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The Talk.Origins Archive: Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy

Kansas Evolution Hearings

Part 3


CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: On behalf of the Board of Education, I would like to welcome you to these hearings. My name is Steve Abrams. And my apologies, this is basically the same thing I said yesterday morning, but several of you are new. I'm Chair of the State Board Of Education and also Chair of the Science Subcommittee. My fellow board members on the committee include Mrs. Connie Morris and there's Kathy Martin.

The purpose of the hearings that will be held over the next couple of days is to assist us as state board members in understanding the complex and oftentimes confusing issues regarding science education. A brief history of how we arrived at these hearings may be of use.

In June of last year, a statewide committee appointed by the Commissioner of Education and comprised of 26 public and private educators spanning elementary, primary, secondary and post-secondary levels, retired educators, curriculum coordinators and a private practice physician began the process of reviewing and revising the state science standards. The writing committee met several times between June and November and sent a draft of the standards to the state board in December of 2004.

At the same time, eight members of the writing committee submitted what is now referred to as the minority report, asking the state board to consider some changes to the draft. Through much discussion at the state board and subcommittee, the three of us was formed to further examine the issues contained in the minority report. Also after much discussion, it was decided the best forum to address the issues was via hearings such as those we'll have over the next couple of days.

In order to conduct the hearings in a reasonable time frame and in a civil manner, there are a few house rules and procedures that you, the audience, and indeed all of us need be aware of. First, we're on a tight schedule, we have a lot of witnesses before the subcommittee, and it is critical that we stay on schedule. In order to do this, I've requested that no comments come from the audience.

The expert witnesses have come, many of them, from quite a distance to present their information and we should allow them every courtesy. We ask that you do not display signs of support or opposition by yelling or applause and so forth. We also would ask that you-- that each of you turn off your cell phones.

Each expert's testimony has been given an allotted amount of time as determined by the presenters. Following the experts' presentation, the legal counsel for the opposing viewpoint will be given half that amount of time to ask questions. Following that, we, the subcommittee members, will be given half that time to ask questions. For example, if an expert testifies for 20 minutes, the opposing counsel will be given ten minutes for questioning and the subcommittee members will be given five minutes for questioning.

The time for questions will be adhered to. Therefore, the questions should be succinct and not sound like a speech. We'll take one 15-minute break this morning, break for lunch at 12 o'clock, resume at 12:55, with another 15-minute break this afternoon and then hopefully we'll be able to adjourn by-- for the day by 5:30.

Additionally, please note that the house rules on this building are that Memorial Hall does not allow food or drink in the auditorium. We would greatly appreciate it if you would abide by this policy.

Also, I would like to make some introductions. Mr. Pedro Irigonegaray is for the majority, and Mr. John Calvert is lead counsel for the minority. Additionally, a court reporter is recording all of the proceedings and a transcript will be made available to the public at a later date. Thus, I would ask that when speaking, enunciate clearly and try not to talk over on top of one another. I thank you for your interest in Kansas education. Mr. Calvert.

MR. CALVERT: Thank you, Doctor Abrams. Members of the committee, I would like to introduce you to Doctor Edward Peltzer. Does anybody have a knife or anything that we could cut an apple with?

DOCTOR PELTZER: Do you want to do the honors? Just in half. We'll-- we'll get to this later.

EDWARD PELTZER, Ph.D., called as a witness on behalf of the Minority, testified as follows:


Q. Ed, maybe you could introduce yourself, explain a bit about your background and why you're here and so forth.

A. My name is Edward Peltzer. I have a Ph.D. in oceanography from Scripps Institute of Oceanography. Should I start over? Here we go. My name is Edward Peltzer. I have a Ph.D. in oceanography from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. Before that I got a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Bucknell University, Pennsylvania. After I got my Ph.D., I worked for 20 years at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. And for the past eight years I've been working through Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Monterey, California-- or Moss Landing, California. I'm testifying as a private citizen. The opinions I'm giving today are not necessarily those of the schools or the institutions that I'm-- I'm--

Q. Doctor Peltzer, why-- what is in your background that qualifies you particularly to talk about origin of life?

A. As a graduate student, I did some work on the Murchison meteorite and worked with Jeff Bada and Stanley Miller.

Q. And did you study chemistry under Doctor Miller?

A. Doctor Jeffrey Bada was my thesis advisor. Stanley Miller was on my thesis committee.

Q. And what was your thesis about?

A. My thesis was about the geochemistry of alpha-hydroxy acids-- (reporter interruption). My thesis was about the geochemistry of alpha-hydroxy and dicarboxylic acids.

Q. How did you get interested in studying chemical evolution and origin of life?

A. As a first year graduate student, I was taking a class from Doctor Bada. And one day in class, he presented what he thought would be a good idea for a thesis topic, he was talking about the fact that in 1969 the Murchison meteorite fell on Australia and a few years later some scientists from NASA had reported the discovery of amino acids in this meteorite. I was-- I was taking his class in 1973, so it was-- it was right after this information had been released. And Stanley Miller and Jeff Bada talked about this. And the mechanism for the production of amino acids in the Miller electric discharge experiment was the-- Strecker's finding of a hydrogen pathway. Could we have the first slide?

Q. Oh, sure. Okay.

A. It's not up. Okay. It's the next slide.

Q. Okay.

A. That's the one. Oop, too far. This-- this pathway forks. And in the presence of large amounts of ammonia, it produces amino acids. In the absence of ammonia, it produces only hydroxy acids. But if you have some intermediate concentration, you get both amino and hydroxy acids. And what Stanley Miller and Jeff Bada were thinking is, if we could analyze the meteorite and find the hydroxy acids, then from this ratio of those compounds to their amino analogs, one would be able to tell the ammonia concentration on the meteorite parent body.

Jeff pretty much put this out there as-- as a baited hook for one of the graduate students taking the class to bite on, and I bit hard.

Q. As we go through your talk, are you going to explain later on the relevance of that or--

A. Yes.

Q. Can you explain to us generally the difference between chemical evolution and biological evolution? And you're here to talk about chemical evolution?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay.

A. Chemical evolution is-- is what happens-- it's the natural chemistry that happens on the earth before life begins. Biological evolution is what happens after life begins. Biological evolution is subject to-- to natural selection. Chemical evolution because the-- the compounds are not living are-- are not subject to natural selection.

Q. So you don't have a population that replicates, and that's critical to biological evolution; is that correct?

A. That's correct.

Q. So the chemical evolution is necessary for biological evolution to occur?

A. I'm sorry?

Q. Chemical evolution is necessary for biological evolution to occur?

A. Well, you-- you have to have a-- some way you have to have life begin.

Q. Okay. Can you-- before you get into your analysis and so forth, could you explain a bit about the work you've done in the area?

A. Yes, the next slide. So-- so after Jeff sort of hooked me on this project, I-- I spent the next three years of my life working to develop the analytical method for analyzing hydroxy acids in meteorites. When I thought I was ready, I ran in to see Jeff in his office and he said, well, let's call Stanley and see what he thinks. And we talked it over with Stanley Miller, and Miller thought that because the meteorite samples were so precious that we should begin with an analysis of some of the product of one of his electric discharge experiments. So I went up to see him and-- and got some of that material, and that's what I began with.

Once that was successfully done, we proceeded with the analysis with the Murchinson meteorite and found hydroxy acids present and were able to compare this to the pattern of the hydroxy acids in the electric discharge experiment. They were identical. If you didn't know which sample was-- was which, it would be hard to tell what you were looking at. The hydroxy acid turned out to be racemic, which means that they were produced by chemical processes and were not the product of biology. And finally, we were able to use the ratio of the hydroxy acids to the amino acids to calculate the ammonia concentration on the meteorite.

