TFN Report: Texas Scientists Support Evolution

Scientists overwhelmingly reject "creation science" and "intelligent design"

The evolution vs. creationism (or "intelligent design") wars are expected to flare up again this spring, when the right-tilted State Board of Education votes to adopt new curriculum standards for science education in Texas' public schools. In preparation for this debate, the Texas Freedom Network – a nonpartisan nonprofit that fights the influence of the religious right in public policy – has conducted a statewide survey among college biology and biological anthropology instructors regarding their opinions on the science underlying evolution.

The latest tack in the creationists' fight to discredit evolution in public schools is an assertion that "controversy" exists in the scientific community over evolution's validity. TFN suspected that the controversy was simply a work of political fiction, and the results of their survey appear to prove them right.

In a report on the survey results authored by UT-Arlington sociology professor Raymond A. Eve and psychology doctoral student Chawki A. Belhadi (both specialize in research related to evolutionary biology), TFN reported five major findings among the 464 Texas scientists surveyed: They overwhelmingly (98%) reject intelligent design as valid science, 95% insist that neither intelligent design nor creationism be taught in science classes, 94% said that the "weaknesses" of evolution advanced by intelligent design proponents are not valid scientific criticisms, about three-quarters of them believe that emphasizing the supposed weaknesses would substantially harm students' college readiness and job prospects, and 91% rejected the notion that religious faith and a support of evolutionary theory are incompatible.

The scientists overwhelmingly reject the notion that "creationism" and "intelligent design" are different concepts. Proponents of intelligent design have argued – unsuccessfully, in court – that I.D. is a science distinct from the religious concept of creationism and thus the teaching of it in public schools does not violate church/state restrictions.

The report also noted that even among biology faculty at religious colleges, 89% support the teaching of evolution.

The 59-question survey was sent out to a total of 1,019 college faculty at 50 Texas institutions on Oct. 22, 2007, and responses were accepted through Jan. 30 of this year. The 464 responses that came back were received from all schools except Sul Ross State University. The full report may be read at www.tfn.org.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

evolution, creationism, intelligent design, Texas Freedom Network

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