Kansas Citizens for Science UPDATE
Thursday, December 2, 1999
Topics covered in this issue:
2. Young Earthers claim role in writing KS science standards
3. Oklahomans denounce biology text book label
4. "$250,000 Award to Prove Evolution!"
5. Scott Hill in Wisconsin
7. Today's Quote
o KCFS's new website is up and ready with great links, archives, and
information pages. Coming soon: a threaded discussion list for members.
Check it out at http://www.kcfs.org
o A public reading of Darwin's Origin of Species will be held on the front
steps of Dyche Hall on the University of Kansas campus Friday, December 3.
For a good time, join this historic read-a-thon. To sign up yourself and
friends, call 785/864-4508 or email <email@example.com>.
o Don't forget to attend the KCFS Members Meeting this coming Sunday,
December 5, from 3-5 p.m. at the Kansas Geological Survey, west of the
intersection of 19th and Iowa, Lawrence, Kansas. Dues may be paid at the
meeting and only dues-paid members may vote for board members and officers.
o The State Board of Education will meet Tuesday and Wednesday December 7
and 8. The agenda was not available at the time of this writing, however
the revised science standards are complete and may be discussed at this or
the January meeting. Public comment is traditionally held Tuesday morning
beginning by 9:30 or 10 a.m. The revised standards were drafted primarily
by Jay Nicholson, a member of the original writing committee appointed by
Linda Holloway. The revisions are intended to avoid copyright infringements
that resulted when major science groups denied the Kansas Board of
Education permission to use their materials. The revised standards released
today may be viewed at
2. Young Earthers claim role in writing KS science standards
Paul Ackerman, Wichita State University Assistant Professor of Psychology,
has recently published a book titled "Kansas Tornado." In it, Ackerman
reveals the process by which young earth creationists, including himself,
were called together by an unnamed representative of the Department of
Education to challenge the proposed Kansas Science Standards.
Ackerman, who previously authored a book titled "Its a Young World After
All," met at the home of Kansas City area creationism advocate Celtie
Johson, along with members of the Creation Science Association of
Mid-America, including Tom Willis, Bob Williams, Glenn Kailler and Bob
Farwell. Willis, a Missouri blueberry farmer, is credited with most of the
actual writing. Members of this group later met with Board member Steve
Abrams for lunch. Abrams took the document, and "as promised," presented it
to the board. This document was known as "Draft 4a" or the "Abrams
Document" and included numerous activities designed to teach young earth
creationism in the classroom. Several key elements from the Abrams document
appeared in the "Subcommittee's Draft," the actual science standards
approved in August.
Ackerman's almost-tell-all book sells for only $2 and was available at a
recent public forum and a church program in Lawrence. No commercial
distributors of the book are known
3. Oklahomans denounce biology text book label
"Oklahoma's Divisive Disclaimer on Evolution"
By Lois Romano
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 1, 1999 ; A3
TULSA, Nov. 30 -- Oklahoma Gov. Frank A. Keating (R) has found himself in
the middle of an education firestorm -- not entirely of his making but
which has nevertheless become a political embarrassment for him.
The brouhaha started last month when the Oklahoma State Textbook Committee
mandated that publishers wishing to do business with the state place an
unusual disclaimer on all new biology books, stating that evolution is a
"controversial theory" that refers to the "unproven belief that random,
undirected forces produced a world of living things."
The action by the committee -- 11 Keating appointees empowered by statute
to select public school books -- was immediately excoriated by scientists
and academics as misleading, and an attempt by religious conservatives in
this Bible Belt state to promote a thinly veiled creationist agenda over
"Why would you appoint biblical literalists to a textbook committee and
then be surprised that they want biblical doctrines substituted for
science?" the Tulsa World demanded of Keating in one of three tough
editorials on the matter.
Local and national science teachers' groups quickly urged educators to
reject the lengthy disclaimer, and the American Civil Liberties Union of
Oklahoma is considering whether the disclaimer as worded violates the First
Amendment prohibition on the endorsement of religion. Science faculty at
the University of Oklahoma are in the process of drafting an open letter to
Keating condemning the action.
