American Astronomical Society

During the past year, religious fundamentalists have intensified their effort to force public school science classes to include instruction in "creationism." As defined in publications of the Institute for Creation Research and in laws passed or under consideration by several state legislatures, this doctrine includes the statement that the entire universe was created relatively recently, i.e. less than 10,000 years ago. This statement contradicts results of astronomical research during the past two centuries indicating that some stars now visible to us were in existence millions or billions of years ago, as well as the results of radiometric dating indicating that the age of the earth is about 4.5 billion years.

The American Astronomical Society does not regard any scientific theory as capable of rigorous proof or immune to possible revision in the light of new evidence. Such evidence should be presented for critical review and confirmation in the appropriate scientific journals. In this case, no such evidence for recent creation of the earth and universe has survived critical scrutiny by the scientific community. It would therefore be most inappropriate to demand that any science teacher present it as a credible hypothesis.

We agree with the findings of Judge William Overton that the Arkansas creationism law represents an unconstitutional intrusion of religious doctrine into the public schools, that "creation science" is not science, and that its advocates have followed the unscientific procedure of starting from a dogmatically held conclusion and looking only for evidence to support that conclusion.

The American Astronomical Society deplores the attempt to force creationism into public schools and urges Congress, all state legislatures, local school boards and textbook publishers to resist such attempts.

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