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An Evolutionist's Evolution


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Article in the NY Times:


It may seem that the American Museum of Natural History is cruising for controversy in presenting "Darwin," the most comprehensive exhibition any museum has offered on the naturalist's life and theories. It is a time, after all, when the theory of evolution by natural selection seems as newsworthy as it was back in the days of the Scopes trial 80 years ago.


According to a CBS News poll last month, 51 percent of Americans reject the theory of evolution, saying that God created humans in their present form. And reflecting a longstanding sentiment, 38 percent of Americans believe that creationism should be taught instead of evolution, according to an August poll by the Pew Research Center in Washington.


An ongoing federal trial in Harrisburg, Pa., may determine whether a local school board can compel teachers to inform students about the theory of intelligent design - the idea that life on earth is too complex to have arisen through evolution alone. And though there is no credible scientific support for this position, President Bush, when asked in August about evolution and intelligent design, said that "both sides ought to be properly taught."


However, said Ellen V. Futter, president of the museum, the $3 million exhibition, which opens to the public on Nov. 19, was conceived three years ago and "is not a riposte, but a celebration of Darwin's life and his ideas, which are the cornerstone of modern biology." The exhibition illustrates the way in which evolution became the basis for modern biology, ranking its importance with the theories of relativity in physics, and plate tectonics in geology.


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