KANSAS

Kansas vs. Evolution

collected by

Gary D. Goodman


On the Political Efforts

to Rewrite Scientific Facts

in the Schools

UPDATE

As of November 2000, the people of Kansas finally decided to rejoin the modern world – the three most Creationist members of the State School Board were kicked out in the election.

And their silly ruling is to be round-filed...

But...

In late August of 2002, Cobb County (Georgia's second-largest school district) adopted a policy that requires teachers to give a "balanced education" about the origin of life, giving equal weight to Evolution and biblical interpretations.

The district had already come under attack this summer for attaching disclaimers to all science textbooks, saying that evolution "is a theory, not a fact," and should be "approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

The Kansas state school board reinstated teaching evolution last year, after striking it from the science curriculum two years earlier. Still, conservatives on the board have promised to revive the issue, and a candidate for the board who opposes the teaching of evolution won a recent primary by a wide margin.

In Ohio, the state board of education is considering a science curriculum that would teach "intelligent design," which accepts some evolutionary notions about how species develop, but argues that God or a godlike creator must have been in charge of the grand plan.

[adapted from The New York Times. Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company]


In small school districts across the country the battles continue, ill-reported by the national press.

The basic formula is followed again and again, as laid out in various guides provided by dozens of Creationist organizations directly, or through outlets of the Christian Right. professional organizers also show up for coordinated attempts to get influence over a larger school district.

It is now the exceptional school board without at least one Creationist member!

After getting that first member, they can now bring out the false arguments about "fairness," the lies about how Evolution is "just a theory," and unproved. They also trot out those wretched pseudoscience texts that appear to show Creationism as has some rational basis, present rigged evidence, and distort real biology.

The other board members, even if they had had some science courses that mentioned Evolution favorably, also want to be re-elected. and seeming to be against the Bible in most school districts will lose them a heck of a lot of votes.

So even though generally the full-fledged Creationists are a minority, they still often can sway the other school-board members just enough to let Creationist materials into the public schools.

In the name sof "Fairness" or "Balance."

The next step is usually to then get any competing real science texts out. Including out of the school library (and even the public one as well).

The social science texts are targeted next, replaced with properly slanted works, free of "liberal" ideas, any possible hints of socialism or secular humanism, and full of Right Thinking and flag-waving bromides.

Then they can go after other offending works. Like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Canterbury Tales, Catcher in the Rye, My Two Moms, Dr. Benjamin's Spock's baby books, and of course, deny full access to the Internet to students or teachers either.

MORE

As of Spring 2002, now in Ohio the religionists are resurrecting for the nth time the creaky "Intelligent Design" fallacy. Here and here I have gone into this in some detail, so I just want to reiterate these points here:

When one examines the arguments of those pushing this line of argument you find they simply do not understand the basic fundamentals of either Evolution or Science. First off Science knows there is no way to test whether anything set the cosmos into motion, or has had any direct effect upon the outcome of the progression of life. If you think about it you quickly realize there is no good means to determine these. How do you build a "God-detector?"

Second, what people see as the sure signs of "design" are the end results of not BLIND nor RANDOM factors (those ideas are fallacies themselves held by a shrinking school of linear-thinking Darwinists), but that, perhaps – if you prefer to believe this – because that is how God set it up, or maybe only in a universe where such things are true could life exist in the first place – for whichever reason – certain kinds of chemicals and molecules, not coincidentally especially those found in organic materials, tend to form "self-organizing" compounds. There are also mathematical relationships (many found in chaos theory) which itself produces organization. This inbuilt tendency of the universe to form complex molecular chains created the possibility that they could reproduce themselves. And with THAT came the capacity for natural selection.

Over the period of billions of years, and in the case of simple organic compounds, many billions and billions and billions of chemical recombinations per year in trillions of isolated "natural laboratories," with a lot of energy available via solar and volcanic sources, until the ones that could reproduce themselves the most successfully did just that. To the point different groups of themselves competed with one another, and for a number of reasons, sometimes including that some were "fitter" (using the term loosely and selectively), certain ones out-produced in numbers other self-reproducing compounds. The various compounds became more complex under this competitive selection process, mostly by nearly all of them disappearing from the picture. Trillions and trillions of deletions later we had simple self-producing cells, and most of the basics of life were now worked out. Even simple proto-bacteria are incredibly complex organisms. Just glance through any advanced text on bacteriology; you will not )probably) understand much, but the massive intricacy of these "simple" creatures (especially when one realizing no single volume contains more that an fraction of a percent of what we have found out thus far, and we have just got started) should begin to sink in. By the time we get to the ancestors of bacteria 99.9999999% of the hard work has been done, and now comes the easy part (yet the part that most impresses the ignorant).

Some cellular critters joined together, formed colonies, became multicellular organisms with internal organs and complex systems. Some grew a backbone. Some of them crawled out onto land. And finally a few crawled into space. While others of that species managed to fool themselves a lot about all this.

We see "design" only because we ignore the trillions and trillions of failures, extinct species, and cannot get our mind around that we are talking a huge amount of time, a huge amount of not random selection and experimentation, and that NO ONE was needed to make this happen, at least past the point the of creating a universe so uniquely suited for life to arise.

It is a lack of imagination, a lack of courage, and a lack of education that fuels the "Intelligent Design" movement. Frankly the proponents are ignorant, and cannot accept that humankind has to make it on its own without a proctor, a daddy in the sky, telling us right from wrong. it is not that easy. WE have to make the choices, the hard decisions, and accept that there is no innate moral sense to guide us. No design for us to follow.

That is very scary.

It is also very liberating.

Some people just cannot leave the nursery. Are too scared to accept the burden to make it alone.

So they hold on to their "security blanket" of a personally interested God that created them specially, and in His image.

Maybe He did, but He did so via invisible means.

To teach that there WAS a Designer is teaching religion, of a particular kind, as there is NO evidence whatsoever to back it up. Just because one BELIEVES in a Designer, since it seems it is an opinion formed from ignorance and lack of imagination or spiritual independence, does not mean there was one. Only that some believe it. There is no evidence of one, not real evidence, just unsupported assertions that the complexity and fit of present life – which are the clear result of processes over thousands of millenniums selecting successful complex organisms well fitted to the environment – means there HAS to has been a Designer. But the facts simply do not support this.

So teaching "intelligent Design" is teaching an unsupported unproved belief. As science.

And the reason so many in America, but no the world, think there was a "Grand Designer" is most people are scientifically illiterate, and have been influenced by many years of religious propaganda. Just because a lot of people think something is so doesn't make it so. In this case, a lot of people are full of it.

see Intelligent Design - Humans, Cockroaches, and the Laws of Physics by Victor J. Stenger.

The previous material on Evolution was written largely in 1998 and early 1999, before the idiots on the state school board proved they needed to get themselves a real education somewhere but Kansas.

So here are some items on this:

Kansas Drops Study of Evolution:

Theory No Longer at Center of State’s Biology Study

·

Kansas School Board Says Evolution Is Not Science


This are typical of the headlines across the country – mostly rehashing the AP or Reuters feed.

Republican Gov. Bill Graves called the board's action on Wednesday
``a terrible, tragic, embarrassing solution to a problem that didn't exist.''

The new standards delete references to so-called "macroevolution'' – the process of change from one species to another – but include references to "microevolution,'' or changes within species. They also mention natural selection, the idea that advantageous traits increase in a population over time.

The new "standards" minimize the importance of evolutionary theory, with some odd results. The Kansas standards make a specific reference to the relatively obscure genetic theorist Frederick Griffith, though they never mention Darwin by name.

Still, that's far more detail than can be found in for example the state of Illinois' standards, which omit any mention of evolution or natural selection, requiring only that students "know and apply concepts that explain how living things function, adapt and change."

Kim Knauer, director of communications for the Illinois education board, said such vagueness is intended to give local districts great latitude in how they teach general principles.

"You could, if you wanted to make that decision, teach by using evolution as an example,"Knauer said. "Not everybody is going to use the same examples and events."

Uh-huh...

Conservative board members said they wanted to make sure that schools teach sound science, arguing that evolution is a flawed theory that cannot be proven. {Like they would know?]

Last year (1997), the
National Academy of Sciences said evolution must be taught in public schools if children are to understand biology at all. In it it was stated: "There is no debate within the scientific community over whether evolution has occurred, and there is no evidence that evolution has not occurred.''

"I've got to go put the pieces back together before I can answer that,'' said Kansas Education Commissioner Andy Tompkins. And said the new standards will be compiled into booklets that school districts can use as guidelines for their science curricula.

John Staver, a science educator at Kansas State University and co-chairman of the committee of science educators that were originally supposed to write the new guidelines, called the new standards
"incomplete and inaccurate."

Board member Bill Wagnon, of Topeka, said the message to local school boards is,
"We don't want you to think that (evolution) is important."

Kansas School Board member Janet Waugh, of Kansas City, who also voted against the subcommittee's version, called the standards "bad science."

But board member Harold Voth, of Haven, one of the three subcommittee members who drafted the version that was adopted, said after the vote,
"I don't think our version moves the standards toward creationism."

Duh...

"When you tell students that science has determined [evolution to be true], you're deceiving them," said Tom Willis, director of the Creation Science Association for Mid-America, which helped write the new standards.

Board member Waugh said she would like the board's attorney to review the new standards to ensure they posed no legal problems.

Science committee co-chairman Staver also suggested the board submit the new standards to the attorney general's office and the board's attorney for review.

Before the vote, Steven Green, legal director of the Washington-based
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, sent a letter to creationist board chairwoman Linda Holloway, warning of a potential lawsuit.

"If the new standards are found to favor a creationist perspective, we would not hesitate to bring a legal challenge," he said in his letter, dated Tuesday.

The standards are important because they will determine what Kansas students should learn about science and what they will be tested on in assessment tests.

Some experts said Wednesday's 6-4 board vote was the greatest setback among challenges to the teaching of evolution in several states in recent years.

"This is the only instance where a curriculum committee has said, `You've changed the document so much, don't put our names on it,' " said Moleen Matsumura, network project director of the
National Center for Science Education.

Some members of the science panel issued a statement earlier this month denouncing the revised standards.

The
National Academy of Sciences, in a teachers' guidebook last year, put evolution at the core of essential biological concepts.

"Evolution is a central organizing principle that biologists use to understand the world," the book says. "To teach biology without explaining evolution deprives students of a powerful concept that brings great order and coherence to our understanding of life."

Although Matsumura's group has not publicly criticized Illinois' standards, she said they contain "many sins of omission."

Efforts to remove aspects of evolution theory from classroom teaching have gained support recently in several states, including New Mexico, Nebraska and Alabama. In 1995, the
Alabama Board of Education mandated that all biology textbooks include an insert describing evolution as an "unproven belief."

Basically ALL biologists say evolution is overwhelmingly supported by fossil evidence and observed trends in living species; it is a theory, they say, in the same sense as well-accepted ideas such as Albert Einstein's theory of relativity in physics. Theory is a word of many meanings.

Yet a poll conducted in June by the Gallup organization found that 68 percent of the more than 1,000 Americans surveyed wanted both creationism and evolution taught in the classroom, though 55 percent opposed teaching creationism in place of evolution.

Kansas Gov. Bill Graves, a Republican, warned board members not to adopt the modified curriculum, and has said he would support abolishing the Board of Education and making its posts appointed, not elected.

Graves spokesman Mike Matson said the governor believes most people will view the board's action as "moving backwards."

"These are debates and these are arguments that states and school boards put to rest decades ago," Matson said.

The governor believes the board should have used a proposal from a committee of 27 science educators as the starting point of its debate. That proposal described evolution as a fundamental tenet of biology.

Matson said of the governor,
"He has not had a single Kansan approach him and tell him that this is a critical issue that absolutely must be resolved.

"In his mind, this never was an issue. This was created as an issue as a way to promote a political philosophy he believes has no place in public education in Kansas."


Some experts suggest the political mood in the country is receptive to actions such as the Kansas board decision. After the school shooting in Littleton, Colo., earlier this year, U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas and RW lobbyist) blamed the incident in part on the teaching of evolution rather than creationism in public schools.

"Our school systems teach the children that they are nothing but glorified apes who are evolutionized out of some primordial soup of mud," DeLay said in an impassioned speech on the floor of the House of Representatives.

DeLay's words prompted Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) to remark, "
I know we've had a lot of discussion of what was causing the problems here, but I just heard the majority whip say it was Charles Darwin's fault."


US NEWS

Charles Darwin gets thrown out of school
A Kansas ban on the mention of evolution


BY DAVID L. MARCUS

At the University of Kansas researchers have begun linking databases on thousands of fish species. Among their goals: to trace the common traits of today's fish and their ancestors to determine where different species can live if ocean temperatures rise. "We can make predictions," says E. O. Wiley, the project's director, "because we know so much about their evolution."

Sounds fine, unless the university plans to recruit future scientists from Kansas public schools. Just 25 miles from the campus, in Topeka, the state board of education decided earlier this month to overturn guidelines written by a panel of academics. Statewide tests, the board ruled, can no longer even mention the subject of evolution. That means teachers will be less likely to teach evolution, critics say, and more vulnerable to community pressure to pooh-pooh Darwin's 140-year-old
The Origin of Species [sic]. "The word for this is tragic," says Republican Lt. Governor Gary Sherrer. "A teacher asked me, 'Where does this stop? Can they go into the English classroom and say that Shakespeare wasn't very godly?' "

Kansas is the latest battleground in the fight that started in 1925 with the "monkey trial" of Tennessee substitute teacher John Scopes, who was convicted of teaching evolution. The Tennessee Supreme Court later overturned the conviction on a technicality, and Scopes was vindicated by the Supreme Court in 1968. Two decades later, the justices ruled that teaching creationism violates the separation of church and state. Recently, antievolution groups have changed their tack: Instead of trying to get Genesis into the classroom, they're attempting to toss Darwin out. In the past four years, legislators in Texas, Ohio, New Hampshire, Washington, and Tennessee have sought, but failed, to challenge the primacy of teaching evolution. Alabama law now requires biology textbooks to have stickers on them labeling evolution a "controversial theory" and reminding students of the obvious: that no humans were around as witnesses when life first appeared.

Abiding faith. Polls show that the majority of Americans believe that God created life or at least oversaw creation. But teachers say most students have no problem maintaining their religious convictions while learning that life evolved over an estimated 3.9 billion years.Pope John Paul II has indicated that he does not oppose the teaching of evolution. The drive to discredit Darwin has come mainly from fundamentalist Christians, such as Kansas school board member Steve Abrams, who sees evolution as not good science. But others insist that students need to learn about evolution, if only to better understand their own beliefs.
"If they fear that ideas are going to take away their faith, then they don't have very much faith," says Don Munro, executive director of the American Scientific Affiliation, a group of conservative Christians in the sciences.

Ironically, the dump-Darwin stance in Kansas is a byproduct of a move to establish stringent statewide standards less susceptible to the whims of local communities. In Arizona last year, a group of professors found a way to fend off a similar incursion.
"We said, 'You want to go back to basics? Evolution is part of the basics in science, like cell theory and genetics,' " says the group's spokeswoman, Jane Maienschein. The challengers backed down.

As school started in Kansas last week, the
American Civil Liberties Union was considering suing the education board. Meanwhile, many say the continuing debate about the biology curriculum overshadows a more urgent matter: a nationwide shortage of high school science teachers. "We already have a problem getting science teachers to go to rural western Kansas, where they are needed," says Karen Symms Gallagher, dean of education at the University of Kansas."Now we're going to have greater difficulty."

http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/990830/evolve.htm


Norm Chomsky was asked whether he was "perturbed" by the Kansas school curriculum decision against teaching Natural Selection....

Very much. Also by the decision to eliminate the Big Bang – that is, to get rid of fundamentals of physics as well as the fundamentals of biology from the basic curriculum. More generally, this is another long step in the project of redesigning the school curriculum in ways that will reduce the possibility that students will have the intellectual tools to escape the fundamentalist fanaticism that the designers of the new curriculum prefer. One should not be fooled by the rhetoric that is used to disguise what they are doing, e.g., the pretense that anyone is still allowed to do as they like. Technically true, but the pressures to conform will, of course, be substantial. And we can guess how much attention students and teachers will give to material that is placed under a cloud, and is excluded from the core curriculum and examinations.

This is, as intended, a serious blow to integrity and honesty. If it were taking place in Andorra, maybe one could just laugh, although that would be unfair to Andorrans. They deserve much better than the rule of superstitious hysterics and extreme authoritarians, who try to instil obedience to their Holy Texts and chosen Divinities – and we should not fail to see that the terms are appropriate, if anything too kind. But when this is happening in the richest and by far the most powerful country in the world, with a huge capacity for destruction and harm, it's no laughing matter. And it's not just Kansas. This is just one part of a wave of astonishing irrationality and fanaticism; other states have introduced similar measures. Recall as well a simple fact about the economics of the textbook industry. Publishers want to have a mass market, furthermore undifferentiated. It's expensive to produce and market separate texts for different parts of the country. Accordingly, there is a tendency, sometimes very strong, to move to the lowest common denominator. If a text won't sell in Kansas for reasons X, Y, Z, then cut out the "offending material" for the whole country. The consequences are obvious, and doubtless just what are intended by the authoritarian extremists who seek to impose their religious doctrines on the population at large.

There have, for years, been comparative studies of religious fanaticism and factors that correlate with it. By and large, it tends to decline with increasing industrialization and education. The US, however, is off the chart, ranking near devastated peasant societies. About 1/2 the population believe the world was created a few thousand years ago: the justification for the belief is that that is what they were ordered to believe by authority figures to whom they were taught one must subordinate oneself. And on, and on. One can easily understand why great efforts should be made to keep the public at an extremely low cultural and intellectual level, subordinated to power and blind obedience to authority. But it is something that should elicit very great concern.

