AGU Position Statement on Teaching Creationism as Science
Adopted by Council December 1981
Reaffirmed in May 1990, May 1994, and May 1998.
The Council of the American Geophysical Union notes with concern
the continuing efforts by creationists for administrative,
legislative, and juridical actions designed to require or promote the
teaching of creationism as a scientific theory.
The American Geophysical Union is opposed to all efforts to require or
promote the teaching of creationism or any other religious tenets as
From AGU's Homepage at http://www.agu.org/
President Knauss has appointed a panel to revise AGU's current
position opposing the teaching of creationism as science. Working
under the AGU advocacy procedures, the panel has been asked to
consider a statement that emphasizes the centrality of evolution in
science and in the understanding of our planet. Comments from members
can be directed to the panel via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Panel to Consider a Position Statement on the Importance
of Teaching Evolution
EOS, Vol 80, No 38, p 311 (July 13, 1999)
AGU President John Knauss has authorized a panel to revise the
existing AGU position statement, which opposes the teaching of
creationism or any other religious tenet as science. The current
statement, first adopted in December 1981, and most recently
reaffirmed in May 1998, is as follows:
"The Council of the American Geophysical Union notes with concern the
continuing efforts by creationists for administrative, legislative,
and juridical actions designed to require or promote the teaching
of creationism as a scientific theory. The American Geophysical Union
is opposed to all efforts to require or promote the teaching of
creationism or any other religious tenet as science."
The panel is asked to start from AGU's current position and to
consider a statement that emphasizes the centrality of evolution
in science and in understanding our planet. Members of the panel
are: John Geissman, David Applegate, Richard Barber, Brent Dalrymple,
Robert Hazen, Margo Kingston, Steven Stanley, and Mary Lou Zoback. The
panel welcomes comments on the subject from the AGU membership.
Address comments to the panel in care of Peter Folger, AGU,
2000 Florida Ave, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009 USA; E-mail:
Peter Folger, Public Affairs Manager
AGU Headquarters, Washington D.C., USA.
Kansas Strikes Evolution From School Standards
Eos, Vol 80, No 33, p 366 (Aug 17, 1999)
On August 11, the Kansas State Board of Education voted 6-4 in
favor of science standards for grades K-12 that omit nearly all
meaningful reference to Darwin's theory of evolution. A majority
of school board members rejected an alternative set of standards,
crafted over 13 months by the Kansas Science Education Writing
Committee, that contain evolutionary principles like natural selection
and descent with modification from a common ancestor. The rejected
standards closely follow recommendations in the National Research
Council's National Science Education Standards and the
American Association for the Advancement of Science's Project 2061:
Benchmarks for Science Literacy, both of which include biological
eveolution as an important part of life sciences.
See next week's Eos for more news on this issue.
Peter Folger, Public Affairs Manager
AGU Headquarters, Wash. D.C., USA
Note to the reader
I just took a look at "Project 2061", and under the topic "The Scientific
World View", they had the disturbing statement:
A scientific world view is not something that working scientists
spend a lot of time discussing. They just do science. But underlying
their work are several beliefs that are not always held by
nonscientists. One is that by working together over time, people can
in fact figure out how the world works. Another is that the universe
is a unified system and knowledge gained from studying one part of it
can often be applied to other parts. Still another is that knowledge
is both stable and subject to change.
Little is gained by presenting these beliefs to students as dogma. For
one thing, such beliefs are subtle....
Wow, sounds like an attempt to avoid the very debate I outline above!
Any one care to explain why?
Here is an excerpt from the Science Education Standards:
Students have difficulty with the fundamental concepts of
evolution. For example, students often do not understand natural
selection because they fail to make a conceptual connection between
the occurrence of new variations in a population and the potential
effect of those variations on the long-term survival of the species.
One misconception that teachers may encounter involves students
attributing new variations to an organism's need, environmental
conditions, or use. With some help, students can understand that, in
general, mutations occur randomly and are selected because they help
some organisms survive and produce more offspring. Other
misconceptions center on a lack of understanding of how a population
changes as a result of differential reproduction (some individuals
producing more offspring), as opposed to all individuals in a
population changing. Many misconceptions about the process of natural
selection can be changed through instruction.
- Species evolve over time. Evolution is the consequence of the
interactions of (1) the potential for a species to increase its
numbers, (2) the genetic variability of offspring due to mutation and
recombination of genes, (3) a finite supply of the resources required
for life, and (4) the ensuing selection by the environment of those
offspring better able to survive and leave offspring. [See Unifying
Concepts and Processes]
- The great diversity of organisms is the result of more than 3.5
billion years of evolution that has filled every available niche with
- Natural selection and its evolutionary consequences provide a
scientific explanation for the fossil record of ancient life forms, as
well as for the striking molecular similarities observed among the
diverse species of living organisms.
- The millions of different species of plants, animals, and
microorganisms that live on earth today are related by descent from
- Biological classifications are based on how organisms are related.
Organisms are classified into a hierarchy of groups and subgroups
based on similarities which reflect their evolutionary relationships.
Species is the most fundamental unit of classification.
(Because of spamming, delete asterisk.)