Darwin in danger of extinction

18th March 2005 at 00:00
UNITED STATES

Kansas is to put the teaching of evolution in schools on trial in a six-day inquisition that could force staff to question Darwin's theory and give teaching time to religious alternatives.

The hearings, scheduled for May, are being driven by conservative Christians who now control Kansas's board of education.

On gaining the balance of power, the group added a discussion about teaching creationist ideas to a review of Kansas's science standards.

May's proceedings will weigh testimonies from expert witnesses for and against evolution, board member Kathy Martin said.

But science teachers' groups have denounced the hearings as a show trial aimed at inserting a fundamentalist Christian agenda into classrooms.

Ms Martin and her colleagues on the board's science standards panel, who will chair the hearings, are avowed foes of evolution.

"It's a charade," said Todd Carter, president of the Kansas Association of Biology Teachers.

Evolution is considered the cornerstone of biology by scientists. An opposing belief, called "intelligent design", holds that the world can only be explained as the product of a higher mind.

"The way evolution is taught in schools is completely materialist, that we have no purpose," said Ms Martin. "This becomes a belief that there's no God, so we're saying we need the other side."

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