Voices for Evolution is a project of the NCSE to collect the full diversity of organizations and perspectives in support of teaching evolution in the public schools. These statements represent the consensus view of the scientific community that evolution is well-supported, and that failing to teach it is a disservice to students.
"Voices for Evolution is a beacon for students, teachers, and the curious public who never knew the full extent that biological evolution is recognized and accepted among secular as well as religious organizations." — Neil deGrasse Tyson
We hope Voices for Evolution will assist in spreading this important message to members of the public and those responsible for the decisions which shape our children's educations.
"This book should be in every school, in every science classroom. It should be in every church and in every politician's hands. It is a wonderful guide to the reasons for teaching evolution in our schools, and proof that we do our students a grave disservice if we keep them from one of the jewels in the crown of science." — Michael Ruse
The third edition of Voices for Evolution can be purchased at Lulu.com, or downloaded in pdf format for free.
Voices for Evolution (PDF)
"The power and importance of this book derive from the lucidity and logic of each contribution. This is a book that needs to be in the hands of every teacher in the United States." — Nina Jablonski
To see a pdf of these statements, please visit Lulu.com.
Statements added since the 3rd edition are denoted with a *
Can creation science or intelligent design be taught in schools?
Yes, but not in science classes. Creation science and intelligent design represent worldviews that fall outside of the realm of science that is defined as (and limited to) a method of inquiry based on gathering observable and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. Creation science, intelligent design, and other worldviews that focus on speculation regarding the origins of life represent another important and relevant form of human inquiry that is appropriately studied in literature or social sciences courses. Such study, however, must include a diversity of worldviews representing a variety of religious and philosophical perspectives and must avoid privileging one view as more legitimate than others.
The scientific consensus around evolution is overwhelming. Those opposed to the teaching of evolution sometimes use quotations from prominent scientists out of context to claim that scientists do not support evolution. However, examination of the quotations reveals that the scientists are actually disputing some aspect of how evolution occurs, not whether evolution occurred.1Such debates about the mechanisms and details of evolution are a normal part of the scientific process, and gradually have led to a consensus about the history of life on Earth. The ability to alter explanations when new evidence or theory is encountered is one of the strengths of a scientific way of knowing. Religious or philosophical interpretations should be distinguished from scientific knowledge per se, to the extent that it is possible to delineate such distinctions. Science describes and explains the natural world: it does not prove or disprove beliefs about the supernatural.
WHEREAS, the mission of the American Fisheries Society is to improve the conservation and sustainability of fishery resources and aquatic ecosystems by advancing fisheries and aquatic science and promoting the development of fisheries professionals; and
WHEREAS, effective conservation and sustainable management of aquatic resources must be based on sound scientific principles that incorporate physical, biological and ecological processes; and
WHEREAS, science is a systematic method of continuing investigation based on observation, measurement, hypothesis testing, experimentation, and theory building; and
WHEREAS, the body of knowledge encompassed by the theory of evolution is the foundation and unifying principle of the biological and ecological sciences and is supported by a vast body of interdisciplinary evidence; and
WHEREAS, the theory of evolution satisfies the scientific criteria of being understood through scientific scrutiny, revision and evaluation through testable hypotheses; and
WHEREAS, many local, state and national organizations continue to argue for inclusion of creationism, intelligent design or other political or faith-based doctrines alongside evolution in the science curricula of public schools; and
WHEREAS, none of the various faith-based doctrines have proposed scientifically testable hypotheses or rest upon a credible foundation of scientific evidence; and WHEREAS, the lack of scientific foundation or scientifically testable structure of faithbased doctrines make them improper for inclusion in scientific curricula; and
WHEREAS, scientific organizations have a duty to demand and ensure scientific principles in research and education,
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, The American Fisheries Society, in accordance with more than 70 other scientific societies, affirms that the theory of evolution is the only current scientific explanation for the diversity of life on earth for inclusion in the science curricula of public schools.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the American Fisheries Society opposes policies that would allow the teaching of creationism, intelligent design or other political or faithbased doctrines in public school science classes and encourages citizens, educational authorities and legislators to oppose such policies at the appropriate federal, state and local levels of government.
AGU affirms the central importance of including scientific theories of Earth history and biological evolution in science education. Within the scientific community, the theory of biological evolution is not controversial, nor have "alternative explanations" been found. This is why no competing theories are required by the U.S. National Science Education Standards. Explanations of natural phenomena that appeal to the supernatural or are based on religious doctrine — and therefore cannot be tested through scientific inquiry — are not scientific, and have no place in the science classroom.
Evolution through natural selection is one of the great unifying theories of biology. It explains the myriad forms of life — including human — that have originated from simple beginnings early in Earth’s four and a half billion year history, and it emphasizes the interrelatedness of all living things. It is a theory in the scientific sense — a body of knowledge that has accumulated through testing of hypotheses, by observation and by experiment over a long period, so as to become accepted by the scientific community as an explanation of natural phenomena. Although there is broad agreement within the scientific community, the theory of evolution, like any scientific theory, is subject to revision as our understanding improves. Indeed, science seeks to unravel innumerable unsolved problems in the natural world, including the evolution of the universe itself.
An increasingly complex and competitive international economy calls for a scientifically literate public. The theory of biological evolution is one of the most important foundations of the science enterprise, and therefore education of the future workforce in evolution and other pillars of science is essential.
In addition to the practical benefits of understanding evolution, there is an aesthetic one: the gaining of a sense of awe and wonder at the beautiful complexity of our dynamic planet and the integral role of its evolving biological component throughout much of its history. To deny students a full understanding of the theory of evolution in the context of Earth history is to deprive them of an important part of their intellectual heritage.
AGU urges its members to help the public better understand the scientific process, including biological evolution and the history of the Earth, as foundations of science.
Darwin’s great insight that the vast diversity of life on earth arose over time from a common ancestor revolutionized scientific understanding, with substantial benefit to our economy and our well being. Today, evolutionary principles are the foundation of all of modern biology and have led to major advances in fields as diverse as molecular biology, developmental biology, genetics, behavior, and paleontology. Understanding evolution also allows us to identify genes underlying human illness, combat infectious diseases, mitigate impacts of invasive species, and control pathogens and pests of our crops and livestock.
The importance of evolution to science and society is outlined in “Evolution, Science, and Society,” a document representing the broad consensus of eight major scientific societies, in which the American Society of Naturalists played an important role. Evolution is at the heart of the mission of the American Society of Naturalists to enhance the conceptual unification of the biological sciences.
Evolution is supported by overwhelming scientific evidence from many disciplines. Like all scientific theories, evolutionary theory generates explicit hypotheses about the world around us, and these hypotheses are then tested against the facts through observation and experimentation. Hypotheses supported by results from multiple lines of inquiry are used to extend the theory, whereas hypotheses not supported by facts are discarded. This scientific process has yielded a robust, empirically supported theory of evolution, which continues to be developed and rigorously tested.
Science is only science when it can empirically test hypotheses and discover whether the facts support or refute them. Science cannot refute or support hypotheses concerning the existence, actions, or methods of God or any other intelligent designer. Such articles of faith should not be part of the science curriculum in public schools simply because they cannot be empirically tested and thus they fall outside the purview of science. In contrast, evolution is a rigorously tested and ever-expanding body of scientific knowledge that underlies and integrates our understanding of all areas of the biological world — from our cells and DNA to our lakes and forests. As such, evolution must be an integral part of any science curriculum.
With a solid science education that includes evolutionary biology, today’s students will find better solutions to tomorrow’s problems.
The American Society of Plant Taxonomists fully endorses the use of evolution in the scholarship of its members and supports teaching this theory in schools, colleges and universities. Evolution includes both statements of fact and evidence to support these statements. Evolution has been variously defined as changes in gene frequencies over time, descent with modification and the existence of a common ancestor from which all life descends. Much of the evidence for these definitions is found in the universality of the genetic code, homologous structures within groups of related taxa, and the fossil record.
As scholars, many members of ASPT study evolution in order to shed light on how the evolutionary process works. Others use the scientific basis of evolution to define historical relationships among taxa, to understand how certain characters have evolved within a group of taxa, and to study coevolutionary relationships such as those between plants and their pollinators or plants and seed dispersers. As educators, we believe that evolution is an essential component of science education. In the absence of an evolutionary context, our understanding of the origin and complexity of the earth’s biodiversity and our ability to realize critical advances in medicine and agriculture would not be possible. Acknowledging our obligations as scientists and educators, we join the many other scientific societies that have endorsed the role of evolution as a unifying principle both in scientific scholarship and science curricula at all educational levels.
It is the mission of the American Statistical Association to promote excellence in statistical practice and to work for the improvement of statistical education at all levels. Statistics, as the science of data, is embedded within the broader scientific enterprise, and as statisticians, we have a responsibility to help safeguard its integrity and that of science education generally.
ASA takes no position on whether intelligent design is right or wrong. Nevertheless, it is clear that intelligent design is not a scientific theory subject to empirical testing, and thus has no place in science education.
Therefore, the Board of Directors of ASA adopts the following resolution:
Intelligent design should not be taught as part of any science curriculum. Further, the Association urges its members to continue to support vigorously those principles of inquiry and verification that characterize sound scientific practice.
Evolution is a central concept in modern science, including biology, geology, and astronomy. The California Academy of Sciences, with its broad mission to explore, explain, and protect the natural world, recognizes that evolution is fundamental to understanding biological diversity and is a critical organizing principle for both scientific research and science museums.
In biology, the basic facts of evolution, including the extinction and emergence of new species over time, were understood and accepted by the end of the nineteenth century. Charles Darwin identified natural selection as a primary mechanism driving evolution (that some organisms are more likely to survive and reproduce, thus their genetic traits will be inherited by future generations while other traits will be lost). Through selection, some life-forms thrive, reproduce, and adapt as conditions change, whereas others disappear. The detailed processes that create variation and drive natural selection became evident during the twentieth century with the discoveries of DNA and molecular inheritance. Twentieth century geologists also learned to use radioactivity to determine the age of the Earth (4.5 billion years), and astronomers discovered the expansion of the universe, measuring its age as approximately 14 billion years. Change is an inherent property of stars, planets, and life.
Scientists in many fields use evolutionary concepts daily in their research. In pharmacology and agriculture, these concepts are central to efforts to overcome the evolution of harmful organisms that have become resistant to antibiotics or pesticides. Evolution as the organizing principle for science museums has transformed the eighteenth-century collections of "curiosities" into modern museums of natural history. The California Academy of Sciences recognizes the importance of understanding evolution for both scientists and the public, and we emphasize that evolution belongs in school curricula and textbooks as one of the fundamental concepts of modern science.
Canadian media report growing public pressure to introduce Creationism and its equivalent Intelligent Design (ID) in school curricula, hinting that Creationism/ID is a ‘theory’, thus suggesting that it shares common ground with science-based theories. Such reporting ignores the fundamental difference between faith and measurable facts. CFES-FCST is extremely concerned about this trend, and not only because of the demonstrated importance of science to Canadian society.
Science progresses through the application of the scientific method in which hypotheses are supported or falsified. Hypotheses are tested through meticulous observation and experimentation. Results are reported in articles which are reviewed thoroughly by more than one expert in the field (peer review). When experts conclude that it is no longer possible to refute a hypothesis, it becomes a theory. The road from hypothesis to theory is long and arduous and may take decades, even centuries. A theory is therefore an extremely well-substantiated explanation of certain aspects of the natural world, incorporating facts and tested hypotheses. Thus, proper use of the scientific method results in the discovery of universal truths from which all of humanity, irrespective of religious leanings, may benefit. Unlike common vernacular sometimes suggests, a theory is anything but a vague, speculative idea.
The theory of plate tectonics for example explains the motion of continental plates which form the Earth’s crust. It explains why and where earthquakes occur, and why mountain chains, mineral assemblages and fossil fuels are where we find them. Similarly, the theory of evolution explains how species evolve through genetic mutation over time. Both are solid theories in the sense that that there are no measurable and observable facts that indicate that they are wrong. In addition, we know the age of the earth (ca. 4.5 billion years) and we can date events that took place between the time of origin of the earth and today by measuring the remaining amounts of naturally occurring radio-active elements of which the half lives (the time during which the element changes its properties so that half of its original mass remains) can be reliably and accurately calculated.
Creationism and ID do not qualify as science, because the scientific method is not deployed and these ideas are therefore not theories or hypotheses in universally accepted scientific sense. Hence, Creationism and ID do not belong in any K-12 science curriculum. CFES-FCST strongly recommends that science education is limited to those subjects to which the scientific method applies.
There is overwhelming evidence that life has evolved over thousands of millions of years. The ancestors of modern organisms, as well as whole groups that are now completely extinct, have been found in great abundance as fossils. The main processes responsible for evolutionary change, such as variation and natural selection, have been repeatedly observed and verified in natural populations and in laboratory experiments. All the features of living organisms, including those discovered in the recent advances in molecular biology, are readily explained by the principles of evolution. Any scientific theory that provides a clear mechanism, offers a broad explanation of natural phenomena, receives strong support from observation and experiment and that is never refuted by careful investigation is usually called a “fact”. The cell theory of organisms, the germ theory of infection, the gene theory of inheritance and the theory of evolution are all facts. Teaching alternative theories as though they had equivalent scientific status is a perversion of education that damages children’s ability to understand the natural world. In particular, creationism is a religious doctrine long since known to be a fallacious account of Earth history that has no scientific standing and cannot be represented as a credible alternative to evolution. Evolution is the single most important principle of modern biology and the foundation of any sound biology curriculum.
WHEREAS, entomology, the scientific study of insects and their relatives, aims to increase knowledge of the biology of this largest group of animals on Earth and apply that knowledge toward improving human health and well-being. Advances in entomology depend upon rigorous and widely accepted scientific methods that include the development of hypotheses based on observations that are tested and either falsified or incorporated into the body of knowledge that constitutes the discipline. Any hypothesis that cannot be rejected based on evidence is inherently unscientific.
AND WHEREAS, in all other sciences, the knowledge that accumulates from the testing of various hypotheses can lead to the development of scientific theories, which offer the most comprehensive explanations of natural phenomena and predict the characteristics of as yet unobserved phenomena. Evolution is one of the most robust theories in the biological sciences and has been integral to the conduct of entomological science since it was first articulated some 150 years ago. Indeed, entomologists were among the first North American scientists to incorporate evolutionary theory into their work and have successfully used its explanatory and predictive power to elucidate aspects of the systematics, ecology, physiology, and genetics of insects and their relatives.
AND WHEREAS, no meaningful or significant controversy exists within the biological sciences — entomology included — about the centrality and legitimacy of evolutionary theory. Ongoing study and refinement of evolutionary theory are reflections of the manner in which all areas of science advance.
