Currently taking place in Harrisburg, PA, is the trial of Kitzmiller
v. Dover, the first court case challenging the constitutionality of
teaching Intelligent Design in public school science classes.
On October 18, 2004, the Dover Area School District in Dover, PA, added
the following statement to its science curriculum: "Students
will be made aware of gaps/problems in Darwin's Theory and of other
theories of evolution including, but not limited to, intelligent design.
Note: Origins of life will not be taught."
Then on November 19, 2004, the school district issued a statement to
be read by teachers in biology classes at the beginning of the evolution
unit. The statement reads as follows:
"The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students
to learn about Darwin's theory of evolution and eventually to take
a standardized test of which evolution is a part.
"Because Darwin's theory is a theory, it continues
to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The theory is not a fact.
Gaps in the theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory
is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range
"Intelligent design is an explanation of the origin
of life that differs from Darwin's view. The reference book, Of
Pandas and People,' is available for students who might be interested
in gaining an understanding of what intelligent design actually involves.
"With respect to any theory, students are encouraged
to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the origins
of life to individual students and their families. As a standards-driven
district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve
proficiency on standards-based assessments."
According to news reports, the Pennsylvania State Educators Association,
working with the Dover Senior High School science teachers, announced
that the teachers would refuse to read the statement on the grounds
that Intelligent Design is not science. The school district agreed that
a school administrator, instead of the teachers, would read the statement
Additionally, on December 14, 2004, eleven parents of students attending
Dover schools filed a suit against the Dover Area School District, claiming
that the school district's policies violate the First Amendment's Establishment
Clause which, according to the plaintiffs, "prohibits the teaching
or presentation of religious ideas in public school science classes."
The trial began on September 26, 2005. Information on the case can
be found on the web site of the National Center for Science Education,
an organization devoted to defending the teaching of evolution in public
schools, at http://www.ncseweb.org/;
see "ID on Trial in Dover, PA" in the box on the upper right
of the page.
The American Institute of Physics (AIP) monitors challenges to the
teaching of evolution as they arise in various school districts around
the country, and in some instances has, in conjunction with a number
of its Member Societies, written letters to school boards and other
state and local officials, encouraged individual scientists to testify
at hearings, issued news alerts, and taken other grassroots initiatives
to help defend the teaching of sound, peer-reviewed science in public
school science classes. A number of AIP Member Societies have issued
position statements or press releases related to the teaching of evolution
versus Intelligent Design and Creationism:
American Astronomical Society September 20, 2005 Statement on the Teaching
of Evolution: http://www.aas.org/governance/council/teachevolution.pdf
American Astronomical Society September 20, 2005 Press Release:
American Geophysical Union August 2, 2005 Press Release:
American Physical Society August 4, 2005 Press Release:
American Association of Physics Teachers April 24, 2005 Statement on
the Teaching of Evolution and Cosmology: http://www.aapt.org/Policy/evolutandcosmo.cfm
Society of Physics Students October 2003 statement on Evolution and
American Geophysical Union December 2003 Statement that Earth History
and the Evolution of Life Must be Taught: http://www.agu.org/sci_soc/policy/evolution.html
American Physical Society November 14, 1999 Statement on the Kansas
State Board of Education Decision:
American Astronomical Society January 10, 1982 Council Resolution on
American Physical Society November 2, 1981 Statement on Creationism: