Teachers Ignore Courts on Evolution Debate

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Creationism and intelligent design still have a place in schools despite losing battles in court, a recent study says.

More than 12 percent of high school biology teachers provide some instruction on creationism or intelligent design as a "valid, scientific alternative to Darwinian explanations for the origin of species," researchers at Pennsylvania State University found.

The intelligent design views have been continuously shot down in court. Judges have ruled that creationism and intelligent design are religion, not science.

Still, some high school teachers believe otherwise.

"Ultimately, they are the ones who carry it out," Michael Berkman, a political scientist at Penn State, said.

Berkman and his colleagues conducted the national survey of high school biology teachers in 2007 - the first-ever of its kind. Of the 939 teachers who responded to the survey, one-fourth of them said they spent time teaching creationism and intelligent design.

Read the survey's entire results here.

When asked about their religious beliefs, 16 percent said they personally believed God created human beings in the last 10,000 years.

Some experts say that biology teachers may be spending less and less time on Darwin's theory because of community pressure.

"(The number of supporters) seems a bit high, but I am not shocked by it," said Linda Froschauer, past president of the National Science Teachers Association in Arlington, Va.

Berkman noted that those who favored evolution had a deeper background in evolutionary biology than those who did not. He believes if teachers are required to take evolutionary biology courses, it would dramatically impact evolution being taught in schools.

In 2004, a Pennsylvania school board began requiring teachers to read a statement that questioned the validity of Darwinism.

"Because Darwin's Theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered," the statement read. "The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence."

Sources: ABC News, Public Library of Science Journals, Pennsylvania State University

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