Archive for Friday, September 27, 2013

State moving ahead on science standards

September 27, 2013


The Kansas State Department of Education said Friday that it will move forward to implement the new Next Generation Science Standards, despite a federal lawsuit filed this week that claims they violate freedom of religion.

"The standards are rich in content and practice, arranged in a coherent manner across disciplines and grades to provide all students an internationally benchmarked science education," the department said in a statement released to the media.

Kansas is one of seven states so far to adopt the new standards, which treat evolution as an established scientific principle. Kansas was one of the lead states in developing the standards, and the state board formally adopted them in June.

On Thursday, a group called Citizens for Objective Public Education Inc. filed a suit claiming the standards violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits the government from either establishing a religion or prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

The group claims the standards promote an "atheistic worldview." The plaintiffs are asking the court to either strike down the standards as unconstitutional or order the state to teach theological-based theories of origin alongside evolution.

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Bailey Perkins 4 years, 8 months ago

Here's some more information, coming straight from the National Center for Science Education: (url:

NCSE's Joshua Rosenau told the Associated Press (September 26, 2013) that it was a familiar argument, but "no one in the legal community has put much stock in it." He added, “They're trying to say anything that's not promoting their religion is promoting some other religion," and dismissed the argument as "silly." Steven Case, director of the University of Kansas's Center for Science Education, concurred, citing previous court rulings as evidence that the new lawsuit "won't hold up." "This is about as frivolous as lawsuits get," Case told the Associated Press. The Kansas state board of education voted 8-2 to accept the Next Generation Science Standards on June 11, 2013, as NCSE previously reported, and the lawsuit is evidently attempting to undo the decision.

The complaint alleges that the NGSS and the Framework "seek to cause students to embrace a non-theistic Worldview ... by leading very young children to ask ultimate questions about the cause and nature of life and the universe ... and then using a variety of deceptive devices and methods that will lead them to answer the questions with only materialistic/atheistic explanations. ... The effect ... is to cause the students to ultimately 'know' and 'understand' that the student is not a design or a creation made for a purpose, but rather is just a 'natural object' that has emerged from the random interactions of matter, energy and the physical forces via unguided evolutionary processes which are the core tenets of Religious ('secular') Humanism" (p. 15). Both the Big Bang and evolution are emphasized as problematic.

**Case in point: Science wins.

In_God_we_trust 4 years, 8 months ago

There is a lot of "scientific hypothesis / theory that is being presented as fact today. This has polluted the teaching of real science, and turned a lot of what is called science, into a world religion who's purpose is anti-god or atheistic. For instance: evolution is a theory, and is not a fact. But often evolution is presented as a fact in text books when there is a great deal of physical evidence that soundly refutes this theory.

Sean Livingstone 4 years, 8 months ago

scientific hypothesis and theory are still considered science, they are real science. Science can never become a hard fact... there could be a second or third approach of explaining gravity, for example. If someone discover that, it could potentially lead to other scientific discoveries. Science is very different from religion... in religion, you accept what's being said to you... in science, it's a reasoning and perception, that other scientists can dispute. You can refute any scientific evidences and theories at anytime you wish... it's called journal publications.... they're peered reviewed.

You're quite confused with science, Sir.... you should educate yourself about sciences first... then you'll improve your ability to differentiate "real", "theories", "concept", "hypothesis" etc. With your confused mind, it's very difficult to truly understand what science really is.

chootspa 4 years, 8 months ago

Thank you for demonstrating the need for better education on science and scientific theory. You could clearly have benefited from a better science background in your school education.

Seth Peterson 4 years, 8 months ago

Your post is possibly the best case I have seen for better education standards, especially regarding scientific understanding.

yourworstnightmare 4 years, 8 months ago

Wrong. The overwhelming body of scientific evidence supports evolution. You are either extremely ignorant or deliberately lying.

You also do not understand what a scientific theory is. It is a set of concepts and ideas that explain all of the scientific evidence at hand. You mistake a scientific theory for an unsupported idea, when in fact this scientific theory has the weight of 160 years of scientific testing and facts supporting it.

Stop lying.

Sean Livingstone 4 years, 8 months ago

Most people who are anti-evolution theory are stuck in Darwin's book.... they are not aware of latest research and finding beyond evolution... one of the branches is called Genetic Engineering.... It's more controversial than evolution... genes are slowly modified by nature and time in evolution... modern genetic engineering is the work of men.... who have no understanding of potential impacts and dangers..

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 8 months ago

All of these science deniers have this very false idea that a scientific theory is just some wacky idea that crazy Uncle Chuck mutters under his breath while wearing a tinfoil hat.

If only we could get them to understand, "Scientific theories are the most reliable, rigorous, and comprehensive form of scientific knowledge."

