Creation Science and the Local School District
Efforts to introduce the teaching of the scientific evidence for the creation model of origins, distinctly apart from the use of any part of the Bible, along with the evolution model at the state and local level is meeting with increasing success. The scientific, educational, and Constitutional basis for this approach has been set forth in a number of Impact articles1-4 and in booklet form.5 It has recently been given strong support by an article in the Yale Law Journal.6 Action to implement the teaching of the creation model along with the evolution model has been taken by the Columbus, Ohio7 and the Dallas school districts,8 among others. Some action has been taken at the state level in several states, most recently in South Carolina, as described later in this article.
Mr. Paul Ellwanger of Anderson, South Carolina, after many months of effort, appears to have succeeded in efforts to have the scientific evidence for the creation model presented in his school district. The school board of the local district, apparently due mainly to the opposition of the district superintendent, refused several requests even to hear Mr. Ellwanger’s proposal. Mr. Ellwanger refused to be discouraged, and his persistence is now being rewarded. The chronicle of events is documented by the following series of articles and may serve as an aid and encouragement to others.
The Anderson Daily Mail
Tuesday, March 14, 1978
Anderson wants students to have choice
From staff reports
Did man evolve from apes or from primitive microorganisms? Or was man created by a supreme being?
Opinions differ, and Paul Ellwanger of 2820 LeConte Road believes that schools have a responsibility to acknowledge more than one theory. He says children should have the opportunity to learn the theory that life was created all at once, as well as the theory of evolution.
He plans to ask the Anderson District 5 trustees in today's 5:15 p.m. meeting to make literature on both theories available to its students.
But the district superintendent, Dr. William B. Royster, says that including the religious theory of creation in the school curriculum would be breaking the law. Because of this, he said the school board probably will receive the proposal as information and not take action.
Materials used in the district are on a list of books approved by the State Department of Education, he explained. And the law says public school districts must select their books from that list.
He said the theory of evolution is contained in materials on the adopted list but the religious concept of creation is not included.
"Until it is put on the adopted list," Royster said, ‘we would be in violation of the law, if we considered using it (creation)."
Ellwanger says instruction in the creation theory through a scientific context without use of the Bible would not violate the U.S. Constitution.
In the written proposal he will offer, Ellwanger says he favors allowing students to consider all the evidence on the theories of origin before deciding what to believe.
Ellwanger, chief respiratory therapist at Anderson Memorial Hospital, proposes that the subject be approached scientifically, rather than from a religious standpoint.
He includes in the proposal a list of books that he would be willing to either loan or give to the district if the board favored his plan. He said these instructional materials do not expound the Bible but instead, "employ scientific discussion by authors highly trained in science."
His presentation is listed as first in order on the agenda of the trustees' meeting. Ellwanger would make no comment other than to refer to the written proposal which will be presented.
Other items listed on the agenda for the board meeting include a report by Trustee Marshall Walker, chairman of the building committee, on the Whitehall Elementary School addition bids and reports from various committees.
Proposal To Anderson School District #5
Board Of Trustees
by Paul Ellwanger
Whereas, the Constitution prohibits government from infringing upon free exercise of an individual's religion, and
Whereas, an infringement occurs when a state program has content contrary to religious precepts, and
Whereas, exclusive instruction by public secondary and elementary schools in the general theory of evolution infringes upon the free exercise of creationist students and parents, and
Whereas, many citizens of this community believe in the special creation concept of origins and are convinced that exclusive indoctrination of their children in the evolutionary concept is inimical to their religious faith and to their moral and civic teachings, as well as to scientific objectivity, academic freedom, and civil rights, and
Whereas, even most citizens who are not opposed to the evolution concept at least favor a balanced treatment of these two alternative views of origins in their schools, so as to allow students to consider all of the evidences favoring each concept before deciding which to believe, and
Whereas, instruction in creation in a scientific context without use of the Bible would not violate the establishment clause of the Constitution, and
Whereas, there are now available, though quite limited in options, instructional material which do not expound the Bible in presenting creation science, but instead, employ scientific discussion by authors highly trained in science,
I hereby propose that the Board of Trustees of Anderson School District #5 take whatever steps necessary to have objectively presented in the public classrooms of District #5 a balanced treatment of evolution and creation in all courses and library materials dealing in any way with the subject of origins, such treatment to be limited to the scientific, rather than the religious aspects of the two concepts.
In the event this Board goes on record in favor of this proposal, I respectfully suggest ...
- That only those instructional materials be considered which would supplement current State-adopted texts in providing unbiased information about these two explanations for origins.
- That only instructional materials be considered for selection which give an objective and nondogmatic treatment of the creation model, so as not to violate the establishment clause of our Constitution.
The following resource/reference items are immediately available, upon request, and offered as a courtesy/convenience, from Paul Ellwanger, 2820 LeConte Road, Anderson, either as a complimentary copy or loan-item (as indicated): [This section is summarized as follows]
- article by Bird6
- an unpublished article by Gish, "Creation, Evolution and Public Education" (available from ICR)
- a news article about Dr. John N. Moore and one of his Impact articles (No. 52, published October, 1977).
