Alabama Textbooks Maintain that Evolution is “Controversial”


Alabama textbooks will keep disclaimer saying theory of evolution is “controversial.”

The theory of evolution was first proposed by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in the early nineteenth century. A new version that was better explained was published in mid nineteenth century by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell. Notwithstanding the amount of explanation given to this theory, it still failed to convince some quarters, one of which is the Alabama State Board of Education.

Alabama Textbooks Maintain that Evolution is “Controversial”[/tweetthis]

The disclaimer released by the Alabama State Board of Education states that, "The word 'theory' has many meanings… Scientific theories are based on both observations of the natural world and assumptions about the natural world. They are always subject to change in view of new and confirmed observations."

Alabama got the mandate to teach evolution in schools only a year ago but the theory suffered another setback when education board members met on the 10th of March 2016. Though Alabama science standards clarified evolution to be "substantiated with much direct and indirect evidence," after a debate, the board members passed a vote that retained the four paragraph disclaimer on Alabama textbooks that described the theory of evolution as 'controversial'.

"The theory of evolution and natural selection is a controversial theory that is included in this textbook. It is controversial because it states that natural selection provides the basis for the modern scientific explanation for the diversity of living things. Since natural selection has been observed to play a role in influencing small changes in a population, it is assumed that it produces large changes, even though this has not been directly observed."

Alabama State Board of Education has mandated similar disclaimer in the past on the same theory. The first was in 1996 and the disclaimer said evolution is "a controversial theory some scientist presents". In 2001, another disclaimer replaced the first and explained "the theory of evolution by natural selection" to be controversial. The third disclaimer came in 2005 in science textbooks. The current disclaimer seems to be in favor of the earlier second.

The message by the Alabama State Board of Education ends by saying, "There are many unanswered questions about the origin of life. With the explosion of new scientific knowledge in biochemical and molecular biology and exciting new fossil discoveries, Alabama students, may be among those who use their understanding and skills to contribute to knowledge and to answer many unanswered questions. Instructional material associated with controversy should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.”


Follow the Conversation on Twitter