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How Should Schools Handle Evolution? Debate it

USA Today

Editors Note: This article appeared in the August 14, 2005 edition of USA Today

The sky is falling.

Or so you might think if you have been reading reports about the Kansas State Board of Education's proposed policy on teaching evolution. Though many have portrayed the hearings that led to the Kansas policy as a re-run of the Scopes trial, the reality is much different. Rather than prohibiting teachers from teaching about evolution (as Tennessee law did for John Scopes in 1925), Kansas is poised to adopt a policy that would enable students to learn more about the topic. (Related: Just teach it)

Specifically, the Kansas policy would require students to learn not only the full scientific case for contemporary evolutionary theory, called "neo-Darwinism," but also the current criticisms of the theory as they appear in scientific literature. The Kansas policy would not require, or prohibit, discussing the theory of "intelligent design," which has been so much in the news since President Bush spoke about it earlier this month.

Though Zogby polls show that 71% of the public favors a policy like the Kansas one, defenders of teaching only the case for Darwinian orthodoxy regard it with suspicion. For them, the Kansas policy illustrates the folly of determining the science curriculum within the democratic process.

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Stephen C. Meyer

Director, Center for Science and Culture
Dr. Stephen C. Meyer received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in the philosophy of science. A former geophysicist and college professor, he now directs the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle. He is author of the New York Times-bestseller Darwin’s Doubt (2013) as well as the book Signature in the Cell (2009) and The Return of the God Hypothesis (forthcoming in 2020). In 2004, Meyer ignited a firestorm of media and scientific controversy when a biology journal at the Smithsonian Institution published his peer-reviewed scientific article advancing intelligent design. Meyer has been featured on national television and radio programs, including The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, CBS's Sunday Morning, NBC's Nightly News, ABC's World News, Good Morning America, Nightline, FOX News Live, and the Tavis Smiley show on PBS. He has also been featured in two New York Times front-page stories and has garnered attention in other top-national media.