Don't mention Darwin

日期:2019-03-07 01:12:01 作者:松答 阅读:

By Nell Boyce in Washington DC BATTLES between evolutionists and creationists for the hearts and minds of schoolchildren in the US have raged for decades. But last week’s adoption by the Kansas State Board of Education of a science curriculum largely purged of references to evolution has sent a chill down the spines of many scientists and teachers. “This is not just more of the same,” says Steven Stanley, a palaeobiologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and a prominent figure in the debate. “This is a tangible victory for them like we haven’t seen in decades.” In the past, creationists have argued that evolution by natural selection should be taught as just one theory for explaining the diversity of life, alongside biblical teachings. The approach they adopted in Kansas marks a departure: rather than trying to get creation science accepted into the curriculum, they have sought to exclude references to evolutionary theory. State curriculum standards, set by elected boards of education, give teachers guidance on what they should cover. A proposed draft put to the Kansas board by biology teachers and scientists referred to natural selection, descent from common ancestors, the origins of life from nonliving biochemical processes and the cosmological evolution of the Universe. But the board voted six to four in favour of an alternative version prepared with the help of the Creation Science Association for Mid-America (CSA) in Cleveland, Missouri. While the standards don’t prevent teachers from discussing evolution, many fear they will come under pressure not to do so. “I have a lot of parents who make it difficult,” says John Wachholz, a biology teacher at Salina High School Central, who is prepared to speak out because he has the backing of Salina’s local school board. The new standards drop the statement: “Evolution by natural selection is a broad, unifying theoretical framework in biology.” Cosmological evolution is excluded from the glossary and the definition of biological evolution contains no reference to common ancestors. The role of natural selection in forming new species is not mentioned. Subtle additions bolster ideas favoured by creation scientists. For instance, the Mount St Helens eruption is mentioned to show that “at least some stratified rocks may have been laid down quickly”—an observation used by creationists to argue against accepted views of geological time. Kansas is unique in the “thoroughness with which evolution and related concepts were expunged”, says Molleen Matsumura of the National Center for Science Education in Berkeley, California. But Tom Willis of the CSA sees it differently: “We removed all historical theories, including creationist origins.” Although they’re in a tiny minority, some researchers support the Kansas decision. “I see it as evidence that more and more people are questioning the scientific validity of evolution,” says John Baumgardner, who studies fluid dynamics at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. But most concur with Peter Folger, a spokesman for the American Geophysical Union in Washington DC. “This is the most egregious deletion of evolutionary theory,” he says. Janet Waugh, a member of the Kansas State Board of Education who voted against the new standards, fears that the state’s children will do poorly on national standardised tests that include questions about evolution. “I think it’s going to hurt our children academically. I’ll be anxious to see if there’s a backlash.” Whether or not the Kansas curriculum standards are eventually overturned, however, observers expect creationists to try the same strategy in other states. “It’s a wake-up call for earth scientists, biologists, any scientist really, that this is an attack,