Our nation's widespread lack of understanding of how science works is really going to hurt us. It's hurting us already.

In_God_we_trust 4 years, 8 months ago

There are only science fiction deniers.
Definition of theory:

theory - (an unproven idea or relationship proposed, supported by fact and conjecture or speculation) 1: the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another 2: abstract thought : speculation 3: the general or abstract principles of a body of fact, a science, or an art 4a : a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action b : an ideal or hypothetical set of facts, principles, or circumstances —often used in the phrase in theory 5: a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena 6a : a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation b : an unproved assumption : conjecture c : a body of theorems presenting a concise systematic view of a subject

jafs 4 years, 8 months ago

Yes, and when you add "scientific", then you have a theory which conforms to scientific practices.

Those include things like supporting facts/evidence, testing to confirm/negate, etc.

yourworstnightmare 4 years, 8 months ago

5: a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena

Exactly. Don't cherry-pick. Bearing false witness (lying) is a sin.

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 8 months ago

You're just willfully ignoring what other posters have already cited about how the word theory is used in the realm of science. Definition 5 is the dictionary definition that most closely explains how the word is used when used in conjunction with "scientific." A hypothesis and a theory are not the same thing in science. One (hypothesis) is the unproven starting point; the other (theory) is the overarching concept that explains all the known evidence. The scientific community does not accept a theory if it doesn't fit with the known evidence. So the theory of evolution wouldn't be considered one of the most well-established, widely-accepted scientific theories if there were observable facts that didn't fit within that theory.

What part about this are you not understanding? Because I would like to try to explain it if I could.

jafs 4 years, 8 months ago


Generally agreed. But, even a very well accepted theory often doesn't explain "all the known evidence". If you haven't read it, I'd recommend "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" by Thomas Kuhn.

It's a small book and a fascinating look at science, from the perspective of an historian.

One of the most interesting parts to me was the discussion of "anomalies", which are facts that don't fit with existing theories, even if otherwise well accepted.

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 8 months ago

I know. I was being a little casual with my language because nuance seems lost on the person we were responding to.

chootspa 4 years, 8 months ago

Yes, we could get into how theories are used within the predominant scientific paradigm and over time those paradigms can shift. That's essentially the argument some anti-evolutionists use, only they're stuck somewhere before the Copernican revolution section in the Kuhn book.

tomatogrower 4 years, 8 months ago

Here's the deal. No religion in school. If you don't want your child to learn science, then they will create a new degree, so they can earn a high school degree and you can opt your Christian child out of science. They do have to find some other way to get credits. However, no college is required to accept your student, because of their lack of education, unless some Christian run college agrees to take them. If you don't want your child educated, fine. Just don't dictate your religion to the rest of us. Freedom of religion doesn't mean you can force your religion down the throats of anyone, but your own family. Clear?

tomatogrower 4 years, 8 months ago

One of the things this group doesn't like is that the new standards will have students conducting experiments and doing more hands on learning. It reminds me of the character in Harry Potter, Dolores Umbridge. She taught by reading, not doing, because she didn't want any of them using their skills. This group is just as evil as she was. I certainly hope these people don't drive cars, watch TV, use a computer, because all these things were created by "gasp" science.

stevieboy 4 years, 7 months ago

For you to quote harry potter, what little credibility you had is now gone forever..

Seth Peterson 4 years, 7 months ago

Sort of like the Republican Presidential candidate who quoted Pokemon? (Herman Cain)

asixbury 4 years, 7 months ago

Why? The character he/she was referring to is perfect for this situation. The character embodies the very nature of the tea-party republicans. I thought it was quite appropriate and enjoyed the reference.

Lisa Medsker 4 years, 7 months ago

As did I... In fact, when I read the book, I thought it was an allegory of what religion is trying to do in schools. Tomatogrower tied it together. Thank you! :-)

voevoda 4 years, 8 months ago

I would object to the teaching of " theological-based theories of origin" as part of the public school curriculum. That constitute an impermissible endorsement of certain religious views by a governmental body. Furthermore, the religious views advanced in "intelligent design" theory depict God in ways that are very troubling to many persons of faith. We don't want our children involuntarily indoctrinated in a religion we regard as heretical.

jafs 4 years, 8 months ago

We could perhaps teach it in a religion course, along with other religious explanations of origin, without the issues you mention.

Deb Engstrom 4 years, 8 months ago

This could be done in private schools. Which, in fact, is where people should send their children if they don't want them to learn "real science".

Richard Heckler 4 years, 8 months ago

My thoughts exactly. Or home school. Perhaps they should ask their children if they want to learn science instead of holding them hostage to the parents ideology.

jafs 4 years, 8 months ago

What's wrong with teaching a course as I suggest in public school exactly?