It's also worth noting the hypocrisy. The same newspaper stories showed pictures of the Ten Commandments posted on walls of classrooms (a version of them, at least). Apart from the obvious questions of establishing a particular choice of religious doctrine within the public school system, have a look at what children are to be taught to believe – on the (admittedly weak) assumption that anyone is expected to take the words seriously. Thus the self-designated chief of the gods orders them not to worship any of the other gods before him: in this polytheistic system, he is top dog. They are told not to make "graven images" (which means statues, pictures, etc.) – that is, they are taught that all the priests, ministers, teachers, and other authority figures are liars and hypocrites. There's more – all familiar in the 17th and 18th century, now to be driven from the mind by the autocrats who hope to gain control of the cultural system and demolish the threat of independent thought and rational analysis and discussion.


Statement of the National Science Teachers Association in Response to the Kansas State Board of Education's Actions to Remove Evolution from State Standards


ARLINGTON, VA, August 13, 1999 – The
Kansas State Board of Education's 6 to 4 vote to remove the teaching of evolution from the state standards does a disservice to the students of Kansas. The National Science Teachers Association supports the position that evolution is a major unifying concept of science and should be included as part of science frameworks and curricula.

It is obvious that the battle to educate children in science is still to be won. Misguided activities by the
Kansas State Board of Education and others to weaken the teaching of evolution provide evidence of this. However, the progress that has been made to unfetter the science curriculum and evolution education from parochial viewpoints must continually be supported and
reiterated.

Current efforts to reform schooling at the state level emphasize the use of standards and measures of accountability. As a result, 49 states have formulated standards that provide various degrees of specificity as to what K-12 students should know and be able to do. These standards are policy documents that represent a consensus by diverse audiences in each state.

A review of the science standards of 40 states shows that all include some emphasis on evolution. Various concepts important to evolutionary theory are dealt with in various degrees of specificity and comprehensiveness in these policy documents. If curriculum decisions are based on these standards, evolution will receive unprecedented emphasis in the science classrooms of this nation.

Considering the history of evolution education in this nation and the continued efforts of anti-evolutionists to intimidate policymakers and educators, it is quite significant that the science standards of most states both include and emphasize evolution. The presence of these standards, along with judicial rulings that the teaching of evolution cannot be prohibited and that equal time mandates for creationism are unconstitutional, provide science teachers with the support they need to teach effectively.

Science teachers should not be bound by censorship, pseudoscience, inconsistencies, faulty scholarship, or unconstitutional mandates as they pursue their professional responsibility to provide quality science instruction that helps students understand the natural world. And it is important that all citizens support the growing movement to place evolution in its rightful place in the biology curriculum.

NSTA encourages science educators and scientists to get involved in their local school boards to ensure that the teaching of evolution in the science classroom is a part of science frameworks and curricula.

The
National Science Teachers Association is the largest organization in the world promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all. Its 53,000-plus members include science teachers of all grade levels, science supervisors, administrators, scientists, business and industry representatives, and others involved in science education.



Some members of the scientific community, and also academia in general, are proposing an "intellectual boycott" of Kansas.

Major proposals being circulated for the boycott are for scientists and teachers to refuse to work in the state, for scientific groups and societies not to hold conventions there and even for universities not to admit students from Kansas.

Ecologist Tiffany M. Doan suggested some of the ideas in a post to a respected Internet mailing list,
Ecolog-L, for those in the life sciences and academia.

"I know that I will never plan on working in Kansas in the future and I suggest that we keep the scientific meetings in states that believe in scientific progress instead of returning to the Dark Ages," she said. "Science and religion are not related." But some on the list disagreed with that proposal. "If biological educators choose not to take jobs in Kansas and scientific societies refuse to hold meetings there, creationists will simply pat themselves on the back and congratulate each other on a hard-won victory," Princeton University professor Leila Hadj-Chikh said. "I think what is called for is more education in Kansas, not less."

Oregon State University professor Dr. Reed F. Noss said that a boycott could be effective.

"Like it or not, money is what people pay attention to," he said. "The people of Kansas will demand a change in the law if a sweeping boycott begins to affect them economically."

One professor chastised the group for their idea.

"A handful of people have made a decision you do not agree with, and for this you would isolate nearly three million other citizens of the state, whose talents and convictions you cannot know," J. M. Aguiar of Texas A&M University said. "We should relish honor the peacemakers, not those who relish the fight."

Mike Conroy of the
University of Georgia felt that the Kansas Board of Education was allowing itself to be manipulated by an extreme faction of the Christian religion.

"It might help if some of the mainstream religious denominations reminded people that most Christian religions do not have a problem with evolution and quit letting the fringe-fundamentalist, Bible-literalists set the agenda," he said.




Despite the bleating by apologists that the ruling will have "no practical effect" (the argument on "returning power to local school board control" is too silly to take seriously) here is the reality:

The Wichita Eagle reports that a publisher of a Kansas history textbook, working title of "Kansas – The Prairie Spirit Lives," is due to be marketed to school districts this fall. It will be for seventh- and eighth-graders, is removing a chapter on the state's geology and paleontology following the State Board of Education's vote to leave evolution out of science standards. James Bean, director and a trustee of the nonprofit Grace Dangberg Foundation in Nevada, which is publishing the book, said the foundation did not want to do anything that would limit the book's marketability.

"We want to put out a better book, one that is as widely used as possible," Bean said. "Because we think it's a better book, we don't want schools to reject it."

So itt will mention nothing about fossils. Nothing about an inland sea that once covered what is now Kansas. Nothing about the famed mosasaur, an extinct sea lizard whose fossilized remains are displayed at the
Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays.

"The next thing you know, we will be removing the Holocaust from history textbooks because it's objectionable to some people," said Bill Wagnon, a state Board of Education member from Topeka who supports keeping evolution in the science standards.

Mike Everhart, a local paleontologist, called it
"a unique form of censorship."

"There is a whole body of knowledge out there that's going to be ignored," Everhart said.

Even Mary Douglass Brown, one of the dimbulbs voting against evolution is stunned, tried to deny it was the state board's decision that led to the change in the history textbook.

"That's hard to believe that we were that powerful," she said.

But Bean said that's what drove the decision.

"We did want to set the scene for people living in Kansas," Bean said, "to show that it was an ancient sea at one time, that it has fossils and sediments that are now good growing land for wheat."

Bean said future editions of the book may include the deleted information – if Kansas puts evolution back into the state standards.

Brown, the State Board of Education member, said the board's decision has been taken out of context. Local districts are free to teach evolution if they want, she said.

"We just handed the baton to the locals," she said. "I am very pro-local control."

I just bet she is...

Meanwhile the
Topeka Capital-Journal reports that legislation requiring high school students entering state universities to have studied the theory of evolution was suggested Thursday by Rep. David Adkins, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

"This may be a back-door way for the Legislature to create a requirement," said Adkins, R-Leawood. "I'm not saying it's the best idea, but it's an idea." Adkins said he wants to add a requirement "to complete a science curriculum that includes the teaching of evolution."

In the fall of 2001, a new admissions policy takes effect at the six
Board of Regents universities. It encourages students to take a set of specific courses, including English, mathematics, social studies, natural sciences and computer technology.

Tanner, a retired Baker University president, said his problem with the state board's decision is that local school districts could end up with different ideas about what should be taught.

"That is the problem you have when you are dealing with local option. I don't like that at all," Tanner said.

Adkins agreed, saying,
"By giving the authority to the local school board, they may be under increased pressure to dumb down their science standards."

The lawmaker said his proposal would give local districts an incentive not to change how science is taught.

"I would like to provoke them with a very powerful incentive for them to continue teaching good science," he said. "They would have to be exposed to that major concept of science."



Tom Teepen's editoral appeared in
Cox Newspapers nationwide. Entitled "I don't think Kansas is with us anymore" it starts:

"Stop the world. Kansas wants to get off. In fact, it already has one foot dragging. The state Board of Education has removed evolution from the list of matters that public school biology students must know.

Local districts may continue teaching evolution if they wish, but with the state board caving in to religious and cultural conservatives, local schools have been set up for similar muggings.

Many will be unwilling to hold out against the pressure."

He later points out: "An understanding of the science's animating dynamic will be denied them. Don't expect many to go on to science in college.

All this because some Christian literalists can't square the biblical creation story with the fossil and DNA records that, among what are by now tons of evidence, confirm the evolutionary process.

Unable to force their contrary pseudo-science of creationism into public curricula – the courts quickly saw through that dodge for slipping sectarian religion into public classrooms – the fundamentalists are settling for killing evolution off by political fiat.

The pressure had grown so intense last year that the National Academy of Sciences was forced into the distinctly odd act of issuing an urgent plea for the teaching of evolution – a pitch that ought to be as unnecessary as having to plead that grammar or subtraction be taught.

Nebraska and New Mexico have downgraded the teaching of evolution, and Alabama requires that biology texts carry what amounts to a warning label. Ohio, Texas, Washington, New Hampshire and Tennessee have had to fight off anti-evolution crusades."

And wisely points out also:

"Most Christians have no problem accepting both the science of evolution and the awe-inspiring sweep and elegance of biblical creation, but their absence from this little war - and it has become one - is leaving the field to reactionary activists speaking in the name of their religion."



“The big question I have is why this theory is above examination in the scientific community. That is a puzzle to me.”
– Linda Holloway, Kansas Board of Education


Only problem this is a red herring...

Of course it is – or WAS – a century ago! But NOTHING discovered since then has lead ANY notable biologist, scientm or organization to alter what they determined then – life evolved and evolves. Pure and simple. Argument is OVER in the scientific community unless significate new evidence or a better theory comes along, but neither is likely.

By suppressing knowledge about scientific findings – and by trying to
put dogma on a scientific basis – it subverts the spirit of truth, which is
supposed to set us free. Freedom of thought, freedom to change opinion, is
not something championed by people whose beliefs are threatened by evidence.

Science should not object to (and should, in fact, entertain) any piece
of dogma that undermines current scientific theory about evolution. Science
(the word derives from a verb “to know”) is interested only in getting at the
truth.

If creationists ever come up with evidence refuting current scientific
ideas about evolution, every scientist worthy of the name would change his
opinion.
– Hugh Downs on
ABC.COM



Nearly a quarter of Italians believe in magic, fortune-telling, astrology and spiritualism, spending a total one billion lire ($547,000) per year on them, according to a poll released in early August of 1999.

The survey by retailers' body Confesercenti and polling institute SWG found 22 percent, or more than 10 million people, believed in mystical practices in a country boasting 70,000 magicians, astrologers, clairvoyants and faith
healers.



So Kansans do not feel alone – and people can see how "Liberal" out press is becuase boy-oh-boy didn't this make the headlines!

A vote is set for this Thursday by Georgia’s Board of Education to approve a controversial Bible course for the state's public high schools – that would lead to costly, losing legal battles,
People For the American Way Foundation last week warned.

Noting that the proposed curriculum is "clearly intended as a means to inculcate students in religious faith." The letter warned that
PFAWF will take legal action, if necessary, to prevent Georgia’s public schools from teaching this unconstitutional course.

"There are right ways for public school students to be taught about religions, their role in history, and about the Bible and other foundation documents of those religions," said
PFAWF President Carole Shields. "But the proposal now before Georgia’s board is the wrong way. It’s not a public school course, it’s a Sunday school course."

The course under consideration by the board is based on a curriculum produced by a private group called the
National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS) and proposed for state adoption by a school district in Decatur County. It is designed to teach the Bible as history, an approach that has been expressly struck down by federal courts last year in Florida and in 1996 in Mississippi in challenges brought by PFAWF.

In Lee County, Florida, the school board ultimately opted to drop the unconstitutional NCBCPS Bible curriculum in favor of an educationally and constitutionally acceptable alternative that teaches about the Bible without promoting religion. In Pontotoc County, Mississippi, where
PFAWF represented a parent, Lisa Herdahl, the court also found the teaching of the Bible as history to be unconstitutional.

PFAWF notes that the Bible curriculum supporters’ own words reveal their intentions to promote the teaching of religious doctrine. One letter of support says, for example, "The Bible is our nation’s history. It needs to be there just as American history is. If not for the great ‘I Am’ there would be no history present or future. Our kids need to know this and the sooner the better."

Said Shields, "It is appropriate for public schools to teach about religion – in history classes, literature classes, or comparative religion classes. But the schools may not teach miracles and other matters of faith as historical fact or use these courses as a subterfuge to promote religious faith and sectarian beliefs."

Calling the
NCBCPS a "wolf in sheep's clothing, PFAW pointed to the following:

** "We’re just trying to expose the kids to the biblical Christian worldview..." – NCBCPS director Elizabeth Ridenour, Sept. 14, 1995 radio program "Truths That Transform."

** The self-named
National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools may say it wants to introduce Bible classes in public schools to improve students’ understanding of literature and history, but the real intent of the organization is to promote a religious, primarily Christian doctrine. In addition, its manual refers to the separation of church and state as a "myth."

**
NCBCPS has boasted that anywhere from 45 to 300 school districts have adopted its curriculum, but no one really knows, and NCBCPS won’t tell the public. NCBCPS has generally refused to make its curriculum available for evaluation by scholars and the media, selectively disclosing it only to friendly school board members and parents.

** In 1998, after a federal court in Florida prohibited the Lee County public school district, on constitutional grounds, from teaching the NCBCPS "New Testament" curriculum, NCBCPS denied that it was their curriculum at all.

**
NCBCPS often says its curriculum is not controversial and that nearly every approached school board has adopted it. In fact, these school boards recently rejected NCBCPS’s curriculum: North Kansas City, Missouri; Midland, Texas; and Peoria, Illinois.

**
NCBCPS board of directors and advisory board have included Religious Right leaders like televangelist D. James Kennedy, President of Coral Ridge Ministries, who has called public schools "Godless" and actively campaigned for the impeachment of a federal judge who ordered a proselytizing state judge in Alabama to remove the Ten Commandments from his courtroom. Kennedy also has a well-documented history of raising money by promoting the false and inflammatory stereotype that gays and lesbians are child molesters.

** Howard Phillips of the
Conservative Caucus and Rus Walton of the Plymouth Rock Foundation have also served on NCBCPS boards. Both Phillips and Walton are considered Christian Reconstructionists – advocates of theocracy with a government based on a literal reading of the Bible, including the harsh legal code of the "Old Testament." Under this model, as many as 18 "offenses," including blasphemy, adulterery and persistent juvenile delinquency would merit the death penalty.

** NCBCPS circulates material by David Barton, who produces historically inaccurate videotapes and books asserting that the constitutionally-required separation of church and state was invented by the Supreme Court.

**
NCBCPS often cites materials from the American Center For Law and Justice to defend the constitutionality of its curriculum.

HELLO Georgia!!!


The
Wichita (KS) Eagle puts it well in this headline (8/13/1999):

Evolution debate puts Kansas in spotlight.


"Lots of people are talking about Kansas these days, and lots of Kansans aren't too happy about it."

The article discussed how the decision to omit Evolution as a testable subject (except in a Creationist censored farcical version) got the state made fun of on
Politically Correct and tsked over on the Lerner Newshour.

"We're like the laughingstock of the country," said Jean Schodorf, president of the Wichita school board. She said friends and relatives elsewhere in the country – as well as some locals – have joked to her about Kansas being "backwards" when it comes to science.

"People are walking up to me and saying, 'Hey, the world is flat. Are you gonna teach that theory, too?' ... I just laugh and shake my head."

The boneheads that voted in the new standards are unhappy about it to, but blame the media for "getting the facts wrong." Duh like how would they know?

"The national media has not done a very good job in portraying what this issue is really all about," said Cindy Duckett, a local R[eligious]R[ight] "education activist." "It looks like we banned evolution, and that's not right."

This very silly person argues that leaving it to local school boards to decide is taking a "
a progressive, populist route." Like when school boards got to decide when to integrate or give money to girls sports or...

"I think we've expanded learning opportunities rather than narrowed them," she said. "Local boards can choose to teach evolution or creation, or other theories, or nothing at all. ... This vote was about respect for the diversity of opinion that exists on this issue."

This is a bad joke because the diversity of opinion among scientists and educated folks is a like million to one in favor of what the Earth and the geological and biological record tells us rather than what a band of desert nomads, stealing stories from all their neighbors (and victims of their raids), dreamed up as fireside myth close to three thousand years ago.

The fact is that EVERY report I read in several dozen newspapers – like I said mostly just reprinting the
Reuters and UP wire reports – were all very clear that this did not stop local boards from teaching evolution. Ditto the Lerner and at least two of the major network news reports. ABC put it thus: "Kansas Drops Evolution Darwin’ s Theory Omitted from New Education Standards." Sounds about right to me.

But it certainly discourages Evolution from being taught. If it is not going to be tested for...

Besides why have ANY State standards for anything any minority objects to? Like the Holocaust? Or how Native American or blacks were treated? Or as some are saying, the roundness of the Earth?

Paramount among business and political leaders is how this will adversely affect requiting high-tech business to Kansas.

Governor Bill Graves thinks this could hurt Kansas as it competes against other states for economic development, said Mike Matson, Graves' spokesman.

"
We don't want to give them an excuse not to look at Kansas," Matson said. "The governor has a concern this will do just that."

The situation is embarrassing, he said, because people in other states may develop a perception of Kansas based on a short news item. They'll hear three words: Kansas, evolution and creationism, and will wonder,
"Didn't we deal with this issue in the 1920s?" Matson said.

In truth this keep coming back. The decision in Arkansas a few years ago should have finished it off, but then so should public education in this country, and the churches realizing the Bible was never written as a geology text.

