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

Kansas Evolution Hearings

Part 6


CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: Please take your seats. I think we're ready. Mr. Calvert, please proceed. Please hold it down, conversation.

MR. CALVERT: Dr. Abrams, members of the committee-- Dr. Abrams, members of the committee, Mr. Irigonegaray, I would like to introduce you to Roger DeHart. Roger has taught biology high school level for 28 years and he is going to talk a little bit about his experience in that endeavor in a variety of different schools.


Q. Roger, would you please introduce yourself and give us a little bit more of your background?

A. My name is Roger DeHart and I am a high school biology teacher. I have taught for 28 years. In 20 of those years I was in the public school system in a variety of schools. I graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a BS in biology. I then later went back and got my teaching credential from the Pacific Lutheran University. That's my educational background.

Q. You taught in Burlington High School in Washington. Is that correct?

A. That's correct.

Q. And how long did you teach there?

A. I taught there for 14 years.

Q. And how did you teach your biology class for the bulk of those years?

A. Well, I started there in 1987 and for ten years of the two week unit that we covered the topic of origins and spent one day covering the topic of intelligent design. I presented it as an alternative for students to once again get a different view from what the textbook-- traditional textbook taught.

I supplemented the text in 1992 with a portion of Pandas and People. I would then allow students to critically analyze. I would always put this in the third person saying that this was differing views from other scientists, and then I would allow students to either write position papers stating three best evidences for or against Darwinian evolution and then those students who would like to have the opportunity, to debate the topic in front of the class. It's also an evenhanded way, the same number of students for both sides, they had the same amount of time and it was a good experience.

Q. How did the students react to it?

A. Well, overwhelmingly these students saw that as the favorite part of biology. Biology text as-- as has been previously said, much of biology is merely restating of facts, of rote material that's in the textbook. This was an opportunity for students to critically evaluate and they had a say actually in the-- their opinion of what they thought.

Q. What kind of-- and how long did you use that methodology?

A. I did that for ten years.

Q. And during that ten year period of time what kind of response did you get from parents?

A. Positive.

Q. Could you amplify a little bit on that?

A. I had positive up until 1997 and I had one complaint. The complaint was not logged with me or the school district it went straight to the ACLU, the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU then contacted my superintendent. My superintendent then went on a year long-- actually wasn't a school year, taking time to do an investigation, seeing if I was proselytizing my students. Seeing if there was any impropriety that took place. There was none that he found. And so he answered mainly-- another group involved with that was the National Center for Science Education. In fact, at a time they-- they wanted the school district to notify all of my former students that in some way they had received objectionable material and that they were denied the proper science education that they were entitled. 'Um, would you like me to continue.

Q. Go ahead.

A. After that was found and my superintendent and the school board, I had their hundred percent backing. As the school year came to an end a new superintendent came on board. He had an idealogical problem with what I was doing. He stated in front of a-- at the beginning of 1998 school year that the school district would be liable, each of the individual school board members would be specifically responsible for my teaching if a lawsuit was lodged, as the ACLU was threatening, and because of that they were going to limit what I did in the classroom.

It was at that time that I tried to seek-- strike a comprise with the school district and agreed only to present criticisms of the textbook so I submitted materials to my curriculum review committee. They were all turned down in 1999 in the spring. They were turned down because the-- some of them were written by Jonathan Wells who was here previously, even though they were published in the American Biology Teacher, the most widely reviewed journal for-- for biology teachers. They were also turned down-- even things like a diagram of Corvettes and things like that, stating that they overshadowed the existing curriculum.

So any ways, they did back off that and they said, well, we'll allow you to offer one article and so I did. I showed them to people. A section that once again talked about the analogy between DNA being information and that organisms such as giraffe seemed to be instead of a collection of mutations seems to be more of a complete unit of design.

It was after that that once again a group had formed, of course, and it made a lot of press in our town and outside groups threatened much of our school district, and so it was during that time that the board and the superintendent felt a lot of pressure and so they reversed and said now we're going to deny those materials. So I had to once again think what am I going to do now. So instead of presenting materials that were written by ID proponents I chose only mainstream scientific journals like those articles that were written by Steven J. Gould that appeared in Natural History. Jerry Coyne that appeared in Nature. Those-- Gould's article, Et Skewick (sp) [This is probably Abscheulich! - Atrocious! - Editor] dealt with the Haeckel's embryos that have already been mentioned.