Is it not a suitable subject? We teach history, social studies, and many other soft sciences in public schools, don't we?

What's wrong with a survey of religion?

Richard Heckler 4 years, 8 months ago

Can you be more explicit? Creationism is neither a religion nor a science.

jafs 4 years, 8 months ago

Theories of the origin of the planet are found in many religious traditions, so they're part of religion.

jafs 4 years, 8 months ago


What's wrong with teaching religion in elementary and/or high school?

voevoda 4 years, 8 months ago

There would be nothing at all wrong with the teaching of religious concepts of the origin of life in a comparative religion course in the public school, jafs. As long as it is in a comparative religion course, and not a science course. And as long as it accords equal time and equal respect to all the world's major religious traditions (and maybe some minor ones, too). And as long as it teaches about religion, instead of trying to teach schoolchildren how to be religious.

jafs 4 years, 8 months ago

That's what I think.

Apparently merrill and others disagree though, but haven't said why.

tomatogrower 4 years, 8 months ago

I have no problems with an elective comparative religion class under the social studies domain, as long as it includes many religions, and not just the big 3. Or maybe it should be mandatory, so we don't have so many stupid people out there. I don't know how many people I talk to think that Sihks and Hindus are Muslims.

chootspa 4 years, 8 months ago

Kids in public school already get a unit on comparative religion.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 8 months ago

These thinkers want their religion included in math,english,political science etc etc etc.

Which means public school officials and parents need to be alert to new school books and such. Some publishers have likely been victims of hostile takeovers by certain organizations who will stop at nothing to infiltrate. These thinkers brought the K-12 virtual school curriculum aboard.

Dick and Lynne Cheney were talking American History should begin with the Reagan/Bush years.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 8 months ago

What exactly is an"atheistic worldview"?

Do all atheists think the same?

jafs 4 years, 8 months ago

That would clearly be a view that there is no God, and that the planet and all the creatures on it are of natural origin.

Liberty275 4 years, 8 months ago

No Jafs, "there are no gods". That is the atheistic viewpoint. The difference isn't just grammar, but mindset. By using the singular and capitalizing it, you are giving it recognition it does not deserve because it cannot exist.

"all the creatures on it are of natural origin."

For all practical purposes, I am willing accept all life on earth is the product of a single incident. I accept that we evolved from the raw material that formed the Earth.

However, I like that people are considering that we may have attained life elsewhere and then by some means come to arrive on earth.

Atheism isn't just disbelief in god, it is a refusal to believe in god. I don't believe in Sasquatch, but if one walked up and shook my hand I would acknowledge his existence. If he told me he was god I would call him a liar. Does that make sense to you?

jafs 4 years, 8 months ago

Ok - fine with me either way.

No, it doesn't. It exhibits a stubbornness that makes little sense to me, in fact.

The certainty shown by both very dogmatic religious believers and hard core atheists appears to me to be the same sort of thing, and doesn't make sense to me either way.

Liberty275 4 years, 8 months ago

You won't make a very good atheist. You could be good agnostic though.

OlDan 4 years, 8 months ago

All of God's creation is evolving and unfolding exactly as God planned. We use science to uncover God's miracles. Both sides are right. Win - Win.

voevoda 4 years, 8 months ago

Contemporary science does not resort to supernatural explanations of natural phenomena. Even many scientists who are religious believers do not hold that the ultimate goal of the pursuit of science is the understanding of God. So using science in the way you suggest would not be a "win-win." It would represent an impermissible promotion of religion in the public schools.

That said, your formula represents a perfectly fine way for persons who object to the teaching of real science in the schools to justify dropping their opposition. They can promote your view in their churches, where such ideas belong.

OlDan 4 years, 8 months ago

What scares you so much about my statement that you would attempt to take away my 1st amendment rights? This is what the left attempts to do all of the time.

The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights.

Lisa Medsker 4 years, 8 months ago

Nobody was "taking away your rights". Good grief.

voevoda 4 years, 8 months ago

You are completely free, OlDan, to profess any belief you want.

In this circumstance, the "left" (as you call it) is upholding freedom of religion by preventing a minority of Christians of a certain religious persuasion from imposing their particular theological views upon all the students of public schools.

The question here is about what should form a part of the curriculum in our public schools. The Constitution states "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." (Article VI) Thus, the State Board of Education itself may not be required to profess the truth of a divine creation of the universe. So they similarly ought not to require that students acknowledge such a view to be true on the tests they take.

Seth Peterson 4 years, 7 months ago

It's not a win-win as one side of that isn't true. Science isn't about compromise it's about an understanding of reality.

