Critics of Evolution Conclude Testimonies in Kansas Hearing

Witnesses challenging evolution concluded their testimonies on Saturday, after three days of hearings with the Kansas State Board of Education.

The debate on how evolution should be taught in the state’s public schools began on Thursday. The four-day hearings provide a forum for both critics and proponents of evolution to present their proposals before a three-member subcommittee appointed by the State Board.

Kansas drew nationwide attention when a Conservative-led board removed most references to evolution from the curriculum in 1999. In 2001, a less conservative board reinstated evolution as a key element of science education. The issue came up again when Conservatives took the majority in the School Board last year.

Critics of evolution propose the teaching of alternatives to the theory of evolution. They also want science teachers to present criticisms of evolution in the classroom, arguing that many holes still exist in the current understanding of evolution.

Twenty-three witnesses from local and worldwide establishments testified in support of this proposal, saying that it will give students a more complete and balanced education.

Most of the witnesses believe in intelligent design, one of the leading alternative theories to evolution that says the complexity and organization of life are evidence of an intelligent creator.

Represented by attorney John Calvert from the state’s Intelligent Design Network, critics of evolution asserted that they were not seeking to require intelligent design in schools.

“We’re not asking for it to be taught, only permitted. If you outlaw it, you’re endorsing an ideology,” said Calvert in his closing statement on Saturday.

Proponents of evolution are scheduled to speak on Thursday, but scientists continue to boycott the hearings, claiming that they are rigged in opposition to evolution. Instead, scientists held press conferences to rebuff criticisms presented against evolution.

Some on the pro-evolution side argue that religion and evolution are not in contention. All insist on the validity of evolution as an explanation for how life originated on earth, citing scientific evidence that support the theory.

On Thursday, attorney Pedro Irigonegaray will present arguments in defense of evolution and why the current science standards should not be changed to allow for alternatives to be taught in schools. The ten-member Board of Education plans to decide on statewide science standards in June.