University of New Mexico Science Department Chairs' Statement on Rio Rancho Science Policy 401
September 1, 2005
We, as Chairs of the science and related departments at the University of New Mexico, strongly recommend that the Rio Rancho School District take timely action to rescind "Science Education Policy 401", which was adopted on Monday, 22 August, 2005, by the Rio Rancho Board of Education.
Science Education Policy 401 portrays a false impression of science, and does not adhere to New Mexico's current Science Content Standards, Benchmarks, and Performance Standards. The policy is a means to facilitate the introduction of completely non-scientific ideas like "intelligent design" and unscientific "evidence against evolution" into public school science classrooms, and we reject such attempts. The policy, written by non-scientists who have admitted the aforementioned, changes the intent of State Content Standards and, in effect, changes the definition of science itself in the process.
The effect of the policy is to introduce to the classroom the non-scientific concept of "intelligent design." The basis of this concept lies in the notion that the complexity of the natural world, including all life forms and their associated processes, is such that it may only be explained by the existence of a creator or designer of the universe, which is a specific religious notion not supported by scientific data. Science is a unique way of knowing about the natural world, and has as its foundation methodological naturalism. Natural phenomena can be explained without reference to supernatural beings or events, and thus notions that are inconsistent with the scientific method have absolutely no place in the science classroom.
In its inaccurate representation of science, and allowance for other non-scientific concepts to be introduced into the science classroom, the Rio Rancho School District Science Education Policy 401 is detrimental to the entire State of New Mexico. It should be abolished.
Disclaimer: ALL faculty members in the departments represented do not necessarily support our views.
Prepared by John W. Geissman, jgeissATunm.edu, 277-3433 (you know
the drill - use @ for AT)
Professor, Earth and Planetary Sciences
University of New Mexico
Eric S. Locker, Professor of Biology, Chair, Biology
Thomas M. Niemczyk, Professor of Chemistry, Chair, Chemistry
Les D. McFadden, Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Chair, Earth and Planetary Sciences
Bernd Bassalleck, Professor of Physics, Chair, Department of Physics and Astronomy
Garth Bawden, Professor of Anthropology, Chair, Department of Anthropology
Alejandro Aceves, Professor of Mathematics, Chair, Mathematics and Statistics
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