Science Groups Refuse to Lend Material to Texts That Question Evolution

Two national groups say the state can't use their copyrighted material in proposed science standards that critics contend promote creationism.

The National Academy of Sciences (search) and National Science Teachers Association (search) called the proposed standards misleading and objected to language — sought by intelligent-design advocates — suggesting some evolutionary theory (search) isn't solid.

"To say that evolution is sort of on the ropes is unfair to the students of Kansas," said Gerry Wheeler, executive director of the teachers' association.

The State Board of Education is set to vote Nov. 8 on whether to adopt the new standards, which must be updated periodically under Kansas law. Current standards treat evolution as a well-established theory that is crucial to understanding science.

Six of the board's 10 members have shown support for the proposed standards, saying they want to give students a more balanced view of evolution.

The standards are used to develop student achievement tests but don't mandate how science is taught.

It was not immediately clear whether the 107-page proposed standards use direct language from any of the groups' copyrighted material. If the revised standards are adopted, state officials would have to review them for copyright violations.

Phillip Johnson, a retired law professor who sometimes is called the father of the intelligent-design movement, called the groups' decision, announced Wednesday, "panicky and hysterical."

"We're not out to damage science," he told a student group at Washburn University (search) on Thursday. "We're out to make science more interesting. We think we're friends of science — true science."

Intelligent design says some natural features are best explained as having an intelligent cause because they're well-ordered and complex. Its advocates also attack evolutionary theory that natural chemical processes could have created the building blocks of life, that all life has a common origin and that apes and man have a common ancestor.

Detractors contend intelligent design (search) is repackaged creationism (search), which the Supreme Court has banned from classrooms as promoting a narrow religious view.