That's not a list. THIS is a list! (apologies to Paul Hogan)
[Update: This page is invariably obsolete almost as soon as I publish it. Partly because the DI puts out a new press-release every time their list tops another hundred mark, but mostly because the number of science organizations that I cite as demurring from "intelligent design" continues to grow rather quickly. As a result of my difficulty in keeping up, I would welcome new examples of organizations stating their opposition to ID being brought to my attention. Please feel free to leave a pointer in the comments and I will update the page accordingly. Thanks.]
“There is a list of 700 scientists who have signed a statement…”
It’s time to make the point that having a list of a mere 700 scientists (the Discovery Institute’s A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism only highlights the limited, ideological appeal of “intelligent design” creationism. Below is a list of science, and science education, organizations that have gone on record as opposing ID (keep in mind a list of organizations supporting the current scientific approach to teaching evolution, but making no reference to ID, is much longer and can be found here).
I would ask those impressed by the DI's list to pause and reflect for a moment on the number of scientists these collected organizations represent. Their complete statements can be found below.
The Archeology and CRM Professional's Resource (a direct response to the DI list) - over 8000 Anthropologists, Biologists and other scientists (and counting)
AAAS Board Resolution on Intelligent Design Theory - 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals
NAS - The Evolution Controversy in Our Schools - 2,000 members and 350 foreign associates, of whom more than 200 have won Nobel Prizes
ASCB - Letter regarding Intelligent Design to Ohio Gov. Taft - more than 11,000 members
AIBS - Position Statements: Biologists Speak Out Against Vote by Kansas Board of Education - combined membership exceeding 240,000 scientists and educators
American Geophysical Union - 43,000 Earth and space scientists
American Association of University Professors - 45,000, with over 500 local campus chapters and 39 state organizations
Society for Neuroscience - Statement on Evolution and Intelligent Design - 36,000, world's largest organization of scientists devoted to the study of the brain
American Astronomical Society Open Letter to President Bush - 6,500, includes professional astromomers, physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers and others
American Society of Agronomy (ASA), the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) - 10,000+ members
National Science Teachers Association Position Statement - 55,000, includes science teachers, science supervisors, administrators, scientists, business and industry representatives, and others
American Association of Physics Teachers Statement on the Teaching of Evolution and Cosmology - 11,000 members in 30 countries
California Science Teachers Association - represents science educators statewide
Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity - The Nobel Laureates Initiative - 38 Nobel Laureates
Statement from Missouri scientists and educators - more than 250 Missouri scientists and science educators
Letter to Ohio Board of Education - signed by officials of the American Institute of Physics, the American Physical Society, the American Geophysical Union, the Optical Society of America, the American Astronomical Society, and the Society of Physics Students
► The Archeology and CRM Professional's Resource
A Scientific Support For Darwinism - And For Public Schools To Not Teach "Intelligent Design" As Science
This petition is in response to the Discovery Institute’s petition "A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism" signed, since 2001, by 400 scientists, as of July 2005. That petition is presented to the public as a scientific endorsement of the religion-based concept of Intelligent Design over Darwinism. Unfortunately, the majority, 83%, of these "scientists" are not schooled in the fields that utilize evolutionary theory in detail, nor even in science, and they are not qualified to present their ideas in a way other than personal opinion. We feel this petition is misleading the public, and we use this petition to show that:
"We, as scientists trained in fields that utilize evolutionary theory, do not believe Intelligent Design to be a fact-based science appropriate for teaching in public schools because it is theistic in nature, not empirical, and therefore does not pass the rigors of scientific hypothesis testing and theory development. As such, we petition that Intelligent Design not be presented in public schools as a viable science within the scientific curriculum."
This view does not represent an atheistic or exclusionary scientific school of thought, and we do not endorse Intelligent Design, or other religious subjects, being prohibited from discussion in the appropriate classroom setting. Indeed many of us belong to religious denominations, and we respect and support individuals’ rights to put evolution, the origins of the universe, and life, into a context that they understand as defined by their religion. Science, however, is not designed to explain or debunk religious concepts that are based in faith, and, as such, religion-based concepts should not be taught as science.
Check here for the latest count.
► AAAS Board Resolution on Intelligent Design Theory
The contemporary theory of biological evolution is one of the most robust products of scientific inquiry. It is the foundation for research in many areas of biology as well as an essential element of science education. To become informed and responsible citizens in our contemporary technological world, students need to study the theories and empirical evidence central to current scientific understanding.
Over the past several years proponents of so-called "intelligent design theory," also known as ID, have challenged the accepted scientific theory of biological evolution. As part of this effort they have sought to introduce the teaching of "intelligent design theory" into the science curricula of the public schools. The movement presents "intelligent design theory" to the public as a theoretical innovation, supported by scientific evidence, that offers a more adequate explanation for the origin of the diversity of living organisms than the current scientifically accepted theory of evolution. In response to this effort, individual scientists and philosophers of science have provided substantive critiques of "intelligent design," demonstrating significant conceptual flaws in its formulation, a lack of credible scientific evidence, and misrepresentations of scientific facts.
