Creationism and intelligent design are going to be studied at the University of Kansas, but not in the way advocated by opponents of the theory of evolution.
A course being offered next semester by the university religious studies department is titled "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies."
"The KU faculty has had enough," said Paul Mirecki, department chairman.
"Creationism is mythology," Mirecki said. "Intelligent design is mythology. It's not science. They try to make it sound like science. It clearly is not."
Earlier this month, the state Board of Education adopted new science teaching standards that treat evolution as a flawed theory, defying the view of science groups.
Although local school boards still decide how science is taught in the classrooms, the vote was seen as a major victory for proponents of intelligent design, which says that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power.
Critics say intelligent design is merely creationism — a literal reading of the Bible's story of creation as the handiwork of God — camouflaged in scientific language as a way to get around court rulings that creationism injects religion into public schools.
John Calvert, an attorney and managing director of the Intelligent Design Network in Johnson County, said Mirecki will go down in history as a laughingstock.
"To equate intelligent design to mythology is really an absurdity, and it's just another example of labeling anybody who proposes (intelligent design) to be simply a religious nut," Calvert said. "That's the reason for this little charade."
Mirecki said his course, limited to 120 students, would explore intelligent design as a modern American mythology. Several faculty members have volunteered to be guest lecturers, he said.
University Chancellor Robert Hemenway said Monday said he didn't know all the details about the new course.
"If it's a course that's being offered in a serious and intellectually honest way, those are the kind of courses a university frequently offers," he said.