Scopes Monkey Trial Sequel in Kansas

Evolution hearings open in Kansas (Reuters)

A six-day courtroom-style debate opened Thursday in Kansas over what children should be taught in schools about the origin of life — was it natural evolution or did God create the world? The hearings, complete with opposing attorneys and a long list of witnesses, were arranged amid efforts by some Christian groups in Kansas and nationally to reverse the domination of evolutionary theory in the nation’s schools.

William Harris, a medical researcher and co-founder of a Kansas group called the Intelligent Design Network, posed the core question about life’s beginnings before mapping out why he and other Christians want changes in school curriculum. School science classes are teaching children that life evolved naturally and randomly, Harris said, arguing that this was in conflict with Biblical teachings that God created life. “They are offering an answer that may be in conflict with religious views,” Harris said in opening the debate. “Part of our overall goal is to remove the bias against religion that is currently in schools. This is a scientific controversy that has powerful religious implications.”

There is serious scientific debate about the nature of evolution but not its fact. There is, however, no legitimate scientific basis to believe that life was created by a being with super-magical powers. There are ways to square science and religious faith–some substantial number of our most brilliant scientists are also Christians–but the two are not interchangeable.

See also, “In Kansas, Darwinism Goes on Trial Once More” (NYT | RSS)

FILED UNDER: Education, Religion, Science & Technology
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. anon says:

    If we understand the “fact of evolution” this must mean that life created in the lab from base materials is just around the corner? You know, scientific method, repeatable experiments, all that stuff.

  2. Alex Knapp says:

    Actually, scientists have created primitive cells and DNA from base materials. And scientists have observed speciation of prokaryotic organisms in the lab. So why don’t you pick up a book and read it sometime? If you’re not too busy burning it, that is.

  3. Jim Henley says:

    You got us, anon. Evolution is a sham. In fact, the origin of life is exactly as recounted in Hindu scripture. Go ahead and teach that in the public schools now.

  4. bithead says:

    I don’t see the conflict myself.

    God making a universe would cause a rather big bang, don’t you think?

  5. bithead says:

    Define the universe, Anon.
    Be sure to use examples.

  6. James Durbin says:

    Ouch. Maybe there wouldn’t be so much acrimony if there wasn’t so much sarcasm.

    Book burning? Yes, scientists have created primitive DNA in the lab under special conditions that are now not recognized as the conditions of the primitive earth. Anon’s statement is a valid point.

    My guess is that evolution probably is correct, and I’m certainly open to new discoveries – but the idea that somehow mocking those who disagree with evolution’s premises is a scientific pursuit certainly has no merit.
    Scientists have bias – you need look no further than the man-made global warming fiasco to see that. On their own turf, they are indeed authorities. That turf is very narrow.

    The correct way to state evolution, is to say, “from what we can determine, it is highly likely that life evolved on this planet from simpler lifeforms that evolved themselves from chemical mixes we don’t fully understand We’ll get back to you with more later.”

    Social Darwinism, and teaching science as a fact rather than the method is where scientists get into trouble.

    As a Christian, I believe strongly that faith are reason must not be incompatibile. God gave us the tools to reason, which means is it good to use them. Stepping outside of reason to pitch a political or social viewpoint is not science. I don’t agree with teaching intelligent design in schools – but I also would prefer they actually teach scientific method and not nonsense.

    I remember well the global warming scenarios I wrote about as a sixth grader that said we would all be dead from a baked world right now. Right out of my textbooks.

    Science should be about the method, not the convenient theories of the day. There’s a verse in the bible concerning a speck and a mote that speaks well to that.

  7. McGehee says:

    Er, guys? The theory of evolution speaks entiely to what life does once it already exists.

    It has nothing whatsoever to do with the origins of life.

    Where’s Steve Verdon with the smackdown on these guys?

  8. When you claim a theory is a fact, you’ve made it a religion. Evolution has never been proven, and it has some serious problems. ID is a valid scientific theory — claiming it isn’t doesn’t change that.

  9. Howard K says:

    It seems that people in Kansas are trying to pass legislation that would force the teaching of “Intelligent Design” as an alternative to Darwinism.

    “Intelligent Design” is the new, pseudo-scientific sounding name for good ol’ fashioned Southern, Bible thumpin’ “Creationism”. As if you could really use the word “Intelligent” when referring to anything that has to do with Kansas. Maybe if the supporters of this legislation would loosen their Bible Belt by a notch or two, they could get more blood to their brains.

    This whole situation made me quite distraught. The thought of children being taught that they are descendant from the people of the South rather than monkeys is a sad, sad situation.

  10. Antonia Lorenze says:

    Alex Knapp writes:
    Actually, scientists have created primitive cells and DNA from base materials.

    The key word here–and Knapp seems amusingly blind to it–is CREATE. CREATE! Someone had to do some CREATING to get the cells and DNA. There are none so blind as those who absolutely refuse to see. 🙂