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Is it Science Yet?: Intelligent Design Creationism and the Constitution


Steven G. Gey


Florida State University

Matthew J. Brauer


Princeton University - Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics

Barbara Forrest


Southeastern Louisiana University - Dept. History and Political Science

September 2004

FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 125

Abstract:     
On several occasions during the last eighty years states have attempted to either prohibit the teaching of evolution in public school science classes or counter the teaching of evolution with mandatory references to the religious doctrine of creationism. The Supreme Court struck down examples of the first two generations of these statutes, holding that they violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. A third generation of creationist legislation is now being proposed. Under this new generation of creationism legislation, science teachers would present so-called intelligent design theory as an alternative to evolution. Intelligent design theory asserts that a supernatural intelligence intervened in the natural world to dictate the nature and ordering of all biological species, which do not evolve from lower- to higher-order beings. This article considers whether these intelligent design creationism proposals can survive constitutional scrutiny. The authors analyze the religious, philosophical, and scientific details of intelligent design theory, and assess these details in light of the constitutional doctrine developed by the Court in its previous creationism decisions. The article discusses several factors that pose problems for intelligent design theory, including the absence of objective scientific support for intelligent design, evidence of strong links between intelligent design and religious doctrine, the use of intelligent design to limit the dissemination of scientific theories that are perceived as contradicting religious teachings, and the fact that the irreducible core of intelligent design theory is what the Court has called the manifestly religious concept of a God or Supreme Being. Based on these details, the authors conclude that intelligent design theory cannot survive scrutiny under the constitutional framework used by the Court to invalidate earlier creationism mandates.

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Date posted: September 15, 2004  

Suggested Citation

Gey, Steven G. and Brauer, Matthew J. and Forrest, Barbara, Is it Science Yet?: Intelligent Design Creationism and the Constitution (September 2004). FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 125. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=590882 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.590882

Contact Information

Steven G. Gey (Contact Author)
Florida State University ( email )
Tallahasse, FL 32306
United States
850-644-5467 (Phone)
850-644-5487 (Fax)
Matthew J. Brauer
Princeton University - Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics ( email )
Carl Icahn Laboratory
Princeton, NJ 08544
United States
Barbara Forrest
Southeastern Louisiana University - Dept. History and Political Science ( email )
Hammond, LA 70402
United States
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