To see a pdf of these statements, please visit Lulu.com.
Statements added since the 3rd Edition are denoted with a *
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.
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:
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.