The second, Jerry Coyne, dealt with the peppered moth, black not white, that appeared in Nature. Elizabeth Pennisi, her article that once again revealed Michael Richardson's research on Haeckel's embryos and then a Boston Globe article. Those were also all turned down the next year, even though they were written by Darwinists and committed to Darwinists. Then once again I was-- there's no other way to say I was censored.

I was to teach only the textbook and I could not submit any supplemental articles. All of my articles that I submitted were sent to the University of Washington and to Western Washington University. I had to submit a handwritten summary of all that I was to say in the two week unit, and then finally I was reassigned to Earth Science at the end of that year, and so that was 2001.

At the end of 2001 school year-- in fact, that was an indirect-- many interesting stories that went on surrounding that, but the person who took my job was a former student. He was a PE major. He had zero years of teaching experience. I left the school district, my love of biology, I taught that for 28 years at that time it was 23 years. That's what I was trained to do.

Q. Mr. DeHart, the Kansas standards that are being proposed with respect to the evolution section seek the goal of student understanding, student understanding of biological evolution, and I will hopefully get this up on the screen here in a minute. Student understanding of biological evolution. And the dictionary defines understanding as comprehend, be able to understand the subtleties of a particular concept. And so this particular indicator seeks students, quote, "to understand and comprehend biological evolution."

When you were directed to remove-- well, let me ask you this, the information that you were teaching for 11 years to your students that you could no longer teach, was that information relevant to a comprehensive understanding of biology of evolution?

A. I never shied from teaching the complete theory of evolution --

Q. But --

A. -- to answer the question if I understand.

Q. The mix of information you were giving the students one mix of information and then afterwards some of that information was removed from the table. Correct?

A. Correct. My supplemental materials were, if I'm understanding you right.

Q. Were the supplemental materials relevant to the competence to the understanding of biological evolution?

A. The supplemental materials that I presented gave a different picture of the interpretation of the evidence than what was in my text.

Q. Was that different interpretation relevant to student understanding of biological evolution?

A. Certainly. And I think that's what has been testified, some of those issues, the origin of life, homology, and things like that have been spoken to earlier in this.

Q. And you believe they're relevant?

A. Yes, I do.

Q. Can a student really have a-- can a student really understand biological evolution without having that additional information?

A. Well, I don't think they can accurately weigh the evidence. I mean, that's not what current science is showing so they're given a dated or misrepresentation.

Q. The removal of biological evolution would you agree has religious implications?

A. Yes.

Q. So one side of that story supports one kind of a religious belief and the other side supports the different kind, is that-- is that a fair statement?

A. The only concept-- in the words of Steven Weinberg, the only concept of a designer that makes sense is a designer who creates. And so if you're saying that nature is capable of creating that precludes the idea that there is a designer and so that is what-- a construct of ethological naturalism or philosophical naturalism.

Q. You believe removing your supplemental materials respectively caused you to promote if you were just going to teach one side of the story, a-- a naturalistic explanation. Is that right?

A. Well, yes. It shows that the evidence, empirical evidence is there to support a Darwinian view, which is that natural selection acting on random mutation is how man got there. There's no theology. There's no purpose or inordinate.

Q. But only one perspective is shown?

A. That's correct.

Q. Now, when you left-- so you were assigned to earth science, I believe that's where you stopped in your dialogue?

A. Yes. Excuse me.

Q. And then you went from there to another school, tell us about that?

A. Well, the other school was 40 miles south. That school I was very up front. I didn't want to be caught in the same situation again. I went in, had an interview. I was selected for the position. I told them right up front who I was. I told them of my controversy. I told them before I accepted the job that I still wanted permission to give the criticisms of the textbook and allow students an open education. I was notified by phone three days before I was to take the position that I had been reassigned again to earth science.

Nobody in the school district would talk to me and clarify why that was done, and later the superintendent did meet with me and she said we had so many e-mails from your previous school district from people who were in that district saying that I shouldn't be allowed to teach biology because of my past and that was the reason given and stated in the paper of why I was reassigned.

