NTS LogoSkeptical News for 19 December 2005

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Monday, December 19, 2005

"Energy Medicine" vs "Traditional Medicine" The Healing Codes hit main stream


Press Release by: The-HealingCodes.com
Published on openPR 12-19-2005 06:27 pm - CET

(openPR) - Albert Einstein proved that all matter is controlled by energy (e=mc2). All energy has a measurable frequency. In current medical technology, energy frequencies are measured with MRI's, CAT scans, PET scans, EEG's, and others. A current kidney stone removal therapy works by raising the frequency of the kidney stone, causing it to explode internally. The Healing Codes treatments also use energy to heal the body. http://www.the-healingcodes.com protocols heal the destructive pictures that are causing the wrong beliefs, which in turn are causing the energy frequencies of illness and disease

What is it? Energetic medicine, or bio-energetic consultation, is the practice of assessing and correcting health issues by way of the body's energy system, which allows the body's own immune system to do its normal healing work. The body's energy system has been a fundamental part of traditional and alternative medicine for many, many years.

An EEG measures the electrical activity of the brain in a similar way as the EKG measures electrical properties of the heart. When the paddles are used to revive someone in cardiac arrest, it is with the accepted knowledge that the body and heart run on electricity.

Over the past 50 years, the alternative health community has also effectively used various electrical methods, such as electronic acupuncture machines to assess various illnesses through the energy system of the person. In fact, without the use of the body's energy system for assessment purposes, modern traditional medicine would be set back 50 years or more. Energetic medicine takes an additional step by using the energy system for correction purposes as well as for assessment.

The Healing Codes discovered a mechanism in the body that allows the "Super Quantum," described by Paul Pearsall, PhD in his book The Heart's Code , to be stimulated for the remote gathering of information, and to stimulate healing. It transfers the conscious intent of the person as an instruction to the "Super Quantum" pilot of each cell in the body, which then enacts a healing response in that cell. http://www.the-healingcodes.com coaches individuals so they can treat themselves by healing wrong, destructive pictures that develop into beliefs.

These are just some of the components of The Healing Codes. We continue to learn new and exciting ways of healing. We do not intend to remain fixated on the understanding we have today, as that would disallow growth. As our awareness of paths to healing deepens, we want to extend our findings to you.

Therefore, more components may be added to The Healing Codes as they are learned and tested. We desire that our methods always be dramatically helpful, never doing harm to anyone.

For More Information Contact: http://www.The-HealingCodes.com for more insights into this topic. Email: TheHealingCodes@yahoo.com

What's so scary about intelligent design?


Dennis Byrne, a Chicago-area writer and consultant Published December 19, 2005

Here is a question for scientists who ridicule intelligent design, yet say they believe in God: When you pray, is it to a God who just sat around and watched the universe spring into existence all by itself?

Or did God give himself something to do, and thus, here we are?

It's hard to envision an all-perfect and almighty God who just likes to watch. But that's the kind of God that the critics of intelligent design would impose on us. Scientists, of course, would vehemently deny that they are in any way trying tell people of faith what kind of God they should believe in. But they need to honestly admit that this battle between evolution and intelligent design is a two-way street: People of faith should not be directing scientists how to do their work and scientists ought to be more thoughtful and respectful about how their work complicates or complements the world of belief. Science as well as theology, philosophy and religion have legitimate claims to exploring and discovering answers to the Big Question: How did we get here, and why?

Some things science just can't explain. Such as the mystery of how a perfect creator turned himself into one of his less-than perfect creations--a man--but still remained perfect. Based on faith alone, millions of people celebrate that inexplicable miracle on Christmas.

Scientists, in fact, can't explain a lot of things, and that's no knock on scientists. It's because a lot of answers cannot meet the scientific standards of observation, experimentation, replication and verification. But it's also no reason that any subject of scientific interest cannot also be explored by theology, philosophy and religion.

Yet the fight between intelligent design and evolution is popularly framed as an effort by theologians, philosophers and the faithful to impose their unscientific conclusions on science. Perhaps a few dominators do, but most of us do feel the need to reconcile what science and faith tell us--about our world and us.

The reality today is that when theology, philosophy or religion dares to examine the Big Question, its practitioners find themselves increasingly bumping heads with scientific claims of exclusive competence. This is wrong. Neither science nor theology has the right to tell the other to butt out of this quest. In this, no one has the right to demand that the study of intelligent design be kept out of schools. Out of the science class, perhaps, but not out of all classrooms.

Centuries ago, science on one hand and philosophy, theology and religion on the other were separated--to the relief of those who correctly believed that the church had gone too far in using dogma to block scientific advances. Exploring reality through the prism of science requires one form of knowledge, while discovering and refining our understanding of God and his presence in the world require another.

Now that pendulum has swung too far the other way, to the point that science and philosophy, and theology and religion are regarded, by some, as mortal enemies. The idea of unified knowledge has come on hard times. Few people are exploring how the two approaches can help each other. That science is rushing toward a unified theory that "explains everything" is not a reason to abandon non-scientific ways to approach a comprehensive understanding of everything.

This requires an admission that there is a higher level of knowledge beyond science alone or theology alone. Vast areas of knowledge are open to those who realize that just as a branch of physics examines the "first principle of everything," so does metaphysics. Or that cosmology and theology are on the same coin, just on different sides.

We should approach the Big Question with awe and humility, not ridicule and self-certainty. With excitement and optimism, instead of division and the kind of cynicism that rejects the possibility of parallel or complementary explanations.

To leave students without a perspective of how philosophy and theology and religion help bring us to an understanding of "all things," is as wrong as denying students the understanding that science brings. Philosophers and theologians may--must, actually--rigorously examine the scientific theory that random chance explains everything. A denial of that right and responsibility rises from the same spirit of arrogant certitude that haunted Galileo.


Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune

Evolution Trial in Hands of Willing Judge


By LAURIE GOODSTEIN Published: December 18, 2005

Driving home one day last December from the courthouse in Harrisburg, Pa., Judge John E. Jones III tuned in to a radio news report about 11 parents in the nearby town of Dover who had filed a lawsuit challenging their school board's decision to include intelligent design in the high school biology curriculum.

John E. Jones III, a Pennsylvania judge, will rule in a trial involving the teaching of intelligent design.

"It piqued my curiosity," the judge said. Not only was the suit likely to be the nation's first full hearing on the legal merits of teaching intelligent design, but it also had been filed in the federal court in Pennsylvania where he was serving.

The next morning Judge Jones turned on the computer in his chambers and found that the case had been randomly assigned to him.

"Any judge will tell you that they welcome the opportunity to have important cases on their dockets," he said in an interview. "That's why they take these jobs."

Judge Jones presided over the six-week trial with discipline, decorum and a quick wit that produced eruptions of laughter.

Next week he is expected to issue his decision, which will almost certainly be regarded as a bellwether by other school districts in which religious conservatives have proposed teaching intelligent design as a challenge to the theory of evolution.

Legal experts said the big question was whether Judge Jones would rule narrowly or more broadly on the merits of teaching intelligent design as science. Proponents of the theory argue that living organisms are so complex that the best explanation is that a higher intelligence designed them.

One of his clerks hinted last week that the decision was long.

In American courts, the battle between science and religion over the origins of life dates back 80 years to the trial of the Tennessee teacher John Scopes.

Now this political hot potato has fallen into the lap of a judge who is highly attuned to politics. He is a lifelong Republican appointed to the federal bench in 2002 by President Bush.

He ran for Congress 10 years earlier (he lost by one percentage point) and later considered running for governor. His supporters include Senators Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, and his mentor is Tom Ridge, the former governor of Pennsylvania and homeland security secretary.

But Judge Jones is praised by people on both sides of the aisle as a man of integrity and intellect who takes seriously his charge to be above partisanship. He appears to define himself less by his party affiliation than by his connection to the Pennsylvania coal town where he still lives, and to a family that grabbed education as a rope to climb out of the anthracite mines, and never let go.

Clifford A. Rieders, a lawyer in Williamsport who is past president of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association, said he had found Judge Jones to be "moderate, thoughtful" and "universally well regarded."

"I think that his connections are not so politicized, nor is he so ambitious that he would be influenced in any way by those kinds of considerations," said Mr. Rieders, a Democrat.

Mr. Ridge called him a "renaissance man" and "the right kind of person to be presiding over a trial of such emotional and historic importance." He added, "I don't think he goes in with a point of view based on anything prior. I really don't. I think he loves the challenge."

In an interview in his chambers in Williamsport during a break in the final weeks of the trial, Judge Jones said he had been rereading Supreme Court decisions on religion.

He said he was aware that Mr. Bush and Mr. Santorum had endorsed the teaching of challenges to evolutionary theory, but he said, "It doesn't have any bearing on me."

Judge Jones said he learned speed-reading in prep school and consumes five newspapers a day before work.

He said he considered opening the Dover trial to television cameras because of "a bias in favor of disclosure." But after consulting with colleagues he decided against it. The judge said he had expected the Dover case would attract attention, but was stunned by the amount. One weekend, he said, he did a double take at a supermarket magazine rack. "I'm on the cover of the Rolling Stone!" he said to his wife. "Not my picture, but the trial." He bought a copy.

Judge Jones lives in Pottsville, a long commute from Harrisburg and Williamsport, where he hears cases. On his wall hangs a picture of his grandfather, a Welsh orphan who worked as a boy in the Pennsylvania coal mines, took correspondence courses, became a civil engineer and built a chain of golf courses.

His father, a Yale graduate, went into the family business.

The oldest of four brothers, Judge Jones, who is 50, attended a private school, Mercersburg Academy, and later Dickinson College and the Dickinson School of Law. Asked if he was religious, he said he attended a Lutheran church favored by his wife, but not every Sunday.

He had his own law firm when he ran for Congress in 1992 and lost to Tim Holden, a Democrat who had been a friend.

He helped Mr. Ridge's campaign for governor in 1994 and was later named to the board that runs the state's liquor stores. "One of these days," Mr. Ridge said in an interview, "a bunch of Republicans are going to recruit him to run for governor, but I think it's going to take a while. He loves being judge."

Of running for governor, Judge Jones said, "I wouldn't envision it, but I'm 50 years old, and it's probably imprudent to say never."

Among his cases, he has ruled that employees who refuse to authorize a background check on themselves can be fired and that a college's speech code prohibiting "acts of intolerance" violated the right to free speech.

