Thursday, May 05, 2005


NYT reports Kansas Begins Hearings on Diluting Teaching of Evolution

In the first of three daylong hearings characterized here as the direct descendant of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, a parade of Ph.D.'s testified today about the flaws they find in Darwin's theory of evolution, transforming a small auditorium into a forum on one of the most controversial questions in education and politics: How to teach about the origin of life? The hearings by the Kansas State Board of Education- one part science lesson, one part political theater - were set off by proposed changes to Kansas's science standards intended to bring a more critical approach to the teaching of Darwinism. The sessions provided perhaps the highest-profile stage yet for the emerging movement known as intelligent design, which asserts that life is so intricately complex that an architect must be behind it. Critics argue that intelligent design has no basis in science and is another iteration of creationism.

The theory of intelligent design makes sense to me.
Scientists who defend Darwinism are boycotting the hearings, called by the state school board's conservative majority. Nonetheless, a lawyer representing them peppered the other side's experts with queries both profound and personal. "Can you tell us, sir, how old you believe the Earth is?" the lawyer, Pedro Irigonegaray, asked William S. Harris, a chemist, who helped write the proposed changes to the state standards. "I don't know," Dr. Harris replied. "I think it's probably really old." If the state board adopts the new standards, as expected, Kansas will join Ohio, which took a similar step in 2002, in requiring that students be taught that there is controversy about evolution. Legislators in Alabama and Georgia have introduced bills this season to allow teachers to challenge Darwin in class.
This is place for decisions like this - the state legislature.
The battle over evolution is also being fought school district to school district. Parents in Dover, Penn., filed a lawsuit last year when theirs became the first district to mandate the teaching of intelligent design. The school board in Cobb County, Ga., is appealing a January ruling by a federal judge ordering the removal of stickers placed on biology textbooks that declared evolution theory, not fact.
These decisions should be made in the legislature, not in the courts.
While the proposed new standards for Kansas do not specifically mention intelligent design, critics contend that the proposed changes will open the door not just for those teachings, but to creationism, which generally holds to the Genesis account of creation. For Kansas, the debate is déjà vu: the last time the state standards were under review, in 1999, conservatives on the school board ignored their expert panel and deleted virtually any reference to evolution. But they were ousted in the next election and their changes were undone. Antievolution forces quietly regained the seats over the next few years, attacking fellow Republicans as atheists.
Name calling does not gain anything.
Now, though the eight proponents of intelligent design were outnumbered on the 26-member committee writing the new standards, the state board's 6-to-4 conservative majority set up this week's showcase hearings to highlight their own suggestions for the way to teach science. "There is no science without criticism," said Charles Thaxton, a chemist and co-author of the 1984 book "The Mystery of Life's Origins," which questions traditional scientific explanations. "Any science that weathers the criticism and survives is a better theory for it." But the debate was as much about religion and politics as science and education, with Mr. Irigonegaray pressing witnesses to find mentions of the theories they were denouncing, like humanism and naturalism, in the state standards, and asking whether they believe all scientists are atheists.
I certainly don't.
"These people are going to obfuscate about these definitions," complained Jack Krebs, vice president of the pro-evolution Kansas Citizens for Science, whose members, wearing "I support strong science education" buttons, filled many of the 180 auditorium seats not taken by journalists from as far away as France. "They have created a straw man. They are trying to make science stand for atheism, so they can fight atheism."

Jason blogged Now, I'm digging the theory of evolution. As a theist, I regard evolution as one of the mechanisms in a greater theory of intelligent design. But I do not believe that the literalist, die-hard "new earth" creation theory stands up to the evidence available, or even close to it. Nevertheless, check out the New York Times' headline. Kansas Begins Teaching Headlines on Diluting Teaching of Evolution No, that is not what is at stake here. There is nothing in Darwinian evolution which postulates the absence of intelligent design. Evolution as Darwin describes could easily occur in a theistic or atheistic milieu - which is its strength.
Then what is the problem with treating Intelligent Design
It cannot occur in a "new earth" milieu, which is why new earth creationism is discredited (along with its moonbat adherents.)
Name calling is not a good way to back up an argument.
I think the reporter probably understands the nuances of the argument pretty well. But the knuckleheads at the NY Times copydesk either don't, or are trying to kill the baby in the crib with a distorting, misleading headline. There is nothing about ID that dilutes evolution. ID tries to EXPLAIN evolution, not change it. And students will have a better understanding of the interface between science and theism, and the limits of science, and of evolution itself, for having looked at evolution through the lens of intelligent design.
Sounds reasonable to me

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