Monday, January 7, 2008

news on the evolution front

There was an interesting article in the Washington Spectator, Is Darwin Losing the Battle With God? It covers the battle to keep creationism out of science classrooms, starting with the Dover courtcase and ending with the firing of Texas Education Agency (TEA) Director Chris Comer. I think the most startling point is in the concluding paragraph:

Now, teachers she knows in small towns across Texas have come to her [Chris Comer] to say they've been forced to teach creationism in science class for years. She asked them why they didn't do anything about it. "Come on," they told her. "What can I do? It's Texas."
Yowza. I've heard of high school teachers avoiding evolution in class for fear of being called "spawn of the devil" or other names by enraged parents (never mind that students have to learn these topics to pass their state skills tests). But I've never heard of teachers being forced to teach creationism! That is a major violation of the separation of Church and State. People, this issue of separation of Church & State is what caused Americans had to fight for our independence against the Crown of England! Have we forgotten so soon what America was founded on, and why?

in other news, the National Academies of Sciences & the Institute of Medicine have published a new book, Science, Evolution, and Creationism.

A description from the NAS website for the book:
How did life evolve on Earth? The answer to this question can help us understand our past and prepare for our future. Although evolution provides credible and reliable answers, polls show that many people turn away from science, seeking other explanations with which they are more comfortable.

In the book Science, Evolution, and Creationism, a group of experts assembled by the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine explain the fundamental methods of science, document the overwhelming evidence in support of biological evolution, and evaluate the alternative perspectives offered by advocates of various kinds of creationism, including "intelligent design." The book explores the many fascinating inquiries being pursued that put the science of evolution to work in preventing and treating human disease, developing new agricultural products, and fostering industrial innovations. The book also presents the scientific and legal reasons for not teaching creationist ideas in public school science classes.

Mindful of school board battles and recent court decisions, Science, Evolution, and Creationism shows that science and religion should be viewed as different ways of understanding the world rather than as frameworks that are in conflict with each other and that the evidence for evolution can be fully compatible with religious faith. For educators, students, teachers, community leaders, legislators, policy makers, and parents who seek to understand the basis of evolutionary science, this publication will be an essential resource.
A gorgeous and educational 8-page brochure is available online as a PDF and a Press Release from NAS is available also.

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