He was reversed once on appeal in a case involving a disability claim.

In the recent trial, a lawyer grilled an intelligent design proponent on why a textbook the witness helped to write substituted "intelligent design" for "creationism" in a later edition and with "sudden emergence theory" in a draft of a future edition.

"We won't be back in a couple of years for the sudden emergence trial, will we?" the lawyer asked.

To which Judge Jones interjected, "Not on my docket."

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Burlington-Edison Chronology Details



1985-86 to 1996-97 - In May/June of each school year, Roger DeHart incorporates 1996-97 excepts from "Of Pandas and People" and "Inherit the Wind" into his freshman biology class and omits the human origins section from the district's selected biology textbook. He describes his presentations variously as both creationism and Intelligent Design. Student witnesses also describe one- sided presentation methods and bullying towards those students who disagree.

1996-97 Beth VanderVeen's first year as principal of Burlington- Edison High School.

May 1997 DeHart uses an 8-page excerpt from Pandas.

June 1997 ACLU receives complaint from a parent whose child was in DeHart's class in 1996-97. Although later Roger DeHart publicly claims he is only trying to promote critical thinking in his classroom, an "Inherit the Wind" test shows reveals how he treats a 14 year old female student who disagree with him.

July 15, 1997 ACLU sends letter of complaint to Superintendent Paul Chaplik.

Aug 5, 1997 ACLU asks Chaplik to please respond to their July 15th letter.

Aug 27, 1997 DeHart tells Chaplik that ACLU's allegations are "blatantly untrue."

Sept 3, 1997 Chaplik tells ACLU that he believes DeHart and will take no action, but will ask Principal VanderVeen to monitor DeHart's teaching.

January 1998 Letters from ACLU and Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education request that Chaplik take action.

February 9, 1998 Chaplik announces his resignation as Superintendent.

March 23, 1998 In response to a public disclosure request, VanderVeen tells ACLU that she had no paper trail from earlier principals regarding DeHart.

May 1998 Chaplik retires.

May 4,1998 ACLU sends letter to school board president Oscar Lagerlund asking them to take action.

May 4,1998 Burlington-Edison announces that it has hired Rick Jones as new school superintendent.

May 8, 1998 Skagit Valley Herald runs article titled "ACLU Alleges Illegal Creationism Teaching." Issue becomes the subject of public debate and letters to the editor thereafter. The Article.

May 30, 1998 Skagit Valley Herald runs article "Teaching or Preaching?" The article.

May-June 1998 DeHart teaches his evolution section. He uses the same excerpt from Pandas as in 1997.

June 3, 1998 Lagerlund tells ACLU he rejects their concerns, but that the school board will review the matter prior to the beginning of the next school year.

Aug 17, 1998 Memo from VanderVeen to DeHart says DeHart did not follow proper procedures to approve Pandas as supplemental materials. He is not to use any materials not approved through the Instructional Materials Committee (IMC).

Aug 21, 1998 DeHart's attorney, Richard Sybrandy, (recommended from the Rutherford Institute) attends a U.S. Commission on Civil Rights hearing concerning Curriculum Controversies in Biology. Mentions Dehart. Check out this site (one of several.)

Aug 28, 1998 Skagit Valley Herald runs article titled "Creationism out of BEHS Classroom." Jones says school will stick to teaching science. The article.

Aug 31, 1998 Richard Sybrandy, sends his first letter to VanderVeen urging her to reconsider.

Fall 1998 Jones and VanderVeen meet with Jonathan Wells and David DeWolf of the "Discovery Institute" and have a "good discussion about the areas of evolution theory in question." Discovery Institute Site.

Nov 29,1998 DeHart gives a lecture as part of a course offered in "Creation Science" at local church. Event is taped February 5, 1999.

Feb 5 1999 Discovery Institute's "Wedge" document is leaked on the internet. This is the DI's 20 year promotional plan to get intelligent design accepted into the public. (Note - no science, just promotion.)

March 1999 DeHart and Sybrandy write to and meet with VanderVeen and Jones in attempts to negotiate curriculum.

May 19,1999 DeHart submits a package of materials for approval to the IMC. It includes excerpts from a number of different sources, including Pandas. Jones sends a cover memo to the IMC summarizing the background of the controversy. The IMC is asked to address a series of specific questions.

May 21, 1999 IMC hears presentation from DeHart about his proposed materials. Lawyer Sybrandy was present.

May 22, 1999 Sybrandy sends e-mail to IMC member Don Zorn complaining that it was discriminatory for IMC members to question the appropriateness of using a science text published by a religious publisher. In an undated memo to IMC member Cathy Pfahl, Zorn clarifies this issue to avoid further accusations.

May 24, 1999 The IMC sends VanderVeen a memo recommending that she reject the materials. VanderVeen and DeHart have some sort of meeting at 3:15 on this date.

May 24, 1999 (approx.) DeHart calls IMC member Robert Adeline and berates him for voting with the IMC. He makes overtly religious references, along the lines of "as a Christian, how could you do this?" Adeline is upset by the call, and informs fellow IMC members about it.

May 25, 1999 VanderVeen sends DeHart a memo forwarding him the IMC's report. The memo says she received the report on May 25. She says she "supports their recommendation," but also asks to schedule a meeting with DeHart for May 27. Handwriting at the bottom of the page says "Met w/Roger @ 3:15 pm 5/24/99."

May 26, 1999 Sybrandy writes to VanderVeen, complaining that the IMC engaged in religious discrimination against publishers, and offering to pare down the volume of materials.

May 27, 1999 According to a memo later written in July, VanderVeen and DeHart have meeting and VanderVeen agrees that he may use a four-page Pandas excerpt. DeHart is to use the Pandas material only to introduce students to "Irreducible Complexity," he is to avoid using the words "God" and "Intelligent Design," and he is to provide his students with an article from an evolutionist responding to the Irreducible Complexity material. Late May DeHart teaches his human origins section presumably as to his early June, 1999 agreement with VanderVeen.

June 12, 1999 Skagit Valley Herald runs article titled "Teacher Gains OK to use Creationist Text." The article.

June 13, 1999 Skagit Valley Herald publishes article "Curriculum controversy resurfaces in Burlington: Groups form on both sides in discussion of origins" The article.

June 14, 1999 Seattle Times runs article "Creationist book to be used in Burlington" by The Associated Press. Bellingham Herald runs same AP article.

July 1999 VanderVeen sends DeHart a memo regarding their agreement of his approval to use four pages from Pandas and that he is to present another article from on the subject to demonstrate how scientists subscribing to evolution view "Irreducible Complexity." (during prior 1998/99 school year)

Summer 1999 Numerous letters to the editor on the creationism controversy. School district receives a lot of mail, mostly supporting DeHart. A parent group forms to combat creationism in the schools. (Burlington-Edison Committee for Science Education)

Summer 1999 Pierre Stromberg builds website with information about the Burlington controversy. His site.

Aug 1, 1999 ACLU sends letter asking for reconsideration of VanderVeen/DeHart agreement.

Aug 20, 1999 In response to ACLU letter, Jones ratifies VanderVeen's compromise with DeHart. District position is that DeHart is not teaching creationism, but is presenting additional legitimate scientific debate regarding the evolution curriculum. He promises to monitor DeHart's classroom.

Aug 20, 1999 In letter to Howard Pellett of Humanists of North Puget Sound, Jones says BESD, "is opposed to the teaching of creation and/or intelligent design. Our biology classrooms will be monitored carefully to ensure that only materials formally approved will be used."

Aug 20, 1999 Skagit Valley Herald publishes DeHart as a "Voice of the Valley" editorial The article.

Sept 3, 1999 In response to Ken Atkins letter, Jones states that no separate documents exist regarding plans for monitoring, but that it will involve the following: (1) DeHart will present VanderVeen a copy of his lesson plans ahead of time and (2) there will be classroom observations.

Sept 13, 1999 In response to ACLU public disclosure request, Jones says that DeHart has never shared notes on lesson plans with any supervisor before; there are currently no lesson plans or notes regarding the teaching of evolution in the 1999-2000 school year; and there is no existing description of plans by the school district to supervise DeHart.

Sept 28, 1999 Laurel Browning reports at IMC meeting that Robert Aleline has resigned from committee. Also brought up at meeting- "Where does professional conduct come into play if a Burlington-Edison employee personally attacks IMC members for the group's decision on curriculum recommendations?"

Oct 4, 1999 Ken Tallquist, an English teacher at BEHS, has a series of guest speakers to talk about the evolution controversy for his 11th and 12th grade English class. The first speaker is Rick Jones. Val Mullen, a professor at Skagit Valley Community College who agreed to present the case for science, asks to observe DeHart's presentation so she could better address it in her own talk. Jones tells her no outside adults can attend, for fear of disruption.

Oct 5, 1999 DeHart speaks to Tallquist's English class.

Oct 7, 1999 Mullen speaks to Tallquist's English class.

Oct 8,1999 At last minute suggestion by DeHart, Jonathan Wells of the Discovery Institute speaks to Tallquist's class.

Oct 12, 1999 Paul Creelman's DeHart support group issues a flyer announcing its sponsorship of an October 20 lecture by Wells. VanderVeen distributes it to (at least some) BEHS faculty, with the handwritten note "Rick [Jones] thought you might be interested in this."

Oct 14, 1999 ACLU sends new public disclosure request asking for, among other things, the article referred to in VanderVeen's July 1999 memo (What material's did DeHart use in class last spring that was pro-evolution?)

Oct 20, 1999 Wells gives evening lecture to community sponsored by DeHart's support group, Skagit Parents for Scientific Truth. During lecture Wells says DeHart deserves a round of applause. DeHart supporters give standing ovation. Event is taped.

Oct 25, 1999 In response to ACLU, district says that the article DeHart used in class was "an outline of the theory of evolutionary theory, which he found on the Internet." No copies retained or further identification provided.

Nov, 1999 American Bar Association Journal publishes article titled "Evolution of a Controversy" containing numerous quotes from participants. The article.

Nov 3, 1999 In response to a challenge to the Pandas excerpt parent Jeremy Means filed during the summer, a building-level conference is held. DeHart and VanderVeen met with parents Means and Carl Johnson. DeHart says that he will not use Pandas excerpt any more. He refuses to commit as to what he will use next year, neither confirming nor denying that he would use writings of Michael Behe, Denton, or William Dembski. (Discovery Institute fellows.) DeHart states that Dembski is a good friend of his. No further details provided about the supplemental material used in 1999 class, or what will be used in 2000. No commitments made about how DeHart will be monitored.