AND WHEREAS, in contrast, intelligent design — with its central tenet of irreducible complexity (i.e., aspects of living systems are too complex to ascribe to biological processes and therefore must have been designed by some intelligent force) — is neither predictive nor falsifiable and therefore does not meet the standards of science. Accordingly, intelligent design has no utility in entomology and — for the same reason — has no legitimate place in science classrooms at any level of instruction.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that for the United States to remain intellectually and economically competitive in the 21st century, its science must be conducted according to time-tested and globally acceptable standards. Evolutionary theory meets those standards and provides the foundation on which the biological sciences can most productively continue to advance. We should expect no less in the quality of science education in this country.
Whereas, entomological science is firmly based on the theory of evolution by natural selection, which is the robust, well-proven and congruent foundation of biological science, and
Whereas, proponents of Creationism and so-called Intelligent Design have promoted the teaching in public schools of explanations of natural phenomena based on religious faith or political positions, while denying evolutionary theory, without offering evidence of convincing arguments, and
Whereas, Creationism and Intelligent Design further undermine science education in general, by presenting misleading arguments, invalid methods, and false definitions, for example regarding what constitutes theory, fact, and hypothesis, and
Whereas, scientific organizations have a duty to maintain the high quality of science in research, education and service to society,
Therefore, be it resolved that the Entomological Society of Canada, like other scientific societies and their members, affirms that the body of knowledge referred to as the theory of evolution is the foundation and unifying principle of biological sciences, and further that the Entomological Society of Canada opposes policies that would allow the teaching of Intelligent Design and other faith-based beliefs in public school sciences classes.
The Geological Society of America strongly supports teaching evolution and the directly related concept of deep time as part of science curricula. GSA opposes teaching creationism alongside evolution in any science classroom. The evolution of life on Earth stands as one of the central concepts of modern science. During the past two centuries, research in geology, paleontology, and biology has produced an increasingly detailed and consistent picture of how life on Earth has evolved.
Science, by definition, is a method of learning about the natural universe by asking questions in such a way that they can be answered empirically and verifiably. If a question cannot be framed so that the answer can be tested, and the test results can be reproduced by others, then it is not science. Creationism, whether in its earlier form as creation "science" or its more recent guise of intelligent design, attempts to explain complicated phenomena of the natural world by invoking a creator or designer. Creationism is not science because it invokes supernatural phenomena that cannot be tested. It therefore has no place in a science curriculum. Because science is limited to explaining natural phenomena through the use of empirical evidence, it cannot provide religious or ultimate explanations. Science teachers should not advocate any religions interpretations of nature and should be nonjudgmental about the personal beliefs of students.
This position statement (1) summarizes GSA's views regarding the teaching of evolution; (2) defines evolution and discusses the physical and biological evidence for evolution; (3) describes the concepts of intelligent design and creation science, and why they are not science; and (4) provides a communications tool for GSA member use.
The rock record provides a treasure trove of fossils, and by the early 1800s, geologists had used physical relationships among rocks to establish the basis for the geologic time scale. They understood that the fossil record shows major changes in life forms over time. In 1859, Darwin's On the Origin of Species showed that these changes can be explained by natural selection operating on random variations in organisms — the process we now know as biological evolution. Since then, we have continued to uncover details of life's history, and biologists have elucidated the genetic and molecular basis for evolution. Evolution is not a static idea but a growing concept added to by scientific observation, testing, and debate. Scientific discoveries in these fields and related disciplines have progressively sharpened our understanding of evolution, which is now well established as a well-tested fact. Evolution is accepted by the scientific community because all available evidence supports the central conclusions of evolutionary science: that life on Earth has evolved and species share common ancestors and genomes.
The discovery of radioactivity in the twentieth century and its use for measuring ages of rocks has made it possible to quantify the age of Earth and to estimate rates of many geologic processes. Many rocks of over a billion years in age can now be dated with great precision. The ages of many rocks have been confirmed by repeated tests in multiple laboratories, often using different isotopic decay schemes. The results are consistent with the processes that uplift the land and cause the erosion and deposition of sediments. Geologists can now identify rocks that record hundreds of millions of years of sedimentation by the slow layer-by-layer accumulation of mud, the rhythmic rise and fall of tides on ancient continental margins, or the slow back-and-forth meandering of rivers in ancient valleys. Organisms that grow only a few millimeters each year have formed reefs hundreds of meters thick. Additionally, techniques that date more recent deposits have been repeatedly and accurately compared to known historical events.
Studies of Earth's history, including the evolution of life on Earth, aid not only in the search for natural resources, but also in the quest to understand how the Earth-life system functions. The geologic record reveals how forms of life have responded to past environmental change, sometimes migrating, sometimes evolving, and sometimes becoming extinct. Understanding evolution has made possible many of the medical advances that save human lives and has furthered agricultural developments that feed the world.
The short-term adaptive evolution demonstrated by the ability of viruses to evolve and adapt to new vaccines, or simply to new environmental conditions, is readily comparable to longer-termed evolution of more advanced species.
From before the time of Darwin, some people have objected to and challenged those findings of science that were considered to conflict with certain traditional religious beliefs about creation. Creation "science" and intelligent design have emerged from religious thought, and because they invoke supernatural phenomena, they cannot frame questions that can be tested scientifically. Therefore, by definition, the notions of creation "science" and intelligent design are not science. The immensity of geologic time and the evolutionary origin of species are concepts that pervade modern geology, biology, and other sciences that support human life. These concepts must therefore be treated as central themes of science courses. Without an adequate knowledge of geologic time and the evolutionary origin of species, students will not understand the processes that shape the natural environment in which they live. As a result, they will lack the understanding that is essential for making wise decisions regarding the environment upon which our survival depends.
The Geological Society of Australia observes a basic policy of non-discrimination and affirms the right of scientists to adhere to or associate with scientific activity without restrictions based on nationality, race, colour, age, religion, political philosophy, ethnic origin, citizenship, language or sex. The Society endorses the universality of science within the natural world.
Scientists, like many others, are touched with awe at the order and complexity of nature. Science seeks to explain natural phenomena using natural laws, verifiable and reproducible observations and logical analysis; it reaches explanations that are always subject to amendment with new evidence.
The Geological Society of Australia considers that notions such as Fundamental Creationism, including so called "Flood Geology", which disregard scientific evidence such as that based on repeatable observations in the natural world and the geological record, are not science and cannot be taught as science.
An essential element in the teaching of science is the encouragement of students and teachers to critically appraise the evidence for notions being taught as science. The Society states unequivocally that the dogmatic teaching of notions such as Creationism within a science curriculum stifles the development of critical thinking patterns in the developing mind and seriously compromises the best interests of objective public education. This could eventually hamper the advancement of science and technology as students take their places as leaders of future generations.
In some parts of Australia, the advocacy of notions like Creationism is confronting the integrity and effectiveness of our national education system and the hard-won evidence based foundations of science. The Geological Society of Australia cannot remain silent. To do so would be a dereliction of our responsibility to intellectual freedom and to the fundamental principles of scientific thought. As a consequence, the Society dissociates itself from Creationist statements made by any member.
This Policy statement sets out the views of a learned Society dedicated to scientific investigation in earth science, including research, resources exploration, and education. It is made with the agreement of the Society's Executive Committee and the below-listed Past Presidents of the Society, which are taken collectively to reasonably represent the sustaining wisdom of the Society in this matter.
Prof A J Gleadow (2006-2008)
Prof A J Crawford (2004-2006)
Prof J D Foden (2002-2004)
Prof E C Leitch (2000-2002)
Prof R A Henderson (1998-2000)
Dr D Denham (1996-1998)
Prof D I Groves (1994-1996)
Mr P J Legge (1992-1994)
Prof D H Green (1990-1992)
Mr I R Johnson (1988-1990)
Prof D M Boyd (1986-1988)
Dr J B Waterhouse (1984-1986)
Dr M J Rickard (1983-1984)
Dr R D Gee (1981-1983)
Dr C D Branch (1980-1981)
Prof J F Lovering AO (1978-1980)
Prof S W Carey (1977-1978)
Dr N H Ludbrook (1968-1969)
Dr M R Banks (1966-1967)
Dr J A Dulhunty (1964-1965)
Dr N H Fisher (1959-1961)
Prof R T Prider (1958-1959)
* ‘Creationism’ includes 'Intelligent Design’.
This Society upholds the right of freedom of belief for all. The freedom scientists enjoy to investigate the nature and history of the Earth is the same freedom that allows individuals to believe — or not — in a deity.
Science's business is to investigate the constitution of the universe, and cannot pronounce on any concept that lies "beyond" nature. This is the meaning of “agnostic”, the word coined by former GSL President Thomas Henry Huxley, to describe a scientist’s position of being “unable to know”. This Society has therefore long operated according to the view that religion and science only become incompatible with each other when one attempts to trespass upon the domain of the other.
The idea that the Earth was divinely created in the geologically recent past ("Young Earth Creationism"); attempts by Young Earth Creationists to gain acceptance for what they misrepresent in public as corroborative empirical evidence for this view ("Creation science"); and the allied belief that features of the universe and of living things are better explained as the direct result of action by an intelligent cause than by natural processes ("Intelligent Design"), represent such a trespass upon the domain of science.
The Geological Society of London is the oldest national learned society for the Earth sciences in the world, and embodies the collective knowledge of nearly 10,000 Earth scientists worldwide. On their behalf it wishes, during the United Nations International Year of Planet Earth, to place on record the following facts as being long established beyond doubt.
Whereas science is defined as and limited to explanations based on natural, observable and testable phenomena and, therefore, is explicitly distinguished from other types of explanations that depend on concepts relating to the supernatural (for example,” intelligent design”, “creation science", and” informed debate” paradigms); and
Whereas, learning and inquiry are severely inhibited if teachers are placed in a position where they may feel pressured to alter their teaching of the fundamental concepts of science in response to demands external to scientific disciplines; and,
Whereas, evolution theory is fundamental to a thorough understanding of biological concepts as reflected in the Indiana teaching standards,
Therefore be it resolved that the Indiana Academy of Science, as a part of its commitment to educational excellence in science instruction, opposes any restriction or imposition on the teaching of biological and cosmic evolution in the curricula of Indiana's educational institutions.
Indiana scientists and educators recognize the critical importance of a strong grounding in the fundamental principles of science for all of Indiana's youths. The extensive reasoning and consideration that has gone into the official position of the Indiana Academy of Science on this issue (described in the resolution above) parallels that of all significant scientific and science education organizations across North America. If you are interested in more details on the justification for this important and unanimous stance across these institutions, we strongly recommend that you go to the WWW links provided below for the National Academy of Science, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Science Teachers Association and the National Center for Science Education.
These organizations provide helpful background information on science, science education, and the distinction between scientific and supernatural explanations of life. The fact that this information is typically highlighted on the front pages of their web sites is an indication of the importance placed on this issue. The Indiana Academy of Science fully endorses the resolutions and policies of these prominent institutions in order to promote instruction in science unencumbered by non-scientific explanations of life and the cosmos.
The scientific content of science courses should be determined by scientists and science teachers and not by political directives. In particular, science teachers should not be required to teach, as science, ideas, models, and theories that are clearly extra-scientific. An extra-scientific hypothesis, as such, might legitimately be discussed in a science class when examination of its logical construction and criteria for acceptance would illuminate the corresponding features of scientific hypothesis and scientific method. Any requirement for equal time for such hypotheses is not justifiable.
Scientific hypotheses have a number of distinguishing properties, the foremost of which is that one should be able to deduce, from the basic postulates, logical consequences that can be tested against observation. Attention should be paid to the possible kinds of evidence that would falsify the hypothesis, rather than just the evidence that might confirm it. Other properties include:
1. The hypothesis should have more general consequences than those observations which initially suggested it. Thus it should be independently testable and not ad hoc.
2. It should be fruitful, suggesting new lines of research to pursue, raise new questions to be investigated by future research.
3. It should be logically consistent.
4. It should be consistent with general scientific philosophy that the observed phenomena of the universe are real and that nature is consistent and understandable, that is, describable and explainable in terms of laws and theories.
Hypotheses that postulate miracles or supernatural events are falsified scientifically because they explicitly admit they cannot explain the phenomena within their sphere of application. Furthermore, they are extra-scientific and non-explanatory because those phenomena are declared to be beyond human understanding. Thus they can not be considered alternate explanation to any scientific hypothesis because, by their very nature, they are anti-explanatory, seeking only to establish and perpetuate a mystery or mysteries. All such hypotheses, models, and theories that claim to be scientific should be required to meet the same criteria as do those hypotheses commonly considered to be scientific by the scientific community at large.
On November 13, 1999, the membership of the Oklahoma Academy of Science passed two resolutions in response to the November 5 actions of the State Textbook Committee. This committee had decided to require that a disclaimer be affixed to every post-elementary, pre-college biology textbook purchased with state funds. This disclaimer would warn students to beware of the theory of evolution, although not claiming it to be false. The Academy's first resolution states, “We disagree with the action of the Oklahoma State Textbook Committee to affix a disclaimer to any textbook.” The second resolution states, “We affirm that the theory of evolution is the current best explanation for a large body of facts and that no other theory adequately explains these observations.” These resolutions were supported by an overwhelming majority of the general membership attending the Annual Meeting. Reasons for the Academy's objections are several. Among them are the following:
1. The Academy believes that the Committee affixed the disclaimer without adequate background research. They did not consult any scientists at any of Oklahoma's state universities before making their decision. As scientists, members of the Academy object strongly to having political appointees proclaim their version of scientific theories which they have not thoroughly studied.
2. The Academy fears that further disclaimers could be affixed to other textbooks. For example, a small but not insignificant number of citizens, including some who are well-educated, reject medical science and refuse to participate in such programs as vaccination. Should the textbook committee affix a disclaimer to human biology textbooks, urging students to consider whether medical science is "only a theory"?
3. The Academy considered several statements within the disclaimer to be inaccurate, in particular the disclaimer's assertion that transitional forms are absent from the fossil record. Intermediate forms are indeed found in the fossil record, e.g., the recently discovered fossils of primitive birds and feathered dinosaurs from Liaoning Province, China. There also is no real distinction between the processes of macro- and microevolution; the driving force of adaptive mutation is the same, and macroevolution is evident in the fossil record. The complete, complex set of instructions for forming living things can be explained as the cumulative result of physical forces and chemical reactions acting over billions of years.
The Academy believes that the fundamental unity of life is evident in the common building blocks of our cellular structures, the same four nucleotides in our genes, and the same code by which our proteins are made. This unity reinforces the fossil record in indicating that all organisms — plants, bacteria, and animals — are related. Such fundamental unity also inspires in many scientists an awe of the power and beauty of the physical universe that may reinforce a personal belief in a spiritual universe.
