Evolution Debate in Kansas (12/04/06)
Evolution in public schools has been hotly debated in Kansas since
1999, when the Kansas State Board of Education voted to change education
standards such that teachers were no longer required to teach evolutionary
principles. A more moderate board was elected in 2000 and reversed
the education standards in 2001. After the 2002 elections, the 10-member
board was caught in a 5-5 gridlock between those supporting the teaching
of evolution in schools and those opposed to it. In August 2004 primaries,
creationists defeated more moderate Republicans in pivotal districts,
and the board will most likely re-enstate anti-evolutionary language
into the state education standards when they are revised in 2005.
In 1999, AGI President David Stephenson sent a letter
to Kansas Govenor Bill Graves commending his efforts for supporting
the teaching of evolution in the states' public schools. The Kansas
State Board of Education previously passed new state science standards
that Stephenson believes misguide and send wrong signals to local
school districts that will have long-term consequences for the quality
of science teaching in Kansas.
The science standards for public schools in Kansas have been rewritten
five times in the past eight years, primarily because of debates about
the teaching of evolution. In January, a newly elected Kansas State
Board of Education will take over and is likely to rewrite the standards
once again. The current standards emphasize controversies about the
theory of evolution and modify the definition of science to allow
supernatural explanations to explain observations. Members of the
new board suggest they will take several months to rewrite the standards.
They also plan to reconvene a panel of educators whose evolution-friendly
work fell by the wayside last year when the board's conservative majority
decided to adopt language suggested by intelligent design supporters.
More information about teaching evolution in Kansas is available from
the AGI Government Affairs webpage on evolution. (12/4/06)
On December 1, 2005 the University of Kansas decided to cancel a
course that would teach intelligent design as mythology after the
professor who would have taught it sent an e-mail mocking Christian
fundamentalists. Professor Paul Mirecki, who is the chair of the religious
studies department, wrote, "The fundies want it all taught in
a science class, but this will be a nice slap in their big fat face
by teaching it as a religious studies class under the category 'mythology'
", in an e-mail sent to a student group list serv. Mirecki's
comments drew sharp criticism from many Kansas conservatives and became
widely publicized, leading the University to cancel the course. University
of Kansas Chancellor Robert Hemenway released a statement saying "I
want to be clear that I personally find Professor Mireckis e-mail
comments repugnant and vile. They do not represent my views nor the
views of this university. The University maintained that it
would offer the course, which 25 students registered for, with a different
professor and at a later date. Meanwhile conservatives have complained
about taxpayer funding of education that is hostile to christians,
and some have called for changes within the University's religious
studies department. "Im concerned about the taxpayer-funded
hatred that he has apparently been promoting. Its an issue thats
not totally resolved," said Republican State Senator Kay O'Connor.
The Kansas Board of Education voted 6 to 4 on November 8 to accept
changes to the science standards that alter the definition of science
and emphasizes controversies about the theory of evolution. The modified
definition allows supernatural explanations to be included in science
teaching. Following the decision board members spoke out about the
new standards. "This is a sad day. We're becoming a laughing
stock of not only the nation, but of the world, and I hate that,"
said board member Janet Waugh, a Democrat. Supporters, however, claim
the new standards will promote academic freedom. "It gets rid
of a lot of dogma that's being taught in the classroom today,"
said Republican board member John Bacon.
In response to the Board's decision, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius
issued a statement indicating her disapproval of the changed standards.
"This is just the latest in a series of troubling decisions by
the Board of Education. If we're going to continue to bring high-tech
jobs to Kansas and move our state forward, we need to strengthen science
standards, not weaken them," she said.
The decision marks the third time in six years that Kansas has changed
its science standards because of the issue of evolution. Intelligent
design advocates continue to find support for their cause in Kansas.
A recent statewide poll by the media suggested a slight majority of
Kansans favored teaching intelligent design. In addition, opponents
of evolution sit on many local school boards, including Kent Swartz,
a banker and creationist who serves on the South Barber County school
board southwest of Wichita who asks for respect in a statement to
CNN, "I want you to respect my side, and I will respect your
On October 27, 2005, the National Academy of Sciences and the National
Science Teachers Association refused to grant copyright permission
to the Kansas State Board of Education to make use of publications
by the two organizations in the state's science education standards.
