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Education Science

Kansas Adopts New Science Standards 868

porcupine8 writes "The Kansas State Board of Education has changed the state science standards once again, this time to take out language questioning evolution. This turnaround comes fast on the heels of the ouster given this past election to the ultra-conservative Board members who originally introduced the language. 'Science' has also been re-redefined as 'a human activity of systematically seeking natural explanations' (the word 'natural' had been previously stricken from the definition). If you'd like to see the new standards, a version showing all additions and deletions is available from the KS DOE's website (PDF)."
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Kansas Adopts New Science Standards

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  • Eternal Vigilance (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RumGunner ( 457733 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @11:45AM (#18038662) Homepage
    I suspect that this probably wouldn't have happened in the first place if people in that area had bothered to participate in their local elections before being humiliated on an international scale.
  • Re:Eternal Vigilance (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @11:56AM (#18038796)
    That sounds so easy, but as impossible as it is to know the will of the president of our country ahead of time, you can at least look at his history and try to read the tea leaves. It's a million times more impossible to know what some local yahoo you've never heard of is going to do. All you can really do is vote them out when they do something totally braindead that makes it into the news. Such as redefining science. Or using your tax dollars to build a $500k skateboard park. etc.
  • by RichPowers ( 998637 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @12:08PM (#18038960)
    My local schoolboard faced a similar reversal after the ultra-conservative members tried pushing I.D. into our classrooms. The public hearing on the matter was a hoot though. The district's science instructors, a few PhDs, and even some students all went on record as saying the whole thing was a dumb idea. Oh, and the fiscal conservatives were outraged to learn that the district spent $10,000+ on legal fees.

    The next schoolboard election saw a higher voter turnout and the pro-ID board members were ousted, replaced by moderates.

    All this in a county that votes 65% Republican. If only voters had paid attention during the first election hehe
  • Re:Eternal Vigilance (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @12:19PM (#18039162) Journal
    Who says it's ended? The far-right wingnuts who brought the anti-evolution standards in may be down for the round, but you can be sure that they're planning their next move. The only thing, in the end, which is going to win it is for the majority of the population to learn a little reality, so that these guy can be consigned along with the flat earthers to a laughable fringe. These guy didn't get where they are purely out of voter apathy. There's a lot of people out there who don't understand science at all, and biological evolution in particular, who can be swayed by slick con artists.
  • by sherriw ( 794536 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @12:24PM (#18039272)
    I never understood why creationists are so anti-evolution. Is it so inconceivable that God had a hand in the evolution of humans? Sounds more realistic than 'poof' one man and one woman. All done.

    I think evolution is a scientific fact and that it is just miraculous enough to possibly be god-inspired. Why do these fools have to fight about this? Oh yeah, because if you don't believe the bible was faxed to us word-for-word from heaven, then you're going straight to hell. *sigh*
  • by WheelDweller ( 108946 ) <WheelDweller&gmail,com> on Friday February 16, 2007 @12:56PM (#18039808)
    I'm a Christian; that doesn't mean I merely GO to church, but I've made contact with the larger intelligence, and we have a relationship. (In case the word "saved" curls your skin.)

    I have no problem with the Big Bang. The singularity that marked the beginning with "let there be light", and the fact that the galaxies are moving away and accellerating only strenthens the argument there was a beginning, not an oscillation.

    Humans are carbon-based, and animals are, too, so we'd have food. It doesn't work the other way. I have NO PROBLEM with evolution (the change-over-time) aspect, nor do I have an issue with mankind starting as an ape-like being which one day found it's soul.

    What I *do* have a problem with, is preachers that still say mankind is only 6,000 years old, never had prototypes (apes) in his development, or that science and the Bible are at odds.

    [Delay while a hush fills the room...]

    Precisely because the Bible has room for all this stuff. It mentions giants and other creatures. It's not a play-by-play of the billion years before man. It's not a total list of all creatures ever made, though it *does* list the development of plant categories, and it matches the fossil record.

    So can we deflate a bunch of the "Evolution is wrong" arguments, at the outset?