Q. During this trying process, did you talk with other teachers in the school, in your high school, and could you comment on their feedback, before and after the controversy?

A. As far as do you mean in my first school, like inside and outside the science department or in general?

Q. Well, I'm looking for-- I mean, I think we discussed your conversations with teachers some of whom seem to favor what you were doing?

A. Oh, yes. At the second school that I was at I had three or four of the teachers, it's the larger high school in the State of Washington, three or four teachers came to me and knew of my situation and were glad to have me on board and they supported what I did, but they weren't sure that they would be able to do that.

There was another teacher who was a member of the National Center for Science of Education who approached me and said, Mr. DeHart, I've been notified, I know who you are and I'm going to keep an eye on you. I've been asked to do that.

Q. So it's more than likely the security police in the biology classroom?

A. More or less.

Q. Is there-- so you left that school I guess relative-- how long did you teach at that school? Did you teach the earth science course?

A. Well, that was interesting. I was there for a year, the first semester-- they teach biology in a semester, so the first semester I did three biology classes and two physical science. The second semester I had all physical science. There was another teacher that had a background in physics, wanted to trade with me, principal was all in favor of it, and the teacher actually approached me and said that's great, and the superintendent downtown did not allow that to take place and so it was at the end of that year when I left and went to California.

Q. And where are you teaching now?

A. I teach at Oakes Christian High School, which is college prepatory high school just outside of L.A. in Westlake Village. I teach honors biology and AP biology.

Q. And how do you teach it there?

A. You know, I-- we teach just the textbook version, and then once given a look at criticism of the text and where they may have misrepresented the evidence and then I present the case for intelligent design.

Q. And how do the students --

A. They enjoy it. It's always-- once again, as I stated before, I think it's one of the best units that we have. And it just gets kids to be able to be critically thinking. That's what we as teachers want to do. And it's not about-- with our age of computers you can look anywhere and find knowledge, but what you try to do as a teacher is the higher levels of learning where you get kids to critically think and be able to evaluate evidence.

Q. Do you think a public school system should prohibit teachers like you from teaching criticisms of evolution that would somehow weaken the theory?

A. Well, supposedly a scientific theory is supposed to withstand criticisms, that's why we have them. We go through-- that's why they're repeatable and that's the nature of science. It's supposed to be a self correcting mechanism because of the challenges that other scientists bring to it. So if it doesn't cut the mustard it shouldn't be there.

Q. So in answering my question, should public school systems suppress that criticism?

A. No.

Q. So they also-- do you view the argument for design to essentially be a-- a test or criticism of the evolutionary claim that the process is unguided?

A. Yes.

Q. And so in a sense it is the criticism of the theory itself?

A. Yes, it is.

Q. And do you believe both the theory itself and the criticism has religious implication?

A. Yes, they do, both.

Q. So both-- both have religious implications?

A. The problem is here-- they do, but the problem is here that students in high school have a very hard time with sorting through philosophy and sorting what's empirical evidence. That's the job of a teacher. It's not that you go and check with your parents or your church or some place like that. They're not trained in science. It's the job of the teacher to be able to sort through what is philosophical and what is empirical evidence. That's why I'm a professional educator. I'm trained to do that.

Now, in saying that, I think it's very important that teachers present things in an evenhanded manner and I think that takes a conscious effort on the instructor to be able to do that. And, you know, all I can say in my case, and wherever there's controversy there's two sides, but in my ten years of doing it I never had a complaint until the one student brought it up.

Q. The-- I think that you're describing has-- is the job of the teacher, what is the job of the teacher then in teaching a theory that has religious implication one way or the other, how's the best way to have the school, if it's going to enter into that discussion, conduct it in an objective way, is it showing both sides or is it just showing one side?

A. Well, it's showing both sides, and I think that's been spoken to earlier, that science should not be limited. It should be-- if it is as we interpret it in society, a search for truth, then it should be able to follow the evidence where it leads, regardless of the religious implications or the evidence of that.

Q. I want to show you a-- I'm going to hand you an NSTA statement that has been I believe handed to the committee and to counsel, and it concerns teaching of evolution and it's a position statement. And would you mind reading the yellow-- you know, the sentences that contain the yellow markings on them, proposed on the advice of the National Science Teachers Association?