The Academy believes that the acceptance of the general theory of evolution and a belief in God are compatible. We regret that such actions as the affixing of a disclaimer on textbooks promotes, even if not intentionally, the incorrect idea that scientists are atheists who are trying to undermine religious beliefs in this state. A wide diversity of religious faiths and belief systems are celebrated in the community of science, and the majority of scientists accept the principles of evolutionary theory without compromising their individual faiths in a Creator. This includes even many evangelical Christians today and in the past who have accepted both the Judeo-Christian Bible and evolutionary theory, such as Harvard botanist Asa Gray, who was Charles Darwin's principal and earliest American proponent in the nineteenth century. This is because the practice of science — observation, measurement, experimental methods, drawing conclusions, forming and testing hypotheses, and establishing an overall theory of how things happen — simply does not address the ultimate questions of purpose. The theory of evolution is our most rational system that explains an enormous number of observations; why or by whom that system was set in motion is not within the bounds of scientific inquiry.
Science and religion can coexist harmoniously if people understand the strengths and limitations of each field. Albert Einstein said, “Science without religion is blind and religion without science is lame.” (1) Science and religion can complement each other — each informing the other in the domain where each is knowledgeable. Respected religious and world leaders such as Billy Graham, Jimmy Carter, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have written statements affirming harmony (2).
Strengths of Science — Science is very successful at understanding the tangible, perceivable world; anything that can be weighed, measured, detected, imaged or described objectively is the domain of science. Science can predict future actions of matter, energy, time, and space, based on past observations and experiments, or it can deduce past events, based on observing the results of those events. For example, geology can deduce what physical happenings occurred in the past and how long ago they occurred. Science can answer the HOW? and WHEN? questions about the physical world extremely well. Science is self-correcting; if new data or better interpretations become available, the scientific community will refine or add to its conclusions to reflect the recent findings.
Limitations of Science — Science cannot answer the ultimate WHO? or WHY? questions. Science is restricted to the domain of physically tangible things. Science can explain HOW things work in ever-finer detail. For example, physiology is explained in terms of biology and chemistry, which is further explained in terms of physics. Beyond the most detailed scientific explanation lies another question — What is the First Cause? Most scientists would argue that the “First Cause” is not knowable by the methods of science.
Teaching of Evolution in Public Schools — The Oklahoma Academy of Science strongly supports thorough teaching of evolution in biology classes. Evolution is one of the most important principles of science. A high school graduate who does not understand evolution is not prepared for college or for life in a technologically advanced world, in which the role of biology and biotechnology will continue to grow. The Academy affirms that the tangible, perceivable world is the domain of science and that science is clearly the discipline to explain HOW and WHEN the universe came into being. There is no credible scientific evidence that the earth came into being recently or that evolution is not the best explanation of the origins of living organisms. Science, by definition, starts with all available evidence, draws conclusions, and generates testable predictions. The content of science courses should be determined by scientists and science educators, and not by political or religious directives. In particular, science teachers should not be required to teach ideas, models, and theories that are extra-scientific (3). "Creationism" and “Intelligent Design” are not science because they do not conform to the testable and falsifiable criteria of science. It is not appropriate for science textbooks or science teachers to teach creation as science. Creation and other matters of faith are topics for religion, philosophy, and humanities courses.
Conclusion — The Academy regards the fundamental unity of life to be evident in the common building blocks and biochemical reactions of cells and in the remarkable conservation of information in DNA sequences across the biological kingdoms. The latter documents the relatedness of all organisms — plants, microorganisms, and animals. The Academy contends that the acceptance of the general theory of evolution and a belief in God are compatible. A wide diversity of religious faiths and belief systems are celebrated in the community of science, and the overwhelming majority of scientists accept the principles of evolutionary theory. Many do this without compromising their individual faiths in a Creator. This includes many evangelical Christians today and in the past who accepted both the Judeo-Christian Bible and evolutionary theory. One such individual was Harvard botanist Asa Gray, who was also Charles Darwin’s principal and earliest American proponent in the nineteenth century. There is no inconsistency in holding both viewpoints because the practice of science — observation, measurement, forming and testing hypotheses, controlled experimentation, drawing conclusions, and finally establishing an overall theory of how things happen — simply does not address the ultimate questions of purpose. The theory of evolution is our most rational system that explains an enormous number of observations; why or by whom that system was set in motion is not within the bounds of scientific inquiry.(4)
Understanding of the strengths and limitations of both science and religion can alleviate concerns of both scientists and non-scientists. Scientists do not accept the suppression or neglect of well-understood science because non-scientists dispute it for non-scientific reasons. Similarly, science does not speak on issues of purpose and creation, as these are not objectively testable. Science and religion have different perspectives when they address common issues, and recognizing the differences may make it possible for those active in both to realize that their most important goals are not in conflict.
"Evolution" refers both to a set of scientific facts and to a theory explaining such facts. "Evolution" refers to the scientific fact that biological organisms have changed through time, and that all life, including humanity, has descended with modification from common ancestors. Evolution is as well documented as are other currently accepted scientific facts. The theory of evolution is a comprehensive and well-established scientific explanation, based on natural processes, of the fact of biological evolution.
Evolutionary theory should be taught in public schools because it is one of the most important scientific theories ever generated, and because it is the accepted scientific explanation for the diversity of life. As a scientific theory, it is testable and has been extensively tested. As stated by the great geneticist and evolutionist Theodosius Dobzhansky, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." The theory of evolution is subject to refinements and revisions, but this is no different from any other major scientific theory, such as the those providing the explanatory frameworks of geology, physics, or chemistry. There is no pedagogical or scientific reason to treat evolutionary theory any differently than any other well-accepted scientific theory, and it should be taught in public schools as the firmly established, accepted unifying scientific principle that it is.
The Tennessee Academy of Science, as an affiliate of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, endorses the position statement of the AAAS concerning research and teaching of the scientific theory of evolution. Furthermore, TAS emphasizes that the theory of evolution is a fundamental concept of science, and thus must also be a cornerstone of science education. Evolution in the broadest sense refers to any change over time. The study of Earth’s evolution provides society with the necessary perspective to understand Earth’s physical and biological development. Evolutionary studies also provide insight concerning the natural processes active on Earth and help to shape our view of Earth’s future.
Evolutionary studies and evolutionary education apply to all branches of science, including organic evolution, cosmic evolution, geologic evolution, planetary evolution, cultural evolution, and others. The scientific evidence for evolution is pervasive. Geologic studies show Earth has changed dramatically over time, with continents assuming new positions and geographies. Paleontological studies document that life forms on Earth have changed, with new species arising and others becoming extinct. Astronomers have documented that galaxies, stars and planets have changed over time. Biologists and anthropologists have documented that human biology and culture have changed. The ubiquity of such explanations indicates that evolution has become a vital component of modern science. The National Science Education Standards, Benchmarks for Science Literacy from AAAS’s Project 2061, numerous national education policy documents, and Tennessee’s published science education framework all recognize evolution’s role as a unifying concept for science disciplines that provides students, including future scientists, with the foundation to help them understand the natural world. For these reasons, TAS endorses the teaching of the scientific theory of evolution. TAS also stresses that teachers should be free from the distraction of non-scientific or antiscientific influence. TAS thus concludes that non-naturalistic or supernatural explanations, often guised as “creation science,” “scientific creationism,” or “intelligent design theory,” are not scientific in nature, do not conform to the scientific usage of “theory,” and should not be included in Tennessee’s science curricula.
The Texas Academy of Science has been one of the state’s leading advocates of scientific education since its founding in 1892. The Academy’s membership of nearly 1000 scientists and educators pursue a diverse array of scientific disciplines including mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, geosciences, physical anthropology, and computer science. Within their respective disciplines of study, the Academy’s members practice critical observation and experimentation of falsifiable concepts, which are the primary methods for obtaining the data on which scientifically defensible theories and concepts are based. Peer review and re-testing of hypotheses generated through scientific research are mandatory steps prior to the acceptance by the scientific community of any hypothesis or set of hypotheses leading to the development of a credible scientific theory. Newton’s theory of gravitation and the theory of evolution by natural selection are prime examples of scientific concepts that have been rigorously tested in this way by generations of scientists.
Today, the theory of evolution remains the primary unifying cognitive framework in the biological sciences. The effectiveness of the expanding knowledge base of biological systems and their multi-billion year histories requires a firm understanding of evolutionary processes. The purportedly competing “theories” explicated by creationists to displace the theory of evolution in the biological sciences are not based on an effective application of scientific methodologies, nor are they testable using established scientific methodologies. Scientific methodologies are not designed to address metaphysical questions that deal with the nature of god(s) or the reasons for the existence of the universe. The viewpoints expressed by adherents to creationism and intelligent design explicitly address such issues. The overwhelming majority of members of the scientific community defer to experts in philosophy and religion to address metaphysical issues relevant to their respective disciplines.
It is the position of the Texas Academy of Science that because neither creationism nor intelligent design are based on information obtained using scientific methodologies, and because neither has withstood the test of scientific peer review, they are not scientific concepts. It is critically important to recognize that neither of these concepts is falsifiable. Having failed the scientific verification process, both must be excluded from scientific curricula at the primary, secondary and higher education levels. This is not just the position of the Texas Academy of Science, it is the consensus of the U. S. Supreme Court, Judge John E. Jones in Kitzmiller vs. Dover (2004) and 11,000 plus Christian clergy signers of the Clergy Letter Project. Other scientific organizations throughout the United States have formulated position statements calling for the exclusion of creationism and intelligent design from science curricula, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; the National Research Council; the National Center for Science Education; the National Science Teachers Association; the National Association of Biology Teachers; the Geological Society of America; and the American Geological Institute. It is the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community that creationism and intelligent design are faith-based concepts that have no scientific merit.
Texas science teachers have a finite amount of class time and textbook space in which to teach the many valid and foundational scientific concepts that enable students to become knowledgeable consumers, decision makers and voters. Inclusion of creationist or intelligent design concepts in science curricula would seriously diminish the effectiveness of science education by distracting teachers from covering an already overwhelming body of knowledge and would consequently dilute student’s understanding of scientifically valid concepts and theories. Therefore, it is the position of the Texas Academy of Science that, through their policies and decisions, the State Board of Education, the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board should ensure that neither “creationism” nor “intelligent design” is added to the state’s scientific curricula. If the State Board of Education considers the material presented by the concepts of “creationism” or “intelligent design” to be appropriate for inclusion in school curricula, these concepts should be addressed in humanities, social science, or religious studies curricula separate from all pre-kindergarten to graduate school-level science education programs.
Modern industry requires a scientifically educated workforce. In order for Texas to remain economically competitive, it is essential that all Texans, but especially our youth obtain a solid foundation in the sciences. Government agencies which oversee their education must enact policies and make personnel decisions that reflect a commitment to sound, science-based education and which are never dictated by the religious views of agency administrators. Integrating religious doctrine into the mission of the Texas Education Agency or the State Board of Education will result in a further lowering of the educational performance of Texas school children. The hiring of TEA administrators and staff must be based on appropriate educational credentials and teaching experience for those individuals to conduct the agency’s mission to educate the children of Texas. Texas’s reputation is at stake and the country is watching.
The Union of Concerned Scientists is an independent, nonprofit alliance of more than 200,000 citizens and scientists. We base our research and outreach on rigorous scientific analysis and the maintenance of scientific integrity in decision making among the public and policy makers.
We are gravely concerned about current attempts to mandate the teaching of “intelligent design” and other non-scientific accounts of the origins of species and biological diversity in our nation’s science classrooms. We are also troubled by the misleading interpretations of scientific principles being used to discredit and misrepresent the science of evolution. This misuse of science and education could have significant negative long-term consequences for American competitiveness and world leadership on scientific matters.
Science is a powerful way of understanding the natural world through a process of observation, experimentation, and analysis. It provides society with a reliable foundation for individual and collective decision making. Evolution by natural selection is one of the most studied and tested theories in science and is the central organizing principle of biology. It has played a fundamental role in the advancement of medical research— especially in areas involving genetics, disease resistance, and immunology—and is supported by key concepts in other scientific disciplines such as physics, geology, chemistry, and astronomy. Modern evolutionary theory provides a robust explanation for how life on Earth developed over the last four billion years through the passing on of genetic information from one generation to the next.1
The recent national focus on improving the level of math and science skills in the United States make attacks on evolution and science education particularly counterproductive. Science education enables students to develop the intellectual tools needed to make empirical judgments and play a productive and participatory role in human society. Evolution is a fundamental part of science education. UCS recommends and endorses the National Science Teachers Association statement on evolution, as well as the white paper Evolution Science and Society: Evolutionary Biology and the National Research Agenda, authored by eight major professional scientific societies.
For more than a century, overtly creationist views have driven most opposition to the teaching of evolution. The recently emerged intelligent design movement, on the other hand, takes on the guise of science to promote itself as a scientifically valid alternative to evolution. Intelligent design promoters suggest that some structures found in nature are too complex to have developed through natural selection and are best explained as having been purposefully designed by an “intelligent” agent. The main tenet of this movement is what its supporters call “irreducible complexity”: the idea that these structures are dependent on all of their individual parts to function, and therefore could not have evolved piecemeal over time. These and other claims are based on a misinterpretation of natural selection. Not all structures have the same function, or need to be simultaneously functional, throughout the evolution of an organism.2
Those advocating the teaching of intelligent design in the science classroom will only be successful if the public lacks understanding of basic concepts in science, including evolution. Despite the claims of the movement, intelligent design is not a scientific theory because the influence of an “intelligent” agent in the origin and evolution of life can neither be tested nor falsified.
Scientists, teachers, and members of the public are growing increasingly alarmed by attempts to convince the public and policy makers that intelligent design has a legitimate place in the science classroom. Numerous leading science and education groups have formally endorsed the teaching of evolutionary theory and opposed the teaching of non-science alternatives in the science classroom. They are also developing more effective public communications strategies to address these and other challenges to science. UCS supports these efforts.
This anti-evolution movement claims that it is only “fair” to teach alternatives to evolution. But a science classroom is not a place where all ideas are given equal weight. Science is a process in which ideas are ultimately accepted or discarded based on rigorous observation and testing. While discussions of intelligent design and creationism may have a role in other parts of the curriculum, they do not have a place in the science classroom.
For many scientists and people of faith, there is no conflict between science and religion. Numerous religious organizations have made statements in support of evolution and the separation of science and religion in the classroom.
If non-scientific beliefs are accepted as science, we are concerned that the public’s understanding of science will be further eroded, the integrity of science will be diminished, and the potential implications for society will be profound. The ability to distinguish between claims based on evidence and analysis of the natural world and those based on belief may be lost, leading our future decision makers to make choices based on unsubstantiated information.
Over the past several years, political interference with science that does not support certain political or ideological beliefs has become widespread and pervasive. The recent resurgence of anti-evolution movements is an example of this broader trend. We encourage the mobilization of scientists, teachers, policy makers, and concerned citizens to combat efforts to undermine science education and the integrity of science.