- Impact article No. 51, September, 1977, by Henry Morris.
- Impact article No. 36, June, 1976, by Richard Bliss.
- the student's book, teacher’s guide, and transparencies entitled Origins: Two Models, Creation/Evolution by Richard Bliss.
- Scientific Creationism, Public School Edition, by Henry Morris.
MARCH 15, 1978
Creationism To Be Given
By MARY LASSWELL
After months of trying, an Anderson man seeking to have creationism taught alongside evolutionism in District 5 schools went before the board Tuesday.
The board said it would give his idea "further thought."
Since last summer, Paul Ellwanger of 2820 LeConte Road has been attempting to get creationism taught in addition to the evolution theory in Anderson schools.
It is possible to teach creationism in a scientific context, without involving the accompanying religious issues or using the Bible, he said.
After Tuesday's meeting, Ellwanger said he hoped the board would give his proposal "very serious consideration" and ultimately accept it.
"I would hope that the board would not take the matter lightly and would not let it rest," he said.
"Too many people who have not really studied the various legal ramifications of this subject have emphasized, and possibly overemphasized the religious overtones," said Ellwanger, giving trustees copies of the typed, three-page proposal.
Reading from a Yale Law journal he brought to the meeting, Ellwanger said creationists believe, among other things, in special creation; in the stability of plant and animal kinds—the idea that one species has not evolved into another over time; and in "catastrophism"—the idea that the earth has undergone sudden rather than gradual changes in the past.
By teaching only the evolutionist model of origins, schools are not giving students a balanced presentation of the ideas that exist on the subject, Ellwanger said.
Both viewpoints should be presented "in all courses and library materials dealing in any way with the subject of origins, such treatment to be limited to the scientific, rather than the religious aspects of the two concepts."
If the board does not take action on his proposal, he said "I really do not know, because it depends on which bridge I have to cross as to how I'm going to cross it." He said there were several options available to him, but he was not specific.
District 5 Supt. Dr. W. B. Royster has said in the past that if creationist literature were used in the schools, the question whether its use violates the principle in the U.S. Constitution of separation of church and state must first be resolved.
Ellwanger had asked to speak to the school board on this subject last summer, but had been referred to the state department of education, first by then-assistant superintendent for instruction Dr. James P. Mahaffey and later by Royster.
Royster said Tuesday that the state board of education, by law, has authority to decide what textbooks may be used in the public schools, and that if creationist materials were to be used in District 5 schools, they would first have to be approved by the state board.
A standing committee of the state board periodically reviews textbooks on the subjects taught in schools and invites publishers to submit texts they want considered for adoption, Royster said, adding that biology and related materials are among subjects in which books are currently up for review.
Ellwanger said he had not polled Anderson-area residents on how they felt about presentation of creationism as well as evolution, but he said that in polls taken elsewhere, "Never has a poll dropped below 70 percent of those polled being in favor of both sides being presented."
Final Approval Granted by the State
An article carried in the Anderson newspaper on April 22, 1978, included a copy of a letter from Henry G. Hollingsworth, Jr., Director, Office of General Education of the South Carolina Department of Education, stating that Mr. Ellwanger's proposal to the Anderson School Board is within the authority of the local school district and requires no further approval by the State.
Mr. Ellwanger reports that Dr. William W. Duke of Lancaster presented a resolution for introducing creation-science in public classrooms to the South Carolina Board of Education. The resolution was adopted with no dissenting votes. The Curriculum Committee and Policy Committee of the South Carolina Board of Education have been charged with implementing the resolution. An ad hoc committee from around the state of citizens interested in following through on the effort to implement the teaching of creation in the public schools of South Carolina has been formed and follow-up action is being taken. Part of this follow-up action will be an address by Dr. Richard Bliss to the South Carolina Association of School Superintendents at their Fall Conference at Myrtle Beach on October 9. Dr. Bliss will also conduct a workshop on scientific creationism for the science teachers of Lancaster County, South Carolina on October 6;1 "Evolution, Creation, and the Public Schools," H. M. Morris, ICR "Impact," No. 1.
2 "Introducing Creationism into the Public Schools," H. M. Morris, ICR "Impact," No. 20.
3 "Resolution for Equitable Treatment of Both Creation and Evolution," H. M. Morris, ICR Impact Series #26.
4 "A Two-Model Approach to Origins: A Curriculum Imperative," R. Bliss, ICR "Impact," No. 36.
5 "Introducing Scientific Creationism into the Public Schools," H. M. Morris, Institute for Creation Research, San Diego, 1975.
6 Wendell Bird, "Freedom of Religion and Science Instruction in Public Schools," The Yale Law Journal, Vol. 87, pp. 515-570 (1978).
7 See Acts and Facts, Vol. 5, No. 12, December, 1976.
8 See Acts and Facts, Vol. 6, No. 4, April, 1977.
Cite this article: . 1979. Creation Science and the Local School District. Acts & Facts. 8 (1).