Progress vs. Kansas Board of Education, Round 2

Kansas moves to stem role of evolution in teaching
Wed Aug 10, 2005 1:56 PM ET

By Carey Gillam

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (Reuters) - After months of debate over science and religion, the Kansas Board of Education has tentatively approved new state science standards that weaken the role evolution plays in teaching about the origin of life.

The 10-member board must still take a final vote, expected in either September or October, but a 6-4 vote on Tuesday that approved a draft of the standards essentially cemented a victory for conservative Christian board members who say evolution is largely unproven and can undermine religious teachings about the origins of life on earth.

“We think this is a great development … for the academic freedom of students,” said John West, senior fellow of the Discovery Institute, which supports intelligent design theory.

Intelligent design proposes that some features of the natural world are best explained as products of a considered intent as opposed to a process of natural selection.

The board is sending its drafted standards to a Denver-based education consultant before a final vote, planned for either September or October.

If they win final approval, Kansas will join Minnesota, Ohio and New Mexico, all of which have adopted critical analysis of evolution in the last four years.

The new science standards would not eliminate the teaching of evolution entirely, nor would they require that religious views, also known as creationism, be taught, but it would encourage teachers to discuss various viewpoints and eliminate core evolution theory as required curriculum.

Critics say the moves are part of a continuing national effort by conservative Christians to push their secular views into the public education process.

“This is neo-creationism, trying to avoid the legal morass of trying to teach creationism overtly and slip it in through the backdoor,” said Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education.

Kansas itself has been grappling with the issue for years, garnering worldwide attention in 1999 when the state school board voted to de-emphasize evolution in science classes.

That was reversed in 2001 with new members elected to the school board. But conservatives again gained the majority in elections in 2004, leading to the newest attacks on evolution.

The science standards the board is revising act as guidelines for teachers about how and what to teach students.

In May, the board of education sponsored a courtroom-style debate over evolution that saw lawyers for each side cross-examining “witnesses” and taking up issues such as the age of the earth, fossil records and beliefs that humans and are too intricately designed to not have a creator.

The hearings came 80 years after evolution was the subject of the famous “Scopes” trial in Tennessee in which teacher John Thomas Scopes was accused of violating a ban against teaching evolution.

I know we’ve been eagerly awaiting the conclusion of this decades-old battle.

Starts praying to Ukko REAL HARD.

Welcome to the Dark Ages v2.0. I just find it hilarious that evolution is “largely unproven”, even though Religion is ENTIRELY unproven.

I really think its funny how widely taught the Scopes Monkey trial is and how ridiculous it is made to appear and that idiocy like this is still going on.

At my middle school, you could hardly say the word “Jesus” or “God” without adding “IF THAT IS WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO BELIEVE IN” right after it.

“We think this is a great development … for the academic freedom of students,” said John West, senior fellow of the Discovery Institute, which supports intelligent design theory.

Oh yeah quite the great development, this just means that they have to show an extra slide show durring the week long unit on evolution in addition to making kids copy answers to review questions directly out of “National Geographic Kids” or “3,2,1 Contact”.

Oh please, this has been going back and forth for years.

A month or two ago some nuts tried to do something similiar here in Holland, and it was brought to court.

They got laughed out of the courtroom by the judge, saying that we’re not miniature America.

That made my day.

It was a joke, I know this isn’t going to bring forth another inquisition. Still, the mere fact that this is even considered, let alone close to be approved, is something that I had figured unthinkable on our current civilization.

The conservatives are confident, now that they control a significant portion of the government. The only way to cdefeat them is to bring a larger number of liberals (or conservatives that aren’t so goddamn insane), thus blocking their actions and slowly birnging their process to a halt. Maybe next election…

Even if evolution is “unproven”, there’s evidence that it happened and is still happening. It does not take many neurons to understand the process that Darwin described happening to black and white butterflies, when their environment was quickly changed due to smoke from factories.

Now, all “scientifical evidence” that stands for intelligent design goes like this: “this structure is too complex to be result of a selection, so someone intelligent made it”. This might be philosophical, but not scientific. What is complex for some people might not be for some other (it’s the same with minds - our minds are complex, but theirs is too simple). And just how did this intelligence that created all came to existance (did some other inteligence create it)? You answer that one without the backup of a religious book and you get a cookie-flavored cake.

