replaced, and evolution has been tested and has a lot of evidence to support it. The point is that doing science requires being willing to refine our theories to be consistent with new information."

"But there's still Stanley," says Doug. "He doesn't even want to hear about evolution."

"I had Stanley's sister in AP biology one year," Barbara replies. "She raised a fuss about evolution, and I told her that I wasn't going to grade her on her opinion of evolution but on her knowledge of the facts and concepts. She seemed satisfied with that and actually got an A in the class."

"I still think that if you teach evolution, it's only fair to teach both."

"What do you mean by both?" asks Barbara. "If you mean both evolution and creationism, what kind of creationism do you want to teach? Will you teach evolution and the Bible? What about other religions like Buddhism or the views of Native Americans? It's hard to argue for 'both' when there are a whole lot more than two options."

"I can't teach a whole bunch of creation stories in my Bio class," says Doug.

"That's the point. We can't add subjects to the science curriculum to be fair to groups that hold certain beliefs. Teaching ecology isn't fair to the polluter, either. Biology is a science class, and what should be taught is science."

"But isn't there something called 'creation science'?" asks Karen. "Can creationism be made scientific?"

"That's an interesting story. 'Creation science' is the idea that scientific evidence can support a literal interpretation of Genesis—that the whole universe was created all at once about 10,000 years ago."

"It doesn't sound very likely."

"It's not. Scientists have looked at the arguments and have found they are not supported by verifiable data. Still, back in the early 1980s, some states passed laws requiring that 'creation science' be taught whenever evolution was taught. But the Supreme Court threw out 'equal time' laws, saying that because creationism was inherently a religious and not a scientific idea, it couldn't be presented as 'truth' in science classes in the public schools."5

"Well, I'm willing to teach evolution," says Karen, "and I'd like to try it your way, Barbara, as a theme that ties biology together. But I really don't know enough about evolution to do it. Do you have any suggestions about where I can get information?"

"Sure, I'd be glad to share what I have. But an important part of teaching evolution has to do with explaining the nature of science. I'm trying out a demonstration after school today that I'm going to use with my Bio I class tomorrow. Why don't you both come by and we can try it out?"

"Okay," say Karen and Doug. "We'll see you then."


Barbara, Doug, and Karen's discussion of evolution and the nature of science resumes following Chapter 2.



The National Science Education Standards cite "evolution and equilibrium" as one of five central concepts that unify all of the sciences. (See


Appendix C contains statements from science and science education organizations that support the need to teach evolution.


In 1995, the Alabama board of education ordered that all biology textbooks in public schools carry inserts that read, in part, as follows: "This textbook discusses evolution, a controversial theory some scientists present as a scientific explanation for the origin of living things, such as plants, animals, and humans. No one was present when life first appeared on earth. Therefore, any statement about life's origins should be considered theory, not fact." Other districts have required similar disclaimers.


The book From So Simple a Beginning: The Book of Evolution by Philip Whitfield (New York: Macmillan, 1993) presents a well-illustrated overview of evolutionary history. Evolution by Monroe W. Strickberger (Boston: Jones and Bartlett, 2nd edition, 1995) is a thorough text written at the undergraduate level.


In the 1987 case Edwards v. Aguillard, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the 1982 decision of a federal district court that the teaching of "creation science" in public schools violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement