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Media on Standards Changes

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 6 months ago

Press Releases on KSBE Science Standards Changes




Greetings to this page on the press! If you have not done so, I heartily recommend that you carefully review the material on the Science Standards page. Having this knowledge will arm you properly to put the press releases that I have included here in perspective.


The media releases will be presented in the order provided by the Yahoo search engine in response to the keywords "Kansas evolution". This will let the chips fall where they may.


I will strive to stick with the following format:

Title of Article, web location, Author/publisher, date and then the text. No graphics. Words, phrases and sentences that I have issue with will be enclosed in italics.n In addition, I will provide comments, if desired, at the end of each article.


Since I am a proponent of what the conservative board has accomplished and having performed this search many months ago, I fully expect a vast majority of negative information. Again, this is why if you are a concerned citizen you should review the Science Standards page first.


Enough said, let us begin!


Kansas Education Board Downplays Evolution

State school board OKs standards casting doubt on Darwin

TOPEKA, Kan. - Risking the kind of nationwide ridicule it faced six years ago, the Kansas Board of Education approved new public-school science standards Tuesday that cast doubt on the theory of evolution.


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


Critics of the new language charged that it was an attempt to inject God and creationism into public schools, in violation of the constitutional ban on state establishment of religion.


All six of those who voted for the new standards were Republicans. Two Republicans and two Democrats voted no.


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


Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, said the decision would encourage school districts in Kansas and elsewhere to make similar moves, distracting and confusing teachers and students.


“It will be marketed by the religious right ... as a huge victory for their side,” she said. “We can expect more efforts to get creationism in.”


Supporters see academic freedom

Supporters of the new standards said they would promote academic freedom.


“This is a great day for education. This is one of the best things that we can do,” said board chairman Steve Abrams. Another board member who voted in favor of the standards, John Bacon, said the move “gets rid of a lot of dogma that’s being taught in the classroom today.”


John Calvert, a retired attorney who helped found the Intelligent Design Network, said changes probably would come to classrooms gradually, with some teachers feeling freer to discuss criticisms of evolution. “These changes are not targeted at changing the hearts and minds of the Darwin fundamentalists,” Calvert said.


The Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which supports challenges to Darwinian evolutionary theory, praised the Kansas effort. “Students will learn more about evolution, not less as some Darwinists have falsely claimed,” institute spokesman Casey Luskin said in a written statement.


Science redefined

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


In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.


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


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


Educational deja vu

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


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


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


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


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


In an effort to fight back against intelligent-design advocates, a grass-roots group calling itself Campaign to Defend the Constitution said Tuesday that it was launching a $200,000 online ad campaign “to combat a threat posed by the religious right to American democracy.”


“This is a significant attack on science,” said Jack Krebs, vice president of Kansas Citizens for Science. “They really are advancing a sectarian religious view. They’re treading on constitutional grounds.”



A history of the state education board's votes on evolution:

1999: In May, Kansas Board of Education reviews proposed science standards written by committee of educators. A Republican board member offers his own proposal, drafted with help from others, including the president of the Creation Science Association for Mid-America. In August, the board votes 6-4 to adopt science standards in which most references to evolution are eliminated.

2000: Voters elect three Republicans who support the teaching of evolution to replace three of the Republican school board members who voted with the anti-evolution majority the year before.

2001: With power now in the hands of a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans, the board votes 7-3 for new science standards restoring evolution's previous place in the standards as well-founded science.

2002: Voters elect two conservative Republicans to replace GOP incumbents who had favored a return to evolution-friendly standards, splitting the board 5-5.

2004: Another conservative Republican ousts a GOP incumbent in the primary, giving conservative Republicans a 6-4 majority on the board.

May 5, 2005: Three-member subcommittee opens four days of hearings on evolution, hearing testimony from intelligent design advocates. National and state science groups boycott, saying the hearings are rigged.

June 9, 2005: Subcommittee approves proposed standards containing language sought by intelligent design advocates.

July 12, 2005: Board's conservative majority continues to revise the proposed science standards, before having an outside review.

