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September 4, 1999
Column #940


     As students begin their new academic year, Kansas science teachers are horrified. The Kansas Board of Education has dethroned Darwinism, removing from state standards references to evolution as the underlying principle of biology. The vote allows 304 local school boards the freedom to teach evolution, and most say they will do so.

     However, schools can begin to teach an alternative theory, that an ''intelligent design'' lies behind the universe. One town which will do so is Pratt, population 7,000, which is considering using a textbook, ''Of Pandas and People,'' which says an ''intelligent agent'' is a more compelling explanation than evolution for nature's wide variety.

     While this theory is sneered at by many high school biology teachers, there is a solid, growing scientific consensus that ''the universe we inhabit appeared to be expressly designed for the emergence of human beings,'' as Patrick Glynn writes in ''God: The Evidence.''

     Darwin argued that the origins of life could be explained by blind mechanisms, a ''curious accident in a backwater,'' as Bertrand Russell put it in his 1935 classic, ''Religion and Science.''

     However, a consensus has grown among today's physicists that there is nothing random at all about the arrangement of the cosmos. ''The picture of the universe bequeathed to us by the most advanced twentieth-century science is closer in spirit to the vision presented in the Book of Genesis than anything offered by science since Copernicus,'' writes Glynn. His evidence:

  1. George Gamow, who had worked on the atomic bomb, proposed that the world began  in a similar original cataclysm now called the ''Big Bang'' theory. In 1964 Bell Lab physicists discovered cosmic background radiation which was an echo of the Big Bang 15 billion years earlier.
  1. Brandon Carter, an astrophysicist and cosmologist from Cambridge University, on the 500th anniversary of Copernicus's birth in 1973, reported that the most minuscule change in the physics of the universe completely eliminates the possibility of life. He noted that any tinkering with the gravitational constant in relation to electromagnetism, would have resulted in a universe with no stars like our sun.  For example, gravity is 10 to the 39th power weaker than electromagnetism. If it had been 10 to the 33rd weaker, stars would be a billion times less massive and would burn a million times faster. If the nuclear strong force were 2 percent stronger, the universe would lack atoms.
  1. Astronomer Fred Hoyle, who invented the phrase, ''Big Bang,'' argues that ''the universe has to know in advance what it is going to be before it knows how to start itself.'' This mystery involves intricate coordination from the galactic level down to the subatomic one, and across multibillion year tracts of time. ''An explosion in a junkyard does not lead to sundry bits of metal being assembled into a useful working machine,'' he writes. Only God could arrange it all.

     Thus, the initial philosophical assumptions that underlie the modern secular worldview have been shattered - ironically enough, by science itself. Sensing that the scientific winds were shifting in its favor, the Vatican hosted an assembly of contemporary physicists in 1981.

     Pope John Paul lectured: ''Any scientific hypothesis on the origin of he world, such as that of a primeval atom from which the whole of the physical world derived, leaves open the problem concerning the beginning of the Universe. Science cannot by itself resolve such a question: what is needed is that human knowledge that rises above physics and astrophysics and which is called metaphysics; it needs above all the knowledge that comes from the revelation of God.'' 

    The Institute for Creation Research in El Cajon, Cal. has published 33 questions they suggest students ask dedicated evolutionists. A few of them for kids who want to have some fun:

  1. How does evolution explain the emergence and development of sexual reproduction given that both male and female physiology would have to mutate simultaneously?
  1. Document from the fossil record the transitional forms leading up to the first fish, from their assumed invertebrate ancestors, or the transitional forms that led up to any dinosaur?
  1. Describe one undisputed example of a creature that was transitional between fish and amphibian, or between a non-flying insect and a flying insect.
  1. True or false? Life appears abruptly and in complex forms in the fossil record and gaps appear systematically between various living kinds.

I applaud the Kansas Board of Education for putting fresh air in musty high school science courses.

Copyright 1999 Michael J. McManus.

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