Chat at 1:15 p.m. today about KU and intelligent design

Kansas University has come under fire for its proposed classes putting intelligent design under the microscope. How is this playing out on campus and in the Legislature?

Two Journal-World staff members, KU reporter Sophia Maines and Scott Rothschild, the Topeka bureau chief, will take readers’ questions and comments during a chat that begins at 1:15 p.m. today. (Submit questions early.)

Maines and Rothschild have been writing recent stories about the reaction on campus and in Topeka to a class to be offered next semester by KU’s religious studies department in the wake of the decision by the Kansas State Board of Education to change the state’s science curriculum guidelines so that they challenge and criticize evolution.

The curriculum changes were pushed through earlier this month by members of the board who are advocates of intelligent design, a belief that the universe was created in a planned manner by an intelligent designer.

Last week, Paul Mirecki, chairman of the KU religion department, announced that he would offer a class next semester, titled “Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design and Creationism.”

Originally the title of the class included the words “and other Religious Mythologies,” which led to a firestorm of criticism from intelligent design advocates, who didn’t like the term mythology associated with Biblical creation.

Mirecki also came under fire when an e-mail he sent to a Yahoo! group about the class ended up in the public domain. In the posting to the Yahoo! group, Mirecki wrote, “the fundies want it all taught in a science class, but this will be a nice slap in their big fat face by teaching it as religious studies class under the category ‘mythology.'”

KU officials have backed Mirecki and the course. But they have expressed regret about the e-mail. Mirecki issued an apology on Monday.