The teaching of evolution is still controversial in some school districts. Teachers can always consult NCSE for detailed information and advice on responding to opposition to evolution. Here are some of the types of challenges teachers are currently dealing with:
- Teach the "strengths and weaknesses" of evolution
- "Teach the Controversy"
- Opting Out
- "Critical Analysis" of Evolution
- "Academic freedom" to teach "controversial topics"
A science teacher's professional responsibility is to teach science. Denigrating evolution or stating that "some scientists reject evolution" misrepresents the mainstream, consensus view of the scientific community. Furthermore, if employed by a public school, teachers are required to respect the separation of church and state. Creationism privileges particular religious beliefs and perspectives; teaching creationism in public schools violates the United States Constitution.
All major scientific organizations support teaching only evolution, and not creationism. Science education organizations, such as the National Association of Biology Teachers and the National Science Teachers Association have issued position statements that endorse the teaching of evolution.
Teachers may be faced with opposition to evolution that stems from the perception that evolution inherently conflicts with religion. These resources may be helpful:
- "Science, Religion, and Evolution" by Eugenie C. Scott
- "Problem concepts in evolution: Cause, purpose, design, chance" by Eugenie C. Scott
- "Cans and Can'ts of Teaching Evolution," by Eugenie C. Scott
- NCSE's Voices for Evolution, a collection of statements from religious, scientific, civil liberties, and educator organizations in support of teaching evolution
For more resources on this topic, please visit the Science and Religion section of our website.
Teachers should know that the full force of the United States Constitution supports the teaching of only evolution, and not creationism, in public schools. In the last forty years, all legal cases that have come before the courts have been decided in favor of teaching evolution. These decisions have found that creationism, creation science, and intelligent design are religiously based views that should not be taught in public school science classroom. (See NCSE's summary of the ten most important cases).
If you still have questions or concerns, call NCSE!