Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Kansas rejects creationists

In the see-saw battle over whether to make Kansas an educational laughingstock, reason won the latest round.

Of five anti-evolution seats up for election, three were won by evolution supporters, giving them a 6-4 majority on the statewide Board of Education.

The battle is far from over, not least because this seems to be following a bit of a pattern. Anti-evolution candidates win in one cycle; alienate voters by pushing creationism; and get voted out in the following election. Then voters apparently stop paying attention, because the anti-evolution folks return in the election after that -- only to be voted out again in the next round. So every two years the state's science standards get turned on their head.

Whatever your personal opinion about creationism (or intelligent design, modern creationism-in-drag), it should not be taught in science class. Because it simply is not science. It is not falsifiable, it is not supported by evidence. It is not susceptible to proof or disproof in any human way. And thus it falls outside the realm of science.

Teach creation myths in school? Sure, as part of a comparative religion class. But teach a wide-ranging sampling of creation stories, not just one.

Introduce the study of evolution with a brief acknowledgement of its critics? Sure. But such an acknowledgement should also include the "intelligent design is not science" explanation.

In a larger sense, I've never understood why people find evolution incompatible with God. That's only true if you don't believe evolution could be the mechanism chosen by God to let his creation change over time. Or if your faith requires belief in easily disprovable things. But both of those are shortcomings in belief -- putting God in a box -- not shortcomings of God.

Further, evolution says nothing about how life got started; it merely describes the mechanism by which life, having come into existence, changes over time. Yes, people have applied evolutionary principles as part of theories that argue life arose spontaneously. But evolution itself is entirely neutral on the question of God. It is a tool, not an ideology. Evolution is entirely compatible with either abiogenesis or divine creation.

The Kansas creationists are attempting to short-circuit the education of state students by blurring the line between science and belief and imposing ideology over scientific consensus. It is intellectually destitute and ethically questionable. They should be serving the students of the state; pursuing this political agenda and keeping the Board in turmoil for a decade serves no one except narrow partisan interests.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The closer you look, the better it gets. Of the two incumbent anti-evolutionists seeking re-election, one gained only a 54% majority in his Republican primary and the other could manage only a 49% plurality. If disaffected Republicans are willing to vote issue rather than party in November the anti-science view could shrink from a majority of six to a minority of two.

8/02/2006 9:37 AM  

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