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American Astronomical Society Supports the Teaching of Evolution in United States Science Classes and States That 'Intelligent Design' Is Non-Scientific and Should Not Be Taught to the Nation's Children

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    WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- In a statement released today (and
 included in its entirety below), the American Astronomical Society, the
 largest professional scientific association for astronomers and
 astrophysicists in the United States, supports the teaching of evolution in K-
 12 science classes.  While endorsing the teaching of evolution the American
 Astronomical Society reminds the public that a scientific theory is the
 strongest form of scientific understanding of our world and not a mere
 speculation or guess.  Theories are always open to revision, but represent our
 current best understanding of how nature and the universe work.
     Focusing specifically on recent actions by proponents of so-called
 "Intelligent Design," the statement released today points out that
 "Intelligent Design" fails to meet the basic definition of a scientific idea
 or theory containing no testable way to verify its central ideas.
     The President of the American Astronomical Society, Dr. Robert P. Kirshner
 of Harvard University said, "Science teachers have their hands full teaching
 the things that we actually know about the world we live in.  They shouldn't
 be burdened with content-free dogma like Intelligent Design."
     Dr. George Nelson, Education Officer of the American Astronomical Society
 and former astronaut agreed, saying, "Anti-science movements like Intelligent
 Design, however disguised, seriously undermine the already difficult task of
 educating the next generation to be science literate.  And a science literate
 citizenry is necessary if America is to continue to thrive."
     The AAS statement was adopted by the Council of the American Astronomical
 Society, the elected governing board of the association.  It is given below in
 its entirety.  Supporting references and additional information are available
 on the Society's website at http://www.aas.org.
 
 
 
      American Astronomical Society Statement on the Teaching of Evolution
                               20 September, 2005
 
     The American Astronomical Society supports teaching evolution in our
 nation's K-12 science classes.  Evolution is a valid scientific theory for the
 origin of species that has been repeatedly tested and verified through
 observation, formulation of testable statements to explain those observations,
 and controlled experiments or additional observations to find out whether
 these ideas are right or wrong.  A scientific theory is not speculation or a
 guess -- scientific theories are unifying concepts that explain the physical
 universe.
     Astronomical observations show that the Universe is many billions of years
 old (see the AAS publication, An Ancient Universe, cited below), that nuclear
 reactions in stars have produced the chemical elements over time, and recent
 observations show that gravity has led to the formation of many planets in our
 Galaxy.  The early history of the solar system is being explored by
 astronomical observation and by direct visits to solar system objects.
 Fossils, radiological measurements, and changes in DNA trace the growth of the
 tree of life on Earth.  The theory of evolution, like the theories of gravity,
 plate tectonics, and Big Bang cosmology, explains, unifies, and predicts
 natural phenomena.  Scientific theories provide a proven framework for
 improving our understanding of the world.
     In recent years, advocates of "Intelligent Design" have proposed teaching
 "Intelligent Design" as a valid alternative theory for the history of life.
 Although scientists have vigorous discussions on interpretations for some
 aspects of evolution, there is widespread agreement on the power of natural
 selection to shape the emergence of new species.  Even if there were no such
 agreement, "Intelligent Design" fails to meet the basic definition of a
 scientific idea: its proponents do not present testable hypotheses and do not
 provide evidence for their views that can be verified or duplicated by
 subsequent researchers.
     Since "Intelligent Design" is not science, it does not belong in the
 science curriculum of the nation's primary and secondary schools.
     The AAS supports the positions taken by the National Academy of Sciences,
 the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Science
 Teachers Association, the American Geophysical Union, the American Chemical
 Society, and the American Association of Physics Teachers on the teaching of
 evolution.  The AAS also supports the National Science Education Standards:
 they emphasize the importance of scientific methods as well as articulating
 well-established scientific theories.
 
     References Cited
     An Ancient Universe:  How Astronomers Know the Vast Scale of Cosmic Time.
       Published by the American Astronomical Society.  It is also available as
       a PDF on the Society's webpage at
       http://www.aas.org/education/publications/AncientUniverseWeb.pdf.
 
 

SOURCE American Astronomical Society

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