Is the glass half full or half
empty? was the phrase lingering inside my head after spending
an hour and half at a public hearing of the Kansas Science Standards
Committee held Feb. 1 at Schlagle High School in KCK.
It wasn't a philosophical question I was raising with
myself though many of the nearly 60 speakers who had signed
up to give their two minutes worth threw the word philosophy
around a lot. Call it making a judgment in determining just how educated
people are in the state of Kansas. Granted, the answer depends upon
a point of view.
Some spoke of being able to work in science including supporting the theory of evolution and keeping their religious faith. Science was something that could be demonstrated and proven. Intelligent Design was grounded in metaphysics or paranormal experience or the supernatural.
A Blue Valley School District biology teacher noted that science is limited to natural explanations, sometimes shown to through an unguided natural process. Yet, he added, God can undetectably guide the evolutionary process.
Another person, describing himself as a parent, talked of viruses mutating a living process of evolution just as Darwin observed, he added.
After he sat down, a woman countered that she was concerned that evolution is being taught as a fact. Students, she continued, are not being taught to think (about) the non-naturalistic causes for origins.
A man right after her went further. We need to test evolution as true science, he said. We owe that to our children. The lack of a fossil record is a fact. Its fraud to show links to apes.
Another man agreed, stating that the philosophy of nihilism came from the teaching of evolution. Were producing little Kansas Nazis, he railed.
A retired engineer, refuted the theory of evolution by noting that earth changes can be done instantaneously as in earthquakes or volcanoes. Another man, a pilot, noted that when he flew over the earth, he knew that evolution couldnt explain the features he observed.
Some supporters of the current scientific standards, like one woman, highlighted evolutions usefulness in improving lives as a basic scientific standard, concluding that ID has no real-world usefulness.
A supporter of ID pointed the microphone in front of him and stated, This microphone is a product of ID...but I cant say anything against evolution because its unconstitutional! The man was making reference to a Georgia judges ruling against putting stickers on textbooks stating evolution was just one theory.
A young student pleaded with committee members not to water down the curriculum and hurt my chances for success. ID is not science, she said, its a theological statement. ID can be in high school but biology class is not the place for it.
Right after her came a man, a father, who stated, Science is about philosophical materialism. (Let) science be science instead of a philosophy.
Darwins evolutionary theory was called an apology for slavery by one man after reminding the group that The Origin of Species was published (1859) while slavery was still practiced in the United States. The truth needs a hearing, the man said, raising his voice. The man then ended his two minutes by quoting Genesis with the statement about God creating earth and the universe.
It must be noted that the complete title of Darwins book was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.
A physician who said he studies astrophysics, which, according to The New Oxford American Dictionary, is a branch of astronomy concerned with the physical (my quote marks) nature of stars and other celestial bodies , said it points to ID.
Earlier, a former science teacher had challenged ID supporters to let ID go through the same scientific rigor as other theories. Why let them cut in line? he asked.
But one ID supporter would ignore such a challenge. With ID, she stated, I call it religion and Christianity. If theres no religion (in schools) then they dont need to allow evolution. I dont believe in evolution; I believe in Christianity.
We are indeed a divided country; divided between those who understand the country they live in and those that dont.
From the half-empty point of view: the supporters of ID have yet to be intelligently designed.
Three other public hearings on changing the science standards will be held in February from 7-8:30 p.m.: Board Room, KS Dept. of Education, 120 SE 10th Ave., Topeka, Feb. 8; Derby Middle School, 801 E Madison, Derby, Feb. 10; and Hays High School, 2300 E. 13th St., Hays, Feb. 15. The Kansas State Board of Education can be contacted at 785-296-3201 and comments concerning scientific standards can be made via the Internet at www.ksde.org/commission/science.html.
Bruce Rodgers can be contacted at publisher_editEKC@kcactive.com.
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