KCFS Update 2/16/06

KCFS Update

Be sure to visit our website at http://www.kcfs.org. Read the Dover, PA decision; see Jack Krebs’s PowerPoint slides from our January 28 event with the Dover attorneys.

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Questionable PAC Contributions to Conservative BOE Members’ Campaigns

Red State Rabble – February 14, 2006

[Ed: Go to the article on Red State Rabble’s blog to see a chart that tracks the money.]

Just released campaign finance reports on file with the Federal Elections Commission, and reports made available earlier by the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission, show that on Dec. 29, 2005, just before the end of year campaign finance reporting deadline, Merilee K. Martin, a right-wing Republican, wrote 15 checks totaling $6,000.

All of the money handed out on Dec. 29 eventually found its way into the campaign coffers of three right-wing state school board members: Connie Morris, John Bacon, and Ken Willard.

Kansas election laws limit contributions made to state school board candidates from political action committees (PACs), such as those for which Martin serves as treasurer, to a total of $500 in period leading up to the primary election, and $500 prior to the general election — $1,000 in total.

Despite those limits, Morris, Bacon, and Willard ended up pocketing contributions of $2,000 each from the checks written by Martin that day — twice what the law allows for the entire election and four times what’s allowed during the primary election cycle. . . .

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KATS Issues Statement on the KBOE’s 2005 Science Standards

HAYS, KS — In response to the Kansas State Board of Education, the Board of Directors of the Kansas Association of Teachers of Science has released a position statement on the State Board of Education’s Science Standards 2005.

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Science Teachers Pan New Standards

Guidelines violate church-state separation, association believes

LJWorld – February 14, 2006

Topeka — Kansas science teachers have struck a defiant stance against the science standards adopted by the State Board of Education.

The Kansas Association of Teachers of Science believe the science standards violate the separation of religion and government by promoting the teaching in public school science classes of intelligent design, an idea that science shows the existence of a creator.

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Board to OK Science Resolution

The Manhattan Mercury – February 14, 2006

The Manhattan-Ogden School Board is set to accept a resolution Wednesday night that rejects the definition of science adopted by the state board of education in November. . . .

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KBOE Has Trouble Defining Its Goals

Topeka Capitol-Journal – February 14, 2006

A divided Kansas State Board of Education on Monday took a stab at reworking its goals, but while its members sometimes agreed on wording, they struggled to agree on what those words meant. . . .

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Many of Faith Believe God, Evolution Can Coexist

LJ World – February 11, 2006

The Rev. Peter Luckey says people shouldn’t have to choose between evolution and faith in God.

“Many of us feel there’s no inherent conflict” between the two, says Luckey, senior pastor at Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt. “In fact, we feel evolution enhances our sense of awe in the mystery of creation.” . . .

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Willard Opposes Proposal for Ed Commissioner Requirements

Hutchinson News
Harris News Service – February 11, 2005

. . . The House Education Committee debated a bill Thursday that would require a person to have educational expertise in order to be appointed [education] commissioner. . . .

However, state board member Ken Willard, R-Hutchinson, said the panel should continue to let the elected state board determine who is qualified for education commissioner. . . .

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School Finance Talks Inch Forward

KC Star – February 11, 2006

TOPEKA — For five weeks legislative leaders and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius have been quietly meeting behind the scenes to craft a bipartisan school finance plan.

House Speaker Doug Mays, a Topeka Republican, said Friday he expected that a plan would be ready for debate by Feb. 23. He said all the details, including the total cost, haven’t been worked out yet. . . .

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Charter School Proposal Goes to Committee

Harris News Service – Hutchinson Daily News – February 11, 2006

TOPEKA – State school board member Ken Willard, R-Hutchinson, pitched a controversial charter school bill to the House Education Committee Friday but another board member told lawmakers it was likely unconstitutional. . . .

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KU Chancellor Asks for More Funding, More Management Flexibility

LJ World – February 13, 2006

TOPEKA — Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway today testified before House Education Budget Committee, calling for lawmakers to approve the governor’s recommendation for KU and for some flexibility in managing revenue from the state. KU released the following text of Hemenway’s planned remarks. . . .

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Americans United Lauds Ohio Board For Correcting Science Standards

Watchdog Group Calls Action A Victory For Students

February 15, 2006

Americans United for Separation of Church and State today applauded the Ohio Board of Education’s decision to remove anti-evolution, pro-intelligent design material from its school science standards. . . .

Americans United, which had worked with the pro-evolution group Ohio Citizens for Science, welcomed the board’s action.

“This is a great victory for Ohio public school students,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “The board had conflated religion with science in a manner that poorly served the young people of Ohio.”

Lynn also called yesterday’s action another blow to the Religious Right-fueled movement to push ID as science.