Dec 6, 1999 ACLU attorney Richard Berley letter to BESD attorney Cliff Foster on behalf of ACLU expresses continued concern over DeHart's teaching methods.

Jan 17, 2000 Skagit Valley Herald runs Education Focus "Point/Counterpoint" with views of the 'Burlington- Edison Committee for Science' and 'Skagit Parents for Scientific Truth.' The article.

Jan 21, 2000 It is learned that in 1999 DeHart did not present an evolutionary response to "Irreducible Complexity" in 1999 class as he was directed to do by VanderVeen.

Feb 8, 2000 CNN "News Stand" broadcasts story on the controversy. Interviews with various participants. Jones says creationism will not be taught at Burlington-Edison. DeHart says he will teach similar ideas, but with less provocative materials. The article.

Feb 8, 2000 Christian Science Monitor publishes Article, "Whose 'Science'? The article.

Feb 9, 2000 Roger DeHart speaks as the invited guest of the Christian Legal Society student group at the University of Washington law school.

March, 2000 Ken Atkins sends letters to the District objecting to DeHart's March 2000 statements on CNN, and demands response from District.

March 3, 2000 BECSE sponsors lecture by Dr. David Milne from The Evergreen College entitled, "Evolution vs. Creationism: Teaching the Facts" at BEHS. Event is taped.

March 31,2000 Deadline passes for which for any supplemental materials that are to be used by teachers to be sent to VanderVeen for approval.

April 2000 DeHart is seen signing autographs at a conference organized by the Michael Polanyi Center at Baylor University in Texas. The Polanyi Center is a think tank created by the Baylor administration in 1999 to build a bridge between religion and science. However, the conference is the first time many of the faculty learn of the Polanyi Center's existence. The Baylor senate later calls for the Center to be dismantled. William Dembski of the Discovery Institute is director of the MP Center. (Website now closed)

April 30, 2000 At an adult Sunday School class visited by Ken Atkins, DeHart reports on the Baylor conference and reveals that he intends to use supplemental materials in his class regarding peppered moths and Haeckel's embryo drawings. DeHart predicts the ACLU will sue, making DeHart a nationally renowned figure, like Scopes.

May 2, 2000 DeHart presents to VanderVeen written materials he would like to use including a short video clip.

May 5, 2000 VanderVeen sends DeHart letter stating she will (1) review the materials, (2) have the B-EHS science department review the materials and seek their input and recommendations, and (3) determine how to make the materials available to the public as the IMC deadline has passed.

May 12, 2000 Parents Sid Stapleton, Ken Atkins and Carl Johnson meet with Jones and VanderVeen and have a good discussion about the materials in question. Issues include whether DeHart's newly submitted supplemental materials will be approved, and what steps will be taken to monitor his classroom performance.

May 24, 2000 Mark Toney, Science Dept. representative writes VanderVeen stating they believe that the articles as presented should not be used in Biology class.

May 26, 2000 VanderVeen tells DeHart she is denying permission for him to use the supplemental material referenced in his May 2, 2000 letter.

May 28, 2000 Skagit Valley Herald reports that principal VanderVeen rejected DeHart's request to approve five articles as supplemental materials for his biology classes. The materials dealt with peppered moths, Haeckel's embryos, (Materials that Wells used as handouts in his lecture last October.) and the Cambrian Explosion. Article-"School officials throw extra science materials out of class." http://www.skagitvalleyherald.com/daily/00/may/28/a1dehart.html

May/June 2000 DeHart teaches his evolution section in class.

July 15, 2000 DeHart presents material promoting the Discovery Institute's view of the Cambrian explosion in Kansas City during the "Intelligent Design conference." Audio tape of presentation. http://www.intelligentdesignnetwork.org/
http://www.discovery.org/crsc/scied/downloads/download.htm (actual presentation)

Oct 26, 2000 Jonathan Wells has book signing and lecture in Seattle concerning his new book, "Icons of Evolution." Burlington-Edison High School is briefly mentioned in book.

Nov 18, 2000 BECSE receives Civil Libertarian Award from ACLU in Seattle. December 13. 2000 Principal Beth VanderVeen receives letter from DeHart stating the seven materials (with copies of the materials) he wants to use for next year. "Not Black or White" Coyne book review, Nature, Nov. 5, 1998 "Abscheulich!" Gould article, Natural History, March 2000 Six diagrams from "Icons of Evolution" Wells book "A little fish challenges a giant of Science" Hereen, Boston Globe , May 30, 2000 "Natural Selection & Evolution" spiral book (Unit #7) by Ron Thompson

January 5, 2001 BECSE receives copy of articles DeHart wants to use from VanderVeen. It is learned that DeHart wants to teach his evolution chapter in late February/March instead of May/June.

January 12, 2001 BESCE attempts to borrow spiral booklet (Unit #7) by Thompson for review, but was told this material has not been approved, so we can't have it. (DeHart's decision.) Yet we receive units 1 and 2.

February 2, 2001 Parents Syd Stapleton, Ken Atkins and Carl Johnson meet with VanderVeen and have a good discussion about the newly submitted supplemental materials requested to be approved. Copy of Unit #7 is provided for our reviewing.

February 22, 2001 VanderVeen says she will not make her decision until after the March 13 school bond vote is done.

March 2001 Letter to the Editor from Jerry Benson appears saying not to vote for the school bond because of the DeHart issue.

March 13, 2001 School bond passes with 69% approval of voters.

May 15, 2001 Students pass out bookmarks entitled "Ten Questions To Ask Your Biology Teacher About Evolution" by Jonathan Wells in DeHart's classroom. (Questions available at DI website)

May 16, 2001 "Banned in Burlington" lecture at High School by Bruce Chapman, Jonathan Wells, David DeWolf of the Discovery Institute. Also appearing was Roger DeHart. In the written program for the event participants are asked to consider running for the two open school board positions this fall.

May 16, 2001 Skagit Valley Herald reports "Burlington-Edison district rejects teacher's materials critical of evolution" The article.

June 2001 Ken Tallquist leaves BE School District to accept job as Vice-Principal at Marysville-Pilchuck High School.

July 22, 2001 Skagit Valley Herald reports that DeHart is reassigned to earth sciences at B-E High School. The article

July 22, 2001 Skagit Valley Herald reports changes in enrollment prompted reassignment The article.

August 9, 2001 Skagit Valley Herald reports DeHart has accepted a job in the Marysville-Pilchuck High School to teach life sciences. The article

August 10, 2001 Everett Herald reports that Roger DeHart will be teaching earth sciences in the Marysville School District. School officials were unaware of his former high profile role in teaching public school students a variation of creationist theory in biology class. The article.

August 19, 2001 August 19, 2001 Everett Herald reports "Survival of the fittest teacher? The article.

August 21, 2001 Everett Herald reports "Science teacher's position approved" The article.

May 10, 2002 "Icons of Evolution" film premiers at Seattle Pacific University. Review of film.

Burlington reassigns biology teacher


"Skagit Valley Herald"

DeHart at center of debate over evolution vs. creation

07/22/01 Marina Parr

BURLINGTON Roger DeHart, the man at the middle of the maelstrom over teaching creation and evolution, won't be heading up any biology classes next year at Burlington-Edison High School.

School district officials have reassigned DeHart to teach earth science, an academic area that focuses on geology rather than the origins of life.

Superintendent Rick Jones said the reassignment is rooted in practical reasons, not political ones.

We transfer teachers at the high school level every year, Jones said. It's because we have staff that come and go and the needs change with the kids.

Supporters insist students are being cheated of DeHart's 23 years of teaching experience, his biology background and enthusiasm for the subject.

It's not in the best interest of the students, said Bruce Chapman, president of the Discovery Institute, a Seattle think tank that promotes teaching of intelligent design.

Chapman, like many of DeHart's supporters, insist religion isn't the real issue. They say DeHart's teachings, which touched on a subject dubbed intelligent design, is a valid rebuke of Darwinian evolution.

But critics of intelligent design say it=92s really an attempt to explain the origins of life in religious terms. They consider intelligent design an end-run around the separation between church and state.

This is only a start for what they want to get into the schools, said Carl Johnson, a local parent involved with the Burlington Edison Committee for Science Education, a grassroots group formed two years ago in opposition to DeHart and his backers at the Discovery Institute.

Intelligent design centers on the idea that living matter is so overwhelmingly complex that the slow, gradual, biological changes championed by mainstream scientists cannot be supported. The theory implies a higher being, or God, creating life largely as it exists today.

A major tenet of evolution is that the earth's biological diversity sprang naturally from a common source, or ancestor, with incremental changes occurring over time.

Most scientists agree evolution occurs through random mutation and through outside forces, such as famine or weather, when strong creatures survive and pass on their genes to the next generation while the weak die out.

Charles Darwin, a 19th century English biologist, created the theory of evolution after observing finches with distinctive beaks on the Galapagos Islands, on the west coast of South America.

Opponents of DeHart say intelligent design is a way to sneak religion into the classroom by implying there is a larger force, or higher being, responsible for designing the world we live in.

They hope the school district's decision to move DeHart from his ninth and 10th grade biology class to a new teaching assignment resolves the problem.

We're quite happy about it, said Ken Atkins, who has two children who once sat in DeHart's biology class.

Atkins is a member of the Burlington-Edison Committee for Science Education, whose members have battled what they view as religion being mixed in with mainstream science.

We hope that it eases the tensions. We want it over like everyone else, said Atkins of DeHart's removal from biology classes.

The issue has raged in newspaper editorial pages, has been written about in The New York Times and planted DeHart on the front page of The Los Angeles Times and in front of CNN television cameras.

The controversy became public three years ago after a student in DeHart's class complained to his parents about what DeHart was teaching.

For 10 years, DeHart had supplemented his biology curriculum with the textbook, Of Pandas and People, with little if any criticism. The book critiques evolution while making a case for intelligent design.

In 1998, the American Civil Liberties Union stepped in, threatening the school district with a lawsuit over DeHart=92s teaching.

During that first episode of public criticism, DeHart says the school district leadership supported him. Things changed, he said, in the summer of 1998, when Superintendent Paul Chaplik retired and the district hired a new superintendent, Rick Jones.

DeHart was told to teach from the school's approved biology textbook and not to deviate from it. However, in the spring of 1999, DeHart offered his class an article on irreducible complexity.