This-- this was work that I did for my Ph.D. dissertation. Unlike the discovery of amino acids in the Murchinson meteorite, there wasn't much public fanfare. So after I wrote up my thesis and published a few papers, I wanted to pursue my career as an oceanographer.

Q. What-- what is the relevance of the ratio of hydroxy acids and amino acids in your meteorite and the fact that they indicate that the parent body had an ammonia attached to it?

A. Well, the relevance fits in with a lot of theories about the early evolution of the-- of the solar system and the formation of planets and the conditions that were-- were present on it. It tells us a lot about the presence of a possible reducing atmosphere. It-- it fits in well with many of the current theories leading to the origin of life.

Q. So if you find amino acids on a meteorite, what does that tell us, though, about the origin of life?

A. Well, we-- we now have a-- a entirely chemical process. Before Miller did his experiments, amino acids were thought only to be the product of living organisms. What his showed is it's possible to produce them by simply natural chemical reactions. So you-- you can't infer that there's any life just because you find amino acids in a meteorite.

Q. I notice you brought an apple with you. What is--

A. We'll-- we'll get to that--

Q. Okay.

A. -- until a little bit.

Q. Okay.

A. That-- that has to do more with some of the problems in the--

Q. What-- what are some of the various theories that have been postulated of the origin of life?

A. Okay. Could I-- next slide, please. There's actually quite a few theories about the origin of life. The first one was proposed by the Greek. I think it's been traced back to Empedocles in about the Fourth or Fifth Century, B.C. He proposed that life arised just through spontaneous generation. He was looking for a purely natural explanation for what our life came from. He didn't-- he didn't accept the idea that-- that God had created life or if there were gods, they weren't very effective in doing anything. So he-- he assumed that things had to happen naturally and just argued for this spontaneous generation.

This was the prevailing explanation for where life came from until the middle 1800s. Pasteur in some of his early experiments, and also Tyndale, disproved this area of spontaneous generation and their work led to the germ theory of disease.

The next area that came along for where life came from is basically called Abiogenesis. It's been traced back to a letter that Darwin wrote to his friend, Joseph Hooker, where he-- he imagined a warm little pond that had all the right ingredients for life to form. And if you had just the right conditions, life would begin.

He based this on the idea that the cell was a very simple structure that was just a-- a membrane with a-- a loose assemblage of chemicals inside. This-- this theory has been greatly modified and expanded upon. It's the most popular one today. And the-- I'll-- I'll explain it a bit more with the next slide.

The other competing theories are the-- the RNA, the ribonucleic acid world, or the peptide nucleic acid world. These are two variants of the Abiogenesis theory that tried to work on some of the problems.

And lastly, there's the idea of panspermia or directed panspermia. This is the idea that life came to earth from outer space either accidentally or intentionally. So could I have the next slide?

Q. How would it be accidental?

A. That's a good question. The theory of Abiogenesis is also known as molecules to microbes. You begin with a simple atmosphere of reducing gases, things like water, hydrogen, methane, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, ammonium nitrogen. And these with various energy sources will produce fatty acids, amino acids, sugars, purines and pyrimadines. This is the basic-- basically what Stanley Miller demonstrated in his-- in his famous electric discharge experiment.

Then-- then the theory goes on to imagine the fatty acids polymerize and make lipids. Amino acids polymerize and make peptides. The sugar is polymerizing to make carbohydrates. And purines and pyrimadines are polymerizing to make poly nuclides and RNA and DNA.

When you first look at this, it seems like a very logical thing, because this is exactly the way biochemists would do it if they were asked to design a pathway. But having said that, that's probably the worst thing I can say about it because it-- it-- it implies it's something that a designer could do.

When you take a second look at it, you-- you realize that while this step has been well demonstrated, none of these steps have ever been shown to-- to happen by natural processes. Could I have the next slide. And, in fact, you begin to realize this slide looks more like this-- this cartoon by Steve Harris. Next slide.

So none of the-- these pathways are known. They're all attributed to unknown natural reactions that-- that hopefully someday we'll discover. When, in fact, there's reason to believe that the things go the-- the other way. No, we-- we stop here. Back. Back. Back. No, you need to-- right there.

Q. Right there?

A. Yeah. Do you want to go to the next question?

Q. Hm?

A. The question. Do you want to go to the next question?

Q. Oh, okay. What is the current state of our scientific understanding of chemical evolution?

A. Well, there's-- there's lots of problems with the current state of understanding. As-- as I showed you, the-- the various reaction pathways are unknown. We have problems with boundary problems. We don't know what the conditions really were on the early earth. An experiment works fine if you start with a reducing atmosphere. But if we start with a neutral atmosphere, the yields of the molecules are exceptionally low. If we start with an oxidizing atmosphere, we don't produce as many compounds.

We have a synthesis problem. We don't know how to make the biopolymers except by using a biochemist. We have an information problem. We don't know how they came into kind of the right order that you find in living organisms. We also have an assembly problem. Even if you can make all the-- the compounds by natural reactions in the, say, nearest ocean, you've got to get them all together in one place. And that's a very tiny place, into a-- into a cell. We also have a time problem. Recent evidence suggests that we have less than 500 million years for this synthesis. And this is just not an argument from ignorance, there are-- there are competing natural reactions. Do we have the next slide?

In 1912 a Frenchman, Louis-Camille Maillard discovered-- or actually described the Maillard reaction. People have known about this for a long time, they just hadn't described it scientifically.

This is a reaction where amino acids interact with reducing sugars, things like glucose and lactose, to produce colors, aromas and flavors characteristic of cooked food. Temperature-- temperature accelerates this process, that's why we cook food. It produces the-- the nice brown color you see in bread crusts and the melted cheese for pizzas. And it also produces by-products to give the aroma of baked bread and-- and-- and pizza cooking. And that-- that's why we-- we cut the apple here just a few moments ago.

Could I ask you to cut it-- could I ask you to cut the apple one more time, just-- just one of the halves. This-- this may be a little bit hard to see, but it's an experiment you can easily do at home. And I'll pass a portion over to the committee.

MS. MARTIN: Thank you.

A. If-- if we look at the freshly-cut surface, it's-- it's a-- a nice white color. But in the process of cutting the apple, we broke cells and released the inner cellular fluids and allowed them to react naturally without the-- the control of the biological reaction. And as you can see on the surface that's been cut now for about 20 minutes, we've-- we've got a nice brown color. These are-- this is the-- the products of the Maillard reaction producing melanoids.

Q. (BY MR. CALVERT) Next slide?

A. The next slide. This is-- this is the-- the chemical pathway that's going on. The important things are you have reducing sugars, you have amino acids, they have this very complex reaction pathway, but it produces these colored compounds called melanoids. As you can see, it's a very fast reaction. It proceeds in a few minutes at room temperature.

During this time, if we had a solution of amino acids, we would not form any peptide bonds, we wouldn't form any polymers. So we have-- we know that there's this reaction that under natural conditions will outcompete any polymerization reaction and essentially blocks the-- the production of biopolymers that are needed in the Abiogenesis theory.

So next slide. Okay, I said all that. You can go to the next one.

Q. Next slide?

A. Yes. We also know that in nature when-- when an organism dies, it begins to decompose and the biopolymers are released. And these are degrading and produce a solution that is very similar to what Maillard produced. We have sugars, we have straight acids, we have amino acids, all naturally in a solution. And these react through the Maillard reaction to produce a complex mixture of-- of folic acids and humic acids and melanoid compounds.

This happens every day on the earth. This is a-- this is a known reaction. It would most definitely be happening in the prebiotic soup, blocking the production of the biopolymers and leading to the formulation of life.