1. The theory of evolution is based on the principle of natural selection (descent with modification) proposed by Charles Darwin and others in the mid-nineteenth century. Modern evolutionary theory, referred to as “neo-Darwinism” or “evolutionary theory,” has progressed beyond Darwin’s ideas to include genetics and molecular biology and the investigation of additional natural mechanisms of evolution such as genetic drift. Although there is lively discussion about the role of different evolutionary mechanisms, there is no alternative theory with any credibility accepted by evolutionary biologists, or indeed the scientific community as a whole, about the validity of the theory of evolution.
2. Under the theory of natural selection, structures may have one function at one time and be adapted for another use later on. In some instances what might now be seen as complex may have begun as a byproduct of another structure with little or no function in its initial stages. Natural selection is not the only mechanism for evolution and some phenomena that may not be adequately explained by natural selection may be explained by other evolutionary mechanisms.
For more information about religious perspectives on evolution, please see the Science and Religion section of our website.
Statements added since the 3rd Edition are denoted with a *
The Affiliation of Christian Geologists is committed to the historic Christian faith and to its meaningful integration with the best available science. This effort reflects our desire to serve God with all our minds. Data from science also help us to serve our neighbors and to care for God’s creation. Investigations of the Earth and the universe have been ongoing for hundreds of years using such scientific methodologies as:
Beginning in the mid-1600’s, geologists and astronomers (including many Christians) have consistently found that the scientific evidence clearly favors a vast age for the earth and the universe. Current scientific calculations indicate that the universe began about 13 billion years ago and the earth about 4.6 billion years ago. These conclusions are based on cumulative evidence and are refined with each new study. All scientific knowledge is constrained by the limitations of the methods of inquiry and discovery. We are limited and sometimes mistaken in our understanding of both nature and Scripture, but ultimately the two must not conflict, both coming from the same Creator. Although Scripture contains essential information on origins that gives meaning and perspective, technical details of the method and timing of creation are not major concerns of the Biblical text, and many orthodox theologians do not see a conflict between the Bible and an old creation.
The authors of this statement constitute a group set up for the purpose by the Executive Committee of the International Society for Science and Religion. Through a process involving consultation with all members of the Society, the statement has now been accepted by the Executive Committee for publication as a statement made on behalf of the Society.
The Society retains the copyright of the statement, but gives general permission to reproduce it, in whole or in part, provided that the statement in the paragraph immediately preceding this is reproduced.
Comments on the statement can be found by clicking here.
The International Society for Science and Religion is a scholarly society devoted to ongoing dialogue between the sciences and the community of world faiths (see www.issr.org.uk). It was established in 2002 for the purpose of promoting education through the support of interdisciplinary learning and research in the fields of science and religion, conducted where possible in an international and multi-faith context.
The society greatly values modern science, while deploring efforts to drive a wedge between science and religion. Science operates with a common set of methodological approaches that gives freedom to scientists from a range of religious backgrounds to unite in a common endeavor. This approach does not deny the existence of a metaphysical realm but rather opens up the natural world to a range of explorations that have been incredibly productive, especially over the last 400 years or so.
The intelligent-design (ID) movement began in the late 1980s as a challenge to the perceived secularization of the scientific community, which leaders of the movement maintained had been coloured with the philosophy of atheistic naturalism. ID theorists have focused their critique primarily on biological evolution and the neo-Darwinian paradigm. They claim that because certain biological features appear to be "irreducibly complex" and thus incapable of evolving incrementally by natural selection, they must have been created by the intervention of an intelligent designer. Despite this focus on evolution, intelligent design should not be confused with biblical or "scientific" creationism, which relies on a particular interpretation of the Genesis account of creation.
We believe that intelligent design is neither sound science nor good theology. Although the boundaries of science are open to change, allowing supernatural explanations to count as science undercuts the very purpose of science, which is to explain the workings of nature without recourse to religious language. Attributing complexity to the interruption of natural law by a divine designer is, as some critics have claimed, a science stopper. Besides, ID has not yet opened up a new research program. In the opinion of the overwhelming majority of research biologists, it has not provided examples of "irreducible complexity" in biological evolution that could not be explained as well by normal scientifically understood processes. Students of nature once considered the vertebrate eye to be too complex to explain naturally, but subsequent research has led to the conclusion that this remarkable structure can be readily understood as a product of natural selection. This shows that what may appear to be "irreducibly complex" today may be explained naturalistically tomorrow.
Scientific explanations are always incomplete. We grant that a comprehensive account of evolutionary natural history remains open to complementary philosophical, metaphysical, and religious dimensions. Darwinian natural history does preempt certain accounts of creation, leading, for example, to the contemporary creationist and ID controversies. However, in most instances, biology and religion operate at different and non-competing levels. In many religious traditions, such as some found in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism, the notion of intelligent design is irrelevant. We recognize that natural theology may be a legitimate enterprise in its own right, but we resist the insistence of intelligent-design advocates that their enterprise be taken as genuine science — just as we oppose efforts of others to elevate science into a comprehensive world view (so-called scientism).
We recognize science as a legitimate interpretation of God’s natural world. We affirm the validity of the claims of science in describing the natural world and in determining what is scientific. We preclude science from making authoritative claims about theological issues and theology from making authoritative claims about scientific issues. We find that science’s descriptions of cosmological, geological, and biological evolution are not in conflict with theology. We recognize medical, technical, and scientific technologies as legitimate uses of God’s natural world when such use enhances human life and enables all of God’s children to develop their God-given creative potential without violating our ethical convictions about the relationship of humanity to the natural world. We reexamine our ethical convictions as our understanding of the natural world increases. We find that as science expands human understanding of the natural world, our understanding of the mysteries of God’s creation and word are enhanced.
In acknowledging the important roles of science and technology, however, we also believe that theological understandings of human experience are crucial to a full understanding of the place of humanity in the universe. Science and theology are complementary rather than mutually incompatible. We therefore encourage dialogue between the scientific and theological communities and seek the kind of participation that will enable humanity to sustain life on earth and, by God’s grace, increase the quality of our common lives together.
WHEREAS, The United Methodist Church has for many years supported the separation of church and State (¶ 164C, Book of Discipline, 2004, p. 119);
Therefore, be it resolved, that the General Conference of The United Methodist Church go on record as opposing the introduction of any faith-based theories such as Creationism or Intelligent Design into the science curriculum of our public schools.
Objective scientific process should not be subverted to serve political or ideological goals. In recent years, however, substantial evidence has surfaced indicating that policymakers within the federal government are attempting to suppress objective scientific evidence, to distort scientific findings and to appoint or place individuals in a variety of positions in order to promote a political and ideological agenda. Such concerns have been raised in various contexts, perhaps most notably in areas affecting our nation's environment and public health. These concerns have been documented in the newspapers, congressional hearings and reports from respected scientific organizations such as the National Academy of Sciences and the Union of Concerned Scientists. These investigations document several ways in which science is being misused: through efforts to suppress or distort scientific findings, through the appointment of scientists and researchers who meet certain political and ideological rather than professional criteria, through funding politically self-serving scientific studies and through the intimidation of scientists. These alarming efforts undermine the integrity of the scientific process.
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) recently conducted an investigation into allegations of the politicization of science within the federal government, which found evidence suggesting a systematic effort to suppress and distort scientific findings in order to promote certain political ends. For example, according to the UCS, under pressure from the White House, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) replaced a web site fact sheet containing information on proper condom use, the efficacy of different types of condoms, and a study showing that condom education does not lead to an increase in sexual activity with information on condom failure and the value of abstinence. Additionally, information suggesting a link between breast cancer and abortion was posted on the National Cancer Institute's web site against the objection of CDC staff who denounced such information as long-refuted and unsubstantiated.
The same report indicates that the Bush administration delayed for nine months an EPA report (eventually leaked) that indicated that 8 percent of women between the ages of 16 and 49 have blood mercury levels that could lead to reduced I.Q. and motor skills in their offspring. When new rules of mercury emissions were finally released by the EPA, at least 12 paragraphs were transferred, sometimes verbatim, from a legal document prepared by industry attorneys.
Additionally, several reports commissioned by Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA)5 have documented numerous distortions of science by the executive branch, including the widespread incorporation of erroneous, politicized information in federally funded abstinence-only curricula. Some of these misrepresentations include inaccurate statistics about contraception, a false linkage between abortions and breast cancer, the labeling of a 43-day-old fetus as a "thinking person" and the notion that "sweat and tears" can transmit HIV. There is also growing use of political litmus tests for scientific appointees, who, reports indicate, have been asked about their political affiliations rather than their professional credentials. For example, the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine released a report in the Winter of 2005 entitled "Ensuring the Best Presidential and Federal Advisory Committee Science and Technology Appointments." Among their recommendations was that "it is no more appropriate to ask S&T [Science and Technology] experts to provide irrelevant information — such as voting record, political-party affiliation or position on particular policies — than to ask them other personal and immaterial information, such as hair color or height."
Furthermore, the scientific theory of evolution is being challenged in school districts and the courts by proponents of "intelligent design." According to the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based organization that is a leading intelligent design (ID) proponent, "The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection."
ID proponents are increasingly, and with success, seeking to use public schools to advance this concept, suggesting that "intelligent design" holds scientific merit equal to the theory of evolution. The overwhelming majority of the scientific community, which supports theories that are testable by experiment or observation, oppose treating ID, which is neither, as scientific theory. A 1999 report by the National Academy of Sciences states, "Creationism, intelligent design, and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life or of species are not science because they are not testable by the methods of science." Public officials have supported public schools teaching intelligent design alongside evolution in science curricula.
There are several legislative proposals seeking to prevent the obstruction of federally funded scientific research, censoring findings, or disseminating scientific information known to be false or misleading. Politicizing science is antithetical to Jewish values. Maimonides notes, "The spiritual perfection of a person consists in becoming an intelligent being — one who knows all that he [or she] is capable of learning. And such knowledge is obtained not by virtue or piety, but through inquiry and research." The scientific process requires the generation and analysis of objective data. The insertion of politics and ideology into science represents the subversion of that process.
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Statements added since the 3rd Edition are denoted with a *
Many conservative and fundamentalist Christian groups in the United States have consistently opposed the teaching of biological evolution since the 1920s, when states such as Tennessee (Butler Act of 1925) and Arkansas (statute in 1928) passed legislation prohibiting the teaching of human evolution in public schools (Larson, 1997). Arguments over the legality of such a prohibition were settled in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1968 ruling in Epperson v. Arkansas (1968). Laws prohibiting teachers from teaching biological evolution are unconstitutional (Bowman, 2008; Epperson v. Arkansas, 1968; Matsumura & Mead, 2007; Wexler, 2006). In response, biological evolution opponents attempted to “balance” the teaching of evolution in schools with Bible study, “creation science,” and “intelligent design” (Baker, 2013). U.S. federal courts have ruled these attempts unconstitutional. Despite these court decisions, opponents persist in their efforts to undermine the teaching of biological evolution by characterizing it as “controversial” or “only a theory” (Miller, 2008; Scott, 2007). The public controversy regarding the teaching of biological evolution is a reflection of the extensive diversity in society. However, no controversy exists in the scientific community regarding the fundamental claims of biological evolution. Scientists are in near unanimous agreement that biological evolution provides a strong explanatory and predictive foundation for the entire landscape of modern biology (National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine, 2008; Thagard & Findlay, 2010; Wiles & Alters, 2011). While opposition toward teaching biological evolution is particularly pervasive in the United States, ASTE recognizes that this problem is global in scope and concern.
The Association for Science Teacher Education (ASTE) strongly supports the position that biological evolution provides the theoretical foundation for all modern biology. Biological evolution (hereafter referred to as evolution) states that “all living things have arisen from common ancestors. Some lineages diverge while others go extinct as a result of natural selection, mutation, genetic drift and other well-studied mechanisms” (NABT, 2011). The rapid advances made by science and engineering in areas such as life science, medicine, and agriculture have produced immense benefits for society. Such societal benefits can be directly attributed to scientific understanding and application of evolution (National Academy of Science and Institute of Medicine, 2008). The teaching of evolution is prominently advocated in recent and current U.S. national science education frameworks and standards, in several international standards documents, and is supported by more than 50 Academies of Science throughout the world (AAAS, 1989, 1993 & 2007; Common Core State Standards Initiative, 2012; InterAcademy Panel, 2006; NRC, 2012 & 2013; Waddington, Nentwig, & Schanze, 2007). Preservice and inservice teachers must possess a clear understanding of evolution and how to effectively teach it, an appreciation of the importance of evolution to science and society, and an awareness of actions and organizations that seek to undermine the teaching of evolution in formal and informal science learning environments.
In order to clearly state ASTE’s position about the fundamental importance of teaching evolution in all science learning environments, the Association for Science Teacher Education makes the following declarations:
American Association for the Advancement of Science (1989). Project 2061: Science for all Americans. Washington, D.C., Author.
American Association for the Advancement of Science (1993). Benchmarks for science literacy. New York: Oxford University Press.
American Association for the Advancement of Science. (2007). Atlas of science literacy (Vol. 2). Washington, DC: AAAS Project 2061.
Bowman, K. L. (2008). The evolution battles in high school science classes: Who is teaching what? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 6(2), 69-74.
Baker, J. O. (2013). Acceptance of evolution and support for teaching creationism in public schools: The conditional impact of educational attainment. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 52(1), 216-228.
Common Core State Standards Initiative (2012). Common Core Standards. http://www.corestandards.org/.
Epperson v. State of Arkansas, Supreme Court of the United States (1968). 393 U.S. 97, 89 S. Ct 266. https://bulk.resource.org/courts.gov/c/US/393/393.US.97.7.html.
InterAcademy Panel. (2006). IAP statement on the teaching of evolution. http://www.interacademies.net/File.aspx?id=6150.
Larson, E. J. (1997). Summer for the gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s continuing debate over science and religion. New York: Basic Books.
Matsumura, M. & Mead, L. (2007). Ten major court decisions about evolution and creationism. National Center for Science Education, http://ncse.com/taking-action/ten-major-court-cases-evolution-creationism.
Miller, K. R. (2008). Only a theory: Evolution and the battle for America’s soul. New York: Viking.
National Academy of Sciences (1996). National science education standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine. (2008). Science, evolution, and creationism. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
National Association of Biology Teachers (2011). NABT Position Statement on Teaching Evolution. http://www.nabt.org/websites/institution/?p=92.
National Research Council. (2012). A framework for K-12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
National Research Council (2013). Next generation science standards. http://www.nextgenscience.org/.
Scott, E. C. (2007). What’s wrong with the “teach the controversy” slogan? McGill Journal of Education, 42(2), 307-315.
Thagard, P. & Findlay, S. (2010). Getting to Darwin: Obstacles to accepting evolution by natural selection. Science & Education, 19(6-8), 625-636.
Waddington, D., Nentwig, P. & Schanze, S. (Eds.). (2007). Making it comparable: Standards in science education. Munster, Germany: Waxmann Publishing Co.
