Schools are pressed to teach creationism, scientists say

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AMERICAN classrooms have become the battleground for a renewed attack on the teaching of evolution, with the religious right pressuring schools, especially in the Midwest, Northwest, and California, scientists say.

At a scientific forum on ``Anti-science, anti-evolution'' at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco, Eugenie Scott said parents were increasingly pressuring public school teachers not to teach 19th-century naturalist Charles Darwin's theories that humans evolved over millions of years.

``I get calls from teachers all over the country complaining `What do you do? Mrs. Brown is here again and she's complaining about my teaching too much evolution this year','' said Ms. Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education.

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Evolutionary theory is opposed by ``creationists,'' who ascribe the origin of matter to acts of creation by God.

Norman Levitt, a mathematician at Rutgers University, said scientists had long assumed that other educated people were in general agreement about the validity of science. ``That assumption, I find much to my distress, is under significant challenge from large parts of the community of professional intellectuals,'' he said. Family-safe videos

Dick Rolfe sympathizes with parents who search video stores for movies without violence, four-letter words, or sex scenes that will leave them red-faced in front of their six-year-olds.

``Parents don't want to white-knuckle the video control every time they rent a video and bring it home to watch with the family,'' Mr. Rolfe said.

So nearly three years ago he launched the nonprofit Dove Foundation to publish a list of videos ``appropriate for family viewing.''

``Pretty soon, it became a real sought-after list. People began taking the list into their local video stores and then we started getting calls from video store owners asking for the lists, too,'' Rolfe said.

Dove won national attention in 1992, when it helped persuade McDonald's to drop its promotion of the PG-13-rated ``Batman Returns'' because of the movie's violence.

Today, about 600 video outlets in 35 states and Canada buy blue-and-white Dove stickers and slap them on about 1,000 videos on Dove's list. That's nearly four times the 161 stores in the program at the start of 1993, but less than 1 percent of some 70,000 video outlets nationwide.

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