Next slide. So when we look at Abiogenesis, we know this first step happens, it's been well demonstrated by Maillard, but we also know that these compounds, they're not going to polymerize in a homogenous sense, they're going to polymerize in a heterogeneous sense and produce melanoids and kerogen. And, in fact, one of the-- the-- the least discussed products in the Maillard reaction is that the main reaction of-- of that process was a red oily goo that formed on the surface of his apparatus. The amino acids that he found were just a minor by-product and the major product were these melanoids and kerogen.

So the current state is, if we look in the-- in the natural world for evidence of-- of any of these processes happening, we find that this evidence is missing. This is a quotation from an anonymous editorial in Nature in 1967. And-- and their appraisal of the situation was that, "Those who work on the origin of life must necessarily make bricks without very much straw, which goes a long way to explain why this field of study is so often regarded with deep suspicion. Speculation is bound to be rife and also so frequently wild." Basically what they're saying is there's no evidence, all of these theories are just speculation.

Next slide. And this just further expands upon the same idea. "Some attempts to account for the origin of life, however ingenious, have shared much with imaginative literature and-- and little with theoretical inference of the kind that you can confront with observational evidence of some kind or another."

Next slide. Well, in fact, there are big problems with a scientific theory of an origin of life. Lynn Margulis, she says that to go from a bacterium to people - this is the biological evolution - is less of a step than to go from a mixture of amino acids to a bacterium. So the big problem is making life.

Next slide. And the problem there is it has the least amount of time available. Heinrich Holland has stated that the most reasonable interpretation of data is surely that life existed on earth more than 3,850 million years ago. The significance of this number is that it's-- it's thought that at four billion years ago was-- was about the first time that-- that the earth became habitable for any life. So you have a time period of 150 million years for life to form. Or at most, if you go back to the formation of the earth, maybe 500 million years.

Next slide. So in summary, there's no remnant or trace evidence of a prebiotic soup anywhere. If it-- if it ever existed, it is entirely conjectural. Although its emergence from non-living matter is hard to conceive, life appears almost immediately. There was almost no time for life to evolve into the simplest bacterial cells. And in spite of the idea of RNA or PNA worlds, there's no consensus on the model for pre-cellular life.

So the situation is so bleak that scientists once again seriously considered the idea of directed panspermia. This is the idea that some other civilization somewhere else in the universe sent out capsules to seed life throughout the universe. The problem with this as a scientific idea is that it puts the problem of how life began out of reach and out of touch. And that's why it was dismissed the first time. The only reason it's being brought back the second time is they're having so much trouble trying to figure out how life began on the conditions of the early earth.

Q. Ed, you've mentioned that the meteorite that you studied had substances on it very similar to what you found in the flask in Miller-Urey's experiment. And I believe the flask had all of this red goo on it and you found the same kind of red goo in the meteorite.

A. Well, the meteorite actually had a slightly more advanced-- more condensed form. It was a black tar. But if you take the red goo and just let it continue to polymerize, it will produce this-- this black tar. That's-- that's the big difference between the two is the-- the Miller electric discharge experiment is something a graduate student can do in a week. The meteorite is something that's supposed to be billions of years old, probably represents millions of years of processes. So you would expect there to be some difference. The surprise is why the amino acids and the hydroxy acids are so similar.

Q. Is-- is the point of-- of this discussion that although you may be able to form amino acids under the special conditions, before they have a chance to organize they turn into red goo?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay.

A. You-- you have-- you have two competing reactions, one that we don't know how it goes, the other that we know it goes quite quickly. I think it's pretty clear what-- what is happening if you follow the facts.

Q. And we'll-- we'll get to the textbooks in a minute, but I believe we asked you to look at proposed change to the Kansas Science Standards in Indicator 7, Benchmark 3, Standard 3 of the high school science standards. And it suggests that students should understand or be able to explain proposed scientific explanations of origin of life as well as scientific criticisms of those explanations. And then there are a number of additional paragraphs with the additional specificity. Have you reviewed that?

A. Yes, I have.

Q. And do you think that the indicator states an appropriate goal for education at this level?

A. Absolutely. If you could talk about theories on the evolution of life, it-- it pretty much begs the question of-- of how life began. So if you don't include that, you've-- you've got a big hole. People are going to want to know what-- what the explanation is.

The other reason for it is if you look at most biology textbooks, and all the ones I've examined but I haven't looked at all of them, all the ones I've looked at do include theories on the origin of life. So the genie is already out of the bottle. What we need to do is-- is set some standards on how to do each one of them appropriately.

Q. The books that you've reviewed, have they discussed the points you're making today about the Maillard reaction, the red goo?

A. No, they-- they tend to ignore that. It's a-- it's a problem they don't have an answer for.

Q. Would it be fair to say that those descriptions are pretty much one-sided?

A. Yes.

Q. Maybe could you explain a bit further about that. What-- in addition to the Maillard reaction and so forth, what other things perhaps you find omitted.

A. Well, one of the-- the big problems is the-- is the boundary problem. It's generally not covered in biology because it gets into a lot of earth science, but we really don't know what the conditions were on the early earth. There's good arguments both ways. Some people say that it clearly had to be a reducing atmosphere. Other people argue that it could have been a neutral or an oxidizing atmosphere. And it-- it would take a long time to cover all the scientific evidence, but there's-- there are-- there are good arguments on both sides.

TIMEKEEPER: If I may interrupt. There's two minutes remaining.

A. It-- it remains one of the big-- big controversies.

Q. (BY MR. CALVERT) Do you think the indicator is an appropriate way to introduce students to the discussion?

A. Yes, I do.

Q. Do you have any comments generally on the-- I believe you've also reviewed the other proposed changes in standards?

A. I-- I've looked at-- at some of them, yes.

Q. What's your general reaction? And is there any-- any additional change that you might want to comment on within your remaining two minutes?

A. I-- I found most of the comments to be very reasonable. They-- they-- they tend to balance the-- the standards. Without these comments, there is an underlying and an implicit reliance on naturalism, the idea that the physical world is entirely self-contained. And that is sort of an unspoken assumption that runs through a lot of the theories on the origin of life, that we only have natural reactions to deal with. And it-- it sort of permeates the-- the standards.

Many of the changes that have been proposed provide a-- a more balanced approach, one that-- that doesn't have this underlying philosophy of naturalism. And if-- if we're going to teach science in the public schools, we-- we need to teach it fairly and-- and without philosophical or religious bias. One of the problems is, is that religion is easy to spot. The philosophy of naturalism has been so ingrained in the science recently that it's hard to see. That doesn't mean it's not there. And to-- to treat it fairly and appropriately and-- and to-- to honor the-- the intelligence of the students, we need to be honest about it and identify it where it-- where it crops up.

Q. Thank you very much. And I believe you have written testimony that will cover some of the additional questions that we might have. And we'll provide that to the committee and to Mr. Irigonegaray and the reporter. Thank you so much for coming, Doctor Peltzer.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: Mr. Irigonegaray, you have 15 minutes.

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: Thank you, Mr. Abrams.


Q. Sir, I have a few questions for you, and some of these are just for the record that is being created by our court reporter. I said I have a few questions for you, sir, that I would like to have for the record that is being generated by the court reporter.

A. Certainly.

Q. First of all, I would like to have your opinion as to what the age of the world is.

A. The-- the best scientific evidence for this is based on the age of meteorites. This-- this was determined by Clair Patterson.

Q. Sir, I-- I'm just asking you what the age is, I'm not interested in the process right now. What is your opinion as to what the age of the world is.

