Kansas State Science Standards and the Discovery Institute Position on the Standards

Staff
Discovery Institute
July 23, 2006
Print ArticleThe Kansas state science standards are available from the Kansas State Dept. of Education at http://www.ksde.org/outcomes/sciencestd.html


1) What does Discovery Institute advocate for science education policy?

The Institute favors teaching students more about biological and chemical evolution, including scientific criticisms of these theories raised in peer-reviewed science journals. This is a common-sense approach that will benefit students, teachers, and parents. (For more click here)

2) What is Discovery's position on proposed the Kansas science standards?

Discovery Institute supports the Kansas Science Standards. The Standards expand the information presented to students about biological and chemical evolution by including some of the scientific criticisms of these theories. They also adopt a definition of science that is consistent with the definition of science adopted by other states. The Science Standards do not propose teaching intelligent design theory.

3) What do you mean by the term "scientific criticisms of Darwinian evolution"?

The modern theory of biological evolution ("neo-Darwinism") makes two big claims: (1) the primary mechanism for evolution is an unguided process of natural selection acting on random mutations; and (2) all living things are ultimately descended from a universal common ancestor. Scientists have been raising criticisms about key aspects of both claims. For example, many scientists have questioned whether the selection-mutation process that accounts for small biological changes ("microevolution") is sufficient to account for the development of fundamentally new biological features and structures ("macroevolution"). Other scientists have pointed out that mutations, which are supposed to provide the raw material for evolutionary innovations, are almost always harmful, and thus would not be preserved by natural selection in the wild. Many scientists have also questioned how Darwin's mechanism can explain the origin of animal body plans more than 500 million years ago during a huge burst in biological complexity known as the "Cambrian Explosion." It is important to note that presenting scientific criticisms of existing scientific theories is not the same thing as presenting alternative theories. One can present scientific criticisms of an existing theory (this is a standard part of science) without teaching an alternative theory (such as intelligent design).

4) Does Discovery Institute support requiring the teaching intelligent design?

No. Discovery Institute opposes any effort to require the teaching of intelligent design either through state science standards or through local school district policies. The Institute favors teaching students about the scientific evidence for and against neo-Darwinism rather than requiring them to learn about alternative theories. At the same time, the Institute believes there is nothing unconstitutional about discussing the scientific theory of design in the classroom, and it opposes efforts to persecute teachers who may wish to discuss or answer student questions about the scientific debate over design in a pedagogically appropriate manner. (For more click here)

5) Does Discovery Institute support teaching creationism?

No. Discovery Institute is not a creationist organization, and it opposes including either creationism or the Bible in biology textbooks or science classes.

6) Does Discovery Institute favor deemphasizing the teaching of evolution?

No. Students need to learn more about evolutionary theory, not less.

7) What is Discovery Institute?

Founded in 1990, the Institute is a national, non-profit, non-partisan policy and research organization, headquartered in Seattle, WA. It has programs on a variety of issues, including regional transportation development, economics and technology policy, legal reform, and bioethics. The Institute's founder and president is Bruce Chapman, who is a former director of the United States Census Bureau, and a past American ambassador to the United Nations Organizations in Vienna. Mr. Chapman has also served as Washington State's Secretary of State.

8) Is Discovery Institute a religious organization?

Discovery Institute is a secular think tank, and its Board members and Fellows represent a variety of religious traditions, including mainline Protestant, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, and agnostic. Until recently the Chairman of Discovery's Board of Directors was former Congressman John Miller, who is Jewish. Although it is not a religious organization, the Institute has a long record of supporting religious liberty and the legitimate role of faith-based institutions in a pluralistic society. In fact, it sponsored a program for several years for college students to teach them the importance of religious liberty and the separation of church and state.

9) What is the Center for Science and Culture (CSC)?

The Center for Science and Culture is a Discovery Institute program that supports the work of scholars who challenge various aspects of neo-Darwinism and scholars who are working on the scientific theory known as intelligent design. Roughly 85% of its budget is devoted to supporting research and scholarship. The Center also encourages schools to improve science education by teaching students more fully about the theory of evolution. The Center for Science and Culture has more than 40 Fellows, including biologists, biochemists, chemists, physicists, philosophers and historians of science, and public policy and legal experts, many of whom also have affiliations with colleges and universities. The Center's Director is Dr. Stephen Meyer, who holds a Ph.D. in the history and philosophy of science from Cambridge University.

10) Are there scientists who are critical of neo-Darwinism and support intelligent design?

Over 600 doctoral scientists from such fields as biology, biochemistry, biophysics, chemistry, physics, astronomy, and mathematics have signed a statement circulated by Discovery Institute expressing their skepticism of the central claim of neo-Darwinian evolution, namely that natural selection and random mutations are sufficient to explain the complexity of life. The list of 610 signatories includes member scientists from National Academies of Science in Russia, Czech Republic, Hungary, India (Hindustan), Nigeria, Poland, Russia and the United States. Many of the signers are professors or researchers at major universities and international research institutions such as Cambridge University, British Museum of Natural History, Moscow State University, Masaryk University in Czech Republic, Hong Kong University, University of Turku in Finland, Autonomous University of Guadalajara in Mexico, University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, Institut de Paléontologie Humaine in France, Chitose Institute of Science & Technology in Japan, Ben-Gurion University in Israel, MIT, The Smithsonian and Princeton.