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.
THE DEVIL IN DOVER: INTERVIEW AND PODCAST 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: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/10/29/DD7313JL18.DTL For the Chronicle's podcast with Lebo, visit: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sfgate/detail?blogid=5&entry_id=32059 For information about The Devil in Dover, visit: http://laurilebo.com/dp/ And for information about Kitzmiller v. Dover, visit: http://ncseweb.org/creationism/legal/intelligent-design-trial-kitzmiller-v-dover NCSE'S SCOTT AT INNOVATION 2008 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: http://www.sciencedebate2008.com/www/index.php?id=48 CREATIONISM/EVOLUTION AMONG EASTERN ORTHODOX LAITY 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: http://www.orthodoxinstitute.org/files/OrthChurchFullReport.pdf REMINDER If you wish to unsubscribe to these evolution education updates, please send: unsubscribe ncse-news email@example.com in the body of an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish to subscribe, please send: subscribe ncse-news email@example.com again in the body of an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading! And as always, be sure to consult NCSE's web site: http://www.ncseweb.org 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 email@example.com http://www.ncseweb.org Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong for Our Schools http://www.ncseweb.org/nioc Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism http://www.ncseweb.org/evc NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today! http://www.ncseweb.org/membership