Wexler, J. D. (2006). From the classroom to the courtroom: Intelligent design and the constitution. In E. C. Scott & G. Branch (Eds.). Not in our classrooms: Why intelligent design is wrong for our schools (pp. 83-104). Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
Wiles, J. R. & Alters, B. (2011). Effects of an educational experience incorporating an inventory of factors potentially influencing student acceptance of biological evolution. International Journal of Science Education, 33(8), 2559-85.
Whereas, biological evolution is a fundamental underpinning of modern biological thought and research and is not the subject of controversy among scientists; and
Whereas, the unfettered teaching of evolution in public schools has been under attack since the early part of the twentieth century, and before; and
Whereas, the Supreme Court further declared in Edwards v. Aguillard that requirements to teach creation science in schools as an alternative to evolution are unconstitutional; and
Whereas, [a federal court] further declared in Kitzmiller v. Dover that requirements to teach intelligent design in schools as an alternative to evolution are unconstitutional; and
Whereas, a strategy to teach creationism, intelligent design, or evolution denial into public science classrooms has emerged with the passage of laws intended to teach these theories as science under the guise of protecting academic freedom in the classroom; and
Whereas, these laws may include misleading provisions, such as to teach “the full range of scientific views regarding biological and chemical evolution,” and offers students “protection for subscribing to a particular position on views regarding biological or chemical evolution,” (Discovery Institute, Model Academic Freedom Statute on Evolution, 2007); and
Whereas, these laws may include misleading provisions, such as to help students develop “critical thinking skills” on “controversial issues,” and direct teachers to discuss “the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories,” (Louisiana Science Education Act, 2008); and
Whereas, AFT-Oregon believes that Oregon teachers already endeavor “to create an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about scientific subjects,” (Tennessee HB 268/SB 893) and indeed all subjects within their curricula; and
Whereas, over 50 of these bills have been introduced in 13 state legislatures since 2004, and more have already been introduced in 2013 than in all of 2012; and
Whereas, two of these bills (Louisiana SB 561/733 in 2008 and Tennessee HB 368 in 2011) have become law in their respective states; and
Whereas, the American Association of University Professors says of these bills: “Such efforts run counter to the overwhelming scientific consensus regarding evolution and are inconsistent with a proper understanding of the meaning of academic freedom;” and
Whereas, the National Center for Science Education declares: “Teachers have no freedom to misinform and miseducate students. It is scientifically inappropriate and educationally irresponsible to present [intelligent design] under its own name or in any guise as scientifically credible. And it is unconstitutional to do so in the public schools;” now
Therefore Be It Resolved, that AFT-Oregon encourages and expects Oregon’s science teachers, in presenting evolution and other topics, to understand, respect, and communicate the consensus of the scientific community, in order to present the science curriculum effectively to their students; and
Be It Further Resolved, that AFT-Oregon will be on alert for, and opposed to, bills at the state or federal level that attempt to use the guise of academic freedom as a means of introducing creationism, intelligent design, or evolution denial into science classrooms; and
Be It Further Resolved, that, as adopted and suitably edited, this resolution will be forwarded to the AFT national convention for consideration.
The Arkansas Science Teachers Association strongly supports the position that evolution is a major unifying concept in science and should be included and maintained in the state K–12 science education frameworks and curricula. It should be titled “evolution” and not indirectly called “change over time” or similar wording.
Evolution is not taught in many Arkansas school districts. These students in these districts will not achieve the level of scientific literacy they needed in an increasingly technological and scientific society. They will not understand natural systems, genetics, natural selection, geologic time, population biology, environmental and climate change, medical and microbiological sciences issues or other important concepts related to an understanding of evolution.
This position is consistent with all scientific organizations that support the teaching evolution and an old Earth history as part of science curricula (National Science Foundation, National Science Teachers Association, American Association for the Advancement of Science, National Association of Biology Teachers, National Academy of Science, Geological Society of America, etc.).
Evolution should be taught beginning in elementary school and with greater detail in each successive grade. Arkansas K-16 students and teaches should understand:
Many teachers have found the following chart helpful.
People have several ways that they know about their world. The chart below lists some of the ways of knowing. However, as you read the chart please note that science is a way of knowing that requires the use of certain rules and methods that differs from the other means of knowing. Scientific knowledge is limited to the natural world.
|Religious Knowledge||Philosophic Knowledge||Cultural Knowledge||Science Knowledge|
|Seeks answers to any question that can be posed including answers to the ultimate questions (What is my purpose? What is the meaning of life? Is there a supreme being? etc.).||Seeks answers to any question that can be posed including answers to the ultimate (What is my purpose? What is the meaning of life? Is there a supreme being? etc.).||Seeks answers to any question that can be posed including answers to the ultimate questions (What is my purpose? What is the meaning of life? etc.), but generally relates to how people treat one another.||Can only seek answers about the natural world but cannot answer ultimate questions (Is there a god? What is the meaning of life?).|
|Seek predictions on any event based on faith and belief.||Seek predictions on any event based on point of view.||Seek predictions on any event based on belief and cultural history.||Seek predictions about future natural events based on observational evidence and testing.|
|The rules may vary among the different religions.||The rules may vary among the different philosophic views.||The rules may vary among the different cultures.||Has a set of rules that must be followed in order to be called science.|
|Explanations are based on beliefs and faith and seek to understand and follow an ultimate purpose.||Explanations are based on logic or viewpoint and seek to understand and follow an ultimate purpose and may undergo some type of testing.||Explanations are based on beliefs and seek to understand and follow an ultimate purpose.||Explanations are based on observation, evidence, and testing.|
|Explanations can include supernatural forces.||Explanations can include supernatural forces and viewpoints.||Explanations can include supernatural forces and other historical viewpoints.||Explanations cannot include supernatural forces.|
|Hypotheses need not be part of the religion, nor do hypotheses have to be tested nor proved or disproved.||Hypotheses may be a part of the philosophic view and hypotheses may or may not have to be tested and proved or disproved.||Hypotheses need not be part of the cultural view, nor do hypotheses have to be tested nor proven.||The hypothesis used in tests must be able to be disproved.|
|Is a belief system and seeks truths.||Is a point of view and seeks truths.||May be a belief system rooted in historical views and seeks truths.||Is not a belief system nor seeks truths.|
|Knowledge may not change greatly over time, but may be swayed by culture.||Knowledge may not change greatly over time and may be influenced by culture.||
May be a belief system rooted in historical views and seeks truths.
Knowledge may or may not change slowly over time.
|Knowledge may change as new data arises.|
|Accepted knowledge does not need peer review or verification.||Accepted knowledge may seek peer review or verification, but conclusions may differ among individuals.||Accepted knowledge may seek review or verification, but conclusions may differ among individuals.||All knowledge must have peer review and verification.|
This statement has been issued against a backdrop of concern about the teaching of controversial issues in science, in particular Intelligent Design and Creationism. The statement has been agreed by ASE Council. However the statement does not necessarily represent the views of all ASE members. ASE recognises that the science teaching profession includes individuals with a range of religious and non religious perspectives and that there will be some members, albeit a small number, whose personal perspectives might not resonate fully with these messages. It is, however, our intention that all members and others who are concerned about this controversial issue will find guidance and direction herein.
An important professional challenge for science teachers is the need to develop a sensitivity to the many belief systems which will permeate a group of learners and to ensure that, should questions of belief arise, they are well prepared to offer an appropriate level of engagement which retains a focus on science and what constitutes a viable scientific theory, whilst respecting the personal belief systems of individual learners.
Intelligent Design is a claim that many living organisms are so complex that their existence cannot be explained by natural evolutionary processes. Intelligent Design also claims that the complexity of such organisms can be accounted for only by invoking the intervention of an agent of design — a designer.
The rationale for science education involves the stimulation and motivation of young people towards appreciating and understanding some of the key ideas in science. It aims to engage them in exploring first hand the processes of science through experimentation, investigation, argument, and modelling thereby teaching them how science works in both an historical context and within the social community which is science. In doing so, science education explores the relationships between evidence and theory whilst appreciating the provisional nature of scientific 'knowledge'. Such an education should prepare learners to be confident in engaging with scientific issues and be able to take a critical approach when evaluating claims which are 'scientific', thereby making an assessment of what might be seen as 'good science' and 'poor science'.
When set against this rationale it is clear to us that Intelligent Design has no grounds for sharing a platform as a scientific 'theory'. It has no underpinning scientific principles or explanations to support it. Furthermore it is not accepted as a competing scientific theory by the international science community nor is it part of the science curriculum. It is not science at all. Intelligent Design belongs to a different domain and should not be presented to learners as a competing or alternative scientific idea. As such, Intelligent Design has no place in the science education of young people in school.
There are many examples which teachers might use to illustrate controversial issues in science. Some are competing ideas such as the nature of light — waves or particles or heliocentric v geocentric notions of the solar system, others might be examples of poorly planned and inadequately tested science such as the claim for 'cold fusion' or even examples of 'dishonest or biased science', such as the case of the midwife toad. All these examples deserve a place in science education as they are founded to a greater or lesser degree on aspects of scientific methodology. Their study will better enable learners to take a more critical and informed view of claims which purport to be 'scientific'. Intelligent Design, with no foundation in scientific methodology, cannot be classed as science, not even bad or controversial science.
The ASE does not claim to have any authoritative voice regarding religious and moral education or other areas of the curriculum. However we recognise that an idea which suggests the existence of an 'intelligent designer' is more likely to find a place in a course which deals explicitly with belief systems. Should Intelligent Design find such a place, we strongly argue that it should not be presented as an alternative scientific theory.
The concept of Intelligent Design is only one of many religious views concerning the nature of the universe. A related idea is Creationism (or 'Young Earth Creationism') which takes the view that the universe was created very recently. Not all religious believers hold these or similar views and many find it perfectly possible to combine their faith with a scientific description of the universe. When ideas about the origin of the universe are covered in science lessons it is appropriate that teachers share with learners the tentative nature of a theory such as the 'big bang'. There is mounting evidence to support the idea that the universe at one time underwent a singularity which we call a 'big bang'. However the context of such teaching would also explore alternative theories, many in existence in the mid 20th century and which were supported by evidence at the time, which offered competition to the big bang notion. This is an example of how evidence and theories coexist and interact in the culture of science and how they drive the direction of scientific endeavour. Creationism, like Intelligent Design, is not based on scientific evidence and, as such, is not a scientific theory.
Statements which are aligned with this ASE position have been made by the Interacademy Panel; a global network of the world's science academies, and by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF). These can be obtained from:
Interacademy Panel statement www.royalsoc.ac.uk/document.asp?tip=1&id=4926
DCSF guidance on the place of creationism and intelligent design in science lessons www.teachernet.gov.uk/docbank/index.cfm?id=11890
The theory of evolution by natural selection is a unifying concept that explains the incredible diversity of living things, their genetic relationship, and evidence that living things change over time. Evolutionary theory is central to modern science.
In response to public inquiries regarding the presentation of Darwinian evolution in science centers and museums, ASTC's Executive Committee issued the following "Statement on Science" in September 2005:
"ASTC and its members — science centers and museums around the world — present information based on scientific evidence. ASTC's members are committed to advancing the public understanding of science and contributing to the development of a scientifically literate society. Science is a human endeavor that uses observations and experimentation to develop explanations of the natural world. Scientific theories are grounded in and compatible with evidence, internally consistent, and demonstrably effective in explaining a wide variety of phenomena. Science is based on hundreds of years of scientific observation and experimentation and many thousands of peer-reviewed publications."
In science centers and museums, evolution is often presented in paleontology exhibitions, such as Prehistoric Journey at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Lone Star Dinosaurs at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, and Dinosphere at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis. Explore Evolution, developed under the leadership of the University of Nebraska State Museum, features scientists investigating the evolution of life. However, evolutionary theory also underlies many other exhibits and programs, including those about emerging research areas such as biotechnology.
In response to public discussion about evolution and creationism in museums, Jeffrey Kirsch, Director of the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, San Diego, California, wrote in the May 3, 2005 issue of the online newspaper Voice of San Diego:
"Scientists parse the unanswerable into something they can answer through experiment, reasoning, or observational discovery. And, in general, the new "answers" lead to other questions that provide the basis for future studies and...future questions. Seen this way, science is a seemingly never-ending human quest to understand how living and non-living things work. It is quintessentially open-ended, and curiosity is the universal prerequisite for a working scientist...
"Belief-based explanations have one aspect in common: they cannot be tested the way a scientific model can be. The scientific understanding of biological development on earth, usually referred to as evolution, is derived from the search for natural explanations for phenomena such as the fossil record, the geological record, and our planet's biosphere. And these explanations must be tested again and again until they become generally accepted or changed to fit the facts. So, when an institution uses the word "science" in its name...it is understood by all to be concerned with natural and verifiable explanations for the way things work."
For additional information and perspectives on the presentation of evolution and related subjects, see the following resources:
Understanding Evolution, an extensive new website by the University of California Museum of Paleontology and the National Center for Science Education.
Evolution Resources, National Science Teachers Association.
Evolution and Creationism: A Guide for Museum Docents (PDF), by the Museum of the Earth at the Paleontological Research Institution, Ithaca, NY.
Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion: Evolution, American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The Evolution Controversy in Our Schools. Letter to Academy members from President Bruce Alberts. National Academy of Sciences. March 4, 2005.
Explore Evolution, a new exhibit at the University of Nebraska State Museum.
Evolution: constant change and common threads, Howard Hughes Medical Institute on-demand webcast of 2005 Holiday Lectures and student discussion session on reconciling religion and evolution.
Thomas Jefferson Fossil Collection, The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia.
The Australian Museum supports the teaching of evolution as the scientifically tested and verifiable theory for the origin and development of all species on Earth. In doing so, the Australian Museum's position is that creationism or intelligent design should not be taught as part of the science curriculum.
Evolution, a foundational principle of modern biology, is supported by overwhelming scientific evidence and is accepted by the vast majority of scientists. Because it is fundamental to the understanding of modern biology, the faculty in the Biology Department at Baylor University, Waco, TX, teach evolution throughout the biology curriculum. We are in accordance with the American Association for Advancement of Science's statement on evolution. We are a science department, so we do not teach alternative hypotheses or philosophically deduced theories that cannot be tested rigorously.
The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Baylor University is committed to the highest standards of scientific inquiry in the search for objective truth about the natural universe. From the time of Francis Bacon, this search for truth has been through the scientific method, in which the veracity of a hypothesis is tested by experimentation.
Evolution, a foundational principle of modern biological sciences, is supported by overwhelming scientific evidence. It is fundamental to the understanding of modern biochemistry, and our faculty incorporate the principle of evolution throughout the biochemistry curriculum. We are a science department, and we do not teach alternative hypotheses or philosophically deduced theories that cannot be tested rigorously.
