2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 16
Presentation Time: 11:45 AM


ALLISON, M. Lee, Kansas Geological Survey, 1930 Constant Ave, Lawrence, KS 66047, lallison@kgs.ku.edu

The Intelligent Design challenge to teaching evolution in Kansas is a well-funded, long-term, subtle and sophisticated political effort with implications for science everywhere. There are critical differences from previous battles in how both the anti-science and pro-science forces are fighting in Kansas. Paraphrasing the words of James Carville in the 1992 presidential campaign: it's not about science, it's the politics, stupid!

The scientific community boycotted the recent Kansas State Board of Education (SBOE) hearings on evolution, a controversial action for many scientists, who contend we must show up at ID-organized events, in hopes of giving our side of the issue to the public. Participation presumes this is a scientific debate, rather than the political fight that it is.

The ID movement wanted the best scientists in the nation to defend evolution in order to provide credibility to the hearings. The outcome was pre-determined. The “judges” were all avowed creationists, who openly criticized evolution and science. The anti-science majority on the SBOE ignored the draft science curriculum standards prepared by a well-credentialed committee of educators and scientists in favor of a manifesto prepared by the local ID branch.

During the hearings the ID proponents made a series of false and contradictory claims:

1. That there is a crisis in the scientific community over evolution, and a monolithic scientific establishment prevents the truth from being known. ID was offered as the only valid scientific alternative;

2. That science is inherently atheistic. Thus, science is a religion, so other faith-based beliefs, e.g. ID, should be offered as an alternative;

3. That science errs in limiting itself to only the natural world; ID redefines science to include the supernatural.

The ID movement offers political criticism of evolution to justify teaching alternatives, under the rubrics of “fairness” and “let the kids decide.” Instead of mandating the teaching of ID, they call for teachers to introduce their own personal belief systems in the science classroom. It is expected that their next steps will be to mobilize students and parents to pressure individual teachers to quit teaching evolution and add ID to their lesson plans.

The ID movement touts the tactics in Kansas as the model for the rest of the nation.