Thursday, January 26, 2006


Evolution and Intelligent Design: Schools, Politics, and Participation

Red State Rabble has received the following report from kdn in Western Kansas:

Evolution and Intelligent Design: Schools, Politics, and Participation, a panel discussion hosted by The American Democracy Project at Fort Hays State University proved an interesting counter-point to all the hoopla Monday in Manhattan and Lawrence.

Moderator Paul Faber promised to shed "more light than heat" on the subject, and that is precisely what happened, as a packed audience in the FHSU Student Union listened, and asked questions.

"More light than heat" meant that the forum was long on definitions, clarifications, and case law, and remarkably short on posturing. The panelists found themselves in agreement on many points; evolutionists saw a need for philosophy in at least some areas of school study, while advocates of Intelligent Design admitted that absent some dramatic discovery, ID is open to criticism sufficient to keep it out of science classrooms.

Panelists were well-versed in their fields, but were not the kind of highly-paid consultants we've grown weary seeing. Moderator Paul Faber, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, is a Philosophy professor. Greg Farley, Associate Professor of Biology, represented evolutionary biology. Fr. Craig Brown, of St. Michael's Episcopal Church, Hays, took the ID side, while Cheryl Shepherd-Adams, Science instructor at Hays High School, discussed the changes to Kansas Science Standards.

Two professors of Political Science, Shala Mills, and department Chair Richard Heil, provided insight into case law and the mechanics of voting in the upcoming KSBE elections.

The time allotted for discussion ran out after four questions from the audience, but Moderator Faber continued the discussion, fielding seventeen more questions from those in attendance.

If anything, the audience took with them a new view of the KSBE and their role in the science standards controversy, as a number of their more injudicious public comments were revealed, along with dates and places.

A case was made that the recent Kitzmiller v. Dover decision has applicability in Kansas.

Finally, this correspondent came away from the discussion with the new confidence that compromise is achievable. Science need not be completely divorced from philosophy, but rather, the two need better safeguards and compartmentalization.

It was truly amazing to see what can happen when there is "more light than heat."

RSR is amazed by the committment, activism, and consistent good sense of the community of science supporters located in Western Kansas. We think Connie Morris is in for the fight of her life.


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