-REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES ON EVOLUTION

Voters received an early glimpse of Republican presidential candidates’ viewpoints on evolution during the Republican debate in California on 3 May 2007. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) was asked directly if he believed in evolution. McCain responded, “Yes,” and then elaborated, “I believe in evolution. But I also believe, when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset, that the hand of God is there also.” When the debate moderator asked participants for a show of hands from those who did not believe in evolution, Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, and Representative Tom Tancredo (R-CO) raised their hands. Following the debate, Huckabee, a Baptist pastor, and Tancredo further expanded on their beliefs.

To the Associated Press, Huckabee said, “I believe that the Creation has a creator. I believe there is a God. And I believe God put this whole creative process in motion. How he did it and the time frame in which he did it, I honestly don’t know. Nor do I think it’s relevant to being president of the United States.” He continued, “I’m going to leave the scientists to debate the intricacies of how it happened and when it happened because I simply don’t know. But I believe that rather than all this being just some accident that happened, there was a design, and a designer in the design.”

The day after the debate, Tancredo was quoted, “Evolution explains changes in life. Creationism explains its origin.”

-CREATION MUSEUM TO OPEN IN MAY

The Answers in Genesis Creation Museum is scheduled to open 28 May 2007 in northern Kentucky, just minutes from Cincinnati, OH. The $27 million, 60,000 square-foot museum features scientific appearing dioramas and exhibits that present the story of Biblical creation as literal truth. The exhibits, which employ high-tech animatronics, videos, murals, and live animals that are so often used in natural history museums, depict dinosaurs coexisting with humans, the Garden of Eden, and a replica of Noah’s Ark. One exhibit, “Dinosaur Dig Site,” compares the work of an evolutionary paleontologist to a creationist paleontologist and directs visitors to the conclusion that science can and should involve the supernatural.

Given the recent media attention to the Creation Museum, scientists in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana have mobilized to get the message out that the exhibits displayed in the museum are scientifically inaccurate. With the assistance of the National Center for Science Education, the scientists are circulating the following Statement of Concern: “We, the undersigned scientists at universities and colleges in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana, are concerned about scientifically inaccurate materials at the Answers in Genesis museum. Students who accept this material as scientifically valid are unlikely to succeed in science courses at the college level. These students will need remedial instruction in the nature of science, as well as in the specific areas of science misrepresented by Answers in Genesis.”

Scientists from KY, IN, or OH interested in signing the statement should visit: http://sciohost.org/states/

-INTELLECTUAL DIVERSITY LEGISLATION IN MISSOURI

On 11 April 2007, the Missouri House of Representatives passed H.B. 213, the “Emily Brooker Intellectual Diversity Act.” The bill, if passed by the state Senate and signed into law by the governor, would require public colleges and universities to annually report the steps that they are taking to ensure “intellectual diversity,” defined in the bill as “the foundation of a learning environment that exposes students to a variety of political, ideological, religious, and other perspectives.”

The bill follows from a controversial incident at Missouri State University last year where a social work student, Emily Brooker, complained that she had no academic recourse when she disagreed with a professor on an assignment that opposed her religious views.

The bill recommends 13 specific measures that institutions could take and incorporate into their reports including: the encouragement of a balanced variety of campus-wide panels and speakers, the inclusion of intellectual diversity in course evaluations, and the development of policies protecting faculty and students against discrimination based on their viewpoints. The most controversial recommendation states, “Include intellectual diversity concerns in the institution’s guidelines on teaching and program development and such concerns shall include but not be limited to the protection of religious freedom including the viewpoint that the Bible is inerrant.”

Some academics are alarmed that the protection of “intellectual diversity” may affect the way biology professors teach evolution; professors who do not discuss intelligent design or creationism as competing theories to evolution may face formal complaints and even disciplinary action from students who take the Bible as literal truth.

H.B. 213 was considered by the Missouri Senate Education Committee on 25 April, and recommended for passage on 9 May 2007. It awaits placement on the Senate calendar.

 


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