Oct. 13, 2005: Outside reviewer, the Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning in Aurora, Colo., releases a report critical of the proposed standards.

Nov. 8, 2005: Board votes 6-4 to approve the proposed standards.

Pretty biased stuff! Where is intelligent design in the document? Read page ii of the Standard - "We also emphasize that the Science Curriculum Standards do not include Intelligent Design, the scientific disagreement with the claim of many evolutionary biologists that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion." But it gets worse. The article leads you on with the statement that "Critics of the new language charged that it was an attempt to inject God and creationism into public schools". Critics can charge anything! Look what Fred Phelps charges! But the sentance leads you on a path they want you to follow.


Where did the board rewrite the definition of science? There is really no stated definition in the Standards and nothing directing inquiry away from "natural explanations of phenomena".


The changes by the board certainly brings critism. It is here in these press releases and by unsuspecting readers that accept the bias as truth.


I left the "history timeline" in from the bottom of the article for, excluding the bias, it does provide a good reference for how events flowed. Let us continue to the next article!

In Kansas, A Sharp Debate on Evolution

TOPEKA, Kan., May 5 -- Debating a question that the scientific establishment considers settled, Kansas education authorities put evolutionary theory on trial Thursday in a hearing marked by sharp exchanges over Earth's origins and what students should be taught in science class.


Scientists who support the idea of intelligent design, a set of assumptions that challenges established scientific thinking, told an approving Kansas State Board of Education subcommittee that modern Darwinian theory relies too much on unproven reasoning. Gaps in the science, they argued, leave open the possibility that a creator, or an unidentified "designing mind," is responsible for earthly development.


It would not be far-fetched, said William S. Harris, a Kansas City researcher who favors intelligent design, to conclude that DNA itself is the work of an intelligent being. Students, he said, should be told that.


Outside the auditorium, scientists and educators dismissed the arguments as claptrap.


"It's clear from the beginning that this is not a real science discussion. This is a showcase for intelligent design," said Jack Krebs, vice president of Kansas Citizens for Science, which is boycotting the four days of hearings. "They have created a straw man. They are trying to make science stand for atheism so they can fight atheism."


The debate is the highest-profile confrontation over evolutionary theory in years, pitting the impassioned corps of anti-Darwinists against a scientific establishment that considers the evidence of the chemical and biological origins of life to be beyond dispute. It was made possible by Republican gains in November elections that gave the Kansas board a 6-4 conservative majority.

Local and national science organizations are so disturbed by the proceedings that they are boycotting them, apart from advising Pedro Irigonegaray, a civil rights and defense lawyer recruited to defend the existing Kansas science standards. On the eve of the hearings, he predicted a "whitewash" but said he would fight nonetheless.


"I had a delicious fantasy," the Cuban-born Irigonegaray said with a smile, recalling the offer to defend evolutionary theory. "I saw myself in a large courtroom, the fan moving slowly over my head, perhaps a skull in my hand, while I'm cross-examining a key witness."


Take away the television cameras and the PowerPoint presentations, and Thursday's scene bore a resemblance to the 1925 Scopes trial in Dayton, Tenn., where a high school science teacher was famously convicted of violating a state law forbidding the teaching of evolution. This time, said Bruce Chapman, a former Reagan administration Census Bureau director, "This is the Scopes trial turned on its head."


Chapman heads the Discovery Institute, whose Seattle offices overlooking Puget Sound have become the headquarters of the intelligent design movement, which posits that modern Darwinian theory is limited and that life is too complex to be explained by evolutionary theory alone. An early witness was Jonathan Wells, a Discovery senior fellow who described himself as "an old Berkeley antiwar radical" who loves controversy.


Wells confirmed during cross-examination that he was a member of the Unification Church when he earned doctorates in theology from Yale and in biology from the University of California at Berkeley. In an Internet posting distributed outside the meeting by Kansas Citizens for Science, Wells refers to church leader Sun Myung Moon, saying, "Father's words, my studies and my prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism."