A. I'm-- I'm getting to that.

Q. Just if-- please, I'm asking you, just tell me what you think the age is. I'm not interested in an explanation, I'm just interested in what you believe the age of the world is.

A. I'm-- I'm trying to do that, if you would--

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: Mr. Abrams, the question, as we agreed, is a direct question. It calls for simply an age.

Q. (BY MR. IRIGONEGARAY) If you know it, say so. If you don't, say you don't.

A. Very well. 4.596 billion years.

Q. Do you accept the general principle of common descent, that all life is biologically related to the beginning of life? Yes or no.

A. No.

Q. Do you accept that human beings are related by common descent to prehominid ancestors? Yes or no.

A. No.

Q. What is the alternative explanation for how the human species came into existence if you do not accept common descent?

A. Are you going to allow me to do an explanation?

Q. I'm asking you just to answer the question, please. Would you like for me to repeat it?

A. Yes.

Q. If you do not accept common descent as an explanation for the human species, how did we come into existence?

A. That is the question that science is trying to answer--

Q. No, sir--

A. -- I don't know.

Q. -- my question is, how do you explain it?

A. I don't know. That is the question. There are serious problems with common descent. There are serious problems. It hasn't been demonstrated. There are serious questions there.

Q. I'm not asking you, sir-- I'm only asking you if you do not accept common descent, do you have an explanation for it? Yes or no.

A. As a chemist, I do not. I do not study this.

Q. The minority report says that, "In science we must compare competing hypotheses." Is there a competing hypothesis to common descent that you're aware of?

A. Yes, there is.

Q. And what is that?

A. That would be intelligent design.

Q. Do you subscribe to that theory or that belief or that opinion?

A. I think it has a lot of interesting ideas that need to be considered. I think that it answers a lot of problems that have cropped up with common descent.

Q. My question is, sir, do you support the opinion of intelligent design as the answer to human species?

A. Yes, I think it's the one that's quite probably shown to be correct.

Q. You believe it's the one that's probably correct; is that what you said?

A. Yes. Would you like me to expand on that?

Q. No, sir.

A. Would you--

Q. I'm-- I'm asking the questions, sir. Please just hang on.

A. So you won't allow me to expand on that?

Q. I said no already. Would you agree, sir-- let me ask you the question this way, I would like to hear your comments on this sentence, "There are many issues which involve morals, ethics, values, or spiritual beliefs that go beyond that which science can explain but for which solid scientific literacy is useful." Would you agree with that statement or that sentence?

A. Could you repeat it again?

Q. I would be happy to. "There are many issues which involve morals, ethics, values, or spiritual beliefs that go beyond what science can explain but for which solid scientific literacy is useful." Do you agree with that statement?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know who wrote that sentence?

A. I have no idea.

Q. Does this sentence seem to reflect naturalism to you, the philosophy that matter and energy is all there is, or does it seem to reflect a philosophy that there's more in the world than what science can investigate?

A. Could you repeat the question?

Q. I would be happy to. Does the sentence that I have just read to you seem to reflect naturalism or, rather, the philosophy that matter and energy are all there is, or does it reflect a philosophy that there's more in the world than what science can investigate?

A. Given the complexity of the sentence, I think you could find all of that in there.

Q. You were not aware of the fact that that is, in fact, a sentence taken from Draft 2 of the standards written by the majority, did you?

A. It was familiar to me, but I don't remember who wrote it.

Q. And that sentence makes it perfectly clear, does it not, that the majority of the committee understands that there is more to human knowledge than what science can provide, and that Draft 2 does not imply, endorse or support naturalism over any other theological view. You would have to agree with that, would you not, sir?

A. No, I would not, because what you're doing is you're trying to make all of Draft 2 in one sentence, and clearly Draft 2 is much larger than that sentence. You've picked one little point and you've tried to generalize it for all.

Q. All right, sir.

A. I think you're being deceptive in your questions.

Q. Then let's do it this way. Please go to Draft 2 and let me know where in Draft 2 you find the majority endorsing naturalism.

A. There was the original definition of science. Give me a second and I'll find it here. This is Page 4 of Draft 2. Do you have that, John?

Under the nature of science, you'll notice there's a sentence that has been struck out. "Science is the human activity of seeking natural explanation for what we observe in the world around us." This sentence is based, rooted and-- and firmly endorses the concept of naturalism because it assumes that science can only find natural explanations. This has, in fact, been shown to be false and that naturalism is incomplete and does not-- does not work.

Q. Is naturalism a philosophy or a scientific process?

A. Naturalism is a philosophy.

Q. And is it your opinion that the Kansas standards endorse a philosophy of naturalism by the definition of science?

A. If-- if you do not strike out this sentence, you are endorsing naturalism as the foundation of science. The problem with that is it causes serious errors. I can cite two. The first is based on--

Q. Sir, that's not-- sir, that's not my question. My question to you was very simple.

A. Okay. In that sentence it does implicitly endorse naturalism.

Q. Implicitly.

A. And that's why it was-- why it was struck out.

Q. It is your interpretation of that sentence that naturalism is included in the standards?

A. As originally written by the majority.

Q. But you would agree with me that the word "naturalism" is found nowhere in the standards?

A. I have not read the whole standards, sir, I cannot agree--

Q. You've come here to testify and you have not read the entire standards?

A. Of course not. I was asked to testify on areas of my own expertise.

Q. Well, don't--

A. Not on things that I don't have any expertise in. That would be silly, wouldn't it?

Q. I don't want to comment about what is silly in this process. But you would agree with me, would you not, that the world-- that the word "naturalism" does not apply-- or strike that. That the word "naturalism" is nowhere in the definition that you have read?

A. In that sentence, it does not appear.

Q. And you further--

A. And it is-- I--

Q. Sir, I just asked you if it's there. And further, you would agree with me, would you not, that there are thousands, thousands of individuals who are scientists who are able to do their scientific research and work, understand evolution for what it is and not have their religious views threatened. You would agree with that, would you not?

A. No, I would not. Naturalism is a religious view and people that are basing their interpretation of science and they're doing their science on it are, in fact, practicing their religion. Those thousands of scientists are trying to impose naturalism on the rest of the public.

Q. Is it your opinion in these hearings that to proceed with the understanding of the natural world, as science is supposed to do, makes them atheists?

A. I'm sorry. Would you repeat your question?

Q. I would be happy to. Is it your opinion that for scientists to follow the natural process makes them atheists, in your opinion?

A. No, it does not.

Q. Then how do you support the theory that the study of science through nature and the understanding of nature is somehow a philosophical view as opposed to a scientific enterprise?

A. Well, when we look at this definition, we see that it is rooted in a philosophical view. Nobody comes to science without preconceived notions. And when people bring their naturalistic views, that's all they look for, that's all they're going to find. If you want to fairly teach science, you have to remove the philosophical biases, both religious and naturalistic.

Q. Is it your opinion then that the majority opinion of scientists across this nation, indeed the world, is biased?

A. Absolutely. There is--

Q. Is it your opinion--

A. -- a strong naturalistic bias in most of science.

Q. Is it your opinion that the National Academy of Science is a biased institution using only naturalism as a way to explain the world?

A. That's not just my opinion, they have produced a pamphlet that demonstrates this.

Q. Is it your opinion then that they should be discredited in what they're doing?

A. They have-- they're clearly revealing their biases--

TIMEKEEPER: Two minutes remaining.

A. Sorry. They have clearly reviewed-- revealed their biases-- excuse me. Let me try that one more time. They have clearly revealed their biases in this pamphlet, sir.

