Intelligent Design Debate Heats Up


Nov 12, USA (SUN) — In Dover, Pennsylvania, a local school board who voted to teach both evolution and competing theories were ousted from their positions on the board this week, being defeated in a local election. Meanwhile, the lawsuit they supported has reached the end of trial in Federal court, and a decision is expected early in January.

In Kansas, the conservative majority on the state board of education has pressed their support for teaching intelligent design along with evolution. They just voted to revise and rewrite the state's science standards to permit ideas other than evolution to be presented, including intelligent design. While the curriculum will not point to a specific "designer" or creator, critics charge that intelligent design is simply disguised creationism, a view being advanced by fundamentalist religion.

Kansas is now embroiled in a debate with the National Academy of Sciences, who have revoked their permission for Kansas to use the NAS's national science guidelines. NAS charges that the Kansas board has changed the definition of science by omitting a key sentence which says that science can only rely on natural explanations - not the supernatural.

Some Kansas residents are concerned that the state will become a laughingstock, while others see the intelligent design debate from a much broader view. Followers of Vedic philosophy, for example, recognize that intelligent design and fundamentalist western religion are not one and the same, by any means. For us, intelligent design is a matter of philosophy, not religion. Where eastern philosophy and western science will meet head to head in this debate remains to be seen.

Drutakarma dasa (Michael Cremo) is perhaps the only devotee currently active worldwide in advancing the Vedic position in this matter. All devotees are encouraged to become well educated on this subject, so they can assert the Krsna Conscious understanding of intelligent design at the local level. The window of opportunity for this critically important preaching work is open now.

Elsewhere in the media this week, NPR's "All Things Considered" reported on a battle that has long been brewing at the Smithsonian Institute, a bastion of all things scientific. Scientists associated with this venerable institution were furious over publication of a pro-Intelligent Design article published in an associated journal.

"Intelligent design -- the idea that life is too complex to have evolved through Darwinian evolution -- is stirring up controversy not only in high school classrooms but also at universities and scientific research centers.

Richard Sternberg, a staff scientist at the National Institutes of Health, is puzzled to find himself in the middle of a broader clash between religion and science -- in popular culture, academia and politics.

Sternberg was the editor of an obscure scientific journal loosely affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, where he is also a research associate. Last year, he published in the journal a peer-reviewed article by Stephen Meyer, a proponent of intelligent design, an idea which Sternberg himself believes is fatally flawed.

"Why publish it?" Sternberg says. "Because evolutionary biologists are thinking about this. So I thought that by putting this on the table, there could be some reasoned discourse. That's what I thought, and I was dead wrong.""

According to Sternberg, the science community banded together in an attempt to ruin his reputation by accusing him of fraud, a charge related to his supposedly calling an article "peer reviewed" when it was not. In fact, Sternberg proved himself right, although the system he appealed to for professional protection did little to help him.


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