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Thursday, May 12, 2005

National Academy of Sciences Member Urges Teaching Both Sides of Darwinism Controversy.

Phil Skell, a National Academy of Sciences member and Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus Penn State University, best known for his work in carbene chemistry, has written a letter to the Kansas State Board of Education, voicing "strong support for the idea that students should be able to study scientific criticisms of the evidence for modern evolutionary theory along with the evidence favoring the theory." For Skell, who is an octogenarian, this must have taken considerable courage.

He noted,

All too often, the issue of how to teach evolutionary theory has been dominated by voices at the extremes. On one extreme, many religious activists have advocated for Bible-based ideas about creation to be taught and for evolution to be eliminated from the science curriculum entirely. On the other hand, many committed Darwinian biologists present students with an idealized version of the theory that glosses over real problems and prevents students from learning about genuine scientific criticisms of it.Both these extremes are mistaken. Evolution is an important theory and students need to know about it. But scientific journals now document many scientific problems and criticisms of evolutionary theory and students need to know about these as well.Many of the scientific criticisms of which I speak are well known by scientists in various disciplines, including the disciplines of chemistry and biochemistry, in which I have done my work. I have found that some of my scientific colleagues are very reluctant to acknowledge the existence of problems with evolutionary theory to the general public. They display an almost religious zeal for a strictly Darwinian view of biological origins.


For those scientists who take it seriously, Darwinian evolution has functioned more as a philosophical belief system than as a testable scientific hypothesis. This quasi-religious function of the theory is, I think, what lies behind many of the extreme statements that you have doubtless encountered from some scientists opposing any criticism of neo-Darwinism in the classroom. It is also why many scientists make public statements about the theory that they would not defend privately to other scientists like me.

Steve Jones, a biologist and moderator of the CreationEvolutionDesign discussion group commented, "Congratulations to Phil. Due to Phil's standing as a member of the NAS, this will be a powerful support to the Kansas Board. However, because of that fact, I expect that Phil will be savagely attacked for this `nailing of his colours to the mast' and there may even be attempts to expel him from the NAS. I for one will uphold him and his family in prayer."
Steve has the right idea, unfortunately. The Darwinists care way more about their monopoly on the school system than they do about carbene chemistry.

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