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Teaching the origin of species in schools

News during 2007

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Developments during 2007:

bullet2007-FEB-22: Novel method of attacking evolution: Marshall Hall of Cornelia, GA, believes that the earth is the center of the universe, that the sun rotates around the earth, and that Genesis is literally true when it says that God created the earth, its life forms, and the rest of the universe in six days. He does not believe in the theory of evolution, and wants it to be removed from the public school curriculums. Many conservative Protestants have unsuccessfully claimed that Intelligent Design or Creation Science are not based on religion and thus should be taught there. Hall's approach is novel: it is to claim that the theory of evolution itself is religious and thus should not be taught in schools. He believes that a recently discovered book of Kabbala writings from the 13th century CE talks about the Big Bang, a 15 billion year old universe, and the theory of relativity. Hall suggests that Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan and other Jewish scientists were influenced by the Kabbala teachings and popularized the theory of evolution.

Bill Nigut, the Southeastern regional director for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in Atlanta objects to a memo circulated by state Representative Ben Bridges of Georgia which was based on Hall's writing. Nigut wrote and Email to Bridges saying:

"Your memo conjures up repugnant images of Judaism used for thousands of years to smear the Jewish people as cult-like and manipulative. I am shocked and appalled that you would send this anti-Semitic material to colleagues and friends, and call upon you to repudiate and apologize for distributing this highly offensive memo."

Hall claims that there is nothing antisemitic in his writings because they deal with religion, not race.1

bullet2007-JUN-19: Creation museum under attack by fellow creationists: According to Knight Ridder Tribune Business News, only three days after the Answers in Genesis AiG) new Creation Museum was opened in Northern Kentucky, they were hit by a lawsuit. Creation Ministries International (CMI) sued them in the Supreme Court of Queensland, Australia. The suit allegedly claims that Answers in Genesis stole subscribers for its magazine by claiming that the Australian group's creation magazine was "no longer available."

Ken Ham, the president of Answers in Genesis, said

"All I'll tell you is those allegations are totally preposterous and untrue. The Bible tells you not to have a lawsuit against your brother, so you can see who's obeying the Bible and who's not."

A retired judge in Australia who investigated the conflict issued a 40 page report that blamed Answers in Genesis for the dispute. 2
 

bullet2007-SEP-17: Christian professor criticized for supporting evolution: The National Center for Science Education commented on a conflict in the Olivet Nazarene University involving Richard Colling, a professor of biology, and his book "Random Designer." 4 In his book, he writes:

"It pains me to suggest that my religious brothers are telling falsehoods [when they say evolutionary theory is 'in crisis'] and claim that there is widespread skepticism about it among scientists. Such statements are blatantly untrue. ... evolution has stood the test of time and considerable scrutiny."

Sharon Begley of Newsweek (September 17, 2007) wrote:

"Anger over his work had been building for two years. When classes resumed in late August, things finally came to a head. Colling is prohibited from teaching the general biology class, a version of which he had taught since 1991, and college president John Bowling has banned professors from assigning his book [which was previously used in 'at least one history class, an advanced biology course and the general biology course']."

"At least one local Nazarene church called for Colling to be fired and threatened to withhold financial support from the college. In a letter to Bowling, ministers in Caro, MO, expressed 'deep concern regarding the teaching of evolutionary theory as a scientifically proven fact,' calling it 'a philosophy that is godless, contrary to scripture and scientifically unverifiable.' Irate parents, pastors and others complained to Bowling, while a meeting between church leaders and Colling 'led to some tension and misunderstanding,' Bowling said in a letter to trustees." 5

The local Daily Journal for SEP-13 adds that although Colling and the university administration are trying to reconcile, Colling "... is still stinging because, he says, the book was a true and honest expression of faith; and one he felt led by God to write. Moreover, he says there is room with the college's mission and policies for such an alternative view -- and that no real case has been made to date that his views are inconsistent with those or the teachings of the Church of the Nazarene."

bullet2007-OCT-03: New science program to premiere on PBS: "Wired Science" is a new weekly science program, a joint effort of WIRED magazine and PBS. It will be seen on Wednesdays. See: http://www.pbs.org/
bullet2007-OCT-17: LA: Senator withdraws grant to conservative Christian group: Senator David Vitter (R-LA) withdrew a $100,000 grant that he had earlier added to the appropriations bill for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. The grant was to be given to the Louisiana Family Forum, an anti-evolution creationist religious group  Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), circulated a letter protesting the Vitter earmark to the members of the Senate. Vitter said in the Senate:

"The project, which would develop a plan to promote better science-based education in Ouachita Parish by the Louisiana Family Forum, has raised concerns among some that its intention was to mandate and push creationism within the public schools. That is clearly not and never was the intent of the project, nor would it have been its effect. However, to avoid more hysterics, I would like to move the $100,000 recommended for this project by the subcommittee when the bill goes to conference committee to another Louisiana priority project funded in this bill."

Eugenie C. Scott, NCSE's executive director, responded:

"Senator Vitter's defense of the earmark is obviously disingenuous, given the Louisiana Family Forum's record of fighting tooth and nail against evolution education. But I'm glad to see that, with the removal of his earmark, public funds are not going to be misused to mis-educate the children of Louisiana about the science of evolution." 3

References:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Bridges' Cornelia cohort links evolution to Jews, says earth doesn't rotate," White Country News, Cleveland, GA, 2007-FEB-22, at: http://www.whitecountynewstelegraph.com/
  2. Andy Mead, "Creation Museum sued by fellow creationists," Knight Ridder Tribune Business News, 2007-JUN-19, at: http://www.romingerlegal.com/
  3. "Vitter earmark withdrawn," National Center for Science Education, 2007-OCT-18, at: http://www.ncseweb.org/
  4. "Christian professor embattled for supporting evolution," National Center for Science Education, 2007-SEP-17, at: http://ncseweb.org/
  5. Sharon Begley, "Can God love Darwin, too?," Newsweek, 2007-SEP-17, at: http://www.newsweek.com/

Site navigation: Home > "Hot"  topics > Evolution/Creation > here

Copyright © 2007 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2007-FEB-25
Latest update: 2009-JAN-11
Author: B.A. Robinson

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