Information on other departmental websites: Department of Biology
Recent attacks on the teaching of evolution in science classrooms are of grave concern to the Biotechnology Institute. For years, the Institute has sought to educate the public — especially young people and those who teach them — about the science of biotechnology and its tremendous potential for solving health, foodrelated, and environmental problems. Evolution, the evidence-based theory that all living organisms have descended from common ancestors, is a cornerstone principle of the biological sciences on which biotechnology is based. There is overwhelming consensus in the scientific community on the validity of evolution: the National Academy of Sciences and more than 50 other scientific associations endorse the concept of common ancestry among living organisms. While hundreds of papers and books are published every year discussing and debating the details of evolution, there is no serious scientific debate about whether this basic process occurs in nature.
Our understanding of evolution has already improved our lives in undeniable ways. Biotechnological research depends on insights built on the concept of evolution for discoveries that make us healthier, safer, and better fed. Vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, and many other life-threatening diseases are developed through “directed evolution,” the alteration and selection of certain viruses to force a desired immune response. Because disease germs constantly adapt to survive, following the principles of evolution, vaccines must be continually updated using those principles. Outbreaks of new lethal viruses such as SARS are potentially predictable through evolutionary studies of gene-exchanging patterns among such viruses. Comparative studies of the immune systems of humans and chimpanzees have already provided major insights into therapies for AIDS, malaria, and other fatal diseases. In addition, the race to develop new antibiotics and antiviral drugs to combat rapidly-evolving bacteria and viruses is a well-known example of evolution-based research in action. Epidemiologists must take into account evolutionary relationships among disease-causing organisms when they track the transmission of diseases over time and geographic space. The same scientific techniques are also used to trace the spread of bioweapons, thus contributing to our national security. In agriculture, genetically modified crops show great promise for relieving human hunger. Ensuring the long-term safety of such products for both humans and the environment requires an in-depth understanding of the modified genes’ effects on other, related species. In these and many other ways, knowledge gained from evolutionary biology informs and directs biotechnological research which, in turn, improves — and often saves — our lives.
The Institute observes that many members of the scientific academic community and biotechnology industry maintain strong personal commitment to religious beliefs. In fact, many scientists and biotechnology leaders find their faith and their life’s work mutually reinforcing. Thus the Institute sees no inherent conflict between religious faith and the pursuit of evolutionary science.
But some individuals and groups obviously disagree. Some believe evolution should be either explicitly excluded from the classroom or at the very least “balanced” by the teaching of some form of creationism, including its variant “Intelligent Design.” These alternatives may not reasonably be called “science.” Science is based on the testing of theoretical explanations against meticulous observations of the natural world; explanations that fail such tests are rejected, while those that pass are accepted provisionally. By appealing to unseen or supernatural forces to explain the origin of life, creationism is by definition untestable via scientific methods, and thus inappropriate for science classrooms.
Policymakers considering issues of science in general, and of biotechnology in particular, should certainly respect nonscientific viewpoints. But they must ultimately uphold the standard of science in order to evaluate the implications their decisions carry for our society’s future in a global economy. In our global, science-based economy, nations that value open inquiry and use scientific criteria in research, industry, and education will outperform those that don’t — in several dimensions. The US must continue to train scientists and engineers who will dedicate themselves to research that will enable the American science-based industries to grow and compete successfully with foreign counterparts. Many of these are housed in nations whose students routinely outperform ours on standardized science tests. The development of scientific literacy and the successful completion of training in the sciences demand a clear understanding of evolution as scientists understand it.
For these reasons, the Biotechnology Institute urges state boards of education, local school districts, and individual teachers to support the teaching of evolution and leave discussions concerning issues of faith to their appropriate settings in classes on religion and in our nation’s churches, synagogues and mosques.
Carnegie Museum of Natural History is a scientific institution and strongly supports evolution as the only scientifically rigorous and strongly corroborated explanation for the amazing diversity of life on Earth—now and in the past. Evolution is a process of inherited change that takes place over time. Evolution explains both the diversity of life on Earth as well as universal similarities among all living things. It is based on observable evidence from the fields of biology, paleontology, and geology. We join with our colleagues at natural history, academic, and science institutions worldwide in affirming evolution.
Our Mission: Carnegie Museum of Natural History collects and cares for specimens and artifacts that document the history of life on Earth. Through field studies and collections-based scientific research, we generate new knowledge and promote stewardship of the Earth and its natural resources. Through public exhibitions, programs, and educational partnerships, we share the results of our scientific research, in order to enhance scientific literacy by illuminating the processes of evolution and adaptation that have shaped the diversity of our world and its inhabitants.
Carnegie Museum of Natural History will continue to provide public engagement activities that explore and explain evolution. We affirm that all organisms on Earth share a common ancestry and that life's unfolding has encompassed billions of years of time. Our educational goal is to help visitors understand and explore the theory of evolution, the observable evidence that supports it, and the scientific questions and debates that are taking place at the edge of exploration about the mechanisms of evolution and its consequences.
The museum does not involve itself in matters of individual or institutional religious beliefs or practice. We respectfully leave those concerns to institutions dedicated to the study and practice of spiritual and religious matters.
The Department of Biology at Central Connecticut State University comprises a community of students and professors of the biological sciences. We are committed to the highest standards of scientific inquiry in the search for objective truth about the universe. As members of the worldwide scientific community, we use the theory of evolution and other scientific principles to study the natural world. Evolution, a foundational principle of modern biological sciences, is supported by overwhelming scientific evidence. It is fundamental to the understanding of modern biology, and our faculty incorporate the principle of evolution throughout the curriculum. As we are a science department, we do not teach alternative hypotheses or philosophically deduced theories that cannot be tested rigorously. Evolutionary theory has greatly enhanced progress in the fields of medicine, anatomy, archaeology, biology, biochemistry, geology, neuroscience, and many other disciplines. Without an understanding of evolutionary biology, our perception of the natural world would be greatly diminished.
Therefore, the Department of Biology at Central Connecticut State University joins with the broader scientific and academic community devoted to science education and research in affirming the centrality of evolution to biology and in opposing attempts to introduce the concepts of creationism or intelligent design as viable, alternative scientific theories. To read more about the teaching of evolution in the United States go to http://ncseweb.org/.
The Da Vinci Science Center and a preponderant majority of scientists recognize that evolution through natural selection is the central organizing principle of the life sciences. One of the Da Vinci Science Center's most fundamental goals is to encourage curiosity about nature and an investigation of the natural world. The Center provides those who participate in its programs an opportunity to inquire about the relationships and patterns they observe in the natural world. The Center recognizes that there are persons who embrace faith-based views about the creation of the world and humanity that differ from scientific accounts. While the Center respects those views, those views are not reflected in the Da Vinci Science Center's exhibits and programs because they are not derived from well-established scientific conclusions and evidence.
Statement on Science
Ecsite is the European network that links science centres and museums and other science communication institutions across Europe. Science centres and museums play a crucial role in presenting major issues of our times related to the technological and natural world, our position within it and our impact upon it. They are leading institutions for encouraging engagement and dialogue between the scientific community and society as a whole.
The world needs to enhance the scientific culture of its citizens. This is our new frontier for building a cultural dimension and for building a democratic society.
Ecsite members promote the advancement of knowledge and human endeavour based on scientific principles. We advocate that science is the most successful way of describing and understanding the phenomena of the world around us.
Science centres and museums rely on the objective use of scientific evidence to present science. They encourage an understanding of the world based on sound theory which is internally consistent and which has been tested and validated by the accumulation of empirical evidence from different sources. They recognize that science is based on a process of peer review where research findings are published and subjected to scientific debate, and where evidence must be repeated, corroborated or otherwise validated through a process which is vigorously maintained by the scientific community.
Statement on Evolution
In recent years, the theory of evolution has drawn criticism from sectors outside of science.
Ecsite asserts that the theory of evolution by natural selection has been thoroughly challenged and tested by vast amounts of accumulated independent empirical verifications in many disciplines and that none has been shown to refute it.
Ecsite's policy for public engagement is to present the theory of evolution as the best explanation for the ongoing generation of diversity of life on Earth.
Ecsite strongly endorses the teaching of the theory of evolution in European schools as a core part of the science curriculum and we urge that views such as creationism and intelligent design should not be taught as science.
Evolution is a scientific theory based on evidence. Religious beliefs fall outside the realm of science, since they are a matter of faith, not of proof. While we encourage freedom of speech and the need for a broad cultural debate in our societies, religious beliefs should not be brought into a scientific debate as scientific evidence. Science centres and museums may promote a cultural exchange between various stakeholders but they will always refer to science in their programmes and contents.
WHEREAS, science is a systematic method for investigating natural phenomena through experimentation, observation and measurement leading to falsifiable explanations that are open to continuous testing; and
WHEREAS, science proceeds on the basis of methodological naturalism and assumes observed phenomena of the universe are real, nature is consistent and understandable, and nature is explainable in terms of laws and theories; and
WHEREAS, a scientific theory is consistent with evidence from multiple and independent sources of evidence, explains many different facts and allows predictions of subsequent discoveries; and
WHEREAS, the theory of evolution satisfies these criteria fully, is the foundation of biological science, is supported by a coherent body of integrated evidence from other disciplines in science and is consistent with theories from other scientific disciplines including anthropology, geology, physics, astronomy and chemistry; and
WHEREAS, there have been attempts in some states to include supernaturalism in the science curriculum as an alternative to scientific explanations of nature, particularly as an alternative to evolutionary theory; and
WHEREAS, arguments that invoke supernaturalism are grounded in religious or philosophical considerations outside the realm of science; and
WHEREAS, attempts to subvert the validity or teaching of evolutionary theory are also attacks on all scientific inquiry and, therefore, also attacks on the validity of using reason and experimentation to understand the universe; and
WHEREAS, legislation that conflates supernaturalism, or limits, or prohibits the teaching of any scientific theory negatively impacts our ability to make informed decisions; and
WHEREAS, it is the responsibility of the Illinois Federation of Teachers to preserve the integrity of science in the classroom; therefore be it
RESOLVED, that the Illinois Federation of Teachers affirm, through a positional statement on its website, the validity of science as a methodology for understanding the nature of the universe, and affirm the validity and foundational importance of organic evolution to science as a whole and biology, specifically; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the IFT affirm, through a positional statement on its website, that supernaturalism is not a scientific endeavor and, therefore, is inappropriate for inclusion in the science curriculum; and be it further
RESOLVED, that this resolution does not make it the official position of the IFT that there is no God and should not be interpreted as a statement either for or against religion or belief in God; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the IFT call upon its members to assist those engaged in overseeing science education policy to understand the nature of science, the content of contemporary evolutionary theory and the inappropriateness of including non-science subjects (e.g., intelligent design and creationism) in our science curriculum; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the IFT communicate to the local, regional and national public media, to educational authorities and to appropriate legislators its opposition to the inclusion of non-science approaches and subjects (e.g., creationism and intelligent design) into the science education curricula of our public school system; and be it finally
RESOLVED, that the IFT members also promote these concerns and help resolve these issues in their home communities among educators, parents, school boards and students in appropriate public forums.
The Department of Education provides science academic standards that define what Indiana students should know and be able to do in the area of science. Content regarding evolution is included.
The Indiana Academic Standards 2000 - Science were developed by a committee selected from a pool of more than 100 concerned educators and citizens from around the state who had applied to participate in this process. The committee is composed of approximately sixty, K-12 science teachers, science educators and scientists from Indiana's universities, administrators, parents, and representatives from business and industry.
The Department of Education does not identify science content that should not be taught. Curriculum directors in Indiana schools may choose to supplement their local curriculum as they respond to the desires of the community. However, content taught in the area of science must be consistent with the nature of science (see the Indiana Academic Standards 2000 - Science), as science itself is the connection between theory and experiment.
This means that the explanations for how the world works must be based upon physical evidence and subjected to experimental verification as well as peer review. If better explanations for the evidence arise, older explanations are left behind, which is the belief system upon which science is founded. This does not mean that belief systems based upon sacred texts or traditions are to be discounted, for they are not lesser or greater than a "scientific" viewpoint. Understanding the difference and the nature of science itself is the key, and it is something of which students should be made aware.
Should a community decide that it would be in the better interests of its students to supplement instruction by exposing the students to various accounts of the origin of the universe from cultural, mythological, or religious sources, it may do so in a comparative format that does not espouse a specific doctrine or belief system from a particular faith tradition. The espousing of one faith tradition or set of beliefs over another or others is inappropriate in a public school context.
ICOM NATHIST is the organisation of natural history museums around the world who are members of ICOM.
ICOM NATHIST considers evolution as the best current explanation for how the diversity of life around us came to exist. It remains the only compelling scientifically rigorous account of how life evolved on our planet for which a great deal of empirical evidence has been accumulated in natural history collections.
ICOM NATHIST endorses the study of evolution from past, present and developing natural history collections and supports evolution being presented in public engagement activities.
The participants of the ICOM-NATHIST annual conference in Moscow discussed at length "evolution" and its importance for the role and mission of natural history museums, represented by the International Committee for museums and collections of natural history (NATHIST) within ICOM.
It was a common opinion and understanding that Evolution is a Fact and a Theory:
In 2009 there are two important anniversaries celebrating evolution:
The participants reached a consensus on evolution and this position statement was the conclusion.
Many independent lines of scientific evidence show that the Earth and Universe are billions of years old. Current measurements yield an age of about 4.6 billion years for the Earth and about 14 billion years for the Universe.
How ages are measured
The age of the Earth is measured by studies of radioactive elements. Radioactive elements are unstable and "parent" atoms decay into other "daughter" elements at a steady rate. For example, through a series of steps, atoms of uranium decay into atoms of lead. By measuring the abundance of "parent" and "daughter" atoms in rock samples and knowing the decay rate, geologists can calculate the age of the rock. Using several different sets of parent and daughter elements, geologists have measured the age of a variety of rocks, including terrestrial and lunar rocks as well as meteorites, which originate primarily from asteroids. The results consistently indicate an age of about 4.6 billion years for the Earth.
The age of the Universe is measured in several ways. One method is based on the rate of expansion of the Universe. By measuring the distance to remote galaxies and the rate at which they are expanding away from us, astronomers can calculate how much time the galaxies have needed to get as far away as they are. This tells how long the Universe has been expanding, or how old it is. These studies yield an age of about 14 billion years.
The age of the Universe can also be determined by investigating the oldest clusters of stars. This is done by measuring the brightness and temperature of stars in a cluster and comparing those measurements with models of how the brightness and temperature of a star change as the star ages. It is somewhat like estimating the age of a person by looking at features of his or her face and knowing how our faces change as we age. These studies show that the oldest star clusters are about 12 billion years old. The Universe must be older than its stars, so this method establishes a minimum age for the Universe. Similar studies show that the Sun is about 5 billion years old, consistent with the age of the Earth measured by radioactive studies.
