With a mandate to teach evolution but little guidance as to how, Florida’s science teachers are contriving their own ways to turn a culture war into a lesson plan–and how they fare might affect whether a new generation of Americans embraces scientific evidence alongside religious belief, reports the New York Times. In February, the Florida Department of Education modified its standards to explicitly require, for the first time, the state’s public schools to teach evolution, calling it "the organizing principle of life science." Spurred in part by legal rulings against school districts seeking to favor religious versions of natural history, over a dozen other states have also given more emphasis in recent years to what has long been the scientific consensus: that all of the diverse life forms on Earth descended from a common ancestor, through a process of mutation and natural selection, over billions of years. But in a nation where evangelical Protestantism and other religious traditions stress a literal reading of the biblical description of God’s individually creating each species, students often arrive at school fearing that evolution, and perhaps science itself, is hostile to their faith. Some come armed with "Ten questions to ask your biology teacher about evolution," a document circulated on the internet that highlights supposed weaknesses in evolutionary theory. Others scrawl their opposition on homework assignments. Many just tune out. Passionate on the subject, Ridgeview High School biology teacher David Campbell helped to devise the state’s new evolution standards, which will be phased in starting this fall. A former Navy flight instructor not used to pulling his punches, he fought hard for their passage. But with his students this spring, he found himself treading carefully, as he tried to bridge an ideological divide that stretches well beyond his classroom…

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