Championed by Michael Behe, a biochemist at Lehigh University, the theory suggests that some life forms are so complex they cannot be reduced to their simplest parts and thus cannot show an evolutionary path.

The school district allowed DeHart to bring up this element of intelligent design if he balanced it with mainstream scientific teachings. His critics say he did not.

Last year, district officials reiterated that DeHart stick to the textbook. He says he did.

There's not been insubordination, DeHart said.

Although De Hart, 47, said he's never pushed his religious beliefs in the classroom, he acknowledges there are theological implications to teaching intelligent design.

But he waves those concerns away as belonging to a small group of people.

There's a minority of the population that doesn't want to believe there's anything outside atoms and molecules. That really does challenge their world view, he said.

He said he feels his academic freedom is being trampled on by being removed from the subject he has studied and taught for so long.

We're talking about reassigning a teacher for ideological reasons, he said.

DeHart said he stopped teaching intelligent design four years ago but feels constrained by the school district's directive not to criticize evolution as it's presented in high school textbooks.

Critics say DeHart still wants to acquaint students with the possibility that a higher being is responsible for the earth's biodiversity.

What they want to do is include God as a possible hypothesis, using not just naturalistic explanations but supernatural,=94 said Johnson, a member of the grassroots science education committee.

It's not the job of science to explain the purpose of life. Miracles aren't allowed anywhere else in science, said Johnson, who considers himself a Christian. Why should biology be singled out as the only science that can permit the supernatural?

Meanwhile, DeHart said it's intellectually dishonest to discount the supernatural especially as it applies to science and its rigorous testing and retesting of answers to life's most basic questions.

The whole idea of (intelligent) design has been eliminated from science, he said. The only area we're going to go to is the area of best naturalistic explanation, when it's really a search for truth. With science ... you go to the best explanation, period. Not just the best naturalistic explanation.

Reporter Marina Parr can be reached at 360-416-2141 or by e-mail at mparr@skagitvalleyherald.com.

Not the whole truth


Published May 16 - 22, 2002 BY ROGER DOWNEY

LAST FALL, FOUR consecutive nights of PBS prime time were taken up with copulating animals, subdividing bacteria, animated DNA molecules, and pontificating sages of science. This month the Paul Allen- financed series Evolution is back (in more digestible weekly two-hour doses). But this time it's got a little competition.

Some might say, "very little." But to heretics who refuse allegiance to the sociocultural scientific juggernaut called "the neo-Darwinian synthesis," any competition is welcome, any opportunity for their case to be heard. And, apparently, to judge by the film Icons of Evolution, any tactic, however slippery, capable of furthering their cause.

The 51-minute documentary film, which made its official debut last Friday evening in the modest setting of Seattle Pacific University's Gwinn Commons, is credited to a video production company called Coldwater Media LCC, but to anyone even slightly familiar with neo-anti-Darwinian synthesis in America today, the tone, text, and cast of characters are all intimately known. Whatever Coldwater Media LCC may be, the fingerprints of Seattle's neoconservative Discovery Institute (DI) are all over the film.

Icons of Evolution is in part the story of a crusading high-school science teacher persecuted by the authorities for daring to expose his students to the truth about evolution. No, not John Scopes. This time the martyr is Roger DeHart, hounded out of his job with the Burlington-Edison (Wash.) School District for daring to take a critical attitude toward Darwinian dogma and encouraging his students to do likewise.

DeHart's troubles began in 1998, when evolution-minded parents became aware that for 12 years, DeHart had been omitting certain chapters in the assigned biology text and substituting materials of his own for student consideration. After a series of increasingly fractious public meetings and extensive editorializing in the local media, DeHart resigned his post and took up a position teaching "earth science" in nearby Marysville.

Up to a point, the version of DeHart's story told in Icons of Evolution is factually correct. But one major aspect of the story the film omits: the large and finally dominant role in the fracas by the Discovery Institute, which not only publicized DeHart's plight and played Little David to the ACLU's Goliath but tried to organize a campaign to elect anti-evolutionists to the Burlington-Edison School Board.

The DI doesn't try to obscure its interest in DeHart's situation: Indeed, DI president Bruce Chapman appears in person along with a half dozen "experts" "interviewed" by the filmmakers, all eloquently deploring the damage done in Burlington both to human rights and scientific progress.

Why the sarcastic quotation marks? Because with a couple of exceptions, the "experts" are not precisely who they purport to be. Take Paul Nelson, for example, whose undertitle IDs him as "Ph.D., Philosophy of Biology, University of Chicago." True, as far as it goes: Nelson did attend UC and got a Ph.D. in 1998. But that's not where he works: He works for the Discovery Institute, a fellow of its Center for the Renewal of Science & Culture.

Same with "Jonathan Wells, Ph.D., U. Cal Berkeley," "David Berlinski, Ph.D., Princeton," and "Stephen Meyer, Ph.D., history and philosophy of science, Cambridge University": The degrees are real, but the apparent academic affiliations aren't; all three are fellows of Discovery Institute. John West, for a change, is, as suggested by his on-screen ID, a professor at SPU; but his Discovery Institute "fellowship" also goes unmentioned by the filmmakers, making Icons of Evolution look less a documentary than a covert ideological infomercial.

Well, never mind the "mercial" part for the moment; what about the info? Again: OK as far as it goes, but not far enough to shake the huge structure of Darwinian theory and confirmatory research assembled over nearly 150 years, let alone topple it. The way Ernst Haeckel fudged drawings of embryos to make the early development of distant species look more similar is trotted out; the Galαpagos finches that gave Darwin the idea how species might diverge are turned against him (by ignoring 90 percent of the data); some deft misreading of the comparative embryology of wasps and fruit flies "proves" that there's no evidence that both insects ultimately derive from a common ancestor; and so on. As a threat to Darwinism, it's reminiscent of a woodpecker trying to bring down a sequoia.

Since anyone who's actually mastered the material on evolution in a second-year college biology text can refute all this scientific guff without opening the book, what's the point of packaging it to look like an episode of Nova? Because the First Amendment has so far proved impermeable to the religious right's campaign to bring God back into public education. But if you don't mention God and make your guff look like science, you can call any attempt to keep your guff from impressionable minds "censorship." And censorship, as we all know, is un-American.

For more on the Discovery Institute, go to www.discovery.org. For the story of Roger DeHart's battle with the Burlington-Edison School District and material on the Discovery Institute and its affiliations that you won't see on there, go to www.scienceormyth.org/resources.html.


Roger Downey's science column appears every other week.

Decision expected Tuesday in 'intelligent design' lawsuit


Posted on Sun, Dec. 18, 2005

Associated PressHARRISBURG, Pa. - Plaintiffs' lawyers and scientists who worked on the federal "intelligent design" trial say a ruling in the landmark case will likely come Tuesday.

Judge John E. Jones III's response to six weeks of testimony could determine whether the concept - which attributes the origin of life and the emergence of highly complex life forms to an unidentified intelligent force - can be mentioned in public school science classes.

Plaintiffs' attorneys are planning a news conference in front of the courthouse where the case was heard this fall. Scientists from the National Center for Science Education, which assisted plaintiffs in the case, are flying in from California for the decision.

"We feel very good about the case we presented," said Eric Rothschild, the plaintiffs' lead attorney.

Defense lawyers said they will wait and see.

"There's not much that we can do," said Richard Thompson of the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Thomas More Law Center. "It's out of our hands."

The Dover Area School Board voted a year ago to require students to hear a statement about intelligent design before learning about evolution. The statement says Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory is "not a fact" and has inexplicable "gaps," and it refers students to an intelligent design textbook for more information.

Eight families sued to have intelligent design removed, contending that it is biblical creationism in disguise and therefore violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

Jones could issue three rulings, legal experts have said.

He could rule in support of the school district's decision that intelligent design in high school biology class does not violate the First Amendment, thereby paving the way for the concept to be introduced in public schools across the country.

Or he could decide that intelligent design is unconstitutional because it's religion disguised as science.

Jones could also decide that school board members were motivated by religion when they voted to include intelligent design in the biology curriculum, but avoid ruling on whether intelligent design is legitimate science.

Information from: York Daily Record, http://www.ydr.com

Intelligent Design: "It's Not Science"


Air Date: Week of December 16, 2005

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson looks at the history of attributing scientific gaps to a higher being. He's on a panel to update the National Academy of Sciences document on evolution and creationism to reflect the dialogue on intelligent design and he tells Living on Earth host Steve Curwood that intelligent design is "a philosophy of ignorance" that has no place in science.

CURWOOD: In January, a Dover, Pennsylvania, judge is expected to rule whether intelligent design can be taught in a public school science class as an alternative to evolution. Intelligent design is the theory that the origins and workings of the universe can never be explained through science alone.

The judge will decide whether teaching intelligent design as part of biological science violates the first amendment of the Constitution's separation between church and state. And Pennsylvania is not alone - some twenty states are considering teaching intelligent design in science classes.

With me is Neil deGrasse Tyson. He's an astrophysicist and head of New York's Hayden Planetarium. Neil Tyson, just how novel is the argument of intelligence design as the answer to mysteries of science?

TYSON: Actually, many people think that notion is something new in the news. But if you comb the history books and look at what – let's take scientists, in particular – how many of the greatest scientists of the past have thought about their work and the frontier of their work, it's replete with reference to an almighty creator having a hand in what's going on. But you have to pay close attention to how they invoke the creator.

Going back even to Ptolemy, 2,000 years ago, he had an explanation for the planets, and it involved very intricate epicycles, which are these loop-de-loops that planets are doing, to explain what's going on. But it was fundamentally flawed because the sun is in the middle of all this motion, not Earth. And so he knew he was at his limits there, and he uttered what I think are some of the most poetic words ever to be spoken on the frontier of ignorance.

And he said: "When I trace, at my pleasure, the windings to and fro of the heavenly bodies, I no longer touch Earth with my feet: I stand in the presence of Zeus himself and take my fill of ambrosia."

So there he was, sort of basking in religious glory, on that frontier where he could not really understand what was going on. And it would take a while before somebody figured out what was going on. That person was Newton. Newton figured out which way the planets were going and how they did it. You read his discussion of gravity, God is nowhere to be found.

Only when he looks at his equations and finds out, you know, the solar system I think is unstable. You keep up this gravity long enough, with all these multiple planets tugging on each other, it'll unravel this beautiful system of gravity that I have put forth that describes how they attract each other. And he waxes poetic about God coming in and fixing that and keeping it going.

