NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2011/09/09
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, A new poll on evolution and creationism; a voice for evolution from Oregon; and sad news from Kansas of the death of Niall Shanks.
A NEW FOX NEWS POLL ON EVOLUTION A recent Fox News poll (September 7, 2011) included a question about evolution and creationism. Respondents were asked, "Which do you think is more likely to actually be the explanation for the origin of human life on Earth: the theory of evolution as outlined by Darwin and other scientists, the Biblical account of creation as told in the Bible, or are both true?" The theory of evolution was favored by 21% of respondents, the Biblical account of creation was favored by 45%, the combination answer by 27%, and 7% of respondents said that they didn't know. Evolution was more popular among Democrats than Republicans (28% to 13%), men than women (24% to 19%), college graduates than non-college-graduates (28% to 16%), the affluent than the non-affluent (28% to 15%), and liberals to conservatives (37% to 11%). In results from 1999, the theory of evolution was favored by 15%, the Biblical account of creation by 50%, the combination answer by 26%, and 9% of respondents said that they didn't know. The poll was conducted by telephone among 911 registered voters from August 29 to August 31, 2011; results based on the full sample have a margin of error of +/- 3%. For details of the poll, visit: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/09/07/fox-news-poll-creationism/ For NCSE's collection of polls and surveys, visit: http://ncse.com/creationism/polls-surveys A VOICE FOR EVOLUTION FROM OREGON The chorus of support for the teaching of evolution continues, with a statement on "Evolution, Creationism, Intelligent Design" from the Oregon Department of Education issued in 2007. The statement explains, "The Oregon Science Content Standards adopted in April of 2001 clearly require the teaching of evolution" (as do the standards subsequently adopted in 2009). With respect to creationism, the statement quotes from the 1995 document "Religion in the Public Schools: A Joint Statement of Current Law": *** Schools may teach about explanations of life on earth, including religious ones (such as "creationism"), in comparative religion or social studies classes. In science class, however, they may present only genuinely scientific critiques of, or evidence for, any explanation of life on earth, but not religious critiques (beliefs unverifiable by scientific methodology). Schools may not refuse to teach evolutionary theory in order to avoid giving offense to religion nor may they circumvent these rules by labeling as science an article of religious faith. Public schools must not teach as scientific fact or theory any religious doctrine, including "creationism," although any genuinely scientific evidence for or against any explanation of life may be taught. Just as they may neither advance nor inhibit any religious doctrine, teachers should not ridicule, for example, a student's religious explanation for life on earth. *** ("Religion in the Public Schools" was endorsed as providing a correct statement of current law governing religion in the public schools by a wide variety of organizations, from the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State to the Christian Legal Society and the National Association of Evangelicals.) The department's statement is now reproduced, by permission, on NCSE's website, and will also be contained in the fourth edition of NCSE's Voices for Evolution. For the statement, visit: http://www.ode.state.or.us/news/announcements/announcement.aspx?=2588 For Voices for Evolution, visit: http://ncse.com/voices NIALL SHANKS DIES The philosopher of science Niall Shanks died on July 13, 2011, at the age of 52, according to the Wichita State University Department of History. Born in Cheshire, England, on January 18, 1959, Shanks received his B.A. in philosophy from the University of Leeds in 1979, a M.Phil. in philosophy from the University of Liverpool in 1981, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Alberta in 1987. He was a member of the Department of Philosophy at Eastern Tennessee State University, where he also held positions in the Department of Biological Sciences and the Department of Physics and Astronomy. In 2005, he became the Curtis D. Gridley Distinguished Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at Wichita State University. He served as the president of the Southwestern and Rocky Mountain Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2008-2009. Initially focused on the philosophical foundations of quantum mechanics, he became interested in evolutionary biology and its implications for biomedical research, writing (with Hugh LaFollette) Brute Science: The Dilemmas of Animal Experimentation (Routledge 1996) and Animals and Science: A Guide to the Debates (ABC-Clio 2002). Shanks was also profoundly concerned with creationism. In addition to his book God, the Devil, and Darwin: A Critique of Intelligent Design Theory (Oxford University Press 2004), which Richard Dawkins described, in his foreword, as "a shrewd broadside in what will, I fear, be a lengthy campaign," Shanks (often with collaborators) criticized creationism in scholarly and popular journals including Philosophy of Science, Metascience, Synthese, Philo, Free Inquiry, and Reports of the NCSE as well as in a contribution to Why Intelligent Design Fails (Rutgers University Press, 2004). His concern was not only academic, though: in 1996, when Tennessee's legislature was considering a bill that would have provided for the suspension or dismissal of any teacher who taught evolution as a fact rather than a theory, Shanks became politically active. He was also not averse to debating creationists, having tangled with the Institute for Creation Research's Duane Gish and the Discovery Institute's William A. Dembski and Paul Nelson. "Not debating people is a very dangerous tactic," he told the Lawrence Journal-World (July 25, 2005), which was reporting on his move to Kansas. "Then they go unchallenged." For the obituary from the WSU Department of History, visit: http://webs.wichita.edu/?u=history&p=/index For information about God, the Devil, and Darwin, visit: http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/Philosophy/Science/?view=usa&ci=9780195322378 For articles by Shanks in Free Inquiry and Reports of the NCSE, visit: http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=library&page=shanks_21_4 http://ncse.com/rncse/20/1-2/mousetraps-men-behe-biochemistry For information about Why Intelligent Design Fails, visit: http://rutgerspress.rutgers.edu/acatalog/____1147.html For Shanks's debates with Dembski and Nelson (MP3 download), visit: http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/181776-2 http://220.127.116.11/JusticeTalking/MP3/050905_IDesign.MP3 For the Lawrence Journal-World's article, visit: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2005/jul/25/prominent_defender_evolution_joins_wichita_state_u/ Thanks for reading. And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- http://ncse.com -- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org http://ncse.com Read Reports of the NCSE on-line: http://reports.ncse.com Subscribe to NCSE's free weekly e-newsletter: http://groups.google.com/group/ncse-news NCSE is on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter: http://www.facebook.com/evolution.ncse http://www.youtube.com/NatCen4ScienceEd http://twitter.com/ncse NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today! http://ncse.com/join