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Lights! Camera! Evolve!

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) is expanding its online video presence with its new YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/NatCen4ScienceEd.

Here you'll find reports from the evolution/creationism wars—footage of contentious testimony, landmark and illuminating speeches, conference coverage, excerpts from television appearances, and presentations. In the future, look for classroom videos, tutorials for teachers, videos contributed by NCSE members, and much more.

When you visit our YouTube channel, check out a couple of key areas. At top right you'll see the latest, hot video. (In this case, executive director Dr. Genie Scott explaining evolution to the Texas Board of Education.) Below this video window you'll see the Playlist area. We've broken down our initial offerings into different categories—Genie Scott's testimony before the Texas Board of Education; the board's chairman, Don McLeroy, expounding on why evolution is false; and some light-hearted coverage of our recent Project Steve celebration.

Please explore the site, tell us what you like (and don't), and suggest improvements and changes. Send your comments to Robert Luhn at luhn@ncseweb.org.

Testifying at the State Board of Education Meeting, 25 March 2009

REGISTERING:

You should register early on Friday, 20 March 2009, or on Monday, 23 March, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. (Central Time).

You may register in one of three ways:

"Academic Freedom" Legislation

In recent years, most state-level legislative attacks on evolution have taken the form of "academic freedom" bills, which permit — but do not require — teachers and students to introduce creationist material into science classes. Because these bills are permissive rather than prescriptive, they may have a better chance of surviving judicial scrutiny than has past antievolution legislation.

Contacting the SBOE and Analysis of Proposed Texas Educational Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) Amendments

 

How to Contact Your SBOE Member

 

Identifying Your School Board Member:

  1. Go to http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/
  2. On the line “District Type” select “State Board of Education”
  3. Type in your address and this will identify which board member represents you.

Writing Your School Board Member:

Rebutting Creationist Claims

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:

  • There is no evidence for evolution
  • Evolution leads to atheism
  • There are no transitional fossils or there are huge gaps in the fossil record

Analysis of the "Santorum language"

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.

Why It's Wrong to Teach Creationism in Public Schools

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.

Edwards v. Aguillard

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.

Recommended Books about Creationism and Evolution

(Book titles are linked to Amazon.)

Alters, Brian J. and Sandra Alters
Defending Evolution: A guide to the creation/evolution controversy
Sudbury, Mass: Jones & Bartlett Pub (2001)

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