They cited a poor and misleading definition of science and an overemphasis
on describing evolution as a theory with flaws as reasons for the
copyright denial. Both groups have offered to work with the Kansas
school board to remove these misconceptions about evolution and retain
the approved definition of science from the majority report of the
Kansas standards science committee. A joint statement and more details
are available at: http://www.nationalacademies.org/morenews/
A report from an external review board released on October 13, 2005
has criticized Kansas's revised science standards for being unclear
and poorly written in places. Mid-Continent Research for Education
and Learning, based in Aurora, Colorado, specifically criticized sections
on the teaching of evolution for being confusing, and noted that the
state is not planning to test students on many key elements of evolution
that are covered in the standards. The standards were sent to the
review board as part of the normal revision process, and the State
Board of Education will take the comments into account when they meet
to approve a final version of the science standards later this year.
The state board may order a committee of educators that had previously
submitted proposals for the science standards to make further revisions
in response to the review board's report. In a Lawrence
story, however, the committee's co-chair, Steve Case, said that
most of the criticism arose from changes made by conservative board
members and that his committee is unlikely to do more work on the
standards. Specific parts of the standards that were singled out for
criticism included sections that cast doubt on theories that life
arose from natural chemical processes and that humans and apes share
a common ancestor. (10/17/05)
The 10-member Kansas
State Board of Education voted on July 9, 2005 to accept a draft
of revised science standards requiring students "to learn about
the best evidence for modern evolutionary theory, but also to learn
about areas where scientists are raising scientific criticisms of
the theory." The Board voted 6-4 in favor of the draft despite
written arguments from the science standards writing committee.
Conservative members of the board edited the draft submitted by the
science standards writing committee. Board Chairman Steve Abrams said,
"I do thank them for their efforts. Obviously, we have a disagreement
on a significant issue."
Though the revised standards do not specifically advocate for the
teaching of intelligent design, new language could bring such discussions
into classrooms. Changes that were made on June 9th state that "evolution
is accepted by many scientists but questioned by some" and that
"all scientific theories should be approached with an open mind,
studied carefully, and critically considered." The revised and
approved science standards make reference to the boycott of scientists
who protested three days of hearings on the draft document last May,
saying, "While the testimony presented at the science hearings
included many advocates of Intelligent Design, these standards neither
mandate nor prohibit teaching about this scientific disagreement."
In support of the new draft, Board member John Bacon said, "These
are public schools funded by public dollars and I think the debate
does belong here. I think we should teach the controversy." But
Board member Janet Waugh disagreed, stating, "I think we should
teach students all beliefs and philosophies, but in philosophy, social
studies and comparative religion classes. It's important but should
not be taught in science class. Mainstream science doesn't accept
The revised science standards have been sent to an external review
board based in Denver, Colorado. The review, at a cost of more than
$20,000, is intended to provide final legitimacy to the science standards,
and it is expected to be completed by October or November.
The science standards with the June 9th revisions are available in
form on the Kansas State Department
of Education website. (8/11/05)
On Thursday, June 9, 2005, three Kansas
State Board of Education members approved
a proposal to have criticisms of evolution taught in 4th, 7th, and
10th grade science classes. Connie Morris, Steve Abrams, and Kathy
Martin approved the proposal in a committee meeting after reviewing
an abbreviated list of the criticisms with lawyers. Pro-evolutionist
groups such as American Association for the Advancement of Science
and Kansas Citizens for Science, boycotted
the four days of public hearings
held in May and no pro-evolution witnesses gave testimony.
