Seriously, what is the matter with Kansas? On Tuesday proponents of teaching “intelligent design” alongside evolutionary theory in Kansas science classes were victorious. Students will be instructed to consider that life forms are too complex simply to have evolved and must, therefore, have been designed by some higher power. The victory represents the wish fulfillment of creationists who have long sought to superimpose religious concepts onto scientific theory.
In the how’s-that-again department, the www.intelligentdesignnetwork.org site suggests that “An inference that certain biological information may be the product of an intelligent cause can be tested or evaluated in the same manner as scientists daily test for design in other sciences.” That would seem to require some fancy footwork and an enormous leap of faith, which is, of course, the problem. There isn’t really another reasonably acceptable side to this issue except among those who wish to substitute religion for scientific method and who offer up various forms of tortured logic to support their point of view.
In some cases, pure invention serves to circumvent otherwise established scientific thought. In this way, a Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky will include displays depicting Adam and Eve co-existing with dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden. This tableau is justified it would seem because many evolution detractors maintain the earth is only some several thousand years old. How they derive this notion is something of a puzzle – – perhaps by counting the “begats” in Genesis?? In any case science has been turned on its head in Kansas by religious zealots who deem the teaching of creationist theory a worthy addition to science classes.
Kansas is, famously, the state where Dorothy searched for the Wizard of Oz with her pals as well as the place where Superman spent his formative years. Of course Dorothy discovered no wizard behind the curtain, but she, the lion, the scarecrow and the tinman had managed to resolve their issues during their travels, in something resembling scientific methodology. And once Superman learned to fly he moved from the Smallville area to Metropolis, no doubt a more sophisticated venue, where he became a media guy working as a reporter for The Daily Planet.
Here on the East Coast, in the same election cycle, voters in Dover, PA, ousted an entire Board of Education that had sought to include “intelligent design” as part of the school’s science curriculum. One parent said, after voting, that he believed in God, but that he didn’t want religion slipped into the classroom as a replacement for or in addition to formal educational disciplines.
Religious beliefs exist in many hearts and minds and are often important in the conduct of people’s lives, but using those beliefs as teaching tools in public schools is totally inappropriate and is at a far remove from a well-grounded approach to science.
It may be helpful if students in Kansas kept in mind, when faced with standardized science tests or SATs, that for questions about the earth’s age, “er” is not an acceptable answer.
By the way, congratulations to Governors Corzine and Kaine.

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