Recognizing that the "intelligent design theory" represents a challenge to the quality of science education, the Board of Directors of the AAAS unanimously adopts the following resolution:
Whereas, ID proponents claim that contemporary evolutionary theory is incapable of explaining the origin of the diversity of living organisms;
Whereas, to date, the ID movement has failed to offer credible scientific evidence to support their claim that ID undermines the current scientifically accepted theory of evolution;
Whereas, the ID movement has not proposed a scientific means of testing its claims;
Therefore Be It Resolved, that the lack of scientific warrant for so-called "intelligent design theory" makes it improper to include as a part of science education;
Therefore Be Further It Resolved, that AAAS urges citizens across the nation to oppose the establishment of policies that would permit the teaching of "intelligent design theory" as a part of the science curricula of the public schools;
Therefore Be It Further Resolved, that AAAS calls upon its members to assist those engaged in overseeing science education policy to understand the nature of science, the content of contemporary evolutionary theory and the inappropriateness of "intelligent design theory" as subject matter for science education;
Therefore Be Further It Resolved, that AAAS encourages its affiliated societies to endorse this resolution and to communicate their support to appropriate parties at the federal, state and local levels of the government.
Approved by the AAAS Board of Directors on 10/18/02
AAAS publishes the journal Science, as well as many scientific newsletters, books and reports, and spearheads programs that raise the bar of understanding for science worldwide.
[…] AAAS serves some 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of one million.
► NAS - The Evolution Controversy in Our Schools - Letter to Academy members from President Bruce Alberts
I write to alert you to efforts by the National Academies to confront the increasing challenges to the teaching of evolution in public schools; your help may be needed in your state soon.
On February 7, 2005, Michael Behe, a founder and leading proponent of the Intelligent Design (ID) movement, published a long Op-Ed in the New York Times in response to an editorial that the Times had released the previous week. In that letter, Dr. Behe claimed that some words I wrote support his view that scientific explanations for the evolution of life on the Earth need to be modified to insert the work of an "intelligent designer".
In my response to the Times, I pointed out that, while my words are reflected correctly in Behe's column, he completely misrepresents the intent of my statement. This is a common tactic among those who are attempting to introduce religious views of the origins of life into the public schools -- or who are trying to undermine the teaching of evolution because of purported "weaknesses" in the theory.
I write to you now because of a growing threat to the teaching of science through the inclusion of non-scientifically based "alternatives" in science courses throughout the country. A recent article in the Washington Post pointed out that there are challenges to the teaching of evolution in 40 states or local school districts around the country today (for more details, visit the website of the National Center for Science Education. Major newspapers, magazines, and other media (e.g., Time, Newsweek, MSNBC, National Geographic) have featured major stories about the controversy during the past six months.
Recent tactics to cast doubt on the veracity or robustness of the theory of evolution have included placing disclaimer stickers in the front of high school biology textbooks (Cobb County, GA and Alabama; proposal before the Missouri House of Representatives), mandating or recommending the inclusion of Intelligent Design in high school biology courses (e.g., Dover, PA; Cecil County, MD, respectively); development of statewide lesson plans that encourage students to examine "weaknesses" in the theory of evolution (Ohio), and plans to revisit parts of state science standards that focus on evolution (Kansas State Board of Education). If these challenges have not yet reached where you live or work, they are likely to do so in time.
A federal judge recently ruled the Cobb County stickers to be unconstitutional and has ordered them removed from all textbooks; an appeal is pending. The courts will soon hear a lawsuit brought by the ACLU on behalf of parents in Dover County, PA about whether ID also is tantamount to promoting religion (for additional information about the various forms of "scientific creationism" and ID, see http://www.ncseweb.org/article.asp?category=8). However, these challenges continue unabated across our nation, and the New York Times and Education Week report that even where the controversy is not overt, teachers are quietly being urged to avoid teaching about evolution -- or have decided not to do so because it engenders so much rancor from a subgroup of students, parents, and members of the school board or local community. As a result, one of the foundations of modern science is being neglected or banished outright from science classrooms in many parts of the United States.
If your discipline is not the life sciences, you may be wondering why I have chosen to write to all members of the National Academy of Sciences. Although the controversy focuses primarily on biology, some who challenge the teaching of evolution in our nation's schools have also focused their sights on the earth and physical sciences. For example, when the Kansas Board of Education first removed portions of biological evolution from their science standards in 1998, they also eliminated statements mandating that Kansas students learn about the Big Bang, that there is overwhelming evidence that the earth is much older than 10,000 years, and the theory of plate tectonics. All of these items were returned to the Kansas standards following extensive pressure from many organizations, including a joint letter signed by me and the Presidents of AAAS and the National Science Teachers Association and the removal of several Board members during a subsequent election. But, as noted earlier, the Kansas Board of Education plans to re-examine their science standards because the 2004 election has again resulted in a majority who favor the inclusion of "alternatives to evolution" in the state's science curriculum.
