Friday, September 30, 2005
Clergy, Scientists, Nobel Laureates Oppose Creationism, Intelligent Design
The Campaign To Defend the Constitution, an online grassroots movement combating the growing power of the religious right, which fights to uphold the First Amendment's guarantee of separation of church and state released a letter yesterday to the goverors of all 50 states expressing concern about efforts to replace science with creationism and intelligent design.
The letter was signed by over 100 clergy, led by Rev. James Forbes of the Riverside Church in New York and Rev. Welton Gaddy of the Interfaith Alliance. Nearly 100 scientists joined them, including a half- dozen Nobel laureates -- Peter Agre, M.D., Paul Berg, Mike Bishop, M.D., Gunter Blobel, M.D., J. Robert Horvitz, and Harold Varmus, M.D.
Here's the letter:
To All Fifty State Governors:
As scientists and clergy, we write to express our deep concern about the education of our children. Specifically, we are concerned about efforts to supplement or replace the teaching of evolution in our public schools with religious dogma or unscientific speculation. Science classes should help provide our children with the tools and scientific literacy they need to succeed in a 21st century economy.
We are well aware of studies showing American children falling behind those of other nations in their knowledge and understanding of science. We certainly will not be able to close this gap if we substitute ideology for fact in our science classrooms – limiting students' understanding of a scientific concept as critical as evolution for ideological reasons.
We do not oppose exposing our children to philosophical and spiritual discussion around the origin and meaning of life. There are appropriate venues for such discussion – but not in the context of teaching science in a public school science classroom.
We have come together – people of science and people of faith – for the sake of our children and the competitiveness of our country, to urge you to ensure that:
- Science curricula, state science standards, and teachers emphasize evolution in a manner commensurate with its importance as a unifying concept in science and its overall explanatory power.
- Science teachers in your state are not advocating any religious interpretations of nature and are nonjudgmental about the personal beliefs of students.
- There are no requirements to teach "creation science" or related concepts such as "intelligent design," or to "teach the controversy" – implying that there is legitimate scientific debate about evolution when there is not. Teachers should not be pressured to promote nonscientific views or to diminish or eliminate the study of evolution.
- Publishers of science textbooks should not be required or volunteer to include disclaimers in textbooks that distort or misrepresent the methodology of science and the current body of knowledge concerning the nature and study of evolution.
Our nation's future rests, as always, in the hands of our children. We hope to have your commitment to ensure that our schools teach science, not ignorance, to our children as they prepare the next generation for the challenges of a new century.