- THE LENS PROJECT -
Nature of Science
Michigan State University
Dr. Robert T. Pennock
Creationist Attacks | Defending
Science from ID
| Evolution Teaching Resources | Student
Projects | LENS in Michigan | Contact
• The American Association for the Advancement
of Science (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".
From the AAAS Resolution regarding
This page began in 2002 as a list of supplemental material for science
teachers in my "Teaching Evolution and the Nature of Science" Frontiers
in Science Workshop to help them answer this call.
• Current major creationist flareups:
- Georgia - Evolution disclaimer sticker case.
- Kansas - Creationists on the State Board of Education working to
include ID criticisms of evolution in science classes.
- Ohio - ID proponents working to get ID model lesson plan into the
- Pennsylvania - The Dover School Board voted to require that Intelligent
Design be included in science classes. ACLU and Americans United
are representing parents who are suiing the district to challenge this
policy. The case—Kitzmiller v. Dover Board of Education—goes
to trial September 26th.
- Michigan - A new anti-evolution bill—HB5251—was introduced in the
House on October 29, 2005. This one follows the new strategy
recommended by the Discovery Institute, calling for students to "assess
and to "formulate arguments for or against" evolution. This is a backdoor
way of getting in discredited ID arguments.
• The religious basis of Intelligent Design was made explicit
in the leaked Wedge
Document of the Discovery Institute, which is the main lobbying
organization of the ID movement. The movement seeks "nothing
less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies" and
their Wedge Strategy sets out a detailed plan "to replace materialistic
explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and hurnan
beings are created by God."
• The courts have consistently ruled that teaching creationism is unconstitutional.
School administrators that allow ID to be taught therefore
put their districts at significant
legal and financial
the possible legal costs—"at least seven figures"—to the Dover school
disctrict should it lose the case that is currently being tried in Pennsylvania.
• Many scientific and other professional
groups have issued statements supporting evolution education and opposing
are a few recent ones:
- American Association for the Advancement of Science "[T]he
lack of scientific warrant for so-called "intelligent
design theory" makes it improper to include as a part of science
education." [See full
serves some 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving
10 million individuals)
- 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." [See full
- American Astronomical
Society "'Intelligent design' isn’t
even part of science – it
is a religious idea that doesn’t have a place in the science
curriculum." [See full statement [pdf]
adopted by its governing Council]
- American Chemical Society "urges... State and local
education authorities to support high-quality science
standards and curricula that affirm evolution as the only scientifically
accepted explanation for the origin and diversity of species." [See
release and full statement [pdf]] (ACS
includes 159,000 chemists and chemical engineers)
- American Geophysical Union: "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." [Press
release] (AGU includes 43,000 Earth and space scientists)
- American Institute of Physics Governing Board policy
statement supporting evolution and opposing creationism.
- American Society of Agronomy: "Intelligent design is not a scientific discipline and should
taught as part
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." [See full
statement] (ASA has 10,000+ members)
- American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: [Article in ASBMB Today Sept 2005 p. 4 and full statement]
Society of America: "The
proponents of creationism/intelligent design promote scientific ignorance
guise of learning. As professional scientists and educators, we strongly
assert that such efforts are both misguided and flawed, presenting
an incorrect view of science, its understandings, and its processes." [See full
- National Academy of Sciences: "We stand ready
to help others in addressing the increasingly strident attempts to
the teaching of evolution or to introduct non-scientific 'alternatives'
into science courses and curricula. If this controversy arrives at
doorstep, I hope that you will both alert us to the specific issues
in your state or school district and be willing to use your positon
and prestige as a member of the NAS in helping to work locally." [Full
Bruce Alberts, President , NAS]
- National Science Teachers Association: "We
stand with the nation's leading scientific organizations and scientists,
including Dr. John Marburger, the president's top science advisor,
in stating that intelligent design is not science.…It is simply
not fair to present pseudoscience to students in the science classroom." [Press
release with full
statement] (NSTA is a professional association of 55,000
science teachers and administrators)
- Nobel laureats' letter calling
upon the Kansas Board of Education to reject intelligent design.
