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Senate Passes Antievolution Resolution

On June 13, 2001, the US Senate adopted a "Sense of the Senate" amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Authorization bill, S.1, currently under consideration. The resolution (Amendment #799) read:

"It is the sense of the Senate that (1) good science education should prepare students to distinguish the data or testable theories of science from philosophical or religious claims that are made in the name of science; and

(2)where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why the subject generates so much continuing controversy, and should prepare the students to be informed participants in public discussions regarding the subject."

The amendment was proposed by Senator Santorum of Pennsylvania.

Although the resolution appears innocuous, it is telling that only evolution is singled out from all possible controversial issues. If the goal of the resolution were to encourage discussion of the social dimensions of scientific issues, or critical thinking, or some other secular purpose, the resolution would have read,

"when controversial issues are taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why the subjects generate controversy, and should prepare the students to be informed participants in public discussions regarding the subjects."

The fact that evolution is singled out from all controversial issues indicates the amendment's intention. It is doubtless no coincidence that Senator Santorum cited Intelligent Design proponent David DeWolf in presenting his resolution. In the June 18 Washington Times another Intelligent Design promoter, Phillip Johnson, is quoted as having "helped frame the language" of the resolution.

On June 14 the overall bill passed the Senate 91-8. It will now have to be reconciled with the version previously passed by the House of Representatives.

To read a more extensive summary of these events, see the American Geological Institute's webpage at: http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis107/evolution_update0601.html