365 Cromwell Way, Lexington, KY 40503

DANIEL J. PHELPS (606) 277-3148     October 12, 1999

OCTOBER 12, 1999

The Kentucky Paleontological Society was founded in 1993 for the purpose of promoting interest in and knowledge of the science of paleontology. The Society is a network for the exchange of data between professionals and serious amateurs in the field. The KPS and its members have worked with world-class paleontologists on exciting projects ranging from the discovery of a new genus of extinct echinoderm, and the excavation of a rare early land vertebrate in Kentucky to helping excavate dinosaurs and other vertebrate fossils in New Mexico and Montana. Our mission is to advance science by bringing untapped talent into the field, and to help create a more scientifically literate public through our educational efforts. Correcting misunderstandings about science is clearly part of any educational mission. We think that it is vital that all scientific organizations, including the KPS, stand against pseudoscience. On October 12, 1999, the KPS issued the following statement:

The Kentucky Paleontological Society (KPS) is opposed to any attempt to teach creationism or omit mention of evolution from public school instruction. Furthermore, evolution should be called “evolution” in curriculum guidelines and other documents; euphemisms such as “change over time” are intellectually dishonest for they attempt to conceal the terminology used by scientists. Paleontology relies for its evidence on two different but historically related fields, biology and geology. Biological evolution is the central organizing principle of biology, understood as descent with modification. Evolution is equally basic to geology, because the pattern of fossil distribution in the rock record makes no sense without evolution. Evidence for the progressive replacement of fossil forms has been adequate to support the theory of evolution for over 100 years. Paleontologists may dispute, on the basis of the available evidence, the tempo and mode of evolution in a particular group at a particular time, but they do not argue about whether evolution took place. The record of the evolution of life is exciting, instructive, and enjoyable, and it is our view that everyone should have the opportunity and the privilege to understand it as paleontologists do.

Kentucky’s students deserve and require a high-quality science education, grounded in scientific evidence and free of sectarian influence. The content of science courses should be determined by the standards of the scientific community.

Most people who subscribe to religious views have developed belief systems that are compatible with evolution. We fully respect the religious views of all persons, but we object to attempts to require any religious teachings as science.

Our Executive Committee approved this statement. We wish to make it clear that we do not restrict our membership to avowed evolutionists. We insist only that our members conduct themselves responsibly and safely when doing field work and collecting specimens.

The KPS encourages its members and other professional scientific groups to give support and aid to those classroom teachers who present the subject matter of evolution fairly and encounter community objection. We also encourage administrators and individual teachers to oppose the inclusion of nonscientific concepts in the science classroom.