Welcome to Evolution on the Front Line, an event for teachers, organized
by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS),
in collaboration with more than 30 leading scientific and educational
organizations. Today’s program is intended to give St. Louis-area
teachers a voice on the evolution issue and a way to tell the scientific
community how best to support them.
Science education is enriched by the talents of many highly qualified,
dedicated teachers. Through their efforts, the next generation of
scientists and citizens is mastering core concepts about the natural
world. This fundamental knowledge is essential training for future
innovators who will be challenged to achieve new medical treatments,
disease-resistant crops, conservation strategies for endangered species,
safer and more efficient vehicles and other life-changing advances.
Such knowledge and scientific ways of thinking are needed by everyone
in this highly technological, multi-cultural world.
Unfortunately, teachers in the United States and elsewhere are increasingly
being pressured to wedge non-scientific concepts into the science
curriculum. When the National Science Teachers Association e-mailed
an informal questionnaire to members and non-members last year, nearly
one thirdof 1,050 respondents said they feel pressured to include
creationism, intelligent design or other non-scientific alternatives
to evolution in their science classrooms. Since then, federal District
Judge John E. Jones III in Dover, Pennsylvania, has ruled that intelligent
design — the notion that life’s complexity could only
be the work of an intelligent designer — “is not science.”
Yet, pressures persist in Georgia, Kansas and many other regions,
including Missouri, where proposed House Bill No.1266, cloaked as
an argument against non-empirical data, threatens to undermine the
teaching of evolution.
AAAS, the world’s largest general scientific society, believes
that fact and faith should never be pitted against one another. In
our view, it would be unfair to ask teachers, students or parents
to choose between religion and science. Religious beliefs and scientific
pursuits can happily co-exist — just not in science classrooms,
lest we confuse our children about what is and isn’t science.
AAAS applauds the strength and courage of teachers who are resisting
pressures to introduce religion into science classrooms. Today’s
impressive list of speakers and collaborating organizations offers
evidence that teachers are not alone in these struggles. The scientific
community stands beside teachers as they work to provide students
with an appropriate grounding in science and mathematics and a fundamental
understanding of the nature of science. We look forward to hearing
teachers’ voices on this issue.
Return to Evolution
on the Front Line Event.