McLean versus Arkansas Board of Education

Part 5 of a 7-part interview with Dr. Eugenie C. Scott: Creation Science on Trial. Dr. Scott discusses the legal challenge to the Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act introduced in Arkansas in 1981. Evidence by creation scie

Eugenie Scott: That was a very interesting case where the state of Arkansas had passed a law requiring that if teachers taught evolution, they had to teach creation science to balance it out. And I’m glad you mentioned that case because people don’t know it very well, but it was a wonderful example of science really, because the people who challenge the Arkansas law, the lead plaintiffs were religious leaders by the way; the Reverend Bill McLean was the named plaintiff of McLean vs. Arkansas, and of course that was done deliberately to try to diffuse the idea that this was about science versus religion because it really wasn’t, it was about one claim of science versus everyone else, and mainstream religion leaders like Reverend Bill McLean who was a Methodist minister, and Methodists, Prespeterians, Catholics etc. didn’t like the idea of creation science being taught in the public schools because that wasn’t their theology, and they’d have to straighten the kids out on Saturday and Sunday about what their own theology was, so they fought these equal time bills very strongly. But the McLean case was really a wonderful case for science, because the plaintiffs and the defense brought in these teams of scientists; creation science on one side and straight mainstream science on the other side, and they debated whether creation science was science. And it was a long trial, [with] several days of testimony and of course a whole long period of months and months of depositions and the whole business and then finally the cross examinations, and when the dust settled the judge wrote his decision that it was clear from the evidence presented by the mainstream scientists and not rebutted by the creation scientists and the evidence presented by the creation scientists but destroyed by the mainstream scientists that creation science wasn’t a science at all. Evolution was obviously strong science; acceptable science, but creation science was just religion masquerading as science and, because of the establishment clause of our first amendment, was unconstitutional to teach it. Now unfortunately the creationists lost so badly in that case they never appealed it, and so a neighboring state of Louisiana had also passed equal time for creation science legislation and that bill was the one that went all the way to the Supreme Court, but unfortunately without that wonderful trial where the creationists and the evolutionists squared off to debate what is science. And so we didn’t get that wonderful court record into the national case which was actually argued much more narrowly on documents.

creationism, intelligent design, creation science, henry morris, darwinism, evolution, darwin, Genesis, eugenie, scott, dnalc, cshl

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