Testifying to the three-member education committee, Wells described himself as an embryologist and theologian, and said evolutionary theory "has left the realm of science" and instead has become a given, leaving many conclusions unproven. He described the common scientific conclusion that all living things come from a common ancestor as essentially an act of faith.


Harris, a specialist in omega-3 fatty acids, delivered the opening statement and outline of the testimony ahead. He said an essential goal of the hearings is to prove there is a scientific controversy about evolutionary theory and hence criticism that should be added to the school curriculum. A 26-member science standards committee concluded in March that the curriculum should remain unchanged. Harris and seven other members disagreed.


Harris disputed the accepted wisdom that ancient simple life forms became ever more complex, evolving over billions of years into human beings, beavers, tarpon and a multitude of other life forms. He also said it would not be an "irresponsible deduction from the data" to say the genetic code contained in DNA was produced by an intelligent "mind."


"Who's the designer?" asked Harris, a co-founder of Intelligent Design Network Inc. "I don't know."


Usually it is the evolution forces that accuse the intelligent design side of wanting to teach religion in science class. But Harris said educators who teach Darwinian evolution effectively introduce religion by rejecting the possibility that God created the universe and all living things.


Asked where he saw atheism in the Kansas science standards, Harris replied, "I see it between the lines."


Early in his remarks, Harris projected a strategy letter from a Kansas Citizens for Science member onto a large screen on stage. It said the way to defeat the anti-evolution forces was be to portray them as political opportunists, evangelical activists, unprincipled bullies and ignoramuses.


"Are we ignoramuses?" Harris asked the committee members. "Well, you'll have to decide."

This article turned out to be more balanced than I expected. The author says the scientific community considers evolution settled. Which scientific community? If you start looking around, there are many people with excellent credentials who dispute evolution as factual, that it has many weaknesses as a theory.


What makes an anti-Darwinist? I wasn't there so I can't tell you. But if the speakers indicated that there are flaws in the theory as illustrated later in the article, does that make them so?


As for resembling the Scopes trial, well I wasn't there either. But a man was on trial there. Here people were speaking about what would be best that our children learn. If evolution with concerns to origins of man and matter is a theory, there must be constraints that disallow it from being fact. This does not put evolution on trial, it is attempting to ensure that the proper context is kept.


I would like to know more about this 26-member science standards committee. Who are they and how did they arrive at their conclusions? If I find more information, I shall include it later.


The Kansas Citizens for Science organization is very pro-evolution. You can find their website with a search engine. I hope to provide a review of their group later in the development of this website.








Kansas school board's evolution ruling angers science community

TOPEKA, Kansas (CNN) -- A decision this week by the Kansas Board of Education to delete the teaching of evolution from the state's science curriculum has angered the mainstream science community in the United States.


"This act ... took us back 100 years in science teaching and education," says Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "I hope the courts will be the one to find time to correct the decision."


The board's decision doesn't require the teaching of creationism, nor does it forbid the teaching of evolution. The specific curriculum is left to the local school boards -- and to the teachers who now find themselves with questions.


"Do we touch on those areas? What about students who do not want to hear this viewpoint?" says Tammy Stauber, an eighth-grade science teacher. "Should they be allowed to leave the classroom, or is it mandatory that they have to listen to the teacher?"


Other states, including Texas, California, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Nebraska and New Hampshire, have witnessed battles between evolutionists and creationists in the last several years.


But the Kansas decision seems to be a major victory for those who believe that the Bible's book of Genesis, not the theory of evolution, explains the origin of man.


"You can't apply the scientific method to evolution," says Gary Demar of the group American Vision. "It's never been observed. You can't repeat the experiment. And so what's being sold as science, in terms of evolution, really isn't science in terms of the way they define it."


If the decision stands, some Kansas students will continue to learn about evolution, while others may learn about creationism. But the courts could intervene and rule that the school board's decision violates the separation of church and state.

Here we are back in 1999. I guess this is where the 'laughingstock' slang got started. Note that the Standards only provide the local school districts with the material that their students will be tested on at the various grade statewide assessments. By excluding the issue of evolution vs. intelligent design vs. creationism from the standards, the board left it up to the local district and community what to teach. Regardless of the approach, it would not affect the assessments.


