Downtown Columbus, Ohio. Photograph by  Derek Jensen (Tysto), via Wikimedia Commons.

A few times while reading about the history of the creationism/evolution controversy, I’ve noticed references to a policy adopted by the Columbus, Ohio, board of education in 1971 that provided for the teaching of creationism along with evolution. But there are rarely any details. In The Evolution Controversy in America (1994), for example, George E. Webb writes, “The board of education in Columbus, Ohio, passed a resolution in 1971 encouraging teachers to present special creation along with evolution,” and that’s all. As someone who was enrolled in Columbus, Ohio, public schools from kindergarten to high school, I find that irritating. As fate would have it, however, a copy of the resolution surfaced in NCSE’s archives recently, and a kindly colleague placed it on my desk.

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04.14.2015

Charles Darwin, 1855

Every year, in the last two weeks of January and the first two weeks of February, I have a busy time of it, reminding people about Darwin Day. As I wrote in 2012 (and repeated here in 2014), “Across the country and around the world, at colleges and universities, schools and libraries, museums and churches, people assemble around February 12 to commemorate the life and work of the British naturalist. But it’s not just about Darwin: it’s about engaging in—and enjoying—public outreach about science, evolution, and the importance of evolution education.” There’s always a marvelous assortment of innovative ways of celebrating the occasion on display, but I was struck by the announcement from the Humanist Society of Redding, California, which mentioned: “This year’s featured entertainment will be a live production of ‘Charles Darwin, Vampire Slayer.’”

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04.10.2015

Winterton Curtis (Acc. 90-105 - Science Service, Records, 1920s-1970s, Smithsonian Institution Archives)

Not so long ago, while helping to draft a piece for NCSE’s regular column in Evolution: Education and Outreach, I found myself wanting to invoke a familiar threefold distinction between evolution as fact, evolution as theory, and evolution as path. A modern locus classicus is T. Ryan Gregory’s “Evolution as Fact, Theory, and Path” (PDF) which appeared in the inaugural issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach, so I duly cited it along with Stephen Jay Gould’s “Evolution as Fact and Theory,” which appeared in Discover in 1981. Gregory also cites Michael Ruse’s book Taking Darwin Seriously (1997), which I was going to cite as well, but when I looked at it, I noticed that it began, “In dealing with evolution, I make a three-part division (Ruse, 1984b),” which impelled me to cite Ruse’s 1984 article, published in BioScience, in preference to the book.

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04.03.2015

Cover of Byron Nelson's "After Its Kind"

Do I tire of skimming through creationist books from the Scopes era? I do not. And to prove it, I’ve been perusing “After Its Kind”: The First and Last Word on Evolution (1927), by Byron C. Nelson. According to his grandson Paul Nelson, who edited a reprint volume of his writings in a series entitled Creationism in Twentieth Century America, Nelson was born in 1893 and attended George Washington University and the University of Wisconsin before serving in the Army (after having attempted to evade the draft) during the First World War. After the war, he trained as a minister, receiving a B.D. from the Luther Theological Seminary in 1922 and a Th.M. from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1926. “After Its Kind” was based on his Th.M. thesis; his grandson describes it as “a critique of theories of biological evolution and a defense of the biblical account of creation.”

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