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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2015/05/29

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear friends of NCSE,

A "clear statement" from the Scottish government on teaching
creationism as science. And a lawsuit challenging the
constitutionality of teaching evolution in West Virginia.

UPDATE FROM SCOTLAND

"Campaigners who called for an official ban on teaching creationism in
schools have welcomed a 'clear statement' from a Scottish Government
minister it should not be taught in science classes," reports the
Glasgow Herald (May 24, 2015). The proposed ban would have barred "the
presentation in Scottish publicly funded schools of separate creation
and of Young Earth doctrines as viable alternatives to the established
science of evolution, common descent, and deep time."

As NCSE previously reported, the Scottish Secular Society, prompted by
recent creationist incursions, lodged the petition with the Public
Petitions Committee of the Scottish parliament in 2014. The committee
agreed to write to the government about the petition, but the
government rejected the proposed ban as unnecessary. Subsequently, the
committee decided to forward the petition to the Education and Culture
Committee, which also agreed to write to the government about the
petition.

The government again declined to act on the petition, but a letter
sent to the committee by the minister of learning and science
explained, "Guidance provided by Education Scotland ... does not
identify Creationism as a scientific principle. It should therefore
not be taught as part of science lessons." Paul Braterman, the
scientific advisor to the SSS, welcomed the statement, telling the
Herald, "Now we have, at least, a clear statement from the responsible
minister that creationism should not be taught as science."

In the meantime, the dueling motions introduced in the Scottish
Parliament in January 2015 -- S4M-12148, calling for a "Crackdown on
Creationism" and supporting the SSS's position on teaching creationism
in the Scottish public schools, and S4M-12149, entitled "Creationism
and Evolution" and describing a variety of positions, including
young-earth creationism, as "valid beliefs for people to hold" -- are
both listed on the parliament's website as having "fallen" on May 12,
2015.

For the story in the Glasgow Herald, visit:
http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/scottish-government-creationism-banned-from-science-class.126976076 

For information about the petition, visit:
http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/gettinginvolved/petitions/creationismguidance 

For information on the dueling motions, visit:
http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx?SearchType=Advance&ReferenceNumbers=S4M-12148 
http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx?SearchType=Advance&ReferenceNumbers=S4M-12149 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events outside the United States, visit:
http://ncse.com/news/international 

ANTIEVOLUTION LAWSUIT FILED IN WEST VIRGINIA

"A parent of a Jefferson County student has filed a federal lawsuit
against local, state and federal education officials claiming the
teaching of evolution, which he says is a religion, violates his
child’s Constitutional rights," reports the Charleston, West Virginia,
Daily Mail (May 21, 2015).

In a complaint filed with the United States District Court for the
Northern District of West Virginia on May 12, 2015, Kenneth Smith
contends that teaching evolution in West Virginia's public school
constitutes "the propagation of religious faith" and that it hinders
his daughter's ability to enter college and to become a veterinarian.

Listed as defendants are the Jefferson County School Board; Michael
Martirano, the West Virginia state superintendent of schools; Francis
Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health; Arne
Duncan, the Secretary of Education; and the Department of Education
itself. Smith is representing himself.

In his complaint, Smith contends that the defendants "wrongfully
violated established clauses" -- presumably a reference to the
Establishment Clause -- in continuing to allow evolution to be taught
"[w]hile denying the Plaintiff's accurate scientific mathematical
system of genetic variations that proves evolution is a religion."

Smith is apparently the author of The True Origin of Man (iUniverse,
2013), which "represents the truth of mans [sic] origins confirmed by
DNA mathematical and scientific facts." The about-the-author line
explains, "Kenneth Smith after gaining his science degree has spent
many years thereafter studying theology and made the ultimate
discovery."

The complaint concludes by asking the court to "declare the policy of
evolution, as to be violating of United States Constitutional
Amendments" (presumably the First, prohibiting any government
establishment of religion, and the Fourteenth, requiring state
governments to abide by the restrictions of the Bill of Rights).

Absent from the complaint is any mention of the relevant case law. In
McLean v. Arkansas (1982), for example, the court commented, "it is
clearly established in the case law, and perhaps also in common sense,
that evolution is not a religion and that teaching evolution does not
violate the Establishment Clause."

Similarly, in Peloza v. Capistrano School District (1994), the court
characterized the Supreme Court's decision in Edwards v. Aguillard
(1987) as holding "unequivocally that while the belief in a divine
creator of the universe is a religious belief, the scientific theory
that higher forms of life evolved from lower forms is not."

For the story in the Charleston Daily Mail, visit:
http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150521/DM02/150529767 

For NCSE's collection of documents from the case, visit:
http://ncse.com/legal/smith-v-jefferson-county-school-board-et-al 

WHAT'S NEW FROM THE SCIENCE LEAGUE OF AMERICA

Have you been visiting NCSE's blog, The Science League of America,
recently? If not, then you've missed:

* Minda Berbeco wondering whether the "greenhouse" terminology is misleading:
http://ncse.com/blog/2015/05/misconception-monday-is-greenhouse-misleading-0016378 

* Stephanie Keep finding infelicities in the signage at a natural
history museum:
http://ncse.com/blog/2015/05/which-stephanie-visits-nhm-london-gets-little-grumpy-0016363 

* Glenn Branch identifying the source of the phrase "arrival of the fittest":
http://ncse.com/blog/2015/05/whence-arrival-fittest-0016357 

And much more besides!

For The Science League of America, visit:
http://ncse.com/blog 

Thanks for reading. And don't forget to visit NCSE's website --
http://ncse.com -- where you can always find the latest news on 
evolution and climate education and threats to them.

--
Sincerely,

Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x303
fax: 510-601-7204
800-290-6006
branch@ncse.com 
http://ncse.com 

Check out NCSE's new blog, Science League of America:
http://ncse.com/blog 

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http://reports.ncse.com 

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