Church leaders in Kansas run the gambit form crowing in triumph (THEY think it is a victory for Creationism!), like Omar Hazim, Imam at the
Islamic Center of Topeka, who said evolution shouldn't be taught in public schools because his holy book, the Koran, said people didn't evolve "accidentally" from a lower life form, as scientist Charles Darwin's theory states.

"We believe in creationism. God created all things in the universe, the Earth and mankind," he said. "The highest thing in God's creation is humans."

But the Rev. Jean Marie Grabher, minister at
First United Methodist Church in Hiawatha, said she has been following the board's debates closely. She believes the church should be kept out of schools.

"It makes me sick," she said. "I think it throws the educational system of the state of Kansas back into the 1800s. Any time you start teaching creationism in the classroom, that smacks of religious beliefs. I have great difficulty with the schools getting into that area."

Paul Ackerman, a Wichita State University psychology professor and a creationist, said state board members – and, consequently, many Kansans – have been unfairly portrayed.

"I'm sad that this has been framed as a banning of evolution," he said. "As long as this gets spun out as an issue of science vs. religion, it tends to marginalize people who believe that the evidence suggests design and intelligence rather than just accident."

Too bad but then why weren't you at the Board meeting Paul? And in fact is a form of banning – it does indeed say Evolution is false since it is not required to understand science or biology. That is a lie – so the Board is promoting a falsehood.

He is also ignoring that doing it this way is just a means to get around already existing decisions. That the Board originally tried to get Evolution completely out of it and Creationism in. Not to mention what about the dropping Big Bang theory? That was always taught as a likely possibility.

Compared to the FACT of Evolution.

I know folks in Kansas are shocked at how absurd it makes them, but I say again, why did not you stop it? Why did not you let the Board know this would be unacceptable?

Where were the reasoning people in Kansas when they took the vote?

Don't try to shift the blame Kansans. You have some votes for that state school board coming up and also need to make sure your local school board does not try to set the clock back 200 years.

To quote from Kansas Star columnist Mike Hendricks:
"Kansas is a national joke this week, and it's your fault, Johnson County.

Both Johnson County representatives on the 10-member Kansas Board of Education bowed to pressure from religious conservatives Wednesday. Both voted to remove evolution as one of the unifying concepts of science taught in Kansas schools.... It was their decision, but it's your fault, Johnson County, that the nation thinks Kansans pick banjos with their bare feet.

Johnson County, home of some of the best schools in the nation, is represented by state school board members who would let religious doctrine interfere with quality education.

How could voters in a place so dedicated to educational excellence elect these people? Certainly, their views reflect the views of many, but not the majority."


Indeed.

What makes this so ironic is that yesterday scientists announced they had found fossils that positively set the age of life on Earth back to 2.7 billion years ago – a billion years earlier than had been previously shown.

"The molecular fossils we report are the oldest preserved biological molecules in the world," researcher Jochen Brocks said.

"This age should provide a new calibration point for molecular clocks and the universal tree of life," Brocks and his fellow Australian researchers report this week inScience.

But in at least some school districts in Kansas unless things change, students will not hear about it.


Dorothy, It's Really Oz
A pro-creationist decision in Kansas is more than a blow against Darwin

BY
STEPHEN JAY GOULD


The Kansas Board of Education voted 6 to 4 to remove evolution, and the Big Bang theory as well, from the state's science curriculum. In so doing, the board transported its jurisdiction to a never-never land where a Dorothy of the new millennium might exclaim,
"They still call it Kansas, but I don't think we're in the real world anymore." The new standards do not forbid the teaching of evolution, but the subject will no longer be included in statewide tests for evaluating students – a virtual guarantee, given the realities of education, that this central concept of biology will be diluted or eliminated, thus reducing courses to something like chemistry without the periodic table, or American history without Lincoln.

The Kansas skirmish marks the latest episode of a long struggle by religious Fundamentalists and their allies to restrict or eliminate the teaching of evolution in public schools – a misguided effort that our courts have quashed at each stage, and that saddens both scientists and most theologians. No scientific theory, including evolution, can pose any threat to religion – for these two great tools of human understanding operate in complementary (not contrary) fashion in their totally separate realms: science as an inquiry about the factual state of the natural world, religion as a search for spiritual meaning and ethical values.

In the early 1920s, several states simply forbade the teaching of evolution outright, opening an epoch that inspired the infamous 1925 Scopes trial (leading to the conviction of a Tennessee high school teacher) and that ended only in 1968, when the Supreme Court declared such laws unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds. In a second round in the late 1970s, Arkansas and Louisiana required that if evolution be taught, equal time must be given to Genesis literalism, masquerading as oxymoronic "creation science." The Supreme Court likewise rejected those laws in 1987.

The Kansas decision represents creationism's first – and surely temporary – success with a third strategy for subverting a constitutional imperative: that by simply deleting, but not formally banning, evolution, and by not demanding instruction in a biblically literalist "alternative," their narrowly partisan religious motivations might not derail their goals.

Given this protracted struggle, Americans of goodwill might be excused for supposing that some genuine scientific or philosophical dispute motivates this issue: Is evolution speculative and ill founded? Does evolution threaten our ethical values or our sense of life's meaning? As a paleontologist by training, and with abiding respect for religious traditions, I would raise three points to alleviate these worries:


First, no other Western nation has endured any similar movement, with any political clout, against evolution – a subject taught as fundamental, and without dispute, in all other countries that share our major sociocultural traditions.

Second, evolution is as well documented as any phenomenon in science, as strongly as the earth's revolution around the sun rather than vice versa. In this sense, we can call evolution a "fact." (Science does not deal in certainty, so "fact"can only mean a proposition affirmed to such a high degree that it would be perverse to withhold one's provisional assent.)

The major argument advanced by the school board – that large-scale evolution must be dubious because the process has not been directly observed – smacks of absurdity and only reveals ignorance about the nature of science. Good science integrates observation with inference. No process that unfolds over such long stretches of time (mostly, in this case, before humans appeared), or at an infinitude beneath our powers of direct visualization (subatomic particles, for example), can be seen directly. If justification required eyewitness testimony, we would have no sciences of deep time – no geology, no ancient human history either. (Should I believe Julius Caesar ever existed? The hard bony evidence for human evolution, as described in the preceding pages, surely exceeds our reliable documentation of Caesar's life.)

Third, no factual discovery of science (statements about how nature "is") can, in principle, lead us to ethical conclusions (how we "ought" to behave) or to convictions about intrinsic meaning (the "purpose" of our lives). These last two questions – and what more important inquiries could we make? – lie firmly in the domains of religion, philosophy and humanistic study. Science and religion should be equal, mutually respecting partners, each the master of its own domain, and with each domain vital to human life in a different way

Why get excited over this latest episode in the long, sad history of American anti-intellectualism? Let me suggest that, as patriotic Americans, we should cringe in embarrassment that, at the dawn of a new, technological millennium, a jurisdiction in our heartland has opted to suppress one of the greatest triumphs of human discovery. Evolution is not a peripheral subject but the central organizing principle of all biological science. No one who has not read the Bible or the Bard can be considered educated in Western traditions; so no one ignorant of evolution can understand science.

Dorothy followed her yellow brick road as it spiraled outward toward redemption and homecoming (to the true Kansas of our dreams and possibilities). The road of the newly adopted Kansas curriculum can only spiral inward toward restriction and ignorance.

Stephen Jay Gould is a professor of geology at Harvard and New York University. His most recent book is Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life (Crown 1999)

copyright Time Magazine 1999


Kansas sees fallout from evolution decision

By KATE BEEM - The Kansas City Star
Date: 08/27/99 22:15

In the days after the
Kansas Board of Education voted to play down evolution in the state's science standards, chairwoman Linda Holloway joked that evolution supporters were acting as if the sky was falling.

More than two weeks have passed since the Aug. 11 decision, and the sky is still where it's supposed to be, but there has been fallout on many fronts:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri sent a letter to the superintendents of each of the state's 304 school districts. It reviewed recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that outlawed teaching biblical creationism in science classes.

State Rep. David Adkins of Leawood said he would sponsor legislation requiring high school students entering state universities to have studied evolution, the theory that living things have common ancestors and change over time.

Two national science organizations – the
National Academy of Sciences and the American Chemical Society – condemned the board's action as a setback for science education in Kansas.

Evolution proponents formed a group,
Kansas Citizens for Science, to support teachers and districts that want to teach the theory.

The publisher of a new textbook on Kansas history has decided to drop a chapter on the state's prehistory. The chapter focused on the prehistoric inland sea and 150 million-year-old fossils found in western Kansas. After hearing national reports about the new science standards, the board of the foundation publishing the book thought some Kansans might take issue with those topics.
"If we talk about (things that old), then it's beyond a creation date that most religions use," said Jim Bean, director of the Grace Dangberg Foundation in Carson City, Nev., which promotes the study of history by young people.

Kansas State University Professor Gary Conrad said he's having difficulty recruiting candidates for two openings within the biology department. Last week, Conrad said, the president of an out-of-state research institution told him she would discourage her students from considering Kansas for employment because their children would be subjected to a public school education that might not include evolution.

School board members in Pratt, Kan., west of Wichita, listened to a presentation on a science textbook that espouses the theory of intelligent design – the idea that a superior being designed the universe and everything in it. During the media frenzy after the vote of the 10-member board, confusion abounded about the science standards' purpose.

The standards are guidelines for school districts to use as they determine what students should learn. The document written by a 27-member committee of science educators listed evolution as a major concept, but earlier this month six board members – five conservatives and one moderate – voted to remove the emphasis.

The tests used as part of the state's accreditation program are based on the standards, and observers say most districts teach to the test. New science tests to be given in the 2000-2001 school year will not include questions on macro-evolution, the idea that different species can share common ancestors.

That's fine with Mary Douglass Brown of Wichita, one of the board members who favored de-emphasizing evolution.

The board's intent was not to force creationism or any other theory on the origins of life into science classrooms, but to allow school districts to decide for themselves, Brown said.

She said she checked with officials of the Wichita School District before the vote and was told students would continue to learn about evolution. That's the district's prerogative, Brown said.

"People don't seem to want to trust their local people to make this decision, and that's all we've done," Brown said. "If Yoder (Kan.) wants creationism and their people want it, that's their business. And I'm not going to stand in the way of it."

Brown dismisses the idea that the board's decision could harm Kansas students. But it's a real worry for Bill Wagnon, a board member from Topeka who supported the standards written by the science teachers.

Wagnon said he feared Kansas would lose its position as a leader and innovator in education. The K-State professor's troubles attracting faculty members are just a start, Wagnon said.

"Reputations are hard to earn and easy to shatter," Wagnon said.

The science standards have yet to reach school districts. The board's attorney still is ironing out copyright questions over parts of the standards based on materials from the National Academy of Sciences.

The standards written by the teachers committee relied heavily on the academy's
National Science Education Standards, but the changed version might not meet with the academy's approval. The standards will be sent to school districts as soon as those questions are answered, said Kathy Toelkes, the board's spokeswoman.

Dick Kurtenbach, executive director of the
ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri, said his organization had recruited a Kansas City law firm to determine what legal recourse theACLU has. He disputed Brown's claim of a return to local control.

"Why have standards at all?" Kurtenbach said. "Why select one aspect of it but pass on pages and pages and pages of other mandated issues? If it was about local control, the state board would eliminate all standards and go out of business."

To reach Kate Beem, education writer for The Star, call (816) 234-7734 or send e-mail to kbeem@kcstar.com

All content © 1999 The Kansas City Star



INDIANAPOLIS - An Indiana state legislator says he will push for Kansas-style restrictions on teaching evolution in public schools. It's a measure that could get help from the chairman of the state House Education Committee. State Rep. Greg Porter this week didn't rule out conducting a hearing on the measure, which won't be introduced until January. Following the lead of the
Kansas State School Board...

The evidence supports evolutionary theory



Mark Bekoff
Guest Opinion

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––


Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection continues to be controversial. In California, in concession to fundamentalists, the state's education department deleted reference to evolution as "a scientific fact" from its textbook guidelines, but continues to support strongly teaching evolution. Recently, the Kansas Board of Education voted 6-4 to omit evolution from a list of topics students have to master.

a cousin wonders what's up?


What's the problem? Those who dispense with evolution believe that evolution is merely a theory or only a yarn, and not a scientific fact, and that alternative explanations such as those espoused by creationists are more valid – more factual. Critics focus on the failures of evolutionary theory and not on its numerous successes. Of course, evolutionary theory can't explain or predict everything. Few theories can. Nonetheless, the theory of evolution does very well – better than competing ideas orstories – in explaining a multitude of phenomena and in predicting the future. Indeed, the theory of evolution works very well in a wide variety of contexts including biomedical research on disease and aging and in the study of animal and plant genetics, comparative anatomy and physiology, and behavior.

Darwin formally presented his theory in his 1859 book "
On the Origin of Species." He also applied it in his later books including "The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex" (1871) and "The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals" (1872). Darwin argued that there is continuity between human and other animal beings, that there are transitional intermediate stages among species, not large gaps, and that the differences among many species in anatomy, physiology, and behavior are differences in degree rather than differences in kind.

Concerning differences in degree and differences in kind, it's important to stress that in many important ways "we" (humans) are very much one of "them" (other animals) and "they" are very much one of "us."Researchers have compared the amino acid chains of proteins on the surface of human and chimpanzee cells and found only five differences out of 1,271 amino acid positions. We're 99.6 percent chimpanzee and vice versa. (The word "chimpanzee" means "mock man" in a Congolese dialect.) Also, humans and chimpanzees share 98.4 percent of their genes, gorillas are 2.3 percent different from both humans and chimpanzees, and orangutans are 3.6 percent different from both humans and chimpanzees.

Darwin was an avid student of behavior and used his careful studies of animal emotions to support his theory of evolution. In arguing for continuity among many animals in their emotional lives he concluded "there is no fundamental difference between man and the higher animals intheir mental faculties." Darwin also claimed that "the lower animals, like man, manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery."

Unlike the study of anatomy or physiology, the study of animal emotions can often be accomplished simply by watching animals go about their daily business. One doesn't need a microscope or a laboratory in which to work. By watching different species, including humans – their faces, postures, gaits, tails (if they have them), ears, and eyes – and by listening to them and perhaps smelling them, much information can be gathered that strongly supports the theory of evolution. This information is available to almost anyone who takes the time to look. Indeed, evidence for evolution is staring us right in the face!

The Nobel prize-winning ethologist, Konrad Lorenz, wrote in his book "
Here I Am – Where are You? The Behavior of the Greylag Goose": ...the greylag goose's peculiar process of 'falling in love' in many ways resembles its human counterpart..." Furthermore, "A greylag goose that has lost its partner shows all the symptoms that John Bowlby has described in young human children in his famous book "Infant Grief" ...the eyes sink deep into their sockets, and the individual has an overall drooping experience, literally letting the head hang..." Geese, other birds, and humans are so similar.

Joyce Poole, who has intensively studied African elephants, concluded: "It is hard to watch elephants' remarkable behavior during a family or bond group greeting ceremony, the birth of a new family member, a playful interaction, the mating of a relative, the rescue of a family member...and not imagine that they feel very strong emotions which could be best described by words such as joy, happiness, love, feelings of friendship, exuberance, amusement, pleasure, compassion, relief, and respect."

We all know how emotional our companion animals are, and recent scientific evidence also shows that iguanas have emotional lives and that turtles and fish are able to suffer. The list of animals who experience various emotions is endless. This accumulating evidence supports explanations based on Darwinian evolution, explanations arguing for continuity, for differences in degree rather than differences in kind.

All in all, evolutionary theory does extremely well in explaining and predicting incredibly diverse phenomena including emotions, anatomical structures, and physiological processes. This evidence rightfully places evolution as the front-runner in explaining much of today's wondrous world. Humans don't have to fear that evolution "makes us less than we are" or "elevates animals to more than they are." Humans are special and unique in many ways, and so are other animals. All life is miraculous and should be appreciated and respected as such.

Evolutionists should welcome the sincere challenges of creationists and other critics. By seriously engaging opponents' arguments, studies of evolution will become more rigorous. Evolutionary explanations are not effete, but rather extremely efficacious.

(Marc Bekoff teaches in Environmental, Population, and Organismic Biology at CU- Boulder.)



August 28, 1999

HAYS, Kan. – The
Kansas Board of Education's decision to excise almost any mention of evolution in the state's science curriculum wasn't even a figurative blip on the radar screen in a huge domed building that abuts Interstate 70 here.

The crowds have kept coming – 80,000 visitors since mid-March, with 15 percent from out of state or foreign countries.

Boys and girls still stand open-mouthed on an upper level as life-size models of a Tyrannosaurus rex and other beasts of prehistory roar at them.

Or others – both young and old – get up close and personal with exhibits such as a 14-foot-long fish called Portheus molossus, which died shortly after swallowing whole its last meal. It subsequently became a fossil with a perfectly formed, undigested 6-foot fossil fish inside it.

The state board's vote Aug. 11 in Topeka may have downplayed the theories of Charles Darwin, but at the
Sternberg Museum of Natural History people are voting with their dollars ($4 for adults, $2 for seniors and children) to view a world-famous paleontology collection.

"I don't think it (the vote) will make a bit of difference to us," said Jerry Choate, director of the $10 million museum, which opened in the spring after years in cramped quarters at Fort Hays State University.

"Those interested in what we have will come. Those who think differently wouldn't have come anyway."

What some now see as the gulf between evolution and creationism was not a problem for Charles H. Sternberg, patriarch of the renowned family of paleontologists (Charles M., George F., and Levi). The new museum is named for the father and his son.

One has only to go back to the spring of 1876 as Sternberg searched the Cretaceous chalk beds 70 miles west of Hays for fossils, then objects of a frenzied quest by museums that was akin to the wildest gold fevers that had consumed California or Colorado.