The National Academies have been involved for many years in helping scientific colleagues, teachers, and concerned citizens in individual states and school districts respond. While these challenges have national implications for science and science education, they are typically viewed as local issues, and "meddling" from organizations in Washington, DC is often viewed with skepticism. As a result, when asked to assist, I have contacted NAS members who live in the state where a specific challenge is presented, enlisting their assistance through the writing of op-ed pieces, speaking at school board meetings and related activities. The NAS also has published three reports, two of which are specifically directed to science teachers to help them understand both evolutionary theory and the social controversies that surround its teaching. Descriptions of these reports and our efforts to confront challenges to the teaching of evolution are summarized in a recent article published in Cell Biology Education.
We stand ready to help others in addressing the increasingly strident attempts to limit the teaching of evolution or to introduct non-scientific "alternatives" into science courses and curricula. If this controversy arrives at your doorstep, I hope that you will both alert us to the specific issues in our state or school district and be willing to use your positon and prestige as a member of the NAS in helping to work locally. - March 4, 2005
NAS is comprised of approximately 2,000 members and 350 foreign associates, of whom more than 200 have won Nobel Prizes. Members and foreign associates of the Academy are elected in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research; election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded a scientist or engineer.
► AIBS - Position Statements: Biologists Speak Out Against Vote by Kansas Board of Education
August 09 2005
Washington, DC--The Kansas State Board of Education is doing a disservice to the state's K-12 students by adopting a curriculum that redefines science such that intelligent design/creationism and other non-scientific concepts could be taught in science classes.
On Tuesday the school board voted 6-4 to adopt science standards that question evolution, despite objections from a committee of scientists and educators tasked with writing the standards. The standards will now go through an external review panel before they become official, but observers expect the board to approve them in their current form this fall.
Members of the mainstream scientific research community maintain that there is no controversy about evolution, a unifying principle of biology. Concerned by increasing international competitiveness, they worry that students in Kansas and other areas will be unprepared to embark on careers in the biological sciences and other technical fields.
"If our students are going to compete in the global economy and if we are going to attract the next generation into the sciences, we must teach science," says Dr. Marvalee Wake, president of the American Institute of Biological Sciences. "We simply cannot begin to introduce non-scientific concepts into the science curriculum."
In March the committee on science standards issued a draft that defined science as "a human activity of systematically seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us." Members of the board responded by holding taxpayer-funded hearings on intelligent design--widely denounced in the media and scientific community--and subsequently changing the standards to remove the phrase "natural explanations." Critics worry that this opens the door to the inclusion of supernatural or religious ideas in science classes. The new standards also single out evolution as a controversial concept, mirroring the rhetoric of intelligent design proponents.
The majority of biologists utilize the theory of evolution in their work on a daily basis. The scientific method requires generating hypotheses, testing the hypotheses with data, and drawing conclusions based on the data; this is the practice of scientists, including evolutionary biologists. Intelligent design presumes complexity whose origins and pathways are not testable and that demand a "designer" to achieve. This approach is not scientific. A comparison of diverse approaches is amenable to philosophy or religion classes, but not those in science, in which our understanding of life's phenomena is increased through rigorous testing and analysis rather than assumptions.
"The theory of evolution underpins all of modern biology," says AIBS Executive Director Richard O'Grady. "When teachers are told to treat intelligent design as science, their students are not learning about the nature of science. Scientific theories can be tested; beliefs cannot."
AIBS was established as a national umbrella organization for the biological sciences in 1947 by 11 scientific societies as part of the National Academy of Sciences. An independent non-profit organization since 1954, it has grown to represent more than 80 professional societies and organizations with a combined membership exceeding 240,000 scientists and educators.
► ASCB - Letter regarding Intelligent Design to Ohio Gov. Taft
March 6, 2002
We write on behalf of the American Society for Cell Biology, a non-profit professional society of 10,000 basic biomedical research scientists in academia, industry, and government laboratories throughout the United States and the world. About 200 ASCB members are Ohioans.
We were pleased by the Ohio State Board of Education's decision to solicit an outside review of state science curriculum from educators and scientists. As scientists, we concur with the panel's recommendations that the teaching of the theory of evolution be part of the state curriculum guidelines, because we believe that a basic science education without a firm grounding in evolutionary concepts would leave the student ill-prepared for further study or a career in the life sciences.
For this reason, we are appalled by recent attempts to inject the teaching of "Intelligent Design" into Ohio science curriculum guidelines. "Intelligent Design" is nothing but thinly veiled "Creationism." It is not a scientific theory but a matter of faith, and it does not belong in a science curriculum. Darwin's theory of natural selection is a central unifying concept in modern biology. It enables scientists to explore and understand natural processes from ecology to molecular and cellular biology. Imposing the doctrine of "Intelligent Design" in the science classroom will compromise students' understanding of modern biology and leave them with devalued academic credentials. Justifying the teaching of "Intelligent Design" to Ohio's science students with an equal-time argument is foolish.
