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Kansas Debates Evolution in 1999

State board ponders whether evolution is fact or theory

By CARL MANNING The Associated Press

How evolution should be taught in Kansas public schools is a controversy the State Board of Education faced on Tuesday, with some conservative members saying the focus should be more on theory and less on fact.

However, at least one moderate member said it's an effort to undercut proposed standards for teaching science and do away with the teaching of evolution in the state¹s 304 school districts.

The 10-member board, which for the past 2 1/2 years has deadlocked 5-5 on a series of issues that set conservatives and moderates apart, heard from some three dozen people, including scientists and teachers during a hearing on proposed curriculum standards.

They urged rejection of board member Steve Abrams¹ proposal that would replace the work of a 27-member study committee.

In 1997, the board ordered creation of standards to spell out what science information students should learn in the various grades.

The committee¹s version listed evolution as a cornerstone of science. It said without an understanding of evolution, students cannot succeed in life sciences.

But Abrams launched an alternative proposal crafted with the aid of various citizens including Tom Willis, president of The Creation Science Association for Mid-America, based in Cleveland, Mo.

Chairwoman Linda Holloway said the board may vote on the issue in June, if there are six votes for adopting a plan. The board has previously split on such issues as student tests, charter schools and teacher licensing.

We need to be honest with students and say there are other ways to look at the same set of facts, said Holloway, of Shawnee.

Abrams, an Arkansas City veterinarian and former state Republican Party chairman, said he wasn't satisfied with what the committee drafted. He said he wants evolution to be taught as a theory rather than fact. He said science is something that is observable, measurable, repeatable and falsifiable.

His biggest quarrel, Abrams said, is with what is called macro-evoluation the idea that one species of animal changes into another as it adapts to its environment.

ŒŒThere is a lot of difference of opinion about what evolution is, Abrams said. am trying to focus on good science.

But moderate board member Bill Wagnon of Topeka said Abrams¹ proposal does more harm than good.

I think it is an attempt to redefine science based on a political and theological agenda. That's inappropriate, Wagnon said. In effect, he has redesigned science to be a creationist creature. It does away with evolution.

Wagnon said the committee¹s proposal calls for evolution to be taught as theory rather than fact.

Abrams¹ version changes the definition of science, eliminating all but one reference to evolution. It adds a definition of creation as the idea that the design and complexity of the design of the cosmos requires an intelligent designer.

Many of those addressing the board urged rejection of Abrams proposal, while some said evolution should be taught only as theory.

Evolution is not a theory. It is a fact, said Michael Crawford, a University of Kansas biology professor.

We cannot replace science with mythology. We cannot go back to the time that the church said that the earth was the center of the universe, that the earth is flat, he said.

But Mary Williams of Leon said, There is not one bit of empirical evidence that will support the theory of evolution. All the purported evidence has been proven to be a mistake, a lie or an out and out fraud.

Tke Kansas Decision on Teaching Evolution in it's Schools
Christian Reform Ministry