Q. (BY MR. IRIGONEGARAY) Do you have any personal concerns about introducing a religious view into science?

A. Absolutely. That's why I'm here.

Q. Is intelligent design based upon a supernatural interpretation of observation?

A. No, it is not.

Q. Then--

A. That is--

Q. Then who is the designer?

A. Sorry?

Q. Who is the designer?

A. That hasn't been determined yet.

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: I have nothing further of you, sir.

MS. MARTIN: You go ahead.


Q. Doctor Peltzer, you were talking about just recently the-- the theories of science and religion and philosophical claims. And I have been a strong proponent for quite a while of empirical science as defined by observable, measurable, testable, repeatable and falsifiable. My thought on that was that that is the best way to remove bias from-- in the-- what-- how scientists proceed.

How would you describe the ability of the majority draft and how would you describe the ability of the minority draft to teach the student to distinguish between the data and testable theories of science from religious and philosophical claims that are made in the name of science?

A. Could you-- just-- just the last question.

Q. How would you describe the ability of the majority draft and the ability of the minority draft to teach the science-- to teach the student to distinguish the data and testable theories of science from religious and philosophical claims that are made in the name of science?

A. Okay. The parts of the majority draft that I read were-- were very well written. They were very good for a start, but they did have some areas where they could be improved. Looking at the minority draft, I find that their suggested changes greatly improve the teaching of science, help the students to-- to better identify these underlying assumptions, the relevant data. They-- they've learned to look at both the evidence supporting the theory and the evidence not supporting the theory. To properly understand the scientific theory, you have to look at both. The changes that the minority report have-- have-- that have made do this better than the original.

Q. What-- what philosophical claims or religious claims that you briefly talked about earlier - would you expand upon those - that might be inferred or construed or in the majority document?

A. I'm sorry. Could you-- could you do that again? I'm just--

Q. What philosophical claims or religious claims might be inferred or construed to be in the majority document?

A. It-- in the majority document, there was a clear identification that natural explanations were the only explanations. This is rooted in the philosophy of naturalism. While neither a religious philosophy that people recognize, it is-- it's a world view that many people subscribe to that substitutes for religion. It-- it is, if you will, a non-theistic religion.

Q. What philosophical claims or religious claims made in science can be construed or inferred from the minority report?

A. The minority report tries to better identify the philosophical claims for the various theories so the student can identify them. If-- if naturalism isn't implied, it's identified. If a religious viewpoint isn't implied, it's identified.

Q. Okay. On a different topic. Back on your research, was the-- was all of the sugars that were formed and the construction of amino acids, were they just the L side or were they R side or what-- I mean, what handed were they? I mean--

A. The-- in the meteorite you're asking?

Q. Yes.

A. They were racemic. They had equal mixtures of the D and L sugars. They had equal mixtures of the D and L amino acids. They had equal mixtures of the D and L hydroxy acids. This was the-- the test that was used to make sure we hadn't contaminated the samples during analysis.

Q. In order to form-- what types of-- of sugars and amino acids are used in construction of-- of life?

A. Life only uses the L form of amino acids and only the D form in the sugars.

Q. What's the likelihood of the amino acids and sugars forming life out of that racemic mixture?

A. It's much more difficult because instead of just having the 20 amino acids that you-- you commonly find in life, you have 50 amino acids. But most of those are positively active, so you have two or more forms-- two or more isomers. So you're-- instead of reaching into a bag and pull out of 1 of 20 amino acids, you're reaching into a bag--

TIMEKEEPER: If I may interrupt. Two minutes remaining.

A. -- and pulling out 1 of 100 amino acids. This happens in each step--


A. -- in the proteins. So the odds go up dramatically.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: All right. Thank you. Questions?


Q. Hi. Thank you so much for being here. I love the subject of oceanography and I wish we could have you talk about that. But my question is, if you would, would you like to expand on the answer to how old is the earth, because I've had someone approach me with that question, too. I would like to hear your explanation and your expansion.

A. Okay. The age of the earth was-- was determined based on regiments of-- I'm sorry, lead isotopes in meteorites. This work was done by Clair Patterson. And I had the privilege early in my career to work with Clair Patterson on a project. He is a scientist of the utmost integrity, and he works tirelessly to make sure that the work he does is correct. His analysis of the meteorites stands as one of the-- the major achievements in the field of-- of early solar system development. The numbers he came up with were just a few million years shy of 4.6 billion years old.

He did this work in the 1950s. To give you an idea of how hard he worked and how well he worked, nobody has done better in the 40 years since then, even though the technology has-- has advanced by leaps and bounds.

Q. Do you want to expand on any of the other questions that you didn't get a chance to?

A. Well, I-- I have some written testimony, it's all pretty much in there. I'm also getting a little dry.

MS. MARTIN: I appreciate very much for all that you've said today.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: Thank you, Doctor Peltzer. Mr. Calvert.

MR. CALVERT: Our next witness is Doctor Russell Carlson. Doctor Carlson. Doctor Carlson, members of the committee, Mr. Irigonegaray, the public, I would like to introduce you to Russell Carlson.

RUSSELL CARLSON, Ph.D., called as a witness on behalf of the Minority, testified as follows:


Q. Doctor Carlson, would you please briefly introduce yourself and talk about your background and why that background qualifies you to talk about the science standards today.

A. I am currently a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Georgia. I'm also technical director of the complex carbohydrate research center at the same institution, and adjunct professor of microbiology.

Although I'm in Kansas, I hope you won't hold it against me that I received my doctoral work at the University of Colorado in Boulder, since it's a rival state. And before that, I received a bachelor of science-- a bachelor of arts degree actually from North Park College in Chicago, Illinois, with a major in chemistry and a minor in mathematics. I am currently-- that's my educational background. Do you want me to explain more about--

Q. Yeah, go ahead. What are you doing now?

A. Okay. My area of research is to understand on a molecular basis of how bacteria infect animal and plant cells and projects involving molecules that are in-- compose the cell wall of the bacteria. Not surprisingly since I'm at the carbohydrate research center, they are-- they have carbohydrates in nature and-- and these molecules are involved in determining whether a bacterium can be virulent or not. And so we work on quite a variety of projects in collaboration with other investigators. These projects include pathogens such as Neisseria meningitidis, which is a causal agent of bacterial meningitis, Haemophilus influenzae-- (reporter interruption). The pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is an opportunistic pathogen. We also have currently projects on Bacillus anthracis, which is the causal agent of anthrax, and have done some work on another bioterrorism pathogen called Brucellus abortus, which is a causal agent of a disease called brucellosis. And so those are some of the projects we've been working on.

We want to understand the molecular basis for how these bacteria are virulent in order to provide basic information that would hopefully lead to therapeutic treatments and diagnostics and vaccines. Carbohydrates are already used from bacterial pathogens as vaccines, so I'm sure some of your children have already been vaccinated with carbohydrate-based vaccines.

Q. Doctor Carlson, you're-- are you also a professor at the University of Georgia?

A. Yes, that's--

Q. And-- and you're heading up a research lab work?

A. Yes.

Q. And-- and I believe you just described some of the activities of that lab, is that not true?

A. Yeah. Well, all of the activities are-- that we have are involved in-- in all those different projects and currently have-- this, of course, requires a lot of people. So I have four post-doctoral associates working in the lab, three graduate students, two technicians, several undergraduate students. And currently I have-- we're privileged to have a visiting professor from the University of Tubingen in Germany working with me on a couple of the projects.

Of course, this requires a lot of money to do all of this work and biochemical research is not cheap. It's quite an expensive do, it's an expensive process and so on. Over the years all of it has-- had obtained funding from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy.

And because of-- all of my students have been very hard workers and very productive and my post-doctoral research associates over the years have-- hopefully we've made some contributions to the peer review literature. I've published somewhere around 130 articles.

