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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2010/10/22

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

Five years on, New Scientist addresses the aftermath of Kitzmiller v.
Dover. The Supreme Court declines to review ACSI v. Stearns. NCSE's
Glenn Branch, Eugenie C. Scott, and Joshua Rosenau's "Dispatches from
the Evolution Wars" is published in Annual Review of Genomics and
Human Genetics. No fewer than three international organizations of
museums and science centers add their voices for evolution. And NCSE
offers a free excerpt from Edward J. Larson's Summer for the Gods.


Five years after Kitzmiller v. Dover, the case establishing the
unconstitutionality of teaching "intelligent design" in the public
schools, New Scientist (October 20, 2010) reports on the continuing
aftermath, in Dover, Pennsylvania, and beyond. Plaintiff Cyndi Sneath,
now a member of the Dover Area School Board, said, "My interest in
public education and civil liberties was certainly sparked by the
trial," and fellow plaintiff Robert Eschbach, a teacher, commented
that the trial "forced me to be a better educator ... I went back and
read more of the history around Darwin and how he came to his

In the meantime, the "intelligent design" movement was not idle, with
its greatest success the passage and enactment of Louisiana's
so-called Science Education Act in 2008. Barbara Forrest -- a
philosophy professor at Southeastern Louisiana University, a member of
NCSE's board of directors, and a witness for the plaintiffs in
Kitzmiller -- told New Scientist, "Louisiana is the only state to pass
a state education bill based on the Discovery Institute's template."
(A list of attempts to pass "academic freedom" antievolution bills is
given in Branch, Scott, and Rosenau's "Dispatches from the Evolution

After reviewing the continuing efforts to undermine the teaching of
evolution in Louisiana -- including a policy governing supplementary
materials in the state's classrooms that would enable the promotion of
creationism as well as a proposal to teach creationism in Livingston
Parish -- the article concludes, "Five years after the landmark case,
the battle for science education continues. But for the plaintiffs and
their representatives this does not detract from the achievement.
Their lead attorney, Eric Rothschild [of Pepper Hamilton LLP], sums it
up: 'If we'd lost, intelligent design would be all over the place

For the article in New Scientist, visit: 

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

For "Dispatches from the Evolution Wars," visit: 

And for NCSE's collection of information about Kitzmiller v. Dover, visit: 


On October 12, 2010, the Supreme Court declined to review Association
of Christian Schools International et al. v. Roman Stearns et al.,
thus bringing the case to a definitive end. The case, originally filed
in federal court in Los Angeles on August 25, 2005, centered on the
University of California system's policies and statements relevant to
evaluating the qualifications of applicants for admission. The
plaintiffs -- the Association of Christian Schools International, the
Calvary Chapel Christian School in Murrieta, California, and a handful
of students at the school -- charged that the university system
violated the constitutional rights of applicants from Christian
schools whose high school coursework is deemed inadequate preparation
for college.

Creationism was prominent in the case. The plaintiffs objected to the
university system's policy of rejecting high school biology courses
that use creationist textbooks as "inconsistent with the viewpoints
and knowledge generally accepted in the scientific community." Michael
Behe, a proponent of "intelligent design" creationism, served as a
scientific expert witness for the plaintiffs, although his defense of
the creationist biology textbooks was unavailing. Wendell Bird, one of
the attorneys for the plaintiffs, is a former employee of the
Institute for Creation Research; he defended Louisiana's 1981 "equal
time" act all the way to the Supreme Court, where it was ruled to
violate the Establishment Clause in the decision in Edwards v.
Aguillard (1987).

Relying in part on the view of defendants' expert witnesses Donald
Kennedy and Francisco J. Ayala (a Supporter of NCSE) that the
creationist textbooks were not appropriate for use in a college
preparatory biology course, the trial judge in ACSI v. Stearns granted
the defendants' motion for summary judgment on August 8, 2008. The
plaintiffs appealed the decision, but in a January 12, 2010, ruling,
the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's
decision, which is now reaffirmed by the Supreme Court's decision not
to review the case. Documents from the case are available on NCSE's
website, in a special section devoted to ACSI v. Stearns.

