Archive for Thursday, July 13, 2000

Creationists, scientists square off in debate

July 13, 2000


Seventy-five years after the Scopes Monkey Trial on the teaching of evolution, actors revisited parts of the courtroom drama Wednesday on a stage in the state where debate on the theory continues.

In a panel discussion afterward, scientists and creationists both said they were victims of concerted efforts to silence their truths.

Two creationists and two scientists debated at Kansas University's Lied Center after the play "Origins," starring Ed Asner. The play was sponsored by The People for the American Way Foundation, a national organization founded by television producer Norman Lear.

"Modern science censors that knowledge of intelligent design; it's Scopes in reverse," said panelist John Calvert, managing director of the Intelligent Design network, which holds that there is a provable design to nature.

John Scopes was a Tennessee teacher who taught evolution to a high school biology class in violation of state law in 1925. The trial dramatized in "Origins" and the film "Inherit the Wind" was his.

"Throughout the centuries, we have been suffering discomfort with new knowledge," panelist Leonard Krishtalka, director of KU's Natural History Museum, said. "We had such an incident in Galileo's time, but the church took out its discomfort on Galileo."

Panelist Eugenie Scott, director for the National Center for Science Education, said creationists aren't willing to meet the same standards as scientists.

"You don't establish a scientific field by affirmation; you establish it by hard work," Scott said.

Panelist Tom Willis, president of the Creation Science Association for Mid-America, pointing out that creationism in public schools is banned by Supreme Court decision, said the Kansas State Board of Education science standards are fair.

"All Kansas has done is exclude evolution from the schools," he said. "I think we've come full circle."

About 1,500 people attended the play.

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