Much of the news of what is happening around the country appears in the preceding article, particularly the section on the aftermath of the Arkansas decision. Therefore, that material will not be repeated here.
On October 19, 1981, twenty-four leaders of science societies met under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., to share their awareness of the dangers posed by creationism. They also began the work of pooling their resources and developing a network of concerned organizations and activists. They determined that the task before them included the education of both the public and the scientific community to the true nature and importance of the creation-evolution controversy. Most of those present agreed that much of this problem was the result of public misunderstanding of the actual evidence for evolution and that this in turn was caused by inadequate teaching of science. Those societies working with education therefore determined to make improvement of science education a major priority.
The following day, the National Association of Biology Teachers called together representatives of twenty-five religious, educational, scientific, political, and industrial organizations. They met at the American Education Association building in Washington, D.C. The ideas of the previous day's meeting were expanded to apply to other organizations, and once again there was a pooling of resources toward the development of a network. The organizations present agreed to cooperate with one another and to educate their own members on the seriousness of the creationist threat to the public schools. Creation/Evolution was represented at both of these significant meetings.
In a mail ballot, the results of which were announced on November 30, 1981, the
membership of the American Society of Biological Chemists voted 2,624 to 151 in
favor of a statement opposing the teaching of creationism in the public schools.
The statement also declared that evolution was in no sense a religious belief.
On January 4, 1982, the executive board of the 136,000 member American Association for the Advancement of Science, the nation's largest general science organization, passed a resolution opposing the teaching of scientific creationism in the public schools. The resolution also stated that creationism was not amenable to the scientific method.
On October 21, 1981, Representative William E. Dannemeyer of California proposed a bill in Congress (H.R. 4802) that would require that the Smithsonian Institution go through the annual congressional authorization process in order to get funding. Cited as the major reason for this bill was the fact that the museum presently has an exhibit entitled "The Dynamics of Evolution." Dannemeyer wanted Congress to be able to review this before allocating funds. His argument was that evolution may not be a fact, and then he quoted Duane Gish in an attempt to support this view. He also argued that evolution was part of the "religion of secular humanism."
Forty-two states now have a state Committee of Correspondence fighting creationism, and new states are expected to be added to the list. Some states are even forming subcommittees in order to combat creationist efforts in various parts of state. Stan Weinberg, national coordinator for the Committees, reports that recent creationist activity in Canada, particularly in British Columbia and Ontario will probably result in the formation of Committees there. States in which the Committees are going into action over proposed or soon-to-be-proposed bills include Arizona, Georgia, and Maryland. In Iowa, creationists will be making the seventh attempt at passing a creation law, after having lost on six previous occasions. If a bill is presented, it will probably be defeated; and, if it passes, the Iowa governor has already indicated that he will not sign it. A bill has already been defeated in South Carolina.
If you want information on how to contact the Committee of Correspondence for your state or how to form one if there is none, please write to Stan Weinberg in care of this journal. Committees are made up of scientists, educators and interested laypersons who desire to counter the creationist political efforts.
This past October, in San Jose, California, school board candidates in fifteen school and community college districts were given what could be called religious tests for political office. Two religious-based organizations, FAMPAC (Pro-Family Political Action Committee) and Concerned Citizens, sent all candidates a questionnaire, which asked their views on the subject of abortion, sex education, homosexuality, "voluntary prayer," and "the teaching of creation in the science classroom." Candidates were to fill out the questionnaire and then report to the San Jose headquarters of the Southern Baptist Association for a two-hour interview. The results of all this would then be tallied by the two groups and the names of the thirty-six candidates that they recommended would be printed on fliers to be distributed to the public by more than two hundred local churches. This took place, but only 45 percent of the candidates filled out the questionnaires and came to the interviews.
Jerry Falwell's media debate between Drs. Doolittle and Gish was aired once in Little Rock, Arkansas, at the time of the trial. It will be aired on network television this spring. To find out when it will be aired in your area, check your local listings or call the "Old Time Gospel Hour" at their twenty-four hour toll-free number, (800) 446-5000.