Scientists Gear Up to Battle Intelligent Design
LAWRENCE, KANSAS--Scientists and educators in Kansas are taking a new
economic tack in their ongoing battle with the state board of education ove=
intelligent design (ID). They kicked off their new strategy yesterday at a
meeting called to counter an upcoming push by ID supporters on the board.
Intelligent design, the idea that a higher intelligence played a role in
creating life, has been a political hot potato in the Jayhawk state since
1999, when the Kansas State Board of Education revised the school's science
standards to make room for ID. The topic was removed in 2002 after some of
the conservatives on the board lost their seats in statewide elections. But
ID supporters reclaimed a majority of the 10-member panel in November 2004,
and this year board chair Steve Abrams is leading a three-member committee
that will "investigate the merits" of evolution and intelligent design at
two sets of 3-day hearings next month.
The scientific community has boycotted those hearings, viewing them as a
"kangaroo court" trying to confer legitimacy on intelligence design.
Instead, they flocked to a half-day event organized by a local investor,
John Burch, that is part of an effort to build a broad coalition behind
Yesterday's meeting focused on the economic consequences of downplaying
evolution in school curriculums. "Most industries today want workers with
analytical skills," says microbiologist Charles Decedue, executive director
of the Higuchi Biosciences Center at the University of Kansas (KU), which i=
dedicated to the development and transfer of bioscience technologies. "ID
does not foster analytical thinking because its arguments are faith-based."
Leonard Krishtalka, an evolutionary biologist who directs the Biodiversity
Institute at KU, predicts that ID instruction would also turn away potentia=
Don Covington, a vice president of the Intelligent Design Network in Shawne=
Mission, Kansas, is unimpressed with those arguments. "Corporate executives
don't discuss Darwinism," says Covington, who was one of a half-dozen ID
supporters in the audience. And he believes ID-instruction will be a magnet
for many families. "When kids find out that they are going to learn the
truth," he says, "they might be excited to come here." Burch hopes to hold
other meetings with industry researchers soon.