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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2008/10/31

(By NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch:)

Dear friends of NCSE,

The author of The Devil in Dover is interviewed by the San Francisco
Chronicle, while a recent talk by NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott on science
education is now available on-line.  And a recent survey among Eastern
Orthodox laity in the United States provides interesting data on their
attitudes toward creationism and evolution.


In San Francisco for a speaking tour, Lauri Lebo, who reported on the
Kitzmiller v. Dover case for the York Daily Record and then wrote The
Devil in Dover:  An Insider's Story of Dogma v. Darwin in Small-Town
America (The New Press, 2008), was interviewed by the San Francisco
Chronicle's Nanette Asimov, with the result appearing both in the
newspaper (October 31, 2008) and on its podcast.  Discussing the genesis
of the case, Lebo explained that at first, the creationists on the Dover
Area School Board "had been talking about creationism.  They said the
Earth is 6,000 years old. They believe man walked with dinosaurs.  They
also knew they could not push God into science class.  They needed
something a little sneakier.  This is what intelligent design was."
"Intelligent design" itself she described as "revamped creationism, the
idea that life is so complex that it demands a guiding hand."

A lawsuit eventuated, of course, in which NCSE aided the legal team for
the plaintiffs and in which three members of NCSE's board of directors,
Brian Alters, Barbara Forrest, and Kevin Padian, served as expert
witnesses.  In his verdict, as Lebo explains, the judge "said not only
that the board members lied, he chided the 'breathtaking inanity' of what
the board had done in trying to push their religious views into science
class.  The big question was:  Would he also rule that intelligent design
was not science?  And that is what he did."  Asked to assess the impact of
the decision, Lebo said, "It only affects Dover.  However, outside Dover,
a lot of districts have been paying attention.  Ohio took their
intelligent-design-friendly curriculum guidelines out.  This cost Dover
taxpayers $1 million. So districts are paying heed.  However, this battle
is not over.  We're seeing big challenges in Texas and Louisiana -- and we
expect other ones under the guise of academic freedom."

For the Chronicle's interview with Lebo, visit:

For the Chronicle's podcast with Lebo, visit:

For information about The Devil in Dover, visit:

And for information about Kitzmiller v. Dover, visit:


NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott spoke on science education at
the Innovation 2008 conference, and video of her talk is now available
on-line.  The session in which she participated, entitled "Renewing
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education," was introduced as
"American students have slipped to 17th in science and 24th in math
compared to students in other countries.  We need to ensure [that]
students graduate with the science and technology skills for success in
the work force and with the science literacy needed for an active role as
citizens in a technologically sophisticated democracy.  Policy leaders and
educators will look at these trends and discuss strategies to renew
American STEM education."  Drawing on her experience at NCSE in defending
the integrity of science education , Scott offered a series of
recommendations for improving the quality of STEM education in the United
States.  The conference, which took place October 20 and 21, 2008, was
sponsored by Science Debate 2008 and the Center for Science, Technology,
and Public Policy at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute.

For Scott's talk (from 7:40 to 27:15), visit:


A recent survey among Eastern Orthodox laity in the United States provides
interesting data on their attitudes toward creationism and evolution.
According to the report, published as Alexei D. Krindatch, The Orthodox
Church Today (Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute, 2008), the survey
was conducted from September 2007 to May 2008.  Information was gathered
by a mail survey of a nationally representative sample of lay members of
the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America (GOA) and the Orthodox
Church in America (OCA), the two largest Orthodox denominations in the
United States.  There were nearly 1000 respondents from 103 parishes.

Two relevant questions were included in the survey.  First, respondents
were asked, "Would you generally favor or oppose teaching creationism
instead of evolution in public schools?"  Krindatch writes, "American
Orthodox laity (GOA and OCA alike) are divided in three almost equal
groups:  those who favor teaching creationism instead of evolution in
American public schools (33%), those who reject this idea (35%) and those
who are unable to take one or [another] stand on this matter (32%)" (p.
151).  College graduates and those who described their theological stance
as "moderate" or "liberal" (as opposed to "traditional" or "conservative")
were more likely to oppose teaching creationism instead of evolution.

Second, respondents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the
statement, "Evolutionary theory is compatible with the idea of God as
Creator."  Krindatch writes, "the American Orthodox laity are deeply
divided among themselves in their approach to the compatibility of
evolutionism and creationism.  Almost equal proportions of our respondents
either agreed (41%) or disagreed (38%) with the statement ... Further,
more than one-fifth (21%) of parishioners were unable to evaluate this
statement and said that they are '[n]eutral or unsure'" (p. 152).  College
graduates, converts to Orthodoxy, and those who described their
theological stance as "moderate" or "liberal" (as opposed to "traditional"
or "conservative") were more likely to agree.

For The Orthodox Church Today (PDF), visit:


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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

Not in Our Classrooms:  Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong for Our Schools

Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism

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