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South Carolina Set to Join Four Other States Calling for Critical Analysis of Evolution

Columbia, SC -- The South Carolina Education Oversight Committee (EOC) will vote Monday, June 12, on whether to give final approval to science standards for biology that require students to summarize how scientists "investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory." The standards were approved unanimously by the South Carolina Board of Education on May 31. Four other states (Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Kansas, and New Mexico) already have science education standards encouraging critical analysis of evolution.

"Darwin's theory should be taught as a theory open to scientific scrutiny, not as an orthodoxy that cannot be questioned," said Casey Luskin, Program Officer for Public Policy & Legal Affairs at the Discovery Institute. "South Carolina's new biology standards, if adopted, will improve science education by encouraging full disclosure of all the relevant scientific evidence, including evidence critical of Darwin's theory."

Monday's vote comes after months of debate over the recommended inclusion of indicators requiring students to critically analyze different parts of evolutionary theory. Recently the state board of education and the EOC came to a compromise to retain the "critical analysis" language in indicator B-5.6: "Summarize ways that scientists use data from a variety of sources to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory."

Earlier this year, two scientists testified in support of strengthening the science standards and allowing students to learn about some of the scientific challenges to Darwinian evolution. Dr. Richard Sternberg, who holds two PhDs in evolutionary biology fields, and Dr. Rebecca Keller, who holds a PhD in biophysical chemistry and is an expert on science curriculum development, both encouraged South Carolina to teach students both the strengths and weaknesses regarding evolution (as did National Academy of Sciences member Dr. Phil Skell.).

Dr. Sternberg told the State Board: "While Darwinian theory should be taught in the science classroom, as rigorously and fully as is appropriate, to present the theory as complete and sufficient for understanding evolution is inaccurate--and thus misleading." He testified that critical analysis is important in stimulating student's interest in science, and will increase students' knowledge and understanding of evolution overall.

Discovery Institute is the nation's leading think tank dealing with scientific challenges to Darwinian evolution. It believes that students should have the opportunity to study both the strengths and the weaknesses of Darwinian evolution as a scientific theory. At the same time, the Institute opposes any attempt to mandate the teaching of alternative theories such as intelligent design by school districts or state boards of education.

To schedule an interview with a Discovery Institute representative contact Robert Crowther at 206-292-0401 x107, or e-mail rob@discovery.org.