Recent evolution /creationism
conflicts in U.S. public schools
Public opinion polls:
1999-AUG: ABCNEWS.com quoted The Gallup Organization's most
recent results relating to public opinion about the teaching of creationism in
public schools: 1
Teach creationism and evolution
Teach creationism instead of evolution
DYG Inc, a opinion research firm, conducted a public opinion
poll among U.S. adults in the wake of the Kansas Board of Education's decision
to not require evolution to be taught in the state's public schools. The
poll was sponsored by People for the American Way. They found that :
"There is broad agreement that schools should acknowledge that some
people have creationist beliefs and even teach about those beliefs - but
not as science. There is also a strong consensus not only that
schools should teach evolution, but that how they handle the subject along
with creationist beliefs should be a matter of national policy, not just a
local matter to be decided by each state or school district." Specific
Almost half of American adults have never heard of "Creation
60% oppose the decision by the Kansas Board of Education to drop
evolution from state science standards.
83% believe that evolution should be taught in public schools. Of
20% say that only evolution should be taught in schools.
17% say that only evolution should be taught in science class;
creation science could be taught in other, non-science, classes
29% would allow the teaching in science class of both evolution
as a scientific theory and creation science as a belief.
About 70% feel that evolution and creation science can be
Fewer than 30% want creation science taught in science class as a
13% want creation science and evolution taught together as science.
16% want creation science to be taught as the only scientific
2002-JAN: Channel One news supplies a cable news program to about
12,000 public schools in the U.S. They conducted a non-scientific, online
poll of student's attitudes towards the teaching of origins. 3
They asked: "...which theory should be taught in school? Creationism,
Evolution or Both?" Results were:
Teach creationism only
Teach evolution only
Unfortunately, the poll did not sample students' opinion on how origins
should be taught. Some might prefer creation and evolution to be taught
side-by-side in science class, as alternative belief systems. Others might
prefer that evolution be taught in science class, because essentially all
earth and biological scientists accept the theory.
Creation stories from various religions could then be taught in a
comparative religion course.
Recent battles in the war:
Some of the recent bills and laws considered by state
legislatures are clearly
unconstitutional. They place local school boards in a difficult position. If
they refuse to implement the laws, their funding may be cut. If they follow the
laws, they become vulnerable to lawsuits that they will undoubtedly lose. The
cost of these court actions could impoverish small school districts. They also
cause conflict for individual legislators: If they vote in favor of some
of these laws, they will be violating their oath of office which is to
uphold the state and national Constitution; if they vote against some of
the laws, they will lose significant voting support in the next
A sampling of past developments in the teaching of evolution in
1987: National: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public
schools cannot teach creationism in science classes.
Late 1990's: State school boards in Arizona, Alabama,
Illinois, New Mexico, Texas and Nebraska have tried to either
no longer mandate the teaching of evolution, or
de-emphasize the teaching of evolution 4
1998: North Carolina: The North Carolina House passed a bill which mandates that
evolution be presented as a theory, not as a fact. Among scientists, "theory"
means an established well documented concept. Within
the general public, a "theory" is a hunch. The Legislature is apparently
hoping that the public will use the latter definition.
1999: Kansas: The Kansas Board of Education abandoned
the recommendations of their own science panel and established new state science standards.
They announced that students would not be tested on their knowledge of
of data regarding fossils, geologic tables, cosmological information are
encouraged. But standards regarding origins are not mandated." 5
This policy was overturned in 2001 after the election of a new
1999: Kentucky: The Kentucky State Education Department substituted
the term "change over time" for "evolution" in
2000: Louisiana: The
U.S. Supreme Court declared the Tangipahoa Parish school board's disclaimer to be
unconstitutional. The board had required its teachers to announce that evolution was just "presented
to inform students of the scientific concept and [was] not intended to
influence or dissuade the biblical version of creation or any other
2001: Hawaii: Denise Matsumoto, chair of the
Regular Education Committee, of the Hawaii State Board of
Education proposed that evolution and creation science be taught as
competing theories in science class. It was unanimously rejected by the
2005: Georgia: A federal judge ordered that the Cobb County
school board remove stickers that they had ordered placed on science
text books. The stickers state: "This textbook contains material on
evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of
living things. This material should be approached with an open mind,
studied carefully and critically considered." 6
2006-JAN-10: USA: Clergy Letter Project: This project promotes the
teaching of the theory of evolution in American public schools. The Project
notes that: "...numerous clergy from most denominations have tremendous
respect for evolutionary theory and have embraced it as a core component of
human knowledge, fully harmonious with religious faith." It started with an
effort in Wisconsin to have Christian clergy sign a pro-evolution statement. It
has since gone nation wide, and has as received 10,266 signatures as of JAN-05.
2007-SEP-17: Christian professor criticized for supporting evolution:
The National Center for Science Education commented on a conflict in
the Olivet Nazarene University involving Richard Colling, a professor of
biology, and his book "Random Designer." 8In his book, he
"It pains me to suggest that my religious brothers are telling falsehoods
[when they say evolutionary theory is 'in crisis'] and claim that there is
widespread skepticism about it among scientists. Such statements are blatantly
untrue. ... evolution has stood the test of time and considerable scrutiny."
2008-MAY-21: Hearing at the Louisiana state legislature re: ID:
Barbara Forrest, a professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana
University and an expert in the history of creationism, testified on the
proposed Science Education Act. It would permit teachers and school boards to
teach non-scientific alternatives to evolution, including
intelligent design (ID)
The act lists evolution,
global warming, the origins of life, and human cloning as worthy of "open and
objective discussion." She criticized this provision as an attempt to
misrepresent evolution as being scientifically controversial.
The bill was later passed by the state's legislature: by 94 to 3 in the
House and by unanimous vote in the Senate.
On 28 June, Governor, Piyush "Bobby" Jindal (R), signed the bill into law.
Many state legislatures have
introduced "Academic Freedom" acts to promote skepticism towards evolution. As
of early 2009, all but Louisiana's bill died.