Re: the Kansas state science standards (was Darkness spreads over Kansas)

Stephen E. Jones (
Wed, 18 Aug 1999 05:46:16 +0800


On Fri, 13 Aug 1999 10:15:22 EDT, wrote:


BV>I applaud your belief in supporting the rights of the majority. However
>most of the people you criticize so bitterly as being against science are not
>YEC's. Neither Steve Jones nor I are YEC's, and I' m not even religious.

I was going to point this out, but it is even better when someone else does!

The fact is that Glenn is just as opposed to old-Earth creationists (he spends
as much time attacking OEC Hugh Ross as he does the ICR). He also
attacks IDer like Phil Johnson and even Mike Behe who believes in
common descent.

The common denominator in all these Christian apologists who Glenn
attacks is not that they are "against science" but that they are against

BV>I don't know the exact wording of the resolution of the Kansas school
>board. Maybe it just says "Darwinism"--"random mutation and natural
>selection as an explanation of macro evolution"--can't be taught in the
>schools as established fact.

On another list the following was posted (the compromise draft is 247Kb
long, so I thought it best not to attach it!):

A link to the April 1999 draft of the Kansas state science standards is found

And here is the compromise draft developed by the sub-committee of the
Kansas State Board of Education, which will be voted on later in the week

The compromise draft retains much of the original work of the state
science committee but, among other things, drops macro-evolution as a
unifying theme.

The problem is that evolution (ie. macrevolution) does not fit the testability
criteria of the standards:

"A theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural
world that can incorporate observations, inferences, and tested hypotheses.
Scientific explanations must meet certain criteria.

* They must be logical.

* They must be consistent with experimental and/or observational data.
* They must be testable by scientists through additional experimentation
and/or observation.
* They must follow strict rules that govern the repeatability of observations
and experiments."


Also, evolution conflicts with the standards against tolerance, respect and

"Teaching With Tolerance and Respect

Science studies natural phenomena by formulating explanations that can be
tested against the natural world. Some scientific concepts and theories (e.g.
blood transfusion, human sexuality, nervous system role in consciousness,
cosmological and biological evolution, etc.) may conflict with a student's
religious or cultural beliefs. The goal is to enhance understanding, and a
science teacher has a responsibility to enhance students' understanding of
scientific concepts and theories. Compelling student belief is inconsistent
with the goal of education. Nothing in science or in any other field of
knowledge shall be taught dogmatically.

A teacher is an important role model for demonstrating respect and civility,
and teachers should not ridicule, belittle or embarrass a student for
expressing an alternative view or belief. In doing this, teachers display and
demand tolerance and respect for the diverse ideas, skills, and experiences
of all students. No evidence or analysis of evidence that contradicts a
current science theory will be censured."


The standards have no problem with microevolution:

"Benchmark 5: The students will observe the diversity of living things and
relate their adaptations to their survival or extinction.

Millions of species of animals, plants and microorganisms are alive today.
Animals and plants vary in body plans and internal structures. Over time,
genetic variation acted upon by natural selection has brought variations in
populations. This is termed microevolution. A structural characteristic or
behavior that helps an organism survive and reproduce in its environment is
called an adaptation. When the environment changes and the adaptive
characteristics or behaviors are insufficient, the species becomes extinct.

As students investigate different types of organisms, teachers guide them
toward thinking about similarities and differences. Instruction needs to be
designed to uncover and prevent misconceptions about natural selection.
Natural selection can maintain or deplete genetic variation but does not add
new information to the existing genetic code. Using examples of
microevolution, such as Darwin's finches or the peppered moths of
Manchester helps develop understanding of natural selection. Examining
fossil evidence assists the student's understanding of extinction as a natural
process that has affected Earth's species."


BV>I would support such a resolution, and I consider myself a
>staunch supporter of science.

The ID movement's position (which I personally agree with) is that even
macroevolution should be taught, but: 1) its underpinning materialist-
naturalist philosophical assumptions should be stated up front, and 2) the
weaknesses of the theory should be also taught.

BV>Remember, until recently some organization of
>biology teachers declared evolution to be a random, impersonal process,
>without meaning or purpose. Surely, no one had a right to impose that
>philosophy upon children as established fact.

It would normally be OK to teach evolution the actual scientific facts as
just another scientific theory. But how can children be protected again the
*zealots* to whom evolution is their religion? And leading Darwinist
Michael Ruse has admitted that for some:

"Certainly, historically, that if you look at, say, evolutionary's
certainly been the case that evolution has functioned, if not as a religion as
such, certainly with elements akin to a secular religion....certainly, there's
no doubt about it, that in the past, and I think also in the present, for many
evolutionists, evolution has functioned as something with elements which
are, let us say, akin to being a secular religion." (Ruse M., "Nonliteralist
Anti-Evolutionism: The Case of Phillip Johnson", 1993 Annual Meeting of
the AAAS, Symposium "The New Antievolutionism", February 13, 1993)

We would feel righly shocked if any religion was granted exclusive rights
to compulsorily teach that religion at the taxpayers expense. But that is in
effect what is happening in many schools where evolution is being taught
by committed Darwinists. I speak from experience because my two children
had a teacher who was one such *zealot* for evolution, and was using it
as a vehicle to to preach his secular religion to a captive audience.

This problem of how to control the teacher who is an evolutionary zealot
seems insoluble, unless either: 1) evolution is not taught; or 2) the
curiculum guarantees that the philosophical assumptions and weaknesses of
evolution are also taught.


"Reduced to the initial and still crude form in which it is now emerging in
the modern world, the new religious spirit appears, as we have said (cf. I),
as the impassioned vision and anticipation of some super-mankind ... To
believe and to serve was not enough: we now find that it is becoming not
only possible but imperative literally to love evolution." (Teilhard de
Chardin P., "Christianity and Evolution", 1971, pp183-184, in Bird W.R.,
"The Origin of Species Revisited", Regency: Nashville TN, Vol. II, 1991,