The AIP Governing Board views with alarm the recent action taken by the Kansas State Board of Education to remove biological and cosmological evolution from the State Science Standards. We applaud the recent statements made the National Science Board, Bruce Alberts of the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Science Teachers Association. The AIP Governing Board endorses the "American Geophysical Union Position Statement on ‘Creationism is Not Science," and the "Statement of the Society of Physics Students Regarding Science Education Standards," and the statement by Jerome Friedman, President of the American Physical Society.
EARTH HISTORY AND THE EVOLUTION OF LIFE MUST BE TAUGHT: CREATIONISM IS NOT SCIENCE
Adopted by AGU Council December 1981 Reaffirmed May 1990, May 1994, May 1994; expanded and reaffirmed December 1999
The American Geophysical Union affirms the central importance of scientific theories of Earth history and organic evolution in science education. An educated citizenry must understand these theories in order to comprehend the dynamic world in which we live and nature's complex balance that sustains us.
Science employs a logical and empirical methodology to understand the natural world. Scientific research entails observation of natural phenomena, formulation of hypotheses as tentative, testable statements to explain these phenomena, and experiments or observations to test these hypotheses. Scientific theories, like evolution and relativity and plate tectonics, are hypotheses that have survived extensive testing and repeated verification. Scientific theories are therefore the best-substantiated statements that scientists can make to explain the organization and operation of the natural world. Thus, a scientific theory is not equal to a belief, a hunch, or an untested hypothesis. Our understanding of Earth's development over its 4.5 billion-year history and of life's gradual evolution has achieved the status of scientific theory.
"Creation science" is based on faith and is not supported by scientific observations of the natural world. Creationism is not science and does not have a legitimate place in any science curriculum.
AGU opposes all efforts to require or promote teaching creationism or any other religious tenets as science. AGU supports the National Science Education Standards, which incorporate well-established scientific theories including the origin of the universe, the age of Earth, and the evolution of life.
In a recent decision, the Kansas State Board of Education removed biological and cosmological evolution from its state Science Education Standards, thereby rejecting the consensus of a committee of experienced Kansas science teachers. Ideas about the structure and evolution of the universe, including Earth and its life forms, are unifying concepts in science. The development of students' informed views about these concepts is essential to knowledge of science. These concepts should therefore be included as a part of science frameworks and curricula for all students. The Society of Physics Students (SPS) recognizes that decisions about science education standards are the purview of state and local authorities; however, the position of SPS is that such decisions should involve education experience and scientific expertise, and be based on the body of research in science, pedagogy, and cognitive development. SPS encourages science educators and scientists to participate in the development of science education standards by involving themselves in the decision-making processes of state and local school boards.
The decision of the Kansas School Board is a giant step backward for Kansas and should sound an alarm for every parent, teacher, and student in the United States. On the eve of the new millennium, at a time when our nation's welfare increasingly depends on science and technology, it has never been more important for all Americans to understand the views of modern science. This decision will not only deprive Kansas students of exposure to some of the central ideas of modern science, but it will also put them at a competitive disadvantage in pursuing higher education and future employment.