At its meeting in January 2000, the Executive Committee of the American Geological Institute reaffirmed the Institute's 1981 position statement on the importance of teaching evolution and opposition to the teaching of creationism as science. In order to emphasize the unity of the geoscience community on this important topic, the Executive Committee also adopted and endorsed the position statement of the American Geophysical Union. Both statements follow.
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.
(Unanimously approved by the governing board on 5 November 1981)
The American Geophysical Union affirms the central importance of scientific theories of Earth history and organic evolution in science education. An educated citizenry must understand these theories in order to comprehend the dynamic world in which we live and nature's complex balance that sustains us.
Science employs a logical and empirical methodology to understand the natural world. Scientific research entails observation of natural phenomena, formulation of hypotheses as tentative, testable statements to explain these phenomena, and experiments or observations to test these hypotheses. Scientific theories, like evolution and relativity and plate tectonics, are hypotheses that have survived extensive testing and repeated verification. Scientific theories are therefore the best-substantiated statements that scientists can make to explain the organization and operation of the natural world. Thus, a scientific theory is not equal to a belief, a hunch, or an untested hypothesis. Our understanding of Earth's development over its 4.5 billion-year history and of life's gradual evolution has achieved the status of scientific theory.
"Creation science" is based on faith and is not supported by scientific observations of the natural world. Creationism is not science and does not have a legitimate place in any science curriculum.
AGU opposes all efforts to require or promote teaching creationism or any other religious tenets as science. AGU supports the National Science Education Standards, which incorporate well-established scientific theories including the origin of the universe, the age of Earth, and the evolution of life.
(Adopted by AGU Council December 1981; reaffirmed May 1990, May 1994, May 1994; expanded and reaffirmed December 1999)
Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI Government Affairs Program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted February 19, 2000
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