“Members of state and local school boards nationwide need to sit up and take notice,” Lynn said. “They must reject pressure from religious groups to teach intelligent design or to attack evolution in their science lessons.” . . .

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At Churches Nationwide, Good Words for Evolution

NY Times – February 13, 2006

On the 197th birthday of Charles Darwin, ministers at several hundred churches around the country preached yesterday against recent efforts to undermine the theory of evolution, asserting that the opposition many Christians say exists between science and faith is false.

At St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church, a small contemporary structure among the pricey homes of north Atlanta, the Rev. Patricia Templeton told the 85 worshipers gathered yesterday, “A faith that requires you to close your mind in order to believe is not much of a faith at all.” . . .

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Evolution Fans Celebrate Darwin’s Birthday

The Columbus Dispatch – February 13, 2006

“Scientists need to take some responsibility for educating the general public,” said Darwin Day founder Bob Stephens, a retired cell biologist from the Stanford Research Institute at Menlo Park, Calif.

A growing number of scientists are leaving their labs to fight in the “evolution wars” that broke out in the late 1990s.

They rallied on Sunday, Charles Darwin’s birthday, at more than 600 events worldwide, including a small party at a Toronto pub and public lectures.

Most scientists say they find it strange that they have to defend Darwin and evolutionary theory in the 21st century. . . .

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[Ed: Those who are aware of the flap at the Smithsonian Institute over the Discovery Institute’s showing of a video version of “The Privileged Planet” will recognize Gonalez’s name.]

Iowa State Professor Shunned Over “Intelligent Design”

AMES, Iowa – Iowa State astronomy professor Guilermo Gonzalez is struggling for respect among his peers on campus and scientists nationwide. . . .

To religious conservatives, Gonzalez is held in high esteem for his work on the book “The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery.”

But critics — including faculty at Iowa State University — say Gonzalez’s book is based on flimsy science and is an attempt to give creationism scientific credibility.

Last fall, more than 120 Iowa State faculty signed a petition condemning intelligent design. . . .

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Their Own Version of a Big Bang

Those who believe in creationism — children and adults — are being taught to challenge evolution’s tenets in an in-your-face way.

LA Times – February 11, 2006

Wayne, NJ — Evangelist Ken Ham smiled at the 2,300 elementary students packed into pews, their faces rapt. With dinosaur puppets and silly cartoons, he was training them to reject much of geology, paleontology and evolutionary biology as sinister tangle of lies.

“Boys and girls,” Ham said. If a teacher so much as mentions evolution, or the Big Bang, or an era when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, “you put your hand up and you say, ‘Excuse me, were you there?’ Can you remember that?”

The children roared their assent. . . .

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Pope Says Science No Threat to Science

Reuters, February 10, 2005

VATICAN CITY – Science made such rapid progress in the 20th century that people may sometimes be confused about how the Christian faith can still be compatible with it, Pope Benedict said on Friday.

But science and religion are not opposed to each other and Christians should not be afraid to try to understand how they compliment each other in explaining the mystery of life on Earth, he told the Vatican’s doctrinal department. . . .

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Don’t Preach to Scientists in Evolution Row: Kueng

Reuters – Paris – February 14, 2006

“For science, God is not a valid category because God is by definition a reality beyond time and space and therefore does not belong to the world of our scientific experience.

“But there are questions that science cannot answer,” he [Hans Kueng, a Swiss priest] added. “The fundamental question of philosophy, according to Gottfried Leibnitz, is ‘why is there anything at all and not simply nothing’? Science can’t answer that.” . . .

A rare liberal thinker in the discussion, Kueng recently published a book in Germany on evolution called “Der Anfang aller Dinge” (The Beginning Of All Things) that tries to reconcile theology with the latest scientific insights. . . .

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Open to Criticism — Or Not?

Board member’s testimony contradicts public actions

Hutchinson News – February 13, 2006

Ken Willard, R-Hutchinson, cannot decide whether voters should – or should not – weigh in decisions made by the Kansas Board of Education.

Consider that last week the House Education Committee debated a bill to require the board to hire an education commissioner with educational expertise.

Willard represents District 7 on the state board. He also serves as the board’s liaison to the Legislature.

So he testified against the proposal, stating that citizens elect people to the state board to make decisions on their behalf. If citizens disapprove of the board’s decisions, they have the power to vote the representative from their district out of office.

That sounds reasonable enough.

Yet at a meeting last fall in Hutchinson, involving members of Reno County school boards and local educators, Willard pointedly announced that he would turn a deaf ear to criticism of the state board’s decisions.

Apparently, citizens only have power to influence the state board when they go to the polling station to vote, once every four years.

No wonder Kansans have called on legislators to propose ways to limit the board’s authority.

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Response: Searching for Proof In Intelligent Design

The Minnesota Daily – February 10, 2006

Was the intelligent designer Vera Wang or P. Diddy? I argue it’s a rhetorical device.

