Again the debate wages on proposed changes to Kansas school science standards. The State Board of Education in Topeka is holding hearings on the teaching of evolution in Kansas classrooms. One side challenges the traditional approach saying that it doesn't encourage the introduction of evidence against the theory. The other represented by civil rights lawyer Pedro Irigonegaray, defends the teaching of what is considered the "central theory of biology."
It is expected that TV crews and other media will continue to fill the hearing rooms, especially in the final couple of days when the group challenging evolution continues to present its case.
Where: The evolution hearings are in the second-floor auditorium of Memorial Hall, 120 S.W. 10th St. in Topeka.
When: 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. today and Saturday and again Thursday.
Jonathan Wells, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank that was created to promote "intelligent design," a theory of creationism, told reporters that they weren't proposing that intelligent design be taught but that they hoped Kansas would adopt science standards similar to those used in Ohio, Minnesota and New Mexico that include methods for challenging theories like evolution with the introduction of "new evidence".
Although Mike Everhart, president of the Kansas Academy of Sciences, was present at the hearings as a spectator, his group and Kansas Citizens for Science as well as other mainstream groups officially are boycotting the hearings. Everhart reports:
...The first day of hearings went reasonably well, although the paid ‘witnesses’ for the minority view did their best to confuse the issues with half-truths, misrepresentations and out right lies. At one point there were as many as 12 TV cameras in the hearing room, including ABC’s nightline, and even a French station. The French journalists were really having trouble understanding the ID testimony and at one point told me that they complained a lot about evolution but didn’t offer any evidence for anything else. That sort of reaction makes for very damaging stories about Kansas in many places around the world… and it was very evident that the world was watching today.....
Dr. Stephen Timme, a science professor from Pittsburg State University believes that "intelligent design (a fancy word for creationism) does not belong in the biology or science classroom." He believes that scientists have provided a foundation for biology, and that foundation is based on the guiding principles of evolution (a change in allele frequency through time). He calls attention to the "overwhelming and testable" evidence for the process of evolution based upon fossil record, homology, amino acid sequences, proteins, embryology, DNA sequences, chemistry, geology, paleontology and astronomy.
"Intelligent design has no real testable evidence for that view of life," Timme says. "Biologists, at least those that I know, do not force students to believe in anything. That is their personal option."
To understand biological principles--disease, anatomy, ecology and much more--we teach evolution as the underlying principle of biology, Timme explains. "Creationism is NOT science; it is a faith." To further illustrate this, Timme says:
What creationists want us to teach is the Christian view of life. Evolution is NOT a religion; it is a biological principle. If we are to teach the Christian view of life, then why do we not teach all other views by different ethnic groups. A student can get a wide range of philosophies by taking courses in religion and philosophy. As long as Kansas has ultra-conservatives serving on the State Board of Education, education will be constantly hammered with their views of what children should learn in the classroom. Kansas once again has become the butt of late night humor and deservingly so.
DEJA VU--In 1960 Stanley Kramer's movie, "Inherit the Wind" was released about the monkey trial that rocked America. Based on a real-life case in 1925, two great lawyers, Spencer Tracy (Henry Drummond) for the defense and Frederic March (Matthew Brady) for the prosecution, argue the case for and against a science teacher accused of the crime of teaching evolution. Eighty years later the same issue is argued in a Kansas State Board of Education hearing. What they may be proving is that evolution takes some backward steps!