Topeka From Darwin to intelligent design to the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
The debate over teaching evolution in Kansas public schools has caught the attention of a cross-country Internet community of satirists.
In the past few weeks, hundreds of followers of the supreme Flying Spaghetti Monster have swamped state education officials with urgent e-mails.
They argue that since the conservative majority of the State Board of Education has blessed classroom science standards at the behest of intelligent design supporters, which criticize evolution, they want the gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster taught.
"I'm sure you realize how important it is that your students are taught this alternate theory," writes Bobby Henderson, a Corvallis, Ore., resident whose Web site, www.venganza.org, is part FSM tribute and part job search.
"It is absolutely imperative that they realize that observable evidence is at the discretion of a Flying Spaghetti Monster," he wrote to the education board.
Henderson did not return a telephone call for comment. He says in his letter that it is disrespectful to teach about the FSM without wearing "full pirate regalia."
Board member Bill Wagnon, a Democrat, whose district includes Lawrence, said he has received more than 500 e-mails from supporters of FSM.
"Clearly, these are just supreme satirists. What they are doing is pointing out that there is no more sense to intelligent design than there is to a Flying Spaghetti Monster," Wagnon said.
Intelligent design posits that some aspects of biology are so complex, they point toward an intelligent creator.
ID proponents helped shepherd a report and hearings that have resulted in science standards that criticize evolution and have put Kansas in the middle of international attention on the subject.
John Calvert, of Lake Quivira, the lawyer who was instrumental in writing the science standards that criticize evolution, said he had seen the FSM e-mails, and was not impressed.
"You can only use that misinformation so long," Calvert said. Calvert said the science standards do not promote intelligent design, but show that evolution has its critics.
Wagnon and the three other board members who support evolution have written Henderson back, saying they appreciated the comic relief but that they were saddened that the science standards were being changed to criticize evolution.
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