And in Washington, Americans United for Separation of Church and State have
warned the state in a letter that it is on shaky legal ground. "Having
failed at their efforts to have creationism taught as a science in public
schools, Religious Right activists are trying other strategies," wrote
Executive Director Barry W. Lynn.
Meanwhile, about 700 teachers, parents and church members signed a petition
praising the committee's stand.
Keating said that he was not a party to the committee's decision, but he
has publicly supported it. At a recent news conference, he proclaimed that
he doesn't think he is descended from a baboon, which prompted the Tulsa
World to bluntly call Keating an "ass" on its opinion page. Underline the
headline "Gov. Gutless," the newspaper accused Keating of being "unwilling
to stand up to those who would lead the state back to the stone age on this
"It's much ado about nothing," said a clearly exasperated Keating in an
interview this week. "We are not saying you must teach creationism in
schools, or you must not teach evolution. We're saying be open minded to
all sides of the debate."
But critics maintain the disclaimer language distorts scientific theory for
students who are just learning to think critically.
"To suggest evolution is controversial among biologists is simply untrue
and it misleads students," said Michael Nunley, an anthropology professor
at the University of Oklahoma. "It's only controversial as a political and
religious issue among people who are committed to a different way of
looking at the origins of life."
In addition, legal experts question the constitutionality of the
disclaimer. The Supreme Court has consistently invalidated statutes that
advance religion in public schools. In 1987, the high court struck down a
Louisiana "balanced treatment" statute that prohibited the teaching of
evolution unless accompanied by the teaching of creation science.
Keating has been a popular two-term governor, but he cannot run again. As
the chairman of the Republican GovernorsAssociation, he was an early
supporter of George W. Bush and helped mobilize support from fellow
governors. The flap comes at time when Keating is hoping for a Cabinet
post in a potential Bush administration.
A Roman Catholic, Keating said that he believes in evolution, but that he
also believes that somewhere along the way "man was infused with a soul --
and that is not inconsistent with my religious belief." He said he does
not believe teaching creationism should be banned in public schools. He
called the disclaimer "thoughtful," but added that it may be "too broad."
The textbook committee, mostly teachers, is charged by state mandate with
screening textbooks for Oklahoma's 540 school districts, which then may
only purchase approved books from specific publishers. In appointing the
committee, Keating bypassed the state's largest teacher's union, the
Oklahoma Education Association, in favor of members of the more
conservative Association of Professional Oklahoma Educators.
It remains unclear whether the committee has over-stepped its authority in
mandating such a disclaimer. But barring a legal challenge, publishers will
be forced to adopt the disclaimer to remain on Oklahoma's approved textbook
Committee member John Dickmann, a middle school teacher from Broken Arrow,
Okla., said he introduced the disclaimer -- identical to one adopted in
Alabama -- because the committee believed that textbooks
rely too much on teaching Darwin's theory of evolution.
"We wanted to send a message to textbook companies that we want a more
unbiased viewpoint," Dickmann said. The teacher insisted that for him the
decision had "no religious overtones." However, at least one other
committee member has said that her intention was to give creationism
an equal voice in public school teachings.
4. "$250,000 Award to Prove Evolution!"
Throughout northeast Kansas, from public forum to public forum, a familiar
figure stumps for creationism toting a sign and a stack of flyers declaring
a "$250000 Award to Prove Evolution." The announcement is intended to raise
doubts about the scientific facts supporting evolution, but it should raise
eyebrows about the ethics and lawfulness of false advertising. The creation
advocate, knowingly or not, is promoting a sham perpetrated by Florida
creationist Kent Hovind. Hovind, already in trouble with the IRS, is a
regular champ at keeping scientific hands off his quarter million dollar
wager. But how does he do it?
