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Education Reporter

Evolution Warning Labels for Alabama Texts

MONTGOMERY, AL -- The Alabama State Board of Education has voted to insert a message in biology textbooks that states that evolution is a theory and not fact. The board made that decision as part of the approval of new science textbooks and materials for kindergarten through grade 12.

Students will find pasted on the inside cover of all new biology texts a one-page insert that begins, "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 as theory, not fact." (See A Message from the Alabama State Board of Education for full text.)

The message was written by scientists, and a statement of endorsement from 65 members of the Alabama scientific community was submitted to the Board of Education at its public hearing. Presented by two of the board's conservative members, Stephanie Bell and David Byers, it was chosen on a 6 to 1 vote over the one prepared by State Superintendent Ed Richardson.

Alabama Eagle Forum led the way in objecting to the way evolution has been presented in the biology books. The organization sent to each board member and all major state media outlets 26 pages of documentation to show that the books did not conform with the science course of study passed in March, which says that evolution should be taught as theory and not fact.

As a result of testimony given by Eagle Forum Education Chairman Joan Kendall, one of the best known evolutionary books, the BSCS green version (Biological Science: An Ecological Approach) was rejected by the textbook committee. Another significant and unprecedented action by the state board was the adoption on the supplemental list of a video tape entitled "Darwinism: Science or Naturalistic Philosophy," a vigorous debate at Stanford University between William Provine and Phillip Johnson. It contrasts the naturalistic and theistic ways of understanding our existence and is expected to be promoted for use in the high schools.

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