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Archive for Friday, June 3, 2005

Dismissal of evolution arguments sought

June 3, 2005

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— The man who organized the case against evolutionary theory for public hearings last month says the State Board of Education should ignore arguments presented by the attorney who represented evolutions' defenders because he wouldn't be questioned.

During last month's hearings, John Calvert, a retired Lake Quivira attorney, represented intelligent design advocates who want more criticism of evolution in the standards that determine how public school students in Kansas are tested on science. Intelligent design says an intelligent cause is the best explanation for some features of the natural world because they're well-ordered and complex. Its advocates challenge evolutionary theory that natural processes may have created life from chemicals, that all life had a common origin and that man and apes share a common ancestor.

Science groups boycotted the hearings as rigged against evolution. While attorney Pedro Irigonegaray defended proposed standards that would continue to describe evolution as a key concept for students to learn, he did not submit to questioning,

In written briefs filed last week, Calvert argued that proposed changes should be adopted by default because mainstream scientists who oppose them refused to testify.

"The boycott of the hearings had the effect of coercing silence, subverting the search for good solutions to a problem that plagues public education," Calvert wrote.

Irigonegaray, meanwhile, submitted 15 court decisions related to the teaching of evolution and the establishment of religion. And in an introductory letter with his filing, Irigonegaray said the claim that evolution is the same as atheism is flawed.

"There appear to be no cases in which the judiciary has stated that evolution is the equivalent of atheism," Irigonegaray said. "Moreover, many scientists who do embrace evolution are not atheists. Categorically defining evolution as a dogma of atheism is incorrect."

State Board of Education Chairman Steve Abrams of Arkansas City said the board would evaluate Irigonegaray's testimony despite Calvert's objections.

Abrams and the other board members who oversaw the hearings - Kathy Martin of Clay Center and Connie Morris of St. Francis, will make recommendations to the full board later this month based on the hearings, Abrams said.

The board plans to consider proposed changes in standards by August.

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