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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2012/01/13

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

NCSE files a friend-of-the-court brief in the Freshwater case. Two
antievolution bills in Missouri: one that would encourage teachers to
emphasize "the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses" of
evolution and one that would require equal time for "intelligent
design" in the state's schools and universities. Protestant pastors in
the United States reject evolution, according to a survey conducted by
the research arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. Over a third of
K-12 educators who teach about climate change have been influenced to
teach "both sides," according to a NESTA survey. And a reminder about
NCSE's Grand Canyon expedition in 2012.


By providing a friend of the court brief (PDF) to Ohio's Fifth
District Court of Appeals on January 10, 2012, NCSE is supporting a
local school district that fired a middle school science teacher over
his inappropriate religious activity in the classroom -- including
teaching creationism. NCSE's brief argues that the teacher's
materials and methods concerning evolution "have no basis in science
and serve no pedagogical purpose." The case is John Freshwater v.
Mount Vernon City School District Board of Education; NCSE's amicus
curiae brief was prepared pro bono by Richard Mancino, Samuel M. Leaf,
and Anthony Juzaitis of Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP and Christopher
S. Williams, Colleen M. O'Neil, and Jeffrey J. Lauderdale of Calfee,
Halter & Griswold LLP.

In 2008, a local family accused Freshwater of engaging in
inappropriate religious activity and sued Freshwater and the district.
The Mount Vernon City School Board then voted to begin proceedings to
terminate his employment. After thorough administrative hearings that
proceeded over two years and involved more than eighty witnesses, the
referee presiding over the hearings issued his recommendation that the
board terminate Freshwater's employment with the district, and the
board voted to do so in January 2011. Freshwater challenged his
termination in the Knox County Court of Common Pleas in February 2011,
but the court found "there is clear and convincing evidence to support
the Board of Education's termination of Freshwater's contract(s) for
good and just cause."

Freshwater then appealed the court's decision to the Fifth District
Court of Appeals. With respect to his teaching of creationism, his
appeal brief argued, "Freshwater sought to encourage his students to
differentiate between facts and theories, and to identify and discuss
instances where textbook statements were subject to intellectual and
scientific debate," claimed, "his encouraging students to think
critically about scientific theories ... cannot be rendered illegal
based solely on the presumption that Freshwater's personal beliefs
happen to align with one of the competing theories considered," and
accused the board's actions of constituting "an outright hostility to
religion that ... violates the Establishment Clause."

NCSE's brief addresses "[w]hether there is any pedagogical or
scientific merit in John Freshwater's teaching of 'alternative
theories' to evolution, including theories that are 'consistent' [as
Freshwater's appeal brief described them] with Christian religious
beliefs, and whether there is pedagogical or scientific merit in his
specific approach to 'encouraging students to think critically' about
evolution" and argues that Freshwater's "materials and methods serve
no legitimate pedagogical purpose in a public school science class,
are scientifically unsound, and serve only impermissibly to advance a
sectarian purpose, namely to teach creationism in its traditional
version of creation science or its modern incarnation of intelligent

For NCSE's amicus brief (PDF), visit:

For documents associated with Freshwater's termination, visit:


House Bill 1276, introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives
on January 11, 2012, and not yet referred to a committee, is
apparently the fifth antievolution bill of 2012 -- and the second in
Missouri. The bill would, if enacted, call on state and local
education administrators to "endeavor to create an environment within
public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to
explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop
critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully
to differences of opinion about controversial issues, including
biological and chemical evolution" and to "endeavor to assist teachers
to find more effective ways to present the science curriculum where it
addresses scientific controversies." "Toward this end," the bill
continues, "teachers shall be permitted to help students understand,
analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific
strengths and scientific weaknesses of the theory of biological and
hypotheses of chemical evolution."

Andrew Koenig (R-District 88) is the main sponsor of HB 1276; its
cosponsors are Rick Brattin (R-District 124), Charlie Davis
(R-District 128), Todd Richardson (R-District 154), Sue Allen
(R-District 92), Kurt Bahr (District 19), Brent Lasater (R-District
53), Darrell Pollock (R-District 146), Doug Funderburk (R-District
12), Bill Reiboldt (R-District 130), Bill Lant (R-District 131), Casey
Guernsey (R-District 3), Dwight Scharnhorst (R-District 93), and
Kathie Conway (R-District 14). The text of HB 1276 is identical to the
text of HB 195 in 2011; Koenig, Davis, Bahr, Pollock, Funderburk,
Reiboldt, Scharnhorst, and Conway were among its sponsors. HB 195 died
in the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee without
receiving a hearing. In the present legislative session, Brattin,
Davis, Koenig, Allen, and Pollock are also among the sponsors of HB
1227, which if enacted would require "the equal treatment of science
instruction regarding evolution and intelligent design" in both public
elementary and secondary schools and introductory science courses in
public institutions of higher education in Missouri.

For the text of Missouri's HB 1276, visit:

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


House Bill 1227, introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives
on January 10, 2012, would, if enacted, require "the equal treatment
of science instruction regarding evolution and intelligent design,"
according to the legislature's summary of the bill. The equal
treatment provision would apply to both public elementary and
secondary schools and to "any introductory science course taught at
any public institution of higher education" in Missouri.

HB 1227's text is about 3000 words long, beginning with a declaration
that the bill is to be known as the Missouri Standard Science Act,
followed by a defectively alphabetized glossary providing
idiosyncratic definitions of "analogous naturalistic processes,"
"biological evolution," "biological intelligent design," "destiny,"
"empirical data," "equal treatment," "hypothesis," "origin,"
"scientific theory," "scientific law," and "standard science."

Among the substantive provisions of the bill, applying both to public
elementary and secondary schools and to introductory science courses
in public institutions of higher education: "If scientific theory
concerning biological origin is taught in a course of study,
biological evolution and biological intelligent design shall be
taught. Other scientific theory or theories of origin may be taught."

For public elementary and secondary schools, HB 1227 also provides,
"If scientific theory concerning biological origin is taught in a
textbook, the textbook shall give equal treatment to biological
evolution and biological intelligent design." After the bill is
enacted, new textbooks purchased for the public schools will have to
conform to the equal treatment requirement. A committee will develop
supplementary material on "intelligent design" for optional interim

HB 1227 is apparently a descendent of HB 911 in 2004, which was also
dubbed the Missouri Standard Science Act, began with a glossary of the
same eleven terms (and also "extrapolated radiometric data"), would
have required equal treatment of "intelligent design" in the public
elementary and secondary schools (although not in public higher
education), and would have required textbooks to conform to the equal
treatment requirement.

HB 911 was widely criticized, including by the Science Teachers of
Missouri. A sequel bill, HB 1722, also introduced in 2004, contained
the same language as HB 911, but omitted provisions that would have
required the text of the bill to be posted in high school science
classrooms and that would have enabled the firing of teachers and
administrators who failed to comply with the law. Both bills died when
the legislative session ended.

Rick Brattin (R-District 124) is the main sponsor of HB 1227; its
cosponsors are John McCaherty (R-District 90), Charlie Davis
(R-District 128), Andrew Koenig (R-District 88), Sue Allen (R-District
92), and Darrell Pollock (R-District 146); Davis, Koenig, and Pollock
also cosponsored the antievolution HB 195 in 2011. HB 1227 is the
fourth antievolution bill of 2012, joining Indiana's Senate Bill 89
and New Hampshire's House Bills 1148 and 1157.

For the text of Missouri's HB 1227, visit:

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


A poll of Protestant pastors in the United States found that they
"overwhelmingly believe that God did not use evolution to create
humans and think Adam and Eve were literal people," according to a
press release (January 9, 2012) issued by LifeWay Research. LifeWay
Research is a division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern
Baptist Convention, a denomination not conspicuously sympathetic
toward evolution, as a 1982 resolution illustrates.

Presented with "I believe God used evolution to create people," 12% of
respondents strongly agreed, 12% somewhat agreed, 8% somewhat
disagreed, and 64% strongly disagreed; 4% were unsure. Respondents in
the northeast were more likely to strongly agree (25%) than
respondents in the west (13%), midwest (12%), and south (8%); Mainline
Protestants were more likely to strongly agree (25%) than Evangelicals

Presented with "I believe Adam and Eve were literal people," 74% of
respondents strongly agreed, 8% somewhat agreed, 6% somewhat
disagreed, and 11% strongly disagreed; 1% were not sure. Evangelicals
were more likely to strongly agree (82%) than Mainline Protestants
(50%); respondents with graduate degrees were most likely to strongly
disagree (16%) than respondents whose highest degree was a bachelor's
degree (2%).

