Florida’s ‘Theory of …’

New York Times Editorial
March 6, 2008

Has Florida come to its senses over the teaching of evolution? Sound science appears to be winning the latest round, but the struggle isn’t over.

We were cheered last year when a committee appointed by the State Department of Education drafted a new set of science standards that, for the first time, actually used the word evolution and called it a fundamental concept underlying all of biology….But then the anti-evolution crowd — the advocates of creationism and intelligent design — raised a ruckus. With the help of sympathetic board of education members, they forced some last-minute revisions that squeaked through the board by a 4-to-3 vote.

The compromise was to insert the phrase “scientific theory of” before the word evolution as a sop to opponents who contend that evolution is just a theory, not a fact. But it looks to us like the scientists got the better of the argument. School officials inserted the same “scientific theory of” before every other major scientific consensus. The document now refers, for example, to “the scientific theory of cells,” the “scientific theory of atoms,” and the “scientific theory of electromagnetism.”

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