A third way to determine the age of the Universe involves measuring the ages of long-lived dying stars. As stars like the Sun age, they eventually become very small, faint objects about the size of the Earth. These stellar corpses are called "white dwarf" stars and have no remaining sources of new energy. Astronomers can calculate the rate at which white dwarfs get fainter and cooler, so when they then measure the brightness and temperature of a white dwarf star, they can recognize how old it is. These studies show that the oldest white dwarf stars are at least 10 billion years old. As above, this establishes a minimum age for the Universe since the Universe must be older than its stars.
Why these measurements are accepted by the scientific community
These measurements of age are accepted by nearly all astronomers, including both research astronomers and planetarium educators. These astronomers come from nations and cultures around the world and from a very wide spectrum of religious beliefs.
A fundamental reason why these ancient ages are so widely accepted by the scientific community is that they are derived from several independent lines of evidence accumulated by independent and often competing teams of researchers. Each method involves different measurements and the application of different physical principles to derive ages from those measurements. The physical principles include the same thoroughly-proven principles that underlie the technology that runs the modern world. Hence the fact that the independent methods all yield similar ages reinforces confidence that the methods are sound and accurate despite their complexity and do not contain major fundamental flaws.
A second reason why these ages are so widely accepted is that for scientific results to be published in research journals, they must be critically reviewed by other scientists who are experts in the same research area. This process is called peer review and is employed in nearly all research journals in the physical and biological sciences and in the humanities and social sciences. Often the reviewers are competitors of the author and thus are especially keen to find flaws in the proposed publications. As a consequence of such review, nearly every paper must be revised and improved before it is published, and some papers are rejected because the review exposes flaws in the measurements or in their analysis and interpretation.
A third reason why these ages, and other scientific paradigms such as Einstein's theory of relativity, are so widely accepted is that by the nature of its acquisition — through independent lines of evidence and always subject to scrutiny — scientific evidence is built up only very slowly, one step at a time. Only when a very large and diverse body of evidence has been accumulated is a broad conclusion accepted. Even then, a broad conclusion remains subject to inspection, as further evidence may reinforce or refine it, or in rare cases, overthrow it.
Evidence that the Earth and Universe are billions of years old is based on diverse lines of research that have been rigorously examined and which yield concordant results. Therefore, IPS accepts that these results provide an accurate description of our Universe.
Planetariums are based on science and education and as such reflect the ideals and principles of these disciplines. Planetarium educators seek to present both scientific results and an understanding of how these discoveries are made. IPS respects the personal views and opinions of planetarium patrons and of individual planetarium educators and recognizes that in some cases those views may differ from the material presented in this statement.
The American Astronomical Society has a statement on the age of the Universe on its web site at http://www.aas.org/governance/council/resolutions.html#create. It has also, in conjunction with the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, published a booklet An Ancient Universe: How Astronomers Know the Vast Scale of Cosmic Time. This booklet is available in PDF form at www.aas.org/education/ancientuniverse.html.
The faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences is committed to the highest standards of scientific integrity and academic function. This commitment carries with it unwavering support for academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas. It also demands the utmost respect for the scientific method, integrity in the conduct of research, and recognition that the validity of any scientific model comes only as a result of rational hypothesis testing, sound experimentation, and findings that can be replicated by others.
The department faculty, then, are unequivocal in their support of evolutionary theory, which has its roots in the seminal work of Charles Darwin and has been supported by findings accumulated over 140 years. The sole dissenter from this position, Prof. Michael Behe, is a well-known proponent of "intelligent design." While we respect Prof. Behe's right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific.
The Paleontological Research Institution and its Museum of the Earth, as institutions of science and education, embrace the theory of evolution, which is the unifying concept of all biological sciences. While there remains ongoing lively debate about the processes and mechanisms of evolutionary change — that is, how evolution occurs — essentially all qualified scientists fully endorse the idea that all organisms on earth share a common ancestry and that life’s unfolding has encompassed billions of years of time. Evolution is one of the cornerstones of modern science, and is therefore one of the key elements of our institutional mission.
The evolution of life is a central unifying principle of modern science, and it is integrally connected to much of our understanding of how Earth systems work and evolve. PRI’s world-class collections of fossils help tell the story of the evolution of the Earth, and our programming helps educators, students, and the public understand what evolution is and how scientists study it.
As stated in The American Biology Teacher by the eminent scientist Theodosius Dobzhansky (1973), "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." This often-quoted declaration accurately reflects the central, unifying role of evolution in biology. The theory of evolution provides a framework that explains both the history of life and the ongoing adaptation of organisms to environmental challenges and changes.
While modern biologists constantly study and deliberate the patterns, mechanisms, and pace of evolution, they agree that all living things share common ancestors. The fossil record and the diversity of extant organisms, combined with modern techniques of molecular biology, taxonomy, and geology, provide exhaustive examples of and powerful evidence for current evolutionary theory. Genetic variation, natural selection, speciation, and extinction are well-established components of modern evolutionary theory. Explanations are constantly modified and refined as warranted by new scientific evidence that accumulates over time, which demonstrates the integrity and validity of the field.
Scientists have firmly established evolution as an important natural process. The nature of science, experimentation, logical analysis, and evidence-based revision based on detectable and measurable data are procedures that clearly differentiate and separate science from other ways of knowing. Explanations or ways of knowing that invoke metaphysical, non-naturalistic or supernatural mechanisms, whether called "creation science," "scientific creationism," "intelligent design theory," "young earth theory," or similar designations, are outside the scope of science and therefore are not part of a valid science curriculum.
The selection of topics covered in a biology curriculum should accurately reflect the principles of biological science. Teaching biology in an effective and scientifically honest manner requires that evolution be taught in a standards-based instructional framework with effective classroom discussions and laboratory experiences.
The frequently-quoted declaration of Theodosius Dobzhansky (1973) that “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution” accurately reflects the central, unifying role of evolution in the science of biology. As such, evolution provides the scientific framework that explains both the history of life and the continuing change in the populations of organisms in response to environmental challenges and other factors. Scientists who have carefully evaluated the evidence overwhelmingly support the conclusion that both the principle of evolution itself and its mechanisms best explain what has caused the variety of organisms alive now and in the past.
The principle of biological evolution states that all living things have arisen from common ancestors. Some lineages diverge while others go extinct as a result of natural selection, mutation, genetic drift and other well-studied mechanisms. The patterns of similarity and diversity in extant and fossil organisms, combined with evidence and explanations provided by molecular biology, developmental biology, systematics, and geology provide extensive examples of and powerful support for evolution. Even as biologists continue to study and consider evolution, they agree that all living things share common ancestors and that the process of evolutionary change through time is driven by natural mechanisms.
Evolutionary biology rests on the same scientific methodologies the rest of science uses, appealing only to natural events and processes to describe and explain phenomena in the natural world. Science teachers must reject calls to account for the diversity of life or describe the mechanisms of evolution by invoking non-naturalistic or supernatural notions, whether called “creation science,” “scientific creationism,” “intelligent design theory,” or similar designations. Ideas such as these are outside the scope of science and should not be presented as part of the science curriculum. These notions do not adhere to the shared scientific standards of evidence gathering and interpretation.
Just as nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution, nothing in biology education makes sense without reference to and thorough coverage of the principle and mechanisms provided by the science of evolution. Therefore, teaching biology in an effective, detailed, and scientifically and pedagogically honest manner requires that evolution be a major theme throughout the life science curriculum both in classroom discussions and in laboratory investigations.
Biological evolution must be presented in the same way that it is understood within the scientific community: as a well-accepted principle that provides the foundation to understanding the natural world. Evolution should not be misrepresented as ‘controversial,’ or in need of ‘critical analysis’ or special attention for any supposed ‘strength or weakness’ any more than other scientific ideas are. Biology educators at all levels must work to encourage the development of and support for standards, curricula, textbooks, and other instructional frameworks that prominently include evolution and its mechanisms and that refrain from confusing non-scientific with scientific explanations in science instruction.
The National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) recognizes that the scientific theory of evolution is a foundational concept of science, and therefore must also be a cornerstone of science education. Evolution in the broadest sense refers to any change over time. The study of Earth's evolution provides society with the time and space perspectives necessary to understand how Earth's physical and biological processes developed, provides insight into the natural processes active on Earth, and shapes our view of Earth's future.
Evolutionary studies apply to most branches of science, including organic evolution, cosmic evolution, geologic evolution, planetary evolution, and cultural evolution. Each of these subdisciplines of science provides evidence that evolution is pervasive: galaxies have changed, stars and planets have changed, Earth has changed, life forms on Earth have changed, and human culture has changed. Evolution is therefore factual and is a unifying concept of the natural sciences. For this reason, the National Science Education Standards (NRC), Benchmarks for Science Literacy (AAAS), numerous national education policy documents, and individual states, through their published science education frameworks, all recognize that evolution is a unifying concept for science disciplines and provides students with the foundation to help them understand the natural world. NAGT fully agrees with and supports the scientific validity of evolution as reflected in the position statements of the numerous scientific societies that unanimously support evolution on scientific grounds. NAGT further maintains that the scientific theory of evolution should be taught to students of all grade levels as a unifying concept without distraction of non-scientific or anti-scientific influence.
Published and reaffirmed position statements on the scientific validity of evolution by all of the scientific societies clearly demonstrate that the modern scientific community no longer debates whether evolution has occurred. Scientific investigation of the mechanisms of evolution and the interconnected "details" of mechanism, process, history, and outcome remain at the current scientific forefront of evolutionary studies. This is the nature of scientific inquiry itself: to continually evaluate scientific theories with an eye towards improving our scientific models and adding more details to our understanding of the natural world. Scientists often disagree about explanations of how evolution works, the importance of specific evolutionary processes, or the patterns that are observed, but all agree that evolution has occurred and is occurring now. Global change will be the future projection of past and ongoing evolutionary processes. While evolution is factual, evolution is also a "scientific theory", which is an explanation for the observed changes. This usage of theory should not be confused with the non-scientific usage of theory as an ad-hoc idea unsupported by testing or evidence.
In science, disagreements are subject to rules of scientific evaluation, and this includes the methodologies of teaching scientific concepts. Scientific conclusions are tested by experiment, observation, and evaluation. Sound practices of scientific education are tested and evaluated much the same way. NAGT recognizes that invoking non-naturalistic or supernatural events or beings, often guised as "creation science," "scientific creationism," or "intelligent design theory," are not scientific in character, do not conform to the scientific usage of the word theory, and should not be part of valid science curricula.
As stated in NAGT's Constitution, the purpose of the NAGT is to foster improvements in the teaching of the earth sciences at all levels of formal and informal instruction, to emphasize the relevance and cultural significance of the earth sciences, and to disseminate knowledge in this field to educators and the general public. The NAGT fully accepts its role in the evaluation and betterment of the teaching of scientific evolution in formal and informal educational settings, with the explicit goal of helping everyone to understand the scientific merit this fundamental concept has in modern science. The Journal of Geoscience Education publishes papers related to research concerning the pedagogy, assessment, history, philosophy and culture of teaching and learning about the geosciences, especially of fundamental concepts like geologic time and faunal and stratigraphic succession, all aspects of evolution.
The New York State Museum is an internationally recognized research and education institution. Our research legacy can be traced to our founding as the New York State Geological and Natural History Survey in 1836. The primary focus of the research mission of the New York State Museum has been the investigation of the diversity and history of life on earth. The central concept guiding this effort since 1859 has been the scientific theory of evolution. A scientific theory unifies explanations of observed phenomena and provides a framework for the formulation and evaluation of hypotheses that ask questions related to those explanations. The theory of evolution is central to the scientific understanding of how life originated on earth and how it continually changes and diversifies.
Through research, collections, publications and exhibitions in biology, geology, and paleontology, the Museum has contributed substantively to the collective evidence for evolution and the testing of hypotheses derived from the general theory of evolution. As an educational institution, the Museum supports and encourages the teaching of evolution in schools as a fundamental component of scientific competency and literacy.
We have been getting a number of questions about the teaching of "creationism" and "intelligent design." Here's the state's position:
The Oregon Science Content Standards adopted in April of 2001 clearly require the teaching of evolution. All content standards are adopted through the legislative process and are required in the public schools in Oregon. In addition, each of these standards has underlying benchmarks and eligible content that can be addressed in statewide testing.
The following Oregon Common Curriculum Goals (CCG) and Content Standards (CS) relate most directly to evolution:
CCG: Heredity and CS: Understand the transmission of traits in living things.
CCG: Diversity/Interdependence: Understand the relationships among living things and between living things and their environments.
CS: Describe and analyze diversity of species, natural selection and adaptation
The Oregon Department of Education’s reference handbook, Science Teaching and Learning to Standards, includes the Oregon science standards and provides resources for science educators. In the section on Teaching Evolution in Oregon Classrooms (pages 21-23), we include the following excerpt from the document, "Religion in the Public Schools: A Joint Statement of Current Law," published by the U.S. Department of Education.
"Schools may teach about explanations of life on earth, including religious ones (such as "creationism"), in comparative religion or social studies classes. In science class, however, they may present only genuinely scientific critiques of, or evidence for, any explanation of life on earth, but not religious critiques (beliefs unverifiable by scientific methodology). Schools may not refuse to teach evolutionary theory in order to avoid giving offense to religion nor may they circumvent these rules by labeling as science an article of religious faith. Public schools must not teach as scientific fact or theory any religious doctrine, including "creationism," although any genuinely scientific evidence for or against any explanation of life may be taught. Just as they may neither advance nor inhibit any religious doctrine, teachers should not ridicule, for example, a student’s religious explanation for life on earth."
The full text of the report can be found on the Internet at www.ed.gov/Speeches/04-1995/prayer.html The Teaching and Learning to Standards: Science reference handbook is published annually and available to the public on the Oregon Department of Education website at www.ode.state.or.us/search/results/?id=246
There are no plans to incorporate Intelligent Design in the Oregon science standards. The current Oregon science standards were adopted by the State Board of Education in April 2001. Student accountability on statewide assessments for these standards began in 2002-03.
The Saint Louis Science Center considers science literacy a cornerstone of both personal and national success in the 21st century. Our mission to ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology learning supports this value. We present currently accepted scientific thought, emerging scientific thinking and innovative technologies. Through planning and delivery, we are committed to aiding public understanding of the critical science topics of our time.
In keeping with this, the Saint Louis Science Center presents evolution as a central, unifying concept in biology. Our exhibits and programs will reflect new scientific discoveries as they emerge and shape our understanding of biological diversity.
The most comprehensive definition of biology is that it is the investigation of the emergent process that we call evolution. Evolutionary theory's seamlessly coherent explanatory power for the phenomena that biology investigates at every level of complexity, in the myriad fields that biology encompasses, and in the interrelationships between and among those fields, is unrivaled and presents evolutionary theory as the grand unifying theory of biology. The theory of evolution has been repeatedly tested for over a century for inconsistency. While new findings continue to illuminate the dimensions and consequences of the evolutionary process, the central tenets of evolutionary theory remain unchanged. It is accepted by scientists — religious believers and non-believers alike — in their refereed scientific publications, and transcends theory. For educators to pretend that biology is anything else than the study of the process and outcomes of evolution, or that evolution is not an accepted scientific theory, would misrepresent the vast body of knowledge that has accumulated over the past century and a half. Such misrepresentation would be a gross disservice to the human community.
