Discovery Institute Press Release September 20, 2002

28 Georgia Scientists, in Addition to 132 Nation-wide, Call for Academic Freedom on Darwinism

Press Release

Contact: Mark Edwards - 206.292.0401 x107 -

Last night, twenty-eight Georgia scientists from the University of Georgia, Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University and other Georgia schools appealed for academic freedom to teach the scientific controversy over Darwinian evolution. Calling themselves "Georgia Scientists for Academic Freedom," they sent a letter to the Cobb County School Board in Georgia, which is currently considering whether students should hear scientific evidence critical of Darwinian theory as well as the scientific evidence that supports it.

In their letter, the Georgia scientists urged "careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory" in the classroom, while also expressing skepticism toward the Darwinian claim that "random mutation and natural selection account for the complexity of life."

Backing the "Georgia Scientists for Academic Freedom" are 132 other scientists nationwide who have signed the same statement. The statement was originally issued last fall as "A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism" by more than 100 scientists across the nation.

Henry "Fritz" Schaefer, a five-time Nobel nominee and a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Georgia, topped the Georgia list.

"The scientific endeavor is the search for truth. That is why it is important that students and teachers be permitted, even encouraged, to discuss differing views of origins together with the scientific evidence that supports or does not support each view," said Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Dr. Russell Carlson, a signer at the University of Georgia.

Other signers come from the fields of biology, biochemistry, physiology, chemistry, artificial intelligence, medicine, and engineering. Ten colleges and institutions are represented, with the majority of signers (18) coming from the University of Georgia and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The letter to Cobb County School Board Chairman, Curtis Johnston, was sent by James Tumlin, an Associate Professor of Medicine at Emory University. Noting that 160 scientists nationwide have now called for academic freedom on Darwinism, Tumlin wrote: “The school board's resolution to allow teachers the freedom to examine both the attributes and the failings of natural selection is in keeping with the desires of many scientists to maintain academic freedom even at the secondary level.”

Cobb County is being pressured, most recently by Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of the Sciences, not to adopt a policy that says: "discussion of disputed views of academic subjects is a necessary element of providing a balanced education, including the study of the origin of the species. This subject remains an area of intense interest, research, and discussion among scholars."

Atlanta resident Charles Thaxton, one of the founders of the "intelligent design" movement was also on the list. Thaxton is author of the 1984 "The Mystery of Life's Origins," which is a seminal work of the intelligent design movement. Thaxton teaches at Charles University in Prague.

"This will give support to the Cobb County School Board which has been misrepresented and maligned in this debate,” said Bruce Chapman, the president of Discovery Institute. “It would be helpful for the Board members and the Georgia public also to know that the new federal education act (the ‘No Child Left Behind Act of 2001’) includes report language that calls for a similar approach as the Cobb County officials are considering. People also should be aware that polls show overwhelming public support nationally for this kind of fair-minded and objective approach."

File Date: 09.22.02