A. Under the third bullet point, is that where you're pointing, or do you want me to start up here?

Q. Start in the second paragraph and then read the third bullet point.

A. Okay. It says, "In addition teachers are being pressured to introduce creationism, creation science and other nonscientific views which are intended to weaken or eliminate the teaching of evolution." And the third bullet point says, "Policy makers and administrators should not mandate policies requiring the teaching of creation science or related concepts such as so-called intelligent design, abrupt appearance and arguments against evolution. Administrators also should support teachers against pressure to promote nonscientific views or to diminish or eliminate the study of evolution."

Q. Now, do you think that policy is one that encourages or one that discourages teaching both sides of the scientific controversy?

A. I think it clearly discourages.

Q. And is that discouragement in your experience communicated to biology teachers throughout the country?

A. I think it is.

Q. Is that healthy for the biology classroom environment or unhealthy?

A. Well, it's unhealthy. I think there is a tension, those of us who are in the trenches every day teaching. There is so much going on in the public school system I think most of us know about lawsuits and in our legal happy system that teachers have to be very cautious, what they say, how they react to students and everything else to show it exists. This just typifies no teacher wants to be put in a position where they have a lawsuit. So if it's not clarified, you don't know.

Q. How-- would you comment on the Minority Report and comment on how it would aid and perhaps remove the tension from the biology classroom and the fear and the lack of academic freedom?

A. Well, I think specifically when you're not requiring natural causes, when you're opening up and just saying we're looking at all hypotheses that are testable, that are empirical and that you are allowing the evidence to go where it may. And you are not trampling on those who believe that man has a purpose and that there is-- that there is a design. And I think outside of that it fits more, whether it's implicit or explicit, if it's today, if it's more in line with those that have a naturalistic view that molecules and atoms are all that they have, they would have no problem with the standards that the Majority Report holds. Whereas that's different for those of us who believe there's a designer.

Q. So the-- so specifically, though, how does the Minority Report cure the problem?

A. Well, I do believe that, as others have testified, it helps to clarify how evidence is used. And, you know, I can't emphasize enough, we open up and I've done a fair amount of checking on biology texts where you can have three different meanings of the word evolution in the same paragraph. How sophisticated are 9th grade students to discern that? They're not very discerning of that. They're just learning these skills. By clearly defining the word evolution as the Minority Report does, I think it's a great step forward.

Q. How do you think the Minority-- well, right now as I understand it the teachers in the classroom have-- are uncertain as to what they can and can't do. Is that correct?

A. I think that's very correct.

Q. And would you agree with me or not that the Minority Report provides greater freedom and provides some black lines for the teachers to stay within?

A. I think that's very true. And I can share with my-- with you my experiences that I didn't-- once again, I didn't set out to do anything. This wasn't a conscious effort that I was breaking some law or that I was doing something that was inappropriate and there were no guidelines or standards for me at that time as far as my teaching, so I wasn't breaking any rules or seeking to subvert anything. And it-- it's become now where it needs to be laid out for teachers.

Q. The Minority Report does not seek to impose intelligent design on the standards. On the other hand, it provides that the state should not prohibit a teacher like you from discussing that with students if you feel quantified and appropriate to do so, would you agree with that position or is it too strong or too weak, this is for a public school as opposed to a Christian school?

A. I think that's exactly right. I mean, nobody should be forced to teach. Science teachers should teach the accurate evidence and should be required to teach the accurate evidence and sometimes there's different interpretations of that evidence and teachers should have to teach that. Should they have to teach intelligent design, no, but I think they should be able to and should be mandated to teach, once again, what is accurate science. And I think what is put into many textbooks is a misrepresentation of that evidence.

Q. Do you have any final comment on the Minority Report in terms of whether it should or shouldn't be adopted?

A. I think it should be adopted. I think it's something that teachers would take great confidence in, give them a sense of security and I think do a better job of teaching.

MR. CALVERT: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: Mr. Irigonegaray, 15 minutes, please.

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: Thank you, sir.


Q. Mr. DeHart, I have, excuse me, a few questions for the record that I would like to ask you first.

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And I'm going to ask you first how old, in your opinion, is the world?

