Threats to the teaching of high-quality, peer-reviewed science continue
to arise in school districts around the country. "Although the
controversy focuses primarily on biology," National Academy of
Sciences President Bruce Alberts warned Academy members earlier this
year that "some who challenge the teaching of evolution in our
nation's schools have also focused their sights on the earth and physical
sciences" (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/049.html).
The American Institute of Physics (AIP) and many of its Member Societies
have been active in monitoring this issue and, in some instances, taking
actions to defend the teaching of high-quality science in science classrooms.
To address efforts "to weaken and even to eliminate significant
portions of evolution and cosmology" from state and local educational
objectives, the Executive Board of the American Association of Physics
Teachers, an AIP Member Society, recently adopted a statement on the
teaching of evolution and cosmology. The text of the April 24 statement
"AAPT Statement on the Teaching of Evolution and
"The Executive Board of the American Association
of Physics Teachers is dismayed at organized actions to weaken and
even to eliminate significant portions of evolution and cosmology
from the educational objectives of states and school districts.
"Evolution and cosmology represent two of the unifying
concepts of modern science. There are few scientific theories more
firmly supported by observations than these: Biological evolution
has occurred and new species have arisen over time, life on Earth
originated more than a billion years ago, and most stars are at least
several billion years old. Overwhelming evidence comes from diverse
sources - the structure and function of DNA, geological analysis of
rocks, paleontological studies of fossils, telescopic observations
of distant stars and galaxies - and no serious scientist questions
these claims. We do our children a grave disservice if we remove from
their education an exposure to firm scientific evidence supporting
principles that significantly shape our understanding of the world
in which we live.
"No scientific theory, no matter how strongly supported
by available evidence, is final and unchallengeable; any good theory
is always exposed to the possibility of being modified or even overthrown
by new evidence. That is at the very heart of the process of science.
However, biological and cosmological evolution are theories as strongly
supported and interwoven into the fabric of science as any other essential
underpinnings of modern science and technology. To deny children exposure
to the evidence in support of biological and cosmological evolution
is akin to allowing them to believe that atoms do not exist or that
the Sun goes around the Earth.
"We believe in teaching that science is a process
that examines all of the evidence relevant to an issue and tests alternative
hypotheses. For this reason, we do not endorse teaching the "evidence
against evolution," because currently no such scientific evidence
exists. Nor can we condone teaching "scientific creationism,"
"intelligent design," or other non-scientific viewpoints
as valid scientific theories. These beliefs ignore the important connections
among empirical data and fail to provide testable hypotheses. They
should not be a part of the science curriculum.
"School boards, teachers, parents, and lawmakers
have a responsibility to ensure that all children receive a good education
in science. The American Association of Physics Teachers opposes all
efforts to require or promote teaching creationism or any other non-scientific
viewpoints in a science course. AAPT supports the National Science
Education Standards, which incorporate the process of science and
well-established scientific theories including cosmological and biological
"This statement was adopted by the Executive Board
of the American Association of Physics Teachers on April 24, 2005."