Neo-creationism is a pseudoscientific movement which aims to restate creationism in terms more likely to be well received by the public, by policy makers, by educators and by the scientific community. It aims to re-frame the debate over the origins of life in non-religious terms and without appeals to scripture. This comes in response to the 1987 ruling by the United States Supreme Court in Edwards v. Aguillard that creationism is an inherently religious concept and that advocating it as correct or accurate in public-school curricula violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.[1][2][3]

One of the principal claims of neo-creationism propounds that ostensibly objective orthodox science, with a foundation in naturalism, is actually a dogmatically atheistic religion.[4] Its proponents argue that the scientific method excludes certain explanations of phenomena, particularly where they point towards supernatural elements, thus effectively excluding religious insight from contributing to understanding the universe. This leads to an open and often hostile opposition to what neo-creationists term "Darwinism", which they generally mean to refer to evolution, but which they may extend to include such concepts as abiogenesis, stellar evolution and the Big Bang theory.

Notable neo-creationist organizations include the Discovery Institute and its Center for Science and Culture. Neo-creationists have yet to establish a recognized line of legitimate scientific research and as of 2015 lack scientific and academic legitimacy, even among many academics of evangelical Christian colleges.[5] Eugenie C. Scott and other critics regard neo-creationism as the most successful form of irrationalism.[3] The main form of neo-creationism is intelligent design.[6] A second form, abrupt appearance theory,[3] which claims that the first life and the universe appeared abruptly and that plants and animals appeared abruptly in complex form, has occasionally been postulated.[7][8]


The neo-creationist movement is motivated by the fear that religion is under attack by the study of evolution.[9][10][11] An argument common to neo-creationist justifications is that society has suffered "devastating cultural consequences"[12][13][14] from adopting materialism and that science is the cause of this decay into materialism since science seeks only natural explanations. They believe that the theory of evolution implies that humans have no spiritual nature, no moral purpose, and no intrinsic meaning, and thus that acceptance of evolution devalues human life[15] directly leading to the atrocities committed by Hitler's Nazi regime, for example.[16][17] The movement's proponents seek to "defeat [the] materialist world view" represented by the theory of evolution in favor of "a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions".[14] Phillip E. Johnson, 'father' of the intelligent design movement, states the movement's goal is to "affirm the reality of God".[18]


Much of the effort of neo-creationists in response to science consists of polemics highlighting gaps in understanding or minor inconsistencies in the literature of biology, then making statements about what can and cannot happen in biological systems.[19][20][21] Critics of neo-creationism suggest that neo-creationist science consists of quote-mining the biological literature (including outdated literature) for minor slips, inconsistencies or polemically promising examples of internal arguments. These internal disagreements, fundamental to the working of all natural science, are then presented dramatically to lay audiences as evidence of the fraudulence and impending collapse of "Darwinism".[22] Critics suggest that neo-creationists routinely employ this method to exploit the technical issues within biology and evolutionary theory to their advantage, relying on a public that is not sufficiently scientifically literate to follow the complex and sometimes difficult details.

Robert T. Pennock argues that intelligent design proponents are "manufacturing dissent" in order to explain the absence of scientific debate of their claims: "The 'scientific' claims of such neo-creationists as Johnson, Denton, and Behe rely, in part, on the notion that these issues [surrounding evolution] are the subject of suppressed debate among biologists.... According to neo-creationists, the apparent absence of this discussion and the nearly universal rejection of neo-creationist claims must be due to the conspiracy among professional biologists instead of a lack of scientific merit."[23]

Eugenie Scott describes neo-creationism as "a mixed bag of antievolution strategies brought about by legal decisions against equal time laws".[24] Those legal decisions, McLean v. Arkansas and Edwards v. Aguillard, doomed the teaching of creation science as an alternative to evolution in public school science classes. Scott considers intelligent design, and the various strategies of design proponents like Teach the Controversy and Critical Analysis of Evolution, as leading examples of neo-creationism.

Neo-creationists generally reject the term "neo-creation", alleging it is a pejorative term.[25] Any linkage of their views to creationism would undermine their goal of being viewed as advocating a new form of science. Instead, they identify themselves to their non-scientific audience as conducting valid science, sometimes by redefining science to suit their needs.[26] This is rejected by the vast majority of actual science practitioners.[27][28][29][30][31] Nevertheless, neo-creationists profess to present and conduct valid science which is equal, or superior to, the theory of evolution,[32] but have yet to produce recognized scientific research and testing that supports their claims.[33] Instead, the preponderance of neo-creationist works are publications aimed at the general public and lawmakers and policymakers. Much of that published work is polemical in nature, disputing and controverting what they see as a "scientific orthodoxy" which shields and protects "Darwinism" while attacking and ridiculing alleged alternatives like intelligent design.[16][34][35] Examples of neo-creationist polemics include the Discovery Institute's Wedge Document,[36] the book Darwin on Trial by Phillip E. Johnson, and the book From Darwin to Hitler by Richard Weikart.[37] Research for Weikart's book was funded by the Discovery Institute, and is promoted through the institute.[38] Both Johnson and Weikart are affiliated with the Discovery Institute; Johnson is program advisor, and Weikart is a fellow.