Sternberg was 26, grandson of a theologian, son of a teacher and suffering malaria. One day, he wrote in his autobiography, The Life of a Fossil Hunter, he came upon the remains of a mosasaur, a 12-foot-long amphibious lizard with an articulated jaw like a modern-day snake. The beast prowled the waters of the great inland sea that 80 million years ago covered most of the Great Plains and central Canada.

Sternberg recalled:

"(It had) an additional set of articulations in the backbone that allowed it to coil. Its head lay in the center with the column around it, and the four paddles stretched out on either side. It was covered by only a few inches of disintegrated chalk.

"Forgetting my sickness, I shouted to the surrounding wilderness, `Thank God! Thank God!' And I did well to thank the Creator, as I slowly brushed away the powdered chalk and revealed the beauties of this reptile of the Age of Reptiles."


Sternberg's long-ago gratitude to a higher power takes on an odd ambiguity in mid-1999. Consider:

All around Hays, a good part of the prehistory of the earth can be read through fossils. From here came (and still comes) not only the spectacular mounted specimens in museums that have caused a child's eyes to go wide but also the delicate impressions left by the ferns and the sassafras – what Sternberg described "as perfect as if a Divine hand had stamped them in yielding wax."

More than ancient leaves and old, monstrous bones, the buried secrets of this part of Kansas bequeathed a far greater legacy – modern science. Rudolph A. Raff, director of the
University of Indiana's Institute for Molecular and Cellular Biology and author of the forward to Sternberg's reprinted autobiography, said that the West of the late 19th century was more than cattlemen and pioneers, Indians and buffalo, railroads and shootouts.

"The West was an invitation to scientific discovery on a scale that today can scarcely be imagined," wrote Raff. "Some of the fossil finds from the West were to play important roles in providing evidence in favor of evolution. A whole series of fossils illustrating the evolution of horses is a notable example."

Yet fossils and their connection to evolution were only part of the story. More important, contended Raff, modern American scientific methodology was born amid the paleontological rush. Digs like those of Sternberg and his contemporaries mandated what then were revolutionary disciplines – verification, attention to detail, peer review and patience. Choate said he thought the whole creation-evolution controversy was a flash in the pan. Kansans, he said, would react to the national publicity.

"
Give it two years, and I don't think it'll be an issue," said Choate.

And Choate has other fish to fry anyway.

"The problem now is getting more signs out on the interstate," he said. "Our audience is kids in the back seats of cars who want to see dinosaurs and other things that look really weird."

Besides the live-action dinosaurs (activated by hidden motion sensors), the museum has tunnels that lead into a diorama of the Kansas and Colorado inland sea and then to its sandy shores, places inhabited with sharks with heads as big as Buick front ends and carnivorous birds with stupendous wingspans.

There are interactive computer stations, study rooms, and books, slides, videos and other educational materials.

"Kids go crazy over this place," said Choate. "But then, so do their parents. There's nothing quite like it anywhere."

Greg H. Farley, an assistant professor of biology at Fort Hays State , was less sanguine about the vote in Topeka.

"How can you teach without evolution? In fact, how can we teach extinction – which is a definite possibility – if we can't teach evolution?

"For instance, today we've got a man-eating bacteria now that literally consumes flesh. No antibiotic works. The same is true of a new strain of E-coli. Those bacteria evolved to become resistant over just a few years.

"Evolution isn't just men from apes. It's new breeds of wheat. It's better peas. It's looking at specimens here at Sternberg and being able to see how, say, hip joints of animals have changed over millions of years."


In fact, the Hays School District itself says it will make no changes in response to the school board decision and will continue to teach the theory of evolution.

Darci Zweygardt, who drove her children the 150 miles from St. Francis, stood under the skeleton of a huge mastodon near the entrance. Yes, she had heard of the controversy. She said she'd tried to keep an open mind.

"But you know," she said, waving a hand at exhibits that showed the western Kansas of 80,000 millenniums ago, "it's pretty hard to just ignore all this."

Sternberg, who died at age 93 in 1943, never saw the dichotomy between fossils and faith. Near the end of his autobiography, he wrote this:

"How wonderful are the works of an Almighty hand! The life that is now, how small a fraction of the life that has been! Miles of strata, mountain high, are but the stony sepulchers of the life of the past."

To reach Jim Fisher, Mid-America correspondent for
The Star, call (913) 681-2320 or send e-mail to jfisher@sound.net All content © 1999 The Kansas City Star



Oregon firm won't consider Kansas because of evolution decision

The Associated Press
Date: 08/13/99 12:20

TOPEKA, Kan. – A small Oregon computer software company has eliminated Kansas as a possible site for a new service center because of the State Board of Education's decision on teaching evolution.

The board approved new testing standards that eliminate questions about evolution, especially the theory that humans evolved from apes and other lower life forms.

Ron Burley, president of
Broadcast Software International in Eugene, Ore., said he scratched Topeka off the list of potential sites for the new center when he heard about the board's action.

In an e-mail message to
The Topeka Capital-Journal, Burley said a key issue for his company is whether it can find well-educated workers. He said because of the decision, "that is in doubt," in Kansas.

Burley said his company, which develops computer operating systems for small-market radio and TV stations, is seeking to establish a service and technical support center in the Midwest, where it has several clients. The center is expected to employ about a dozen people in relatively well-paid technical jobs.

Gov. Bill Graves said he was "disappointed" to hear a potential new business had ruled out a Kansas location because of the state board's decision, which has received extensive media attention nationwide.

The governor said the publicity surrounding the board's action has left people across the country
"with a huge question about what is going on in Kansas."

Still, Graves said he didn't think the controversy would have a lasting impact on the state's efforts to attract new business and industry.

"We still have a great public education system that we're going to continue to support and invest in," Graves said. "And I would suspect over time that this particular decision is going to be reversed one way or the other."

Not everyone views the debate about evolution as a negative for the state's image.

Ken Hite, chief executive officer of
Christian Book and Gift Stores in Olathe, said reaction to Wednesday's decision has been exaggerated.

Hite said his stores in Topeka, Lawrence and Olathe carry books explaining the evolution-versus-creationism debate from a "Christian perspective."

"People are going to stand up and yell about it, but I think it will pass and I don't think it is anything to be embarrassed about," Hite said. "There are several states that have passed similar laws. So, it is not like we are the only one."

All content © 1999
The Kansas City Star



There is no denying the furious reaction the decision produced in some quarters.

Stephen Jay Gould, an author and professor of geology at Harvard University, wrote in
Time magazine that diluting or eliminating evolution from science classes would be like "American history without Lincoln."

Bill Nye, creator of the children's television show "
Bill Nye the Science Guy," dismisses talk of evolution as a flawed theory, noting, "People discovered DNA."

"This business of taking the Bible literally, it's weird – it's just weird," Nye said. "I don't know why you would do it."

Such statements are offensive to perhaps thousands of Kansans. Some school districts already present creationist ideas in their science or history classes to balance a discussion of evolution.

"The fact remains that there is a significant portion of people in Kansas that is disturbed by presenting evolution as more than a theory," said Sen. Barbara Lawrence, R-Wichita.

"I think we ignore them at our peril," added Lawrence, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee.

The board's action was possible, despite defeats in the 1998 elections, because conservative Republicans still held five of the board's 10 seats.

The swing vote was Harold Voth, of Haven, often described as a moderate Republican. He had won his August 1998 primary race by a mere 39 votes and, according to news reports, consulted with his conservative GOP opponent before he voted on the evolution issue.

Voth's vote gave the conservatives the 6-4 majority they needed.

"The system is easily impacted by people who are able to really organize their efforts,"said Lt. Gov. Gary Sherrer, a moderate Republican and critic of the board's action.

He said of conservatives, "
Controversy is their oxygen."

Graves and some of his allies argue that conservatives created the issue of evolution to rally like-minded voters before the 2000 elections.

The suggestion acknowledges conservatives' ability to mobilize, often through churches, and their tendency to vote in higher percentages than moderate Republicans.

It also shows at least a little fear on the part of GOP moderates.

"They've picked this issue because gay rights didn't resonate enough with the public, apparently," said Rep. David Adkins, R-Leawood, a Graves ally. "It's about flexing their political muscle."

To be sure, some critics of the board's decision interpret its actions as a sign of conservatives' weakness.

Burdett Loomis, a University of Kansas political scientist, thought the vote raised the question,
"Is this the best you can do?"

And Senate President Dick Bond, R-Overland Park, said,
"It tells me that the religious right can be counted upon to take one step too far and self-destruct."

Bond and other Graves allies were confident conservatives were buried when their champion, former state GOP Chairman David Miller, received only 23 percent of the primary vote against the governor in August 1998.

Graves spent more than $1.6 million, the most by a candidate in a gubernatorial primary, to achieve his result – mainly by turning out volumes of voters.

Van Meteren, the Republican Assembly's executive director, promised that conservatives will be active next year.

"They certainly didn't go away," he said.

Copyright 1999
The Topeka Capital-Journal


Critic seeks board of education rebuke

By CARL MANNING
The Associated Press

A legislative leader who is critical of the
Kansas State Board of Education said Monday he will sponsor a resolution urging lawmakers to condemn the board for its vote on evolution.

House Appropriations Chairman David Adkins also said he will push a proposed constitutional amendment during the 2000 Legislature to make state board elections nonpartisan and have the governor appoint an 11th member.

Board Chairwoman Linda Holloway, of Shawnee, said of Adkins,
"It seems to me that he's carrying water for those factions who despise local control, who want to intrude into local control and local communities."

Adkins, R-Leawood, has been a vocal critic of Holloway and other board members who approved new science testing standards that gave local school boards more leeway to decide what to teach about how humans evolved.

Old guidelines said students should learn evolution before they graduate from high school.

The new standards will be used to develop statewide tests given students in spring 2001. Holloway said the change leaves it to the 304 local school boards to decide how evolution should be taught.

"It's a local control issue, that is the primary issue," she said. "What we're hearing from districts already is they will continue to address the issue as before."

But Adkins said: "
This has nothing to do with local control, and she darn well knows it. It has everything to do with them imposing their narrow agenda on the schoolchildren of Kansas and giving the entire state a black eye."

Adkins said the resolution will express a sense of outrage about what the board did. He said the resolution, which has no force of law, will be introduced in January when the session starts.

"My resolution will send the message that the state isn't filled with yahoos," he said.

Adkins also said there is renewed interest in his proposal to make school board elections nonpartisan in November general elections. He said adding an 11th member would end the board's deadlocking on key issues.

"I believe the board provided us with an exclamation point behind the question of whether the current board is serving Kansans," Adkins said.

His proposed change of the state constitution must be endorsed by two-thirds of the Legislature and ratified by voters. He introduced the measure during the 1999 session.

Holloway said: "I think it will be interesting for him to take it to the Legislature during an election year. I don't think he will get a lot of support for it."

All 125 House members and 40 senators stand for election next year, along with half the school board, including Holloway.

Adkins said other ideas include having board members appointed by the governor, or doing away with the board and replacing it with a Cabinet-level secretary of education.

"I personally think an elected board is something the voters of Kansas have said they want," Adkins said. "I'm going to be interested in reaching any consensus that deals with any flaws in the current board."

Last week, Adkins said he would draft legislation next session requiring students entering state universities to have completed a course in science that includes evolution.

Copyright 1999 The Topeka Capital-Journal


Date: 8/29/1999

GEORGE W. Bush's luck is holding out.

The blinding blizzard over his don't-ask-don't-tell policy on past cocaine use served nicely as cover for some remarkable insights from the Republican presidential front-runner. He believes, for example, that it is perfectly fine for children in public schools to be taught creationism as an explanation for the origins of life.

"I believe children ought to be exposed to different theories about how the world started,'' Bush said in New Orleans.

Not that he thinks evolution, the science that is the foundation for all of modern biology, should be kicked out the schoolhouse door. It's just that in Bush's mind any and all other ideas are valid, too. It's all part of his notion that public school instruction should follow a rule of "inclusion rather than exclusion,'' according to spokeswoman Mindy Tucker.

How perfectly P.C. [Yet conservatives are the one complaining the most about Political Correctness]

Next thing you know, Bush will be calling for the teaching of communism as just another interesting, plausible theory about the way politics and the economy could be organized. No facts necessary. No historical evidence warranted.

How about Nazism? Some people believe in it, passionately. It is one way of looking at racial differences, you might say. And, if some people believe in it, accept Nazism is correct as a matter of faith, then why not teach it?

And what of biology according to Leonard Jeffries, the City College of New York professor who theorizes that Africans are genetically superior to whites? A genuine policy of inclusion would allow this to be taught, too. This is the standard Bush has set. And, to be fair, just about all his rivals for the Republican nomination have, too. Asked about the decision by state education officials in Kansas to take both evolution and the Big Bang theory of how the universe began out of state science standards, they punted. Why, it's a matter for state and local school boards to decide!

Local control. In the phrase book of politics, especially Republican politics, few words ring so true to true believers.

But the drive to push evolution out of school and push creationism in doesn't have much to do with this. Instead it involves a passionate, decades-long (if not centuries-long) effort by one sect of Christians – biblical literalists – to have their faith taught as fact. The Supreme Court already has ruled this out in a 1987 decision against a Louisiana law that required equal time for creationism if a district taught evolution. The high court said creationism is a religious doctrine that cannot be taught in a public school science lesson, although it may be taught in an academic course on religion.

It might be nice if people running for president would show some passing familiarity with this. That is, apparently, just too much to ask. But then, the complexities of the law on separation of church and state isn't the point here. Toughness is.

On the eve of the 21st century, some fundamentalist Christians want to refight the 19th century battle over Darwinism. The battleground is the public schools and the casualties are all children whose need – whose right – to be taught real science would be trampled.

The Kansas decision gave the candidates a golden moment. They could have taken it. They could have stood up to a small minority promoting a fringe cause. They could have said they respect people's faith, but that faith isn't science. They could have said the creationists are entitled to their beliefs, but public school students are entitled to an education.

They could have done what the Republican operatives keep saying they are going to do this election season: Stand up to the fanatical fringe of the party that scares the rest of America. Nobody, least of all the educationally inclusive Bush, did that.

So you really do have to wonder whether man is a higher form of ape. It turns out the apes have stiffer spines.

©1999 San Francisco Chronicle


Gore Avoids Stance Against Creationism
By Hanna Rosin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 27, 1999; Page A08

Vice President Gore, known for his love of science education, refused yesterday to take a clear stand on whether public schools should be required to teach evolution and not creationism.

Gore and the other candidates running for president have been faced with questions about their position on the teaching of evolution after the Aug. 11 decision by the
Kansas Board of Education to wipe out evolution from the statewide science curriculum. The vote is the most decisive victory in recent years for creationists, fundamentalist Christians who believe that God created human beings and animals fully formed, as described in Genesis.

When first asked about the Kansas vote, a Gore spokesman seemed to allow for the possibility of teaching creationist science, an option the Supreme Court has ruled out.

"The vice president favors the teaching of evolution in public schools," Alejandro Cabrera said yesterday in response to a question from a Reuters reporter. "Obviously, that decision should and will be made at the local level, and localities should be free to teach creationism as well."

The Supreme Court has ruled that schools are not free to teach creationism. In 1987, the court ruled in
Edwards v. Aguilar that a Louisiana statute prohibiting the teaching of evolution unless creationist science was taught as well improperly endorses religion.

After checking the 1987 decision, Cabrera adjusted his statement by saying that Gore supports the teaching of creationism only in certain contexts, such as in a religion class–an option that has not been ruled unconstitutional. The vice president, however, declined to criticize the Kansas school board vote, repeating that the decision to teach evolution should be up to local
schools.

Prominent scientists felt betrayed by their ally, and detected waffling in Gore's finely tuned answers.

"What he's trying to do is carry water on both shoulders," said Daniel Koshland, former editor of the journal Science and a professor at the University of California at Berkeley. "It reflects badly on him that he would say something incorrect in order to appease all parts of the population."

According to Gallup polls, about 44 percent of Americans believe in a strict biblical creationist view. About 40 percent believe in "theistic evolution," the idea that God guided the millions of years of evolution that culminated with humans. Only one in 10 of those surveyed expressed a strict, secular evolutionist view.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the Republican front-runner, has more directly endorsed the teaching of creationism, using language familiar to the rejuvenated religious movement.
"I believe children ought to be exposed to different theories about how the world started," Bush said at a campaign appearance last week in New Orleans.

"He [Bush] believes both creationism and evolution ought to be taught," his spokeswoman Mindy Tucker elaborated to Reuters. "He believes it is a question for states and local school boards to decide but believes both ought to be taught."

Elizabeth Dole and John McCain, two other Republican candidates, deflected the question by saying the decision should be left to local school boards, without specifying their preference.

Steve Forbes, who is aggressively courting the religious right, called textbook illustrations of evolution "a massive fraud" but stopped short of fully endorsing creationism.
"A lot of what we thought was true, it turns out, science is finding is not true," he said, repeating a common stance of creationists. [A true statement, but about the stuff the Religious Right claims is true.]

Gary Bauer, the GOP candidate most open about his religious views, was more straightforward about his position at a breakfast with reporters yesterday. While saying local school boards, not presidents, should make the decision, Bauer criticized the "elite" reaction to the Kansas school board vote and noted that he does not teach his children that they are "descendant from apes."

"Evolution . . . is taught with the idea that life arose spontaneously and that there is no divine intelligence involved," Bauer added. "I just reject the basic tenet of that theory . . . and so do most Americans."

Staff researcher Ben White contributed to this report.