And it was not until 100 years after that where Simon-Pierre de Laplace, a brilliant French mathematician, was not content with just assigning that role to God. And he went in and figured out that the solar system is stable, and invented a new form of mathematics to learn that. So, we can glean a lot from scanning the history of people invoking what today is called "intelligent design." And what they all have in common is it stunts further progress of discovery.


CURWOOD: Neil, I'm wondering if intelligent design is just another term for creationism, or different? As I understand it, the creationism perspective is one that looks directly at the Judeo-Christian Bible that says that God created everything here in seven days.

TYSON: Six days. (Laughs)

CURWOOD: Six days. Oh, that's right. He took a day off.

TYSON: He rested on the seventh day. Yep.

CURWOOD: And intelligent design is not necessarily subscribing to that very literal interpretation, but saying, you know, this is really pretty amazing stuff and there must be something really smart, some being, that created all this. So, is there anything different in the movement to include intelligent design in science curricula, as opposed to efforts to teach creationism in schools?

TYSON: Well, what they have in common is that they're both not science. But if you were to step into that universe, if you will, you can find differences among them. If you look 15-20 years ago, the creation science movement, which is what it was called, was taking a, just as you described, a literal interpretation of the Judeo-Christian Bible, and asserts that the universe was created in the six days and could not be much older than 10,000 years, as demanded by Biblical chronology.

Now, in this latest movement, you don't have people who are leading the intelligent design movement making those kinds of claims. Because they're just patently false in the face of scientific evidence. What you have them saying – and many of them, in fact, do accept what science tells us about the universe. Many of them do accept that the universe is about 14 billion years old, and, you know, that Earth goes around the sun. You know, they accept this. And their only issue is when you come to something you can't explain, and they assert that it's unexplainable.

CURWOOD: Now, you've been involved with updating a National Academy of Sciences document on creationism versus evolution, I think that was done in 1999. And that document states, quote, "unequivocally that creationism has no place in any science curriculum at any level." Now, in the updating that you're involved in right now, will this entail doing more than just including the term intelligent design in addition to creationism?

TYSON: Yeah, I'm on a committee to sort of revise that document which, by the way, is important in many ways. That document is read not only by, sort of, school administrators, but by schoolteachers who are not otherwise part of the debate but they want some guidance as to how they should treat the subject when they go back to their classroom. And so, yes, the document needs to gather some language that has accumulated over the past few years to enhance its relevance to what's going on in the various court cases.

But also, one of our goals is to have it serve the role as a guide for people to understand how science works. So, rather than just going around debunking things, you just sort of highlight and enlighten the reader in terms of what theories are, how they work, how the frontier of science advances. And then it's simply a document that brings you up close and personal to the methods and tools of science. And in that way you will understand immediately that philosophies of ignorance have no place in the same room as philosophies of discovery.

CURWOOD: Let's say the courts in Pennsylvania, or perhaps somewhere else here in the United States, rule in favor of teaching intelligent design alongside evolution, as recently happened in Kansas. What would this mean for the future of science?

TYSON: Yeah, that's an excellent question because, in some ways, I don't really care much about the court case. I mean, it's interesting to follow sociologically, but if they say intelligent design is science, that doesn't make it science. You know, the courts is not the ultimate arbiter of how science works. It would be a curious development that we would have a legal system legislating what is science and what isn't.

I can tell you this, that in the 21st century, emergent economies will flow from our innovations in science and technology. And the moment we stunt our curiosity by offering ready explanations that it's unknowable, we will cede to the rest of the world that frontier of discovery. And we will see more than just a few engineering jobs go overseas. It'll be sort of the beginning of the end of our sort of economic strength as a nation that we've come to take for granted in the 20th century.

CURWOOD: Neil deGrasse Tyson heads the Hayden Planetarium in New York and is a frequent contributor to Living on Earth. Thanks for being with us.

TYSON: It's a pleasure. Thanks for having me again.

'Intelligent Design' Deja Vu


By Douglas Baynton

Saturday, December 17, 2005; Page A23

School boards across the country are facing pressure to teach "intelligent design" in science classes, but what would such courses look like? Thankfully, we need not tax our imaginations. All we have to do is look inside some 19th-century textbooks.

The one science course routinely taught in elementary schools back then was geography. Textbooks such as James Monteith's "Physical and Intermediate Geography" (1866), Arnold Guyot's "Physical Geography" (1873) and John Brocklesby's "Elements of Physical Geography" (1868) were compendiums of knowledge intended to teach children a little of everything about Earth and its inhabitants.

These textbooks seem also to have been intended to provide solace for the existentially anxious. All of them offered in one form or another the reassurance that "Geography teaches us about the earth which was made to be our home." Earth by itself "could not be the abode of man," advised one. "Therefore, two indispensable agents are provided -- the sun and atmosphere." The entire vast history of the planet was summed up as the "gradual formation by which it was made ready for the reception of mankind." The lay of the land had been thoughtfully arranged for our benefit: "As the torrid regions of the earth require the greatest amount of rain, there are the loftiest mountains, which act as huge condensers of the clouds." Because the breezes that blew down mountainsides cooled the inhabitants below, the highest were located in the hottest parts of the world "for the same reason that you put a piece of ice into a pitcher of water in summer, rather than in winter."

Evidence of design was found in aesthetics as well. Behold "how greatly the scenery of mountains ministers to our love of the beautiful and sublime," one book counseled, "and how much would be lost in this respect if the surface of the earth were a monotonous, unbroken plain." Wherever we look we see "a beautiful world, which was made for the enjoyment and benefit of the whole human family."

What is wrong with such comforting thoughts? For one, if you've concluded that the world is designed for humans, there is no compelling reason to stop there. Why not a world made not just for your species but also for your race, your nation, your moment in history? For example, the designer's partiality toward the temperate zones was demonstrated by the fact that they were blessed with the useful animals, while "the fiercest Carnivora, as the lion, tiger, and jaguar . . . have their homes within the torrid climes of the globe." Too bad for the people of the torrid climes.

Another book explained that all the plants and animals that lived and died for eons did so precisely because humans, during their industrial era, would need the coal. The author observed that "the wisdom of this Plan is further recognized in the fact that the coal is found, mainly, in those parts of the earth that are best fitted for human habitation -- in the United States, Great Britain, Western Europe, British America, and China."

Of course, these observations contain germs of truth. The presence of useful animals affects social development. Mountains modify climate. Design arguments, however, reverse such practical explanations, replacing natural causality with supernatural predestination. In doing so, useful answers that open up further questions are replaced by answers that are emotionally satisfying but intellectual and practical dead ends. After all, once you know that mountains exist because they were meant to exist, what is left to do but to sit in your armchair and meditate on the wisdom of their design?

Two textbooks laid out the very terms of the current controversy. Brocklesby's "Elements of Physical Geography" told readers in 1868 that "the physical phenomena of the world reveal in their harmonious action a unity of plan and purpose, and display in an infinite variety of ways the 'Power, Wisdom and Goodness of the Almighty Designer.' " By 1901, the Rand-McNally Grammar School Geography instead maintained that the study of geography ought to reveal "a connected chain of causes and results, every link of which presents a problem to stimulate investigation and awaken rational thought."

There is our choice. The details have changed, but the fundamental habits of thought at issue have not. Do we want children to learn what is currently known and, more important, what remains to be discovered, about the physics of planetary motion? Or rather should they learn that "As the earth is round, only half of it can be lighted at once. In order that both sides may be lighted, the Creator has caused the earth to rotate"?

The writer is an associate professor of history at the University of Iowa. He will answer questions about this column on Monday at 2 p.m. on washingtonpost.com.

Judge commits eight family members to psychiatric ward over exorcism killings

Associated Press Dec 16 2005

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A judge committed eight relatives to the psychiatric ward of a prison Thursday for the ritualistic slayings of two young family members that shocked Mexico with their brutality.

Officials said the parents, grandparents and aunts of a 7-month-old and 13-year-old hacked the baby to death and fatally stoned the teenager earlier this month after they became convinced the girls were demons or possessed by the devil.

Judge Ana Maria Raya Razo, who committed each family member for 40 years, told The Associated Press they had acknowledged killing the girls to save themselves from demons. The slayings were accompanied by prayers, candle-lighting and the sacrifice of farm animals, officials said.

A ninth suspect — an aunt described as the instigator of the slayings — was also sent to a psychiatric hospital after she became catatonic on the heels of her arrest. The killings were prompted by her visit to a faith healer, authorities said.

The family members were suffering "from a delusional psychotic state, with paranoia and hallucinations," Raya Razo said by telephone from Penjamo, the Guanajuato state township in remote western Mexico where the killings occurred.

"For example, they said they saw animals, demons in the girls," she said. "They said they had animals' faces, the faces of monkeys, that they had demons inside and had to be killed in order to for (the adults) to save themselves."

After being tipped off to the killings by an anonymous phone call, officers traveled on foot to the family's hamlet and found the baby girl mutilated and the body of the 13-year-old tied to a stake and battered to death.

About 10 children and adults — members of the extended family of about 30 — were found locked in a house, where they had been confined for three days, apparently because they also were suspected of being possessed, authorities said.

Goats, pigs and chickens had been sacrificed at the site, according to police reports.

The judge found that the children's parents took part in the killings but were not responsible for murder due to insanity. The teenager's grandfather and three aunts also were ordered committed.

The family members could be released before 40 years if psychiatric tests prove they have recovered, Raya Razo said -- http://www.courttv.com/news/2005/1216/exorcism_ap.html

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Most scientists believe in biological evolution


Published: Saturday, December 17, 2005 -- The Truth, A4

Last updated: 12/16/2005 11:51:41 PM

Keith Snelson ("Evolution theory can't stand up to basic facts," People's Forum, Dec. 8) repeats a number of statements appearing on the Discovery Institute Web site. In particular, more than 400 scientists have signed the statement, "We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged." Since scientists are natural skeptics and know that mechanisms such as genetic drift and symbiosis are also important determinants of life, it is perhaps surprising that so few have signed and that less than 20 percent of the signatories are biologists. Perhaps it is because the Discovery Institute is a political advocacy organization, not a scientific organization.

