Darwin on trial

Published: Tuesday 31 May 2005

Evolution USA

A courtroom-style debate opened on May 4 in Kansas city, usa 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 the state of Kansas and nationally to reverse the domination of evolutionary theory in the state's schools. William Harris, a medical researcher and co-founder of a Kansas group, the Intelligent Design Network, posed the core question about life's beginnings. 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.

"Their answer conflicts with religious views," Harris said opening the debate. "Our overall goal is to remove the bias against religion."

Outside the hearing room, outraged scientists challenged the validity of the hearings. "This is a showcase trial," said Jack Krebs, vice president, Kansas Citizens for Science. "They have hijacked science and education," said Ken Schmitz, a University of Missouri, Kansas City chemistry professor.

Kansas has been struggling with the issue since 1999 when the state school board voted to downplay the theory of evolution in science classes.

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