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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2010/12/03

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

Progress toward a settlement in the Freshwater case, a new issue of
Evolution: Education and Outreach, and a free webcast series on
"Evolutionary Christianity."


A key part of a proposed settlement in Doe v. Mount Vernon Board of
Education et al. was approved by a judge on November 23, 2010.
Contrary to press reports, including NCSE's initial report of November
30, 2010, the case is not yet officially settled; what was approved
was not the overall proposed settlement, but the terms of the proposed
settlement as it concerns Zachary Dennis (a minor) -- the "James Doe"
of the suit. The judge presiding over the case, Gregory L. Frost of
the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, still
needs to approve the settlement.

The case centered on John Freshwater, a Mount Vernon, Ohio, middle
school science teacher, who was accused of inappropriate religious
activity in the classroom -- including displaying posters with the Ten
Commandments and Bible verses, branding crosses on the arms of his
students with a high-voltage electrical device, and teaching
creationism. (Investigators commissioned by the district found various
creationist literature in his classroom, including Jonathan Sarfati's
Refuting Evolution and Jonathan Wells's Icons of Evolution.)

The Mount Vernon News (November 30, 2010) described the terms of the
settlement: "The settlement of $475,000 to the Dennis family [who
originally filed suit under the pseudonym "Doe"] includes $25,000 for
attorney fees, $150,000 each to Stephen and Jennifer, and $150,000 to
be used for an annuity for Zachary." A previous report from the News
(October 27, 2010) indicated that the school district's insurer, Ohio
Casualty, will be liable for the payment, since Freshwater was
employed by the district when the suit was filed.

The district was originally named in the lawsuit, but a settlement was
reached in August 2009, leaving Freshwater as the sole defendant.
Freshwater filed his own lawsuit against the Mount Vernon City School
District Board of Education in June 2009, but then filed a notice to
dismiss it in October 2010, claiming that it would have interfered
with the administrative hearing on the termination of his employment
with the district, which was conducted intermittently from October
2008 to June 2010. The referee presiding over the hearing has yet to
release his decision.

For the stories in the Mount Vernon News, visit: 

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

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Ohio, visit: 


The latest issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach -- the new
journal aspiring to promote accurate understanding and comprehensive
teaching of evolutionary theory for a wide audience -- is now
published. The theme for the issue (volume 3, number 4) is "Teaching
Phylogenetics," and articles by Edward O. Wiley, Deborah McLennan,
Marcus Kumala, and Laura R. Novick, Kefyn Catley, and Daniel Funk
discuss the importance of phylogenetic systematics in modern
evolutionary biology and present ways of incorporating it in high
school biology curricula. Articles by Anastasia Thanukos and Richard
P. Meisel continue the emphasis on evolutionary trees; articles by
Craig Tollini and Jess White and Allan Mazur discuss the results of
surveys on "intelligent design" and modern earth science; Bartosz
Borczyk reports on creationism and the teaching of evolution in
Poland; Finn R. Pond and Jean L. Pond ponder "Scientific Authority in
the Creation-Evolution Debates" -- and there's much more besides!

Also included is the latest installment of NCSE's regular column,
Overcoming Obstacles to Evolution Education. In "Why Are There Still
Monkeys?" NCSE's W. Eric Meikle and Eugenie C. Scott address the
popular misconception about evolution encapsulated in the question,
"If humans evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?"
Diagnosing the misconception as stemming from the assumption that
evolution is linear and anagenetic, they comment, "What is missing
from this view of evolution is the crucial role of branching or
splitting in creating the tree of life, and suggest, "Perhaps the
easiest way to introduce a more accurate model of the relationships of
contemporary species is through the analogy of human family
categories, and especially that of 'cousins.'" Meikle and Scott add,
"No one would ask, 'If you evolved from your cousin, why is your
cousin still here?' ... The question 'if humans evolved from monkeys,
why are there still monkeys?' is equally absurd to an evolutionary

For information about the journal, visit: 

For Meikle and Scott's article (subscription required), visit: 


Interested in exploring the issues raised by science and faith? A free
webcast series promises to assemble "thirty of today's most inspiring
Christian leaders and esteemed scientists for a groundbreaking
dialogue on how an evolutionary worldview can enrich your life, deepen
your faith, and bless our world." To be broadcast throughout December
2010 and January 2011, "Evolutionary Christianity -- Conversations at
the Leading Edge of Faith" includes interviews with NCSE Supporter
Kenneth R. Miller, discussing "Evolution and the Battle for America's
Soul," as well as Ian Barbour, John Cobb, Michael Dowd, John F.
Haught, Karl W. Giberson, Owen Gingerich, Denis Lamoureux, John
Polkinghorne, John Shelby Spong, Charles H. Townes, and a host of
further scientists and scholars who regard their acceptance of
evolution as expanding and enriching their faith.

For information about the webcast series and the companion e-newsletter, 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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