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National Center for Science Education

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The National Center for Science Education, widely referred to as the NCSE, is an American organisation set up to oppose creationism, and which has since expanded its role to oppose Intelligent Design and global warming scepticism.



The NCSE was formed in 1981 in an effort to co-ordinate opposition to the influence that creationists were having, particularly as it reflected in parents and local school boards allowing or encouraging an alternative to evolution to be taught. This opposition saw such attempts to provide an alternative viewpoint on origins as an attack on science.[1]

In 1986 the NCSE opened a national office with the support of a number of private foundations, including the Carnegie Foundation. Atheist Eugenie Scott was hired as its executive director.[1]

In 2012 the NCSE decided to "support the teaching of climate change".[1]

Views on religion

The NCSE purports to be religiously neutral,[2] although it favours atheistic sources in its publications and much of its support comes from athiests.[3]

It objects to creationism as bringing religion into science classes, saying that "Schools should be religiously-neutral"[4] but encourages teachers dealing with creationists to "[call] upon local clergy" (whom they expect will be friendly to evolution).[5] This is part of its strategy to claim that "science" (i.e. evolution) and religion are compatible.[6]. This approach is criticised by a number of high-profile atheists who feel that religion is a blight on society and should be condemned outright.


Apart from the Executive Director Eugenie Scott, other prominent people in the NCSE also tend to be atheists.

The president is Brian Alters, who confuses Intelligent Design with creationism and who testified at the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial and who, with his wife, has written a book about the creation/evolution controversy.

Barbara Forrest is a board member of the NCSE and one of their speakers. She is an atheist who has co-authored (with Paul R. Goss) a book about Intelligent Design, and like Alters, she confuses Intelligent Design with creationism and testified at the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial. Her book, Creationism’s Trojan Horse, is riddled with innuendo, mudslinging, and ad hominem attacks. It also scrutinises the qualifications of the ID proponents, yet neither Forrest nor her co-author are scientists (Forrest is a professor of philosophy).[7] Forrest is also on the Board of Trustees for Americans United for Separation of Church and State.[8]

Andrew J. Petto is a board member and speaker for the NCSE. He is also the editor of their magazine, and an editor of the book Scientists Confront Intelligent Design and Creationism.[8]

Kevin Padian is one of the NCSE's speakers and a former president of the organisation. He denies that various social ills such as atheism and Nazism have anything to do with evolution,[9] and misrepresents creationist claims.[10]

Suppression of criticism of evolution

The NCSE has been a leading supporter of the suppression of dissent against evolution, often by denying clear evidence of suppression. One of the NCSE's arguments against Intelligent Design is that no ID paper has ever been published in a peer-reviewed science journal. But when one such paper was published, the NCSE was at the forefront of claiming that it shouldn't be published because it was an ID paper, and took a leading role in a campaign to discredit the paper and the journal editor who published it.[11]

Yet the NCSE later claimed that Sternberg did not suffer any discrimination.

...the worst that happened to Sternberg is that people said some unkind things about him in private email to one another.[12]

However, an investigation into the matter concluded that

Officials at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History created a hostile work environment intended to force Dr. Sternberg to resign his position as a Research Associate in violation of his free speech and civil rights.[11]


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