This is also an issue for Ohio's economic future. The American Society for Cell Biology calls upon Ohio's educational leaders to work with Governor Taft in his initiative to foster high-tech and biotech industry in the state. Promoting "Intelligent Design" in science classrooms would undermine Ohio's scientific credibility, tarnish its reputation in the global scientific community, and compromise the state's ability to attract scientists and scientific entrepreneurs.
We urge the State Board of Education to avoid this divisive, counterproductive, and ultimately pointless controversy. Evolutionary theory has an immense impact on everything from controlling antibiotic resistance to treating cancer, and provides a platform that helps scientists understand diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer's, and congestive heart failure. If the Ohio State Board of Education opens the doors of our science classrooms to theology, the uproar will only get louder and louder, damaging Ohio's reputation, its economy, and most of all, its children.
Respectfully,Paul Berg, Ph.D., Tom Egelhoff, Ph.D.
ASCB, since its founding, has grown to more than 11,000 members. Members are located throughout the United States and in 50 foreign countries.
► American Geophysical Union 2 August 2005 AGU Release No. 05-28 For Immediate Release
AGU: President Confuses Science and Belief, Puts Schoolchildren at Risk
WASHINGTON - "President Bush, in advocating that the concept of ?intelligent design' be taught alongside the theory of evolution, puts America's schoolchildren at risk," says Fred Spilhaus, Executive Director of the American Geophysical Union. "Americans will need basic understanding of science in order to participate effectively in the 21st century world. It is essential that students on every level learn what science is and how scientific knowledge progresses."
In comments to journalists on August 1, the President said that "both sides ought to be properly taught." "If he meant that intelligent design should be given equal standing with the theory of evolution in the nation's science classrooms, then he is undermining efforts to increase the understanding of science," Spilhaus said in a statement. "?Intelligent design' is not a scientific theory." Advocates of intelligent design believe that life on Earth is too complex to have evolved on its own and must therefore be the work of a designer. That is an untestable belief and, therefore, cannot qualify as a scientific theory."
"Scientific theories, like evolution, relativity and plate tectonics, are based on hypotheses that have survived extensive testing and repeated verification," Spilhaus says. "The President has unfortunately confused the difference between science and belief. It is essential that students understand that a scientific theory is not a belief, hunch, or untested hypothesis."
"Ideas that are based on faith, including ?intelligent design,' operate in a different sphere and should not be confused with science. Outside the sphere of their laboratories and science classrooms, scientists and students alike may believe what they choose about the origins of life, but inside that sphere, they are bound by the scientific method," Spilhaus said.
AGU is a scientific society, comprising 43,000 Earth and space scientists. It publishes a dozen peer reviewed journal series and holds meetings at which current research is presented to the scientific community and the public.
► American Association of University Professors
The theory of evolution is all but universally accepted in the community of scholars and has contributed immeasurably to our understanding of the natural world. The Ninety-first Annual Meeting of the American Association of University Professors deplores efforts in local communities and by some state legislators to require teachers in public schools to treat evolution as merely a hypothesis or speculation, untested and unsubstantiated by the methods of science, and to require them to make students aware of an "intelligent-design hypothesis" to account for the origins of life. These initiatives not only violate the academic freedom of public school teachers, but can deny students an understanding of the overwhelming scientific consensus regarding evolution.
The implications of these efforts for higher education are particularly troubling to this Meeting. To the degree that college and university faculty in the field of biology would be required to offer instruction about evolution and the origins of life that complied with these restrictions and was at variance with their own understanding of scientific evidence, their freedom to determine what may be taught and how would be seriously abridged.
This Meeting calls on local communities and state officials to reject proposals that seek to suppress discussion of evolution in our public schools as inimical to principles of academic freedom.
AAUP membership […] is open to all faculty, librarians, and academic professionals at two- and four-year accredited public and private colleges and universities. Current membership is about 45,000, with over 500 local campus chapters and 39 state organizations. Leadership is provided by bi-annually elected national officers drawn from colleges and universities throughout the country.
► Society for Neuroscience - Statement on Evolution and Intelligent Design
Recognizing that the theory of Evolution is the fundamental scientific theory or cornerstone that helps us to understand and study the origins and diversity of living organisms, the Society for Neuroscience supports teaching evolution in science classrooms, and opposes the assertion that Intelligent Design Theory (ID) is a valid scientific alternative.