I don't think this was a bad approach but the press and darwinist response was indeed intolerable and unrelenting. I can easily see how torrent of negative press enabled the moderates to regain the majority in the next election.


Herein lies an issue about public education. Should it be based on the mores of the community it serves or from a higher distant level like the state. The press says we celebrate diversity but for some reason, it is unacceptable here.


I feel confident that evolutionism is the dominant thought in western civilization as to who we are and how we got here. But it is not fact and unless we keep open minds and encourage our children to do so, we may miss opportunity to get closer to the truth.








Rival science standards emerge in evolution debate

Topeka — School districts looking for science standards now have a choice.


They can turn to State Board of Education standards that criticize evolution, or the product of a science standards committee that adheres to mainstream science.


“I want people to have the ability to look at the two documents and see the difference and cut through the hyperbole,” said Steve Case, a Kansas University assistant research professor.


Case is chairman of a committee of scientists and teachers that put together science standards that were rejected by a 6-4 majority on the State Board of Education.


The 6-4 majority instead opted for science standards pushed by proponents of intelligent design. Controversy over the standards has roiled Kansas politics over the past year.


Now there are two versions that districts can compare and contrast.


Despite being rejected by the board, Case said the standards writing committee continued its work for two reasons.


The first was to make changes to the recommendations that were suggested by an outside consultant. Aside from evolution, Case said, there were other areas of the standards that needed repair.


And the second reason was in case there is a change in the makeup of the board during this year’s elections.


“Should there be an electoral change we wanted to make sure there is a coherent document to turn to,” he said.


Four of the six members who voted for the intelligent design-backed standards are up for election this year. One of those, Iris Van Meter, R-Thayer, has announced she will not seek re-election.


The science standards are used as guides by the school districts, and as the basis for statewide testing.


Education Board Chairman Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City, who voted for the standards that criticize evolution, said he didn’t know whether the board would take a new look at the standards in light of the final recommendations from Case.


Asked whether school districts should choose between the two standards, he said, “School districts can basically do anything they want to do. We don’t have centralized development of curriculum in the state of Kansas, and consequently they can develop their own curriculum as they see fit.”






Kansas evolution hearings: the case of the missing data

At the close of last week’s Kansas USA hearings before education officials on the teaching of evolution in its public schools, headlines around the world described the final day (May 12) as one that ended with more name-calling than a discussion of science.


The hearings on how origins should be taught in Kansas science classrooms, and which have been referred to as the Scopes trial turned on its head,1 ended with Pedro Irigonegaray, the lawyer representing evolutionist scientists (who boycotted the hearings), hurling insults at the State Board of Education during his 90-minute presentation. As reported by The Wichita Eagle,2 Irigonegaray said “the hearings were an abuse of the board’s authority” and that “the proposed changes, if approved, might violate the US Constitution.”


During that final day of hearings, in which he reportedly refused to take questions, Irigonegaray defended the way evolution is currently taught and argued that intelligent design is a thinly veiled form of creationism, even calling it a “narrow sectarian theological view” that is opposed by most people, including mainstream Christians.3


Because Irigonegaray refused to take questions, John Calvert, the retired attorney representing those who believe evolution should be taught less dogmatically, was allowed to deliver a second closing argument.


“What you heard today was simply oratory from a lawyer,” Calvert said in the Wichita Eagle article (May 13). “What was missing was the data.”


So, what’s next for Kansas schools? The State Board of Education expects to decide by August how to update standards that determine how fourth-, seventh- and tenth-graders in public schools are tested on science.4 According to the Kansas City Star (May 13), the proposal will most likely go to a vote before the full 10-member board this summer.


On the table are two competing proposals for the science standards: one from a 26-member committee that updates the standards but makes no significant changes and a second one, called a minority report, which comes from eight members of the 26-member committee. It calls for changing the definition of science and for students to study evolution from a more critical point of view. (There is no proposal that “intelligent design” or biblical creation be taught.)


As defined in the majority report, science is “a human activity of systematically seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us.”


