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Churches back science standards teaching evolution

First Published Jun 16 2014 06:04 pm • Last Updated Jun 16 2014 09:57 pm

Casper, Wyo. • A group of Wyoming churches say they support science education standards that the state Legislature rejected over concerns that students would be expected to know about global climate change and evolution.

The Wyoming Association of Churches said recently that science should be taught openly and not be based on any belief system and that it supports teaching students at K-12 public schools concepts in line with the Next Generation Science Standards, the Casper Star-Tribune reported Monday (http://bit.ly/1qkYdnO).

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"It’s just a historical statement," said the Rev. Warren Murphy, a Cody-based Episcopalian minister and environmental projects coordinator for the church group that represents about 10 Protestant denominations statewide. "None of us have any problems with understanding evolution, and it does not interfere with faith."

Others in Wyoming oppose the standards for endorsing the mainstream scientific theories of biological evolution and man-made climate change.

While a literal or fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible suggests that the Earth is about 6,000 years old, Murphy said, the next-generation standards say the Earth is 4.6 billion years old.

"Science is important, peer-proven," he said. "Faith is something else. It shouldn’t interfere with what science is doing."

Schools and teachers use the standards developed by 26 states and several national science education groups in choosing their textbooks and lesson plans. To date, nine states and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards.

Wyoming education officials have been developing a different set of standards since the Legislature rejected the standards last winter with Gov. Matt Mead’s approval.

A statement to the Board of Education published by the nonprofit Wyoming Citizens Opposing the Common Core called the standards "opinionated" and asserted that they will present an atheistic worldview. The statement questioned whether the origins and nature of life are appropriate questions to ask in a science classroom.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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