All of the following names make explicit the connections between traditional creationism, neo-creationism and intelligent design. Not all critics of neo-creationism are on the evolution side of the debate. Henry M. Morris, a notable young earth creationist, accepted the term[1] but opposed the logic of neo-creationism for the very reason that it does not embrace the Bible.[39] The Baptist Center for Ethics calls for "Baptists to recommit themselves to the separation of church and state, which will keep public schools free from coercive pressure to promote sectarian faith, such as state-written school prayers and the teaching of neo-creationism..."[40][41]

  • Barbara Forrest, co-author of Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design (ISBN 0-19-515742-7)
  • Georgetown University theologian John Haught
  • Journalist Chris Mooney, author of The Republican War on Science (ISBN 0-465-04675-4)
  • Massimo Pigliucci[42]
  • Eugenie C. Scott[43]
  • Robert T. Pennock

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Morris, Henry M. "Neocreationism". Institute for Creation Research. Retrieved Sep 29, 2014.
  2. ^ Safire, William (August 21, 2005). "On Language: Neo-Creo". The New York Times. Retrieved Sep 29, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Scott, Eugenie C. (1996). "Creationism, ideology, and science". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. The Flight from Science and Reason. Vol. 775. pp. 505–22. Bibcode:1995NYASA.775..505S. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.1996.tb23167.x. Retrieved 2009-11-12.
  4. ^ Johnson, Phillip E. (October 2004). "Darwinism is Materialist Mythology, Not Science" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 25, 2011. Retrieved Sep 29, 2014.
  5. ^ Laurie, Goodstein (December 4, 2005). "Intelligent Design Might Be Meeting Its Maker". New York Times. Section 4, Page 1, Column 1. Retrieved Sep 29, 2014.
  6. ^ Pigliucci, Massimo (September 2001). "Design Yes, Intelligent No". Skeptical Inquirer. Archived from the original on 2009-04-02. Retrieved 2009-04-04.
  7. ^ Wendell R. Bird (December 1992). The Origin of Species Revisited: The Theories of Evolution and of Abrupt Appearance. Thomas Nelson. p. 13. ISBN 0-8407-6848-6.
  8. ^ Scott, Eugenie Carol (2005). Evolution Vs. Creationism: An Introduction. Science, religion, education. University of California Press. pp. 114–115. ISBN 9780520246508. Retrieved 2015-05-25. Lawyer Wendell Bird [...] proposed a new 'scientific alternative' to evolution [...]. His view, which he dubbed 'Abrupt Appearance Theory,' was, however, indistinguishable in content from Creation Science. [...] The phrase 'abrupt appearance' was part of the definition of Creation Science in literature presented by the creationist side in the Edwards v. Aguillard case. Bird reworked his brief for the Edwards case into The Origin of Species Revisited, published in 1987. [...] Although mammoth in its scope [...], The Origin of Species Revisited is rarely cited today in creationist literature. it was, and remains, ignored in the scientific literature, and after the mid-1990s virtually disappeared from the political realm as well. it has been supplanted by another 'alternative to evolution' that was evolving parallel to it.
  9. ^ Colson, Charles; Pearcey, Nancy (20 September 1999). How Now Shall We Live?. Tyndale House Publishers. ISBN 0842336079. LCCN 2001265761. OCLC 42999968. OL 8238567M.
  10. ^ Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, p. 136, Both Defendants and many of the leading proponents of ID make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general. Repeatedly in this trial, Plaintiffs’ scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science, is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator. [Text in wikisource]
  11. ^ Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, p. 30, Johnson has concluded that science must be redefined to include the supernatural if religious challenges to evolution are to get a hearing. (11:8–15 (Forrest); P-429). Additionally, Dembski agrees that science is ruled by methodological naturalism and argues that this rule must be overturned if ID is to prosper. (Trial Tr. vol. 5, Pennock Test., 32–34, Sept. 28, 2005). [Text in wikisource]
  12. ^ Martin, Allie; Parker, Jenni (August 25, 2006). "TV Producer Defends Documentary Exposing Darwin-Hitler Link". Archived from the original on February 12, 2009.
  13. ^ Handley, Paul (March 7, 2005). "Scientists battle over anti-Darwin 'Intelligent design' theory". Times of Oman. Archived from the original on March 10, 2005. Retrieved Mar 10, 2005.
  14. ^ a b Discovery Institute (1998). "The Wedge Document". Retrieved Sep 29, 2014.
  15. ^ Weikart, Richard (March 1, 2004). "Does Darwinism Devalue Human Life?". The Human Life Review. Retrieved Sep 29, 2014.
  16. ^ a b Richards, Jay W. (July 25, 1999). "Intelligent Design Theory". Retrieved Sep 29, 2014.
  17. ^ Kennedy, James (August 26, 2006). "Darwin's Deadly Legacy". Coral Ridge Ministries. Archived from the original (Television documentary) on August 29, 2006.