  • by oyenstikker ( 536040 ) < minus caffeine> on Friday February 16, 2007 @01:03PM (#18039928) Homepage Journal
    Where does the Bible say that everything has been the same since he created it?
  • Re:Sad faith (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 16, 2007 @01:23PM (#18040304)

    Faith leads people to accept their conditions and pray that it will get better rather than act.

    No it doesn't. The slothful might use faith as an excuse, but most faithful people believe some form of "God helps those who help themselves".

    Faith leads people to accept conditions that are unacceptable.

    Faith helps people tolerate conditions they cannot change and provides courage to change the ones they can.

    Faith keeps women from leaving abusive husbands because the hope they'll see the light.

    These women do not truly hold hope. They just convince themselves they hold hope because they are too afraid to leave. It's a rationalization - not faith.

    Faith keeps people from speaking out against the government because they hope their God will intervene.

    Our country was founded by people whose faith did not allow them to tolerate their government. Creationists are people of faith speaking out against the government teaching of evolution.

    Faith keeps people from enjying the only life they know they have because they hope that the words in a particular book are true.

    How do you know the faithful do not enjoy their lives?

    Our best quality isn't our ability to blindly accept conditions as they are because they might change, but to recognize the flaws in our condition right now through research and figure out a way to change the stuff we can.

    Without faith in ourselves we would never believe we can change anything. No one would conduct twenty years of research if they thought they would ultimately be proven wrong. They do it because they have faith that they are correct. Without faith in science, science would not be useful. (And yes, science requires faith. It requires faith that the way things are today is the way they will be tomorrow. It requires faith that there is order to the universe. It requires faith that there is an objective truth.)

  • by Cervantes ( 612861 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @01:35PM (#18040520) Journal
    That Ghandi dude had it right.

    "I like your Christ. I do not like your christians. They are so unlike your Christ."

    I don't think Christ would like the way people are stiffling expression and imposing their will in his name, especially with the grief he went through when he was around. I mean, seriously... "Hey everyone, be nice to each other!"... "No, we're going to nail you to a tree instead. Natch!"

    If good ole JC was around right now, I'm sure we wouldn't be having silly discussions like this...
  • Re:"God Says it" (Score:2, Interesting)

    by karlandtanya ( 601084 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @01:53PM (#18040862)
    It seems that if an all powerful God did exist, and that God made some sort of statement or directive, that rule would be pretty hard to break.
    Damned (heh) near impossible to break, actually--if this God was omnipotent.

    It seems that we could just look around us and see what rules are not being broken--those would be the word of God.

    And if we could see the rule is being broken, well, then it must NOT be the word of God.
    We'd have to go back and refine our understanding of the word of God to reflect what's actually going on around us.

    There would be no need to kill each other over which book had the correct version of the word--we each check our beliefs against the world God had created.
  • by Moofie ( 22272 ) <`lee' `at' `'> on Friday February 16, 2007 @01:54PM (#18040886) Homepage
    "absolutely no reference of which parts can be taken literally and which are supposed to be interpreted metaphorically."

    Huh. I wonder if you could still derive value from it by taking the whole darn thing metaphorically.

    (Hint: The answer is "Yes.")

    Run Christianity in a thought-experiment sandbox. The principles are pretty sound.
  • by JohnFluxx ( 413620 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @02:05PM (#18041094)
    That's just silly. You have to pick and chose which parts to believe since it contradicts itself.

    Very few Christians "suffer not a witch to live" as commanded. Almost all Christians will wear "cloth of mixed fibres" and so on. Not many Christians condone slavery (in fact it was a really big deal when Catholic church when against the old testament and said slavery was wrong).

    Jesus himself said that you must not ignore "on iota" of the law of moses, so you can't even claim that the new testament supercedes the old testament.

    You have to pick and chose which parts to follow and which not to. Most of the Old Testament is not compatible with "Love thy neighbour"
  • by Digital Vomit ( 891734 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @02:06PM (#18041112) Homepage Journal

    If you believe evolution, how can you reconcile those two things?

    Are you serious? The question is easily answered. Humans became capable of sinning when they became capable of differentiating right from wrong. A dog can maul a child, but that's not since because it's just an anmimal and doesn't know better. The same act, for a human, is a sin because he should know better than to senselessly kill a child.