© Copyright 1999
The Washington Post Company



In the
Toronto Star:

Dark ages are back in Kansas schools

By Susan Reimer


I thought we had settled this long ago. This creationism vs. evolution argument. I thought evolution, with dump trucks full of evidence on its side, had declared victory and left the creationists to rant among themselves and pull their children out of public schools.

Apparently not.

Having failed (thanks to the Supreme Court) to shoe-horn their theory into American schools under some kind of misguided fairness doctrine, creationists have changed their tactics. They now aim to diminish the teaching of evolution, and in Kansas they have succeeded.

The
Kansas Board of Education, ignoring its own science teachers, edited evolution out of the curriculum. The board did not ban its teaching, but evolution will no longer be represented on the statewide assessment test, and we all know that kids, and teachers, don't bother with stuff that isn't going to be on the test.



In the future, science teachers will cross Kansas off their list of places to work and science and technology companies will do the same.

And the kids who come out of Kansas high schools and want to pursue science will have to prove to college admissions officials that they are educated, because ``descent with modifications'' is not just a unit in biology. It is its essential underpinning.

``International colleagues just laugh at you,'' says Paul Sniegowski, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania who teaches biology at the undergraduate and graduate level and researches the workings of evolution at the genetic level.

``Creationism is one of those theories that we don't bother with anymore,'' he says. ``We stopped talking about this in the 19th century. We've moved on. Our only questions now are how does evolution occur, by what model, what are the rules.''

Sniegowski and his fellow biologists often try to demonstrate evolution to the disbelieving by using the example of bacteria, which has managed to adapt to the assault of antibiotics to the point where those antibiotics are no longer effective in treating the disease s bacteria cause.

``It is a spectacular example. If we had understood evolution better, we might have been able to take some precautions. We might not be facing this now.''

Creationists should let the science teachers do their job.

And save their theories for the family dinner table.

Susan Reimer is a columnist for
The Baltimore Sun.



Joan Ryan at the
San Francisco Chroncle:

AT 11 A.M. yesterday, in a three-room Berkeley office sandwiched between a closed-down nursery and a strip-mall parking lot, three staffers at the
National Center for Science Education were still scrolling through e-mails and transcribing messages from their two answering machines. Some people wanted to know where to send a check. Others wanted to know what kind of arrogant pagans they have over there in Berkeley.

The mini-frenzy was touched off by a Sunday
New York Times story about the center's steadfast defense of teaching evolution in schools

– a controversy I always considered a bit quaint and anachronistic, like defending the assertion that the Earth is round.

But according to Molleen Matsumura, the center's national project director, the challenges to teaching evolution are on the rise.... Matsumura keeps a map on which she marks potential and actual court cases over the teaching of evolution. From January 1998 to last month –and 18-month period – she put pins in 40 states.

One of the creationists' arguments against teaching evolution in the schools is that it is ``just'' a theory. But scientific theory isn't the same as, say, a police theory about a crime, which might be simply conjecture. Scientific theory gives a plausible, logical explanation about a set of facts. Einstein had his theory of relativity. Newton had his theory of gravity. But no one I know is questioning if those theories ought to be yanked from science classrooms.



``There's this idea that science and religion are necessarily opposed,'' Matsumura said. ``But there's the same percentage of scientists as the general public who believe that evolution is a process that could have happened with God's participation.''

I am a big fan of the Bible and God. As I get older, I am more impressed by the intricate machines we are, how remarkably well our knees and hands and kidneys and hearts work in concert to keep us alive and moving (we always appreciate what we begin to lose). More than anything, I marvel at the human brain. God seems to have gone to a lot of trouble to equip us with this organ
that sets us apart from all other creatures.

I imagine he'd like us to use it.



San Franscico Chroncile notes:

With the notable and laudatory exception of Democrat Bill Bradley, all of the major presidential contenders caved in to the Religious Right and said it's OK to teach creationism in the schools.

Asked about the recent decision by the
Kansas Board of Education to dilute instruction about evolution, presidential hopefuls Al Gore, George W. Bush, John McCain, Elizabeth Dole, Pat Buchanan, Steve Forbes and Gary Bauer all said it should be taught in public schools along with evolution, although Gore later revised his answer to say that it should be taught in religion classes.

The answers from Bauer, Forbes and Buchanan were no surprise. But the other candidates, especially Gore, who likes to characterize himself as a great advocate for science education, might have been expected to show some leadership on an issue that has the potential to make American education an international laughingstock.



Jean Torkelson,
Denver Rocky Mountain News Religion Writer reports:

In many ways, these are heady times for biblical creationists such as Kent Hovind, who hails from Pensacola, Fla., and is a former science teacher in Christian schools.

Likewise, the Kansas decision inspired an Aug. 16 Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, in which Berkeley law professor Phillip E. Johnson lamented the prevailing academic certitude that insists
"all living things are products of mindless material forces. ... Do you wonder why a lot of people suspect that these claims go far beyond the available evidence?"

The son of an electrical engineer and a public school teacher, Hovind says it's time people understand the blurred line between faith and wishful science

"I believe in God; you believe in dirt," he said."Don't tell me my world view is religious and yours isn't. Both are religious world views – except yours is tax-supported and mine isn't."

[Pssst... churches and religious groups get tax-free status, effectively a means of support.]

––-

BTW Kent Hovind, who learned his science at
Midwest Baptist College, and real popular with the Homeschoolers like who miseducated poor Gerina with his video "Evolution, leave your brains at the door," claims to have a $250,000 (or $10,000 – it seems to change) reward to anyone who can prove to HIM the scientific evidence – not just a scientific scenario – that proves evolution.

Hovind got his "Ph.D." from mail-order college "Patriot University" which moves from city to city in Colorado. He thinks that our fine planet was created 6000 years ago.

That Adam & Co. were eleven feet tall.

That dinosaurs still live.

Tyrannosaurus Rex still lives.

He lives underwater.

And breathes fire.

No kidding... See [his] "Dinosaurs and the Bible" video.

From all indications his actual understanding of even grammar school level science is pitful. And whether he ever taught science is questionable.

Here is a example of [his] argument:

"In children’s fairy tales, we are told:

frog + magic spell (usually a kiss) = prince

In modern "science" textbooks we are told:

frog + time = prince


The same basic fairy tale (evolution) is being promoted in textbooks today, but the new magic potion cited is time. When the theory of evolution is discussed, time is the panacea for all the thousands of problems that arise.

In nearly all discussions and debates about evolution that I have held at universities and colleges, I ask the evolutionists how certain things could have evolved by chance. Their answer is nearly always "Given enough time..." Time is the evolutionists’ god. Time is able to accomplish anything the evolutionists can propose. Time can easily turn a frog into a prince. Time can create matter from nothing and life from matter. According to evolutionists, time can create order from chaos."

"The Bible teaches that: God created the universe approximately 6000 years ago, ex nihilo (out of nothing) in six literal, twenty-four hour days. Then, approximately 4400 years ago, the earth was destroyed by a worldwide Flood. This devastating, year-long Flood was responsible for the sediment layers being deposited (the water was going and returning, Gen. 8:3-5). As the mountains rose and the ocean basins sank after the Flood (Psalm 104:5-8, Gen. 8:1), the waters rushed off the rising mountains into the new ocean basins. This rapid-erosion through still-soft, unprotected sediments formed the topography we still see today, in places like the Grand Canyon."

"The shrinking sun limits the earth-sun relationship to less than "billions of years." The sun is losing both mass and diameter. Changing the mass would upset the fine gravitational balance that keeps the earth at just the right distance for life to survive.

The ½ inch layer of cosmic dust on the moon indicates the moon has not been accumulating dust for billions of years. (2, p. 26; 3, p. 22; 4, p. 15; 6, p. 35; 7; 9, p. 25) *Insufficient evidence to be positive (almost all estimates before the lunar landing anticipated great quantities of dust.)

A relatively small amount of sediment is now on the ocean floor, indicating only a few thousand years of accumulation. This embarrassing fact is one of the reasons why the continental drift theory is vehemently defended by those who worship evolution.

The largest stalactites and flowstone formations in the world could have easily formed in about 4400 years.

The Sahara desert is expanding. It easily could have been formed in a few
thousand years. See any earth science textbook.

The oceans are getting saltier. If they were billions of years old, they would be much saltier than they are now.

Ice cores at the south pole and Greenland have a maximum depth of 10-14,000 feet. The aircraft that crash-landed in Greenland in 1942 and excavated in 1990 were under 263 feet of ice after only 48 years. This indicates all of the ice could have accumulated in 4400 years."


Where did dinosaurs come from and where did they go?

Dinosaurs were (and are) simply "big lizards," as Dr. Kent Hovind calls them. They did not live millions of years ago, because the earth is only around 6,000 years old.

Remember that the living conditions upon earth were much more favorable for very long life before the flood. Take a look at Genesis chapter 5. Verse 5 says, "And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died." Verse 8 says, "And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died." Verse 11 says, "And all the days of Enos were nine hundred and five years: and he died." And so on. The conditions upon earth would also have been favorable for animals to live longer. Some animals never stop growing as long as they live. I would encourage you to order Dr. Kent Hovind’s video series on Creation Science, at "drdino.com". It mentions some of those animals, and tells of many sightings of dinosaurs even in our day. Not too long ago, some Japanese fishermen caught one in their fishing net.

As the living conditions became more harsh after the flood, and the life-span decreased, so did the size of the dinosaurs, for the most part, because they, too, did not live as long (although some very large dinosaurs have been spotted in our day).

Another reason for the disappearance of them is obviously the hunting of them by man. To bag an animal that large would obviously be a great trophy to be sought.

Job was obviously describing a dinosaur (this one would be called a dragon – here, a fire-breathing one) in Job 41, "Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down? Canst thou put an hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn? Will he make many supplications unto thee? will he speak soft words unto thee? Will he make a covenant with thee? wilt thou take him for a servant for ever? Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens? Shall the companions make a banquet of him? shall they part him among the merchants? Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish spears? Lay thine hand upon him, remember the battle, do no more. Behold, the hope of him is in vain: shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him? None is so fierce that dare stir him up: who then is able to stand before me? Who hath prevented me, that I should repay him? whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine. I will not conceal his parts, nor his power, nor his comely proportion. Who can discover the face of his garment? or who can come to him with his double bridle? Who can open the doors of his face? his teeth are terrible round about. His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal. One is so near to another, that no air can come between them. They are joined one to another, they stick together, that they cannot be sundered. By his neesings a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning. Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out. Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron. His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth. In his neck remaineth strength, and sorrow is turned into joy before him. The flakes of his flesh are joined together: they are firm in themselves; they cannot be moved. His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone. When he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid: by reason of breakings they purify themselves. The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold: the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon. He esteemeth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood. The arrow cannot make him flee: slingstones are turned with him into stubble. Darts are counted as stubble: he laugheth at the shaking of a spear. Sharp stones are under him: he spreadeth sharp pointed things upon the mire. He maketh the deep to boil like a pot: he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment. He maketh a path to shine after him; one would think the deep to be hoary. Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear. He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride." Make sure you see Dr. Hovind’s video on how animals can breathe fire.
http://www.pathwaynet.com/libertyb/question/prequest/dinosaur.htm

Yeah, see how animals breath fire! Missed that one on on Animal Channel.

How to collect the $10,000 or $250,000 from "Dr." Kent Hovind

Prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the process of evolution (option 3 below) is the only possible way the observed phenomena could have come into existence. Only empirical evidence is acceptable. Persons wishing to collect the $10,000 may submit their evidence in writing or schedule time for a public presentation. As in any fair court of law, the accuser must also rule out any other possible explanations. To the best of my ability, I will be fair and honest in my evaluation and judgment as the validity of the evidence presented.

Evolution is presented in our public school textbooks as a process that:

Brought time, space, and matter into existence from nothing.

Organized that matter into the galaxies, stars, and at least nine planets around our star, the sun. (This process is often referred to as cosmic evolution.)

Created the life that exists on at least one of those planets from the non-living matter.

Caused the living creatures to be capable of and interested in reproducing
themselves.

Caused that life to spontaneously diversify into different forms of living things, such as the plants and animals on the earth today.

The observed phenomena:

Evolution has been accused of being the only process capable of causing the observed phenomena. As with any just court, the burden of proof rests on the accuser. Most thinking people will agree:

A highly ordered universe exist.

At least one planet in this complex universe contains an amazing variety of life.

Man appears to be the most advanced form of life on this planet.

The known options:

Choices of how the observed phenomena came into being:

1. The universe was created by God.

2. The universe always existed.

3. The universe came into being by itself, by purely natural processes (known
as evolution). No appeal to the supernatural is needed.

If you are convinced that evolution is an indisputable fact, may I suggest that you offer $10,000 for any empirical or historical evidence against the general theory of evolution. This might include the following:

1. The earth is not billions of years old (thus destroying the possibility of evolution having happened as it is being taught).

2. No animal has ever been observed changing into any fundamentally different kind of animal.

3. No one has ever observed life spontaneously arising from non-living matter.

4. Matter cannot make itself out of nothing.

My suggestion: proponents of the theory of evolution would do well to admit that they believe in evolution, but they do not know that it happened the way they teach. They should call evolution their "faith or religion," and stop including it in books of science. Give up faith in the silly religion of evolutionism, and trust the God of the Bible (who is the Creator of this universe and will be your Judge one day soon) to forgive you and save you from the coming judgment on man's sin.

http://www.drdino.com/Articles/Article1.htm

and check
http://www.drdino.com/dinos.htm where the goofy pseudo-doctor "proves" dinosaurs never died out with Nessie! No joke.


Evolutionary fish story (AP)

TOPEKA – The debate over evolution also is playing out on the trunks of Kansans' cars, with competing metal fish symbols showing drivers' views.

For years, some car owners have put the Christian fish symbol in silver or gold on the trunks of their cars to indicate their faith.

But a Colorado Springs organization,
FISH, sells symbols with legs and "Darwin" printed inside the fish, to honor Charles Darwin, the 19th-century British naturalist who first developed the theory of evolution.

The group's director, Gary Betchan, said that last year he sold only two Darwin symbols to Kansans.

But sales have picked up. This year he has filled 214 orders in Kansas, two dozen of them in the last few weeks.

He attributes the increase to the State Board of Education's approval of new science testing standards that de-emphasize the teaching of evolution.

"If we were selling them in bookstores like the Christians do, we'd be talking about tens of thousands," Betchan said.

Local Christian bookstores aren't sure their sales of competing symbols have picked up. New ones feature a larger Christian fish swallowing the Darwin fish.

"In a lighthearted way, I think it's a way of saying, 'this is where we stand,' " said Dianne O'Brian, manager of the
Christian Book and Gift Store in Topeka.



TOPEKA – The
State Board of Education has asked three national groups for permission to use their materials in new science testing standards that de-emphasize the teaching of evolution.

The groups can deny permission to use their copyrighted materials. However, an attorney for the board said Thursday that even if the groups refuse to grant permission, forcing the board to rewrite its standards, the practical effects will be minimal.

Still, the groups' denying permission would be another sign that many scientists see evolution as a fundamental scientific concept and think the board's action will damage education in Kansas.

The three groups are the
National Research Council, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Science Teachers Association. All three are reviewing requests from the board.

The board's standards have been criticized by national groups – including the teachers association – because they leave out some concepts as subjects to be covered by statewide tests of students.

Those concepts include the big-bang theory of the universe's origin and macroevolution, the theory that different species can evolve into other species and that some species, most notably apes and man, share common ancestors.

The new standards are not mandatory for local school districts but will be used to develop standardized tests to be administered to students starting in spring 2001. Critics fear that schools will adjust their science courses to emphasize what is on the tests and leave out what is not. Local school boards get to decide whether to teach evolution.

Using material from national groups is not new. Dan Biles, an Overland Park attorney who represents the board, noted that it received permission from three groups to use their materials for its 1995 standards.

Biles said that if the groups deny permission, the board may only need to change a few words in each section of its text to be able to call the writing its own. Even if more extensive revisions are necessary, the work of developing the tests can go forward, he said.

"You can't copyright the idea," Biles said. "We're talking about principles of science, and you can't copyright that."

George Nelson, director of
Project 2061 for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, made a similar assessment.Project 2061 is the group's effort to improve scientific literacy.

"We can only copyright the words," he said.

The copyrighted material appears in sections of text that introduce the standards.

The teachers association, which said the board's decision
"does a disservice to the students of Kansas," expects to decide whether to grant permission next week.

The other groups could take longer to decide.

At the
American Association for the Advancement of Science, Nelson said the AAAS will review the Kansas standards carefully.

"Certainly we are interested in maintaining the teaching of the ideas of evolution and cosmology," Nelson said. "More importantly, you can't deny the nature of science."

The new Kansas standards are available on the board's Internet site (
www.ksbe.state.ks.us), as well as a warning that said the board will not distribute copies of its standards until it has permission to use the copyrighted material. The standards are under the "assessments and standards" section.



Creationists get a leg up in Kansas

August 29, 1999

BY JOHN CARPENTER STAFF REPORTER

LEON, Kan.–If the evolution of man has come grinding to a halt in this dusty little cattle town somewhere between Wichita and Cassoday, the prairie chicken capital of the world, that's just fine with Bob and Mary Williams.

They believe everything was created a few thousand years ago in six days, after which God rested.

They believe scientific evidence supports this idea.

And they are convinced the 140 years of science that has followed the publishing of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is just plain wrong.

And guess what. The
Kansas State Board of Education doesn't disagree.

This state famous for prodigious wheat production and "The Wizard of Oz" is now simultaneously the shining star of the growing creationist movement and the laughingstock of the mainstream educational and scientific communities.

While creationism can't be taught in Kansas schools, evolution now is no longer required to be taught, either. And while no one has said evolution can't be presented, it will not be included in state tests, and it clearly has been de-emphasized.

