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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Kansas Now Teaches Religion As Science

Original Article

By JOHN HANNA, Associated Press Writer

TOPEKA, Kan. - Revisiting a topic that exposed Kansas to nationwide ridicule six years ago, the state Board of Education approved science standards for public schools Tuesday that cast doubt on the theory of evolution.

The 6-4 vote was a victory for intelligent design advocates who helped draft the standards. Intelligent design holds that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power.

Critics of the new language charged that it was an attempt to inject God and creationism into public schools in violation of the separation of church and state.

"This is a sad day. We're becoming a laughingstock of not only the nation, but of the world, and I hate that," said board member Janet Waugh, a Democrat.

Supporters of the new standards said they will promote academic freedom. "It gets rid of a lot of dogma that's being taught in the classroom today," said board member John Bacon.

The new standards say high school students must understand major evolutionary concepts. But they also declare that the basic Darwinian theory that all life had a common origin and that natural chemical processes created the building blocks of life have been challenged in recent years by fossil evidence and molecular biology.

In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena. [empahsis added. -Z]

The new standards will be used to develop student tests measuring how well schools teach science. Decisions about what is taught in classrooms will remain with 300 local school boards, but some educators fear pressure will increase in some communities to teach less about evolution or more about creationism or intelligent design.

"What this does is open the door for teachers to bring creationist arguments into the classroom and point to the standards and say it's OK," said Jack Krebs, an Oskaloosa High School math teacher and vice president of Kansas Citizens for Science, which opposes the changes.

But John Calvert, a retired attorney who helped found the Intelligent Design Network, said changes probably will come to classrooms gradually, with some teachers feeling freer to discuss criticisms of evolution.

"These changes are not targeted at changing the hearts and minds of the Darwin fundamentalists," Calvert said.

The vote marked the third time in six years that the Kansas board has rewritten standards with evolution as the central issue.

In 1999, the board eliminated most references to evolution. Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould said that was akin to teaching "American history without Lincoln." Bill Nye, the "Science Guy" of children's television, called it "harebrained" and "nutty." And a Washington Post columnist imagined God saying to the Kansas board members: "Man, I gave you a brain. Use it, OK?"

Two years later, after voters replaced three members, the board reverted to evolution-friendly standards. Elections in 2002 and 2004 changed the board's composition again, making it more conservative.

The latest vote is likely to bring fresh national criticism to Kansas and cause many scientists to see the state as backward.

Many scientists and other critics contend creationists repackaged old ideas in new, scientific-sounding language to get around a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1987 against teaching the biblical story of creation in public schools.

The Kansas board's action is part of a national debate. In Pennsylvania, a judge is expected to rule soon in a lawsuit against the Dover school board's policy of requiring high school students to learn about intelligent design in biology class. In August,

President Bush endorsed teaching intelligent design alongside evolution.

Post a Comment


9 Comments:

At 11/08/2005 9:39 PM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

This is really, really, sad. The definition of Science in Kansas has now been changed by six people.

I hope this trend does not continue in America.

 
At 11/08/2005 10:26 PM, Blogger breakerslion declaimed...

"Who could've imagined, that they would freak out in Kansas?" - Frank Zappa

 
At 11/09/2005 7:16 AM, Blogger Niels declaimed...

Communist education fails again.

 
At 11/09/2005 8:31 AM, Blogger Samuel Luke Johnston declaimed...

Six righteous people!

 
At 11/09/2005 11:00 AM, Blogger Martin Wagner declaimed...

This is another sign that some people just cannot seem to resist making public laughingstocks out of themselves. The real victims here are the students of Kansas. They're going to be academically deficient, and unprepared not only for the rigors of higher education but for any possible career involving the sciences. If this trend were to go nationwide, it would have dire consequences for the future of the country. We would literally export no scientific advancements; countries like India and Korea would get all our biotech jobs, and the 21st cnetury would see America no longer the world's superpower (expect militarily, which is all some people seem to think matters) and possible not even in the top 20. After all, we're already something like 18th in science and math education; obviously the religious right doesn't think that's low enough.

Fortunately, things seem to be more sane in Dover. The pro-IDiot Republican school board got kicked to the curb by voters, who sent a clear message that "we don't want your anti-science religious ideologies masquerading as biology education in a classroom setting". People are prefectly within their rights to believe they were magically created by an invisible magic space pixie. Just don't try to teach it as science.

 
At 11/09/2005 12:03 PM, Blogger Not Reformed declaimed...

I read this story last night as well...horrible, sad, depressing.

Where is the Flying Spaghetti Monster when you need him/her?

 
At 11/09/2005 3:24 PM, Blogger Martin Wagner declaimed...

The FSM? Why, he should be in Kansas biology classrooms, right? I mean, if you're going to have to teach "alternative theories" to evolution, you gotta teach 'em all. RIght? Otherwise, you're just being closed-minded!

 
At 11/11/2005 12:22 AM, Blogger Atheist Bill declaimed...

Fortunately the state of PA is apparently not as stupid.

Of course now this means that they'll have to face Divine Retribution at the hands of Pat Robertson, but hey... with any luck he'll have to run into hiding after bancrupting another company soon anyway.

 
At 11/11/2005 1:46 AM, Blogger Mr. Neil declaimed...

"Communist education fails again."

T'was a great day to be an idiot.

 

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