As stated in The American Biology Teacher (1973) by the eminent scientist Theodosius Dobzhansky, 'nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." This often quoted assertion accurately illuminates the central, unifying role of evolution in nature, and therefore in biology. Teaching biology in an effective and scientifically honest manner requires classroom discussions and laboratory experiences on evolution.

Modern biologists constantly study, ponder, and deliberate the patterns, mechanisms and pace of evolution, but they do not debate evolution's occurrence. The fossil record and the diversity of extant organisms, combined with modern techniques of molecular biology, taxonomy and geology, provide exhaustive examples and powerful evidence for genetic variation, natural selection, speciation, extinction and other well-established components of current evolutionary theory. Scientific deliberations and modifications of these components clearly demonstrate the vitality and scientific integrity of evolution and the theory that explains it.

This same examination, pondering and possible revision has firmly established evolution as an important natural process explained by valid scientific principles, and clearly differentiates and separates science from various kinds of non-scientific ways of knowing, including those with a supernatural basis such as creationism. Whether called "creation science, scientific creationism, intelligent-design theory, young-earth theory" or some other synonym, creation beliefs have no place in the science classroom. Explanations employing non-naturalistic or supernatural events, whether explicit reference is made to a supernatural being or not, are outside the realm of science and are not part of a valid science curriculum. Evolutionary theory, indeed all of science, is necessarily silent on religion and neither refutes or supports the existence of a deity or deities.

Accordingly, the National Association of Biology Teachers, an organization of science teachers, endorses the following tenets of science, evolution and biology education:

Opposition to teaching evolution reflects confusion about the nature and processes of science. Teachers can, and should, stand firm and teach good science with the acknowledged support of the courts. In Epperson v. Arkansas (1968), the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 1928 Arkansas law prohibiting the teaching of evolution in state schools. In McLean v. Arkansas (1982), the federal district court invalidated a state statute requiring equal classroom time for evolution and creationism.

Edwards v. Aguillard (1987) led to another Supreme Court ruling against so-called "balanced treatment" of creation science and evolution in public schools. In this landmark case, the Court called the Louisiana equal-time statute "facially invalid as violative of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, because it lacks a clear secular purpose." This decision -- "the Edwards restriction" -- is now the controlling legal position on attempts to mandate the teaching of creationism" the nation's highest court has said that such mandates are unconstitutional. Subsequent district court decisions in Illinois and California have applied "the Edwards restriction" to teachers who advocate creation science, and to the right of a district to prohibit an individual teacher from promoting creation science in the classroom.

Courts have thus restricted school districts from requiring creation science in the science curriculum and have restricted individual instructors from teaching it. All teachers and administrators should be mindful of these court cases, remembering the law, science and NABT support them as they appropriately include the teaching of evolution in the science curriculum.


Clough, M. (1994) Diminish Students' Resistance to Biological Evolution. The Am. Biol. Teacher, 56 409-415

Futuyma, D. (1986). Evolutionary Biology, 2 ed. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Assoc., Inc.

Gillis, A. (1994) Keeping Creationism Out of the Classroom. Bioscience, 44, 650-656.

Gould, S. (1977). Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History. NY: W. W. Norton & Co.

Mayr, E. (1991) One Long Argument: Charles Darwin and the genesis of modern evolutionary thought. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

McComas, W. ed. (1994). Investigating Evolutionary Biology in the Laboratory, Reston, VA: NABT.

Moore, J. (1993). Science as a Way of Knowing - The Foundations of Modern Biology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

National Center for Science Education. P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709. Numerous publications such as Facts, Faith and Fairness - Scientific Creationism Clouds Scientific Literacy by S. Walsh and T. Demere.

Numbers, R. (1992). The Creationists: The Evolution of Scientific Creationism. Berkeley, CA: Univ. Calif. Press.

Weiner, J. (1994). Beak of the Finch - A Story of Evolution in Our Time. NY: Alfred A. Knopf.


Adopted by the Board of the NABT, 15 March, 1995

Revised October 10, 1997

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