Creationists are fighting the right battle, but on the wrong front.

Because a number of people have asked about my participation in the “creation-science” trial in Arkansas, I want to clarify the issues involved. In fact, one of my motives in testifying was to provide an opportunity for conservative Christians to discuss these questions more considerately and cautiously. There are some factors that may not appear on the surface of the issue to which Christians ought to give careful consideration.

Such consideration is particularly important if your initial reaction was like mine: that it probably was unwise for me to get involved in the matter—or even that I might be getting involved on the wrong side. Specifically, I was asked by the attorneys for the plaintiffs in Arkansas who oppose the law to testify as an “expert witness” on the history of fundamentalism. Only after carefully reviewing the law and reflecting on its implications did I conclude that not only would it be right to offer my expertise as a service to the court, but that it could also be a valuable service to the Christian community. Following are some of the considerations that led to the conclusions.

1. This law is not, as commonly supposed, one that places creationists all on one side, with only evolutionists on the other. In fact, most of the plaintiffs in Arkansas who opposed the law were creationists. For instance, my testimony was preceded by that of one of the plaintiffs, the Methodist bishop of Arkansas, who affirmed his deep commitment to the doctrine of creation as revealed in Genesis. Though not all the plaintiffs were religious people, most of them were.

Moreover, there are many views of divine creation—and that is just the point: creationists of ...

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