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Return to Myth 2

By Will Baker

This past summer I reported on a troubling situation in Kansas. At the time, the Kansas Board of Education was in the process of re-writing the state’s educational science standards. Two years ago, the Board voted to remove Evolution as the sole explanation of the origin of man from the public school curriculum. This move created a bit of a furor, and the issue was hotly debated there and followed by the rest of the country. By the way, for some background on the story you can read my essay Return to Myth.

Anyway, it appears that the people have spoken. Last week, in a 7-to-3 vote, the board reversed that decision when it adopted new science standards, in effect, mandating that evolution be once again taught in Kansas public schools. Evidently, there was so much public debate regarding the whole matter, that three of the Board members who had supported the earlier decision were ousted. And then a committee of experts in the sciences was subsequently commissioned by the board to study the matter and publish a report with their findings and recommendations. This document, entitled "Kansas Science Education Standards" defines Evolution as "a broad, unifying theoretical framework in biology."

So, happily, it appears that my earlier optimism was well warranted. And now, given the benefit of perspective that the passing of time allows, we see that, the actions of these well meaning but grossly misinformed Creationists could not stand. The Story of Creation, as told in the Bible’s Book of Genesis is beautiful…but it is a myth. And the board’s actions reflect this fact. Those old museum bones do not lie, and when we teach our children, neither should we.

But I suspect that this story is not yet over- three board members did vote against adopting the Committee’s findings and recommendations. And the matter is being debated in other states where the Religious Right is well organized and motivated. No, it seems to me that this matter has not been settled. But in this instance, it is comforting to know that the good people of Kansas decided to do the right thing. And it seems to me that there is a lesson here for us all. For, in a democracy, when we are not satisfied with the actions of our elected officials, we as a people have the right, perhaps even a responsibility, to do something about it. And in Kansas, they have done so.



 (Essay Collection)