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Education Reporter

Alabama Textbook Insert Calls
Evolution a 'Controversial Theory'
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The Alabama Board of Education in a unanimous vote (8-0) on November 10 adopted the same biology textbook insert which Eagle Forum advocated four years ago. In spite of objections in the media to the word "controversial" from some science teachers, the insert says to students that "evolution is a controversial theory."

The Eagle Forum Science Advisory Committee had sent to Board members a seven page document providing the rationale for continued inclusion of the insert that explains the controversy as twofold.

First, "Darwinian evolution assumes the appearance of human beings due to purely naturalistic causes..It influences how mankind views itself, its ethics and morality." Second, current textbooks "ignore potential problems with the theory, omit any mention of its underlying assumptions, and present the subject matter in a persuasive rather than instructive manner."

To substantiate the necessity for an insert, the rationale showed that the textbooks contain contradictory definitions of "theory." The insert clarifies the meaning of theory and encourages students to appreciate the importance of properly defining this word. The textbooks fail to use a single definition for the word "evolution." It is used to describe an observable process and unobservable process, minor changes and major changes. The insert says that students "should learn to make distinctions between the multiple meanings of evolution."

The rationale concludes that the insert has served its purpose to prepare students to think more critically about the issue of origins. The textbooks have improved slightly over the years, but "the general pattern is still to teach evolution in a dogmatic fashion that runs the risk of indoctrinating students rather than educating them. Alabama has higher standards for our students, and still needs the instructional insert."

Meanwhile, the same day of the Board vote, University of Alabama professors — anthropology, biology and geology — announced a series of lectures on the UA campus promoting evolution. One professor fears that "we are headed into a new cultural dark age." UA chemistry professor Kevin Redding and his colleagues find that most of their students come to the university both misunderstanding and rejecting Darwin's theory. "What controversy?" asks Redding. "We don't see it."

Perhaps these professors should take the advice of one of those improved high school textbooks, which correctly states, "Good scientists are skeptics, which means that they question both existing ideas and new hypotheses." They should read Dr. Jonathan Wells' Icons of Evolution, which documents ten fallacies remaining in textbooks long after their errors have been exposed. It explains why the best known icons — from pictures of apes evolving into humans, to comparisons of fish and human embryos, to moths on tree trunks — are false and misleading. Dr. Wells holds double PhDs from Yale and Berkeley.

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