The 10-member state board is scheduled to consider the proposal June
15, though it may not make a final decision until August. Conservatives
hold a 6-member majority that may all vote in favor of changing teaching
standards for Kansas. In a one-page attached explanation of the reasoning
behind changing the standards, Abrams wrote, "The Board has heard
credible scientific testimony that indeed there are significant debates
about the evidence for key aspects of chemical and biological evolutionary
theory. We therefore think it is important and appropriate for students
to know about these scientific debates and for the Science Curriculum
Standards to include information about them." Changes to the
were made under the heading "Nature of Science." One new
statement reads: "Although science proposes theories to explain
changes, the actual causes of many changes are currently unknown (e.g.
the origin of the universe, the origin of fundamental laws, the origin
of life and the genetic code, and the origin of major body plans during
the Cambrian explosion)."
The proposed science standards were carefully written by Abrams and
debated in the committee to avoid violation of First Amendment rights.
However, Topeka lawyer Pedro Irigonegaray, who represented the pro-evolution
community at the public hearings, has said that it is still possible
that the state board could be sued depending on how the standards
are implemented. The new standards will not take a position on intelligent
design but would allow teachers the option of addressing the idea
If this proposal is passed, Harry McDonald, president of Kansas Citizens
for Science, has said his group will develop model lesson plans for
teachers to help them present the criticisms in a scientific context.
"It's not that science is suppressing these criticisms,"
McDonald said in an article published in the Wichita
Eagle. "Science has rejected these criticisms as invalid."
In early May, the Kansas State Board of Education held four days
of trial-like hearings on a minority report that calls for incorporating
a different definition of science and alternatives to evolution, such
as Intelligent Design, into the state science curriculum (see April's
Monthly Review for more details). The hearings were boycotted
by scientists, who viewed them, not as a credible discussion on science
curricula, but as a "kangaroo court" constructed to attract
more publicity to the creationist movement.
All relevant documents, including tesimony and written arguments,
can be viewed on the Kansas State Department
of Education website.
In the weeks before the hearings, local and national press coverage
soared. Many framed the hearings as a sequel to the 1925 Scopes Monkey
Trial, in which a case against a high school teacher, who broke state
law to teach evolution, turned into an ideological battle between
opposing attorneys culminating in the national humiliation of the
creationist perspective. But after the first day of the May, 2005
hearings, media coverage dropped off dramatically and the debate fell
flat, in part due to the refusal of the science community to participate.
John Calvert, a managing director of the Intelligent Design Network
in Shawnee Mission, Kansas, represented the 8-member minority of the
science standards committee who issued their minority report. In his
written statement, Calvert urged committee members to adopt the proposed
curriculum changes by default since the pro-evolutionists refused
to testify. "The boycott of the hearings had the effect of coercing
silence, subverting the search for good solutions to a problem that
plagues public education," he said, according to an article in
Though he chose not to answer any questions during the hearings,
the attorney defending the science standards as currently proposed,
Pedro Irigonegaray, submitted 15 court decisions to the committee
that related to the teaching of evolution and the establishment of
religion. Irigonegaray challenged the claim that evolution can be
equated to atheism, saying that "there appears to be no cases
in which the judiciary has stated that evolution is the equivalent
of atheism. Moreover, many scientists who do embrace evolution are
not atheists. Categorically defining evolution as a dogma of atheism
is incorrect." Steve Abrams, Chairman of the School Board and
one of three board members who organized the hearings, has agreed
to examine Irigonegaray's testimony, overriding Calvert's objections.
After reviewing the legal briefs submitted by both attorneys, the
School Board subcommittee will present their evaluations of the hearings
to the full committee on June 14-15. According to the Kansas Wichita
Eagle, the board members stated that they have not yet decided on
any recommended changes to the science standards, but changes are
likely since 6 out of 10 board members support teaching intelligent
design. By August, the board will have considered the proposed changes
to the curriculum. More details about the hearings and its aftermath
in Kansas is available from the NCSE
The Kansas State Board of Education (BOE) has scheduled its hearings
on the teaching of evolution for early May, but according to a recent
in the Wichita Eagle, scientists may choose to boycott the hearings.
