What follows is a story from Science on the controversy in Kansas over the teaching of evolution. Notice how the story is framed in terms of “Science” versus “Intelligent Design.” One thing it might interest you to know is that the meeting in question took place at a church (it was held at the Plymouth Congregational Church — Diane Carroll writes about it here in the Kansas City Star). I’m presently an expert witness in an ID case where one of the charges made by the opposing expert witnesses is that ID is religion-based because its proponents have been seen to speak about ID in churches. The other side is just as happy to press their cause in churches. By the way, check out the staff directory of the National Center for Selling Evolution (NCSE): http://www.ncseweb.org/ourstaff.asp. The first photo you’ll see is of Josephine Bergson in a white clerical collar. In the caption we are told that “audiences appreciate her ability to demonstrate the compatibility of neo-Darwinism and Christianity.” The point to appreciate is that this debate is anything but religion-neutral for the other side.
Scientists Gear Up to Battle Intelligent Design
LAWRENCE, KANSAS–Scientists and educators in Kansas are taking a new economic tack in their ongoing battle with the state board of education over intelligent design (ID). They kicked off their new strategy yesterday at a meeting called to counter an upcoming push by ID supporters on the board. “Intelligent” debate. Scientists focused on the economic consequences of teaching intelligent design at a public meeting in Kansas yesterday. CREDIT: Mike Yoder/Journal-World
Intelligent design, the idea that a higher intelligence played a role in creating life, has been a political hot potato in the Jayhawk state since 1999, when the Kansas State Board of Education revised the school’s science standards to make room for ID. The topic was removed in 2002 after some of the conservatives on the board lost their seats in statewide elections. But ID supporters reclaimed a majority of the 10-member panel in November 2004, and this year board chair Steve Abrams is leading a three-member committee that will “investigate the merits” of evolution and intelligent design at two sets of 3-day hearings next month.
The scientific community has boycotted those hearings, viewing them as a “kangaroo court” trying to confer legitimacy on intelligence design. Instead, they flocked to a half-day event organized by a local investor, John Burch, that is part of an effort to build a broad coalition behind Darwin’s teachings.
Yesterday’s meeting focused on the economic consequences of downplaying evolution in school curriculums. “Most industries today want workers with analytical skills,” says microbiologist Charles Decedue, executive director of the Higuchi Biosciences Center at the University of Kansas (KU), which is dedicated to the development and transfer of bioscience technologies. “ID does not foster analytical thinking because its arguments are faith-based.” Leonard Krishtalka, an evolutionary biologist who directs the Biodiversity Institute at KU, predicts that ID instruction would also turn away potential investors.
Don Covington, a vice president of the Intelligent Design Network in Shawnee Mission, Kansas, is unimpressed with those arguments. “Corporate executives don’t discuss Darwinism,” says Covington, who was one of a half-dozen ID supporters in the audience. And he believes ID-instruction will be a magnet for many families. “When kids find out that they are going to learn the truth,” he says, “they might be excited to come here.” Burch hopes to hold other meetings with industry researchers soon.