Wednesday, November 09, 2005

evolution in the status of evolution in kansas, or what else is wrong with kansas? with a closing thought from the dalai lama

The Board of Education in Kansas, ignoring recommendations from a panel of scientists and the National Academy of Sciences, has decided students there should be required to study doubts about Darwin's theory of evolution. Board chairman Steve Abrams said "This is a great day for education. This is one of the best things that we can do. This absolutely teaches more about science."

(You know, the way torture teaches us about democracy and human rights.)

One of the Board members who opposed the measure called it "sad day, not only for Kansas kids, but for Kansas" and said Kansas was becoming a "laughingstock."

Technically, the Board doesn't require anti-evolutionary points to be taught, but has determined that students will face questions about evolution's weaknesses on state assessment tests. Funny that they aren't requiring students to learn about holes in the theory of gravity, or flaws in economic theories underlying our free market capitalist system.

The Post article continued:
Members of the Kansas majority insisted that science motivated them, although several have made clear their position that life's development is too complex to be explained by natural evolution unguided by a higher power. That view describes many adherents of intelligent design, a critique of evolutionary theory that has gained particular support from the religious right -- and ridicule from the vast majority of trained scientists.
Mr. Abrams and company, just because you can't understand something complex doesn't mean it has to be explained by supernatural beliefs, or that the underlying science is wrong. What are we, shamans or ancient Greeks worshipping Poseidon because we don't know what causes storms? I don't understand how a damn airplane can fly despite weighing a bazillion pounds, but instead of positing some sort of divine intervention, I believe the scientists' theories and the engineers' explanations. No theory (in the scientific meaning of the word) is without areas of disagreement, or aspects that need more data or experimentation to be better understand.

At least yesterday wasn't a total loss for schools and science -- eight school board members in Dover, Pennsylvania, whose decision to back "intelligent design" prompted a court case, were defeated in yesterday's elections.

One last thought -- the Dalai Lama often says that when science proves Buddhist scriptures are wrong, then the scriptures should be rejected.