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NCSE's Newton in the Christian Science Monitor

Steven NewtonSteven Newton

NCSE's Steven Newton contributed a guest column, entitled "Creationists have gotten clever, but there's still no debate over evolution," to the Christian Science Monitor (January 19, 2011). The tactics of creationists have evolved since the Scopes trial in 1925, and even since the Kitzmiller trial in 2005. What is now favored, he explained, is "to try to undermine the teaching of evolution by arguing that 'evidence against evolution' should be taught," adding, "The new strategy is craftier — but just as bogus."

Observing that "there simply is no debate among scientists about the validity of evolution," Newton concluded, "Because scientists are not debating evolution, it is wrong to teach students otherwise." But creationists nevertheless seek "to misuse public resources to foist their scientifically unwarranted denial of evolution on a captive student audience, and to force their culture war into America’s classrooms"; Newton cites a promised but so far not introduced bill in the Oklahoma state senate.

"Lacking any substantive evidence to make their case, creationists offer a few selective quotes from real scientists to give their arguments authority," Newton explained, giving a recent example in which a Discovery Institute staffer misrepresented biologist Eugene V. Koonin. Koonin told Newton that he was challenging only a half-century-old approach to understanding evolution, prompting Newton to quip, "Evolution is alive and well, while creationist understanding of it is apparently stuck in the Eisenhower era."

Newton concluded: "Whether by banning the teaching of evolution, or requiring the teaching of creation science or intelligent design, or encouraging the teaching of long-ago-debunked misrepresentations of evolution, creationist proposals are bad science, bad pedagogy, and bad policy. Instead of proposing scientifically illiterate and educationally harmful measures, state legislatures — and other policy-makers — should help students learn about evolution."