A Board of Education Quits Monkeying Around

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In the great state of Kansas, the name "Charles Darwin" is no longer on the test. The Kansas Board of Education voted Wednesday to delete almost all references to evolution theory from the state’s science curriculum, putting Noah’s Ark on equal footing with the HMS Beagle and the fear of God into scientists who wonder if their creed -– that evidence is better proof than faith –- is going the way of the dodo. Seventy-five years later, we’re not in for another Scopes trial –- under a 1987 Supreme Court ruling, public schools can neither teach creation science nor ban the teaching of evolution. But by simply taking the subject off standardized tests, the board’s majority of conservatives have given teachers a reason not to bother and left lawyers with little meat to get their teeth into. No doubt, the move will face some challenges; plenty of parents are unlikely to sit still as their kids drop a rung on the college-application ladder, and GOP Gov. Bill Graves, who is reported to be angered by the move, may try to have the elected board replaced with appointees. But with many conservatives blaming God-less science for some of society’s current ills –- and those ills getting more publicity than ever –- the support base for creationism in America is likely to expand before it shrinks.

"Already, national polls consistently show that nearly 50 percent of Americans still don’t accept Darwinism," says TIME science reporter Andrea Dorfman. "They believe that humans were created in their present form as according to Genesis -- just 10,000 years ago." There is an obvious compromise -– theistic evolution, which holds that God created the modern world via evolution, just as he might have sparked the Big Bang (also deleted from the Kansas curriculum on Wednesday) and let His system take it from there. Even hard-core creationists believe in some survival-of-the-fittest selection within individual species, but man a descendant of apes? Science fiction. They have some ammunition outside a literal interpretation of the bible -– evolutionary theory has its gaps, and is unlikely to ever be proven conclusively. But most scientists and educators -- and the other 50 percent of America -– trust Darwinism as the theoretical skeleton of modern biology, and one backed up by plenty of evidence. To them, it seems a significantly better source of scientific fact than a "testament" that was written perhaps 5,000 years ago.