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Creationism v. evolution… again

New challenge to science standards is familiar

By The Mercury

We’ll concede this about the folks who object to the teaching of evolution in public schools and the omission of lessons about creationism: They’re a stubborn lot.

And now that they have filed a lawsuit in an attempt to prevent Kansas from using new science standards in public schools, a battle that has been waged on and off for more than a decade has again been renewed.

The group behind the lawsuit is Citizens for Objective Education. Its notion of objectivity involves requiring science teachers to give as much weight to creationism, or intelligent design, as they give to evolution. The new standards, developed by Kansas and more than two dozen other states and the National Research Council, reflect the overwhelmingly accepted view that evolution is well established. In that sense, the new standards reaffirm the standards they replace. That is as it should be.

The plaintiffs include parents who identify themselves as Christians and who want their children to believe that “life is a creation made for a purpose.”

Moreover, John Calvert, a founder of the Intelligent Design Network who has been involved in previous evolution debates in Kansas, had this to say. “The state’s job is simply to say to students, ‘How life arises continues to be a scientific mystery and there are competing ideas about it.’ ”

He’s right that there are “competing ideas about it.” But there’s nothing scientific about creationism. It’s entirely faith-based, emerging directly from the Bible.

There is nothing wrong with students learning creationism or believing that a higher power — God — had a hand in the way the world has turned out. But that should be taught at home or in church. It is not science and does not belong in a science curriculum.

The lawsuit contends that in using the new standards, Kansas public schools would be promoting a “non-theistic religious worldview” by allowing only “materialistic” or “atheistic” explanations to scientific questions, especially questions about the origins of life and the universe. Further, the suit alleges that the state would be violating the U.S. Constitution’s protections of religious freedom by “indoctrinating” impressionable young students.

If that were true, it would be downright alarming. But it’s nonsense. Evolution is no threat to creationism or to Christianity, as the many science teachers and scientists who are devout Christians will attest. But devoting valuable time and resources to teaching creationism in public schools would do little but put Kansas science students at a competitive disadvantage with students elsewhere.

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