Ashby claims that intelligent design does not believe God is the designer of all life. Well then, who, exactly, is Ashby’s designer? Is it Vera Wang? Or Ralph Lauren? No, no, let me guess … the designer for all of life has just got to be Puff Daddy, excuse me, I think he’s going by P. Diddy now. Maybe Ashby’s “designer” is simply a rhetorical device of the Discovery Institute? . . .

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The Voodoo Doo-Doo in Intelligent Design

The Minnesota Daily – February 13, 2006

Intelligent design is a keyword for Christians fighting for creationism.

Tom Ashby’s Wednesday’s guest column “DNA evidence of an intelligent designer” cites challenges in biology as evidence for an intelligent designer. The theory of evolution is stronger than ever, as Professor PZ Myers of the University of Minnesota-Morris showed in one of his Darwin Day talks last Friday. . . .

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Robert L. Park Friday, 10 Feb 06 Washington, DC

Last week, WN reported that top NASA climate scientist James Hansen was under pressure to cool it on global warming. The pressure, we have since learned, was coming from 24-year old White House appointee George Deutsch, who had been an intern in the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. Earlier, Deutsch had informed a NASA contractor that the word “theory” had to be added to every mention of the Big Bang. “This is more than a science issue,” he declared, “it is a religious issue.” On Friday, NASA chief Michael Griffin made it clear to all NASA employees that it’s not the job of public affairs to “alter, filter or adjust” material from the technical staff. Wednesday, Deutsch resigned. What was he doing in a sensitive position in the first place? Although his job at NASA was a reward for work in the re-election campaign, he did have a journalism degree from Texas A&M, didn’t he? Well, actually no. He lied about that. Deutsch was right about one thing: science issues can also be religious issues.

Archives of What’s New can be found at http://www.bobpark.org.

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Science & Theology News – February 13, 2004

“I probably won’t attend” any Darwin Day event anywhere, says [Michael] Behe, a biochemistry professor at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. “It’s not simply meant to celebrate science or Darwin. It’s an in-your-face exhibition, saying, `Look what we have on our side, and you guys who aren’t with us are a bunch of dopes.”’

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“The objective is to convince people that Darwinism is inherently atheistic, thus shifting the debate from creationism vs. evolution to the existence of God vs. the non-existence of God. From there people are introduced to ‘the truth’ of the Bible and then ‘the question of sin’ and finally ‘introduced to Jesus.’”

Phillip Johnson, Church & State magazine, 1999, on the “Wedge” strategy

The Wedge Strategy Document

More info in Wikipedia

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“Intelligent Design opens the whole possibility of us being created in the image of a benevolent God … The job of apologetics is to clear the ground, to clear obstacles that prevent people from coming to the knowledge of Christ … And if there’s anything that I think has blocked the growth of Christ as the free reign of the Spirit and people accepting the Scripture and Jesus Christ, it is the Darwinian naturalistic view.”

William Dembski, National Religious Broadcasters convention, February 6, 2000

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“Father’s [the Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s] words, my studies, and my prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism, just as many of my fellow Unificationists had already devoted their lives to destroying Marxism. When Father chose me to enter a Ph.D. program in 1978, I welcomed the opportunity to prepare myself for battle.”

Jonathan Wells, author of the anti-evolution book, “The Icons of Evolution”

[Ed: Yep, ID is all about the science…]

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Invasion of the Long-Legged Cane Toads

Reuters – February 15, 2006

LONDON – Cane toads in Australia have developed longer legs to enable them to invade more territory, scientists said on Wednesday. . . .

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Attention All Pod People!

Scientific American announces new podcasts. Episode 1 includes the Korean stem cell debacle and an interview with Eugenie Scott of the NCSE about the Dover decision; Episode 2, avian flu and T. Rex’s newly discovered ancestor. Listen via iTunes or RSS.

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“Flock of Dodos” Coming to K-State on March 16

The Flock of Dodos film has gone through its first set of advanced screeings, including the opening here in Kansas City. Carl Zimmer has a great blog on the screening in New Haven the other night. Carl (Soul Made Flesh,, Parasite Rex and Evolution: The Triumph of An Idea and his latest book is Smithsonian Intimate Guide to Human Origins) gives a clear picture of general audience reactions to the film.

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Red State Rabble

Thoughts From Kansas

The Panda’s Thumb

Talk Origins
The foremost source for information about evolution, creationism and related topics.

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Kansas Citizens for Science is a not-for-profit educational organization that promotes a better understanding of what science is and does, by:

* Advocating for science education
* Educating the public about the nature and value of science
* Serving as an information resource

If you are a supporter of science education, please join or contribute to Kansas Citizens For Science now. Go to http://www.kcfs.org and click “Join KCFS.”

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Kansas Citizens For Science • www.kcfs.org • kcfs@kcfs.org