The minority report, backed by intelligent design advocates, defines science as “a systematic method of continuing investigation that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building, to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.”


According to a CNN article (May 15), the proposed definition has outraged many scientists who are frustrated that students could be discussing supernatural explanations for natural phenomena in their science classes.


But according to Discovery Institute, an Intelligent Design “think tank,” Kansas is the only state that does not have a traditional definition of science. The minority report proposes a traditional definition of science which is nearly identical to the definition of science adhered to in 40 states across the country. This change would get Kansas back into step with the way science is defined nationwide.5


Although it’s not always reported by the secular media, there are numerous scientists who welcome and encourage the changes that the minority report would bring about. Consider the following open letter submitted to Dr. Steve Abrams, Chair of Kansas State Board of Education, by Professor Philip S. Skell, member of the National Academy of Sciences and Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, at Penn State University.6


   For those scientists who take it seriously, Darwinian evolution has functioned more as a philosophical belief system than as a testable scientific hypothesis. This quasi-religious function of the theory is, I think, what lies behind many of the extreme statements that you have doubtless encountered from some scientists opposing any criticism of neo-Darwinism in the classroom. It is also why many scientists make public statements about the theory that they would not defend privately to other scientists like me.


   In my judgment, this state of affairs has persisted mainly because too many scientists were afraid to challenge what had become a philosophical orthodoxy among their colleagues. Fortunately, that is changing as many scientists are now beginning to examine the evidence for neo-Darwinism more openly and critically in scientific journals.


   Intellectual freedom is fundamental to the scientific method. Learning to think creatively, logically and critically is the most important training that young scientists can receive. Encouraging students to carefully examine the evidence for and against neo-Darwinism, therefore, will help prepare students not only to understand current scientific arguments, but also to do good scientific research.


   I commend you for your efforts to ensure that students are more fully informed about current debates over neo-Darwinism in the scientific community.


For further reading on the history of the Kansas controversy, please see our Education Q&A page or for more information about defining science, read the following web articles located at http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/faq/science.asp.






What Matters in Kansas

*Subtitle: The evolution of creationism.

  • Author: By William Saletan
  • Publisher: Answers in Genesis
  • Website Owner: Washington Post.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC
  • Date of Article: Posted Wednesday, May 11, 2005, at 4:00 AM ET


This week, the Kansas State Board of Education will wrap up hearings on "intelligent design," a theistic alternative to the theory of evolution. Scientists have refused to testify, dismissing ID as tarted-up creationism. Newspapers are comparing the hearings to the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial. Liberals, editorialists, and biologists wonder aloud how people can refuse to see evolution when it's staring them in the face. Maybe they should ask themselves. It's the creationists in Kansas who are evolving. And it's the evolutionists who can't see it.


To understand the fight in Kansas, you have to study what evolutionists accuse creationists of neglecting: the historical record. In the Scopes trial, creationists defended a ban on the teaching of evolution. That was the early, authoritarian stage of creationism—the equivalent of Australopithecus, the earliest hominid. Gradually, evolution gained the upper hand. In 1987, the Supreme Court ruled that states couldn't even require equal treatment of evolution and creationism. By 1999, creationists were asking the Kansas board not to rule out their beliefs entirely. This was creationism's more advanced Homo erectus phase: pluralism.


Six years later, evolutionists in Kansas are under attack again. They think the old creationism is back. They're mistaken. Homo erectus—the defense, on pluralist grounds, of the literal account of Genesis—is beginning to die out. The new challenger, ID, differs fundamentally from fundamentalism. Like its creationist forebears, ID is theistic. But unlike them, it abandons Biblical literalism, embraces open-minded inquiry, and accepts falsification, not authority, as the ultimate test. These concessions, sincere or not, define a new species of creationism—Homo sapiens—that fatally undermines its ancestors. Creationists aren't threatening us. They're becoming us.