    The creation story in Genesis gives a description of (among other things) man's evolution to something greater than the animals. When a suitable match for Adam is sought for among the animal kingdom, none is found. Man was above the animals at that point. The serpent can represent man's constant innate desire to return to eschew morality and descend into animal-like behavior, satisfying various lusts rather than being a self-controlled, reasoning being.

    The inability for humans to truly live up to our potential of living selflessly and righteously ends up being our curse. Sin is inherent in the race and is something none of us can overcome on our own. Thus, our Creator provides us with a free way to achieve the next stage in our evolution if we will simply make the effort to overcome to overcome our sin. Those who reject this offer and who choose to simply live by their own desires are evolutionary dead-ends and will ultimately be destroyed.

    Evolution is like God's little science experiment to make independant, reasoning beings with which he can commune.

    (I've probably pissed off antitheists and Kansas by now. Wooo!)

  • by gillbates ( 106458 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @02:13PM (#18041272) Homepage Journal seems that the Republicans are waking up to the fact that these people are not representative of the opinions of the majority of Americans...

    Um, I've observed just the opposite: Republicans are fond of paying lip service to conservative ideals while ignoring both the majority of Americans and the religious fundamentalists. With things like endorsing torture, failing to take substantive action on the abortion problem*, etc...

    For example, I can find no verse in my Bible that says, "Thou shalt ban thy social networking websites...", yet an Illinois Republican proposed doing just that.

    Nor can I find any evidence of democracy being a Biblical style of government. In fact, Israel didn't go around spreading Democracy in the Old Testament, yet GW seems to think its the Right Thing(TM) to do.

    Is it any wonder why they Republican party has failed? Had they simply upheld their self-professed core values, they wouldn't be on the verge of losing power.

    * - No, appointing conservative judges doesn't count. When you think about it, if you really believe (as the pro-lifers claim) that a fetus is a human being, that would make abortion a far greater threat to humanity than terrorism. If terrorists killed 1.5 million Americans a year, you can bet that Bush & Co would be doing more about it than just appointing judges...

  • Re:"God Says it" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by KKlaus ( 1012919 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @02:16PM (#18041318)
    At the end there you said that they hate evolution because it justifies immorality. Is that really it? I always had that stance on abortion, that the reason they hate abortion has nothing to do with fetuses and everything to do with hating young, promiscuous girls and not wanting them to be able to escape from (what they consider) their deserved consequences.

    But where is the connection with evolution? It would have to be a sort of statement of immorality being a survival trait, or that immorality is inherent to the universe, both of which seem overly complicated for what isn't really an intellectual side to take. Evolution complaints, near as I can tell, are about it undermining the authority of God and the Bible, plain and simple. So imho, the best way to convince people to allow themselves to be educated is to convince them to to treat the creation story as metaphorical, i.e. that yes oceans were first... and then there were some animals... and finally came people. It's not entirely honest from a purely atheistic standpoint, but it's a pretty good compromise. So give that a shot too.
  • Re:"God Says it" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by d'fim ( 132296 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @02:16PM (#18041336)
    You forget that you're talking about an omnipotent deity.

    To make up rules which are impossible for God to violate is to negate that omnipotence.

    Just because some human sees a logical fallacy in the temporary suspension of free will does not make it impossible for God to have done so - assuming, of course, that there actually is a God and that he actually did attempt such a thing.

    On the other hand, it is sometimes argued that the purpose of organized religion is to control God by defining what he is and is not, and what he can and cannot do, while at the same time proclaiming his omnipotence.
  • Re:"God Says it" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kabocox ( 199019 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @02:35PM (#18041702)
    Personally I'm less bothered by teaching science; I just wish the US would start teaching a bit of history, like the the idea that the country was founded on the principle of religious tolerance.

    Yes, it's really surprising that we turned out so well considering those Pilgrims. They basically were religious Nazis that killed off the native Indians rather than convert them to Christiainty. The natives weren't human because they weren't white European Christains so it was o.k. to kill them off.

    The only religious tolerance that this country even thought about was for various sects of non-Calthoic christainity. We've only recently started to pretend that religions other than our versions of Christainity may get any tolerance.