A. I'm going to answer like Dr. Sanford earlier, I would say between probably a lot younger than most people think.

Q. That doesn't say anything to me. What is your opinion in years the age of the earth?

A. I'm fine with 5,000 to 100,000.

Q. You're fine with 5,000 to 100,000?

A. Correct.

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

A. Not if you interpret common descent, and realize that I'm taking liberty here, not if you interpret common descent as being that that is natural selection acting on random mutations I do not.

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. Design.

Q. When did that design occur?

A. I don't know.

Q. Who was the designer?

A. Science cannot answer that. When I'm teaching my class I do not answer that.

Q. Have you read in total the Majority Report?

A. No, I have not.

Q. Have you read in total the Minority Report?

A. Yes, I have.

Q. It is true, is it not, that nowhere in the standards applicable to Kansas children does it say that matter and energy is all there is?

A. It's based that you will look only for natural causes.

Q. And do you disagree with the proposition that science should be involved with natural explanations for the world around us?

A. Yes, I do. And I think if you point back to many people who held the religious view they were some of the first like William Harvey to discover that circulation was a result of design, but I don't think it's-- can find everything, all answers.

Q. Do you believe that when we don't understand the answer to something it is appropriate to attach to it a supernatural explanation in science?

A. No, I do not, but if the evidence leads there we should go there.

Q. How does one attempt to apply the empirical process to a supernatural philosophy?

A. I think there is evidence for specified complexity that you can use as a criteria for scientific investigation.

Q. Are you aware of the fact that there is not a single major national or international scientific organization that agrees with you on that?

A. I realize that if anybody held the views that I did they would no longer be a member of that group.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: Please, no sign. Please, just confine your comments.

Q. (By Mr. Irigonegaray) And is it your opinion that the reason that happens is because those organizations are biased against views such as yours?

A. A study put out in 1999 by Ed Larson held that the National Academy of Life Sciences 95 percent of them held a naturalistic view of the earth.

Q. Would you re-- answer my question. Is it your belief that the reason that is the case is because those organizations are biased against you?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it your belief that that is also true for the National Science Teacher's Association?

A. Yes.

Q. Are you familiar with the notion that science should remain neutral as far as supernatural answers in their quest for knowledge?

A. Yes. And that also includes the world view of naturalism.

Q. Do you find the world naturalism anywhere in the Kansas standards?

A. I don't think that you'd find the word discriminatory back in the 1950's in some restaurants to claim that they were being discriminated against.

Q. My question is is the word naturalism anywhere in the Kansas standards? Yes or no?

A. No, but it's implicit in the way that you've defined science.

Q. As a search for natural answers, is that the implication you suggest?

A. Only natural answers.

Q. And you suggest that a better alternative would be to include supernatural answers?

A. Intelligent causes.

Q. Intelligent cause is a disguise for a supernatural answer. Correct?

A. Darwinism masquerades as materialist-- materialism.

Q. That's not my question. Listen carefully. I asked you whether or not the suggestion that intelligent design is a masquerade for a supernatural answer. Correct?

A. That's a leading question.

Q. Of course it is. Is it or not?

A. I think if the evidence shows that things have intelligent causes we should be able to go there in science, if it's about searching for truth.

Q. But isn't the assumption or the hypothesis that is intelligent design one based on opinion, philosophy, faith, the supernatural?

A. No, it's not, because I can't find a single piece of evidence where Darwinism would be falsified. I mean, we've seen that in junk-- junk DNA. That was supposed to be the thing that pointed right to common ancestry and now we're finding that there's purpose in it, yet Darwinism is not falsified.

Q. Do you find the word Darwinism anywhere in the Kansas standards?

A. I find evolution in the definition, once again, it is not clear.

Q. That's not my question. Do you find the word Darwinism anywhere in the Kansas standard?

A. It's implicit in the world evolution.

Q. Do you believe it is appropriate for students to be exposed to a teacher's individual religious views in public schools?

A. Neither those of atheism or theism, they should stick to the job of science, yes.

Q. Is it your job that evolution as it is taught in mainstream America today is atheistic?

A. Well --

Q. Yes or no?

A. Yes, by definition it is.

Q. And because by your definition the theory of evolution is atheistic you believe you have a right to bring your theistic opinions into the classroom. Correct?

