May 112005

Most scientists have decided to boycott the "Scopes Trial II" being held in Kansas this week because they don’t want to lend legitimacy to "Intelligent Design." Thus, the defense of evolution is left to one lone lawyer, who has no real expertise in biology.

Why are we going through this again? What combination of desperate economic times and religion-induced dementia is making us fight this battle over and over? In Kansas, starting earlier this week, is a debate over whether or not to require the teaching of "intelligent design" alongside evolution. "Intelligent design" is such a cutely ironic name, in the "Clear Skies Initiative" school of obfuscative rhetoric, because you have to be a complete moron to believe in it. It’s Christianity without mentioning Christ. And speaking of obfuscation, the members of the Kansas Board of Education who called the hearing didn’t even have the balls to say that the true purpose was to put some kind of god back into the science classrooms. They claim they simply want to ensure that "criticism" of evolution is mentioned. Huh. Wonder what you’d use to criticize it, other than fake science, flawed axioms of desperation, and the Bible.

If you look at the non-AP reports of the hearing in Topeka, what you get is a sense of tedium and boredom about the battle: "Although there was a full house at the beginning of the hearing, most left well before the hearing ended,"

The apparent strategies of the anti-evolutionists include equating evolution with "dogma" and elevating atheism to the status of a "religion," which would, one presumes, allow other "religions" into the classroom. And if you’re trying to get your head around the idea of non-belief in deities or religions being a religion, then welcome to looking-glass America. Logic is illogical, science is faith, and faith is science, and, oh, crap, I think my brain just exploded.

Happily, the Intelligent Designers are still getting their holier than thou butts kicked:

Two sets of proposed science standards are before the Board of Education. One, known as the majority opinion, received support from 18 members of a 26-member curriculum panel and maintains the current science standards for the teaching of evolution.

The other proposal, submitted by eight panelists and called the minority report, requires that criticism of evolution, and alternatives to the theory, be taught. It also offers a new definition of science that does not rely only on natural causes.

One of the state school board members leading hearings into possible changes to the teaching of evolution said Friday that she had not read the standards under scrutiny. Board member Kathy Martin of Clay Center said she had not read the entire document proposed by educators and now criticized by proponents of intelligent design.

Pedro Irigonegaray, a Topeka lawyer who is defending the way science is currently taught, berated witnesses who admitted that they had not read the standards they were criticizing. That led Martin to tell one witness that it was all right he had not studied the science standards, because "I haven’t read it word-for-word myself."

Martin, who said she had doubts about evolution, said many of the science standards proposed by the majority were too technical for her to read thoroughly. She said she had read most of the minority report.

"I scan," she said. "I’m not a word-for-word reader." So, she’s too stupid to understand evolutionary concepts, therefore, let’s just go with creationism. I guess she might be able to pass junior high science if all she to learn about were seven days worth of science.

Though they shy from the term "creationist," many of Friday’s witnesses acknowledged under questioning that they do not accept the theory of human evolution or of the common origins of all animals. Two said they believe the earth could be as young as 5,000 years old.

At one point, Irigonegaray criticized another witness, Bryan Leonard, a biology teacher from Ohio. Leonard said he supported the minority report over the majority opinion but admitted he had not read the latter.

"You have been brought to Kansas to tell us how we should educate our Kansas children, and you have not even read the majority opinion?" Irigonegaray said. John Calvert, an intelligent-design proponent from Lake Quivira, is leading the fight against the way evolution is taught. He said the minority report has references to the other standards, and that it was "wholly disingenuous (for Irigonegaray) to badger these witnesses because they have not read the four corners of the document."

The other strategy is the most common to the goodly, godly in our nation: it’s a kind of numbing, brainwashing repetition. The whole thing goes like this: find some tangential way to push your fundamentalist Christian agenda, disguise it like a street whore in a nun outfit so no one’s sure what’s really going on, repeat the same lines over and over until most of the citizenry is so sick of hearing it that their attitudes become, "Okay, okay, whatever you want, just shut up," and then you can smile and know that one more step has been taken towards the uber-goal of complete takeover.

The science side of the Kansas debate has decided they are not going to play this reindeer game. They’re boycotting the hearings because they know the whole thing is a rigged detonator. Says one noble poindexter, "What anti-evolutionists are fond of doing is to take the disputes that exist in any living science and blow them out of proportion. These are brandished as evidence that evolution is a theory in crisis." So the Kansas Board, led by a man who believes the earth is only 10,000 years old, can forget getting the smart people of Kansas to lower themselves to their idiotic level.

Most large scientific and educational organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Teachers’ Association, dismiss intelligent design and creationism as nonscientific religious arguments. When that point was made Friday, several witnesses responded by saying those groups are led by atheists. (This would be from the "only non-Christians support the fillibuster" playbook.)

[sigh] I just do NOT understand this "our way or the highway" mentality.

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