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Intelligent Design in Minnesota (and ...?)



Here is part of the text adopted by the Minnesota House last Friday (I was
forwarded this passage and it LOOKS legitimate ... I have not verified it
myself).

"4.29 Sec. 5. [K-12 SCIENCE STANDARDS RULES.]

4.30(a) Beginning no later than July 1, 2004, the education

4.31 commissioner shall adopt the K-12 academic science standards

4.32 incorporated by reference under this act using the expedited

4.33 process under Minnesota Statutes, section 14.389.

4.34(b) In addition to technical changes, corrections,

4.35 clarifications, and similarly needed revisions, the revisor

4.36 shall modify the K-12 academic science standards as indicated:

5.1 Page 1, below the word "Science" in the title, insert "The

5.2 grade level designations in the Minnesota Academic Standards for

5.3 Science are strongly recommended. However, school districts may

5.4 place the (K-2, 3-5, 6-8) standards at grade levels that

5.5 accommodate their particular curriculum. The standards should

5.6 be mastered by the end of the highest grade in the band."

5.7 Page 17, Grade 9-12, Strand II, Sub-Strand A, after

5.8 Benchmarks 9, insert:

5.9 "10. The student will be able to explain how scientific

5.10 and technological innovations as well as new evidence can

5.11 challenge portions of or entire accepted theories and models

5.12 including, but not limited to, atomic theory."

5.13 Page 19, Grade 9-12, Strand III, Sub-Strand A, after

5.14 Benchmarks 7, insert:

5.15 "The student will be able to explain how scientific and

5.16 technological innovations as well as new evidence can challenge

5.17 portions of or entire accepted theories and models including,

5.18 but not limited to, plate tectonic theory and big bang theory."

5.19 Page 22, Grade 9-12, Strand IV, Sub-Strand E, Benchmarks 1,

5.20 after the period insert:

5.21 "The student will be able to explain how scientific and

5.22 technological innovations as well as new evidence can challenge

5.23 portions of or entire accepted theories and models including,

5.24 but not limited to, cell theory, theory of evolution and germ

5.25 theory of disease."

My sense is that proponents of Intelligent Design (ID) have invented yet a new
tactic in their never-ending struggle to get a biblical account of creation into
the schools willing to present it (by making it mandatory for all schools to at
least open the door). If "all" the major organizing principles of science are
open to challenge from "scientific and technological innovations", then this
presents a "fair" way of attacking the one organizing principle they really want
to get at. If some "scientific or technological innovations" come along to
contradict parts or all of those other theories, so much the better. My guess is
they aren't betting on it, but that they don't care, either.

This is not an issue about which to joke. It is clever and (worse) it might be
exactly the type of tactic that will be successful, simply because it has the
appearance of being so broadly cast (no single theory is being called into
question) and so "fair".

I would add one more caution to this post. Currently, teaching evolution in many
communities is compromised by the pressure brought to bear by its detractors. In
elementary school, many (if not a majority) of teachers do not teach topics or
present information providing evidence and understanding -- in a developmentally
appropriate manner (or in any way, for that matter) -- that starts to build
support for the evolutionary argument (diversity, adaptation, inheritance,
descent with modification, and so on) simply because they don't want to engage in
the battles that teaching such topics would entail (or worse, because their own
faith gets in the way). Middle school and high school teachers are not exempt
from this pressure, either. In many places, the fact that it is REQUIRED for you
to teach evolution is the only protection teachers have to even make a feeble
effort to do so ("I don't 'want' to teach it, but have to" is a common opt-out
for the not-so bold or brave).

This new approach by the religious right removes that protection, and opens the
door to all sorts of "evidence" that might start finding its way into the
schools.

This one needs some attention, I fear.

Scott Hays