You don't have to dig deep in the fossil record to see this change unfolding. Just go back to the fight in Kansas six years ago, when conservatives on the education board rammed through curriculum revisions co-authored by the president of the Creation Science Association for Mid-America. CSA believes that "Revelation" trumps "scientific pursuits," Genesis is the "written Word of God," and therefore, the world was made in six days. To protect its belief in a young earth, CSA has to argue that "fossilization does not and cannot require a long time," the Grand Canyon could have been formed "in hours or days," and "dinosaurs lived very recently and coexisted with man."


The curriculum changes co-authored by CSA and approved by the Kansas board in 1999 reflected the young-earth doctrine. They removed references to the big bang, a universe billions of years old, the geologic time scale, and the Paleozoic Era. They changed "long ago" to "in the past." They excised language inferring a time sequence from fossil layers. They told students that "some stratified rocks may have been laid down quickly" and urged them to examine "assumptions used in radioactive decay methods of dating."


Not all critics of evolution shared this view. On May 11, 1999, the Kansas board held a forum to invite public comment. A lawyer named John Calvert testified, "Being a geologist, I find no fault with most geologic estimates concerning the age of the earth and the times at which various stages of life appear to have come into being. I am not a creationist as that term is frequently used in the press and by the scientific community to describe one who believes in a literal and narrow interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2. However, I do believe that life has resulted from design rather than by chance." Far from suggesting that a day or two was enough time to make the Grand Canyon, Calvert argued that hundreds of millions of years weren't enough time for random processes to devise the first cell.


In September 1999, Calvert founded the Intelligent Design Network to promote his mutant line of creationism. The next year, a political asteroid struck Kansas. Alarmed by the 1999 curriculum changes, voters went to the polls and wiped out the education board's creationist majority. With the old species out of the way, the new one took over. In January 2001, as the newly constituted board reopened the curriculum standards, IDnet proposed revisions radically different from CSA's.


The board's draft standards said, "The fossil record provides evidence of simple, bacteria-like life as far back as 3.8+ billion years ago." CSA would have tried to remove that sentence. IDnet embraced it and proposed to add a prepositional phrase: "almost simultaneously with the postulated habitability of our earth." This would underscore Calvert's argument that life arose faster than randomness could account for. A few lines later, the board's draft mentioned the fossil record, radioisotope dating, and plate tectonics. CSA would have fought all three references. IDnet affirmed them and asked only for a revision to limit their implications: "Certain aspects of the fossil record, the age of the earth based on radioisotope dating and plate tectonics are consistent with the Darwinian theory. However, this evidence is not inconsistent with the design hypothesis."


Two years later, in a bioethics journal, Calvert and an IDnet colleague, biochemist William Harris, summarized the differences between Biblical creationism and ID. "Creation science seeks to validate a literal interpretation of creation as contained in the book of Genesis," they explained. "An ID proponent recognizes that ID theory may be disproved by new evidence. ID is like a large tent under which many religious and nonreligious origins theories may find a home. ID proposes nothing more than that life and its diversity were the product of an intelligence with power to manipulate matter and energy."


Last year, conservatives regained a narrow majority on the Kansas board. They've reopened the curriculum, but this time, CSA isn't running the show. Calvert and Harris are. At last week's hearings, Calvert presented 23 witnesses—scientists, philosophers, and teachers—to make the case for ID. A lawyer representing evolutionists asked the witnesses how old the earth was. Most affirmed the conventional geological estimate: 4.5 billion years. Only two stuck to the young-earth theory.


Essentially, ID proponents are gambling that they can concede evolutionist earth science without conceding evolutionist life science. But they can't. They already acknowledge microevolution—mutation and natural selection within a species. Once you accept conventional fossil dating and four billion years of life, the sequential kinship of species loses its implausibility. You can't fall back on the Bible; you've already admitted it can't always be taken literally. All you're left with is an assortment of gaps in evolutionary theory—how did DNA emerge, what happened between this and that fossil—and the vague default assumption that an "intelligence" might fill in those gaps. Calvert and Harris call this assumption a big tent. But guess what happens to a tent without poles.