- Project Steve: A statement supporting evolution
as a "well-supported, unifying principle" and dismissing
intelligent design as "creationist pseudoscience". Signed
by over 600 scientists, all named Steve. [Project Steve
page with full statement]
| Defending Science from ID Creationism
• You can read my detailed criticisms of Intelligent-Design
Creationism in my book Tower
of Babel: The Evidence against the New Creationism.
• For those who
are gluttons for punishment, delve into the issues further in my
Design Creationism and Its Critics: Philosophical, Theological and
• I also have published various journal articles. Many
can be downloaded from my DISE
are a few to start with:
- On Teaching Evolution and the Nature of Science
In Cracraft, J. and R. Bybee (eds.). Evolutionary
Science and Society: Educating
a New Generation. Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, Colorado Springs,
(pp. 1-12, 2005)
[Download pdf file]
- Creationism and Intelligent Design Annual
Review of Genomics and Human Genetics. (Vol. 4: 143-163,
Sept. 2003) [Download pdf file.]
Abstract: This review article gives a thorough overview of
conclusions from the published lliterature regarding creationism, especially
intelligent design, and its key arguments.
- Should Creationism be Taught in the Public Schools? Science & Education (Vol.11
no.2, March 2002, pp. 111-133)
[Also available online]
Abstract: I consider what it might mean to teach creationism and offer a
educational, legal, religious, and philosophical arguments
it in public school science classes and possibly elsewhere as well. I
arguments for inclusion. I
rebut Rawlsian arguments
|Evolution Teaching Resources
The following sites provide useful materials developed by scientists
and science educators to help teachers improve the way they teach evolution
and the nature of science.
(Evolution and the Nature of Science Institutes) at Indiana University
has developed a variety of great material over the years.
• The site for the PBS
NOVA series Evolution includes recently developed material
• The SETI Institute, NASA, San Francisco State University and
the California Academy of Sciences are collaborating to develop a high
school integrated science curriculum covering cosmic evolution, planetary
evolution, evolution of life, hominid evolution and more, in a package
called Voyages Through
and Education is a new resource page from the Education
Committee of the Society for the Study of Evolution.
• The National Academies of Science published Teaching
About Evolution and the Nature of Science, which provides advice
and activity plans.
Evolution is a rich and recently updated site by the
UC Berkeley Museum of Paleontology. See especially the section with
materials for teachers
• Representatives from a wide range
of scientific organizations who attended the National Conference on the
put together a matrix
of curricular resources.
• The American Astronomical Society has
an accessible educational pamphlet [pdf]
outlining some of the scientific evidence for an ancient universe.
As a project in my Senior Seminar on Evolution and Creationism
at MSU's Lyman Briggs School of Science, students had to design web
pages that would
be of use to teachers to help them understand and learn how to respond
to common questions concerning creationist challenges to evolution.
are a few of the pages they came up with:
genetic mutations always harmful?
• What are
the main points in Behe's Darwin's Black Box, and what are the
scientific reactions to it?
• Isn't evolution only
believed by dogmatic atheists?
• What happened
in the Scopes Trial?
|Learning Evolution and the Nature of Science in Michigan
State of State Science Standards 2005 (put out by the Fordham
Foundation) included an evaluation of how well evolution was incorporated
into state science curriculum standards
and benchmarks. Michigan only earned a 'D' overall, but got a full 3 out of 3 points for its coverage
of evolution. (For comparison, check the 2000 Learner
Report "Good Science, Bad Science: Teaching Evolution in the States")
• The complete Michigan
Science Standards may be browsed on-line at the Michigan Teacher
Network site. Compare them to the National
Standards to see where we still need improvement with regard to
coverage of evolution and the nature of science.
• In Michigan, creationists in the last two legislative sessions
tried to pass bills to allow "Intelligent-Design Theory" in
the public school science curriculum. Michigan
Citizens for Science was formed to help oppose this legislation and
to support science education in the state; their site provides links
to the bills and information about how to help defend science education.
Another good site for Michigan science educators is the Michigan
Scientific Evolution Education Initiative.
• ID Creationists regularly cite their book Darwin, Design and
Public Education, published by MSU Press, as a "peer-reviewed
scientific anthology." But the editor of the press states
this is inaccurate.
||You can find complete contact information for me at
Dr. Robert T. Pennock's Home Page at MSU
| Page created: 11/14/02.
Last updated: 10/13/06
© Robert T. Pennock