Mr. Snelson quotes a few scientists who are critical of evolution. As determined in a poll, about 700 of 480,000 earth and life scientists do consider "creation-science" a valid theory. As for the remaining scientists, I quote from the National Academy of Sciences: "The concept of biological evolution is one of the most important ideas ever generated by the application of scientific methods to the natural world. The evolution of all the organisms that live on Earth today from ancestors that lived in the past is at the core of genetics, biochemistry, neurobiology, physiology, ecology and other biological disciplines. It helps to explain the emergence of new infectious diseases, the development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, the agricultural relationships among wild and domestic plants and animals, the composition of Earth's atmosphere, the molecular machinery of the cell, the similarities between human beings and other primates and countless other features of the biological and physical world."

Or as Bob Davidson, one of the signatories of the Discovery Institute statement, says, "the scientific evidence for evolution is overwhelming."



Tools Found in Britain Show Much Earlier Human Existence


By Guy Gugliotta Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, December 15, 2005; Page A24

A chance discovery on a routine field trip to England's Suffolk seacoast led to evidence that humans reached northern Europe 700,000 years ago, about 200,000 years earlier than previously thought, scientists said yesterday.

The recovery of 32 hand-worked black flint flakes from seashore sediment vindicated researchers who had sought for two centuries to unearth proof of human habitation in the fossil-rich lowlands bordering the North Sea.

"Every effort had failed to prove there were tools, and we assumed that people just weren't there," said paleoanthropologist Christopher Stringer of London's Natural History Museum, who is part of the 19-member team studying the deposits. "But absence of evidence does not necessarily prove evidence of absence."

The discovery showed that archaic humans crossed the Alps into northern Europe more than 200,000 years earlier than previous excavations had indicated, and only about 100,000 years after humans arrived in southern Europe, probably from Africa.

Reporting in the journal Nature, the team said the early settlers apparently took advantage of climactic conditions during a relatively warm "interglacial" period to dwell in fertile lowlands that formed part of a land bridge connecting what is now the island of Britain with the rest of Europe.

"It was warmer than it is today, a big delta with a fan of rivers," Stringer said. "It had a dry, mild Mediterranean climate, exotic beasts and lots of resources."

Stringer said it is unclear whether the settlers, probably a variant of the archaic human species known as Homo heidelbergensis, remained in England once they arrived, and suggested that subsequent "ice ages" may have driven them away.

"Colonization is risky," said Stony Brook University archaeologist John Shea, not a member of the British-led research team. "Think Jamestown, or the Sea of Tranquility. This may be permanent, or it may be a short pulse of settlement. What needs to happen is to fill in the gaps."

Stringer said the artifacts were discovered by accident during a field trip to the North Sea coast near Pakefield. Researchers for 200 years have explored the area's coastal sediment because of the rich variety of ice age animal and plant fossils encountered there. The exposed sediment changes continually because of shoreline erosion.

"Someone found a flint flake sticking out of a sediment layer," Stringer said. Fortunately, he added, the group included John J. Wymer, a well-known expert on Britain's stone age, "who identified it as a humanly-struck flake. That started the ball rolling."

Experts eventually found 32 flakes made by striking a flint stone core with another stone. Stringer said at least one of the flakes had been retouched to sharpen the edges, while another was a sharpened flint stone "core."

Stringer said the flakes, one to two inches long, were "razor sharp" and had probably been used as knife or spear points. None had been shaped as a fist-size "hand ax," a technology known to human ancestors for at least 1 million years.

"It's possible that they didn't make hand axes because they didn't know how," Stringer said. "But there's no good local source of flint, either. What we're probably looking at are river cobbles."

Stringer said the team dated the find by using a variety of techniques and determined that the sediment had to be at least 700,000 years old -- older by 200,000 years than famous finds in Mauer, Germany, near Heidelberg, and Boxgrove, on England's southern coast.

No human remains were found with the Pakefield flints, but he suggested that the inhabitants were members of an archaic species that preceded Neanderthals, present in Europe around 200,000 years ago, and the arrival of modern humans about 160,000 years after that.

Cruise criticized over Scientology cure


Dec 15, 2005, 14:23 GMT

Tom Cruise has been slammed by fire-fighters injured in the 9/ll attacks - for suggesting they use Scientology to heal themselves.

The actor has reportedly urged people suffering the effects of smoke inhalation from the terrorist attacks to quit using their medication and inhalers - and start drinking cooking oil.

The 'purification' programme also advises people to take large doses of niacin and indulge in plenty of saunas.

The Hollywood heavyweight - a co-founder of the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project - has also supported a new Scientology clinic preaching these remedies.

However, doctors have reportedly dismissed the treatment as 'quackery'.

Deputy Fire Commissioner Frank Gribbon told PageSix.com: 'If our doctors are prescribing medication, and they (Scientologists) are saying, 'don't take it', that's a problem for us.'

He also claimed the department's deputy chief medical officer Dr David Prezant is against the treatment.

He said: 'He (Prezant) is not pleased when patients are advised to disobey doctors' orders. That's where he drew the line.'

Scientology devotee Tom - who is engaged to actress Katie Holmes, who is pregnant with their first baby together - has defended the purification process, claiming: 'More than 500 individuals have recovered health and job fitness through this project.'

Copyright 2005 BANG Media International

Debate on creationism delayed in S.C.


Posted on Thu, Dec. 15, 2005

Reform panel to study standards dealing with teaching of evolutionAssociated PressCOLUMBIA - The state Board of Education voted Wednesday to avoid the debate over teaching creationism in S.C. public schools -- for now.

The board decided to continue the use of current biology standards, written in 2000, while an education reform panel studies the wording that deals with teaching evolution.

The Education Oversight Committee had voted Monday to recommend approving new biology content standards with the exception of the part dealing with evolution, which it removed for further study.

In order not to confuse teachers by telling them to teach only part of a new biology standard, Education Department attorney Dale Stuckey recommended the board not "piecemeal" the biology standards and vote to leave the current ones in place.

The board voted 10-5 to adopt new teaching standards for all other subjects, but leave biology standards in place for now.

State Sen. Mike Fair, an oversight panel member whose arguments have sparked the current debate, said Wednesday that, while he personally favors the concept of intelligent design, he is not trying to push that agenda.

"This is not a backdoor attempt, it is not a front-door attempt, it is no attempt to get intelligent design into the classroom," Fair said. "The political climate is not right in South Carolina for that to happen."

State board member Ron Wilson, who voted against adopting the new standards, said he will continue to fight.

"I believe in creation, and I'm opposed to the Darwinists and the evolutionists wanting a monopoly," Wilson said Wednesday.

"They're for censoring what we teach in science, and I think that's horrible."

Norse? Knights? Hoax? Stone still the rage in Kensington


New book adds a twist to debate over the famed runestone


KENSINGTON, Minn. — They came to hear proof that their beloved rock is a priceless Old World artifact, and they were not disappointed.

"This is it … the smoking gun that proves it's medieval,'' Richard Nielsen told a gathering of the faithful at the Kensington Community Center on Saturday.

Nielsen is a tireless advocate for the Kensington Runestone, the carved slab that has given this 286-person farm town a weird kind of international notoriety.

In 1898, a Swedish immigrant farmer discovered the 202-pound stone with a message of Norse exploration. Its inscribed date of 1362 was evidence to Scandinavians in Minnesota that their people — not that Italian fellow with the three boats — were the true European discoverers of the New World.

Through the years, mainstream scientists have generally lined up against the stone's authenticity, viewing it as a pioneer prank. But the presence here of Runestone Auto Care, the Runestone Apartments, Runestone Days in June and a carved copy of the stone in front of the K-Town Bar suggests that Kensington remains, after all these years, as rune-struck as ever.

"It's a sickness,'' joked Mel Conrad of the Kensington Area Heritage Society.

Nielsen, with co-author Scott Wolter, came to ground zero to sign copies of their new, self-published book, "The Kensington Rune Stone — Compelling New Evidence.'' Nielsen's clincher, delivered in a slide show at the center, was the presence on the stone of a character known as a "dotted-R,'' which he said links the stone to the Swedish island of Gotland in medieval times.

"It means this is where the Vikings came, and we're proud of it,'' said Ralph Gunderson, 69, of Kensington, who came to buy the book and hear the retelling of the story.

Maybe not Vikings. Nielsen and Wolter suggest that the guys kicking around in west-central Minnesota 130 years before Christopher Columbus hit the shore had a religious mission and were related to the Knights Templar of "The Da Vinci Code'' fame.

No matter. The story lives on, Viking or Knight, truth or fake.

The stone sits in an iron easel at the Runestone Museum in Alexandria, 20 miles away, where a giant, flaxen-haired Viking statue carries a message on his shield: "Alexandria — Birthplace of America.''

"This has been part of my life since I could talk and understand,'' Gunderson said.

And of Darwin Ohman's too. A soft-spoken, silver-haired man of 62, Ohman, of New Brighton, is the grandson of stone-discoverer Olof Ohman. He came to the book signing this weekend with hopes of igniting a runestone revival.

"They have proven the stone is the genuine thing,'' Darwin Ohman said of the authors.

His grandfather said he discovered the buried stone as he was uprooting a tree on his land. It contained a message carved in runes, an ancient alphabet. Translators said it describes a mission of exploration by "8 Goths and 22 Norwegians'' and refers to fishing and the deaths of 10 companions.

The stone and its story traveled from Kensington to the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and to the desks of scholars in Sweden. If true, it would rank as one of the great finds on the continent, and Ohman's farm would be an international attraction.

But there has always been a problem.

The consensus of archaeologists, anthropologists and other scholars is heavily tilted against the authenticity of the stone, as it is against similar claims of Old Norse findings in the interior of North America, said Michael Michlovic, anthropology professor at Minnesota State University Moorhead and an expert in the region's archaeology.

Russell Fridley, retired head of the Minnesota Historical Society and an authority on Minnesota history, remains a dissenter. He cited interviews with children of one of Olof Ohman's neighbors, who said their father confessed to helping Ohman carve the stone. Fridley said the new book, while an impressive research project, has not changed his mind on the importance of the stone.

"It's a monument to Scandinavian frontier humor,'' Fridley said in a telephone interview.

Nielsen and Wolter's 558-page opus is a labor of love heavy on runic comparisons and geologic minutiae.

Nielsen, 72, an oil-industry engineer from Houston who is of Danish heritage, said he has been researching and writing about the stone for nearly two decades. He quickly became convinced that the stone's detractors made significant errors.

"It made me extremely angry that these professors with false evidence claimed he (Ohman) was a liar,'' he said.

