Monday, January 24, 2005


What's at stake

With the first Kansas State Board of Education public hearings on the revised science standards scheduled for Feb. 1, in Kansas City, Kansas at Schlagle High School Auditorium, 2214 N. 59th St. from 7:00 – 8:30 pm you may be wondering what the fuss is all about.

On Dec. 7, the 26-member science writing committee -- appointed last May by the Kansas State Board of Education submitted Draft 1 of the proposed 2005 Science Standards.

Then, on Dec. 10, an eight-member minority of the science standards committee led by William Harris submitted recommendations for for further revision of the draft standards which they say claim, in a letter to the board, "presents a purely naturalistic perspective on a question (“Where did we come from?”), the answer to which has profound implications for ethics, religion and government. This restriction is assumed to be a means of keeping public science education free from religion. However, “religion” includes both theistic and non-theistic beliefs. The naturalistic view that physical and chemical laws plus chance are adequate to explain all natural phenomena supports non-theistic religions and belief systems, while the competing view, that some form of intelligence may be involved, supports traditional theistic beliefs.

Here are excerpts from their proposed revisions
"Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation, that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building, to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena. Science is the human activity of seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us. Science does so through the use of observation, experimentation, and logical argument while maintaining strict empirical standards and healthy skepticism." (Words highlighted in blue are maked for deletion in the revised draft submitted by minority -- all supporters of Intelligent Design Theory)

They go on to explain that:
"The principle change here is to replace a naturalistic definition of science with a traditional definition. The current definition of science is intended to reflect a concept called methodological naturalism, which irrefutably assumes that cause-and-effect laws (as of physics and chemistry) are adequate to account for all phenomena and that teleological or design conceptions of nature are invalid."

What's all the fuss about? Well, all they want to do is take the science out of science classes. If you read their revisions carefully, you'll see that they don't just want an alternative (teleological) explanation for evolution taught in biology. They now challenge the naturalistic explanation for what happens when students add aqueous ammonia to a beaker containing a few drops of aqueous copper sulfate in chemistry class. Maybe, it wasn't the chemical properties that turned the solution blue, maybe it was God or some unknown designer. The danger is that while they didn't win over many members of the science standards writing committee, who, by and large, are scientists and educators, they do have a majority on the board.


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