In early March, Kansas Citizens for Science told scientists not to
participate in a "rigged hearing where non-scientists will appear
to sit in judgment and find science lacking." According to the
editorial, Diane DeBacker, a state Department of Education staff member,
said "We're not getting any takers," from scientists who
would testify in support of evolution. This editorial marks the latest
in recent statements from educators, scientists and editorialists
who deem the hearings "a show trial" that have been organized
primarily for the political gain of anti-evolutionist board members.
"The format of the hearings --"experts" debating for
and against evolution -- suggests a rough equivalence of legitimacy
that simply doesn't exist.... Besides, the three creationist BOE members
presiding over the hearings appear to have already made up their minds.
So what's the point?" the editorialist said. The hearings will
be held from 9 am to 4 pm on May 5th, 6th,and 7th, in Memorial Hall,
120 SW 10th in Topeka and on May 12th, 13th, and 14th at Capitol Plaza
Hotel, 1717 SW Topeka Blvd. (3/29/05)
On February 9, 2005, the Kansas Board of Education voted to establish
a subcommittee "to conduct hearings to investigate the merits
of the two opposing views" -- i.e., "intelligent design"
and evolution -- despite protests from moderate members of the board
like Carol Rupe, who remarked that the new process was reminiscent
of reality television shows such as "American Idol." The
proposed format of the hearings is in flux. Originally, a marathon
session of courtroom-style hearings, with ten proponents of evolution
and ten of "intelligent design" testifying over ten days,
was considered. Then a proposal to solicit written testimony was entertained.
But now the courtroom-style hearings are back, with six days of testimony
tentatively scheduled to be heard in Topeka in May. The "teach
the controversy" theme for the hearings is taken from the so-called
Santorum language, drafted by "intelligent design" proponent
Phillip Johnson and included in a report accompanying the No Child
Left Behind Act in 2001.
Across Kansas, scientists, educators, and editorialists were skeptical
both about the utility of and the motives behind such hearings. Referring
to the board's establishing the subcommittee, the Wichita
Eagle asked, "Why did they do that, when the board already
has a committee of respected science professionals that recommended
evolution remain in the state's science standards?" and answered,
"The board members are trolling for criticisms of evolution."
Later, the Eagle described the hearings as "a show trial"
and a "farce" staged in a "circus atmosphere,"
commenting, "What the tiny Intelligent Design Network and its
supporters are trying to do is an end-run around the proper arena
for their claims -- peer-reviewed papers in established scientific
journals and other mainstream science forums" and recommending
that scientists boycott the hearings. That, too, was the recommendation
of Kansas Citizens for Science, which in a statement called on "the
entire science and science education community of Kansas to refuse
to participate in this fiasco," explaining, "The science
community should not put itself in the position of participating in
a rigged hearing where three avowed creationists will appear to sit
in judgment and find science lacking. Don't give the board of education
the veneer of respectability when they do their dirty deed."
To read Kansas Citizens for Science's statement on the hearings, visit:
On Tuesday, March 8, 2005 the Associated Press reported that the
Kansas State Board of Education refused to cancel public hearings
about evolution, even though some members complained those hearings
will be a "charade" to justify rewriting state science standards.
The hearings, before a subcommittee of three board members, are tentatively
scheduled for May 5-7 and 12-14. The subcommittee plans to review
evidence supporting and opposing evolution, with only scientists testifying.
Conservatives hold six of 10 board seats, and they voted as a block
to reject a proposal to cancel the hearings and simply review arguments
in writing. The four other board members consider the hearings to
be rigged and believe the majority already plans to rewrite the science
standards to expose students to more criticism of evolution.
"You have the six votes - just use them and move forward,"
dissenting board member Sue Gamble, a Shawnee Republican, told the
conservatives. "I resent you using my tax dollars for this charade."