Wolter, 46, a geologist with a business in St. Paul, said he got involved five years ago when the Runestone Museum hired him to test the stone. He is of Norwegian and German heritage but said he wasn't a runestone fanatic. "I'd never heard of it,'' he said.

Studies of the weathering of the grooves of the carvings, of the runes compared to ancient texts and of photos taken to highlight each rune lead the men to argue that the stone is ancient and could not have been carved in the 19th century.

They found what they believe to be intentionally punched holes highlighting certain runes, where they discover what they believe to be a secret code. They said the word "grail'' was part of the code and links the message to religious orders on the island of Gotland.

The book might not convert the dissenters. But it may help business.

In Alexandria, officials at the Runestone Museum say new twists to the old controversy can bring in visitors. There have been 9,500 visitors this year representing 27 foreign countries, they said.

"It brings people into Alexandria,'' said Barbara Grover, a board member of the Runestone Museum Foundation.

On Saturday, the community center was buzzing with a mostly elderly audience of people who appreciate the mysteries of the rock.

Several brought stones or implements found on their property for Wolter to examine. There was talk of water routes from the North Atlantic to central Minnesota and of disintegrating Viking ships buried under the farm fields.

They admired the slide show and had Darwin Ohman sign the book along with the authors. They wore T-shirts proclaiming their town — not Alexandria — as "the REAL home of the Kensington Runestone.'' They talked of some day reclaiming the stone for display in Kensington.

Darwin Ohman said he hopes the new book opens long-closed minds, and he would like to see a public trial to try to settle the question.

"Here's an issue that's been around for 105 years, and now it's coming off the dime,'' he said. "So I'm fired up.''

Scientists to check Nepal Buddha boy

By Navin Singh Khadka BBC News, Kathmandu

A meditating teenage boy in south-central Nepal is drawing the attention of scientists after attracting huge crowds in the past six months and earning himself the name Buddha-reincarnate.

They are mulling over how to examine him without disturbing his meditation.

Ram Bahadur Bamjan's friends, relatives and managers say he has been meditating without drinking water for six months now and that he will carry on for another six years until he gains enlightenment.

Siddartha Gautama, who Buddhists believe later attained Nirvana, was born in 560 BC.

Grown weak

Word spread quickly about the teenager and people around Ratanapuri village in Bara district began to visit Bamjan, 15, who has been sitting cross-legged in a traditional Buddha posture under a peepal tree.

Bamjan's eyes are closed and his body firm, encased in a whitish shawl.

His hair has grown long and has almost covered his eyes. Villagers say he has grown weak.

His picture has been appearing regularly in newspapers and people now look for updates on him.

Many around Bara worship him as the reincarnation of the Buddha.

The tree is festooned and the air has the smell of incense sticks.

The dramatically increased movement of people has generated economic opportunities.

Makeshift shops have sprung up and offerings in cash and kind are on the rise.

"Almost 500,000 rupees ($7,000) have been deposited in the bank by devotees," says Prajapati Koirala, a senior government administrator in the area. That is apart from the donations visitors make on the spot.

Local people have formed a committee to make sure Bamjan gets the right environment to meditate and to manage the influx of visitors and the offerings they make.

The most frequently asked questions: Does he remain seated like that and meditate even at night? Does he not eat or drink at all?

Some say he has eaten nothing since he began his meditation, others that he used to take a milk-like liquid from the roots of the peepal tree at the beginning.


Most people can live without food for several weeks, with the body drawing on its fat and protein stores. But the average human can survive for only three to four days without water.

Followers of holy men and ascetics have often ascribed extraordinary powers to them, but such powers are seldom subject to scientific inspection.

But the number of people seeking real evidence here is increasing.

Under pressure, locals have asked the administration to find out the truth.

"We have agreed to conduct a scientific examination on him," said the local administrator, Mr Koirala.

The challenge is to do so without touching him.

Mr Koirala said scientists from the Royal Nepal Academy of Science and Technology were due to arrive to conduct the examination.

It remains unclear how they will do it.

"At least the scientists will be able to see whether he meditates the whole night or not," said Deekpal Chaudhary, who sells incense sticks to visitors.

Monastery tour

Bamjan's family members say they have no idea what is going on.

His mother fainted when she found out her son had undertaken an indefinite meditation.

"I sometimes go to see him but he does not talk to me," said Maya Devi Tamang.

"I don't know what will happen to him but I know that god will help him."

The name of Buddha's mother was also Maya Devi, a point Bamjan's devotees have stressed.

The family said Bamjan was different from his four brothers. They said he did not speak much and stayed aloof.

"He never touched alcohol," said his primary education teacher, Salden Lama.

Relatives and neighbours said Bamjan undertook meditation when he returned from a tour of Lumbini, where Buddha was born, and monasteries in Pokhara in Nepal and Dehradun in India.

Friend and cousin Prem Lama remembers Bamjan saying that he did not want people to call him Buddha as he had only reached primary enlightenment.

Bamjan has spoken only a few times since he began the meditation, according to Prem Lama.

He said the first time Bamjan spoke was when a snake bit him around a month ago.

Bamjan took the incident as his second test, which he must overcome, Prem Lama said.

In the first test he was also bitten by a snake - three months after he began the meditation.

The second snake-bite episode led to increased curiosity.

After being bitten, Bamjan was said to have asked his aides to put a curtain around him.

"In less than a week he asked us to take the curtain away," Prem Lama said.

Now another curtain is to be drawn around Bamjan - for the scientific examination.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/11/30 16:26:25 GMT


Evolution education update: Selman appeal heard; new Kitzmiller documents; Kitzmiller in The New Yorker

Oral arguments were heard in the appeal in Selman v. Cobb County, while Kitzmiller v. Dover continues to generate documents -- both in the form of court filings and in the pages of The New Yorker magazine.


Oral arguments in the appeal in Selman v. Cobb County were heard by a three-judge panel in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia, on December 15, 2005. At issue is a decision issued by a lower court in January 2005, holding that the policy requiring evolution warning labels to be affixed to the biology textbooks used in Cobb County's public schools violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. In his decision, Judge Clarence Cooper wrote, "the Court believes that an informed, reasonable observer would interpret the Sticker to convey a message of endorsement of religion. That is, the Sticker sends a message to those who oppose evolution for religious reasons that they are favored members of the political community, while the Sticker sends a message to those who believe in evolution that they are political outsiders."

Judge Ed Carnes, one of the most conservative judges on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, was reportedly critical of the lower court's ruling, describing the words of the label as "technically accurate" and contending that the Cobb County School Board was justified in requiring the sticker. The Los Angeles Times (December 16, 2006) quoted him as saying, "From nonlife to life is the greatest gap in scientific theory ... There is less evidence supporting it than there is for other theories. It sounds to me like evolution is more vulnerable and deserves more critical thinking." According to the Associated Press (December 16, 2006), Jeffrey Bramlett, arguing for the American Civil Liberties Union and parents, cited the testimony of Brown University's Kenneth Miller, the author of the textbook used in Cobb County, who testified it would be misleading to say that evolution is not a fact.

Carnes also alleged that there were errors of fact in Cooper's decision and the ACLU's appeal brief. In particular, he took issue with the claim that a petition organized by a local creationist parent, Marjorie Rogers, affected the school board's decision to require the stickers, contending that the petition was dated six months after the decision. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (December 16, 2005), however, it reported on March 29, 2002, that Rogers told the board about her petition at its March 28, 2002, meeting, which was the same meeting at which the board promised that students would be told that evolution is a theory, not a fact. Bramlett told the Fulton County Daily Report (December 16, 2005) that he would have "not too much" trouble in clarifying the sequence of events for the court.

It is not known when the panel -- comprising Carnes, Frank M. Hull and William H. Pryor Jr. -- will issue its decision, although the Los Angeles Times speculated that it will be in a few weeks. Michael Manely, who successfully argued that the stickers were unconstitutional in the 2004 trial, told the Times that the line of questioning during the oral arguments suggested that the judges might seek to overturn the ruling, commenting, "I'm certainly more worried than I was when I walked in this morning." But the Times also quoted Michael Broyde, director of the law and religion program at Emory University's law school, as saying that Judge Cooper "wrote a very crafty opinion" that relied extensively on the factual record. "District court facts are like mud," Broyde quipped: "They stick to you."

For the story in the Los Angeles Times, visit:

For the Associated Press's story (via CNN), visit:

For the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's story, visit:

For the story in the Fulton County Daily Report, visit:

And for NCSE's collection of information on Selman v. Cobb County, visit:


Although the trial in Kitzmiller v. Dover -- the first legal challenge to the constitutionality of teaching "intelligent design" in the public schools -- ended on November 4, 2005, the barrage of legal documents continues apace. All of the available post-trial filings are now present on NCSE's website, including the Plaintiffs' and Defendants' Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, the Plaintiffs' Response to the Defendants and the Defendants' Response to the Plaintiffs, amicus briefs from the Jewish Social Policy Action Network and SciPolicy journal (supporting the plaintiffs), and amicus briefs from the Discovery Institute, the Foundation for Thought and Ethics (the publisher of the "intelligent design" textbook Of Pandas and People), and a small group of scientists, all urging the court not to rule that "intelligent design" is intrinsically religious.

Of particular interest is the Plaintiffs' Response to the latter three amicus briefs, which recapitulates a number of key points in the plaintiffs' case: that the proponents of "intelligent design" are arguing against methodological naturalism while also contending that "intelligent design" is not committed to the supernatural; that despite their public disavowal of religious motivations they describe themselves to their supporters as engaged in apologetics; that the substitution of the phrase "intelligent design" for "creation" in drafts of Of Pandas and People "dictates only one inference." The Response concludes, "By availing themselves of the opportunity to submit amicus briefs, but not contesting the evidence of their religious and creationist words and actions, the FTE, Discovery Institute, and their affiliated scientists have effectively admitted the validity of that evidence."

Also noteworthy is the supplemental expert report of Barbara Forrest, one of the plaintiffs' expert witnesses. The report was written in light of new documents uncovered via the plaintiffs' subpoena to the Foundation for Thought and Ethics for material relating to the origin of Of Pandas and People. The report was originally filed under seal, but became part of the public record when it was entered into evidence. In the report, Forrest assesses the revisions that the manuscript underwent before publication, concluding that "the shift from the predominant use of 'creation' and its cognates to 'intelligent design' is clearly evident both in the text matches and in the draft themselves on visual inspection. ... In order to get Pandas accepted in public school science classes after Edwards, 'creationism' and its cognates had to be removed."

