"Science, Education, and Obfuscation: The Horizon of Creationist Legislation and What It Means for a Continuing Controversy"

Anthony S. Arveschoug

Antievolutionists have attempted to legally undermine the teaching of evolution in the public school science classroom for nearly a decade, introducing and passing a number of bills and initiating law suits all aimed at limiting students’ exposure to evolution from 1922 to 2013. However, not all legislative or legal attempts by creationists to limit the teaching of evolution use the same tactic, and in the most current phase of the evolution-creationism “controversy” (1995-2013), creationists have adopted a more subtle and covert tactic to undermine the teaching of evolution. This analysis uses Perelman’s theory of argumentation to uncover creationists’ use of strategic ambiguity and a brand of incommensurability in antievolution bills. This analysis finds that by using a more ambiguous strategy to appeal to a broad set of liberal values, creationists limit message resolution, broaden their potential support base, and offer a particularly democratic solution to the social controversy regarding the teaching of evolution.