Kansas Removes Darwinism from Protected Status
It’s official; the Kansas school board has accepted new science standards that permit criticisms of Darwinism, reported Evolution News. This makes Kansas the fifth state to allow both evidences for and against Darwinism to be taught, and brings their definition of science in line with the majority of other states.
News reactions were not far behind; MSNBC news was perhaps the mildest, even though they incorrectly defined intelligent design with reference to a “higher power.” USA Today said that evolution defenders weighed in their voices before the vote with an email campaign calling the standards “backward.” The new standards still teach only Darwinism, however – intelligent design is expressly denied – but the fact that evidences against evolution would be permitted was enough to anger opponents of the decision; EurekAlert posted a response by AAAS president Alan Leshner, for instance, that claimed the decision will hurt the economy and undermine science education. BBC News actually lied about the ruling, calling it an “intelligent design policy” and claiming that teachers have been “ordered” to tell pupils that the “universe is so complex that it may have been created by a higher power.” The standards contain no such statement or obligation; on the contrary, the standards explicitly disclaim the teaching of intelligent design. Nevertheless, even though students will be learning more about Darwinism than ever before, the BBC titled their article, “Evolution suffers science setback” accompanied by a picture of Charles Darwin that made him look saddened by the decision. LiveScience proclaimed, “Kansas School Board Votes Against Science.”
Science1 magazine last week hoped that a move to prohibit use of copyrighted material in the standards might delay adoption till a time-consuming rewrite with substitute language could be completed (the NAS and Natl. Science Teachers Assn. are denying the school board permission to use any of their materials). If this delays adoption of the standards for a year, five seats on the board will be up for election in November 2006 – and four of those are held by conservatives.
In Pennsylvania, testimony wrapped up last Friday in the Dover trial. The L.A. Times gave pretty good press about Michael Behe’s testimony; at least Jonathan Witt thought so on Evolution News. The controversy draws in lots of opinions from all quarters. Owen Gingerich criticized both sides on Science and Theology News; MSNBC posted a large photo of Darwin’s great-great-grandson in the Harrisburg audience, probably more for anecdotal than substantive value; French Catholic Cardinal Paul Poupard warned against fundamentalism in attempting to smooth relations with the Darwinists, according to Associated Press; E. O. Wilson coined the phrase “intelligent evolution” in his article praising the legacy of Charles Darwin in Harvard Magazine (though EvolutionNews insisted he got the definition of I.D. wrong again); and Casey Luskin, reporting in Evolution News about the cross-examination of biochemist Scott Minnich on the witness stand in Dover, overheard a listener on the plaintiff side admitting, “the witness is smarter than the lawyer.”
1Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, “Groups Wield Copyright Power to Delay Kansas Standards,” Science, Vol 310, Issue 5749, 754, 4 November 2005, [DOI: 10.1126/science.310.5749.754a].
Everybody seems to be claiming the other side is generating more heat than light. Don’t they know that heat is a form of light? That’s basic physics, and so is Newton’s 3.5th Law: every action has an equal and opposite criticism. Heat feels good on a freezing day. It’s about time things thawed out a little since the wicked witch Tinker Bell (09/22/2005) turned the animals to stone and made it always winter and never Christmas. Fear not the warming rays, but rather the bluster and howls of rhetorical witchery that blankets the landscape with lies and hate. At the end of the long Darwinian ice age, seeing the sun again finally, with both heat and light, is making the world come alive.