The Earth Is Round. Probably.
May 03, 2005
We're not in Kansas anymore. And thank goodness, because it seems that things there have slipped backwards a number of decades recently. This Thursday will mark the first day in a four-day series of "courtroom-style" debates about evolution. That's right. They're not just debating teaching evolution. They're actually planning on debating evolution itself.
The debate may be pretty one-sided, though, since every reputable science organization in the state is planning to boycott the proceedings. The American Association for the Advancement of Science—which publishes the journal Science—"respectfully declined" to participate :
A group called Kansas Citizens For Science has helped organize the boycott, drafting a resolution calling for "the entire science and science education community of Kansas to refuse to participate in the hearing proceedings."
"I feel like I'm in a time warp here," said Topeka attorney Pedro Irigonegaray, who has agreed to defend evolution as valid science. "To debate evolution is similar to debating whether the Earth is round. It is an absurd proposition." Irigonegaray is the only person who will argue for evolution, and he won't be calling any of his own witnesses, since no Kansas scientist has agreed to participate.
Kansas isn't alone in its seemly relentless quest to add Christian theology to secular public life. Last week, the school board in Odessa, Texas voted unanimously to offer a Bible class. And all over the country, anti-evolution groups like the Discovery Institute are giving students materials like a list of "10 Questions To Ask Your Biology Teacher." The list includes assertions that some biology-textbook illustrations are "faked" or "staged" and that "fossil experts cannot even agree on who our supposed ancestors were or what they looked like."
While the boycott is exactly what I imagine any self-respecting scientist would do, and it's absolutely ridiculous to even be having such hearings, Kansas' schoolkids are unfortunately going to be the ones who suffer. And considering that the National Center For Education Statistics found only 33 percent of Kansas 4th graders scored at or above "proficient" level in reading, and only 41 percent were proficient in math, doesn't the state board of education have better things to do?