Magazine article Church & State

Darwin on Trial?: Kansas Holds Hearings Bashing Evolution

Magazine article Church & State

Darwin on Trial?: Kansas Holds Hearings Bashing Evolution

Article excerpt

Naturalist Charles Darwin has been dead for 123 years, but that didn't stop the state of Kansas from putting him, or at least the famous scientific theory he pioneered, on trial recently.

In what can only be described as a bizarre spectacle, two attorneys took turns squaring off over the scientific accuracy of evolution during a three-day hearing before a subcommittee of the Kansas State Board of Education last month.

The hearing was engineered by evolution opponents on the Board, which fell into the hands of Religious Right conservatives after elections in November. Critics say the event was a carefully staged media stunt by a body determined to water down the teaching of evolution in state schools.

The matter was left to attorneys after Kansas scientists refused to participate, arguing that the hearing was stacked against evolution and was designed to be a platform for the views of those who espouse "intelligent design." The scientists called the hearing a "kangaroo court."

"It's clear from the beginning that this is not a real science discussion," Jack Krebs of Kansas Citizens for Science, told The Washington Post. "This is a showcase for intelligent design."

Attorney John Clavert, representing opposition to evolution, presented witnesses who equated Darwin's theory with atheism. Pedro Irigonegaray, a Topeka attorney, defended the teaching of evolution.

Scientists held regular press briefings to comment on the proceedings. Keith Miller, a geologist at Kansas State University, noted that many of the evolution opponents were from out of state and would soon be gone. …

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