ATLANTA, NOV. 8 — The courts should not prevent educators from encouraging students to approach the study of evolution with an open mind according to over 30 scientists, including 25 from Georgia, who have submitted a legal brief to the US District Court in the Northern District of Georgia.
The court begins hearing testimony today in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU challenging the Cobb Co. school district’s right to insert a sticker into high school biology textbooks which states: “This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.”
“Frankly, it’s astonishing that the ACLU opposes having students study evolution ‘with an open mind,'” says attorney Seth Cooper, an expert on the legal aspects of teaching evolution. “The ACLU is supposed to be against censorship and favor the free marketplace of ideas, but here it is dogmatically trying to censor a school district from encouraging an open-minded approach to teaching evolution.”
Cooper points out that the textbook sticker does not deal with creationism or even alternative scientific theories to evolution: “It merely encourages students to avoid dogmatism when studying evolution by carefully and critically examining the evidence with an open mind,” explains Cooper. “That sort of critical inquiry is the heart of what science is supposed to be about.”
While the ACLU claims there is no debate among scientists over Darwinian evolution, Cooper, a program officer with the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, explains that this is simply not true.
“There is a robust and growing scientific controversy surrounding neo-Darwinian theory,” says Cooper. “The scientists listed in this brief wanted to correct the ACLU’s patently erroneous claim that no scientists question Darwinian evolution.”
The brief states “that the science education necessary to equip students for the 21st Century should not censor relevant scientific information about important scientific controversies (such as neo-Darwinian and chemical evolutionary theories), but should fully inform students about such debates.”
Scientists joining the legal brief include biologists and biochemists from state schools such as University of Georgia, Georgia Southern University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Kennesaw State University, and Ohio State University. Many of the scientists are signatories of the national “Scientific Dissent from Darwinism” list of over 300 scientists who are “skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”