A new website designed to help teachers teach evolution encourages the use of religion when arguing in favor of the theory and uses federal tax dollars to do so.

The site, Understanding Evolution, was developed in part using a $450,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. According to a statement from the Discovery Institute, the website was put together jointly by the National Center for Science Education, or NCSE, a private group whose mission is “defending the teaching of evolution in the public school,” and the University of California Museum of Paleontology. The purpose of the site is to help teachers teach evolution better.

The Discovery Institute claims taxpayer funding of the effort violates the Constitution.

“This is a scandalous misuse of federal tax dollars,” said Dr. John West, associate director of the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute. “It’s clearly a violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. What business is it of the government to tell people what their religious beliefs about evolution should be? And what does this have to do with teaching science?”

Natural selection among topics on Understanding Evolution website

One part of the website explicitly uses religion to promote evolution. In that section, teachers are told that nearly all religious people, theologians and scientists who hold religious beliefs endorse modern evolutionary theory, and that such a view “actually enriches their faith.” Teachers also are directed to a page on the NCSE’s own website containing statements by religious groups endorsing evolution.

For example, teachers can read a statement from the United Church of Christ that “modern evolutionary theory … is in no way at odds with our belief in a Creator God, or in the revelation and presence of that God in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.”

West notes what he sees as stark hypocrisy in what the website developers are doing.

Said West, “Darwinists have a lot of chutzpah. They go around the country attacking anyone who wants to present scientific criticisms of Darwin’s theory as unconstitutionally promoting religion, but here they explicitly use religion to promote evolution in the schools, and that’s supposed to be OK?”

The site assures teachers there are no alternative theories to evolution.

“There are no alternative scientific theories to account for the observations explained by evolutionary theory,” the site states. “Alternative ‘theories’ that have been proposed for insertion into the science curriculum have not been supported by valid science and are often based on belief rather than science.”

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