A. No. I have a responsibility to present correct science and not have, once again, a made-up alternative of where the evidence should lead.

Q. The correct science you're referring to is a theistic view. Correct?

A. We let science make-- there's room for difference.

Q. Just listen to my question, sir.

A. I'm listening, yes.

Q. You've already told me that in your opinion evolution as it is taught in the United States today is atheistic philosophy, therefore, you believe you should have the right to bring in your theistic views. Correct? Yes or no?

A. Once again, it's a leading question.

Q. Of course it's a leading question. Just answer the question.

A. You are-- you are conflicting two things. You are conflicting my personal opinion between what I do in the classroom and whether I can separate those two things.

Q. Sir-- sir, you've told me that in your opinion evolutionary science as is taught across the United States is atheistic. Correct?

A. That is correct.

Q. And it is therefore your opinion that because science is atheistic you have a right to bring in your theistic opinions. Correct?

A. Once again, I never said science was atheistic.

Q. Evolution, evolutionary science, you have indicated as it's taught in the United States today is atheistic. Correct?

A. The way evolution is taught, yes.

Q. And therefore it is your opinion that because that constitutes an issue of philosophy and an issue of faith, you should be permitted the opportunity to bring your own opinions about faith to the classroom. Correct?

A. No. I'm not bringing my opinions. And what we're looking at here is are we discriminating the students who are presently in their class who have a belief that there is a designer, that there is theology in the universe. Those are the students I'm concerned about.

Q. Where in the science standards for children in the State of Kansas do you find that students who have a religious view about evolution are being discriminated against?

A. When you only look for naturalistic answers that means there is no designer, that you're discriminating against a group of people where there is scientific evidence of design.

Q. Are you aware of the fact that the Kansas standards encourage an open discussion by students on issues of ethics, morals, all of those issues are covered in the Kansas standards?

A. I think that's bogus. If what you're --

Q. You think that's bogus?

A. Yes, I do, because I think the NSCS, the National Center for Science Education and the ACLU, if you present those other alternatives, and it's my excuse-- excuse me, it's my experience this is nothing-- this is what I experienced, our school district had a policy that they were not to discriminate because of race, creed or religion, and yet the ACLU came into my school district and dictated what was to be taught.

Q. Are you familiar with the following few words? Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Are you familiar with the establishment clause of the United States Constitution?

A. I certainly am.

Q. And are you aware that the Constitution of the United States forbids, forbids someone like you, no matter how legitimate your religious views may be to you, and how well we may desire to protect them, from teaching those views to children in schools?

A. I object. He's saying what I do in the classroom. Once again, I --

MR. SISSON: Excuse me, this question is asking him for a legal opinion about the United States Constitution. This witness is a biology teacher and is not competent to answer such a question and should not be asked to.


MR. SISSON: Ask for a ruling from the Chair.

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: I'm not asking for a legal opinion.

A. Does somebody who's a materialist have the right to go into the classroom? I have friends, who once again berate students and say that they will not address any other opinions than what's listed in the text, and yet I do not know of any of them who have been reassigned or threatened to be fired for taking that position.

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: Thank you, sir. Nothing further.

MS. MORRIS: I appreciate your work and I apologize for the ill mannered way you've been addressed.


Q. You have looked at some textbooks evidently, do you find any that are available presently that do present the controversy or that gives support and criticism for this issue of evolution being used in origins at all equally or fairly?

A. No.

Q. Thank you. So it is difficult then to require on a test that is presented to you as a biology teacher to present without bringing out self-limiting materials?

A. I think it's really hard for the teacher. As we heard earlier on the origin of life you can look in the margins and the notes for the teacher will say here's what the early atmosphere was like and experiments simulate earlier and then on the paragraph for the students-- excuse me, they'll say that the gases didn't, but then in the paragraph for the students it will say how did the Miller Urey experiments simulate early earth conditions.

Q. I found it also-- it's stated as a fact for the students to grasp and really is not a fact, it's what scientists are thinking?

A. And even conflicting to the teacher. It's hard to figure.


Q. Mr. DeHart, you had one complaint regarding your teaching strategy, how many compliments or encouragements did you receive, if any?