Q. Just in general, tell about-- what is the amount of-- of grants and funding that you've received to promote your work?

A. Over the--

Q. Yeah, over the years.

A. Approximately $7 million.

Q. To what extent does the theory of evolution impact the kind of work you're doing and-- in the-- in the area of operational science?

A. Well, as I say, most-- mostly what we're working on is the, you know, bacteria that exists today and-- and determining how those molecules infect cells. And so we make perturbations in the organisms by mutating specific genes and seeing what the effect is on the carbohydrate structure and what the effect is on a virulence mechanism. These are things that can be done in the laboratories, we can verify in the laboratory and what-- where the mutation is, what the structural defect is. We can look with the electron microscopy what the effect of the virulence is. So these are all things that are observable-- observable in present time. And so in this sense, I don't think that the evolutionary theory really enters into this type of day-to-day work.

Q. Do you need to have a deep understanding of evolutionary biology to conduct that work?

A. No.

Q. There has been a claim made that-- and I believe you've reviewed the proposed changes to the Kansas standards that are reflected in the minority report; is that correct?

A. I've-- yes, I've reviewed the changes that were proposed.

Q. And the argument has been made that if Kansans were to embrace those changes, it would drive bioscience out of the state. Would you mind commenting on that?

A. Well, I don't-- I don't think that that-- I don't see how that could be the-- the case. But, you know, to me, that-- it just seemed like more of a-- basically a fear-- fear tactic. So I don't-- I don't know-- I don't know if-- I mean, others will testify here to other stories that are likely eligible.

Q. Would you-- would you agree that there is a scientific controversy over the theory of evolution, both chemical and biological?

A. Yeah, I do agree. I think-- I think that the-- the level of controversy or-- or consensus, if you will, about evolution as we have seen in the-- both all day yesterday and today, so it's probably for you that are here redundant, but there's a lot of consensus with regard to unnatural selection accounting for diversity of life within certain boundaries, for example within variation of the species of what has been referred to here in testimony by others as microevolution. There is less consensus with regard to natural selection accounting for a broader diversity such as plants, fungi, and animals that will be derived from some common ancestor. And ultimately, all life's diversity being derived from some ancestor of Procaria.

The consensus perhaps continues to decrease as you've seen from just the previous testimony, and controversy increased surrounding the idea that biological information or the genetic code of net molecules necessary for life could arise from random collisions of molecules in some primordial soup. So the extent of consensus or controversy kind of depends on what aspect of evolution that you're talking about.

Q. Do you think the minority report identifies in the evolution benchmark, perhaps not all, but some of the key controversial issues that the students should be aware of?

A. What-- I'm not sure what-- can you be more specific on?

Q. One is the controversy regarding whether microevolution can be extrapolated to macroevolution, for example.

A. Well, I think-- I think it would be really nice for the students just to know that-- that in-- in their understanding of evolution that macroevolution is an extrapolation of microevolution. That would be good for them to know. I think that it's perhaps-- that's one thing that's not taught very clearly. And so just to distinguish in between the two and having the students understand that macroevolution is a-- an inference as taught is-- is something that is inferred from microevolution and the changes would be an important aspect.

Q. All right. I would like you to turn your attention to a provision in the minority report regarding the definition of science. The minority report proposed to substitute the-- the current definition, which is, "Science is human activity seeing natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us," to a definition that, "Science is the systematic method of continuing investigation," and so forth that's shown on the screen. Would you care to comment on that?

A. Yeah, I-- I support the-- this proposed revision to the definition of science. An essential principle of science is that every-- every defect has a cause and science is in search for those causes. And that search includes origin of life and diversity and these-- this is a historical science question. These kind of questions are historical science questions and involve searching for causes of past events that are singular, just happened one time, and cannot-- these kinds of things cannot be investigated in the laboratory sense of being able to reproduce these types of events in the laboratory.

And-- but, also, science includes searching for causes of the present effects, which is like how bacterium is infective or virulent. And this can be investigated in the laboratory. And this is a-- often referred to as operational science. And in that-- in the search science, which includes both of these historical and operational aspects, should be driven by a-- by an objective observation of the facts and seek the most accurate explanation based on, I believe, the criteria that was stated in the revision, which is hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building.

In this effort, and we-- in particular with origin science, explanations of evidence have-- have medical-- metaphysical implications. And it's really inappropriate to restrict explanations to those that only support one metaphysical position, which is materialistic and naturalism. And that's the position that nature is all there is.

Science should be in search of the truth and scientists, teachers, and students should be able to follow the evidence wherever it leads. It's-- it's not, in my opinion, appropriate to force all evidence into a 150-year-old Darwinian box. We need both teachers and students that are-- critically evaluate evolutionary theory and think outside the box.

With regard-- do you want me to-- you-- okay. That's with regard--

Q. The-- as you move down through the introduction section, there's another provision that says, "According to many scientists, the core claim of evolutionary theory is that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion." Do you agree with that, that a core claim of evolutionary theory is that apparent design-- like apparent design of the eye, is not objectively real, that that is just an illusion?

A. I wouldn't know what all evolutionary scientists say about that, but that has been claimed. That has been the claim of some very prominent ones.

Q. Would you also agree that there's scientists that disagree that design is not objective, that there is no evidence that suggests to the contrary?

A. Yes, other scientists disagree with that.

Q. And essentially the other scientists are scientists that are pursuing the theory of intelligent design?

A. Yes. Actually I had an interesting-- we have a-- we have a big kind of a discussion listed on this topic on-- on our-- at our university, and I have some-- I-- as has been mentioned by-- I'm not sure how to pronounce your name.

Q. Irigonegaray.

A. There are-- there are scientists with many different religious views that-- that can do science very well. And so I have some good colleagues that are what I would call theistic evolutionists. And so there's a big discussion, pros and cons of-- of this type of aspect. And, well, finally their position was that-- that, well, natural selection occurs and is actually guided, but we just can't detect it. And so it-- I pointed out to them that it seems to me that their position was different from the-- the-- these are-- these are people who have faith but are theistic evolutionists. So atheistic evolutionists, some of the modal ones, have said that we have to keep looking at-- when we look at nature, we have to keep reminding ourselves that design is-- is an illusion. And the theistic evolutionists from what I was getting in the research apparently have to look at nature and-- and they see design, but they-- they see randomness that they have to-- they have to believe that randomness is an illusion, but it's guided. So, you know, so there is these debates that are going on.

Q. Well, the standards-- the minority report suggests that the debate about design or no design not be included in the standards themselves, but that teachers should not be prohibited from teaching about scientific disagreement. Do you agree with that?

A. Yes.

Q. Would you want to comment on that at all?

A. Well, I think it's inappropriate for-- I think to consider if we want to search for-- we-- we want students to be-- be able to objectively follow evidence where it leads and then even-- even-- even by those who don't agree with design may see apparent design, the students should be able to-- and the teachers should be able to-- to discuss this possibilities-- possibility, that it should not-- discussion of it should not be prohibited.

Q. Page 7 of the minority report discusses the problem with a number of events with respect to-- that science does not have all the answers. It says, "Although science proposes theories to explain changes, the actual cause of many changes are currently unknown. For example, the origin of the universe, the origin of fundamental laws, the origin of life and the genetic code, the origin of major body plans during the Cambrian explosion." Is that, in your opinion, an accurate statement?

A. I think-- yes, I think it's an accurate statement. I think that's been demonstrated by the witnesses here before this committee.

Q. This is just a part of the introduction and it's directed primarily to teachers. Do you think this is the appropriate device for teachers to keep in mind?

