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In 2001, the United States Senate adopted a "Sense of the Senate" amendment proposed by Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania) as part of an education bill. As reported here, the resolution included the phrase, "where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why the subject generates so much continuing controversy..." There was little doubt that Santorum's language could be used to undercut the teaching of evolution.
NCSE advises -- try not to get drawn into a direct debate with a creationist. Sometimes, however, it is important to explain why a creationist claim is misleading or just plain wrong, especially if you are talking with a confused friend, parent, school board member, or interested citizen.
The claims you are most likely to run into:
by Mary Lou Mendum
People often ask us, “How can I further the cause of evolution education?” We've compiled some practical and effective suggestions:
It's religious discrimination.
Teaching creationism privileges a single religious viewpoint. Most mainstream Christians, Jews and Muslims, along with Hindus, Buddhists, deists, and those of other faiths, reject many or all of the doctrines held by self-styled creationists.
Covering the entire spectrum of religious beliefs about origins might be appropriate for a comparative religion class, but it is not appropriate for science classes.
In a landmark ruling in 1987 in Edwards v. Aguillard, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the state of Louisiana's "Creationism Act" was unconstitutional. This statute prohibited the teaching of evolution in public schools, except when it was accompanied by instruction in "creation science". The Court found that, by advancing the religious belief that a supernatural being created humankind, which is embraced by the term "creation science," the act impermissibly endorsed a particular religious viewpoint.
(Note - This is the text of the Discovery Institute's "Wedge Document," prepared in 1998. It lays out "the Wedge strategy" by which the newly-formed Center for Renewal of Science and Culture would promote "intelligent design" creationism.)
CENTER FOR THE RENEWAL OF SCIENCE & CULTURE
In a Washington Times editorial, March 14, 2002, Senator Santorum implied that Senator Edward Kennedy supported the teaching of intelligent design in public schools. Senator Kennedy responded in a letter to the editor on March 21.