The debate in America surrounding the teaching of Evolution in science classrooms began with the Creationist claim that the Darwinian concept of natural selection was incorrect, despite the overwhelming scientific evidence in support of it. Creationism, a theory attempting to explain origins of life through supernatural causes, as opposed to scientific ones, failed. Intelligent Design, a revised Creationist effort to claim scientific legitimacy, purports to present a highly disputed philosophical theory as valid scientific theory. Differing from Creationism, ID is not directly supernaturally based. Intelligent design cites, as one of its core principles, “intelligent causes” as the explanation of the complexity of biological structures. Attempting to become credible in the face of Creationism’s failure, ID is devoid of potential to create sound scientific results and explanations. Therefore, it would, as its proponents intend, subserve the goals of the Creationist effort.
The theory of Evolution serves as the basis for the biological sciences’ understanding of the origins and diversity of all living organisms and is accepted with remarkable consensus in the scientific community. It explains and supports findings in scientific areas ranging from botany to zoology and embryology to neuroscience. Additional support is found within independent scientific sources such as archaeology and molecular biology. Though scientists can differ regarding certain aspects of Evolution, the differences constitute testable hypotheses. Thus, SfN believes that teaching Evolution is an essential component of modern science education. K-12 science education based on anything other than tested and accepted scientific theory is counterproductive to the education of America’s youth.
For these reasons, the Society for Neuroscience categorically opposes the teaching of ID in science classrooms. Further, the Society for Neuroscience emphatically supports the teaching of Evolutionary theory, as it is necessary for a valuable scientific education and for understanding of the diversity and origin of all living organisms.
SfN is a nonprofit membership organization of basic scientists and physicians who study the brain and nervous system. […] Recognizing the tremendous potential for the study of the brain and nervous system as a separate field, the Society was formed in 1970. It has grown from 500 members to more than 36,000 and is the world's largest organization of scientists devoted to the study of the brain.
► American Astronomical Society Open Letter to President Bush
Dear Mr. President,
As President of the American Astronomical Society, I was very disappointed by the comments attributed to you in an article in the August 2nd, 2005 Washington Post regarding intelligent design. While we agree that “part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought”, intelligent design has neither scientific evidence to support it nor an educational basis for teaching it as science. Your science adviser, John H Marburger III correctly commented that “intelligent design is not a scientific concept.”
Scientific theories are coherent, are based on careful experiments and observations of nature that are repeatedly tested and verified. They aren’t just opinions or guesses. Gravity, relativity, plate tectonics and evolution are all theories that explain the physical universe in which we live. What makes scientific theories so powerful is that they account for the facts we know and make new predictions that we can test. The most exciting thing for a scientist is to find new evidence that shows old ideas are wrong. That’s how science progresses. It is the opposite of a dogma that can’t be shown wrong. “Intelligent design” is not so bold as to make predictions or subject itself to a test. There’s no way to find out if it is right or wrong. It isn’t part of science.
We agree with you that “scientific critiques of any theory should be a normal part of the science curriculum,” but intelligent design has no place in science classes because it is not a “scientific critique.” It is a philosophical statement that some things about the physical world are beyond scientific understanding. Most scientists are quite optimistic that our understanding will grow, and things that seem mysterious today will still be wonderful when they are within our understanding tomorrow. Scientists see gaps in our present knowledge as opportunities for research, not as a cause to give up searching for an answer by invoking the intervention of a God-like intelligent designer.
The schools of our nation have a tough job—and there is no part of their task that is more important than science education. It doesn’t help to mix in religious ideas like “intelligent design” with the job of understanding what the world is and how it works. It’s hard enough to keep straight how Newton’s Laws work in the Solar System or to understand the mechanisms of human heredity without adding in this confusing and non-scientific agenda. It would be a lot more helpful if you would advocate good science teaching and the importance of scientific understanding for a strong and thriving America. “Intelligent design” isn’t even part of science – it is a religious idea that doesn’t have a place in the science curriculum.
Sincerely, Robert P. Kirshner, President, American Astronomical Society
AAS, established 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. The basic objective of the AAS is to promote the advancement of astronomy and closely related branches of science. The membership (~6,500) also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising contemporary astronomy.
► American Society of Agronomy (ASA), the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA)
Scientific societies support teaching evolution
ASA-CSSA-SSSA executive committees opposes President's support of intelligent design in position statement
MADISON, WI, AUGUST 15, 2005 – The 2005 Executive Committees of the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) are concerned by President Bush's support for teaching intelligent design alongside evolution in K-12 science classes. They have prepared the following:
In Support of Teaching Evolution
Position Statement by the Executive Committees of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, adopted August 11, 2005
Intelligent design is not a scientific discipline and should not be taught as part of the K-12 science curriculum. Intelligent design has neither the substantial research base, nor the testable hypotheses as a scientific discipline. There are at least 70 resolutions from a broad array of scientific societies and institutions that are united on this matter. As early as 2002, the Board of Directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) unanimously passed a resolution critical of teaching intelligent design in public schools.
The intelligent design/creationist movement has adopted the lamentable strategy of asking our science teachers to "teach the controversy" in science curriculums, as if there were a significant debate among biologists about whether evolution underpins the abundant complexity of the biological world. We believe there is no such controversy.
