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Maryland Association of Science Teachers

Position Statement:

The Maryland Association of Science Teachers and the Maryland Science Supervisors Association hereby affirm that biological evolution and scientific concepts of earth history should be taught in Maryland science classes. We support the position that evolution is, and should remain, a cornerstone concept in the science content standards adopted by the state of Maryland. We also support and agree with the positions stated by the National Science Teachers Association in its position paper The Teaching of Evolution, which is attached herewith, and with the expectations on this subject found in the National Science Education Standards by the National Research Council.

Supporting statements:

1. Evolution is a well documented and well-established scientific explanation that unifies many pieces of evidence gathered by earth scientists and biologists. Though evidence which continues to accumulate through scientific study will refine our understanding of the mechanisms and the changes that have come about through evolution, the scientific community has no doubts that it has occurred, is occurring now, and will continue to occur.

2. Evolution meets the definition of a theory in science, which is an integrated understanding of a concept supported by numerous lines of evidence; it should not be confused with the more common definition of a theory as a guess or hypothesis. Other scientific theories such as atomic theory, or the theory of plate tectonics, are examples of other validated conceptualizations of how the world works, similar in nature to the status of the theory of evolution.

3. Throughout the science education community, evolution is seen as an important, required topic. If students are to understand the larger themes of how the world works, and indeed if they are to understand how science works, evolution is at once a critical unifying concept and a classic example of the scientific process.

4. Other doctrines that have been proposed to be taught instead of or in addition to evolution, variously called "creationism," "intelligent design," and other terms, have repeatedly been found by the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts to be unconstitutional for public schools because these ideas are based on religious doctrines, and so violate church-state separation. Scientists and science educators recognize that these ideas fall outside the realm of science, which requires evidence for all understandings, and so have no place in the subject matter of a science class.

5. Science as a discipline neither supports nor refutes religious doctrines or beliefs, because such beliefs are not proper topics of study for science. Science and religion are not opposites or mutually exclusive, instead they concentrate on different facets of existence and so have different matters within their purview. For more information, readers may examine statements by religious organizations for the opinions of those organizations on the place of evolution in classroom education.

6. Evolution is a part of Maryland's and other states' education standards, and is expected to be part of all students' learning. NSTA and many other organizations have stated their support for the teaching of evolution. This support comes from scientific organizations such as the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and many other state science organizations. It also includes many education organizations such as the National Association of Biology Teachers, various state Departments of Education, and national and state associations of science supervisors and science teachers. These statements of support may be examined by contacting these organizations.