Probing Question: Why is teaching evolution still controversial?

Darwin-Büste im Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Bild: bb
In 2008, the Church of England issued an unexpected apology. Wrote Reverend Dr. Malcolm Brown, „Charles Darwin: 200 years from your birth, the Church of England owes you an apology for misunderstanding you and, by getting our first reaction wrong, encouraging others to misunderstand you still… But the struggle for your reputation is not over yet…“

By Melissa Beattie MossPENN STATE News

That may be an understatement. Darwin — a mild-mannered naturalist who attended church most of his life and shied away from controversy — sparked one of the most enduring battles between religious doctrine and science when he introduced the concept of natural selection in his 1859 book, On the Origin of Species.

According to Penn State political scientists Michael Berkman and Eric Plutzer, despite 40 years of court cases ruling against teaching creationism in American public schools, the majority of high school biology teachers are not strong classroom advocates of evolutionary biology.

„Considerable research suggests that supporters of evolution, scientific methods, and reason itself are losing battles in America’s classrooms,“ they write in a January 2011 Science article that details their study of 926 public high school biology instructors.

Says Berkman, „Only 28 percent of those teachers consistently introduce evidence that evolution occurred, and 13 percent explicitly advocate creationism.“ Over 60 percent attempt to avoid the controversy (and potential objections from school boards or parents) by employing several classroom strategies, he adds.

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