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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2008/10/03

[by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch]

Dear Friends of NCSE,

A new coalition of scientists is defending the teaching of evolution in
Texas, and the International Planetarium Society affirms the scientifically
ascertained ages of the earth and of the universe.


A new coalition of Texas scientists voiced its opposition to attempts to
dilute the treatment of evolution in Texas's state science standards, which
are presently undergoing revision.  At a news conference in Austin on
September 30, 2008, representatives of the 21st Century Science Coalition
challenged the idea that students should be told that there are
"weaknesses" in evolution.  Armed with a stack of scientific journals, Dan
Bolnick, who teaches biology at the University of Texas, Austin, explained,
"Not a single one [of the articles in these journals] gives us reason to
believe evolution did not occur," the Austin American-Statesman (October 1,
2008) reported.  "So where are the weaknesses?  Simple:  They don't
exist.  They are not based on scientific research or data and have been
refuted countless times."

The Texas Education Agency released proposed drafts of the state's science
standards on September 22, 2008.  A requirement in the current standards
for high school biology that reads "The student is expected to analyze,
review, and critique scientific explanations, including hypotheses and
theories, as to their strengths and weaknesses using scientific evidence
and information" was replaced with "The student is expected to analyze and
evaluate scientific explanations using empirical evidence, logical
reasoning, and experimental and observational testing."  The change is
significant because in 2003, the "strengths and weaknesses" language in the
Texas state science standards was selectively applied by members of the
state board of education attempting to dilute the treatment of evolution in
the biology textbooks then under consideration.

The chair of the state board of education, avowed creationist Don McLeroy,
favors the "strengths and weaknesses" language, telling the Austin
American-Statesman (September 23, 2008), "I'd argue it doesn't make sense
scientifically to take it out."  The 21st Century Science Coalition
organized and mobilized in response.  Already over 800 Texas scientists
with or working towards advanced degrees in life, physical, and
mathematical science have signed the coalition's statement calling on the
board to approve science standards that "acknowledge that instruction on
evolution is vital to understanding all the biological sciences" and that
"encourage valid critical thinking and scientific reasoning by leaving out
all references to 'strengths and weaknesses,' which politicians have used
to introduce supernatural explanations into science courses."

For the story in the Austin American-Stateman, visit:

For the 21st Century Science Coalition's website, visit:

For the previous story in the Austin American-Statesman, visit:

For the full text of the coalition's statement, visit:

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


The International Planetarium Society recently issued a statement on the
ancient age of the earth and universe, noting that "Many independent lines
of scientific evidence show that the Earth and Universe are billions of
years old.  Current measurements yield an age of about 4.6 billion years
for the Earth and about 14 billion years for the Universe."  The statement
adds, "These measurements of age are accepted by nearly all astronomers,
including both research astronomers and planetarium educators.  These
astronomers come from nations and cultures around the world and from a very
wide spectrum of religious beliefs."

The statement also explained the need for the society to take a
stand:  "Planetariums are based on science and education and as such
reflect the ideals and principles of these disciplines. Planetarium
educators seek to present both scientific results and an understanding of
how these discoveries are made."  The International Planetarium Society
describes itself as "the global association of planetarium
professionals.  Its nearly 700 members come from 35 countries around the
world.  They represent schools, colleges and universities, museums, and
public facilities of all sizes including both fixed and portable
planetariums."  Its primary goal is "to encourage the sharing of ideas
among its members through conferences, publications, and networking."

For the IPS's statement, visit:

For the IPS's website, 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

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