NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2011/07/01
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, The New York State Museum adds its voice for evolution. A survey of the opinions of evangelical leaders around the world revealed a divide over evolution. And the bill that would have repealed Louisiana's antievolution statute is officially dead.
NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM ADDS ITS VOICE FOR EVOLUTION The chorus of support for the teaching of evolution continues, with a statement from the New York State Museum, a research and educational institution that conducts systematic investigations into the geology, biology, anthropology, and history of New York. Emphasizing that "[t]he theory of evolution is central to the scientific understanding of how life originated on earth and how it continually changes and diversifies," the statement concludes, "the Museum supports and encourages the teaching of evolution in schools as a fundamental component of scientific competency and literacy." The New York State Museum's statement is 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 museum's statement, visit: http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/information/aboutus/evolution.html For Voices for Evolution, visit: http://ncse.com/voices POLLING GLOBAL EVANGELICAL LEADERS ON EVOLUTION A survey of the opinions of evangelical Protestant leaders across the world, conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, included a question on evolution -- and found that the leaders were divided. According to the executive summary of the Pew Forum's report, "Slightly more reject the idea of evolution (47%) than believe in theistic evolution, the notion that God has used evolution for the purpose of creating humans and other life (41%). Few (3%) believe that human life has evolved solely by natural processes with no involvement from a supreme being." Respondents were asked which of the following statements was closest to their own views: humans and other living things have evolved over time due to natural processes such as natural selection; a supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today; humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. As with other polls (such as Gallup's), it is questionable whether the second option is worded specifically enough to express theistic evolution. Respondents from the Global North -- defined as Europe, North America, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand -- were more likely to favor the second statement than the third (50% compared to 39%, with 3% favoring the first response and 8% not responding to the question), while respondents from the Global South -- defined as sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America and most of Asia -- were more likely to favor the third statement than the second (54% compared to 34%, with 3% favoring the first response and 10% not responding). The survey was conducted among the participants of the Third Lausanne Congress of World Evangelization, which took place in Cape Town, South Africa, in October 2010. According to the executive summary, "The Pew Forum conducted the survey in nine languages, including English, from August to December 2010. A total of about 4,500 people registered to attend the Third Lausanne Congress, and nearly half completed the survey, using Web and paper questionnaires." The report emphasizes, however, that "the survey results do not necessarily reflect the views of evangelicals as a whole." For the executive summary of the Pew Forum's report, visit: http://pewforum.org/Christian/Evangelical-Protestant-Churches/Global-Survey-of-Evangelical-Protestant-Leaders.aspx And for NCSE's collection of materials on polls and surveys, visit: http://ncse.com/creationism/polls-surveys REPEAL BILL OFFICIALLY DEAD When the Louisiana state legislature adjourned on June 23, 2011, Senate Bill 70 -- which would have repealed the antievolution law in effect in the state since 2008 -- died in committee. SB 70 was introduced by Karen Carter Peterson (D-District 5), but the driving force behind the repeal effort was Baton Rouge high school senior Zack Kopplin, working with the Louisiana Coalition for Science. The bill swiftly won the support of scientists and educators throughout the state and across the nation, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Association of Biology Teachers, the Louisiana Association of Biology Educators, the American Institute for Biological Sciences, and no fewer than forty-three Nobel laureates. On May 26, 2011, however, the Louisiana Senate Education Committee voted 5-1 to shelve the bill. "With the law intact," as the Christian Science Monitor (June 2, 2011) commented, "Louisiana is the state that has gone the furthest in approving legislation that opens the door to allowing alternatives to science taught in its schools." But Kopplin, in a statement quoted by the Louisiana Coalition for Science, vowed, "we'll come back with an even stronger repeal next session." For the text of Louisiana's Senate Bill 70 (PDF), visit: http://www.legis.state.la.us/billdata/streamdocument.asp?did=740920 For the website of the Louisiana Coalition for Science, visit: http://lasciencecoalition.org/ For the story in the Christian Science Monitor, visit: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Education/2011/0602/Teaching-creationism-Louisiana-law-that-skirts-US-ban-survives-challenge And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Louisiana, visit: http://ncse.com/news/louisiana Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- http://ncse.com -- where you can always find the latest news on evolution education and threats to it. -- Sincerely, 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 800-290-6006 firstname.lastname@example.org http://ncse.com Read Reports of the NCSE on-line: http://reports.ncse.com Subscribe to NCSE's free weekly e-newsletter: http://groups.google.com/group/ncse-news NCSE is on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter: http://www.facebook.com/evolution.ncse http://www.youtube.com/NatCen4ScienceEd http://twitter.com/ncse NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today! http://ncse.com/join