Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Vatican vs. kooks in Kansas (&, apparently, Seattle)

So, the Vatican has laid down the law. Apparently, darwin was right, Christian fundamentalists are kooks, and intelligent design is a load of hogwash. :,10117,17162341-13762,00.html

I predict that the Kansas school board will lose its conservative edge in the elections next year, and their ill-informed recent re-definition of the word "science" and attempts to introduce creationism into the classroom will be reversed. I don't care if you are a fundamentalist Protestant Christian -- if the Vatican comes out and says "no, you're bit off in your interpretation of the Bible, this is what it actually says" -- that should give you some pause, right?

Well, not if you happen to be a think-tank in Seattle, whose whole purpose is to promote intelligent design as an alternative theory to explain the universe that should be taught in the classroom alongside evolution:

Where is all this headed? The optimist in me says that all these fundamentalist kooks will finally be revealed to be profit-driven schemers and run off to the sidelines of public opinion where they belong. The pessimist says that they've already got control of the presidency, so the only question is where they will go next. The pragmatist senses that the pendulum may be about to swing back, and all of us who care about the rule of law, the proper role of science in society, the separation of church and state and other important principles of the republic -- we should be using the lever to help the pendulum along!!


full text of the australian article about the Vatican's new stance, followed by full text of an article about the source of much of this intelligent design debate crap:


THE Vatican has issued a stout defence of Charles Darwin, voicing strong criticism of Christian fundamentalists who reject his theory of evolution and interpret the biblical account of creation literally.

Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said the Genesis description of how God created the universe and Darwin's theory of evolution were "perfectly compatible" if the Bible were read correctly.

His statement was a clear attack on creationist campaigners in the US, who see evolution and the Genesis account as mutually exclusive.

"The fundamentalists want to give a scientific meaning to words that had no scientific aim," he said at a Vatican press conference. He said the real message in Genesis was that "the universe didn't make itself and had a creator".

This idea was part of theology, Cardinal Poupard emphasised, while the precise details of how creation and the development of the species came about belonged to a different realm - science. Cardinal Poupard said that it was important for Catholic believers to know how science saw things so as to "understand things better".

His statements were interpreted in Italy as a rejection of the "intelligent design" view, which says the universe is so complex that some higher being must have designed every detail.


Small Group Wields Major Influence in Intelligent Design Debate

Some Question Organization's Religious Affiliations as Controversy Continues

Nov. 9, 2005 — - Intelligent design, the idea that life was designed by a higher power, is dividing communities across the country. In Tuesday's election, voters in Dover, Pa., removed from office the school board that wrote intelligent design into the high school curriculum. And Kansas became the fifth state in the nation to question evolution in its curriculum.

The Kansas school board now says high school students should learn that evolution is controversial -- including some of its basic tenets, such as monkeys evolving into men.

They also redefined the word "science," no longer limiting it to natural explanations of phenomena. The move opens the door to alternative explanations such as intelligent design.

"This is a great day for education," said Kansas Board of Education member Steve Abrams. "This absolutely raises science standards. I have no doubt about it -- positively no doubt about it whatsoever."

Not all board members agreed. "I think this is a sad day," said another member, Carol Rupe, "not only for Kansas kids, but for Kansas."

Think Tank Embraces Controversy

It was a major victory for the Discovery Institute, a little-known think tank in Seattle that promotes intelligent design.

Instead of forcing students to learn intelligent design, the Discovery Institute takes a "teach the controversy" approach -- exactly what Kansas adopted.

"Our policy proposal for science education is that students should learn the strengths and the scientific weaknesses of modern Darwinian theory," said Discovery Institute Director Dr. Stephen Meyer.

This "free speech" approach has been endorsed by President Bush and helped insert intelligent design into the national dialogue. But many scientists say it's just slick marketing.

"When they say 'teach the controversy' -- their ringing phrase -- they want us to pretend to students that scientists are arguing whether evolution took place," said Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education. "This argument is not taking place."

The Discovery Institute denies allegations that its true agenda is religious.

Their public relations representative stopped ABC News' interview when asked about the organization's many evangelical Christian donors.

"I don't think we want to go down that path," he said.

Meyer says no matter who provides financial support, his goals are scientific and that science may one day prove his belief that the intelligent designer is God.

ABC News' Dan Harris filed this report for "World News Tonight."

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