First, there was the Scopes Monkey trial in 1925. And in 2005, the Kansas State Board of Education is holding hearings on a proposal to require the challenging of the theory of evolution in the classroom.
An excerpt from the NYT story:
Six years after Kansas ignited a national debate over the teaching of evolution, the state is poised to push through new science standards this summer requiring that Darwin's theory be challenged in the classroom.
In the first of three daylong hearings being referred to here as a direct descendant of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial in Tennessee, a parade of Ph.D.'s testified Thursday about the flaws they saw in mainstream science's explanation of the origins of life. It was one part biology lesson, one part political theater, and the biggest stage yet for the emerging movement known as intelligent design, which posits that life's complexity cannot be explained without a supernatural creator.
Darwin's defenders are refusing to testify at the hearings, which were called by the State Board of Education's conservative majority. But their lawyer forcefully cross-examined the other side's experts, pushing them to acknowledge that nothing in the current standards prevented discussion of challenges to evolution, and peppering them with queries both profound and personal.
“Do the standards state anywhere that science, evolution, is in any way in conflict with belief in God?” the lawyer, Pedro Irigonegaray, asked William S. Harris, a chemist who helped write the proposed changes.
When a later witness, Jonathan Wells, said he enjoyed being in the minority on such a controversial topic, Mr. Irigonegaray retorted, “More than being right?”
If the board adopts the new standards, as expected, in June, Kansas would join Ohio, which took a similar step in 2002, in mandating students be taught that there is controversy over evolution. Legislators in Alabama and Georgia have introduced bills this season to allow teachers to challenge Darwin in class, and the battle over evolution is simmering on the local level in 20 states.
While the proposed standards for Kansas do not specifically mention intelligent design – and many of its supporters prefer to avoid any discussion of it – critics contend they would open the door not just for those teachings, but to creationism, which holds to the Genesis account of God as the architect of the universe.