Monday, February 07, 2005

Religious Right Fights Science for the Heart of America

GUARDIAN - Al Frisby has spent the better part of his life in rooms filled with rebellious teenagers, but the last years have been particularly trying for the high school biology teacher. He has met parents who want him to teach that God created Eve out of Adam's rib, and then then adjusted the chromosomes to make her a woman, and who insist that Noah invited dinosaurs aboard the ark. And it is getting more difficult to keep such talk out of the classroom.

"Somewhere along the line, the students have been told the theory of evolution is not valid," he said. "In the last few years, I've had students question my teaching about cell classification and genetics, and there have been a number of comments from students saying: 'Didn't God do that'?" In Kansas, the geographical centre of America, the heart of the American heartland, the state-approved answer might soon be Yes. In the coming weeks, state educators will decide on proposed curriculum changes for high school science put forward by subscribers to the notion of "intelligent design", a modern version of creationism. If the religious right has its way, and it is a powerful force in Kansas, high school science teachers could be teaching creationist material by next September, charting an important victory in America's modern-day revolt against evolutionary science....

From one of MY "esteemed" professors:

Other supporters of intelligent design go further, saying evolution is as much an article of faith as creationism. "Certainly there are clear religious implications," said William Harris, a research biochemist and co-founder of the design network in Kansas. "There are creation myths on both sides. Which one do you teach?" For Mr. Harris, an expert on fish oils and prevention of heart disease at the premier teaching hospital in Kansas City, the very premise of evolution was intolerable....

Jack Krebs, a high school maths teacher on the committee drafting the new standards, argues that the campaign against evolution amounts to a stealth assault on the entire body of scientific thought. "There are two planes where they are attacking. One is evolution, and one is science itself," he said.

"They believe that the naturalistic bias of science is in fact atheistic, and that if we don't change science, we can't believe in God. And so this is really an attack on all of science. Evolution is just the weak link."

At the first of a series of public hearings on the new course material:

In a crowded high school auditorium, biology teachers, mathematicians, a veterinarian, and a high school student made passionate speeches on the need for cold, scientific detachment, and the damage that would be done to the state's reputation and biotechnology industry if Kansas became known as a haven for creationists. They were countered by John James, who warned that the teaching of evolution led to nihilism, and to the gates of Auschwitz. "Are we producing little Kansas Nazis?" he asked. But the largest applause of the evening was reserved for a silver-haired gentleman in a navy blue blazer. "I have a question: if man comes from monkeys, why are there still monkeys? Why do you waste time teaching something in science class that is not scientific?" he thundered.

People like these really do cause me to question the idea that man has "evolved."


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