one species descended from another — is considered by many scientists to be a fact. Even biochemist Michael J. Behe, whose popular 1996 book, “Darwin’s Black Box,” helped reawaken public opposition to Darwinism, accepts that explanation for the origin of species. Yet the question remains: Why should scientists object to a school district describing Darwinism as a theory when they do so themselves?