December 16, 2005 | David F. Coppedge

Creation-Evolution Controversy in the News

Darwin, Genesis, Paul Mirecki, disclaimer stickers, Kansas and intelligent design continue to be searchable keywords in news reporting about science education.

  • Mirecki’s got a fight on his hands:  The embattled U of Kansas prof who was going to ridicule intelligent design (ID) in a religion class till his inflammatory email surfaced (11/29/2005), and who later claimed to be beaten up off-campus (12/07/2005), continues to get a pummeling in the news as he tries to defend himself.  Though he claims he was pressured to resign, and threatens to sue over his lack of support by the university (see Lawrence Journal-World 12/10), the Lawrence Journal-World claimed Dec. 13 that he left voluntarily.  The Journal-World also reprinted a postcard sent out by the Religious Studies department of the University repudiating Mirecki’s “inappropriate comments” but expressing appreciation for his scholarly work and teaching.  Science Magazine took note of this in its Random Samples column, but focused on the attack and not the controversy about it.  No arrests have been made of any suspects.  Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin has been trying for a week to get to the bottom of this.
  • Georgia Stickers Reviewed:  When federal judge Clarence Cooper ordered evolution-disclaimer stickers removed from Cobb County, Georgia biology textbooks last January (see 01/13/2005), the school board appealed.  The item has come up for review by a federal appeals panel, according to an Associated Press story on MSNBC News and South Carolina’s The State.  The three judges are questioning the accuracy of Cooper’s decision.  To them, the disclaimer seems non-religious and straightforward.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said the judges gave the lower court ruling a “hostile reception,” indicating they might side with the school board in their ruling next year.  Rob Crowther for Evolution News put the pieces together to claim that the ACLU lied to the federal court while making its claim that the stickers constituted an endorsement of religion.  Pam Sheppard reported on this story for Answers in Genesis and also mentioned the lawsuit against the University of California by Christian Schools accusing the university system of discrimination.
  • Evolution of Conservatism:  Casey Luskin argued in Human Events that intelligent design is within the future of the conservative movement.  This was to rebut the claims of Charles Krauthammer and George Will, who had sided with the Darwinists in their editorials (see 11/19/2005, third bullet).
  • Dutch & Such:  The University of Leiden is holding a half-day symposium on intelligent design today (Dec 16), according to Tom Magnuson at Access Research Network.  The question is, “Is ID about theology or science?”
  • The Whole Truth:  The Darwin exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History (12/08/2005) is giving a sanitized version of Darwinism, wrote John West for Evolution News.  The exhibit mentions little or nothing about the social implications of Darwinism, such as racism and eugenics – including the Darwin’s own ideas on those subjects, which West says the museum “completely suppresses.”
  • Bible Spin:  Top Tech News reported as an oddity the ministry of Rusty Carter, “who has a degree in biblical studies from Colorado Christian University and earns his living doing floor maintenance.”  Carter leads Christian school groups on tours of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science but gives a “Biblically Correct” interpretation of the exhibits.  The curator seems not sure what to do about it.  See the earlier stories from 10/17/2005, 09/28/2005, and 09/22/2005.
  • Kansas Rolls Up Its Sleeves:  Now that the Kansas school board is permitting criticisms of Darwinism, school board member Kathy Martin wants curriculum materials for teachers, reported the Kansas City Star.
  • Icons Defended:  Jonathan Wells has been posting reprints on ID the Future of rebuttals to criticisms of his 2000 book, Icons of Evolution.
  • Anti-ID Folks Weigh In:  Alan Boyle, in his Cosmic Log on MSNBC News on Dec. 13, tallied up the feedback from his list of biggest scientific controversies of the year (12/08/2005).  He was “frankly surprised by the overwhelming sentiment against intelligent design” in his unscientific experiment.  He reprinted examples, like “If the proponents of intelligent design are successful in foisting their delusions on a new generation of young Americans, they will likely further undermine future American competitiveness in the biological sciences, and possibly in other fields of scientific endeavor as well.”  Boyle surmised that “perhaps it demonstrates that mainstream scientists have made some headway after all, in spite of the political challenges in Pennsylvania and Kansas.”
  • This Guy Is Falling:  Donald Kennedy in Science 12/16, in an editorial about science education, warned about terrible consequences if science educators don’t help students think critically about things like intelligent design:

    Second, the future of the world is at stake!  That’s not melodrama.  Never have exciting new developments in science been more tightly connected to real dilemmas in public policy.  If the electorate distrusts science and doesn’t understand how scientists explore and interrogate the natural world, how will they vote on issues ranging from stem cell research and global climate change to the teaching of intelligent design in our schools?  In addition to full-time scientists, we need educated citizens who can think critically about the science and technology choices so prominent in contemporary political life.

    But then, isn’t that what the Georgia textbook stickers asked students to do about evolution – think critically?

We’re still waiting for substantive arguments on why students should be taught that humans have bacteria ancestors.  Pro-evolution reporters seem to get worked up over politics, definitions, motives, implications, religion, and authority.  How about a little scientific evidence?

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