The ongoing creation-evolution controversy in North America thrives on the widespread special creationist beliefs of a significant portion of the public. Creation science supports a literal interpretation of the Judeo-Christian Bible, an earth that is no more than 10,000 years old and created ex nihilo in six days by a monotheistic God, with no new kinds arising since the period of creation, and with a single flood of staggering force shaping layers of rocks and trapping the organisms fossilized within them. Despite decisions in numerous court cases that specifically exclude creationism and creation science from primary and secondary biology classes in America's public schools, creationists now work locally to minimize or remove evolution from science teaching standards. The nationally organized movement to resist the teaching of evolution has proven highly effective, influencing state and district school boards in addition to individual teachers and schools. Thus, if teaching about evolution and the nature of science is to survive in America's primary and secondary schools, scientists must likewise work with teachers and reach out to state and local school boards. In this perspective we outline the typical creationist arguments we encounter from students, teachers, school board members, and neighbors. We explain briefly how knowledge of both microevolution and macroevolution is important in medicine, agriculture, and biotechnology. We describe a science education controversy that arose within our own school district, how we responded, and what we learned from it. Finally, we argue that even modest outreach efforts to science teachers will be richly repaid.
Corresponding Editor: J. Mitton