A. Yes. I think it is and I think this is something that students are interested in, really describes some of the things that are-- are most essential-- essential questions that science is seeking to answer, and they need to be informed about-- about them. And I think that, as I previously stated, answers to some of these questions do have profound medical and metaphysical implications, and they could be encouraged to-- or at least permitted to think about those implications.

Q. On Page 12, there is a proposed change, an additional specificity 4C, and the change relates to a sentence that says that students should be able to evaluate preconceptions-- personal preconceptions and biases with respect to his or her conclusions. And the minority has stricken the word "personal" because they believe that that word essentially limited the analysis of bias and preconception that might affect explanation. Specifically they were worried that that would not direct the student to attempt to understand institutional biases, biases that might appear in the institutions. Do you think that's an appropriate change and would you care to comment on it?

A. Yeah, I-- I think certainly personal preconceptions should be-- should be considered, but those aren't the only ones. And so I think it's appropriate to cross out the personal and-- in order to expand that. So scientific reasoning always involves some point of view of a preconception. And so a personal bias should be one of those and institutional bias should also be one.

However, also preconceptions can be the result of accepted dogmas that may not be supported by-- by new facts. And so all of these types of things should be considered.

Q. Do you believe peer-reviewed science journals ever employ an institutional bias?

A. I'll-- well, yeah. I mean, I peer review stuff all the time, I'm part of the-- I'm-- I'm not on the editorial board of a journal, so-- but, you know, I'm involved anyway in this, in most peer-reviewing things for NIH proposals. And I will say that most of-- most of-- I think-- well, it depends on certain-- it depends on what area of work, too.

Q. Will a peer-reviewing journal, biology journal or evolutionary biology journal accept a paper that postulates the possibility of-- of design?

A. Yeah, I'm not involved too much in-- in, you know, peer reviewing those types of-- those types of research articles or proposals in that area.

TIMEKEEPER: If I may interrupt. Two minutes remain.

A. So, you know, I'm not-- I'm not sure about, you know, the ones that I do, but I just really don't-- the most recent ones I've heard in this area is-- is the episode with Steve Myers' article on biological information, which was peer reviewed for I think it's the Washington Society-- Biological Society, and by the normal peer review process and-- and discussed the idea of design. And from that, there was a lot of outcry and the editor of the journal was attacked because of this and-- in his position-- one of his positions at the Smithsonian Institute, I believe, was-- he was forced to resign from that. I'm not sure of all the details, so--

Q. (BY MR. CALVERT) Have-- have you read that article?

A. I've read most of it, not all of it.

Q. What do you think? I mean, was the criticism of it justified?

A. Well, the criticism-- no one really criticized the content of the article, they were criticizing the fact that it was published in a peer review journal. And so, you know, there's a saying that-- by a famous evolutionary biologist, Dobzhansky, that he quoted that nothing in sense-- nothing in biology makes sense except in the-- in the light of evolution. And when you use that as a filter for science articles that are-- are reviewed, then the peer review process becomes converted into a peer pressure process. And this is-- this is unfortunate.

Q. Thank you so much. Maybe one last question. In general, what is your assessment of the minority report?

A. Well, my overall assessment is that the-- is that they improve the original document since they encourage more objective presentation of origin science. I believe that the scientists, regardless of his or her view on origins, were really able to-- to read the standards as modified by the minority, without prior knowledge of this current debate, that he or she would have very little problem readily endorsing.

MR. CALVERT: Thank you so much, Doctor Carlson. We have copies of his testimony and that will-- has just arrived here in the room. We'll pass those out, distribute those shortly, along with copies of Doctor Peltzer's testimony.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: Mr. Irigonegaray, 13 minutes, please.

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: All right, sir.


Q. Sir, I-- I have a few questions that I need to ask you for the record. First of all, I would like to ask you, sir, what your opinion is as to what the age of the earth is.

A. Well, I-- I agree with the previous witness here. I'm-- I'm not-- I don't work in that area, but I don't have any problem with the idea that it's 4.5 billion years old.

Q. Do you accept the general principle of common descent, which is that all of life is biologically related back to the beginning of life?

A. I-- no. I believe that, as I said, with the term evolution I think common descent is also one where there's-- you know, there's no problem with-- in--

Q. Sir, my question was whether you agree--

A. My comments on--

Q. I'm just asking you whether you agree or not. Do you-- let me repeat the question. I'm not interested in an explanation.

A. Well--

Q. Do you accept-- just please listen to me.

A. I would like--

Q. This is a yes or no question.

A. Yeah.

Q. Do you accept the general principle of common descent, that all of life is biologically related back to the beginning of life? Yes or no.

A. No.

Q. Do you accept that human beings are related by common descent to prehominid ancestors? Yes or no.

A. I don't accept that as a fact.

Q. I did not hear you.

A. I don't accept that as being a fact, a scientifically-proven fact.

Q. If that is not acceptable to you, what alternative explanation do you propose for how the human species came into existence?

A. That's-- I don't-- I don't have an alternative position on that. That's not my area.

Q. So would it be fair to say that you do not agree with evolutionary theory as far as the common descent principles for the human species, but you do not have an answer as to how it happened?

A. I do not-- I do not have a scientific answer as to how it happened, no.

Q. Is it your opinion that it happened as a result of intelligent design?

A. I believe that design is a-- is-- is a possible-- possible explanation and it should be investigated, yeah.

Q. But you are not suggesting that intelligent design is the answer?

A. Well, scientifically I don't think that's been determined yet, but I think it should be one that's considered.

Q. Is there in Draft 2 any discussion about the origin of life?

A. Well, I've just read the-- I haven't read the entire draft.

Q. They brought you here to testify about the standards for science education for our children and you did not read it; is that correct?

A. I've-- I haven't read-- no, I haven't read the whole thing. I've read the-- the portions I was asked to give testimony on.

Q. So you have-- they-- who told you selectively what to read?

A. Nobody told me anything, it was sent to me.

Q. What-- who sent to you only selective pieces of Draft 2 and the minority-- strike that. Were you sent the minority report in toto?

A. No.

Q. Were you sent--

A. Wait. The minority report? Let me see. I believe I do have the minority report.

Q. You were sent the minority report in toto, but you were only sent selective pieces of the majority report. Correct?

A. Well, let me-- actually, I don't have a copy of what I actually received so I can't-- I can't answer that question.

Q. But one way or the other, you were instructed to be familiar with only a portion. Correct?

A. I was instructed-- they asked me for a-- expert testimony in the various aspects of the changes that they were suggesting, to see whether these are reasonable changes. And so that's what I'm doing.

Q. Is there consensus in the scientific community about how life began?

A. No.

Q. You say that there are many theories of the origins of life, would you be in agreement with me that it would be more appropriate to say hypotheses of the origins of life exist since there's no consensus?

A. That there are-- that there are--

Q. Hypotheses as to the origin of life.

A. A number of hypotheses as to origin? Yeah, I guess I would have no problem with that.

Q. Is there anything-- and I don't know if you can testify to this since you have not read the entire draft, but has anyone told you whether or not there's anything in Draft 2 that would prevent a teacher from discussing the issues that you and others might bring up about the origins of life?

A. Well, in the portions I've read, there's nothing that-- that would prevent teachers from doing it. I think that the-- it needs to be more than just not prevent teachers from doing-- from discussing those issues. Teachers should be actually encouraged to discuss those--

Q. Is there-- I beg your pardon.

A. -- issues. There should be-- that there should be something in the changes that allow teachers to discuss that.

Q. Isn't it, in fact, the truth that the majority standards do encourage teachers to discuss openly evolution and questions raised by children?