In one recent instance, a geologist named Kevin Henke contacted Mr. Hovind,
asking for the contract terms necessary to win the award. Kevin was told
that the award is not available for those who wish to demonstrate only
biological evolution; instead the $250,000 award could be earned by
re-creating the Big Bang in a laboratory. A model or computer simulation of
the Big Bang would not do, the applicant must generate an actual new
universe. However, Kevin was cautioned, attempts to demonstrate the Big
Bang were ill-advised. The project would be not only costly well beyond the
award, but probably lethal.
If the size of the award was the stickler, how much money would Hovind be
willing to gamble against a demonstration of "only" biological evolution?
$100000? $50000? $25000? No, no, and not so. Kevin pressed further and
Hovind finally agreed to a $2000 award -- if a committee of judges
unanimously agreed that Kevin had demonstrated biological evolution as a
fact -- and $1000 if the vote was not unanimous but a majority of judges
found in Kevin's favor.
Kevin accepted the $1000/$2000 challenge.
Next Kevin offered his project. As a geologist, his proposals dealt with
the subject he studied, such as the geologic record, the Cambrian
explosion, or plate tectonics. Hovind refused these. He required that the
project must be of his choosing and that it must also lie outside of the
Kevin's research area and specific training. Hovind's project for Kevin?
"Turn a dog into a banana."
Although the project would require him to extensively study molecular
biology, Kevin acccepted the challenge to "prove that dogs and bananas
share a common ancestor" and asked for 550 days to complete the project.
The deal was nearly complete, except for the matter of judges.
Kevin drafted a contract and presented it on the website of talk.origins,
in it specifying the composition of a panel of neutral judges. Kevin
required that the judges affirm that they are each theists -- believers in
God -- but otherwise neutral scientists, and that they not be young earth
creationists. These terms were unacceptable to Hovind. Hovind insisted that
he pick the judges himself and that their identities remain unknown to
Kevin tried again. His final attempt to draft an acceptable contract
permitted Hovind to compile a list of university-level biologists
personally known to Hovind, all of whom would be theists but not young
earth creationists, and that neither Kevin nor Hovind would know the
identity of the 3 chosen judges. A notary public agreed upon by both
parties would communicate with the otherwise anonymous judges.
Hovind refused to sign this contract amd broke further negotiations with
Kevin. No contract. No project. No award money.
In the past two weeks, another scientist, unaware of Kevin's failed attempt
to gain a contract with Hovind, also contacted Kent Hovind. He reported
details that show the $250,000 challenge has evolved to become even more
difficult to obtain. Hovind now requires that the evidence submitted by the
scientist for the judges' consideration must be "filtered" through Hovind
before reaching his hand-picked judges. Hovind also reserves the right to
eliminate any evidence which he finds unacceptable before the judges see it.
Final note: a creationist group in Missouri announced in a recent
newsletter their intent to erect Hovind's $250000 challenge on billboards
located between the St. Louis Zoo and the St. Louis Science Center. Their
purpose is to caution Missouri citizens that each of these facilities
promotes evolution. View Hovind's phoney offer at
5. Scott Hill in Wisconsin
Board member Scott Hill recently visited Little Chute, Wisconsin to explain
"what really happened in Kansas" at a church sponsored
creationism/evolution seminar. Two members of the audience sent reports to
KCFS concerning Hill's remarks:
"Scott Hill introduced his talk by asserting that 70 percent of the members
of the American Academy of Sciene are atheists. He claimed that a statement
put out by this organization said that evolution transcended science and
that the scientists were bothered by the fact that students did not
"believe" in evolution.
"Hill said he is all for the teaching of micro-evolution but was opposed to
teaching macro-evolution and that while he was opposed to teaching
scientific creationism he believed the local school district should have
the final word on this question.
"I questioned him about the faith community. pointing out that mainline
Christianity and Judaism had no problem with evolution. He countered that
the draft of standards that was rejected contained language that was
offensive to the "faith community." He cited the Roman Catholic Church as
one part of the "faith community" that was so offended.
"His major point seemed to be that if public money is to go to public
education then it should be the people who decide what is to be taught.
This perhaps would benefit him in an election.