Presented with "I believe the earth is approximately six thousand
(6,000) years old," 30% of respondents strongly agreed, 16% somewhat
agreed, 9% somewhat disagreed, and 34% strongly disagreed; 12% were
unsure. Respondents age 18-44 were less likely to strongly disagree
(24%) than respondents age 45-54, 55-64, and 65 and older (33%, 38%,
38%); those with a graduate degree were more likely to strongly
disagree (42%) than those with only a bachelor's degree (18%).

Presented with "Most of my congregation believes in evolution," 10% of
respondents strongly agreed, 9% somewhat agreed, 13% somewhat
disagreed, and 62% strongly disagreed; 5% were unsure. Asked how often
they taught in their church "on the subject of creation and
evolution," 3% of respondents said several times a month, 4% said
about once a month, 28% said several times a year, 29% said about once
a year, 26% said rarely, and 8% said never; 1% were not sure.

The poll was conducted by telephone in May 2011 among 1000 Protestant
pastors. According to LifeWay Research, "The calling list was randomly
drawn from a list [unspecified] of all Protestant churches. ... Each
interview was conducted with the senior pastor, minister or priest of
the church called. Responses were weighted to reflect the geographic
distribution of Protestant churches. The sample provides 95%
confidence that the sampling error does not exceed +/- 3.2%."

For the press release, visit:

For the Southern Baptist Convention's 1982 resolution on evolution, visit:

And for NCSE's collection of polls and surveys, visit:


The National Earth Science Teachers Association released the executive
summary of its 2011 on-line survey on climate change education, which
examines the responses of 555 K-12 educators in the United States who
teach about climate change. These teachers generally accept the
scientific consensus on climate change, with 89% agreeing that global
warming is happening and only 13% attributing it mainly to natural
changes in the environment. Only 63% of the general public in the
United States agree that global warming is happening and as many as
35% attribute it to natural changes, according to a 2011 report from
the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.

Over a third of respondents to the NESTA survey -- 36% -- reported
that they "have been influenced in some way (directly or indirectly)
to teach 'both sides' of climate change." Although only 5% reported
that they were required to teach ?both sides? of climate change, 47%
reported that they taught "both sides" because they thought that
"there is validity to both sides." About 38% of respondents agreed
that "students have misconceptions about climate change that are hard
to address"; about 25-30% reported that students, parents,
administrators, or community members have disputed with them that
climate change is happening or is the result of human activity.

A full report of the NESTA survey responses from active K-12 climate
change educators is expected to be released in early 2012. NESTA's
survey was informally conducted on-line, as was a similar survey
conducted among the members of the National Science Teachers
Association in 2011. (The NSTA survey found that 82% of respondents
reported having faced skepticism about climate change and climate
change education from students, 54% reported having faced such
skepticism from parents, and 26% reported having faced such skepticism
from administrators.) A rigorous survey of the prevalence and nature
of climate change skepticism in the classroom apparently remains to be

For the executive summary for the NESTA survey (PDF), visit:

For the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication's report (PDF), visit:

For NSTA's story about its survey, visit:


Explore the Grand Canyon with NCSE! Seats are still available for
NCSE's next excursion to the Grand Canyon -- as featured in the
documentary No Dinosaurs in Heaven. From July 16 to 24, 2012, NCSE
will again explore the wonders of creation and evolution on a Grand
Canyon river run conducted by NCSE's Genie Scott and Steve Newton.
Because this is an NCSE trip, we offer more than just the typically
grand float down the Canyon, the spectacular scenery, fascinating
natural history, brilliant night skies, exciting rapids, delicious
meals, and good company. It is, in fact, a unique "two-model" raft
trip, on which we provide both the creationist view of the Grand
Canyon (maybe not entirely seriously) and the evolutionist view -- and
let you make up your own mind. To get a glimpse of the fun, watch the
short videos filmed during the 2011 trip, posted on NCSE's YouTube
site. The cost of the excursion is $2625; a deposit of $500 will hold
your spot. Seats are limited: call, write, or e-mail now.

For information about the trip, visit:

For information about No Dinosaurs in Heaven, visit:

For NCSE's YouTube site, 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 x305
fax: 510-601-7204

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