The evolution debate is political
The evolution debate is political
The Kansas evolution debate is about politics, not science. And a March 14 Washington Post article on the activists behind the anti-evolution movement only underscored the point.

The article noted the efforts under way in 19 states, including Kansas, to inject doubts about the validity of evolution into state science standards.

Far from being some popular groundswell, these efforts are part of a carefully crafted campaign by a few well-financed, well-organized groups that see an opportunity to advance a conservative religious agenda.

Among the usual suspects involved in these disputes: Seattle's Discovery Institute, a quasi-scientific think tank that advocates intelligent design; the Kansas City-based Intelligent Design Network; and preachers such as the Rev. Terry Fox of Wichita's Immanuel Baptist Church, who was quoted in the article.

Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute told The Post that, despite some disagreements among these groups, they have agreed to put aside differences to work on a common short-term goal: discrediting evolution.

Instead of arguing head-on for the teaching of creationism (which they realize would never fly constitutionally), the activists' compromise strategy is to raise enough doubts about evolution in the public mind that school boards will eventually feel pressured to allow classroom discussion of alternative "theories" (read: various versions of creationism).

By that time, they hope to have perfected their own theories.

"The strategy this time is not to go for the whole enchilada," Mr. Fox told The Post. "We're trying to be a little more subtle."

Subtlety has never been their strong suit, but give the anti-evolutionists credit: They have shrewdly framed the debate as one of "intellectual freedom" and open debate -- who could be against that?

But in unguarded moments, the groups make brazenly clear what their long-term goal is: Installing some form of creationism as the standard in science classes.

"Creationism's going to be our big battle," Mr. Fox was quoted as saying. "We're hoping that Kansas will be the model, and we're in it for the long haul."

Fortunately, real scientists are also in this for the long haul, as are Kansans who care about the political independence and intellectual integrity of our schools.

For the editorial board (Wichita Eagle), Randy Scholfield