Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Federal lawsuit could follow board vote

November 8, 2005


For the past six weeks, the debate over evolution and intelligent design has played out in a Pennsylvania courtroom.

Today, Kansas gets the national spotlight back - and with it, the possibility of a federal lawsuit here.

"What's going on in Kansas," said Kenneth Miller, a Brown University biologist, "is much more radical and much more dangerous to science education" than the contested decision in Dover, Pa., to mandate the teaching of "intelligent design" in public school science classes.

Intelligent design speculates that the world is too complex to have evolved without the help of an unknown designer - an alien, perhaps, or God. Such teachings in public schools, the ACLU says, violate constitutional restrictions on the separation of church and state.

"Absolutely, absolutely," said T. Jeremy Gunn, director of the ACLU's Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, when asked if the new science standards Kansas is expected to adopt today could be vulnerable to litigation.

An official with the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, which helped defend the Dover school board, said Kansas should be able to avoid legal scrutiny. Casey Luskin said the standards here critique evolution, but they don't promote intelligent design.

"It's definitely a different issue in Kansas" than in Pennsylvania, Luskin said.

'More radical'

It's a different battle, perhaps, but definitely the same war. Many of the participants in the Pennsylvania trial are veterans of the Kansas evolution debates, and are keeping a close eye on today's meeting of the Kansas Board of Education.

Miller, for example, testified in the Pennsylvania trial against intelligent design. He came to Kansas in 2000 to campaign against conservative school board members the last time the evolution debate flared up here.

The new Kansas standards literally change the definition of science, he said, so that natural explanations aren't necessary to explain natural phenomena. That opens the door, he said, for astrology to be taught in public school classrooms.

"Is this what proponents on the Kansas Board of Education have in mind?" Miller asked.

Michael Behe, a Lehigh University scientist, wrote "Darwin's Black Box" - a touchstone text of the intelligent design movement. He testified in Pennsylvania, and before the Kansas Board of Education when it held hearings on the science standards.

"I think having students hear criticisms of any theory is a great idea," Behe said. "I think in one respect, it'll mean it's permissible to question evolution. For odd historical reasons, questioning evolution has been put off-limits. If Kansas can do it, it can be done elsewhere."

More evolution?

Luskin agreed.

"In contrast to what everybody has said, Kansas students will hear more about evolution and not less about evolution," he said. "This is a victory for people who want students to learn critical thinking skills in science."

But Gunn noted that the vast majority of scientists believed in evolution as a proven explanation for the origins of life. The "handful" who don't, he said, have resorted to making their case through politics instead of through traditional scientific methods.

"Do we teach both sides of the controversy on astrology in science class? Do we teach both sides of phrenology?" Gunn said. "This is not a scientific controversy, it's a political controversy."

Testimony in the Pennsylvania trial wrapped up on Friday. A ruling in that case is expected in January.


Jeff Barclay 12 years, 6 months ago

If evolution is so easily defendable and held by so many, why didn't evolutionistic scientists respond to the invitations to testify during the Kansas' hearings? Instead of silly name calling and clever rhetoric why don't evolutionists state their evidence? For that matter, has the LJW ever ran a clear point by point article on how ID proponents make their conclusions?

hottruckinmama 12 years, 6 months ago

who cares?? what a waste of time and money and energy!! i don't care what they teach my kids! i can teach them what i really want them to know about all of this at home!

John1945 12 years, 6 months ago

Kelly Hunt is from Lawrence and far better than anything suggested so far. i think everyone needs to go play, or buy and play her CDs and forget this nonsense.

Shardwurm 12 years, 6 months ago

I'm with you hottruckinmama!

In fact, I welcome the teaching of evolution in school. All it does is reinforce to my children that teachers don't know everything!

Jamesaust 12 years, 6 months ago

I can understand that the "mischievious angel" theory sounds a bit unfamiliar. It has been quietly laid to the side while attention is first paid to getting "intelligent design" in place in the schools.

Currently, many "scientists" follow a "belief-system" (a/k/a, religion) called quantum mechanics, which supposedly provides explanation for various phenomena at the atomic and subatomic levels. This is contrary to Newtoniam mechanics and traditional electromagnatism (a/k/a, common sense). This results in multiple, bizzare effects including the uncertainty principle, wave-particle duality, quantum entanglement, etc. Any honest "scientist" will admit that they don't really understand all this and can't quite explain it in a manner that an average, normal (not quantum!!) mechanic can understand.

Of course, this is just a desperate attempt to deny God, who gives evidence to those who are open-minded enough to see His handiwork conducted via mischievious angels. The angels are just playing with our oh-so-arrogant physicists who think that man can explain existence.

For example, a measurement made on one particle can produce instantaneously (through the collapse of the total wavefunction, so "they" say) an effect on other particles with which it is entangled, even at a distance. This supposedly is an important element in entropy and in an even more strange identical quantum systems quantum ensembles (they just pile this stuff up in higher and higher layers, don't they?). This is all explained by enough mathamatical formulas to make your head swim; they use more Greek symbols than you'll see at a sorority rush! Why do "scientists" feel that they need a quirky, complex theory to explain what are in fact angels just toying with us by quickly tweaking the other particles?

Anyway, I hope this helps give you a 'heads up' on this scientific explanation that Kansas children just now entering kindergarten will be expected to display mastery of (in additonal to "intelligent design") before graduating in another thirteen years.

compmd 12 years, 6 months ago

james, your words betray you.

"This is all explained by enough mathamatical formulas to make your head swim..."

nevertheless, it is all explained. not just explained, but experimentally repeatable and verifiable. also, mischievous angels sound like an attempt to cover up the truth about the flying spaghetti monster.

Jamesaust 12 years, 6 months ago

Jeez, guys. I make some totally facetious, tongue-in-cheek post and you guys are so used to the b.s. spit out by the "intelligent design" crowd that you actually miss the joke! Wasn't "mischievious angel theory" the first clue?

compmd 12 years, 6 months ago

James, Sorry I missed the joke. It is pretty funny, especially next to FSMism. But I think this speaks to a serious issue: its getting difficult to tell the difference between people who have serious ideas, and those poking fun at them. That is how absolutely ludicrous this whole thing has become.

And the board just voted. Sad day for the future of America. Looks like its going to become another Bleeding Kansas. This time, it won't be proslavery and free-state parties, it will be the self-righteous followers of a twisted misinterpretation of the Bible and everyone else.

yourworstnightmare 12 years, 6 months ago

In some regards, hotmamma et al are correct. This is a tempest in a teapot, the teapot being the State of Kansas. The market will take care of this "blip" to ensure that the teapot remains an economic and intellectual backwater (with the occasional tempest).

Life as we know it will go on and science will continue to progress. Just not in Kansas.

b_asinbeer 12 years, 6 months ago

Yeah, barclay....

"evolutionistic" is not a word. I suggest you start making more sense before inventing new words if you want to appear credible.

Have a good day.

baby_girl 12 years, 6 months ago

Why should this be up to a single educational board to decide? Why do us Kansans not get to vote on this? It's OUR children, OUR schools, OUR money, most of all, OUR world. Let THE PEOPLE decide.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.