The theory of biological evolution does not conflict with religious faith in God Who is ground of all existence, or with faith in Jesus as Messiah. This is so since biological evolution is an existent, testable truth, as are all truths that have been discovered by the empirical methodology of science. It is not within the scope of either biology or any other scientific discipline to investigate questions that lie within the realm of religion, such as why there is existence.
There is no conflict between the theory of biological evolution and religious faith in God. Evolution is an existent, testable truth, as are all truths that have been discovered through the empirical methodology of scientific inquiry. It is not within the scope of biology or any other scientific discipline to investigate questions that rightly lie within the purview of religion.
Since first proposed, the theory of evolution has transformed the study of life by providing a framework for understanding natural processes. In the words of the renowned evolutionary geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky, "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." Empirical studies over the past 150 years have provided tightly interwoven evidence for evolution and effectively serve as a guiding light for current and future biological inquiry. To confront students with untestable alternatives would not only misrepresent the significance of evolutionary theory and the legitimacy of the scientific method, but would also jeopardize future achievements.
We, the faculty of the Department of Biology at Saint Louis University, a Jesuit Catholic institution of higher learning, accept the above statement as basic to our mission of teaching, in order to further the goal of investigating and promoting the truth.
The Science Museum of Minnesota is committed to presenting the most scientifically sound principles in our exhibits, educational programs, and films. Therefore, throughout the museum and in our classes, we practice and encourage the teaching of evolution as fundamental to the teaching of sound science and critical thinking.
The theory of evolution is grounded in well-substantiated, testable hypotheses that have stood the tests of time and peer review. The word "theory" as it is used here, does not mean a mere speculation or a best guess. Rather, in referring to a scientific theory, it is a set of firmly established scientific principles supported by research. Evolutionary theory serves as a foundation for natural history including the museum's core competencies in paleontology, anthropology, and biology.
To compromise the explanations of evolution or to permit unscientific alternative explanations into our galleries or our programs would misrepresent the principles of science.
We will continue to provide the best available research and exhibits that have made us a trusted science resource for nearly a century.
All living beings have developed over time from ancestors through a series of changes. That life has evolved over long periods of time, with all forms of life related to one another, is a scientifically well-established fact. Along with researchers throughout the world, scientists at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History have contributed significantly to understanding the patterns and processes of evolution in humans and other species of animals and plants.
As one of the world’s leading research museums, the National Museum of Natural History has the responsibility to share with the public the latest research on the process of evolution. It is not the Museum’s responsibility or intent to determine how visitors relate this information to their own religious or personal views.
In informal language, the word “theory” often implies an idea without much factual substantiation. But a “scientific theory” is different: Based on repeated observations, experiments, measurements and discoveries, a scientific theory represents the most logical and best-tested available explanation for natural phenomena. A scientific theory examines and explains why and how specific natural phenomena occur—for example, why there are differences among species, how lineages of species have changed over time and how species are related to each other.
Evolutionary theory provides a logical framework for making sense of the great diversity of organisms on earth—for understanding both differences and similarities among them. For example, the theory of evolution (sometimes referred to as descent with modification) helps explain three distinct patterns that we see in the world around us:
Evolution is not a matter of mere chance or random change. It is shaped by the process of genetic change, the production and survival of new adaptations and organisms, changes in the frequency of genetic variations, and results in the wide variety of ways in which organisms adapt to and survive in their diverse and changing surroundings. Genetic variation—amply documented in nature—is the raw material for how living beings change.
Scientists have learned how humans have developed over time from examining fossil remains of earlier humans, archeological finds, and the evidence of genetics. All of the resulting information supports the idea that humans have emerged by a process of change over time, and that humans are related to all other lifeforms.
Although there is no scientific controversy about the fact that evolution occurs, our understanding of the details progresses as scientists continue to learn more from combined geological, morphological, and molecular data. Continued research has filled in many of the earlier gaps in the explanation of evolution; for example, many of the gaps in the fossil record have now been filled in by new discoveries. Today’s rapidly increasing understanding of molecular biology and genetics also now provides a much more complete understanding of the evolutionary process.
Evolution is supported by overwhelming scientific evidence and is accepted by the vast majority of scientists. It is fundamental to understanding all areas of biology, including medicine and conservation. Therefore the Department of Biological Sciences at Southeastern Oklahoma State University teaches evolution throughout the biology curriculum. We are in accordance with the American Association for Advancement of Science's statement on evolution. We are a science department, so we do not teach alternative hypotheses or philosophically deduced theories that cannot be tested rigorously.
Like all scientific theories, Evolutionary Theory is a set of tested explanations for observed natural phenomena. Also like other scientific theories, Evolutionary Theory is potentially falsifiable. However, since the seminal work of Charles Darwin in 1859, Evolutionary Theory has been strengthened by over a century of observation and experimentation. Recently, major scientific contributions from modern genetics have confirmed the basis of Darwin's ideas. Scientific agreement about the facts of evolutionary biology is now stronger than ever. Evolutionary Theory answers so many questions within biology that omitting it from biological study drastically reduces the meaning and importance of this science.
It is the position of the Biology Faculty of Oklahoma City Community College that this topic is a crucial component of life science education. While the College respects the right of individuals to hold personal or opposing views, the biology program will teach Evolutionary Theory as the central concept of modern biological science. It is our intent that the explanatory power of this subject will contribute greatly to our students' understanding of biology.
The faculty of the Department of Biology at The College of New Jersey is unequivocal in its support of the contemporary theory of biological evolution. Evolutionary theory has been supported by data collection and analysis conducted over the past 150 years. No credible evidence has been presented to date in support of any alternative scientific theory to explain the origin of organic diversity. The faculty of the Department of Biology fully endorses the resolution by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2002/1106id2.shtml) on this issue.
The Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science comprises a community of students, professors, and researchers of natural history. As members of the worldwide scientific community, we use the theory of evolution and other scientific principles to study the natural world.
Evolutionary theory has greatly enhanced progress in the fields of medicine, anatomy, archaeology, biology, biochemistry, geology, neuroscience and many other disciplines. Without an understanding of evolutionary biology, our perception of the natural world would be greatly diminished.
In science, the word ‘theory’ means a well supported and tested explanation of available evidence. The theory of evolution states that the diversity of life has developed over time. The Museum’s official position is to accept the following as scientific facts:
These facts are accepted by the overwhelming majority of scientists and are established beyond reasonable doubt as the simplest explanations of the physical and biological evidence.
The theory of evolution is central to the field of biology; the relationship between this scientific theory and religious belief has varied enormously and has sometimes been the cause of confusion and conflict. While The Manchester Museum has taken a definite position on the science of evolution, we support the right of freedom of belief for all and acknowledge that there is a range of perspectives on this subject.
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is a collections-based research and educational institution that relies on science to enhance our knowledge of the natural world.
The goal of science is to acquire ever-increasing understanding of the objects and events we encounter. Such understanding is obtained through the continual critical evaluation of testable hypotheses and theories.
Evolution is a central concept in modern science. Evolutionary theories are supported by evidence from such diverse fields as genetics, paleontology, chemistry, and physics. The use of evolutionary biology as a means of acquiring understanding is consistent with the overall goal of science, as the theories involved are available to critical evaluation. Evolutionary biology allows us to explain the amazing diversity of life on Earth today and how diversity has changed over time.
Because understanding evolution is important for both scientists and the public, the Natural History Museum emphasizes that evolutionary biology belongs in school curricula and textbooks as well as in public museums. Although the topic is sometimes portrayed as controversial, it is no more controversial among scientists than are the theories explaining gravity, light, sound, or electricity.
The Natural History Museum, with its mission to inspire wonder, discovery, and responsibility, recognizes that evolutionary biology is fundamental to understanding biological diversity and is critical for both scientific research and museums. The Museum welcomes people of all beliefs and backgrounds to join us as we explore, through science, the wonders of the natural world.
Good starting places for finding additional information about evolution and its relation to other concepts and issues include:
Science is the disciplined, logical search for knowledge about all aspects of the universe. It is based on the observation of natural phenomena and seeks to explain these natural phenomena through hypothesis testing and experimentation. A scientific hypothesis is a proposed explanation of a natural event. This hypothesis must be, above all else, testable and falsifiable. If an explanation does not meet these two requirements, it is not a scientific hypothesis. A scientific theory, in comparison to a hypothesis, is broader in scope and composed of a set of hypotheses that have been thoroughly tested. The term theory in the general public is synonymous with a guess. This is not so for a scientific theory. A scientific theory is supported by a large body of evidence and is continually tested and refined through the generation of new hypotheses. This is true for the theory of evolution.
Evolution is defined simply as the change in allele frequencies (genetic makeup) in a population through time. These changes can be small in scale, resulting for example in a population of bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics, or large in scale, giving rise to a new species through a speciation event. The theory of evolution explains the mechanisms that lead to these changes. These mechanisms include non-random natural selection, random mutation events, random genetic drift, and gene flow. Each of these mechanisms has been and continues to be subjected to hypothesis testing. The theory is modified as new information is acquired through these tests; however, the overall theory of evolution continues to be upheld. Support for this theory comes from a variety of disciplines (e.g., paleontology, morphology, genetics, molecular biology, ecology, developmental biology, and biogeography). The theory of evolution is the unifying theory in biology and the fact of evolution is not controversial in the scientific community.
The Utah Museum of Natural History is an institution of science. As such, we accept the theory of evolution, which the unifying concept of all biological sciences. While there remains ongoing lively debate about the processes of evolutionary change — that is, how evolution occurs —the overwhelming majority of biologists fully endorse the idea that all organisms on earth share a common ancestry and that life's unfolding has encompassed billions of years of time. Like gravity, evolution is one of the cornerstones of modern science, and it represents one of the key themes of our institutional mission.
The Department of Public Instruction affirms:
"Science is ongoing and inventive, and that scientific understandings have changed over time as new evidence is found."Science is the quest for knowledge that takes the form of naturalistic concepts and the laws and theories related to those concepts. The knowledge gained from scientific endeavors is expected to be reliable, replicable, and based on empirical evidence. It is also tentative but durable. A primary goal of science is to develop and test new laws and theories that form those naturalistic concepts. Those theories and laws are defined as:
"Evolution. A series of changes, some gradual and some sporadic, that accounts for the present form and function of objects. "Evolution in its broadest interpretation can be explained by the idea that the universe has a lengthy past, a history. Biological evolution or "descent and modification" is the scientific theory that living things share ancestors from which they have emerged. Evolutionary evidence is found in geologic, meteorological, astronomical, and oceanographic events. Additional evidence is found in paleontology, comparative anatomy, biogeography, embryology, and molecular biology. This broad evolutionary evidence explains why evolution is one of the unifying themes for science.
In 1982, the Department of Public Instruction issued the position statement, Evolution, Creation, and the Science Curriculum. That position statement included:
"The incorporation of creation science within the science curriculum raises serious legal issues in light of the constitutional doctrine requiring separation of church and state and sec. 115.28(2), Wis. Stats. This statute requires the state superintendent to exclude all sectarian instruction and materials from the public schools of this state."
"The primary goal of the public schools is the transmission of knowledge from one generation to the next through disciplined study. On the specific issue of science teaching and its relation to creation science and evolution, it should be recognized that science and religion have different theoretical bases; that is, there are two different areas of knowledge which address different questions in different ways."
On January 13, 1998, Executive Order 326 was issued by the governor. The order stated that Wisconsin's Model Academic Standards for Science:
"may be used as a reference resource to assist districts in developing their own rigorous standards by the fall of 1998."The Planning Curriculum in Social Studies guide explains when international religious studies can be included as a part of the school setting and social studies curriculum. The guide states:
"Through the study of philosophy and religion students learn to understand different patterns and perspectives, building on their prior knowledge to reconstruct or replace their earlier misconceptions of the world."National Perspective:
The White House: President George W. Bush's science advisor, John H. Marburger, III stated on March 5, 2004:
"Evolution is a cornerstone of modern biology," adding, "much of the work supported by the National Institutes of Health depends heavily on the concepts of evolution."
National Academy of Sciences (NAS): NAS released the second edition of Science and Creationism, A View of the National Academy of Science. It states:
"The theory of evolution has become the central concept of biology and is a critical component of many related scientific disciplines. In contrast, the claims of creation science lack empirical support and cannot be meaningfully tested."End Note:
The Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers (WSST) and its affiliate member organizations by WSST board actions have endorsed the department's position.
1. Adopted from NSTA position statement on the Nature of Science, (2000). ↩
2. Adopted from "Keys to Teaching the Nature of Science[,]" The Science Teacher, (2004). ↩
3. Adopted from NSTA position statement on the Nature of Science, (2000). ↩
4. Adopted from Education Week, December 1, 2004. ↩
5. Adopted from NSTA position statement on The Teaching of Evolution, (2003). ↩References:
Cavanagh, Sean. PA. School Officials, Science Groups Split Over New Biology Curriculum. Education Week. (Vol. 23.) December 1, 2004. Bethesda, MD: Education Week.
DPI (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction). 1982. Evolution, Creation, and the Science Curriculum. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
DPI (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction) 1998. Wisconsin's Model Academic Standards for Science. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
DPI (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction) 2001. Planning Curriculum in Social Studies. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
DPI (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction) 2002. Planning Curriculum in Science. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
(NCSE) National Center for Science Education. 1995. Voices for Evolution. Berkeley CA: The National Center for Science Education, Inc.
(NCSE) National Center for Science Education. 2004. White House Science Advisor: Evolution a Cornerstone of Modern Biology. www.ncseweb.org.
NRC (National Research Council). National Science Education Standards. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
NSTA (National Science Teachers Association). 2000. NSTA Position Statement: The Nature of Science. Arlington, VA: National Science Teachers Association Press.
NSTA (National Science Teachers Association). 2003. NSTA Position Statement: The Teaching of Evolution. Arlington, VA: National Science Teachers Association Press.
McCo[m]as, William. "Keys to Teaching the Nature of Science." The Science Teacher Vol. 71(9). Arlington, VA: National Science Teachers Association Press.
Paty, Alma Hale, Sharon Smith, and Julia A. Jackson. Evolution in Earth History. American Geological Institute. Alexandria, VA: www.agiweb.org.
Quammen, David. "Was Darwin Wrong? No. The Evidence for Evolution is Overwhelming." National Geographic. November, 2004. Washington, D.C.: The National Geographic Society.
The National Academy of Sciences. 1998. Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
The National Academy of Sciences. 1998. Evolution in Hawaii: A Supplement to: Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
The National Academy of Sciences. 1999. Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.