William Pepperell Montague (1937; painted by Winifred Smith Rieber)

A few years ago, in the introduction to a special issue of the philosophy journal Synthese focusing on creationism, I wrote:

In the first wave of antievolution activity—the attempts during the 1920s to remove evolution from the classroom—philosophers were all but uninvolved in the debate. Although the impresario of the Scopes trial, George Rappelyea, hoped to get John Dewey to testify for the defense (de Camp 1968, p. 80), only experts in science and religion were selected, and in the event they were not permitted to testify (Larson 1997, pp. 170–193). Only [Alfred North] Whitehead, of the leading American philosophers of the day, reacted to the trial, according to a study of American intellectuals and Darwinism (Conkin 1998, p. 145). And his muted reaction took the form of a piece in the Atlantic Monthly, published after the trial, which mentioned evolution just once and Scopes, the law under which he was prosecuted, and the trial itself not at all (Whitehead 1925).

Well, I accurately reported what Paul K. Conkin said in When All the Gods Trembled, but both he and I seem to have overlooked someone!

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This past month in my new role as the SBC Operations Manager, I’ve been working with Emily Schoerning and our Science Booster Club leaders around the country. SBC leaders receive kits with materials to run activities that we have developed. You might remember Emily’s January post about sending out the Ocean Carbon Crisis activity: mailing tubes galore!  

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John Augustine Zahm, via Wikimedia Commons

There are memorable lines aplenty in the beloved film The Princess Bride (1987), thanks to the screenwriter William Goldman, on whose 1973 novel it was based. Among them is the following, addressed to the villainous Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) by the fencer Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin): “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” The word in question is “inconceivable,” which Vizzini uses so freely that his henchman is eventually forced to protest, and I was reminded of it when browsing through John Augustine Zahm’s The Catholic Church and Modern Science: A Lecture (1886). Zahm (right; 1851–1921) was a priest as well as a professor of physics and chemistry at the University of Notre Dame.

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We often share stories about what NCSE is doing to promote evolution education across the country, whether we’re working to defeat anti-science legislation, support science teachers, or build community support for science education. But here’s a story about how NCSE helps to support evolution education in our own backyard.
For years, schools near our home office in Oakland, California, have been able to borrow materials on human evolution designed by our former executive director Eugenie C. Scott and former staffers Louise S. Mead and Eric Meikle.
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James Tissot, The Farewell, via Wikimedia CommonsOn May 19, 2017, a little more than two years after I started building what would become the Science Booster Club program here in Iowa, I participated in my last local event. At the Iowa City Public Library’s STEAM fest, we interacted with around two thousand people on the topic of climate change.
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