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Archive for Thursday, October 13, 2005

Set personal beliefs aside

October 13, 2005

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The real cards are now on the table. Steve Abrams, chairman of the Kansas State Board of Education dealt his cards in the game of science education during a recent speech to a Christian group in Independence. As the Journal-World headlined the story: "Official: It's evolution or the Bible, not both."

I missed the speech and the headline. I was out of town at a conference on the evolution of early humans. With the sequencing of the chimpanzee genome now complete, we've confirmed that chimps and humans share 98 percent of their genetic makeup and evolved from a common ancestor. Beginning perhaps 2 million years ago, early humans and their ancestors migrated out of Africa, fanning across the near East, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas.

According to Abrams, that's not what the Bible says, so none of this ever happened. I guess I need to go back to that conference and make the anthropologists, geologists, chemists and biologists get it right. To quote Abrams, "if you compare evolution and the Bible, you have to decide which one you believe. That's the bottom line."

The bottom line is that we know which one Abrams believes, now that his position on science education has emerged. Now we know he uses the Bible to decide for all 450,000 Kansas students what is and is not science. The choice he gives us - the Bible or evolution - is false and dangerous. It also smacks of deception. Clearly, Abrams was well aware that intelligent design is religious creationism, not science, but claimed otherwise.

Abrams and his supporters want the Bible - scripture, the creation story - taught in Kansas science classrooms. Perhaps now people will understand why scientists refused to participate in the Board of Education hearings staged by Abrams and his supporters in June. The hearings were a forum for faith-based biology, where the facts and evidence would not get in the way. Abrams wanted a modern media replay of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, with a different ending. With Abrams as judge, William Jennings Bryan and his Bible clobbers Clarence Darrow and his Origin of Species.

Were Abrams a responsible advocate for educational excellence in Kansas, he would have taken a page out of John Roberts' Senate confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court. Roberts refused to testify about his personal beliefs, despite being berated by Sen. Diane Feinstein for not revealing how his values or feelings as a father would guide his judgment in abortion or rape or civil rights cases. Roberts insisted that his personal beliefs should not and would not interfere with his interpretation of the law of the land.

The Kansas electorate should demand that Abrams and his five supporters on the board do likewise or resign. Board of Education members must quarantine their personal religious beliefs from their elected responsibility to ensure the finest science education for Kansas students. After all, if Abrams believes, as the Bible says, that the sun orbits the Earth, should we be teaching that in geography class? Because Leviticus states that bats are birds, should we teach that piece of nonsense in biology class? And if Abrams believes the Tower of Babel story, should we outlaw foreign languages from the classroom? When knowledge is scrubbed by scripture, nothing is sacred.

The law of the land is clear. The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that creationism in any of its guises is religion, not science, and has no place in the science classroom. This might not be popular with some people or some voters, but, as John Roberts explained during the confirmation hearings, neither he nor the law were subject to a popularity contest.

The same standard holds for science education in Kansas. Kansas students deserve a science curriculum based on the best and brightest knowledge, not on polls, public referendums or personal beliefs.

Leonard Krishtalka, is director of the Biodiversity Institute and a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Kansas University.

Comments

Jeff Barclay 9 years, 2 months ago

Evolutionists have faith in their system. Christians have faith in their system. Evolutionists interpret research. Christians interpret research. Chimps and humans sharing 98% of the same genetic makeup argues for design. The creator came up with a wonderful, self-correcting biological system. Mammals share much of the same genes. How is that evidence for evolution? Throw a chance mutation into that genetic makeup, the system fails and the organism dies through natural selection. Science shows natural selection benefits within species, but there is no evidence that mutations lead to new species. It takes much more blind faith to believe that the 98% shared genes resulted from chance. Face it. Krishtalka worships nature. I worship a creator. Why am I wrong to do so and for him it is okay to worship nature and chance? His religion naturally impacts his views. So does mine. If one's religion is taken seriously, should not it be expected to guide one's judgment? Evolution guides Krishtalka, why can't design and a respect for life guide mine? Seems to me abortion takes the decision out of nature's hand and gives it to man. At that point Kristalka evolutionary belief system becomes self-serving and bigoted. That points to what Christians say- After initial creation, man sinned and fell short of God's glory. That is why Biblical creationists also believe we need a Savior.

fossilhunter 9 years, 2 months ago

Barclay - No one is trying to tell you what to believe. Great country, huh! BUT, just because you believe it, does NOT mean that it should be taught as fact in school. A lot of people believe in UFO's and aliens coming to get us...do we teach that as fact in school because someone believes it?

fossilhunter 9 years, 2 months ago

Ahhh Conservativeman -- the ol "it can't be tested, so it isn't science arguement...."

Wrongo...there is experimental science and observational (geology, astronomy, etc.) You also appear not to understand the definition of a scientific theory. "Theory" does not equal "guess".

There is abundant evidence of evolution. How do you explain that older rock formationals ALWAYS have more primitive life form fossils than newer formations?

fossilhunter 9 years, 2 months ago

Science does not attempt to prove origins. Science attempts to learn how things change and develop. Evolution has shown without a doubt that natural environments effect the life that lives there and causes some animals' traits to make them more successful and others to die off.

Lepanto1571 9 years, 2 months ago

"Set personal beliefs aside?"

You notice this is the exact language always used to clear the room of Christian belief? Nonsense. Am I to understand that Darwinians are now going to set aside their belief in seeking naturalistic only explanations of ordering mechanisms (i.e Science)?

The issue is not at all about evolution but an old debate of the legitimate ways to acquire knowledge, physical or metaphysical.

Science possesses no monopoly on truth, as it's limitations are laid bare when faced with ultimate questions, if one even accepts such a concept as truth.

Science is a wonderful human tool for inventing mammograms and space shuttles, but ask science to explain the origins of the universe and WHY it ordered itself and gave rise to human consciousness and you'll see it's limitations quick.

While science can wonderfully manipulate and master matter, and even gain knowledge of it's interaction with the forces of nature, ask it to bring it (matter) and those forces into existence from nothing.

The fall back of, "well, science can't do that now but given enough time it MAY one day be able to do so" is a logically unacceptable position, as religion MAY one day prove God.

fossilhunter 9 years, 2 months ago

Well..... cosmology

n 1: the metaphysical study of the origin and nature of the universe

metaphysics

n : the philosophical study of being and knowing

Adaptation is totally part of evolution! Evolution is not monkeys morphing into humans overnight!

As far as earth being a closed system....globally yes, but I don't know of any species of any kind that is truly global. Every one operates in its little niche environment. When those niches collide is where the fun starts.

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