MARIETTA, GA — Amid the controversy over the Cobb Board of Educations proposed policy concerning evolution, a group of scientists and professors have come forward to say that not all academics are pro-Darwinism.
In an open letter sent Friday to members of the Cobb school board, a professor of medicine at Emory University said he supports the boards efforts regarding the teaching of “disputed views” regarding Darwins theories of evolution. The letter was attached with statements in support from 28 academics calling themselves “Georgia Scientists for Academic Freedom” and an additional 132 scientists from outside Georgia.
“No doubt you have heard from a number of scientists who oppose the proposal, many of whom have accused you of openly fostering religious instruction within the public school system,” said professor James Tumlin, in the statement. “I believe that it is important for the members of the school board to realize that a growing number of scientists acknowledge that neo-Darwinism models cannot explain the whole of biologic phenomena.”
The letter came two days after the National Academy of Science sent out an open statement of its own blasting the Cobb School Board and its proposed policy. The prestigious organization of scientists and medical doctors described the policy as the first step toward the teaching of creationism and “intelligent design” in local science classrooms.
The National Academy of Science letter also called the intelligent design movement an attempt to skirt U.S. Supreme Court rulings preventing creationism from being taught in public classrooms.
But Tumlin and others who signed onto his letter disputed this position, adding that their skepticism of Darwins theory of evolution causes them to believe that other lines of thought merit exploration by students.
“The school boards resolution to allow teachers the freedom to examine both the attributes and the failings of natural selection is in keeping with the desires of many scientists to maintain academic freedom event at the secondary level,” the letter stated. “By allowing students to wrestle with conflicting data and theoretical interpretations, the board will not be guilty of fostering religion, but rather the seeds of critical thinking that will enable students in whatever career they choose.”
The Cobb Board of Education will vote Thursday on the proposed policy, which will allow teachers to discuss alternative theories when addressing the issue of evolution in science class.