Reconciling Faith, Reason, and Freedom: Catholicism and Evolution from Scopes to Dover
54 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2008 Last revised: 2 Mar 2008
Date Written: February 23, 2008
The participants in the Scopes trial presented a dramatic tension between religion and science that tended to highlight a mutual exclusivity between traditional belief in God and adherence to the theory of evolution. The reaction of the nation's Roman Catholics to the trial, underrepresented in previous scholarly accounts, tend to undermine this stark dichotomy between religion and science. This paper traces reactions to the trial published in Catholic periodicals to present their acceptance of the principles underlying each side of the trial - the defense's appeal to human reason and the prosecution's appeal to faith - and their rejection of what they considered to be each side's excesses. These same tensions - deriving from the principle of compatibility between the Catholic faith and scientific observation - were present in the Dover litigation over a school district's promotion of the alternative theory of intelligent design to explain human origins.
Keywords: evolution, Catholicism, legal history, Scopes, Kitzmiller v. Dover, science and religion, religious liberty, intelligent design, creationism
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