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'Monkey trial' in reverse opens in Arkansas court

An Arkansas version of the famous ''Scopes monkey trial'' opened Monday as the American Civil Liberties Union attacked the constitutionality of a 1981 state law that forces schools to teach ''creation science'' - the view that man and the universe were created by a supernatural event all at once about 6,000 years ago.

The case is a replay - in reverse - of the 1924 duel between lawyers Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan over a teacher prosecuted for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution instead of the biblical view of creation.

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The hopes of a fast-growing creationist movement across the United States, which produced the Arkansas law and a similar one in Louisiana, are riding on the court case.

The ACLU argues that the law is unconstitutional since creationism is not, as its proponents say, a science but a religion. If the law is ruled unconstitutional - the First Amendment forbids the passing of any law ''respecting an establishment of religion'' - similar bills pending in at least 18 other states may be doomed.