The three-member subcommittee of the Kansas Board of Education, who
nominated themselves to "investigate the merits" of evolution
and Intelligent Design decided on March 2, 2005 to request written
testimony instead of holding public hearings. In a teleconference
involving the three conservative panel members, Chairman Steve Abrams,
Kathy Martin and Connie Morris, Morris said "I like the written
debate because it is going to put it in black and white." Abrams
asked the leaders from the science standards committee on both sides
of the debate to submit feedback on eight questions that would be
posed concerning the definition of science, evidence in support of
evolution, and evidence debunking evolution. On March 4, Dr. Steve
Case, Chair of the 26-member science standards committee, submitted
to the questions in which he stated, "the credibility of these
hearings, real and perceived by the public, is still in question,"
adding, "the questions show a clear point of view with a strong
bias. The perception of the science and science education communities,
and also by the public, is that the Board Subcommittee has preconceived
answers to these questions." The subcommittee plans to read testimony
from 10 evolutionsists and 10 proponents of intelligent design. Liz
Craig, from the Kansas Citizens For Science (KCFS), told the Lawrence
Journal-World "the deck is completely stacked," since testimony
would be disporportionate to the number of the scientists who support
evolution. In a statement, KCFS called the hearings a sham because
"all three of the 'Science Hearing Committee' members are avowed
creationists," who really seek to stir up public response rather
than foster actual debate. (3/7/05)
On February 9th, the Kansas Board of Education voted 6-4 to establish
a three-member subcommittee to reconsider the place of evolution in
the state's education standards, which was determined by a 26-member
panel of science educators chosen last year. The current draft, submitted
at the end of February, outlines what students should know at what
level, and promotes the teaching of evolution as an important concept
students should learn. It does not incorporate changes advocating
the inclusion of intelligent design, which were proposed in a "minority
report" by a group of eight of the original panel members. In
an attempt to correct for the exclusion of the minority viewpoint,
three of the six conservative members offered to form the new subcommittee
"to investigate the merits" of evolution and intelligent
design. Because of these upsets, the board has opened a public comment
period through Monday, February 28, 2005 on both the Science Curriculum
Standards Draft and the minority report. Concerned citizens can
register their views at http://elisten.ksde.org/cgi-bin/qweb.cgi?3thjwmq.
Moderate members of the Board contend that the new panel intends
to undermine the original revision process, but Chairman of the Committee
Steve Abrams insists the panel is needed, "not to circumvent
the panel of educators, but to augment their review of science."
But according to Steve Case, who leads the 26-member review committee,
the creation of another hearing process could delay final approval
of the standards. Case also denied accusations that pro-creationist
minority views were stifled. "We want to hear all voices, but
it's just the overwhelming numbers on this particular issue,"
Also on February 9th, State Attorney General Phill Kline announced
during private meetings with the Board's conservative majority members
that he would defend the use of textbook stickers that say evolution
is a theory, not a fact. Kline held two meetings, each attended by
three members. Sue Gamble, a moderate Board member, said the meetings
violated, in spirit, the state's open-meetings law, which requires
meetings of six or more board members be open to the public. Kline
denied any violation, saying that discussions that took place were
not kept secret. But the topic has already captured the attention
of the press, particularly following last month's ruling in Georgia
that such stickers are unconstitutional. One op-ed contributed to
the Kansas City Star cautioned that "sticky notes that challenge
evolution as not factually based will invite a lawsuit, as they did
in Georgia. That would cost the cash-strapped state money to mount
A new resolution introduced in the Kansas Legislature by Representative
Mary Pilcher-Cook (R-Shawnee) adds to eight other bills introduced
in other states promoting evolution alternatives. Like seven of the
eight bills, Resolution 6018 includes wording modeled after the Santorum
language, a clause by Intelligent Design proponent Phillip Johnson
that was added to the report which accompanied the No Child Left Behind
Act. This language is and was nonbinding. It suggests that schools
"(a) prepare students to distinguish the data and testable theories
of science from religious or philosophical claims that are made in
the name of science and (b), where topics are taught that may generate
controversy (such as biological evolution), provide curriculum that
will help students understand the full range of scientific views that
exist, why such topics may generate controversy and how scientific
discoveries can profoundly affect society." (2/23/05)
As predicted, the balance of power on the Kansas Board of Education
tilted in favor of anti-evolutionists after the November 2, 2004,
election. The replacement of Bruce Wyatt by Kathy Martin on the District
6 board seat in January 2005 gave the anti-evolution faction a 6-4
majority. Kansans are thus braced for a reprise of 1999's battle over
the place of evolution in the state's science standards, and they
got a taste of it on December 14, 2004, when the first draft of a
revised set of science standards was received by the board. Board
member John Bacon complained that the opinions in support of creationism
and "intelligent design" were ignored, and eight members
of the twenty-six member committee submitted a "minority report,"
authored with the assistance of the Intelligent
Design Network, which criticized the draft for promoting a "naturalistic"
definition of science and for not sufficiently encouraging students
"to critically analyze the theory of biological evolution."