The fundamental tenet of evolution -– descent with modification -– is accepted by the vast majority of biologists. The current debates within the research community deal with the patterns and processes of evolution, not whether the evolutionary principles presented by Darwin in 1859 hold true. These debates are similar to those surrounding the relativistic nature of gravitational waves. No one doubts the existence of gravity just because we are still learning how it works; evolution is on an equally strong footing.
The discussion of life's spirituality is most appropriate for philosophy or religion classes. It is a mistake to conclude that reluctance to incorporate spiritual questions in science classes runs counter to the cherished principle that vigorous challenge is vital to the scientific method.
In all scientific fields, including evolutionary biology, challenge has always been essential and welcomed. Scientific challenge succeeds if it is methodical and findings are verified to the satisfaction of the scientific community. This has not happened with creationism either with or without its new label "intelligent design." President Bush, by suggesting that we use intelligent design as a scientific counterpoint to the teaching of evolutionary biology, is unwittingly undermining the scientific method at its core. This is most unfortunate in an era when U.S. students are already lagging behind their international peers in science education.
This Position Statement is an expression of the official position taken by the 2005 Executive Committees of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America on the issue of evolution. This statement serves to summarize the scientific aspects of this issue and serves as official viewpoint of the 2005 ASA-CSSA-SSSA Executive Committees that can be shared with others.
ASA, CSSA and SSSA are educational organizations helping their 10,000+ members advance the disciplines and practices of agronomy, crop and soil sciences by supporting professional growth and science policy initiatives, and by providing quality, research-based publications and a variety of member services.
► National Science Teachers Association Position Statement
The Teaching of Evolution
The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) strongly supports the position that evolution is a major unifying concept in science and should be included in the K-12 science education frameworks and curricula. Furthermore, if evolution is not taught, students will not achieve the level of scientific literacy they need. This position is consistent with that of the National Academies, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and many other scientific and educational organizations.
NSTA also recognizes that evolution has not been emphasized in science curricula in a manner commensurate to its importance because of official policies, intimidation of science teachers, the general public's misunderstanding of evolutionary theory, and a century of controversy. In addition, teachers are being pressured to introduce creationism, "creation science," and other nonscientific views, which are intended to weaken or eliminate the teaching of evolution.
Within this context, NSTA recommends that
· Science curricula, state science standards, and teachers should emphasize evolution in a manner commensurate with its importance as a unifying concept in science and its overall explanatory power.
· Science teachers should not advocate any religious interpretations of nature and should be nonjudgmental about the personal beliefs of students.
· Policy makers and administrators should not mandate policies requiring the teaching of "creation science" or related concepts, such as so-called "intelligent design," "abrupt appearance," and "arguments against evolution." Administrators also should support teachers against pressure to promote nonscientific views or to diminish or eliminate the study of evolution.
· Administrators and school boards should provide support to teachers as they review, adopt, and implement curricula that emphasize evolution. This should include professional development to assist teachers in teaching evolution in a comprehensive and professional manner.
· Parental and community involvement in establishing the goals of science education and the curriculum development process should be encouraged and nurtured in our democratic society. However, the professional responsibility of science teachers and curriculum specialists to provide students with quality science education should not be compromised by censorship, pseudoscience, inconsistencies, faulty scholarship, or unconstitutional mandates.
· Science textbooks shall emphasize evolution as a unifying concept. Publishers should not be required or volunteer to include disclaimers in textbooks that distort or misrepresent the methodology of science and the current body of knowledge concerning the nature and study of evolution.
--Adopted by the NSTA Board of Directors, July 2003
NSTA, founded in 1944 and headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, is the largest organization in the world committed to promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all. NSTA's current membership of more than 55,000 includes science teachers, science supervisors, administrators, scientists, business and industry representatives, and others involved in and committed to science education.
► American Association of Physics Teachers Statement on the Teaching of Evolution and Cosmology
The Executive Board of the American Association of Physics Teachers is dismayed at organized actions to weaken and even to eliminate significant portions of evolution and cosmology from the educational objectives of states and school districts.
Evolution and cosmology represent two of the unifying concepts of modern science. There are few scientific theories more firmly supported by observations than these: Biological evolution has occurred and new species have arisen over time, life on Earth originated more than a billion years ago, and most stars are at least several billion years old. Overwhelming evidence comes from diverse sources - the structure and function of DNA, geological analysis of rocks, paleontological studies of fossils, telescopic observations of distant stars and galaxies - and no serious scientist questions these claims. We do our children a grave disservice if we remove from their education an exposure to firm scientific evidence supporting principles that significantly shape our understanding of the world in which we live.
No scientific theory, no matter how strongly supported by available evidence, is final and unchallengeable; any good theory is always exposed to the possibility of being modified or even overthrown by new evidence. That is at the very heart of the process of science. However, biological and cosmological evolution are theories as strongly supported and interwoven into the fabric of science as any other essential underpinnings of modern science and technology. To deny children exposure to the evidence in support of biological and cosmological evolution is akin to allowing them to believe that atoms do not exist or that the Sun goes around the Earth.