"It is," said suburban Kansas City biology teacher Al Frisby, "like asking an English teacher to please not use verbs."

Bob Williams, of course, disagrees. A college-educated small rancher and manager at a local Boeing plant, he says people such as Frisby cling to evolution as a matter of faith even though Williams says it is based on shoddy science and bold assumptions. That's why he helped write the alternative, anti-evolution standards partially adopted by the school board earlier this month.

But the move in Kansas is more than simply a continuation of the age-old debate on the origins of man. It represents a thus-far successful strategy shift for creationists, who have fought evolution since it was first introduced.

The idea of creation as it is laid out in the Bible cannot be taught in public schools. That would be, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, an unconstitutional violation of the separation of church and state. So creationists have taken aim at preventing evolution from being taught.

"I don't want them teaching their philosophy," Williams said, referring to science teachers and evolution. "They are weighting things in the classroom so that their philosophy is put above my own. I don't want that, especially if their philosophy has to do with whether my kid believes in God."

"The evidence for evolution is very shaky at best," said Linda Holloway, chairwoman of the Kansas Board of Education. [Which is total bullfunky.]

Others say it is the creationists who are wrong, that they are simply a religious group with an agenda that has gained a political foothold, and they are wreaking havoc.

"These are people with a very literal interpretation of the Bible, and they are dumbing down science education in this state," said state school board member Bill Wagnon, a university history professor. "It's a slap in the face to the science teachers who wrote the standards" that were rejected.

Steve Cass is one of those teachers. He said Williams and others in the creationist camp have stood science on its head to shoot down evolution. Instead of defining science as the pursuit of an understanding of the natural world, they have defined it as known facts which, if they can't be absolutely proved, are false.

"They say you can disprove a theory by one casual observation," Cass said. "But all science is theoretical. Evolution is a very strong theory backed up by very strong science."

Tell that to Debbie Fleming, one of Williams' neighbors and a lifelong resident of Leon, population 707. She and her husband run the local feed store and grain elevator. And to her, there is no question but that creationism should be the curriculum
"because it is in the Bible, and the Bible is a book of history."

Robin Gomez, 28, calls herself one of the more liberal residents of Leon.

"I don't have a problem with teaching evolution," she said. "I think you can teach both. You can teach it right along with creation."

Many, of course, associate the creationist movement with isolated, rural small towns in the Bible Belt, such as Leon. But
Shawnee Mission High School Northwest is an acclaimed school in a generally mainstream Kansas City suburb, with streets and subdivisions that could be in Arlington Heights or Naperville but for the rolling Kansas terrain.

Frisby, a biology and chemistry teacher, knew there were creationists among the more than 2,000 students at the school because the question had come up in his science classes. But he wasn't quite ready for parents night last year, a ritual repeated in schools across the country in which parents meet their children's teachers by running through an abbreviated version of their schedule.

"After one session almost everybody moved on to the next class, but five or six parents stayed behind and attacked me," Frisby recalled.

Asked if he was attacked physically or intellectually, Frisby said: "
Verbally, not intellectually."

The parents were demanding to know why he was teaching evolution. Apart from the scientific reasons he gave them, Frisby was able to point out that evolution was part of the school's carefully formulated curriculum. With this year's ruling by the state board of education, however, Frisby fears parents will be more persistent, even though officials in the large school district say they have no intention of taking evolution out of the curriculum.

But the controversy at
Shawnee Mission has spilled out of the classroom and into the hall, where a small number of creationist students made it known last year that they were offended by a handsome mural in the science wing of the school. It depicts, among other things, evolution.

"I believe in creation because that's what the Bible says happened," says Heather Ellsworth, a 15-year-old Shawnee Mission sophomore who was among those objecting to the mural. "There is evidence to the contrary, I know. But that evidence can be interpreted in so many different ways." [Only by the dimwitted.]

The mural has stayed up. And S
hawnee Mission principal Bill Harrington said evolution will remain part of the curriculum. But 80 percent of Kansas students are educated in small, rural schools, often places with only one science teacher. Some people, such as Kansas State University professor Gary Conrad, fear those schools will be lonely places for science teachers trying to defend evolution.

"It's going to come down, in a lot of instances, to teachers having to decide between teaching it or losing their jobs," Conrad said.

Frisby agreed. He said that if a school board told him not to teach evolution, he certainly would refuse and probably would file a lawsuit.

"You cannot take my legs out from under me and expect me to stand up in front of a class and teach biology."

But Williams said the legs Frisby and others stand on already are weak.

Williams has made debunking evolution his consuming passion for the last several years. He says that scientists, desperate to perpetuate evolution because they do not want to acknowledge even the possible existence of a higher power, ignore evidence. [A pack of lies.]

As for scientific techniques that date fossils and other materials back millions of years, Williams said those techniques are flawed. He points to several famous mistakes – touted fossils later determined to be animal bones – and dismisses them. [about four out of 100,000 times]

Creationists believe in evolution within species – animals developing into better hunters, for example. But they say there has been no evolution across species: The species we have today are the same ones created by God in the six days of creation.

Cass, a
University of Kansas researcher and teacher who helped write the science standards the state school board rejected, said that "in the fossil records we have literally hundreds of fossils of transitional species."

Cass added that the fact that fossil mistakes are so famous is precisely the point. Scientific discoveries are subject to intense scrutiny and are cut down if they can't stand up.

"When errors are made, they are public and they are corrected," he said. "It's self-correcting."

Cass said the people who believe in creation are simply demanding that science agree with them.

"These folks demand that we use the tools of science to prove their faith. It ends up debunking it, and they won't accept it."

Residents across the state already are bemoaning the fact that they have become the butt of jokes.

"I just got back from San Diego, and I got made fun of a lot," Shawnee Mission sophomore Craig Pacheco said. "I didn't like that."

And an Oregon software company told the Topeka newspaper it had taken Kansas off the list as a possible site for a new facility. Conrad said he is worried colleges and universities across the state will have trouble attracting academic talent because the state has been stigmatized. And some wonder whether Kansas high school students with designs on college outside the state will suffer.

There already are moves to undo the board of education's actions in the state legislature. But Holloway and other conservative board members said they have received overwhelming support from people who have contacted them.

A 1998 Gallup Organization poll said 44 percent of Americans believe in creation as it is presented in the Bible. Another 40 percent believe some sort of "intelligent design" or higher power had a hand in the creation and development of life – a belief Cass pointed out does not conflict with evolution.

"I know very religious scientists," said Cass, who calls himself an agnostic. "It does not affect their science. I don't think most people have a problem integrating their religious belief with science."

Still, if poll numbers are accurate and if the deep division of opinion in Kansas is not limited by lines on maps, Darwin and the legions of scientists who base their work on him should brace for a fight.



KATHA POLLITT

Weird Science


My first thought upon hearing that the Kansas state education board had removed evolution from its mandatory curriculum was: Go ahead! Be like that! Handicap your kids for life. Let the "secular humanists" have all the good colleges and get all the good jobs. I know this was an unworthy thought – Darwin's demotion was a political maneuver by Christian conservative politicians, not a grassroots effort by Kansas parents, much less their unfortunate children – but there you are. As a rootless cosmopolitan, I get tired of being expected to pay homage to "the heartland" as the moral center of the universe.

And creationism, honestly! In 1999! All summer, serious newspapers have felt it necessary to publish casuistical Op-Eds by apologists for "creation science"–and the Old Testament is the only biology textbook you really need, these clever fellows forgot to add. What's going on? As Stephen Jay Gould pointed out in Time, in no other Western country is the teaching of evolution regarded as controversial. Throughout the world, one way or another, most Christian denominations have managed to reconcile belief in God with belief in the mechanisms of natural selection. A French or German or Scandinavian politician who called for students to entertain as a reasonable deduction from existing evidence the proposition that Earth is at most 10,000 years old would be bundled off to a mental hospital.

Creation science is religion, no matter what its apologists say; let's start from there. No one looking at the physical record would determine that dinosaurs and humans coexisted, that fossils represent the creatures drowned in Noah's flood and so on. The only way those notions would even occur to you is if you considered the Bible an unerring historical document – but why would you think that unless you accepted the Bible as divine revelation of factual truth? The Topeka Capital-Journal asserted that "creationism is as good a hypothesis as any." Because no human witnessed the beginning of life on Earth, one guess is as good as another. Of course, a great deal of science involves making inferences about phenomena no human has witnessed – the birth of stars, the interior of the sun, subatomic particles. And, as one wag asked in a letter to the New York Times, would creationists argue that the vast majority of crimes, which occur unwitnessed, should not be prosecuted?

As Theodore Schick Jr. and Lewis Vaughn explain in their wonderful book
How to Think About Weird Things, the theory of evolution fulfills all the scientific criteria of adequacy: It is falsifiable, it predicts, it leads to further discoveries, it is conservative, and it fits what we already know. That isn't to say a better theory might not come along someday, but it won't be creationism, which fails all those tests in spades. To call creationism science (or to call evolution religion, as National Review seemed to be doing when it recently said Darwinism and creationism are equally "fundamentalist") is to destroy the whole concept of science. After all, if the creationists are right, not just biology must go but also geology, archeology, astrophysics, physics; so must radiometric and carbon-14 dating. Indeed, creationists should be protesting every natural history museum in the country that uses public funds to promulgate the "secular humanist" doctrine of geological time.

In a better world, science teachers would teach creationism along with evolution as an exercise in critical thinking. But critical thinking is not what creationists are interested in. Nor, so far, are the usual people who love to weigh in on educational scandals. In fact, that's one of the most interesting aspects of the creationism flap. Al Gore, who bills himself as Mr. Science, finds himself unable to speak out on Kansas, saying that the decision to teach evolution should be left to local school boards (the same position taken by George W. Bush). And where are the doughty soldiers in the science and education wars who profess to uphold standards and truth against the irrationalist hordes? Where are the customary bemoaners of educational "fads" and politicized curriculums – Michael Kelly, William Buckley, Bill Bennett, Maureen Dowd? Sparring on
ABC with a refreshingly rational George Will, William Kristol [Weekly Standard editor-publisher] said teaching creationism was understandable enough.

If, as so many commentators maintain, it's good for black students to read
Huckleberry Finn even if its use of the n-word in dialogue hurts their feelings (and I would say it is good), why isn't it good for the children of fundamentalists to study modern biology even if that unsettles their faith? If standard biology is adequate to show that breast implants don't cause autoimmune diseases, why is it useless to help us decide if eohippus is the ancestor of the modern horse? The ferocious defenders of the scientific method were quick to take to the word processor to congratulate Alan Sokal when he succeeded in publishing a parody of left-academic science critique as the real thing a few years ago. They don't seem to see that the mainstreaming of creationism presents some of the same issues as the "postmodernism" or "antifoundationalism" they despise: Both stances reject the idea of the "master narrative" of science based on reason, evidence and expertise in favor of cultural relativism; both accept the idea that "truth" is social and political and provisional, not "out there." For both, knowledge is a social construct. Creationism is just as political, and just as damaging to real education, as Afrocentrism, "Egyptian mathematics" and other self-esteemful tidbits tossed out by schools to placate powerless but angry constituencies or flatter liberal psyches. But it's infinitely more likely that incontrovertible evidence will someday show that the Egyptians really were black, that the Iroquois really did inspire the US Constitution and that women ruled in the Old Stone Age than that creationism will ever meet the standards of verifiability by which the contents of our nation's textbooks are supposedly judged.

Maybe the science wars in academia focus on the "left" because they are partly a struggle over academic turf. In the universities, fundamentalists are irrelevant. In the real world, though, fundamentalists have lots of power and lots of votes, so no one wants to alienate them. Just ask Al Gore and George W.

Send your letter to the editor to letters@thenation.com.

Copyright ©1999 The Nation Company, L.P. All rights reserved



When Was the World Created? Sometime Before Election Day
By Michael Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 6, 1999; Page C01

Ah, memories.

Remember long ago – like last February – when some on the religious right had run up the white flag in the culture wars?

Our president had slipped the impeachment posse and taken his victory lap. Nervous Republican leaders told the true-believer right to stifle itself. Christian conservatives counseled abandoning the electoral arena.

Fast forward six months. It's Labor Day and the cusp of the presidential primary season and what are the candidates talking about?

Monkey wars.

The
Kansas Board of Education decides to expunge evolution from its public school curriculum and, just like that, everyone stops debating tax cuts and the possible cocaine-sniffing pasts of certain presidential candidates and starts arguing about the Bible and apes turned into humans. Or not.

It's "Inherit the Wind" redux.

"In between the pitched battles, the guerrilla culture wars never really wane," says Leo Ribuffo, a historian at George Washington University. "All that happens is that these issues fall off the cosmopolitan radar screens."

The battle over evolution is a hardy chestnut. In 1980, presidential candidate Ronald Reagan spoke in favor of letting public schools teach that God created Earth and man.

But in purely anthropological terms, the views of our Ivy League-educated presidential candidates are perhaps most striking, as evolutionary theory found its first and broadest acceptance in the nation's elite institutions. Malcolm Stevenson "Steve" Forbes (Princeton '69) and George W. Bush (Yale '68, Harvard '75) apparently take the view that Charles Darwin is just another dead guy with a theory.

Forbes, a member of Princeton's board of trustees, holds that certain illustrations of evolution in unspecified biology textbooks are "a massive fraud." And he notes that "a lot of what we thought was true, it turns out, science is finding is not true."

Texas Gov. Bush would accord evolution and creationism (the latter being the theory that God created the universe, the Earth and man about 10,000 years ago) more or less equal credence.
"I believe children ought to be exposed to different theories about how the world started," he says.

To which his spokeswoman adds: "
He believes both creationism and evolution should be taught."

Even Vice President Albert Gore (Harvard '69), that avatar of all things serious and scientific, says that, while he personally favors teaching the theory of evolution, he would let local school boards decide the matter.

"That decision should and will be made at the local level, and localities should be free to teach creationism," his spokesman says.

(Bill Bradley, a Princeton grad, is the only presidential candidate to specify that he favors having public schools teach evolutionary theory.)

It's all enough to set another Harvard man, the author and Harvard biology professor Stephen Jay Gould, to vibrating.

"It's intellectually so disappointing and so absurd," Gould says. "It's like teaching English but making grammar optional."

This is not a question, he and other biologists note, of rival theories chasing an uncertain truth. There is a central "truth," embraced by virtually every mainstream scientist worldwide: that the cosmos and the Earth were created billions of years ago, and that life evolved from one-celled animals to modern humans.

That these overarching concepts are pockmarked with unexplained gaps and phenomena, and subject to constant revision and debate, is but the nature of the scientific method.

Nor should that method be taken to preclude the possibility of a divine role in the universe. Pope John Paul II has sanctioned the teaching of evolution, and some evangelical leaders hold open the possibility that the Bible's timetable – typically calculated in "begats" – is metaphorical rather than literal.

"The politicians seem to treat this as one big joke and it's not," says Gerry Borgia, a biology professor at the University of Maryland. "The so-called creationist scientists inhabit a parallel universe. There is simply no interface with mainstream science and to suggest otherwise is shocking."

For the scientists, this is cultural politics with real consequences. The battles to keep evolution out of high school textbooks, or to water them down to a damp and unrecognizable point, take a toll. The result is that many bright students walk into college biology without any grounding in evolutionary theory.

"About 10 percent of my honors biology class drops out in the first week and another one-third of the students have very strong religious views and I have to explain that this is science, not just some theory," Borgia says. "The creationists have been quite successful at keeping evolution out of high school textbooks.

"Someone needs to hold our public officials' feet to the fire."

In the end, however, there is the cold fish eye of political reality. The candidates' spokesmen recite polls that show that 44 percent of Americans believe in a strict biblical creationist view. (And another 40 percent take the view that God guided the millions of years of evolution that culminated in modern humans.)

In this debate, as in so many American battles over abortion and sex education and the behavior of our public officials, there are no final defeats or victories. To claim otherwise is to risk rapidly looking like a fool.

"Even Darwin postponed publicizing his views for 20 years for fear of offending his wife, who was devoutly religious," says David Buss, a professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of Texas. "These debates have been with us for 140 years; the culture wars aren't going anywhere." [Buss is mistaken, it was not his wife's views, but the public reaction, and having to convince a scientific establishment that was 99.9% creationist at the time, and his own enormous high standards that delayed Darwin. His wife Emma fully supported his work, if not his conculsions, and would have never tried to keep him from publishing if he was certain.]

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company



A victory for shallowness
By James Carroll,, 09/07/99

That students in Kansas should be schooled in a shallow notion of the origins of the universe is tragic, but another terrible effect of the
Kansas Board of Education's August decision to remove the teaching of evolution from its classrooms is that students all over the country are having their most shallow notions of both science and religion reinforced.

This dispute, and much of the commentary it has generated, resurrects the image of religion and science as locked in conflict, as if adherence to the former condemns one to a kind of mushy mindlessness, while commitment to the latter implies an unambiguous worldview hemmed in by rigidly defined ''facts.'' This is a double-edged Enlightenment caricature which does an injustice to the complexities that most religionists and most scientists (groups that overlap) take for granted.

Those defending ''creationism'' against ''evolution'' are understood to be defending a literal, or fundamentalist, reading of Biblical texts against those who treat them as ''merely'' symbolic or metaphorical. But is that really what is going on here? Apparent problems between religion and science have arisen in the context of Biblical interpretation before, most famously when Galileo's assertion that the Earth revolved around the sun seemed to contradict the image of Joshua stopping the sun in the sky. That the Galileo dispute has been commonly understood as a conflict between knowledge derived with certainty from the Bible and conclusions based on scientific observation through a telescope gives us a nicely polarized way of understanding the problem. But what if the Joshua story from the Bible had itself become a symbolic buttress not to a religious doctrine, but to a prior scientific hypothesis?

