Reasons to Believe

Supreme Court Rules on Teaching Creationism

"'Creation Science' Banned in Schools," screamed a Los Angeles Times headline. This banner, typical of hundreds that appeared in newspapers and newsmagazines across the nation, parroted by hundreds more radio and television announcers, gave the distinct impression that the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled against the presenting of any evidence for creation to students in public schools and universities. Unfortunately, few articles under those headlines did little to alter that impression as they reported the justices' decision that the 1981 Louisiana law mandating creation science instruction "violated the legal principle of separation of church and state."

The court was presented with prodigious testimony to the effect that no evidence for creation exists. A "friend of the court" brief was submitted by 72 Nobel Prize-winning scientists and 17 state academies of science. This brief dismissed the educational and scientific value of the "creationist" position, calling it a "sham," and accused the "creationists" of simply relabeling religious dogma as [pseudo] science. One of the Nobel laureates, Caltech's Murray Gell-Mann described the "creationist" position as less defensible scientifically than the notion that the earth is flat. No wonder, then, that a majority of the justices were unwilling to rule in favor of the "creationists" appeal.

However, Bible-believing Christians will find encouragement from the Supreme Court statement itself. Rather than banning the teaching of creationism, the Court chose instead to carefully designate the conditions under which creationism can be taught. According to the majority statement,

The Act does not grant teachers a flexibility that they did not already possess to supplant the present science curriculum with the presentation of theories besides evolution, about the origin of life. Indeed, the Court of Appeals found that no law prohibited Louisiana public schoolteachers from teaching any scientific theory. 765 F.2d, at 1257 ... As the president of the Louisiana Science Teachers Association testified, -[any scientific concept that's based on established fact can be included in our curriculum already, and no legislation allowing this is necessary." 2 App. E6 16. (p. 8) ... Teaching a variety of scientific theories about the origins of humankind to schoolchildren might be validly done with the clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction. (p. 14)

This majority statement actually leaves the door wide open for teaching about creation in public education. It is clear that the Supreme Court ruled on the basis of educational merit. Since the "creationists" involved could not refute the charges of the 72 Nobel laureates by providing any factual basis for their position, the court denied the appeal. However, in so doing, the court indicated that only and any-theories on origins based on established facts could be made mandatory, or supplementary, in the teaching curriculum. The emphasis on established facts for origins teaching gives Christians an unprecedented opportunity to teach publicly information leading to the conclusion that there must be a Creator and that the Creator must be the God of the Bible. To be sure, creationism founded upon Archbishop Ussher's interpretation of the Genesis chronolog must go. 1,2,3 But, the mandatory teaching of Darwinian evolution also has lost its legal footing, for now it can be shown to violate established facts.4,5,6,7 The same is true of deistic evolution, Carl Sagan's Encyclopedia Galactica, the Mormon doctrines of origins, Hindu cosmology, New Age humanism, etc. the data with which we are left perfectly matches the description of creation as found in the "rightly divided" words of the Bible.


  1. Ross, Hugh. Creation Days [audio tape]. Pasadena, California: Reasons to Believe, 1987).
  2. Ross, Hugh. Colloquia and Discussion with the Institute for Creation Research. (Pasadena, California: Reasons to Believe, 1986).
  3. Ross, Hugh. Genesis One: A Scientific Perspective (Pasadena, California: Reasons to Believe, 1983), pp. 16-21.
  4. Ross, Hugh. Cosmology Confronts the Creator: New Proofs for God's Existence. (Pasadena, California: Reasons to Believe, 1987).
  5. Thaxton, Charles B., Bradley, Walter L, and Olsen, Roger. The Mystery of Life's Origin: Reassessing Current Theories. (New York, Philosophical library, 1984).
  6. Hoyle, Fred and Wickramasinghe, Chandra. Evolution from Space: A Theory of Cosmic Creationism. (New York, Simon and Schuster, 1981 ),pp. 1-97.
  7. Shapiro, Robert. Origins.- A Skeptic's Guide to the Creation of life on Earth.(New York: Summit Books, 1986).

Subjects: Educators/Homeschoolers, Legal Issues

Dr. Hugh Ross

Reasons to Believe emerged from my passion to research, develop, and proclaim the most powerful new reasons to believe in Christ as Creator, Lord, and Savior and to use those new reasons to reach people for Christ. Read more about Dr. Hugh Ross.