The Associated Press has a story on the Kansas Science Standards which repeats the rhetoric of Kansas Darwinists. It states, “While Kansas public schools are likely to get their fifth set of science standards in eight years, the officials who want to ditch the anti-evolution ones now in place aren’t planning to act immediately.” But the present standards are not “anti-evolution.” The present standards teach more about evolution than do most statewide science standards and include extensive sections discussing the evidence both for and against evolution.
The article also wrongly asserts that the standards have a “tilt toward intelligent design,” and the article mentions intelligent design 7 times. This focus on intelligent design is misleading: as we’ve repeatedly discussed, the Kansas Science Standards state they “do not include Intelligent Design” and the standards “neither mandate nor prohibit” teaching about ID. Why were these quotes left out of this article?
The article also claims that the new standards change “a definition of science that doesn’t specifically limit science to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.” As discussed here, the standards simply reset the definition of science back to a definition similar to how most states define science, including how Kansas did prior to 2001, and this was not an attempt to claim the supernatural is a part of science.
The article also claims that aspects of the standard which challenge common descent based upon paleontology and molecular biology are “intelligent design arguments, defying mainstream science.”
First, it should be noted that the standards present both evidence for and against Neo-Darwinism and do not unilaterally criticize common ancestry. For example, they require students to learn that, “The presence of the same materials and processes of heredity (DNA, replication, transcription, translation, etc.) is used as evidence for the common ancestry of modern organisms.” Of course the Darwinists and Associated Press omit mention of such statements in order to allege the standards are “anti-evolution.”
But what about the aspects of the standards that do critique Darwin? As discussed here, many aspects of the Kansas Science Standards which critique Darwin, including those dealing with common descent and micro vs. macroevolution, have their roots in mainstream scientific publications. For example, W. F. Doolittle (a Neo-Darwinist) writes “[m]olecular phylogenists will have failed to find the ‘true tree,’ not because their methods are inadequate or because they have chosen the wrong genes, but because the history of life cannot properly be represented as a tree.” The article is simply repeating Darwinist rhetoric and ignoring the fact that criticisms of Neo-Darwinism can be found in mainstream science.
Despite the fact that intelligent design was irrelevant to the article, the article does have a pretty good definition of intelligent design: “Intelligent design says an intelligent cause is the best way to explain some features of the universe that are complex and well-ordered.” If by “complex and well-ordered,” the reporter means “complex and specified,” then I’d have to say this is one of the best definitions of intelligent design in the media. Nonetheless, given its repetition of Darwinist rhetoric, the article also provides an excellent example of the media bias on this issue.