One in Eight U.S. Biology Teachers Teaches Creationism

Survey reveals that creationism and ID are hardly extinct in high schools

Too bad he can’t sub

Are those worry lines, Mr. Darwin?J. Cameron, 1869

The results of the first national survey of teachers about evolution in their classrooms are in. Darwin would quiver in his boots to learn that in this day and age, one in eight American biology teachers teach creationism and intelligent design as a sound alternative to his theory. In fact, 13 percent of the country's teachers think they can run an excellent biology class without even mentioning Darwin or evolution.

A few findings of note:

  • The surveyed teachers spent an average of 13.7 classroom hours per year on general evolutionary processes in their biology classes.
  • The majority spent no more than five hours a year on human evolution, and 17 percent did not cover it all.
  • Only two percent of teachers did not teach about evolution, human or otherwise, at all.
  • Thirteen percent of teachers thought an excellent biology course could exist without mentioning Darwin or evolutionary theory.
  • Twenty-five percent of teachers said that they devoted at least one or two classroom hours to creationism or intelligent design. About half of this subset—one in eight biology teachers—taught it not in critique but as a "valid, scientific alternative to Darwinian explanations for the origin of species" and one that "many reputable scientists" endorse.
  • Sixteen percent of all teachers surveyed believe personally in the "young earth" story of origins: that human beings were created by God in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years. About 48 percent of the general public believes this.

The survey, which was conducted by a team of Penn State political scientists last spring, assessed 939 randomly sampled U.S. biology teachers. It appears in PLoS Biology.