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Back to School With the NSF: Targeting “Young Children” to Believe In Evolution

On September 2nd, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released an announcement regarding its new “Evolution Readiness Project,” whose self-stated goal is:

to teach young children how Darwin’s model of natural selection explains the observation that organisms are adapted to their environment

When they say “young children,” they mean fourth-graders. And when the project says “teach,” it really means to get students to believe in evolution. The project’s website explains that a main concern driving the project is that “it is unacceptable that 150 years after the birth of the theory of evolution only four out of ten Americans believe in it!”

Given this express admission that they seek to get students to believe in evolution, what should we make of denials made by the project’s principal investigator, Paul Horwitz, to the National Science Teachers Association that it doesn’t matter “whether they believe in it or not”?

“We are not promoting a belief system,” says Horwitz. “Our goal is to help kids understand natural selection as a mechanism for evolution, whether they believe in it or not.”

This is a typical bluff, betrayed by his own project’s website. If he wasn’t so concerned about the low numbers of Americans who “believe in” evolution, then he wouldn’t have started this project.