A. Well, I would-- I would say not. If in the-- in the majority if-- if-- if science is seeking natural explanations only and also that scientific knowledge is defined only in terms of matter and energy and forces that-- that-- no, they would not.

Q. Do you have a problem with science attempting to find natural answers to the world around us?

A. Absolutely not.

Q. Is it your suggestion that science should include intelligent design as a quest for truth?

A. I think it should be considered.

Q. Is intelligent design a philosophy?

A. Is it a philosophy? What I think design is-- it's-- it's a hypothesis.

Q. A hypothesis that has someone as a designer. Correct?

A. Well, the hypothesis is-- is-- intelligent design is-- is that there is design.

Q. And the design, by definition, requires a designer. Correct?

A. Yes.

Q. And who is that designer, in your opinion?

A. I-- scientifically, I don't know.

Q. And if you don't know who the designer is and if, by definition, it is a philosophical approach, why would you suggest that it should have any place in science?

A. Well, design is not a-- design is something that can be detected and looked for.

Q. Design can be detected and looked for. We would all agree that things may have a functional design, they-- for example, how our planetary system is set up. But it's different from observation to suggest what the design is, to have an opinion that it must be a supernatural design. Correct?

A. Well, I don't think anyone is positing an identity of-- of the designer would be supernatural or not supernatural being.

Q. Are you suggesting in intelligent design that the designer was a human being?

A. No, I'm just saying that we cannot scientifically determine the identity of-- of the-- of the designer.

Q. We may not be able to determine the identity. But in your opinion, that identity is that of God. Correct?

A. It--

Q. In your opinion, the intelligent designer is God. Correct?

A. Well, yeah, in my view I suppose I would agree with that.

Q. And would you not agree with me that for the interest of science, science should remain neutral as it relates to religion?

A. Oh, I agree, but I don't think--

Q. And would you not agree with me that introducing intelligent design into the curriculum, by definition, places an issue of faith when we cannot come up with a natural answer?

A. No, I don't agree with that. Design is neutral.

Q. How can design be neutral if you just told me the designer is God?

A. I-- I said that was my-- my-- I didn't say that-- that we should discuss with-- with children in the science class the identity of the designer or that my--

Q. So what do we do? Do we tell them it's a designer, but we disguise from them the fact that those who are suggesting intelligent design to be taught believe it's God? Do we keep that in secret from them as a mystery?

A. Well, right now with it-- what is encouraged is that when children ask a question--

TIMEKEEPER: Two minutes remain.

A. When children ask a question about-- about the naturalistic response, they're told to go talk to their mom and dad or their parents or-- or whatever.

Q. (BY MR. IRIGONEGARAY) Or their pastor?

A. Or their pastor, right.

Q. And you believe that is inappropriate?

A. No, I-- I believe that-- I believe that-- that the neutral position would be to allow-- to allow a discussion of the-- of the evidentiary basis for design.

Q. And is there anything in the standards, to your knowledge-- then again, you have not read the standards. Let me-- let me suggest this to you: Has anyone told you that the standards would deny a Kansas teacher who is asked a question about intelligent design by a student to be able to discuss it?

A. No. No, I-- I don't think so. But I think-- on the contrary, I think design should be one of the explanations that are-- that are brought forth.

Q. An explanation of what?

A. An explanation of-- of a possible explanation of things like biological information with which we cannot explain.

Q. So you suggest that if we don't have the ability at this moment in time to understand a natural process, that we should tell our students it must, therefore, be supernatural?

A. No, I'm saying we should-- we should open it up to allow students to discuss whether a design is real or illusionary.

Q. Isn't that a philosophical question, sir? Doesn't that get involved with faith and religion and did you not agree with me a moment ago that science should be neutral?

A. Well, I think detecting design is neutral, I think there are objective criteria by which we can detect design.

Q. We're not talking about detecting design--


Q. (BY MR. IRIGONEGARAY) -- we're talking about an explanation for design.

A. Well, I think--

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: My time is up.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: Your time-- thank you.


Q. Doctor Carlson, I realize how busy you are and how your research is very important to you, and I thank you very much for being here with your expert testimony. And I will confess to you that I'm on this committee and I'm very interested in science, but I have not read the second draft word for word, either. And since you don't have it, please don't feel bad that you haven't read it. And I do see some things in the introduction that I feel are very-- are explanatory, are good explanations. So please don't feel bad that you haven't gotten to read the whole thing because I've not read it word for word myself.

So what I do want to ask a little bit about is, how can design then be introduced into the classroom and not lead toward what Mr. Pedro was saying might lead to intelligent-- you know, identifying an intelligent cause?

A. Well, I think there are two objective criteria for design, and those standards can be discussed in the-- in the classroom. You know, like I said, there's medical-- metaphysical implications for if you-- if you detect designers' metaphysical implications for that, which is what was brought out here, the identity of the designer who was-- who, what, how, where did it come from, all those kinds of-- all those kinds of things. And I'm not-- I'm not sure that that can be discussed in a science classroom. It's perhaps at that point where there should be a referral, in order to be neutral, to a pastor or a guardian or parents or a mullah or whatever.

Q. But just allowing for this means an exploration with-- about design--

A. Yeah, because, I think, design-- I think being able to-- to apply the mathematical criteria for what-- detecting design to a biological system is something that-- that can be done. And so that-- that is a neutral that can be-- (pause).


Q. Doctor Carlson. Doctor Carlson.

A. Yes.

Q. We heard yesterday that evolution is a slippery word. Would you agree with that statement?

A. Well, yes, particularly now.

Q. Repeat that, please.

A. Particularly after the-- yes, it is, I agree with you.

Q. You talked earlier about the different meanings that evolution have in science and their understanding and their agreement. Why does the word have such different meanings?

A. Well, I think that it has different-- some of the reasons it had different meanings is because of the-- is what we call-- what we discussed earlier is-- is pre-- preconceptions and bias. And I think the-- the other reason-- reasons that is based on the evidence, you know, of-- the strong evidence for what we refer to as microevolutionary changes. And the evidence is not-- not as strong to support macroevolutionary changes as Jonathan Wells presented to you yesterday.

And then to-- also yesterday and today we saw the idea of chemical evolution being seriously-- having serious problems. And so I think that the slippery slope-- the slipperiness of it comes-- when you just use the word evolution, for some people it means all the way from chemicals, you know, primordial soup to human beings. For other people that means, you know, microevolutionary changes.

So when you just use the term evolution then without clear definition, if I'm talking to someone in the audience and saying, do you believe in evolution, we have to first each have an understanding of what evolution means to me, it means-- what evolution means to me, I need to know what evolution means to him.

Q. Why not try to clarify what is actually meant?

TIMEKEEPER: Two minutes remain.

Q. (BY CHAIRMAN ABRAMS) Let me rephrase. Why in science is the word-- do you believe in evolution or those types of comments-- or you don't believe in evolution, why not be more specific saying, do you believe in mutations, do you believe in biological or Abiogenesis or chemical evolution, or be much more specific?

A. Well, I think that would solve some of the problem of the slipperiness of the word if we would be more precise, yes.

Q. Earlier-- earlier you used the word dogma. Would you agree or disagree that evolution is taught as a dogma in many classrooms?

A. I would-- well, you know, I'm not a high school teacher, so-- but I-- I would tend to agree with that, but I don't have a lot of, you know--

Q. How about in college?

A. Yes.

Q. And when-- when I said evolution, I-- to be specific, I was not talking about mutations, I was talking about biological evolution. Is that what you would agree to?

A. Yes. And even more than that, I would say it would be the standard Darwinian-- Darwinian-- any Darwinian model, yes.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: Thank you very much. We will break and we will be back at 10:25.

(THEREUPON, a short recess was had).


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