Evolution Debates in Legislatures and on the Campaign Trail
February 12 marks the birthday of Charles Darwin and the celebration of Darwin Day, an observance that highlights the theory of evolution set forth in Darwin’s 1859 work, The Origin of Species. But in state legislatures and on the campaign trail, the debate over evolution is about more than science. Legislatures in several states have introduced or are planning to introduce bills that would mandate the teaching of Bible-based theories of the origin of the world and human beings – such as creationism or intelligent design. Other bills would require teachers to include materials that call evolution into question. Surveys also continue to show that a significant portion of the American public embraces religious or supernatural theories on the origin of man over purely scientific explanations, and those views are also being reinforced in the political arena, especially in the Republican nominating contest. As these bills move through the legislatures and as the election season heats up, the debates over evolution are also likely to spark questions about the relationship between faith and science, believers and nonbelievers, and religion and the public square. This edition of ReligionLink provides resources and experts for reporters covering these hot-button issues.