Perversely, evolutionists refuse to facilitate this collapse. They prefer to dismiss ID proponents as dead-end Neanderthals. They complain, legitimately, that Calvert and Harris are trying to expand the definition of science beyond "natural explanations." But have you read the definition Calvert and Harris propose? It would define science as a continuous process of "observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena." Abstract creationism can't qualify for such scrutiny. Substantive creationism can't survive it. Or if it can, it should.


It's too bad liberals and scientists don't welcome this test. It's too bad they go around sneering, as censors of science often have, that the new theory is too radical, offensive, or embarrassing to be taken seriously. It's too bad they think good science consists of believing the right things. In the long view—the evolutionary view—good science consists of using evidence and experiment to find out whether what we thought was right is wrong. If they do that in Kansas, by whatever name, that's all that matters.








Kansas Evolution Debate and the Discovery Institute Position on State Standards

*Subtitle: The evolution of creationism.

  • Author: By: Staff, Discovery Institute
  • Website Owner: Discovery Institute
  • Date of Article: July 5, 2005


1) What does Discovery Institute advocate for science education policy?


The Institute favors teaching students more about biological and chemical evolution, including scientific criticisms of these theories raised in peer-reviewed science journals. This is a common-sense approach that will benefit students, teachers, and parents. (For more click here)


2) What is Discovery's position on proposed the Kansas science standards?


Discovery Institute supports the Kansas Science Standards. The Standards expand the information presented to students about biological and chemical evolution by including some of the scientific criticisms of these theories. They also adopt a definition of science that is consistent with the definition of science adopted by other states. The Science Standards do not propose teaching intelligent design theory.


3) What do you mean by the term "scientific criticisms of Darwinian evolution"?


The modern theory of biological evolution ("neo-Darwinism") makes two big claims: (1) the primary mechanism for evolution is an unguided process of natural selection acting on random mutations; and (2) all living things are ultimately descended from a universal common ancestor. Scientists have been raising criticisms about key aspects of both claims. For example, many scientists have questioned whether the selection-mutation process that accounts for small biological changes ("microevolution") is sufficient to account for the development of fundamentally new biological features and structures ("macroevolution"). Other scientists have pointed out that mutations, which are supposed to provide the raw material for evolutionary innovations, are almost always harmful, and thus would not be preserved by natural selection in the wild. Many scientists have also questioned how Darwin's mechanism can explain the origin of animal body plans more than 500 million years ago during a huge burst in biological complexity known as the "Cambrian Explosion." It is important to note that presenting scientific criticisms of existing scientific theories is not the same thing as presenting alternative theories. One can present scientific criticisms of an existing theory (this is a standard part of science) without teaching an alternative theory (such as intelligent design).


4) Does Discovery Institute support requiring the teaching intelligent design?


No. Discovery Institute opposes any effort to require the teaching of intelligent design either through state science standards or through local school district policies. The Institute favors teaching students about the scientific evidence for and against neo-Darwinism rather than requiring them to learn about alternative theories. At the same time, the Institute believes there is nothing unconstitutional about discussing the scientific theory of design in the classroom, and it opposes efforts to persecute teachers who may wish to discuss or answer student questions about the scientific debate over design in a pedagogically appropriate manner. (For more click here)


5) Does Discovery Institute support teaching creationism?


No. Discovery Institute is not a creationist organization, and it opposes including either creationism or the Bible in biology textbooks or science classes.


6) Does Discovery Institute favor deemphasizing the teaching of evolution?


No. Students need to learn more about evolutionary theory, not less.


7) What is Discovery Institute?


Founded in 1990, the Institute is a national, non-profit, non-partisan policy and research organization, headquartered in Seattle, WA. It has programs on a variety of issues, including regional transportation development, economics and technology policy, legal reform, and bioethics. The Institute's founder and president is Bruce Chapman, who is a former director of the United States Census Bureau, and a past American ambassador to the United Nations Organizations in Vienna. Mr. Chapman has also served as Washington State's Secretary of State.


8) Is Discovery Institute a religious organization?