What was really at stake in the argument was not what the Joshua tale asserted, but what a second-century Greek astronomer named Ptolemy had described. His view that the Earth was the center of the universe, which meshed with Christian glorification of humankind as the pinnacle of creation, but which was also based on more than a millennium's worth of scientific observation of celestial bodies, was in the process of being overturned by the theory of Copernicus, and the perceptions of numerous astronomers, one of whom was Galileo. The point is that the Ptolemaic system had long served as an elegant way to account for what thoughtful people had seen with their own eyes – the sun rises, afterall – and it so represented the absolutely conventional view that theologians, too, took it for granted. A challenge to Ptolemy could feel like a challenge to the most certain thing there was, the revealed word of God.

The irony is that the religious figures whom history remembers as the antagonists of Galileo, were quite accustomed to the ideas that Biblical narratives always have to be interpreted, and that, however absolute one's faith in the Bible, interpretation inevitably moves one into the realm of the contingent. In other words, those who condemned Galileo, apparently for violating a doctrine of the Bible, were not Biblical literalists. They did not believe, for example, that because the dying Jesus said,
''Father, into your hands I commend my spirit,'' God was a being with palms, fingers, and thumbs.

Now, I have not spoken to the six
Kansas School Board members who voted to eliminate evolution from the required curriculum, but I doubt that they are radical Biblical literalists either, believing that God is a being with thumbs. The Bible is commonly understood, even by fundamentalists, to have metaphoric, perhaps fictional content. That creationists insist on the literal, ''factual'' meaning of Genesis does not mean that they apply the same rigid reading to everything in the Scriptures, which raises the question of why they do so here.

The religious fundamentalists who have displayed such hostility to the metaphoric character of Scripture in Kansas are, although without knowing it, using the Creation account of Genesis as their own metaphor. This is not an argument about what the Creator did ''in the beginning,'' nor anything else having to do with religion. It is an argument about change. ''Creationism'' functions as a symbol of an imagined bygone era when life was certain, and a person's place in the order of the universe was clearly defined.

The ''theory'' of evolution, of course, assumes the permanence of change as such, and makes a nice target for those who long for a static universe. Far more than religious, there are social and political aspects to this dispute, and the deadly edge of racism – the origin of species in Africa? – cuts through it, too. Religion and science are not the categories in conflict here, no matter what the school board says. Indeed, the question of ultimate beginnings, whether pursued through fossils in time, telescopes in space, or the Biblical imagination, invites a similar response from scientist and believer alike, which is to bow before the essential mystery of what is.

Despite Kansas, the religious impulse and the scientific impulse are related. Both are at home with the inevitable experience of uncertainty, which, for faith, compels a restless desire to be with God, and, for science, drives the mind farther into what it does not know.

This story ran on page A15 of the
Boston Globe on 09/07/99.

© Copyright 1999 Globe Newspaper Company.




Church group didn't have permission
BY KRISTINA GOETZ
The Cincinnati Enquirer

UNION – As Ryle High School students left for the weekend Friday, some found there was another lesson a church group wanted them to learn.

At all three driveways leading to the school, more than a dozen members of
Big Bone Baptist Church in Union passed out about 475 free books called Refuting Evolution, despite not having permission to be on school property.

Church members said later they did not realize the driveway entrances were considered school property.

The books had been donated to the church by
Answers in Genesis, the evangelical group that wants to build a creation museum in Boone County.

Refuting Evolution was written to counter a book called Teaching About Evolution published by the National Academy of Sciences, which organizers from Answers in Genesis say encourages teachers to teach evolution as fact and not theory.

After distributing more than 1,700 free copies of the book at the
National Education Association's annual convention in Orlando, Fla., recently, Answers in Genesis is now giving out the book to public schools across the United States.

On Friday, the books were distributed at Ryle and at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., where earlier this year two students killed 12 of their peers, a teacher and then themselves.

“We're not howling religious fanatics,” said the Rev. Michael Jones of Union. “We believe that when the Bible said God created us in his image, that's exactly what he did.”

The plan had been to pass out the books at the school's flagpole, but the group did not get written permission from the Boone County superintendent in time.

Mark Looy, a spokesman for Answers in Genesis, said it was a misunderstanding.

“We were never told the superintendent had to give permission,” he said.

Church members stood at parking lot entrances instead and passed out the books to students as they left.

Some students reached out of bus windows and others from their cars.

According to Boone County Superintendent Bryan Blavatt, group members were still on school property and should have received permission to be there.

“Unfortunately, we weren't given time to go through the appropriate procedures,” Mr. Blavatt said.

“It caused significant interruptions of traffic going in and out of the school, and there is the fact that these folks were technically on school property. If this was done with the appropriate lead time, we would have worked with them to see that it was not a problem.”

Mr. Blavatt said he would allow the pastor and church members to distribute materials later if they follow the district policy.

Ryle freshman Jackie Hon said the effort is exactly what the school needed and that students were receptive.

“Evolution is not right,” she said.
“God created (the universe). Creation, I believe, is true.”

“When they took God out of school, our way of life collapsed.”

[They why is she able to attend high school and not get an education apparently?]

Ginger Sanders, a church member from Union who helped pass out the books, told the group she had an amazing experience with a student who turned his car around and tried to return the book because he thought it supported evolution.

“"I believe in God and creation,'” she told the group he said.

When she told him it supported creationism, he asked to have it back.

Ken Ham, executive director for
Answers in Genesis, said students don't get to hear the other side in public school text books and that this book will give them that chance.

The effort was not to upset people.

The group wants to disseminate information that students may want.

“We want to be able to provide students with an alternative,” Mr. Ham said. “We just believe that part of education is for students to have all views.”

Copyright 1995-1999 The Cincinnati Enquirer, a Gannett Co. Inc. newspaper.



Creation-Evolution Debate Flares Anew With Kansas School Decision
Saturday, September 11, 1999

BY VICTOR GRETO
KNIGHT-RIDDER NEWS SERVICE

So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:27

The subject of human beings as a unique creation in the image of God is so important in Genesis, the author of this poetic verse made the point twice.

Now, if you're Christian or Jewish, how literally do you take it?

And whether you take it literally or not, should it be taught in the public schools as part of "another theory" alongside Charles Darwin's theory of evolution?

That's one of the issues brought back into public discourse by a decision of the Kansas state board of education to virtually eliminate all mention of the theory of evolution from its curriculum standards.

Jewish and Christian religious authorities' opinions run the gamut about teaching what has come to be known as creationism alongside evolution. Their positions range from stark approval to a chuckling disbelief that the debate is still an issue in 1999.

"Judaism believes that Torah and science are in harmony with one another," said Rabbi Brian Glusman of Temple Shalom in Colorado Springs, Colo. "For liberal and progressive Jews who do not take the Torah literally, we'd work evolution and Judaism together.

"This is a situation that's been dominant from time immemorial. There's always been a group that takes the Bible literally. One of the reasons Judaism has been able to survive is that it has evolved into a rabbinic, interpretive tradition."

Interpretation has been a part of understanding the Bible for millennia. Christianity is certainly no stranger to it. But once you start interpreting, some argue, how do you know where to stop?

Evangelist George Stahnke, senior pastor at
Integrity Christian Fellowship in Colorado Springs, thinks that what's happening in Kansas is a good idea.

"It's interesting that for many years public schools have allowed only one view, when you consider that evolution is just a theory and not a fact. If we're going to teach our kids about a theory, they should have access to other theories. Otherwise, it's extremely biased."

[But evolution IS a well proved FACT!]

Creationism, however, is not just a theory to Stahnke, it's an essential ingredient of his faith, he said.

"The only way to believe in the creationist account is to believe in the authenticity of the Bible," Stahnke said.
"In my mind, it's either all right or all wrong."

[Which is a silly idea.]

The Rev. Jim White of the First Congregational Church in Colorado Springs couldn't be more blunt about where he stands on this issue.

"This business of finding a seven-day creation is just stupid. It shouldn't be in the schools," he said.

White interprets Genesis' story of creation broadly and said he has no problem with the scientific opinion that the Earth is billions of years old – and not merely 10,000 years old as argued by some creationists.

"The big concerns are not about how the world began – that's an incidental issue. It's the weightier matters of law, justice, peace, faith, hope."

To the Rev. Bill Carmody, pastor of
Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Colorado Springs, it's more of a philosophical issue than anything else.

"Ultimately, God created everything. How God did it is up for debate," Carmody said.

"Let's assume that evolution is historically correct – or the Big Bang theory," he said. "Ultimately, it comes to a First Cause and that First Cause we call God," he said.

For Carmody, the debate may be misguided for a different reason than White's.

"[Genesis is] trying to say that ultimately God created man distinctly. There's a unique dignity to humanity that doesn't belong to any other part of God's creation."

The uniqueness of man, however, is one of the religious ideas that the theory of evolution attacks. Part of the logic of evolution is that all creatures developed from more simple forms of life.

In order to accept both evolution and the belief that man came along as a separate creation requires a compromise with both evolution and a literal interpretation of Genesis.

Some Christians don't compromise.

Jim Tomberlin, pastor at the nondenominational
Woodmen Valley Chapel of Colorado Springs, said he is a "convinced creationist" and believes creationism should be taught alongside evolution.

"The idea of teaching both theories as theories is the only intellectually honest approach to the topics of origins," Tomberlin said.

Though he said he tends to believe in the literal seven-day creation of the world, Tomberlin said that wasn't the most important issue.

"The main issue," he said, "is between the ideas of macro- and micro-evolution. The Bible supports the idea of micro-evolution, that there is room for development within species, but not between species. The Bible says things reproduce after their kind."

Tomberlin said life is too complex to have evolved naturally, even in the billions of years allotted to its evolution by science.

"We ought to point to evidence that supports that a supreme intelligence put in motion the universe today," he said.

[Good luck; in 160 years zero evidence has been put forward and not knocked down.]


In terms of the unique nature of man, Ray Hendershot, southern Colorado director of public affairs for
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, agrees with Carmody's emphasis and with the ultimate compromise between evolution and a literal interpretation of Genesis.

"We don't feel that it's critical to know the number of years" of creation," Hendershot said. "The important thing is that man is evolving and becoming like Christ.

"The reason some faiths are concerned more strongly than others," he continued, "is they accept the Bible literally. We accept the Bible, too. But the relevance of how the creation takes place doesn't detract from the Bible, it just reinforces the fact that there is a God."

© Copyright 1999, The Salt Lake Tribune All material found on Utah OnLine is
copyrighted
The Salt Lake Tribune and associated news services



Student senate vote blasts board's evolution decision

By MATT MOLINE
Special to
The Capital-Journal

MANHATTAN –
Kansas State University's student senate approved a resolution Thursday night urging the Kansas State Board of Education to reconsider its decision de-emphasizing the teaching of evolution.

The measure was approved 43-11 following a three-hour debate at the senate's regular meeting in the K-State Union.

"It was our responsibility and our right to speak out on educational standards by voting to improve education in our state," said Amie Kershner, an Olathe junior.

The resolution was written by Manhattan junior Dustin Petrik, who countered charges that the measure represented an extremist viewpoint held by only a minority of students.

"What we really have, if we don't approve the resolution, is allowing school boards to say, 'You can't learn evolution,' " Petrik said. "That's a loss of academic freedom. Public school students ought to be exposed to scientific thinking."

A trio of K-State biology faculty members spoke on behalf of the resolution's passage, including John Staver, dean of educational instruction support.

Staver warned that high school students who aren't exposed to scientific theories explaining the origins of life forms, for instance, will be poorly equipped to deal with biology classes at the college level.

"Students who come to college from schools where evolution was not taught will take their seats in college," Staver said, "and they will be behind and find it difficult to compete."

Staver also predicted the board's decision last month to eliminate questions relating to evolution from state standardized tests will have a negative impact on faculty hiring at the state's public universities.

Staver cited negative comments about Kansas' education system made last month in the
Washington Post by Maxine Singer, president of Washington's Carnegie Institution.

"The Supreme Court (has) ruled that creationism cannot be taught in public school science classrooms because it is a religious view and inconsistent with the Constitution's requirement that public schools be religiously neutral," Singer wrote. "The Kansas Board of Education's action amounts to the same thing, because it allows religious beliefs to determine what should be taught."

In speaking against the resolution's adoption, several student leaders made repeated, but unsuccessful, attempts to table the issue, including Sam Sackett, a Fort Scott senior.

"This is extremely divisive on both sides," Sackett said. "Due to the nature of this, I think it should be debated in public. I don't think it's right to debate it tonight. Either way, we're going to be labeled as extremists."

Copyright 1999 The Topeka Capital-Journal



Saturday September 11 11:57 AM ET


Kansas Battle Over Evolution In Schools Lingers On
By Carey Gillam

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (
Reuters) - A month has passed since theKansas Board of Education voted to remove evolution as a key concept in the state's science curriculum, but the issue still touches raw nerves for people on both sides of the debate.

The
Kansas Board of Education on Aug. 11 voted 6-4 to embrace new standards for science teaching in public schools that eliminate evolution as an underlying principle of biology and other sciences.

"This issue is not going away,'' said board member William Wagnon, one of the four who voted against the new science standards. "It is a live issue. The long-term consequences of this are phenomenal. If not corrected, it will undermine a very fine public education system.''

Kansas Board of Education Chairwoman Linda Holloway, who voted in favor of eliminating evolution teaching, said she stopped reading her e-mails after hundreds of what she described as insult-laden messages from around the country filled her home computer. She said her husband was worried about threats of violence.

If not for the board's action rewriting the state's science standards, evolution would be given too much credence in the classroom, Holloway said.

"I would do it again,'' she added.

With children settling in for the new school year in communities across Kansas, many of the state's school district leaders and teachers have pledged to continue to teach evolution as they have in the past.

The Kansas science curriculum standards set out guidelines for instruction and dictate what will appear on state tests. But decisions about day-to-day instruction remain in local hands.

Some districts are mulling changes. The district in Pratt, Kansas, for instance, is considering including a book questioning evolution's validity in supplemental reading for science classes. Pratt district superintendent Ken Kennedy said a group of parents proposed the book, adding that the timing of the move was merely coincidental to the board vote.

Some state legislators are calling for a law mandating the teaching of evolution, as well as a measure that would reduce the power of the state's board of education. A group of moderate Republicans have also announced plans to target fellow Republican Holloway for defeat in elections next year.

Additionally, the chancellor of the
University of Kansas last week announced the formation of a task force on scientific literacy in education.

The theory of evolution holds that over millions of years humans and other life forms evolved from earlier life forms.

Religious conservatives in Kansas and elsewhere are looking anew at science instruction in their local schools and dissecting the ways in which evolution instruction does or does not align with what they see as church teachings about the creation of man and the universe.

Mary Kay Culp, an official with the
Kansas Catholic Conference, said she was pleased with the de-emphasis of evolution, but said the new standards did not go far enough in purging evolution teaching from classrooms.

On the other side of the issue, the
American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri has mailed letters to every school district in Kansas threatening legal action at the first hint of unconstitutional religious intrusion into public schools.

Earlier this week, two community organizations made moves at finding a middle ground. At their invitation,
National Center for Science Education Executive Director Eugenie Scott discussed evolution and creationism in presentations held in a Lawrence, Kansas, church and a Jewish community center in Overland Park, Kansas.

Scott said people did not necessarily have to choose between evolution and creationism.

"Many people think that evolution is the way God brought about life,'' she said.

But Scott argued that downplaying evolution in the state's science curriculum standards was wrong.

"I'm sure in school districts around the state, less evolution will be taught, and that will be a disservice to students when they go on to college,'' Scott said.



The Evolution of Creationism
William Thwaites,
San Diego State University

Early History

At the end of the Middle Ages, European tradition held that all of the Earth's inhabitants had been created by God in one place, the Garden of Eden, soon after the formation of the earth. But as the scientific revolution began to unfold some 400 years ago, naturalists started to catalog fossils according to the layers in which they were found. Soon a very unexpected and troubling pattern emerged.

The deepest (and oldest) layers showed mostly unfamiliar species, but higher (younger) layers contained fossilized remains that resembled living organisms. If what naturalists found had been consistent with traditional beliefs, fossils found in every layer should not have looked different from those that living species would leave if fossilized. Elephants, tigers, palm trees, and people should have left a record of their presences even in the most deeply buried layers, but they didn't. Clearly, tradition al belief had to be modified to explain the succession of fossil types seen in the fossil record.

Progressive Creation

Such a change of belief was neither rapid nor easy for European naturalists, and many valiantly attempted to show how the observations they made did not really require changing traditional belief. But the fossil record undeniably showed that older forms were going extinct while newer forms appeared.

Extinction was itself disturbing to many traditionalists.
"Why would an organism be created only to go extinct?" they asked. However, the evidence of extinction of ancient forms was indisputable. Extinction of ancient varieties had indeed occurred, and modern forms were explained as being the result of more recent creations.

This view is now referred to as "progressive creation." The new explanation marked a major modification of the traditional religious understanding of creation. It had become the dominant view of natural historians even before Charles Darwin boarded the
Beagle in 1831.

Centers of Creation

As description and analysis of the fossil record progressed, the successive modernization of fossil types was not the only pattern that emerged. There was also a pattern of geographic clustering of species. For example, all kangaroo-like fossils and all living kangaroos are native to Australia and a few neighboring islands. This pattern of geographic isolation is repeated around the world over and over again for other species. The fossils that most closely resemble living forms are found in the same geo graphic area where older types that resemble them are found.

Traditional belief could not explain this clustering of more recent forms with earlier forms that looked like them. Having already given up the idea of a single creation week, natural historians were also forced to give up the traditional belief that all forms had been created in one geographical location, the Garden of Eden.

