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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Citizens Vote in Evolution-Creation Mock Trial

According to Inside Higher Ed, James Votruba, president of Northern Kentucky University, has received hundreds of emails from scientists calling on him to cancel tonight's interactive mock trial that will let local citizens vote on whether public school science teachers should be allowed to teach creationism. (The press release, which describes the trial and its participants, uses the term "creation science," which greatly upsets Debra Pearce, chair of biology at Northern Kentucky, who clarifies that creationism is in no way science).
Votruba says he would never promote the teaching of creationism as science, but it's a university's job to create a safe place for "free inquiry" and the discussion of difficult and polarizing topics. The problem as the critics see it, however, is that the mock trial gives the false impression that creationism and evolution are of equal scientific status. In the scientific community, there is no controversy—the consensus is that evolution only should be taught in the science classroom—and, "of course, science issues are not settled in a courtroom, ever," biologist PZ Myers writes on his blog.
On this point, we have to agree: While we support the open exchange of ideas—including conversations about the popularity of creationism and its challenges—the scientific merits of evolution and creationism should not be up for a public vote.
Stay tuned for the statement Northern Kentucky's biology department plans to release after the event. —Heather Wax