FarleyM 4 years, 8 months ago

Science is great as far as it goes. Maybe someday, science will figure out why there are so many people that can't fend for themselves. Figuring out if there is a God or not in an infinite universe, doesn't seem to be doing much for moving forward.

In_God_we_trust 4 years, 8 months ago

If it wasn't for the creation that God made (which is everything), science wouldn't exist, to try to understand how God did it all. It's nice that God in his Word, gives us some information and insight as well as a personal eye witness as to what used to exist on earth (like how it used to rain from the ground from underground springs) and how he created it, and why it is the way it is today. He talks about the flood during the time of Noah. He also has much to say about what will happen in the future on the earth.

asixbury 4 years, 8 months ago

Why do you think it rained from underground springs? There is nothing in the bible that states so, and science knows that statement to be ridiculous.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 8 months ago

Whether or not Creationism is science will remain more on the level of discussion rather than equal to science. Soft science perhaps. Considering it is neither religion per se nor science who knows where the discussion may take the issue.

Meanwhile for the purpose of discussion I introduce the Union of Concerned Scientists as food for thought.

Section 4: Why Intelligent Design is not Science

The intelligent design movement is exceptionally good at creating false controversies and misconceptions. Yet their basic claims are easily debunked.

There is scientific controversy over evolution: There is no debate about evolution among the vast majority of scientists, and no credible alternative scientific theory exists. Debates within the community are about specific mechanisms within evolution, not whether evolution occurred.

Structures found in nature are too complex to have evolved step-by-step through natural selection [the concept of "irreducible complexity"1]: Natural selection does not require that all structures have the same function or even need to be functional at each step in the development of an organism.

Intelligent design is a scientific theory2: A scientific theory is supported by extensive research and repeated experimentation and observation in the natural world. Unlike a true scientific theory, the existence of an “intelligent” agent can not be tested, nor is it falsifiable.

Intelligent design is based on the scientific method3: Intelligent design might base its ideas on observations in the natural world, but it does not test them in the natural world, or attempt to develop mechanisms (such as natural selection) to explain their observations4.

Most scientists are atheists5 and believe only in the material world: Such accusations are neither fair nor true. The scientific method is limited to using evidence from the natural world to explain phenomena. It does not preclude the existence of God or other spiritual beliefs and only states that they are not part of science. Belief in a higher being is a personal, not a scientific, question.

More thinking here.

John Graham 4 years, 8 months ago

If God created everything, what is God made of? How could he exist before he made everything (chicken and egg question)? Faith is the typical answer. That is religion not science. Nothing wrong with religion but it is not science and has no place in a science class. Just because you believe that 1+1=5 doesn't mean it should be taught in math class.

nick_s 4 years, 8 months ago

It is funny how these people want creationism taught, but only in the Christian point of view. In their "fight against tyranny" they are doing just the same to the worlds other religions. It is funny how almost every religion, from Native American, to Asian, to European, all share similar creation & flood stories, etc, much like the bible. Many of those religions were in practice well before the time of Christianity. So are they wrong?

The Christian viewpoint is so one-sided & we are so vein in this country, that those who share this view completely contradict their own beliefs to force others to conform to theirs. Arent Christians supposed to love thy neighbor, & be tolerant of all of "Gods" creatures? I will take fact, albeit theory w/solid supporting data, over something that has never once provided a single shred of proof that the stories being told even truly happened.

I think a "Survey of Religion" course would be completely appropriate, as long as it was framed in that fashion & not taught as Science. This way individuals could be taught about all religions, their stories, & beliefs, designating equal time for all. Individuals could in fact make up their own mind, as the Christian right is claiming to be the issue. It is obvious this would not be the conclusion this faction truly desires though.

yourworstnightmare 4 years, 8 months ago

To all the christians out there, a question: Why did you choose christianity instead of all of the other hundreds of religions in the world?

nick_s 4 years, 8 months ago

They didnt choose Christianity, they were fed it by their parents, who were fed by their parents, who were... A quick check into history will show how very similar alot of different religions are, making it so very hard to say that one is completely different & "better". It will also show how Christianity specifically was used by the ruling class of the day for their own benefit. The King James bible is a great example of how religion was manipulated by those in power to maintain their position.

Lisa Medsker 4 years, 7 months ago

Easy: fear of punishment, hope of reward, and the privilege of going through life as raging Narcissists, believing that they are, "...spiritually and morally superior to anyone else." (An actual quote from some idiot I dated a LONG time ago, during a discussion of why I think religion is actually harmful.)

oldbaldguy 4 years, 7 months ago

read "The Men of the Beagle." I do not see God at work in the eastern Congo or Iraq today. All I see is man killing man.

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