"This whole production was a total sham, but several questioners pointed
that out very well, including two educators during the last question/answer
session who were very well spoken and very persistent. Some youths in the
audience pointed out that there were no supporters of the theory of
evolution present, and the President of the Church Counsel claimed that
perhaps they were invited but they were afraid to come or something to that
"The entire event was video-taped and was announced to be available for
purchase from the church through their website at http://churchcounsel.com
Long urls may wrap to the next line, inserting linebreaks as they span two
lines. It may be necessary to scroll through long URLs from http to the
final "htm" or "html" or "/", paste the URL into your web browser.
Information about Kent Hovind's credentials and other Hovind information
Another silly challenge, this one for $10,000 to prove the Theory of
An on-line booklet titled "Science and Creationism: A View from the
National Academy of Sciences" is available at http://www.nap.org . Or you
can order a paperback copy for for $9.95. Readers claim it is in an
excellent book for beginners.
Listen to John Morris of the Institute of Creation Research deliver his
opening speech titled the "War of the Worldviews" at Victory Bible Church
on November 13, Lawrence Kansas. Part 3 is most revealing.
Intelligent design may be interesting theology but it isn't science. A
search of 200,000 scientific papers within the last week revealed no
scientific articles proposing intelligent design or describing intelligent
design theory. No known "intelligent design theory" exists. The following
URL reports an earlier and also unsuccessful search of 50,000 science
The history of the Intelligent Design movement from one of its chief
advocates, William Dembski.
Philip Johnson, attorney/intelligent design advocate, campaigns against the
authority of the Supreme Court.
Listen to the November 9 Kansas University forum featuring our own KCFS
Jack Krebs, creationist and self-claimed author of the Abrams standards
Rev. Glenn Kailler, Kansas Board members Scott Hill and Bill Wagnon, and
The hazards of taking the Bible too literally.
The top pick this past holiday weekend for idle creation/evolution browsers
to enjoy between servings of turkey and pumpkin pie.
Darwin's Origin of Species celebrated its 140th birthday on November 24.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science website titled the
"Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion"
University level students who wish to join other students to restore
quality science standards in Kansas are encouraged to join "Students
First." Contact the student coordinator David Mitchell at
Chicago city leaders try to divert Southern Baptists from urban evangelism.
Medical research news from the Washington Post "Finding Old Drugs' New
Tricks - Growth of Medical
Knowledge Energizes Search for Surprises
American Museum of Natural History displays virtual hominids titled "On
You will need the Shockwave plug-in to view the skulls; to download
Shockwave or other plug-ins, such as QuickTime, go to
An article on "leftism and creationism uniting to oppose social Darwinism".
Plate tectonics catches up with the Institute of Creation Research.
Building codes designed to reduce the risk of earthquake damage require the
ICR to spend $200,000 more than planned for a new building.
Intelligent design advocates often demonstrate "irreducible complexity"
with a mousetrap. The idea is that a mousetrap has so many pieces working
together that, if it were a living organism and not a mousetrap, the pieces
would have been too interdependently complex to have evolved. This website
shows how indeed to reduce the comlexity of a mousetrap.
Answers in Genesis story in New York Times.
Kansas Board Member Mary Douglas Brown comments on her stint on the State
Board of Education. In it she states that she will forevermore vote
"negatively" toward any group that doesn't treat individual board members
with respect. A KCFS observer quipped that from now on, he will treat the
moderate board members shabbily so that Brown will vote with them.
7. Today's Quotes
"Gutta cavat lapidem, non vi sed saepe cadendo."
(The drop excavates the stone, not with force but by falling often.)
- Ovid, Ex Ponto
"The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance."
- Socrates, 469-399 BC
Join KCFS now and help bring enlightenment back to Kansas!
Dues (for membership now through 12/31/00)
Regular - $25.00
Student - $15.00
Cash contributions always welcome.
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c/o First National Bank of Medicine Lodge
P. O. Drawer A
Medicine Lodge, KS 67104
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Kansas Citizens For Science
"Bringing the Enlightenment Back to Kansas"