Discovery Institute is a secular think tank, and its Board members and Fellows represent a variety of religious traditions, including mainline Protestant, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, and agnostic. Until recently the Chairman of Discovery's Board of Directors was former Congressman John Miller, who is Jewish. Although it is not a religious organization, the Institute has a long record of supporting religious liberty and the legitimate role of faith-based institutions in a pluralistic society. In fact, it sponsored a program for several years for college students to teach them the importance of religious liberty and the separation of church and state.


9) What is the Center for Science and Culture (CSC)?


The Center for Science and Culture is a Discovery Institute program that supports the work of scholars who challenge various aspects of neo-Darwinism and scholars who are working on the scientific theory known as intelligent design. Roughly 85% of its budget is devoted to supporting research and scholarship. The Center also encourages schools to improve science education by teaching students more fully about the theory of evolution. The Center for Science and Culture has more than 40 Fellows, including biologists, biochemists, chemists, physicists, philosophers and historians of science, and public policy and legal experts, many of whom also have affiliations with colleges and universities. The Center's Director is Dr. Stephen Meyer, who holds a Ph.D. in the history and philosophy of science from Cambridge University.


10) Are there scientists who are critical of neo-Darwinism and support intelligent design?


Over 600 doctoral scientists from such fields as biology, biochemistry, biophysics, chemistry, physics, astronomy, and mathematics have signed a statement circulated by Discovery Institute expressing their skepticism of the central claim of neo-Darwinian evolution, namely that natural selection and random mutations are sufficient to explain the complexity of life. The list of 610 signatories includes member scientists from National Academies of Science in Russia, Czech Republic, Hungary, India (Hindustan), Nigeria, Poland, Russia and the United States. Many of the signers are professors or researchers at major universities and international research institutions such as Cambridge University, British Museum of Natural History, Moscow State University, Masaryk University in Czech Republic, Hong Kong University, University of Turku in Finland, Autonomous University of Guadalajara in Mexico, University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, Institut de Paléontologie Humaine in France, Chitose Institute of Science & Technology in Japan, Ben-Gurion University in Israel, MIT, The Smithsonian and Princeton.







A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism

*Subtitle: The evolution of creationism.

  • Author: Not Given
  • Website Location: http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/
  • Website Owner: Discovery Institute — Center for Science and Culture
  • Date of Article: Since Discovery Institute launched this list in 2001


During recent decades, new scientific evidence from many scientific disciplines such as cosmology, physics, biology, "artificial intelligence" research, and others have caused scientists to begin questioning Darwinism's central tenet of natural selection and studying the evidence supporting it in greater detail.


Yet public TV programs, educational policy statements, and science textbooks have asserted that Darwin's theory of evolution fully explains the complexity of living things. The public has been assured that all known evidence supports Darwinism and that virtually every scientist in the world believes the theory to be true.


The scientists on this list dispute the first claim and stand as living testimony in contradiction to the second. Since Discovery Institute launched this list in 2001 over 500 scientists have courageously stepped forward to sign their names. The list is growing and includes scientists from the US National Academy of Sciences, Russian, Polish and Czech National Academies, as well as from universities such as Yale, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, UC Berkeley, UCLA, and others.


A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism

   "We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged."

   There is scientific dissent to Darwinism. It deserves to be heard.


Click here to read a press release about the Dissent list.

Click here to download a PDF copy of the Scientific Dissent From Darwinism list


The arguments that ultimately unravel the Darwinian synthesis aren't terribly difficult to grasp. Anyone who remembers the rudiments of logic they learned in freshman composition can follow the essentials of the argument. Below are three articles to get started:


Fact Sheet: Microevolution vs. Macroevolution

Fact Sheet: The Cambrian Explosion

The Survival of the Fakest


Finally, if you have a Ph.D. in engineering, mathematics, computer science, biology, chemistry, or one of the other natural sciences, and you agree with the following statement, "We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged," then please contact us at cscinfo@discovery.org.


Although I appreciate the skepticism, I should note that many macro-evolutionists are using genetics, DNA and the component Alleles as their fundamental justification. (Another very difficult line of inquiry, better suited for college in my opinion.)



To Be Continued (7/7/06)


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