A. A lot. In fact, students issued around a petition. You know, just-- 176-- or I think they had 176 signatures, 173 of them after the controversy still supported the way that I taught the topic of origins.

Q. How did your teaching strategy regarding Neo Darwinian evolution benefit the students?

A. Well, once again, as I said earlier, there's very few chapters in the textbook where they have the ability to critically analyze at the higher levels of learning. This is one topic where we can do that, and my students find regardless that it's the toughest chapter for them. I mean, they have to write essays and things and support their evidence. Most people don't do that today. And it really is one of the few pop topics in biology where we can do that.

Q. Therefore did you see the students understanding, their critical analysis ability, their problem solving skills improve?

A. I will put my students up against any other students in the nation in the school that I'm at right now. And on their AP tests or the SAT 2 tests and compare them with anybody else and they'll do just as well on the evolutionary part.

Q. You said that at one point that there are philosophical claims made in the name of science and it is the responsibility of the teacher to distinguish between those philosophical claims and scientific claims. Did I understand that correctly?

A. That's absolutely true.

Q. How would you describe the ability of the Majority draft and-- compared to the Minority draft to teach the student to distinguish the data and to differentiate between those philosophical claims?

A. I think it's very good. It really-- once again, whenever you get into these topics definitions are so critical. The more that you can do to define terms, basic philosophy classes, you know, if you can define the terms you can win the debate and that's-- naturalists have defined the term of science, and so the more clearly we can define terms is better.

Q. You also indicated that evolution-- the word evolution is somewhat illusive, that isn't the word you used, but it's-- you said change had three different meanings in one paragraph or something like that?

A. That's correct.

Q. Do most mainstream evolutionary biologists want to differentiate between the various meanings of evolution between macroevolution and microevolution?

A. I can't comment on that. I mean, I don't know the scientific community so that would be outside my realm. But I think they're often conflicted. I mean, once again we-- as we said, we extrapolate many times microevolution and macroevolution. As the illustration earlier with the pole vaulter training for a mile, whatever those extrapolations are merely-- they fit in the realm of historical science. There's no testable way that empirically you can-- you can say that we go back in this period of years, this is the way it was. We can't do that.

Q. You can't comment on that, but can you comment on whether or not it would be of value for students and value for teachers to have the words instead of just used the word evolution at least to try to differentiate between what-- when they are using the word evolution, in what sense they are using it?

A. Yes. Yes, I-- that needs to be done. That's all I can say. Yes, emphatically.

Q. Okay. Mr. DeHart I thank you for your time.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: Thank you very much. We are going to pause one moment, please.

(THEREUPON, an off-the-record discussion was had).

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: If we can come back to order, please. Take your seat. Our reporter is ready to go. Mr. Calvert. If we can have order, please. Take your seat, please.

MR. CALVERT: Dr. Abrams-- Dr. Abrams, members of the committee, Mr. Irigonegaray, both, I proudly present to you Jill Gonzalez, a-- Jill Gonzalez-Bravo, a Kansas science teacher. And I want to applaud her and her courage for being here to testify for a very important cause.


Q. Ms. Gonzalez, would you please further introduce yourself?

A. My name is Jill Gonzalez-Bravo and I'm very nervous, so I'm going to try to picture all of you as 16 years or younger.

I went to Kansas State University and received an education degree with an area of emphasis in biology and certification at grade nine. I have a Master's Degree in curriculum instruction from Wichita State University and have been a teacher for the last ten years, and though encouraged to boycott I felt that this issue is not about me, it's about the students and their rights. And so that is what I'll be speaking to today.

Q. Where are you teaching now? You're teaching in Rose Hill?

A. Rose Hill, Kansas, in a public school there.

Q. And you're teaching a science class?

A. Yes. I've been teaching a science class there for the past four years.

Q. And that's an eighth grade class?

A. Yes.

Q. And in that class you deal directly with evolutionary biology?

A. Yes, I deal with aspects of evolutionary biology.

Q. Do you believe that evolution is scientifically controversial?

A. Yes, I do, however, my opinion is not what I'm here to address. Based on my classroom observations is where I come to the conclusion that my students believe this is a huge controversy.

