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Krauss in the Corner

Lawrence Krauss is at it again. His piece in today's New York Times defends science from the creationists at the gates. How courageous. Krauss berates Steve Abrams, chairman of the Kansas board of education, for Abrams's supposed creationist beliefs. But let's take a moment to reflect on this.

As readers of this blog well know, the Kansas science standards do not call for teaching any alternative theory to Darwinian evolution, least of all young earth creationism. Rather, they call for critical analysis of evolution--i.e., making students aware of the strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian theory as they are found in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. For example, some mainstream scientists think four-winged fruit fly experiments are a good example of Darwinian evolution; other mainstream scientists do not. Instead of only learning about the former, the Kansas board of education thinks students should know both of these views. As this is a good, common sense policy to which the vast majority of Americans can agree, one should support it regardless of the individual beliefs of members of the Kansas board.

Frankly, I have no idea whether the Kansas board members who voted for the critical analysis policy are young earth creationists (YECs). But let's assume for a minute that they are. So what? If they are YECs, then their restrained and sensible science standards are particularly admirable: as publicly elected officials, they tempered their desire to push their own position and rather put forward a common sense, middle-of-the-road public policy that stops at simply teaching students the strengths and weaknesses of Darwinism found in the mainstream scientific literature. We should applaud them for doing the right thing.

Krauss seems to think the board members are somehow disqualified by their (again, alleged) religious beliefs. But is that what we really want? Should someone not be able to hold public office because of her religious beliefs? Are only people who subscribe to Dr. Krauss's approved list of religious beliefs qualified for public office? We should not care about the Kansas board's religious beliefs. Instead we should care about the public policy they put forward. And on that front, Dr. Krauss does not even attempt an argument against teaching the strengths and weaknesses of evolution. He is off in the corner by himself, albeit with a really big bullhorn, discussing young earth creationism that is not in the Kansas science standards.