APS News

May 1997 (Volume 6, Number 5)

APS Reaffirms 1981 Statement on Creationism

Concerned with recent attempts to have the biblical story of creation taught in public schools as science, the APS Executive Board voted unanimously at its February meeting to reaffirm the position adopted by the Society in November 1981. The statement strongly opposes the teaching of "creationism" in science class, maintaining that "attempts to present scientific inquiry and religious beliefs in the same context can only lead to misunderstandings of both." The full text of the statement is below.

The Council of the American Physical Society opposes proposals to require "equal time" for presentation in public school science classes of the biblical story of creation and the scientific theory of evolution. The issues raised by such proposals, while mainly focused on evolution, have important implications for the entire spectrum of scientific inquiry, including geology, physics, and astronomy. In contrast to "Creationism," the systematic application of scientific principles has lead to a current picture of life, of the nature of our planet, and of the universe which, while incomplete, is constantly being tested and refined by observation and analysis.

This ability to construct critical experiments, whose results can require rejection of a theory, is fundamental to the scientific method. While our society must constantly guard against oversimplified or dogmatic descriptions of science in the education process, we must also resist attempts to interfere with the presentation of properly developed scientific principles in established guidelines for classroom instruction or in the development of scientific textbooks. We therefore strongly oppose any requirement for parallel treatment of scientific and non-scientific discussions in science classes. Scientific inquiry and religious beliefs are two distinct elements of the human experience. Attempts to present them in the same context can only lead to misunderstandings of both.

APS encourages the redistribution of the materials included in this newspaper provided that attribution to the source is noted and the materials are not truncated or changed.

Editor: Barrett H. Ripin

May 1997 (Volume 6, Number 5)

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Articles in this Issue
Congressional Members Respond to Joint Society Statement
Inside the Beltway
International News
New Staff Brings Expertise to APS Meetings, Education, Outreach
White House Taps Panel of Experts on Energy R&D
Physicists to be Honored at PAC'97
APS Reaffirms 1981 Statement on Creationism
In Brief
1996 Annual Report
The Back Page