And yet another answer to the question, “What’s the Matter with Kansas?”:
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 separation of church and state.
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…
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.”
In local news, the WVU Campus Crusade for Christ had a big display up trumpeting some of the ‘evolution’ myths before a speaker for intelligent deisgn gave a ‘lecture’ this evening. I did not attend, but probably should have to document the atrocities. At any rate, one of my former students (a strident liberal and I believe one of the leaders of the WVU Young Democrats), had an op-ed on ID in the student paper today:
Intelligent Design, as a theory, is nothing more than thinly veiled creationism. It is a political vehicle, a cheap trick to make the Bible and Christianity more palatable to an increasingly secular society. Philip Johnson, one of its key Christian proponents, once said, “Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of Intelligent Design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools.”
To teach society that there are two schools of thought in science is misleading. Origination science is explained through the theory of evolution and nothing else – there is no dichotomy. Intelligent Design, at worst, is nothing more than shameful political hackery. At best, it’s an interesting religious discussion. With no reproducible results, no empirical structure and little more than faith to back it up, the Intelligent Design theory is not just bad science – it’s not even science at all.
So why debate about it?
I tend to agree, and there should not be a debate. The attempts to inject ID into public school science classes should not be met with debate. It should be met with brute political force.