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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2010/06/04

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

Two antievolution bills in the South Carolina legislature are dead; a
new survey suggests that a quarter of Americans don't agree that the
universe is about 13.7 billion years old; and NCSE's Joshua Rosenau
reviews a book for the Washington Post


Two antievolution bills, Senate Bill 873 and Senate Bill 875, died in
committee when the South Carolina legislature adjourned on June 3,
2010. Both bills were introduced on May 21, 2009, and referred to the
Senate Education Committee, where they apparently never received a
hearing. Both bills were sponsored by Senator Michael Fair (R-District
6), who spearheaded a number of previous antievolution efforts in
South Carolina. With respect to his 2003 attempt to establish a
committee to "determine whether alternatives to evolution as the
origin of species should be offered in schools," the Greenville News
(May 1, 2003) reported that Fair "said his intention is to show that
Intelligent Design is a viable scientific alternative that should be
taught in the public schools."

A version of the "academic freedom" antievolution bill, S. 875
provided, "Teachers must be permitted to help students understand,
analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific
strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to
the course. ... School governing authorities including, but not
limited to, school and district superintendents, principals, and
administrators, may not prohibit a teacher in a public school in this
State from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review
in an objective manner the scientific strengths and weaknesses of
existing scientific theories pertinent to the course." Since 2004,
thirty-two "academic freedom" antievolution bills have been
introduced; all but one, Louisiana's SB 561/733, failed to pass.

S. 873, however, was apparently unique. If enacted, it would have
required the state board of education to "examine all curriculum in
use in this State that purports to teach students about the origins of
mankind to determine whether the curriculum maintains neutrality
toward religion." The bill further provided, "Related to non-religion,
the examination must include a review as to whether the curriculum
contains a sense of affirmatively opposing or showing hostility to
religion, thus preferring those who believe in no religion over those
who hold religious beliefs." If the review revealed that a curriculum
is not religiously neutral, then the bill would have required that
"the offending curriculum must be revised or replaced as soon as

For the text of S. 873 and S. 873, visit: 

For NCSE's coverage of Louisiana's SB 561/733, visit: 

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


A new poll commissioned by Daily Kos included a question on the origin
of the universe. Asked "[m]ost astronomers believe the universe formed
about 13.7 billion years ago in a massive event called the Big Bang.
Do you think that's about right or do [you] think the universe was
created much more recently," 62% of respondents in the United States
indicated their acceptance of the 13.7-billion-year figure, while 25%
indicated that the universe was created much more recently, and 13%
were not sure.

Women were more likely than men to accept the 13.7-billion-year figure
(64% versus 60%), Democrats more likely than independents, and
independents more likely than Republicans (71%, 66%, and 44%,
respectively), blacks and Latinos more likely than whites (75%, 73%,
and 58%, respectively), and people in the northeast, west, and midwest
more likely than people in the south (72%, 69%, 64%, and 48%,
respectively). Younger respondents were more likely to accept it than
older respondents.

According to the methodology section of the report, "[t]he Daily Kos
weekly National Poll was conducted by Research 2000 May 24 through May
27, 2010. A total of 1200 registered voters nationally were
interviewed by telephone. A cross-section of calls was made into each
state in the country in order to reflect the registered voting
population nationally. The margin for error, according to standards
customarily used by statisticians, is no more than plus or minus 2.8%
percentage points."

For the report, visit: 

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


NCSE's Joshua Rosenau reviewed Elaine Howard Ecklund's Science vs.
Religion: What Scientists Really Think (Oxford University Press, 2010)
for the Washington Post (May 30, 2010). "Americans are almost evenly
divided between those who feel science conflicts with religion and
those who don't. Both sides have scientific backers," Rosenau
explains. "Ecklund offers a fresh perspective on this debate ...
Rather than offering another polemic, she builds on a detailed survey
of almost 1,700 scientists at elite American research universities --
the most comprehensive such study to date." He concludes, "For
Ecklund, the bottom line is recognizing and tolerating religious
diversity, honestly discussing science's scope and limits, and openly
exploring the disputed borders between scientific skepticism and
religious faith."

For Rosenau's review, 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 x310
fax: 510-601-7204

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