NIMBioS Study Shows Ancestral Relationships of Modern Creationist Legislation

teaching_evolution

Teachers at a workshop learn new tips for teaching evolution. A new study reveals strategies used in state lawmaking to influence the teaching of evolution in public schools. Photo Credit: NIMBioS

Organized opposition to the teaching of evolution in public schools in the United States began in the 1920s, leading to the famous Scopes Monkey trial. It continues today, but has evolved significantly from the outright bans.

In a new study from the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) at UT, the evolutionary history of antievolution efforts in state legislatures is statistically reconstructed in a phylogenetic tree to reveal the genealogical relationships among lawmaking efforts over the past decade.

The study, published today in the journal Sciencesheds light on the strategies used by creationists to influence the way biology is taught in the classroom.

While US courts have consistently ruled that teaching explicitly religious alternatives to evolution, such as creation science or intelligent design, violates the US Constitution, creationists have continued to fight legal and political battles to undermine the teaching of evolution.

The study shows the detailed “family relationships” of antievolution legislation in the US from 2004 to the present. The phylogenetic analysis tracks the copying and modification of the text of the legislative proposals over the last ten years, which total 65 bills. Continue reading on the NIMBioS website.