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27 Aug
Republicans back creationism, scientists shocked

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Fri, 27 Aug 99 09:38:36 -0700
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Subject: Republicans back creationism, scientists shocked

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	   Republicans back creationism, scientists shocked

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Recent statements by presidential candidates, led by
Republican front-runner George W. Bush, supporting the teaching of
creationism in public schools are stirring concern in scientific circles.

Bush, the governor of Texas who leads the field for the Republican
presidential nomination by a wide margin, said last week in New Orleans he
favored exposing children to different theories of how life began.

"I believe children ought to be exposed to different theories about how the
world started," Bush said, in response to a question about a decision
earlier this month by the Kansas Board of Education to delete virtually any
mention of evolution from the state's recommended science curriculum and
standardized tests.

Bush's spokeswoman Mindy Tucker said: "He (Bush) believes both creationism
and evolution ought to be taught. He believes it is a question for states
and local school boards to decide but he believes both ought to be taught."

Evolution, first set forth by the 19th century scientist Charles Darwin, is
the theory that because there are certain similarities in all forms of life
on Earth, that all life evolved from common ancestors.

Opponents of the theory say it contradicts the biblical account of the
creation of life by God and object to the notion that human life evolved
from a lower life form.

Vice President Al Gore, the Democratic front-runner who has been a strong
advocate of scientific education, favors teaching evolution but believes
local authorities have the right to teach creationism as well, said
spokesman Alejandro Cabrera.

"The vice president favors the teaching of evolution in public schools.
Obviously, that decision should and will be made at the local level and
localities should be free to decide to teach creationism as well," Cabrera

When told of Gore's statement, Eugenie Scott, executive director of the
National Center for Science Education, responded: "My God, that's

"I understand politicians like to compromise and that faced with one group
who say two plus two equals four and another group that says two plus two
equals six, will tend to arrive at a position that says two plus two equals
five. Unfortunately, sometimes the answer has to be four and this is one of
those times," she said.

Francisco Ayala, a geneticist at the University of California, Irvine, said
the United States was making itself a laughing stock in the world.

"If we don't teach our kids good science, they will be handicapped later in
a world that depends on science and technology," he said. "I am disturbed
at this political trend. It is potentially terribly damaging to our

Among other Republican presidential candidates, publisher Steve Forbes and
Sen. John McCain of Arizona both said the decision of what to teach in
schools should be left to local authorities and took no position on the

Conservative Pat Buchanan said he supported teaching children that the
universe was created by God, although he did not object to them learning
about evolution as a theory.

"What I do object to is to teach Darwin's theory of evolution of human
beings from animals without divine intervention. I don't believe in that
and I adamantly object to that," he told Reuters in a telephone message.

Republican candidate Gary Bauer, who is vying with Buchanan for the support
of conservatives, said on MSNBC: "Polling data shows Americans want both
ideas exposed to children. I think that makes a lot of sense."

Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the
issue was becoming a litmus test for some conservative Christians who were
a powerful constituency in the Republican Party.

"When we have candidates saying we ought to turn public schools into Sunday
schools, we have a big problem," he said.

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