  18. ^ Johnson, Phillip E. (1997). Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. pp. 91–92. ISBN 0-8308-1360-8. LCCN 97012916. OCLC 36621960.
  19. ^ Orr, H. Allen (2005-05-23). "Devolution—Why intelligent design isn't". The New Yorker. Annals of Science. No. 2005–05–30. Archived from the original on May 29, 2005.
  20. ^ Attie, A. D. (2006), "Defending science education against intelligent design: a call to action", Journal of Clinical Investigation, vol. 116, no. 5, pp. 1134–1138, doi:10.1172/JCI28449, PMC 1451210, PMID 16670753
  21. ^ Hurd, Gary (May 4, 2005). "Back to the Quote Mines". Archived from the original on August 9, 2015. Retrieved Sep 29, 2014.
  22. ^ Forrest, Barbara; Gross, Paul R. (2004-01-08). Creationism's Trojan Horse. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-515742-7. OCLC 50913078.
  23. ^ Pennock, Robert T. (ed.) (Dec 1, 2001). Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics: Philosophical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. p. 322. ISBN 9780262661249. LCCN 2001031276. OCLC 539676227. OL 9452268M. librarything 827088. goodreads 567279. Retrieved Sep 30, 2014. {{cite book}}: |first= has generic name (help)
  24. ^ Scott, Eugenie C. (February 13, 2001). "Antievolutionism and Creationism in the United States". National Center for Science Education. Retrieved Sep 30, 2014.
  25. ^ Nkangoh, Wilston (May 19, 2005). "FAQs IDEA Club, University of Texas, Dallas". IDEA Club. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012.
  26. ^ Behe, Michael J. (2006). "Whether Intelligent Design is Science". Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute. p. 2. Retrieved Sep 30, 2014.
  27. ^ Wikipedia. List of scientific societies rejecting intelligent design.
  28. ^ Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, p. 83 [Text in wikisource]
  29. ^ AAAS Board of Directors (October 18, 2002). "AAAS Board Resolution on Intelligent Design Theory". American Association for the Advancement of Science. Archived from the original on November 13, 2002. [The AAAS, the largest association of scientists in the U.S., has 120,000 members, and firmly rejects ID].
  30. ^ UNSW (October 20, 2005). "Intelligent design is not science - Scientists and teachers speak out". Sydney, Australia: The University of New South Wales. Archived from the original on April 10, 2011. A coalition representing more than 70,000 Australian scientists and science teachers has called on all schools not to teach Intelligent Design (ID) as science, because it fails to qualify on every count as a scientific theory.
  31. ^ NCSE. "Voices for evolution. List of statements from scientific professional organizations on the status intelligent design and other forms of creationism". National Center for Science Education. Retrieved Sep 30, 2014.
  32. ^ Meyer, Stephen C. (December 1, 2002). "The Scientific Status of Intelligent Design: The Methodological Equivalence of Naturalistic and Non-Naturalistic Origins Theories". Ignatius Press. Retrieved Sep 30, 2014.
  33. ^ Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, p. 88, . [Text in wikisource]
  34. ^ Applegate, David (July 2000). "Creationists Open a New Front". American Geological Institute. Retrieved Sep 30, 2014.
  35. ^ McCarthy, John (November 5, 2005). "Intelligent Design Advocates Seem Unserious And Insincere". Department of Computer Science, Stanford University. Archived from the original on November 21, 2005.
  36. ^ Discovery Institute (1998), The Wedge Strategy (PDF), retrieved Sep 30, 2014
  37. ^ Discovery Institute. "From Darwin to Hitler".
  38. ^ Discovery Institute (July 27, 2004). "Nota Bene July". Archived from the original on September 30, 2007.
  39. ^ Morris, Henry M. "Design Is Not Enough!". Institute for Creation Research. Retrieved Sep 30, 2014.
  40. ^ Ray, Brian D. (April 25, 2006). "Some Baptists Supporting Government-Run Schools". National Home Education Research Institute. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012.
  41. ^ Baptist Center for Ethics (April 21, 2006). "A Baptist Pastoral Letter Supporting Public Education". Archived from the original on August 10, 2006.
  42. ^ Pigliucci, Massimo (September 2001). "Design Yes, Intelligent No: A Critique of Intelligent Design Theory and Neocreationism". Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved Sep 30, 2014.
  43. ^ Eugenie C. Scott (December 1997). "Creationists and the Pope's Statement". Quarterly Review of Biology. 72 (4): 403. doi:10.1086/419952. S2CID 85003487. Retrieved 2007-10-14. Phrases like "intelligent design theory," "abrupt appearance theory," "evidence against evolution," and the like, have sprung up, although the content of many of the arguments is familiar. This view can be called "neocreationism." ... Neocreationists are by no means identical to their predecessors, however.... Neither biblical creationists nor theistic evolutionists.... Most of them are "progressive creationists."

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