For the Supreme Court's order (PDF, p. 12), visit: 

For NCSE's collection of documents from the case, visit: 


"Dispatches from the Evolution Wars: Shifting Tactics and Expanding
Battlefields," a review article by NCSE's Glenn Branch, Eugenie C.
Scott, and Joshua Rosenau, was published in Annual Review of Genomics
and Human Genetics (2010; 11: 317-338). The abstract:

Creationism continues to present a challenge to the teaching of
evolution in the United States. With attempts to ban evolution
education and to "balance" the teaching of evolution with creationism
unavailing, creationists are increasingly favoring the approach of
misrepresenting evolution as scientifically controversial. To
understand the ongoing challenges facing evolution education in the
United States, it is necessary to appreciate creationist actions at
the different levels of educational governance -- state legislatures,
state boards of education, local boards of education, and finally the
individual classroom -- that serve as the battlegrounds for the
evolution education wars. Scientists are in a unique position to
defend the teaching of evolution, both by resisting creationist
incursions as they occur and by helping to improve the teaching of
evolution at both the precollege and college levels.

Complimentary access to a PDF version of the article for personal use
is available from Annual Reviews via NCSE's website, but
further/multiple distribution, publication, and commercial usage
requires permission from the Annual Reviews Permission Department.

Published annually since 2000, the Annual Review of Genomics and Human
Genetics covers significant developments in the field of genomics as
they apply to human genetics and the human genome; it is widely
considered to be a leading journal in genetics and heredity.

For the link to the PDF version of the article, visit: 


The chorus of support for the teaching of evolution continues, with
statements from the Association of Science-Technology Centers; Ecsite,
the European Network of Science Centres and Museums; and NATHIST, the
International Committee for Museums and Collections of Natural

The statement from the Association of Science-Technology Centers
affirms, "ASTC and its members -- science centers and museums around
the world -- present information based on scientific evidence. ASTC's
members are committed to advancing the public understanding of science
and contributing to the development of a scientifically literate
society." With regard to evolution, it states, "Evolutionary theory is
central to modern science." ASTC's members include nearly 600 members
in forty-five countries.

The statement from Ecsite explains that its "policy for public
engagement is to present the theory of evolution as the best
explanation for the ongoing generation of diversity of life on Earth."
It also "strongly endorses the teaching of the theory of evolution in
European schools as a core part of the science curriculum and we urge
that views such as creationism and intelligent design should not be
taught as science." Ecsite's members include more than 400
institutions in fifty countries.

And the statement from NATHIST describes evolution as "the best
current explanation for how the diversity of life around us came to
exist. It remains the only compelling scientifically rigorous account
of how life evolved on our planet for which a great deal of empirical
evidence has been accumulated in natural history collections," and
endorses the presentation of evolution in public engagement
activities. NATHIST is one of the International Committees of the
International Council of Museums, representing 30,000 museum
professionals across the globe.

All three of these statements are now reproduced, by permission, on
NCSE's website, and will also be contained in the fourth edition of
NCSE's Voices for Evolution.

For the statements, visit: 

And for information on Voices for Evolution, visit: 


NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview of Edward J. Larson's Summer
for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over
Science and Religion (Basic Books, 1997; reissued with a new
afterword, Basic Books, 2006). The excerpt, from chapter 7, presents
the first days of the Scopes trial in 1925. A high point was the
testimony of Maynard Metcalf, a zoologist at the University of Chicago
who was the only scientific expert witness permitted to testify: "'The
fact of evolution is a thing that is perfectly and absolutely clear,'
the professor began. 'But there are many points -- theoretical points
as to the methods by which evolution has been brought about -- that we
are not yet in possession of scientific knowledge to answer. We are in
possession of scientific knowledge to answer directly and fully the
question: "Has evolution occurred?"'" Summer for the Gods received the
Pulitzer Prize for History in 1998; Ronald L. Numbers described it as
"quite simply, the best book ever written on the Scopes trial and its
place in American history and myth."

For the excerpt (PDF), visit: 

For information about Summer for the Gods, visit: 

Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- -- 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 x310
fax: 510-601-7204

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