We believe in teaching that science is a process that examines all of the evidence relevant to an issue and tests alternative hypotheses. For this reason, we do not endorse teaching the "evidence against evolution," because currently no such scientific evidence exists. Nor can we condone teaching "scientific creationism," "intelligent design," or other non-scientific viewpoints as valid scientific theories. These beliefs ignore the important connections among empirical data and fail to provide testable hypotheses. They should not be a part of the science curriculum.
School boards, teachers, parents, and lawmakers have a responsibility to ensure that all children receive a good education in science. The American Association of Physics Teachers opposes all efforts to require or promote teaching creationism or any other non-scientific viewpoints in a science course. AAPT supports the National Science Education Standards, which incorporate the process of science and well-established scientific theories including cosmological and biological evolution.
This statement was adopted by the Executive Board of the American Association of Physics Teachers on April 24, 2005.
AAPT was established in 1930 with the fundamental goal of ensuring the "dissemination of knowledge of physics, particularly by way of teaching." The Association currently has over 11,000 members in 30 countries around the world.
► California Science Teachers Association
Policy Statement on the Teaching of Evolution
Adopted December 7, 2002
Our planet is billions of years old, and life has existed on it for a large part of that time. Through the eons, the Earth and its life have changed in an unending procession of new forms and vistas. This history and the mechanisms that bring about these changes are what is known as evolution.
Evolution occurred in the past and is still occurring today. To fully appreciate and acquire an understanding of life on Earth, one must know a great deal about present-day forms and their history. For this reason, evolution is a necessary part of everyone’s education. It makes as little sense for a biology teacher to present life on Earth as a collection of static entities as it would for a social studies teacher to present civics and geography without their historical contexts.
Biological evolution refers to the scientific understanding that living things share ancestors from which they have diverged — descent with modification. It is the consensus of the scientific community that evolutionary theory best explains the history of life and accounts for the similarities among living things, as well as life’s diversity. As living communities profoundly affect the composition of Earth’s atmosphere, weather, soils, and temperature, evolutionary theory also explains many features of the physical world in which we live. Evolutionary biology also contributes to society in more practical ways, including increased understanding of drug resistance by human pathogens, alternatives to pest controls, use of fossil fuels, and conservation.
Teaching evolution in our science classrooms is essential. As noted in Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science, issued by the National Academy of Sciences, “Evolution pervades all biological phenomena. To ignore that it occurred or to classify it as a form of dogma is to deprive the student of the most fundamental organizational concept in the biological sciences.” Evolution is identified as a unifying principle in the National Science Education Standards and is integral to the California Science Content Standards. The California Science Teachers Association endorses the teaching of evolution at all levels of our students’ education. Furthermore, we do not endorse teaching the “evidence against evolution,” as there is no scientific evidence that evolution has not occurred. Nor can we condone teaching “scientific creationism,” “intelligent design,” or other non-scientific explanations as valid scientific theories. These beliefs ignore empirical data and fail to provide testable hypotheses. They should not be a part of the science curriculum.
CSTA represents science educators statewide - in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.
► The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity - The Nobel Laureates Initiative
September 9, 2005
TO: Kansas State Board of Education
We, Nobel Laureates, are writing in defense of science. We reject efforts by the proponents of so-called “intelligent design” to politicize scientific inquiry and urge the Kansas State Board of Education to maintain Darwinian evolution as the sole curriculum and science standard in the State of Kansas.
The United States has come a long way since John T. Scopes was convicted for teaching the theory of evolution 80 years ago. We are, therefore, troubled that Darwinism was described as “dangerous dogma” at one of your hearings. We are also concerned by the Board’s recommendation of August 8, 2005 to allow standards that include greater criticism of evolution.
Logically derived from confirmable evidence, evolution is understood to be the result of an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection. As the foundation of modern biology, its indispensable role has been further strengthened by the capacity to study DNA. In contrast, intelligent design is fundamentally unscientific; it cannot be tested as scientific theory because its central conclusion is based on belief in the intervention of a supernatural agent.
Differences exist between scientific and spiritual world views, but there is no need to blur the distinction between the two. Nor is there need for conflict between the theory of evolution and religious faith. Science and faith are not mutually exclusive. Neither should feel threatened by the other.
When it meets in October, 2005, we urge the Kansas State Board of Education to vote against the latest draft of standards, which propose including intelligent design in academic curriculum.
Sincerely, 38 Nobel Laureates - (click for list)
► Statement from Missouri scientists and educators
Missouri House Bill 911 wants to change education statutes to mandate the teaching of "intelligent design" creationism alongside Darwinian evolution in public school science classes. Missourians of all persuasions should reject this attempt to force non-science into the science curriculum.
