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Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2005
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Claim CA041:

Students should be taught all sides of a controversial issue. Evolution should not be taught without teaching the controversy that surrounds it.


Meyer, Stephen C., Teach the controversy on origins. Cincinnati Enquirer, 30 March, 2002.


  1. On the fundamental issues of the theory of evolution, such as the facts of common descent and natural selection, there is no scientific controversy. The "teach the controversy" campaign is an attempt to get pseudoscience taught in classrooms. Lessons about the sociological issues of the evolution-creation controversy may be appropriate in history or other nonscience classes.

    If the object is to keep bad science from the classroom, the same standards should be applied to the counterarguments from creationists, which are all bad science.

  2. There are controversies over details of evolutionary theory, such as the relative contributions of sympatric versus allopatric speciation. These controversies require a great deal of background in biology even to understand what they are about. They should not be taught to beginning students. They should be taught to graduate-level students in biology, and they are.

  3. Evolution is almost certainly the most hated scientific theory in history. Many people think it threatens morals, civilization, and their very souls, and virtually nobody wants it to be true. Starting from the first day that Origin of Species was published, it has faced constant challenges from some of the most powerful politicians and religious leaders, not to mention incessant disapproval and attacks from the general public. The only thing evolution has going for it is the evidence. If that evidence were not extremely strong, evolution would have been torn to irreparable shreds decades ago.

    Like all theories, evolution is subject to scientific attack, too. Achieving a major revision of established theory is something that many scientists dream of. Plus, many scientists feel the same emotional opposition to it that so many non-scientists do. If a credible alternative to evolution appeared, biologists would race to publish it. Indeed, scientists have made some significant revisions of details to the theory of evolution, but there has been no such race to overthrow the basic theory.

    The theory of evolution is stronger than ever, accepted around the world without a hint of informed scientific challenge to the basic theory. The controversy surrounding evolution has made it one of the most scrutinized theories of all time, and evolution has withstood that scrutiny with flying colors.

  4. Should teaching the controversy be expanded to include so-called alternatives to evolution? There are many mutually contradictory creationist positions, with disagreement on such fundamental issues as how old the universe is and which religion's book best describes the creator. Since the basis for creationism is its emotional religious appeal, and since such attraction varies between cultures and individuals, creationism will always be hopelessly controversial. Surely any lesson on the controversy should include the whole controversy.


NCSE, 2002, Analysis of the Discovery Institute's bibliography,

Further Reading:

Scott, E. C. and G. Branch, 2003. Evolution: what's wrong with 'teaching the controversy'. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18(10): 499-502.

Brauer, Matthew J., Barbara Forrest and Steven G. Gey. 2005. Is it science yet?: Intelligent design creationism and the Constitution. Washington University Law Quaterly 83(1): 1-149.
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created 2003-6-17, modified 2005-10-14