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Creationism in the news!

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  • rlbaty@webtv.net
    Sunday, Dec. 5, 2004 Virginia s News Leader Creationists try to edge around ban BY MARILYN RAUBER WASHINGTON - Creationism is a mandatory class at Virginia s
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 5, 2004
      Sunday, Dec. 5, 2004
      Virginia's News Leader

      Creationists try to edge around ban

      WASHINGTON - Creationism is a mandatory class at Virginia's Liberty
      University, a Christian college founded in Lynchburg by evangelist Jerry

      "Unlike secular institutions, we give both sides," biology professor
      Terry Spohn said.

      But it's not just parochial schools that are pushing the biblical
      version of how humans were created.

      Nearly 20 years after the U.S. Supreme Court barred teaching creationism
      in public schools, state and local officials in 43 states over the past
      four years have proposed new ways to get around the ban, according to
      the National Center for Science Education, a California-based
      organization of educators and clergy.

      The latest effort is to teach high school students "intelligent design"
      - which attributes the origin of the world to an intelligent designer,
      without using the word "God," and embraces some aspects of science.

      Next month, ninth-graders in Dover, Pa., will become the first public
      school students in the nation to be taught "intelligent design"
      alongside evolution.

      In Ohio, state school officials are urging local public schools to teach
      a "critical analysis" of evolution.

      Overall, the pro-evolution side is winning the battle over what students
      learn in high school science: None of the anti-evolution bills
      introduced in 17 states this past year became law.

      But the tactic that most worries supporters of evolution is the use of
      anti-evolution disclaimers inserted into science textbooks.

      A federal judge in Georgia is expected to rule soon on the
      constitutionality of a Cobb County School Board decision to put a
      sticker inside each science textbook proclaiming that evolution is "not
      a fact."

      Only Alabama mandates statewide evolution disclaimers in its textbooks.
      However, copycat bills have recently surfaced in roughly a half-dozen
      states, including South Carolina, Mississippi and Louisiana.

      If the American Civil Liberties Union loses the case, "we expect to see
      the Cobb County disclaimer pop up everywhere," said Glenn Branch, deputy
      director of the national science education center.

      "If you don't talk about your religious motivations, it's a lot harder
      to convince a judge that its real objective is religious," Branch added.

      Private schools like Liberty are not bound by the 1987 high court ruling
      that teaching creationism is a violation of the separation of church and

      "We cover evolution, but we bring up problems with it," said David
      DeWitt, an associate professor of biology.

      DeWitt believes all students should "have the academic freedom to
      question evolution. . . . I think it's dishonest to shove evolution down
      these students' throats as a fact."

      But Cobb County high school biology teacher Wes McCoy argues that
      students need to be taught "a rational, step-by-step explanation of
      evolution" based on "authentic science" and that does not contradict
      religious beliefs.

      "Science can only focus on naturalistic explanations of the world. . . .
      Science cannot tell us why we are here," said McCoy, who testified
      against the disclaimer stickers in the Cobb County case.

      Other evolution supporters argue that ideas like "intelligent design"
      aren't academic subjects and don't belong in academic courses.
      "Why don't we talk about astrology in astronomy class, why don't we talk
      about the Christian Science theory of medicine in medical class? . . .
      The point is, it's not science," said Sarah Pallas, a Georgia State
      University biology teacher.

      John Morris, president of the Institute for Creation Research, a
      Christian think tank, agrees that religion should be kept out of the
      public schools.

      But Morris, a proponent of teaching students "intelligent design,"
      believes the theory of evolution is a type of unproven religion based on
      "weak" scientific evidence.

      "Science has to do with the here and now." Evolution and other ideas on
      the origins of Earth "are views about history," he said.

      President Bush advocates teaching children "different theories about how
      the world started" and "scientific critiques of any theory."
      Most Americans agree with him.

      Nearly 80 years since the Scopes "Monkey Trial" pitted evolutionists
      against creationists, a CBS poll last month found that almost two thirds
      of Americans favor teaching creationism and evolution in public schools.

      Last month, voters across the country backed a number of pro-creationism
      candidates, including Sen.-elect Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who attacked his
      opponent, state Education Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum, for pushing
      evolution in schools.

      Even the Bush-backed No Child Left Behind education reforms contain
      nonbinding language encouraging schools to teach "the full range of
      scientific views" on evolution.

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