Proponents of intelligent design advertise it as an "alternative" to biological evolution. Advocates of HB911 frame their argument in terms of fairness, pointing out it is necessary to teach all sides of a controversy. If the controversy about Darwinian evolution vs. intelligent design were truly scientific, we would enthusiastically support its inclusion in the curriculum. As educators, we know one of the best ways to engage students in studying science is to present them with an unsolved problem. Look at how the search for evidence of past life on Mars excites students at all levels.
Intelligent design, however, isn’t science. The characteristics of science that are accepted in U.S. law derive from a 1982 court decision, McLean vs. Arkansas Board of Education.
The essential characteristics of science are:
● It is guided by natural - physical or biological - law.
● It has to be explanatory by reference to natural law.
● It is testable against the empirical world.
● Its conclusions are tentative, i.e. are not necessarily the final word.
● It is falsifiable - or, more accurately, makes predictions that can be tested by observation.
Intelligent design doesn’t meet these tests because it is a philosophical or theological perspective, not a scientific one. A Berkeley law professor, Phillip Johnson, started the intelligent design movement. As Johnson’s own writings assert, anti-evolution is a "wedge" to get religious "values" inserted into the public school curriculum. Thus, the motivation behind intelligent design has nothing to do with advancing science.
Even without considering their motives, intelligent design proponents haven’t shown that there is anything in it that meets the criteria for being judged as science. Intelligent design advocates presuppose the existence of a designer and then try to debunk existing data; science works the other way around. The designer explicitly does not follow the known processes of physics or chemistry, so it is neither guided by nor can it explain things by referring to physical or biological law. Intelligent design fails to make predictions that we can test by observation or experiment. What if we found alien bacterial life on the moons of Jupiter? Would that be evidence for or against multiple instances of design?
The court left out the final, and for scientists definitive, test of whether something is science. An idea is judged first by whether it leads to new experiments or observations that make sense in light of the idea. Any theory or hypothesis, no matter how attractive, is discarded if it doesn’t prove useful in this sense.
Johnson started his wedge strategy more than a dozen years ago, and the intelligent design advocates have published numerous books, position papers, essays and so on. In all that output, however, there has not been a single peer-reviewed paper in a scientific journal that uses intelligent design as a guide to a new experimental result or observation. To the contrary, a number of claims made by the intelligent design advocates have been tested scientifically - and they haven’t held up. We are forced to conclude that intelligent design, despite all the publicity, hasn’t contributed anything to the physical or biological sciences and therefore has no place in the public school science classroom.
By contrast, evolution through natural selection has been tested ever since Darwin proposed it. Its principles and predictions fit with our observations of the contemporary and ancient natural world. We see examples of natural selection operating at molecular, organismal and species levels at the present time. Practically, we use evolution every day: to help select drug molecules, to follow the development of new species, to explore Earth and other planets, to develop new computer algorithms and to understand the human genome. It remains a vital and exciting area of science.
Missourians are working to build life sciences for the economic development of our state. We hope to discover new crops to feed the world, new medicines to comfort our lives and new materials that are more efficient and environmentally friendly than what we have now. Our state has important advantages in this effort: a central location, commitment and cooperation across the region and strong educational institutions. Let’s not throw these advantages away by undermining the science education of our young people.
After all, we expect them to lead the way.
The preceding statement was published Tuesday, February 17, 2004 with the endorsement of more than 250 Missouri scientists and science educators, including 96 from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
► Letter to Ohio Board of Education
Dear [Ohio Board Member]:
As leaders of scientific organizations with over 2,790 members in Ohio, and 130,000 members nationally, we write to urge all members of the Ohio Board of Education to use accepted peer-reviewed science and pedagogical expertise as the board prepares to adopt state-approved lesson plans. Such a process leads to a strong curriculum of the highest quality, accuracy, and pedagogical appropriateness.
We write to you now as you cast a final vote for state-approved lesson plans upon which proficiency tests will be based. Please do not approve any lesson plans that require students to compare the well-accepted science of evolution with the dubious hypothesis of Intelligent Design creationism. Intelligent Design is a system of religious beliefs, not a scientific theory. Religious doctrine –in any guise– does not belong in science classrooms.
At a time when our nation's welfare increasingly depends on technology, it has never been more important for students --our future workforce-- to understand the basic ideas of modern science. In science, evolution has survived extensive testing and repeated verification; it is not a belief, a hunch, or an untested hypothesis. Any dilution of the overwhelming scientific evidence for evolution should sound an alarm to every parent and teacher.
We urge you to support strong peer-reviewed science in Ohio science classrooms and to make sure those standards are complete. Your diligence will ensure that Ohio students will be better equipped for higher education and the workplace.
Signed by officials of the American Institute of Physics, the American Physical Society, the American Geophysical Union, the Optical Society of America, the American Astronomical Society, and the Society of Physics Students.
[I've no doubt this can only be considered a partial list. If anyone comes across statements from other science organizations that could be added here please post a link in the comments or send it to my email.]