    Actually, it could be argued that slashdot is a religious forum that worships open source and Linux and bashes MS and Bill Gates as their models for earthly material evil. That really boils down the slashdot community right there.
  • Re:"God Says it" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kazoo the Clown ( 644526 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @03:57PM (#18043002)
    On the other hand, if God excerts the slightest pressure on us, say by offering a reward or a punishment for certain behaviours, that would undermine our free will.

    You cannot give someone "free will" and then tell them if they don't do X or you'll do Y and still call it "free will," except with some Orwellian definition of "free."
  • by PFI_Optix ( 936301 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @04:17PM (#18043338) Journal
    You misunderstand.

    Whether crystals grow in a lab or in nature, they grow in a similar fashion and are governed by the same laws. The lab-grown crystal grows in conditions that, from the start, have a designed result and require very little additional influence from their creator. From inside the crystal all you would see is growing crystal; it's not until you look at it from outside that you understand that its growth has purpose.

    Evolutionary science sees chaos because God cannot be accounted for in science. We look at the forces acting upon life throughout natural history and see a near-random system. That does not mean that it is not directed; it means that such direction cannot be observed by science.
  • Re:"God Says it" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kripkenstein ( 913150 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @04:25PM (#18043472) Homepage
    I agree wholeheartedly that the low error rate of the Jewish scribes is very impressive, as you say. But to be accurate we must admit that it isn't perfect.

    However, you say it is the "best error/time ratio of any document in existence" - I don't know about that. The Koran was copied for almost a thousand years before the printing press, and those transcriptions may be 100% exact, for all I know - we would need to ask a scholar in that field. (Yet even if it is, this may have something to do with the Jewish text changing punctuation during its history, which makes things hard - the Muslims have not had that difficulty.) There are also very old Hindu and Buddhist texts (much older than the Koran), but I know little about them. Likewise with Chinese ancient literature.

    Perhaps someone here can enlighten us about these matters, it's a fascinating topic.
  • by plunge ( 27239 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @08:11PM (#18046388)
    Um, the poster you were replying to is seriously downplaying the amount an quality of the evidence for evolution. It isn't simply a matter of fossils happening to create an apparent pattern. It's a matter of countless different independent lines of evidence all converging on the one very particular pattern that evolution requires. Simple layperson observance of fossil morphology when placed in sequence is barely even scratching the surface (despite many people for some reason thinking that this is all evolution has going for it).

    In science, we don't speak of certain Truth or Facts, but talking about evolution as true and a fact in a colloquial sense is perfectly appropriate if talking about ANYTHING as a fact is. That people get upset at evolution and only evolution when referred to that way, despite the reality that the evidence for evolution is far far stronger than virtually anything else to which they DON'T object being called a fact, I think we have a right to question their sincerity or fairness.

    " I'd like to see some standards that acknowledge there are several theories (evolution, creation, intellegent design) that currently have some level of support within the scientific community and society."

    This claim would be a falsehood. Even intelligent design, which is a PR movement devoted to trying to "create" the circumstances for this claim, has virtually no support amongst biologists. That many Americans believe in creationism has no bearing on whether it is sound science. Science is about the evidence, not about people's beliefs. The evidence says that creationism is ridiculous, and that intelligent design is not even a coherent or scientific theory. Neither is a scientific alternative.

    "Is it too much to ask that we try to take a neutral point of view with education standards?"

    Should we also take a neutral point of view on the holocaust, astrology, numerology and 2+2=4? Should we simply stop teaching science altogether? Isn't that basically what you are asking for, in the end?

    Science ISN'T neutral. Science is about what the evidence shows, not about surveying everyone's opinions and beliefs.
  • Re:good for Kansas (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Copid ( 137416 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @01:41PM (#18052504)

    Perhaps he was voting for an sex education abstinence-only program that does not "misinform, distort, and outright lie about sex and safety"?
    The first criterion will be hard to meet. Kids come in misinformed and leave misinformed due to gaps in the curriculum. It's not directly misinforming them, but it's not exactly producing an informed graduating class. I would say that a "lie by omission" certainly counts when we're talking about matters involving physical safety.

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