Despite these efforts, the first draft of the standards, as submitted,
was accepted by the board and is now scheduled to be discussed in
public meetings around the state in January 2005; it will undergo
further rounds of revisions and evaluation, with a final draft to
be voted on by the board in June. A recent editorial in the Wichita
Eagle advised the board not to monkey with the standards: "Evolution,
like it or not, is a bedrock of modern science, in fields as diverse
as paleontology and human genome research. It has revolutionized science
and our understanding of the world. Every student should know and
understand it -- regardless of whether they personally believe it.
... But the most 'scientific' of the creationist theories, intelligent
design, has little support in the mainstream scientific community.
So why would we teach it in our science classrooms?" As in 1999,
the National Center for Science Education is working with concerned
Kansans -- especially those at Kansas Citizens for Science -- to help
to ensure that evolution education in the Sunflower State remains
Evolution opponents are set to gain a majority on the Kansas State
Board of Education after a closely watched Republican primary August
3rd. Kathy Martin (R) defeated moderate incumbent Republican Bruce
Wyatt in the 6th district and Steve Abrams (R) won the primary in
the 10th district, tipping the board to at least a 6-4 anti-evolution
majority. Martin and several other Republicans are running unopposed
in the November election, which shifted public attention of the elections
to the primary. (8/12/04)
On February 14th, 2001, the Kansas State Board of Education voted
7-3 to reinstate the teaching of biological evolution and the origin
of the earth into the state's science education standards. With this
vote, the board adopts science education standards that nullify the
controversial 1999 standards, which had de-emphasized evolution and
removed the Big Bang Theory from teaching requirements. The Kansas
Science Education Standards include teaching guidelines for all grades.
The introductory statement, the eighth grade standards, and the twelfth
grade standards include specific reference to students understanding
biological evolution, the significance of fossils, the geologic time
scale, and theories regarding the origins of the Earth. The board's
favorable vote has been applauded by many organizations, but reportedly
the Kansas board has received a flurry of correspondence from creationists
opposed to the new standards. The Kansas Science Education Standards
can be viewed on the Kansas Board of Education website. Also see the
AGU alert "Kansas School Board Lets Evolution Back Into the Classroom".
The Associated Press reported that on January 9, 2001 the new Kansas
Board of Education announced plans to give final approval to new science
education standards at their meeting in mid-February. A majority of
members indicated their support for revised standards, which restore
references to evolution that were removed in state standards approved
in August, 1999. (1/15/01)
On August 1, 2000, nearly a year after the Kansas State Board of
Education voted 6-4 to remove evolution and the age of the Earth from
state science education standards, voters in the state's Republican
primary assured that the next board will have a much more moderate
face. Of the six board members who voted for the new standards, three
faced Republican primary challenges and a fourth chose not to run
for re-election. Two of the three, including board chairman Linda
Holloway, were defeated by moderates, and the open seat also went
to a moderate. All of the challengers made opposition to the anti-evolution
standards a central focus of their campaign. Board member Steve Abrams,
who helped write the new standards, was the lone anti-evolution board
member to prevail. In the primary to decide the Republican challenger
for Rep. Dennis Moore, the state's only Democratic House member, the
moderate candidate who opposed the new standards lost to a conservative
candidate who did not discuss the evolution issue. (8/3/00)
On August 11, 1999, the Kansas State Board of Education voted 6-4
in favor of science education standards that contain no mention of
biological macroevolution, the age of the Earth, or the origin and
early development of the universe. The board had earlier rejected
science standards developed by a 27-member panel of science educators
and had deadlocked over standards developed by board member Steve
Abrams with the help of the Creation Science Association for Mid-America,
which also assisted in developing the version that ultimately passed.
