American Association of Physics Teachers Statement on the Teaching of Evolution and Cosmology – Transcript
The following statement was adopted by the Executive Board of the American Association of Physics Teachers at its meeting in College Park, Maryland on October 16, 1999.
The Executive Board of the American Association of Physics Teachers is dismayed at the action taken by the Kansas State Board of Education to eliminate the most significant portions of the subjects of evolution and cosmology from the science standards which define educational objectives in the state.
Evolution and cosmology represent two of the most sweeping and unifying concepts of modern science. There are few scientific facts more firmly supported by observations than these: Biological evolution has occurred and new species have arisen over time, life on Earth originated more than a billion years ago, and most stars are at least several billion years old. The overwhelming evidence comes from so many and diverse sources–biological knowledge of the structure and function of DNA, geological examination of rocks, paleontological studies of fossils, telescopic observations of distant stars and galaxies–that no serious scientist questions these claims; we do our children a grave disservice if we remove from their education familiarity with the evidence and the conclusions. The “Big Bang” theory of the origin of the universe is, to be sure, not quite so firmly established, and some scientists still consider alternatives. Here, too, however, the framework for skepticism and challenge is examination of scien tific observations and the proposal of testable alternatives, not simply the rejection of the conclusions that have been reached by most scientists.
No scientific theory, no matter how strongly supported by available evidence, is final and unchallengeable; any good theory is always exposed to the possibility of being overthrown by new observational evidence. That is at the very heart of the process of true science. But to deny children exposure to the evidence in support of biological evolution and of cosmology is akin to teaching them that atoms do not exist, that the Sun goes around the Earth, and the planet Jupiter has no moons.
The Kansas State Board of Education has a responsibility to ensure that all Kansas children receive a good education in science. The American Association of Physics Teachers urges the Kansas Board to rescind its action which removes a significant portion of good science from the Kansas standards for science education.
American Association of Physics Teachers
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