For NCSE's collection of information on Kitzmiller v. Dover, visit:

For the Plaintiff's Response (PDF), visit:

And for Forrest's supplemental expert report (PDF), visit:


Margaret Talbot contributed a marvelous essay on the six-week-long trial in Kitzmiller v. Dover -- the first legal challenge to the constitutionality of teaching "intelligent design" in the public schools -- to The New Yorker (December 5, 2005). Accompanying the article is a full-page caricature, showing Eric Rothschild cross-examining defense expert witness Michael Behe before Judge John Jones III; in the background hover bacterial flagella and two whales, a modern whale and the extinct walking whale Pakicetus. Unfortunately, her essay is not available on The New Yorker's website, although there is a question-and-answer discussion with her, as well as a New Yorker article from 1925 about the Scopes trial.

Talbot describes the participants in the trial colorfully, Judge Jones, for example, having "the rugged charm of a nineteen-forties movie star; he sounded and looked like a cross between Robert Mitchum and William Holden." The first expert witness for the plaintiffs, Kenneth Miller of Brown University, "made delicate scholarly jokes that weren't too geeky, and answered each question with undiminished energy, as though he'd heard it before, but not that day, so, really, it was as fresh and interesting as ever." And the terminology employed by Berkeley's Kevin Padian (president of NCSE's board of directors) for various prehistoric animals -- "which he called, variously, 'critters,' 'guys,' and 'paleozoic roadkill'" -- apparently amused both Talbot and Judge Jones.

Talbot was also impressed by the fact that "intelligent design" was difficult to defend under cross-examination, writing that the court forum "allowed for the close questioning of Michael Behe, the Lehigh University biochemist who is the leading intellectual of intelligent design (and one of the movement's few working scientists). Under cross-examination by Eric Rothschild, a dogged lawyer for the plaintiffs, Behe conceded, for example, that a definition of science that could be expanded to embrace intelligent design could, by the same token, embrace astrology. And he was unable to name any peer-reviewed research generated by intelligent design, though the movement has been around for more than a decade."

Looking ahead, Talbot perceptively observes that creationism evolves: "Thwarted in the effort to pass statutes that ban the teaching of evolution altogether, they tried statutes that called for 'balance.' Stymied again, they've tried to introduce the proviso that evolution is 'just a theory.' ... Tellingly, its newest incarnation emerged in close tandem with the defeat of creationism in the courts. Barbara Forrest, a historian of the intelligent-design movement, testified at the trial that the first 'Of Pandas and People' manuscripts contained the word 'creationism' precisely where the words 'intelligent design' appear now." She adds, "If intelligent design is defeated in the Dover case, its backers will undoubtedly find subtler ways of promoting it."

Talbot ends with Judge Jones's eerily theatric closing to the bench trial: "In the final minutes of the trial, Judge Jones closed the proceedings with an eloquent speech about how proud he was of everyone in the courtroom, and what great lawyering he'd been privileged to see. Then Patrick Gillen, the soft-spoken lawyer from the Thomas More center, stood up to say something. For all his awareness of what this trial was about, he could not suppress a religious reference. 'By my reckoning, this is the fortieth day since the trial began and tonight will be the fortieth night,' Gillen said. 'Mr. Gillen, that is an interesting coincidence,' Judge Jones replied. 'But it was not by design.'"

For The New Yorker's discussion with Talbot, visit:

For The New Yorker's 1925 article on the Scopes trial, visit:

And for NCSE's collection of information on Kitzmiller v. Dover, visit:


In last week's story about the Thomas B. Fordham Institute's report The State of State Science Standards, Kentucky was inadvertently omitted from the list of the grades received by states for the treatment of evolution in their state science standards. The state received the grade of 1 (of a possible 3): "marginally acceptable." The corrected list:

Receiving a grade of 3: CA, DE, GA, IL, IN, KS, MD, MA, MI, MO, NJ, NM, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VT, VA, WA
Receiving a grade of 2: AZ, DC, LA, MN, NV, OR, UT
Receiving a grade of 1: CO, HI, KY, NE, NC, ND, SD, TX, WV, WY
Receiving a grade of 0: AL, AK, AR, CT, FL, ID, ME, MS, MT, NH, OK, WI

(Note that Iowa has no state science standards.)

According to the report, "A standards document that gives evolutionary science appropriate weight, at least within biology, that introduces the main lines of evidence, including findings in the fossil record, genetics, molecular biology, and development, and that connects all this with Earth history, merits a '3.' The above, but with some big gaps, gets a '2.' '1' is a marginally acceptable treatment. If the treatment is useless, disguised, or absent, the grade is '0.'"

If you wish to subscribe, please send:

subscribe ncse-news your@email.com

again in the body of an e-mail to majordomo@ncseweb2.org.

Thanks for reading! And as always, be sure to consult NCSE's web site: http://www.ncseweb.org where you can always find the latest news on evolution education and threats to it.

With best wishes for the holiday season,

Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x305
fax: 510-601-7204

Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism is now available: http://www.ncseweb.org/evc

Intelligent design is not smart


By Bethany L. Ruhe Friday, December 16, 2005

Proponents of intelligent design are, rightly or wrongly, perceived as having a religious agenda. Despite attempts to sugar-coat intelligent design with the language of science, it is widely regarded as Creationism in pretty paper. Intelligent design is not alone in being in the front pages and in the forefront of activists' minds. In many ways, it's just a small speck on a big egg.

The Religious Right has also made controlling the Supreme Court one of its primary tasks. This is no coincidence. In 1993 the Supreme Court decided Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, which resulted in a strict set of criteria for admitting scientific evidence in federal and most state courts. The four criteria are:

the theoretical underpinnings of the methods must yield testable predictions

the methods should preferably be published by a peer-reviewed journal

inclusion of a known rate of error used in evaluating results

the methods should be accepted within the relevant scientific community.

Intelligent design does not meet any of these criteria.

So while the religious right wrings its hands over what to topple first, education or the courts, think about the implications of allowing alternatives to accepted scientific theories to be taught in school.

There would be nothing stopping educators from teaching that alien beings colonized Earth. This would make the Scientologists happy. Now there is a group that knows how to hijack language. Not only is their root word "science," they added an "ology." Perhaps the intelligent design proponents would benefit from adding an "ology." They could be intelligent designologists.

Maybe the Wiccans will rise up in protest and demand that all students learn about the Earth Goddess. Native Americans will organize and infiltrate school boards in a bid to get ancestral worship on the syllabus.

If evolution, an almost universally accepted scientific theory, is called into question, it is only a matter of time before all theories are subject to the same treatment. The religious right hopes to molest hundreds of years of proven scientific evidence. The laws of physics are called the laws of physics for a reason. They apply worldwide. Conversely, religion can't apply to all people within a city block.

There must be a clear and concise break between what people believe and what people know. Faith is not science. Intelligent design is not science.

Kansas recently allowed its school board to redefine the very word "science." This is beyond lunacy; this is dangerous.

School boards should be concerned about educating our children, already out-performed by most major industrial countries. They should not be wasting their time dabbling in integrating Christianity into the classroom. Instead of concerning themselves with lagging math scores and fixing the debacle that is No Child Left Behind, they waste precious resources on continually violating the separation between church and state.

Pennsylvania parents thankfully are smarter than that. They hit them where it hurts -- at the ballot box. Eight of the nine Dover school board members who voted to allow intelligent design to be taught as an alterative to evolution were voted off the school board.

As one dissenting Kansas school board member noted, their recent decision has helped to make them the "laughingstock of not only the nation, but of the world." This should be the wake-up call for slumbering Americans who were lulled into complacency by generations of a respectful division between church and state.

Let religion live in the home and in places of worship, where it belongs; let the courts system dispense dispassionate justice, the way it was meant to; and let science do what it does best: answer questions that save lives and give us all the health we need to worship the way we want.

Leave our children out of it.

Bethany L. Ruhe works in academic media and public relations. She lives in Shaler.

Department's fundraising arm criticizes professor's comments


Posted on Fri, Dec. 16, 2005

Associated Press

LAWRENCE, Kan. - Backers of the religious studies department at the University of Kansas have sent a postcard to potential donors trying to distance themselves from a professor whose course describing intelligent design and creationism as mythology was canceled after e-mails he sent were made public.

Paul Mirecki had written that the course would be a slap in the "big fat face" of religious conservatives he referred to as "fundies." The class was added after the Kansas Board of Education decided to include more criticism of evolution in science standards for elementary and secondary students.

The story grew stranger last week when Mirecki reported he was attacked and beaten on a rural Douglas County road by two men he said referred to the controversy over the canceled course. Mirecki, who was treated for his injuries at a Lawrence hospital, said his resignation later in the week as chairman of the religious studies department was forced. He remains a professor.

"We repudiate the inappropriate comments in publicized (e-mails) of one of our faculty members, even though we continue to appreciate his scholarly work and teaching," the postcard from Friends of the Department of Religious Studies said.

"This department continues to be committed to open academic inquiry, fair and respectful dialogue, religious tolerance, and appreciation for the important contributions of religions in society," it said. "We will work more diligently than ever to merit your confidence."

Religious studies professor Tim Miller said the postcard was "simply an addendum" to a recently mailed annual newsletter that was printed too early to include the department's response to the controversy. The newsletter includes an envelope for contributions to the department.

Kevin Goering, a board member of Friends of the Department, said the postcard was important, even though new annual contributions to the organization supporting the department typically amount to only a few thousand dollars.

"It was important to acknowledge the situation, rather than just totally disregard it," he said. Goering said the postcard was paid for by Friends of the Department of Religious Studies.

Mirecki, a member of the Kansas faculty since 1989, is an expert in ancient Mediterranean cultures, languages and religions. The class he was going to teach in the spring semester was to be called "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and Other Religious Mythologies." About 30 students had enrolled.

Mirecki had sent e-mails about it to members of the Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics, a student group for which he is the adviser.

"The fundies want it all taught in a science class, but this will be a nice slap in their big fat face by teaching it as a religious studies class under the category mythology," Mirecki said in a message on Nov. 19.

He later apologized for his comments, and the course was withdrawn at his request.

Information from: Lawrence Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com

Current News  News Back Issues

What's New | Search | Newsletter | Fact Sheets
NTS Home Page
Copyright (C) 1987 - 2008 by the North Texas Skeptics.