I think that the ideas of natural selection and the fact that humans evolved from apes are not necessarily mutually implied. But anyway… if people really think evolution is as hard-as-rock as it seems they are, why are they so afraid of other people having their say? They’ll just be knocked down as the illogical theories they are, no?

Yeah, but it’s a waste of time; when there is a theory strong enough to challenge the masses of evidence behind evolution is when evolution should be de-emphasized.

How incredibly well-supported evolution is by all sorts of empirical evidence doesn’t matter a fart in the wind if the people who reject it do so on the basis of faith, which does not take into account such proof, or, indeed, reality.

I live in Kansas, so this would actually affect me. No one really knows how we got here, so therefore I think that all of the theories should be taught in schools. People should choose to believe whatever they want to.

No problem with that, other than that Creationism IS NOT SCIENCE and should not be taught as such. And why stop with the Genesis creation stories? Create a nonsense class where you can expose students to ALL the mental garbage of history, like Scientology, the Heavens Gate folks, and whatever twisted fantasies the Raelians might have.

Evolution tells us how living organisms change. I’ve read some nice material about how self-organizing molecules might have come about to arrange the first living beings, but that itself might fall outside the domain of evolution. I don’t know. Ask Sin.

All theories are fine and dandy, but what some want to be taught are myths and stories. In order to become a theory it must be tested and not disproven multiple times. Creationism as far as I know has yet to do that.

Oh, so they’ll finally teach the truth now, will they, that the world was sneezed out the nose of a creature called the Great Big Arkleseisure?

This is rubbish. It is, of course, all fine to look at theories with a critical eye, but it is pure stupidity to try and replace them with, or even compare them to, the lunatic ravings that is Intelligent Design.

See, to understand what evolution is people need to stop thinking of it in terms of human evolution. They think shit magically happens and are magically created into something new. The thing with evolution is that DNA mutates over time in separate populations of organisms. These organisms encounter different pressures in different locations and environments, so these pressures make it so some mutations work and some don’t. These mutations aren’t always the same, so the 2 populations acquire differences. Eventually, these populations become reproductively isolated in some way, and they can’t swap their mutations and as the pressures they face are different, they only continue to diverge in their differences, like birds with different shaped beaks adapting to different kinds of food that they need to eat. Like people with different skin colors depending on their distance from the equator north or south wise. You know what another kicker is? People use evolution to treat AIDS. They don’t use human evolution to do it, but the virus’ evolution. Because evolution works on reproduction, how differential reproduction leads to different traits becoming the dominant trait inside a population depending on the pressures the population faces, you can kill HIV with drugs and then the virus will mutate and no longer be affected by drugs. I could go on about how this affects the virus biochemically but I’ll spare you unless you’re curious then I’ll type it out. Essentially, this drug treatment is a selection event. You select for viruses resistant to your drugs by killing those that aren’t. The thing is, these viruses are less efficient at reproducing than the normal HIV virus. So what the doctors do is they put you on drugs, kill tons of virus, resistance is aquired. Then they take you off drugs, let the more efficiently reproducing virus retake over, the inefficient virus is outcompeted by the efficient one. The efficient one is weak to drugs, so they reapply the drugs and the efficient virus dies. So on and so forth.

Evolution is a reality kids. Evolution is as much a theroy as gravity. Evolution is the differential reproduction of a population of organisms. Some will reproduce more under certain conditions than others. If this has a genetic basis, this is natural selection because the trait they have is what gives them a reproductive advantage and thus your trait will become more common in a population over successive reproductive events. Fitness is defined by one’s ability to survive and reproduce. If you don’t reproduce, you have no fitness.

While people will believe in what they want to regardless, Hawk, they shouldn’t be let to believe what it is people want when they can be taught actual real life facts and science. Biology is a science, it is not a course on what it is you want to believe in. That’s philosophy.

Now how many people will actually read what I said?

Or, to just fucking thin out their numbers by any means necessary. Honestly, if Karl Rove did it, why can’t you?

Like I said, the idea of “survival of the fittest” and evolution does not necessarily imply the fact that man descended from apes. It’s very difficult for me to accept that the incredibly complicated organs we have, like eyes, hearts, brains etc. were originally one-celled whatevers that slowly became what they are. That’s very different from changing your skin color or beak length.
You’re saying that there was a random mutation that changed the organs into what they are, and that everyone without that mutation died. That sounds just as illogical as ID to me.