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Editor's note: This position, which is still in effect, was adopted by APS Council on 22 November l98l in response to initiatives in several states to require 'equal' time for the instruction of creation and evolution in public schools.
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 led 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.
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Editor: Barrett H. Ripin
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette