Monkey Trial offers imminent into American history topics with regional differences, community standards in developing teaching programs, the division of church and state, freedom of speech, the legal system, and the media’s impact on court cases, the reasons for individual or regional economic success, great speeches and the art of speech.
On the second day of Kansas’ mock trial of evolution, Kathy Martin produced a moment to remember. Martin a member of Kansas’ Board of Education and part of a 6-4 majority that appears dead set on varying state standards so the creationist theory of intellectual design, and perhaps other religious ideas, can be educated in science classes along with development. Martin and her creationist contemporaries are set to make a report lately issued by scientists and educators on Kansas’ curriculum committee, which wants to keep the state’s solid science standards intact.
But Martin had trouble even clearing just what she hates about the existing standards. Martin, did not really read the program committee’s report, nor does she think such inspection is essential.
“Please don’t feel bad that you haven’t read the whole thing, because I haven’t read it myself.” (Martin)
To clarify, Martin later explained: “I’m not a word-for-word reader in this kind of technical information.” (Martin)
So it went at Kansas’ development hearings, which finished Thursday, a Board of Education event where an existing understanding of all that irritating technological information implicated in science was in fact measured unnecessary to reach a decision on evolution.
Nonetheless, having staged its complicated mock trial, inclusive with indication and cross-examination, the board is likely to approve by August new guidelines that many feel will allow religious views to be a part of science education.
Fearing the fix was by now in for creationism, scientists around the world stick to a KCFS-organized boycott of the event, regarding it as a publicity stunt concocted by officials. The Trial started in Topeka and the Topeka civil rights lawyer Pedro Irigonegaray, who finished matters with a presentation stressing the religious underpinnings of clever design — the modern version of the 19th century disagreement that life is too composite to have developed incrementally from easy forms.
Krebs, a science teacher who co-founded Kansas Citizens for Science like others around the country who have stood up for evolution in recent years, regards the present creationist obsession on intelligent design as a lodge, planned to open the door to the opening of a wide range of creationist ideas in science classrooms. For that matter, he also views the complete struggle over development as only a lodge in the religious right’s efforts to tear down the constitutional wall between church and state.
Indeed, while the battle over development is not essentially fought along severe party lines, it holds many of the familiar dynamics of modern American party politics. Evolution’s supporter feels they have the facts on their side but confess they resist with satisfaction within their electorate. The pro-evolution forces also admit they must catch up to creationists in organization and strategy, in order to combat a well-funded, aggressive opposition with a liking for slick sound bites, message discipline, and a current strategy of cloaking radical aims in innocuous-sounding rhetoric.
More than everything else, the environment of the struggle in Kansas reveals how much creationist strategy have changed since the state’s 1999 anti-evolution episode. Now as then, the driving force behind the creationists is Steve Abrams, a veterinarian, former Kansas gubernatorial candidate, one-time chairman of the state Republican Party, and current chairman of the Board of Education. In 1999, however, Abrams and his allies supported a version of creationism heavily reliant on the biblical creation stories in the book of Genesis.
By contrast, for this month’s hearings, the Board of Education brought in a long string of advocates of intelligent design, who argued that standard evolutionary biology is based on incomplete evidence and that some sort of designer must have been at work to develop life.
In Kansas, A Sharp Debate on Evolution
Educators Consider Intelligent Design
By Peter Slevin Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 6, 2005; Page A01
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