RE: DI and Kansas standards

From: Stephen J. Krogh (
Date: Thu Mar 22 2001 - 11:17:17 EST

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    Here is a URL for Glenn's discussion on the Cambrian Explosion and

    Stephen J. Krogh, P.G.
    The PanTerra Group

    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: []On
    > Behalf Of
    > Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2001 3:21 AM
    > To: Keith B Miller
    > Cc:
    > Subject: Re: DI and Kansas standards
    > Keith,
    > I accept that you criticize the ID for their view of God's
    > intervention and
    > eg creation of new species
    > seen in the Cambridge explosion. BUT how do you as a Christian geologist
    > explain the Camridan
    > explosion and the lack of intermediate varieties or transition forms?
    > Sam
    > (Keith B Miller) on 21.03.2001 16:42:18
    > Sent by:
    > To:
    > cc:
    > Subject: DI and Kansas standards
    > Following is an essay by a Discovery Institute fellow criticising the new
    > Kansas Science Standards.
    > I encourage everyone to read the standards for themselves.
    > Keith
    > >Mark Hartwig
    > >Alton (Ill.) Telegraph
    > >March 18, 2001
    > >------------------------------------------------------------------------
    > >
    > >The evolution controversy is getting out of hand. Passions have yet to
    > cool
    > >in Kansas, where a 7-3 majority of the state board of education has made
    > >evolution a centerpiece of the state's new science standards. But already
    > >there's another donnybrook brewing in Pennsylvania-also over
    > state science
    > >standards.
    > >
    > >And that's not to mention all the lesser scuffles over the last two years
    > in
    > >Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Michigan,
    > >Minnesota, Oklahoma and West Virginia.
    > >
    > >Why does this controversy continue to blaze? The conventional answer is
    > that
    > >the controversy is fanned by "religious fundamentalists" who mistakenly
    > >believe that evolution threatens their religious beliefs and sense of
    > >meaning. As Eugenie Scott, of the California-based National Center for
    > >Science Education, put it, "I think there's often a sense that accepting
    > >evolution means losing one's sense of purpose and meaning, the
    > specialness
    > >humans think they have because God personally created them. To them,
    > >evolution makes distant the personal, hands-on God they grew up with."
    > >
    > >Although that answer plays well in newsrooms, it overlooks a serious
    > source
    > >of conflict: namely, the shabby maneuvers prominent science
    > educators have
    > >pulled to advance the cause of evolution in public schools.
    > >
    > >Such maneuvers are easily spotted in Kansas' recently approved science
    > >standards. Lauded by the American Association for the Advancement of
    > Science
    > >(AAAS), the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the National Science
    > >Teachers Association (NSTA) as "a model for other states," the standards
    > are
    > >more aptly described as a model of subterfuge.
    > >
    > >For example, the standards state that "natural selection and its
    > >evolutionary consequences provide a scientific explanation for the fossil
    > >record that correlates with geochemical dating results. The distribution
    > of
    > >fossil and modern organisms is related to geological and ecological
    > >changes."
    > >
    > >Contrary to what this statement seems to say, the fossil record
    > has always
    > >been a liability for conventional evolutionary theory.
    > >
    > >According to that theory, species are gradually transformed by random
    > >genetic changes that are preserved through natural selection. As changes
    > >accumulate over many generations, they may produce new limbs, tissues and
    > >organs. Given enough time, organisms may change so radically that they
    > bear
    > >almost no resemblance to their original ancestor.
    > >
    > >If the theory were true, the fossil evidence should show lots of gradual
    > >change, with one species slowly grading into the next. In fact, it should
    > be
    > >hard to tell where one species ends and another begins. But that's not
    > what
    > >we find.
    > >
    > >As Darwin himself noted, "The number of intermediate varieties,
    > which have
    > >formerly existed on the earth, [must] be truly enormous. Why then is not
    > >every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate
    > >links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graded organic
    > >chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which
    > >can be urged against my theory."
    > >
    > >That problem remains with us today. Most fossil species appear all at
    > once,
    > >fully formed, and change very little throughout their stay in the fossil
    > >evidence. Several years ago, this situation led noted
    > paleontologist Niles
    > >Eldredge to remark, "Either you stick to conventional theory despite the
    > >rather poor fit of the fossils, or you focus on the [data] and say that
    > >[evolution through large leaps] looks like a reasonable model of the
    > >evolutionary process-in which case you must embrace a set of rather
    > dubious
    > >biological propositions."
    > >
    > >That problem reaches dramatic proportions with what paleontologists call
    > the
    > >"Cambrian explosion," which began 543 million years ago. Over a period of
    > >only five to ten million years, a flash of geological time, virtually
    > every
    > >major animal group (or phylum) appears in the fossil evidence. This is
    > >precisely the opposite of what conventional theory would lead us to
    > expect.
    > >
    > >So, far from being a bulwark of support for conventional theory, the
    > fossil
    > >evidence is something that must be explained away. Of course, the science
    > >standards don't directly contradict this. But the statement is so
    > thoroughly
    > >weaseled that you'd never guess how problematic the fossil record really
    > is.
    > >
    > >Why the weaseling? Because the science education establishment
    > desperately
    > >wants to insulate the science classroom from dissent--and one of the best
    > >ways to do that is to deny that there are any problems.
    > >
    > >That works particularly well with another maneuver, which is to define
    > this
    > >dissent as "unscientific" and ban it from the classroom. Kansas' new
    > >standards do this with flair.
    > >
    > >After first defining science as "human activity of seeking natural
    > >explanations for what we observe," the standards state that if a student
    > >raises a question that is "outside the domain of science," the teacher
    > >should respectfully "explain why the question is outside the domain of
    > >natural science and encourage the student to discuss the question further
    > >with his or her family and other appropriate sources."
    > >
    > >Thus, if a student questions the proposition that all organisms were
    > >produced by the blind processes of natural selection and genetic
    > drift, he
    > >is politely told to take a hike--no matter what evidence he can produce.
    > >
    > >Although such maneuvers may seem clever to the AAAS, NAS and NSTA, the
    > only
    > >thing they do is confuse people and stir up animosity and suspicion.
    > That's
    > >hardly a recipe for good science education, or a healthy society.
    > >
    > >Let's bag the maneuvers--and give our kids an honest chance to think
    > things
    > >out for themselves.
    > >
    > >
    > >Mark Hartwig, Ph.D., is a Fellow of Discovery Institute's Center for the
    > >Renewal of Science and Culture.
    > >
    > Keith B. Miller
    > Department of Geology
    > Kansas State University
    > Manhattan, KS 66506

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