The geographic clustering of look-alike fossil forms eventually forced a reluctant change that supposed at least six centers of creation. This second compromise with traditional belief had been as difficult to make as the first, but it was the only view that seemed consistent with the facts of natural history, even in 1831.

So, by the time Darwin boarded the
Beagle, traditional belief already had been significantly modified. Gone were both the single creation week and the Garden of Eden as the sole locus of creation. The study of natural history had forced a new understanding. In this new view, God had periodically created species at one center of creation or another. And at each new center, he would create new organisms according to his pattern for that particular place. Such a view had little in common with the traditi onal account of creation given in the Book of Genesis.

The New Explanations Raised Questions of Their Own

Although the new modifications of traditional belief seemed to be compatible with the fossil record, they raised other questions that distressed early naturalists: Why would a Creator of organisms always make relatively small changes? And why would a Creator always go back to Australia, for example, to make the next kind of kangaroo? Kangaroos could certainly live on other continents with similar climatic conditions. Could it be that the newer kind was actually just a modified descendent of the preexist ing version? Were these changes actually explainable by natural causes?

Such was the state of European thought in 1831. Darwin certainly was not the first to propose that the formation of new species could be explained in terms of natural processes. Jean Baptiste de Lamarck, a French naturalist, had made just such a proposal in the early 1800s, but the mechanism he proposed to explain the change from one species to another had little, if any, support from empirical observation.


Charles Darwin

Wallace

Finally, both Darwin and Alfred Russell (sic) Wallace proposed that the change could be explained in terms of differential reproduction that was based on heritable variations (i.e., natural selection). A fully natural explanation for nature's diversity was now available for consideration.

This final break with traditional belief was psychologically the most difficult of all. To some, this meant that God was no longer required to explain the formation of new species. Most disturbing of all, God was not even required to explain the formation of humankind. Some reflective theologians realized that the strictly literal view of the Creation had to be abandoned as knowledge about nature and natural processes grew more detailed. The Church of England, in fact, accepted evolution by natural selection within a few decades of the writing of The Origin of Species .

Modern Creationists

Twentieth-century creationists follow many paths. The "young earth" creationists believe in a single, special creation that occurred only several thousand years ago. They are the defenders of the most strictly literal Biblical view. "Old earth" creationists believe, as do the young-earthers, in a single, special creation, but believe it took place billions of years ago. These creationists at least accept the position of modern science on the age of the earth, though they do not believe that one species can give rise to another.

"Day-Age" and "Gap" creationists believe that the earth is old, but in other ways they are the direct descendants of the old progressive creationists of the late 18th century. They believe that the present universe came about through stages of creation, such as would have occurred if the seven "days" of Genesis were actually seven very long ages ("day-age"), or if there were long gaps between the days of creation ("gap" creationists). In either case, these creationists, like the others, deny the possibili ty that one kind of organism can evolve into another.

None of these forms of creationism can be reconciled with scientific evidence from biology, geology, biochemistry, paleontology, biogeography, embryology, or many other relevant fields. All appear to be attempts to retain a theology that has been abandoned by mainline Christianity.

Theistic Evolution

What, then, is the position of the majority of religious Americans about "creation"? Anglicans, Catholics, most Protestant Christians, and Conservative and Reformed Jews believe that God is the Creator, but that he works through the process of evolution, as revealed through modern science. This position is known as theistic evolutionism, and is widespread among modern theologians. It is a little-known fact that Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, the United Church of Christ and many other denominatio ns do not believe that Creation occurred literally as described in Genesis. In fact, the majority of Christian seminaries do not teach a Biblical literalist creation. In the United States and Canada, one tends to find Biblical literalist beliefs being promoted most strongly in small, independent denominations, where it is not uncommon for the leader to have little or no formal theological training.

Americans need to know that there is no necessary conflict between religion and acceptance of evolution as a scientific idea. Although there is of necessity a conflict between Biblical literalist views of creation and modern science, these views are not held by the majority of Christians.

From this brief history, it is clear that there has been a struggle within theology to accommodate the discoveries of science regarding creation and evolution. This history also shows that accommodation of evolution, rather than rejection, has been more the norm. Religious people who struggle with the creation/evolution controversy need to understand that accepting evolution as science is not antithetical to a religious view.

References for Further Reading

The following are some useful references that are available through NCSE or your local library.

McCollister, Betty, ed.,
Voices for Evolution, Berkeley, CA:NCSE. A collection of statements in favor of evolution, as adopted by numerous scientific, religious and educational organizations. Extremely helpful for school boards, teachers and others who make curriculum decisions.

Eve, R.A., and F.B. Harrold,
The Creationist Movement in Modern America. Boston: Twayne Publishers. Carefully defines creationism, explores its historical, psychological, and social background, and profiles its various factions.

Numbers, Ronald,
The Creationists. NY: Knopf. The definitive history of the anti-evolution movement in America.

This is a publication of the
National Center for Science Education,



Date: 9/11/1999

Creationists Insist Upon God in Their Own Image
Saturday, September 11, 1999

BY DON KAUL
TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

The most compelling religious-scientific-ethical controversy of '99 was whether the theory of evolution should be taught to impressionable schoolchildren in place of the Biblical story of creation. I'm speaking of 1899, of course.

By now, a hundred years later, we should have pretty much settled the issue, don't you think?

I guess not. Recent polls indicate that if we held a vote on creationism vs. evolution right now, on the cusp of the 21st century, creationism would win. (This, along with the success of TV's "
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" – the show that gives away large sums of money to people who can answer questions like: "How much spit does the average adult human produce in a single day?" – are the best evidence we have that evolution works both ways.)

The efforts of creationists to discredit the teaching of evolution have grown increasingly subtle and sophisticated over the years, and increasingly well-financed. Their attacks on Darwin's theory can even sound plausible, if you don't listen too closely.

But they never apply the same rigorous intellectual analysis to their own theory, "scientific creationism." I'd like to do that now.

The theory of evolution may not be perfect, nor does it explain everything, but a literal interpretation of the Bible produces nonsense. It fails to answer one of the essential questions it raises, to wit:

If God is an omnipotent, all-powerful being who created man and woman and the earth and all the heavens in a single burst, why did He do such a poor job of it? Here are just a few mistakes He made:

– Backs. If you're going to create a creature that lasts 80 years or so, why supply it with a back that is only good for 50 or 60 years? Indeed, if the creature is going to walk around on its hind legs, why give it the same back you give to animals that walk on all fours? This is bad design.

– Earthquakes. You would think that if God were responsible for making earth, he would have built it better, come up with something that didn't move around underfoot.

Instead we have a situation where people are allowed, even encouraged (by the greed gene which the loving God implants in us all), to build tall buildings, temples, great cities, marvelous bridges and sewer systems, to say nothing of nifty trailer parks, then watch them come tumbling down whenever the tectonic plates under them give a lurch. What kind of Supreme Being does that?

– Murder. If God created man in his own image, how come man is such a sorry example of an intelligent being, one of the very few animals who kills his colleagues or fouls its own nest? Even wolves, generally considered savage beasts, do not kill each other. Two of them will fight until one gets the upper paw and wins dominance. Fight over. It does not go on to rip out its opponent's throat.

Men do. This most intelligent of species (and I wonder who figured that out) will kill friends, strangers, members of his own family, even his children, very often for trivial reasons, like the clothes his victims are wearing or the color of their skin.

These are people made in God's image? That doesn't say much for God.

And that doesn't even begin to deal with the Bible's rather curious idea of genetics. For example:

Adam (made from clay) and Eve (made from Adam's rib) have two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain kills Abel and is banished to the outer world, where he himself has a son, Enoch; and Enoch begets Irod, who begets Mehujael, who begets Methusael, who begets Lamech and so on.

I have a question. Where are they getting their wives? Where did Cain's wife come from, for that matter? She just appears, nameless and without explanation. Was she his sister? His rib? We are never told. Imagine what the creationists would do with a missing link like that in evolution. Taken literally, the story is, at best, absurd; at worst, it's a tale filled with serial incest and a bad example for young people.

Let's face it, folks, if God did indeed create the heavens and the earth and man in the literal manner of the Bible, he is a pretty poor excuse for a Supreme Being.

I refuse to believe that. Let creationists think that God is a bumbler if they wish, but I think they're selling Him short. Actually, what they're doing is making God in their image, rather than the other way round.

God, if any, is better than that. He or She has to be.

© Copyright 1999, The Salt Lake Tribune


State BOE chairwoman says criticism goes too far
Linda Holloway says uproar over evolution vote could send wrong message to schoolkids.

By Scott Rothschild
Eagle Topeka bureau

TOPEKA – Angry reaction to the
State Board of Education's decision on evolution may give Kansas schoolchildren the wrong lesson on how adults handle their differences, board Chairwoman Linda Holloway said Tuesday.

Holloway, who last month voted with the 6-4 majority to leave basic evolution concepts out of state science standards, said she feared that criticism of the board will trickle into the classroom.

She said written and cartoon editorials criticizing the board and vulgar e-mails she has received may show children
''it's OK to make fun of people who have a different viewpoint."

' 'This seems like the height of intolerance from the tolerance crowd," she said. ''Is this going to have a backlash in our classrooms?"

Holloway's comments came during a break in the board's first meeting since last month's controversial decision.

In August, the board voted to de-emphasize evolution on standards that are used to guide instruction for statewide tests. The board left it to local districts to decide whether to teach evolution.

The decision set off a furious debate over evolution, creationism and local control of schools.

Gov. Bill Graves, who supports teaching evolution in public schools, said Holloway should expect criticism as part of the job.

' 'Linda should not be surprised," he said. "It is the nature of public service to oftentimes be cast in the arena where people react very strongly and critically of the decisions you make."

Graves said he receives e-mail every day from people angry about his decisions. ''You need to be very thick-skinned, and you need to be able to appreciate there are very strong differences of opinion."

But Graves said public debate over evolution and other issues, such as budget problems in social services, has gotten too hot.

' 'Right now there is kind of a sense that while everything seems to be going so well, everyone has got something that seems to be troubling them,'' he said. ''There seems to be a little bit of an undercurrent, I don't know if anger is the right word, it's more of an unsettled feeling that I have."

Since the evolution vote, Holloway said she has received at least 1,200 e-mails on the subject and some were abusive.

At first, most people contacting her opposed the decision, but later, she said, most e-mails have been supportive.

Board member Harold Voth of Haven, who voted to de-emphasize evolution, said he experienced the same swing in public comment.

Tuesday's board meeting was low-key compared to last month's, when dozens of people spoke on evolution.

On Tuesday, four people spoke during the public comment period, and that was on teacher licensing. None mentioned evolution.



Sunday, September 12, 1999

By David Lore

Copyright © 1999,
The Columbus Dispatch

In a recent column on the eviction of evolution from Kansas' science standards, I accused Ohio of monkey business in its avoidance of the e-word in its state science standards.

Today let's look – at least through the knothole of one teacher's experience – at how evolution should be taught in public schools.

Teachers don't get much help from state government. Neither the state's 1994 curriculum guidelines nor the competencies required for high-school graduation even mention the word evolution in terms of biology.

In a bit of stealth linguistics, Ohio requires its graduates to know how species adapt and change over time but excuses them from having to know what that process is called.

"Teaching biology without evolution would be like teaching civics and never mentioning the United States Constitution,'' the National Academy of Sciences said last year.

On the other hand, supporters of the Ohio standards contend that avoiding the e-word is a reasonable step to avert conflict with creationists.

Scott Charlton, chairman of the Science Department at
Lebanon (Ohio) High School, has taught biology for 28 years and leads teacher workshops on "Evolution and the Nature of Science.''

Charlton said he wouldn't want to teach biology without using the word, nor would he advise most teachers to practice such verbal sleight of hand. On the other hand, he said, hanging out the evolution banner is not as important as teaching kids basic concepts, including how science works.

"If a teacher is going to put their job at risk by using the e-word, I'd say tiptoe around it,'' he said.

But Charlton believes the way to avoid controversy in most communities is to make clear from the start how science works and to spell out its limitations.

Don't argue with students about religion or denigrate their beliefs, he said. Just be firm that such beliefs are outside the realm of science.

"Science is one way of knowing the world, but there are lots of others,'' he explained. "But when you're dealing with the science way of knowing the world, you've got to play by science's rules.''

It's also important, he said, for teachers to clear up misconceptions about evolution. It does not, for example, argue that man descended from the apes. Rather, it says that man and ape descended from a common ancestor.

"That's a big difference. But most biology teachers don't have enough of a background in evolution to feel comfortable defending what they're doing.''

As a species, therefore, biology teachers need to avoid predators and adapt to their political environment to survive. While the squabble over evolution delights newspaper columnists, classroom teachers don't need the hassle.

In any case, Charlton said, most science teachers ignore state guidelines in favor of the stronger – and more comprehensive – national science education standards published in 1995 by the
National Academy of Sciences.

These standards recognize that "
students have difficulty with the fundamental concepts of evolution'' but never suggest that politically motivated excisions aid learning.

David Lore, science reporter for
The Dispatch, is online at dlore@dispatch.com

[Biology teachers not well grounded in evolution? What the hey?]



Kansans grappling with evolution decision

Los Angeles Times

DOUGLASS, Kan.

If they know anything, person after person in Douglass declares, they know this: God created them. As for the talk about man evolving from tree-swinging apes? A hoax, they scoff and a cruel one, at that. The biblical creation story is bedrock belief for many in this blue-collar prairie town.

Yet, even as they call evolution a fraud, residents by and large say they do not object to their children studying it in school.

Sure, there are caveats. Some think parents should be able to take their kids out of class when the subject comes up. Others insist evolution be labeled a tenuous theory. Still, they grudgingly acknowledge that their children should be exposed to it, if only because it’s so widely accepted.

The complex views expressed and debated in Douglass reflect the confusion roiling communities across Kansas since the state
Board of Education last month voted to delete evolution from the mandatory science curriculum.

Teachers in Kansas still are free to present evolution, the theory that all life on Earth shares a common ancestor nearly 4 billion years old. And no one is required to teach creation, the biblical view that God created all species over the course of six days.

But the board’s decision is far-reaching nonetheless.

It’s now up to Kansas’ 304 school districts to decide whether to spend class time on a topic that’s not required and will not be tested on statewide assessment exams.

Parents can try to influence the curriculum through their elected school boards. But often, as in Douglass, those parents are deeply conflicted believing on the one hand that their children should hear about evolution but convinced on the other that it’s blasphemous.

So in the end, both evolutionists and creationists agree, what Kansas kids learn about our origins will depend in large measure on their teachers and, quite possibly, on their teachers’ personal beliefs.

"They’ll be able to teach what they want to teach," said Mary Douglass Brown, a Board of Education member.

Thus, in a Topeka middle school, science teacher Shannon Keller plans to delay teaching evolution to the end of the year, figuring he won’t have time to get to it. If he does find a spare hour for evolution, he said, he’ll tell his students that, in his opinion,
"the odds are astronomical against it."

At a nearby high school, however, biology teacher Dennis Ary will continue to lecture on evolution, just as he always has. "Oh, yes," he said, sounding surprised that anyone would doubt it. In fact, Ary added, the current uproar has him talking more than ever about evolution, as students have come to him with questions.

Outside the classroom, meanwhile, it’s become increasingly clear that the decision has affected not just secondary school science education but other fields. For instance:

* The publisher of a new textbook on the history of Kansas deleted the first chapter, which covered the state’s geology, for fear that descriptions of fossils many millions of years old would disturb creationists who believe God created the Earth less than 10,000 years ago.
"We just didn’t want to offend people," explained James Bean, director of the nonprofit foundation that will publish the book this fall.

* Kansas State University has run into trouble recruiting young faculty for two open positions in the biology department. Professor Gary Conrad, who is heading the search, said potential candidates are leery of teaching students who have not learned evolution in high school. And, he added, they are reluctant to enroll their own children in an educational system that anyone in their right mind would think is totally deficient.

* Republican Gov. Bill Graves, condemning the new curriculum as an embarrassment for his state, has expressed concern that it might drag down the local economy by giving Kansas a reputation as backward. He’s worried, spokesman Mike Matson said, about Kansas’ ability to portray ourselves as a serious, forward-thinking, progressive place to do business.

* Kansas legislators are toying with ways to undercut the conservative bloc on the education board, which passed the curriculum on a 6-4 vote. Republican state Rep. David Adkins also has introduced a bill to make the study of evolution a requirement for admission into any Kansas state university.

As they grapple with the fallout within their state, Kansans have been stunned to find themselves the subject of national scrutiny as well. Columnists and cartoonists from around the country have lampooned the board’s decision, mocking Kansas as evolving backward into a primitive, see-no-evil Dark Age.



FLAT group mocks decision on evolution

The Associated Press

Philip Kimball and Tim Miller say their only complaint about the
Kansas State Board of Education's decision to de-emphasize evolution in testing standards is that it didn't go far enough.

Kimball and Miller suggested Tuesday the board should eliminate any references to the "round earth theory" from educational standards, as well as references to a specific value of pi, the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter.

The men, members of the Lawrence group Families for Learning Accurate Theories, held a news conference outside the board's headquarters to poke fun at the evolution decision. The board's meeting Tuesday was the first since its decision last month.

"The Bible says the earth has four corners," said Miller, who added he believes the earth is either a square or a tetrahedron, a solid figure with four triangular faces.

Although Kimball and Miller insisted they were serious, both men had spoken in favor of evolution during the board's May meeting.

In the aftermath of the board's decision, Kansas has been the butt of jokes in editorial cartoons and on national talk shows, such as "
Politically Incorrect."

Copyright 1999
The Topeka Capital-Journal



copyright 1998, 1999, 2000 Gary D. Goodman


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HATERS

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GLOSSARY

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