Alabama students will finally learn about evolution in their science classes. But that information could still come with a giant disclaimer that it is a "controversial theory."
On Monday, Alabama officials announced that next year, for the first time, students will be required to learn about climate change and evolution. The new guidelines require students to use scientific evidence to "support the hypotheses of common ancestry and biological evolution" and learn about the human contribution to climate change.
Even with the updates to those standards, the state's textbooks could still include statements affixed to either the front or back of the book that say there are multiple "theories" about how humans came to be on this planet and reminding students that "no one was present when life first appeared on earth." The current textbooks include these disclaimers, and a state education committee will determine whether to remove or change them following a public hearing next month.
Below is the full text of the current sticker, which Newsweek posted earlier today:
A MESSAGE FROM THE ALABAMA STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION
This textbook discusses evolution, a controversial theory some scientists present as a scientific explanation for the origin of living things, such as plants, animals and humans.
No one was present when life first appeared on earth. Therefore, any statement about life's origins should be considered as theory, not fact.
The word 'evolution' may refer to many types of change. Evolution describes changes that occur within a species. (White moths, for example, may 'evolve' into gray moths.) This process is microevolution, which can be observed and described as fact. Evolution may also refer to the change of one living thing to another, such as reptiles into birds. This process, called macroevolution, has never been observed and should be considered a theory. Evolution also refers to the unproven belief that random, undirected forces produced a world of living things.
There are many unanswered questions about the origin of life which are not mentioned in your textbook including:
-Why did major groups of animals suddenly appear in the fossil record (known as the 'Cambrian Explosion')?
-Why have no new major groups of living things appeared in the fossil record for a long time?
-Why do major groups of plants and animals have no transitional forms in the fossil record?
-How did you and all living things come to possess such a complete and complex set of 'Instructions' for building a living body?
Study hard and keep an open mind. Someday, you may contribute to the theories of how living things appeared on earth.