The UNC Mathematics and Science Education Network's position on the theory of evolution is that it is indeed a valid scientific theory substantiated by irrefutable evidence. The theory of evolution should therefore be supported and taught as a major unifying concept of science within all
North Carolina K-12 science frameworks and curricula.
Human beings are engaged in a constant search for explanations as to the nature of the universe and their place within it. Out of this quest for reason and order the process of science was developed - a set of controlled, replicable guidelines allowing for the accumulation of hard data as evidence to support or reject a hypothesis. Hypotheses are proposed and tested repeatedly over time by numbers of scientists. When evidence in support of a hypothesis has accumulated, hypotheses are then elevated to scientific theories. Scientific theories are then logical constructs widely accepted as factual among the scientific community. As were the theories of gravity and the atom, the theory of evolution has been formulated in the described manner. The overall consensus of the scientific community is that evolution is indeed a valid theory.
Evidence for Evolution
Science as we know it today is a dynamic process... a body of knowledge based on observable, testable, pragmatic evidence. Scientific theories are therefore never irrevocably proven; they are only increasingly or decreasingly supported by evidence. The theory of evolution is continuously subject to further experimentation, investigation and question, much like any other scientific theory. Yet, it remains the responsibility of scientific endeavor to continue to rely on what is now known as scientific method to construct, test, support or debunk all scientific theories or hypotheses.
While today's scientists may utilize the scientific method to debate the pace and patterns of evolution, they do not debate evolution's occurrence. The fossil record and the diversity of existing organisms, combined with modern techniques of molecular biology, taxonomy and geology, provide exhaustive example and powerful evidence for the well established components of current evolutionary theory.
Evolution and the Science Curriculum
The primary goal of science teaching is to produce a scientifically competent citizenry, one which knows how to distinguish between theories substantiated with sound evidence and theories which cannot be substantiated through evidence. Evolution is identified as being the central unifying role in the biological sciences. If we teach our students that the theory of evolution is not accepted fact, we also put into question scientific advancement in chemistry, physics, astronomy, and all other related fields, as all of these disciplines are built according to similar intellectual stratagems.
School curricula should therefore be determined, not by the political mood of the moment, but by scholarly and academic consensus. North Carolina students deserve an engaging, enriching science curriculum based on the process of the scientific method. Any action opposing the tenets which honor the methodologies of scientific investigation should be viewed as a disservice to North Carolina students and science educators. For more information please refer to the website: www.unc.edu/depts/msen