[ncse-news] Evolution education update: October 13, 2006

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[ncse-news] Evolution education update: October 13, 2006

Postby Anonymous » Fri Oct 13, 2006 7:51 pm

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [ncse-news] Evolution education update: October 13, 2006
Date: Fri, 13 Oct 2006 09:46:34 -0700
From: Glenn Branch <branch@ncseweb.org>
Reply-To: owner-ncse-news@ncseweb.org
To: ncse-news@ncseweb2.org

Dear Friends of NCSE,

A victory for evolution education in Michigan. Additionally: Judge Jones
of Kitzmiller fame is interviewed by The Lutheran; the American Society for
Microbiology issues a statement on the scientific basis of evolution; and
NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott is interviewed by Church and State about Not in Our


At its October 10, 2006, meeting, the Michigan state board of education
voted unanimously to approve a set of content expectations for the new high
school graduation requirements in science in which evolution is
appropriately treated. Previously, in September, the board voted to defer
considering the content expectations for a month, at the behest of
antievolution legislators who apparently sought to lobby for the weakening
of evolution. But in the end, the Detroit Free Press (October 11, 2006)
reported, it was "clear which concept won the debate between evolution and
intelligent design." A press release issued on October 10, 2006, by the
Michigan Department of Education emphasized, "In approving the Science
content expectations, the State Board also solidified its strong support
for Evolution."

The treatment of evolution in the content expectations was in fact slightly
improved, thanks to the testimony of concerned citizens, including the
Michigan Science Teachers Association and Robert T. Pennock and Gregory
Forbes of Michigan Citizens for Science. The Grand Rapids Press (October
11, 2006) reported, "Kids in biology will now have to 'Explain how a new
species or variety originates (rather than "may originate") through the
natural process of evolution.' They also will be asked to show how fossil
records, comparative anatomy and other evidence [support] the theory of
evolution rather than 'may' support it." These revisions are especially
striking, since antievolutionist legislators were reportedly pushing to
have "may" replaced with "may or may not" (Detroit Free Press, September
14, 2006).

Members of the board of education were outspoken about their support for
the integrity of evolution education. The board's vice president, John C.
Austin, was quoted in the Michigan Department of Education's press release
as explaining, "We do not want to create any uncertainty in the Board's
support of Evolution ... We need to send a clear statement that there is no
ambiguity on the part of the Board that Evolution is good science." Board
member Reginald Turner agreed, "Science supports Evolution in the way it's
set forth in the content expectations before us," adding, "The word 'may'
clouds the science of Evolution after decades of scientific evidence, and
is inconsistent with what we know about Evolution today."

For the Detroit Free Press's story, visit:
http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/arti ... /1008/NEWS

For the Michigan Department of Education's press release, visit:
http://www.michigan.gov/mde/0,1607,7-14 ... --,00.html

For the Grand Rapid Press's story, visit:
http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/index ... xml&coll=6

For NCSE's previous coverage of events in Michigan, visit:


The October 2006 issue of The Lutheran, the magazine of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America, is devoted to the relationship between
evolution and religion. Included is a detailed interview with Judge John
E. Jones III, the judge who ruled against the constitutionality of teaching
"intelligent design" in his December 20, 2005, decision in
Kitzmiller. Jones is a Lutheran himself, a fact widely noted by the media
during the Kitzmiller trial.

The Lutheran's coverage of Jones is notable for delving into the judge's
religious upbringing in more depth than previous media coverage. Jones
relates that he was raised by Presbyterian parents in Orwigsburg,
Pennsylvania, but since there was no Presbyterian congregation in the town,
the family joined a United Church of Christ congregation, where Jones was
confirmed. In 1982, after marrying a Lutheran, Jones joined Trinity
Lutheran Church in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, which he and his family still
attend today.

In the interview, Jones stressed the importance of judicial independence
and the relationship between the law and politics. Replying to critics who
objected to Jones's ruling that "intelligent design" is a specific
religious position and not science, Jones explained, "Both sides asked me
to render a decision on that precise issue," continuing, "Had I not done
so, there was every chance that this same issue would have arisen before
another tribunal."

Responding to accusations that his decision was judicial "activism" and
betrayed his political allies, Jones commented, "[A]s a federal judge, I'm
charged with focusing on legal precedents, the rule of law and the U.S.
Constitution. ... If I had disregarded the facts and invented a new test,
other than those tests offered by the Supreme Court, that would have made
me an activist judge. These values are not Republican or Democratic. They
are American values."

For the interview in The Lutheran, visit:
http://www.thelutheran.org/article/arti ... le_id=6096

For NCSE's previous coverage of Kitzmiller v. Dover, visit:


The American Society for Microbiology -- the world's largest scientific
society of individuals interested in the microbiological sciences, with
over 43,000 members in the United States and abroad -- recently issued a
strong policy statement discussing the scientific basis for
evolution. Taking examples from the ASM's specialty of microbiology, the
statement notes:


In microbiology, the validity of evolutionary principles is supported by
[1] readily demonstrated mutation, recombination and selection, which are
the fundamental mechanisms of evolution; [2] comparisons based on genomic
data that support a common ancestry of life; and [3] observable rates of
genetic change and the extent of genomic diversity which indicate that
divergence has occurred over a very long scale of geologic time, and
testify to the great antiquity of life on Earth. Thus, microorganisms
illustrate evolution in action, and microbiologists have been able to make
use of the microbes' evolutionary capacity in the development of
life-improving and life-saving innovations in medicine, agriculture, and
for the environment.


In contrast, the statement adds, "proposed alternatives to evolution, such
as intelligent design and other forms of creationism, are not scientific,
in part because they fail to provide a framework for useful, testable
predictions." The statement concludes with a suggestion for educational
policymakers: "It is important that society and future generations
recognize the legitimacy of testable, verified, fact-based learning about
the origins and diversity of life."

To read the ASM's statement, visit:


NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott discussed the new book Not in
Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design is Wrong for Our Schools, which she
coedited with NCSE's deputy director Glenn Branch, with Church and State,
the monthly journal of Americans United for Separation of Church and
State. In the interview, which appears in the October 2006 issue of Church
and State, Scott succinctly outlines the case against teaching "intelligent
design" in the public schools:


ID should not be taught both for pedagogical and legal reasons. The few
scientific claims that ID makes are not supported by the evidence, and the
view of science it incorporates is greatly different than that of
mainstream science. ID is therefore pedagogically unsuitable for
presentation in a science class. And, because it is a sectarian religious
dogma, it should not be advocated in the public schools in any class. In
summary, intelligent design is a sectarian religious dogma masquerading as


She also discusses the history, diversity, and destiny of the creationist
movement -- "as long as such a large percentage of the American population
believes that they have to choose between evolution and their faith, we
will have controversies about the teaching of evolution," she concludes --
and the need for continued vigilance: "Know what your school board members
stand for when it comes to the teaching of evolution. Support candidates
who will do a good job. It's a cliche, but you get the government you

For the interview in Church and State, visit:
http://www.au.org/site/News2?page=NewsA ... 93&abbr=cs

For information about Not in Our Classrooms, visit:


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Thanks for reading! And as always, be sure to consult NCSE's web site:
where you can always find the latest news on evolution education and
threats to it.


Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x305
fax: 510-601-7204

Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong for Our Schools

Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism

NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today!

Best, Mikey Brass
MA in Archaeology degree, University College London
"The Antiquity of Man" http://www.antiquityofman.com
Book: "The Antiquity of Man: Artifactual, fossil and gene records explored"

- !ke e: /xarra //ke
("Diverse people unite": Motto of the South African Coat of Arms, 2002)

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