In one of HAGSA’s better turnouts, approximately 35 people braved cold, rainy weather to attend this fascinating talk. Mr. Branch, who is deputy director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) presented an informative PowerPointŪ show, followed by an especially long and lively question and answer session.
The mission of NCSE is defending the teaching of evolution in American public schools, he said.
Among the more interesting items Mr. Branch elucidated was the fact that the anti-evolution movement began in the USA as recently as the 1920s. It was a product of the rise of German militarism, the revival of Christian fundamentalism, and the broadening impact of public education in our nation. Led by such luminaries as William Jennings Bryan, the movement begot many state laws forbidding the teaching of evolution, all of which subsequently took years to repeal. In fact, the last of these laws was overturned in Arkansas in 1968.
Mr. Branch also skillfully sketched out the (ahem) evolution of the movement from overt anti-evolution, through “creation science,” and “neo-creationism,” to “Intelligent Design”—today’s Trojan horse. He told us that there are data to show that 60% of teachers “don’t teach evolution forthrightly.” And given the fact that there are approximately fifteen thousand school districts in the US, and no central government control of schools, the anti-evolution movement has plenty of opportunity to make mischief.
But all is not lost. The Kitzmiller v. Dover School Board case, in which NCSE played a major role, was a major blow for the teaching of real science in our schools. In this case, of course, a federal court ruled that “intelligent design” is merely warmed-over creationism and therefore not science. Hooray!
Thank you Glenn Branch for a really informative and uplifting presentation. We are glad we didn’t miss it!
Report prepared by Roger Zabkie