creationism/ID or inhibited the teaching of evolution. Most of these bills did not pass, due to action by citizens, including scientists, who persuaded legislators to vote against the bills. The states included (HB for House Bill, and SB for Senate Bill) Alabama (HB 106, SB 45), Indiana (HB 1388), Michigan (HB 5606, HB 5251), Missouri (HB 1266), Mississippi (HB 953, SB 2427, HB 214), Oklahoma (SB 1959, HB 2526, HB 2107, HB 1003), Utah (SB 96), New York (AB 8036), and South Carolina (SB 114). In Mississippi, a watered-down version of a bill appended to another bill did pass (HB 214, appended to SB 2427). This bill originally called for the teaching of “flaws or problems” in evolution and encouraged the teaching of ID. The final, reduced bill provided that “No local school board, school superintendent or school principal shall prohibit a public school classroom teacher from discussing and answering questions from individual students on the origin of life.”
Although there are still rare attempts to promote creation science at the state level, most of the school board or legislative antievolutionism today is directed toward promoting ID and/or promoting the teaching of alleged “evidence against evolution.” The latter strategy consists of taking the creationist objections to evolution and stripping them of any mention of a positive explanation of biology, such as creation or design. By avoiding explicit or implied reference to God or a Designer, creationists hope to survive constitutional challenges.
A number of phrases are being used to promote this “evidence against evolution” approach, including requiring students to “critically analyze evidence for evolution,” to learn “both evidence for and evidence against evolution,” to study “both the strengths and weaknesses of evolution,” or to have evolution presented as “theory not fact.” Teachers are also exhorted to “teach the full range of views about origins” and, in the slogan of the Discovery Institute, “teach the controversy.” The vagueness of “teach the controversy” is its strength: The public is told by media sources that evolution is socially controversial and infers that evolution is also controversial among scientists. “Teach the controversy” does not mean that teachers should have students debate actual controversial scientific issues; it is rather an exhortation to teachers to instruct students that common ancestry (evolution) is a serious issue of contention among scientists.
Antievolutionists have also proposed policies and legislation that contend that it is the students’ right to know and the teacher’s right to teach creation science, intelligent design, or “evidence against evolution.” Such “fairness” arguments resonate with the American public, which responds to the cultural attractiveness of hearing all sides to an issue but which by and large fails to understand that there is no serious scientific challenge to evolution.