As a result of the board's vote, evolutionary theory would not appear
in state-wide standardized tests and it was left to the 305 local
school districts in Kansas whether or not to teach it. See
below for a copy of the letter written by AGI president to Kansas
Governor in response to this decision. (8/15/99)
1999 AGI President
David Stephenson Letter to Kansas Governor Bill Graves
Letter to Kansas Governor Bill Graves from AGI President David Stephenson
September 8, 1999
The Honorable Bill Graves
Office of the Governor
State Capitol, Second Floor
Topeka, KS 66612
Dear Governor Graves:
On behalf of the Executive Committee of the American Geological Institute
(AGI), I commend you for your strong support of the teaching of evolution
in your state's public schools. We also support the active involvement
of the Kansas Geological Survey in this issue. The new state science
standards passed by the Kansas State Board of Education are misguided
and send a signal to local school districts that will have long-term
consequences for the quality of science teaching in Kansas.
AGI is a nonprofit federation of 34 geoscientific and professional
associations that represent more than 100,000 geologists, geophysicists,
and other earth scientists. Founded in 1948, AGI provides information
services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in
our profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education,
and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences
play in mankind's use of resources and interaction with the environment.
In 1981, amidst an earlier controversy over the teaching of evolution
in public schools, AGI approved the following statement, which is
very relevant to today's situation:
"Scientific evidence indicates beyond any doubt that life has
existed on Earth for billions of years. This life has evolved through
time producing vast numbers of species of plants and animals, most
of which are extinct. Although scientists debate the mechanism that
produced this change, the evidence for the change is undeniable. Therefore,
in the teaching of science we oppose any position that ignores this
scientific reality, or that gives equal time to interpretations based
on religious beliefs only."
Studies show that science and technology have been the driving force
behind more than half of the economic growth in this country over
the past fifty years. In order to continue that growth, we must provide
the next generation of Americans with the best science education possible.
A strong science curriculum cannot be one that omits the core of our
understanding of the development of life and Earth itself over geologic
Evolutionary theory, like plate tectonic theory or the theory of
gravitation, is the product of scientists' continual commitment to
search for a better understanding of how natural systems operate.
Creationists seek to foster a popular perception that evolutionary
theory and religion are contradictory, a view rejected by the many
mainstream Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish denominations that have
publicly stated that evolution is compatible with their faith.
If AGI can assist your office in any way, please do not hesitate
to call on me or AGI Government Affairs Director David Applegate (703-379-2480
ext. 228; firstname.lastname@example.org).
cc: Kansas Board on Education
Sources: American Association for the Advancement of Science,
American Geophysical Union, Associated Press, National Academies,
National Center for Science Education, Association for Women Geoscientists,
Kansas Geological Survey, Wichita Eagle, Topeka Capital-Journal, Arkansas
City Traveler, Lawrence Journal-World, Kansas State Department of
Education website, Science Magazine, The Washington Post, The Johnson
Background section includes material from AGI's Update
on State Challenges to the Teaching of Evolution for the 106th
Contributed by David Applegate, AGI Government Affairs Program; Linda
Rowan, AGI Government Affairs Program; Alison Alcott, AGI/AAPG Geoscience
Intern; Bridget Martin, 2004 AGI/AIPG Summer Intern; Katie Ackerly,
2005 AGI/AAPG Spring Intern; Amanda Schneck, 2005 AGI/AIPG Summer
Intern; Anne Smart, 2005 AGI/AIPG Summer Intern, Peter Douglas, 2005
AGI/AAPG Spring Intern, and Rachel Bleshman 2006 AGI/AAPG Fall Intern.
Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI Government Affairs Program.
Last updated on December 4, 2006