Darwin on trial in US | HT Tech

Darwin on trial in US

A six-day debate opened over what kids should be taught in schools about the origin of life.

By: CAREY GILLAM (REUTERS)
| Updated on: May 06 2005, 11:38 IST

A six-day courtroom-style debate opened on Thursday in Kansas over what children should be taught in schools about the origin of life — was it natural evolution or did God create the world?

The hearings, complete with opposing attorneys and a long list of witnesses, were arranged amid efforts by some Christian groups in Kansas and nationally to reverse the domination of evolutionary theory in the nation's schools.

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William Harris, a medical researcher and co-founder of a Kansas group called the Intelligent Design Network, posed the core question about life's beginnings before mapping out why he and other Christians want changes in school curriculum.

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School science classes are teaching children that life evolved naturally and randomly, Harris said, arguing that this was in conflict with Biblical teachings that God created life.

'They are offering an answer that may be in conflict with religious views,' Harris said in opening the debate. 'Part of our overall goal is to remove the bias against religion that is currently in schools. This is a scientific controversy that has powerful religious implications.'

Conservative groups are trying to convince state education officials to change guidelines for how evolution theory is taught in science classes at a time when Kansas education authorities are producing new science teaching guidelines.

The hearings — organised by a committee of the Kansas Board of Education — were taking place 80 years after the so-called 'Monkey Trial' of John Scopes, a Tennessee biology teacher who was found guilty of illegally teaching evolution.

There is renewed debate over evolution in more than a dozen US states and a resurgence across the nation in the influence of religious conservatives, who played an important part in the re-election of Republican President George W Bush last year.

TEACHERS AND PREACHERS

The Kansas hearing drew a large crowd that included students, teachers and preachers. National and local scientific leaders for the most part boycotted the event.

Pedro Irigonegaray, a lawyer defending evolution in the debate, said he planned to call no witnesses, though he did cross-examine witnesses, sometimes combatively.

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First Published Date: 06 May, 03:39 IST
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