Q. Well, give me some examples, you know, what kind of feedback do you get from them?

A. Okay. During my four years of completing my area of focus in biology at Kansas State I became very versed in the theory of evolution. I learned that it was an undebatable fact among many of my professors. I also caught on very quickly to the idea that-- and this was a perceived idea, but that if anybody that believed differently they were not considered a true intellectual. I adopted the liberal philosophy and embraced it and began to become very interested in the environmental movement. I decided to join the United States Peace Corp. I taught science for two years at all grade levels and I even developed a workshop at the local university.

When I returned I accepted the Peace Corp Fellows to Wichita State University. I took a job teaching seventh and eighth grade science at Alternative Middle School for students that had not been successful in the mainstream. Basically it was kind of their last stop and I chose that for the challenge.

Many of my students were very difficult to motivate, so I was amazed the day the topics of origins came up within the class. It turned into a heated debate and-- a heated argument I should say with-- with me as the target.

This is where the conflict came into play. I have students who at first glance gave the impression that they cared very little about school and science, but somehow this topic was important to them. However, my previous education had taught me that there's no controversy. There was no data that supported evolution is factual-- or that said that it was not factual. I had never read anything to the contrary so I had no idea how to lead or even whether I could allow the discussion to continue. I just wasn't sure.

I was left with two questions to reflect on. First one, this is the teacher in me, why does this topic evoke strong opposition from the majority of my students and then why was I apprehensive about providing my students with the academic freedom to investigate and question what they perceived to be controversial.

I felt as a professional that it was my duty to try to understand what about this topic of evolution these students opposed so strongly. I read articles, books, attended a few workshops over the years and I began to see some of the controversy surrounding the idea and issues, and today was even more of a learning experience for me. But I was still unsure as how to address these issues within the classroom.

Years passed and it did not matter who came through my classroom, when any aspect of evolution was taught the same level of discussion-- intense discussion followed. I would quickly present the information or present it as the book taught it. I would encourage them to make sure they understood it so they could make informed decisions and therefore then make-- determine their own opinion on it.

I'm married and became pregnant - I'm sorry, this is a little lengthy, but this is all coming back - with our first child and I was amazed at how quickly my world view began to change. It's funny how children can do that sometimes. I started research into the development of my child in utero and of course took Lamaze, later on becoming an instructor for it. I had a shift in thinking. I saw how my body compensated during pregnancy. I was amazed how my child's nourishment was immediately provided by me and it clicked. I saw what the students conflicted with with this theory. I understood what they took issue with with the idea of macroevolution.

Students cannot comprehend how a process largely founded on chance could be so specialized. When I presented evolution to them the contents somehow impacted their conscience. It took from them-- and this was expressed to me by students, it took from them the idea that they were born for a purpose. This was a belief that I professed as an educator to be the basis of my philosophy of education. I was telling the students though when I taught this subject-- I was telling at least in their view their perception that this was something-- something completely counter to their mind-set and their beliefs and that-- that troubled me.

Soon after the birth of my son I took a job in Rose Hill, Kansas, and once again observed the same level of enthusiasm among my students, but this time it was different because I had a parental-- parental input into my classroom. Many come to me with concerns about the textbook, with concerns about the-- what they believe to be a humanistic world view into the textbooks because it did not provide for any alternatives to evolution. I --

Q. Go ahead.

A. I can remember one parent in particular-- particular coming in and asking me, you know, what is your opinion on it, and I said, well, I don't feel at liberty to share my opinion. I'm a public schoolteacher and I try to present my class objectively, and so she did give me a pamphlet on my First Amendment Rights and I have that with me here today as well. Let's see. But I still struggle with not knowing how to present this information in a way that would not negatively impact any of my students' beliefs.

I continue to feel as though I do not teach this content as thoroughly as such a topic deserves. I struggle with knowing what amount of classroom discussion I should allow or what direction I can allow the students to take. And this is my perception. With-- let's see. And the students also notice it. They notice that when this particular topic comes up in conversation or within the content they are-- they have expressed to me that they are surprised that I don't allow for such free exchanges of information, that I don't know how to provide for that. I don't know how to counter their arguments against it. I'm just not sure on what can be covered.

It is my opinion that more specific standards may allow for more academic freedom within the science classroom. If teachers were provided with the information on students' prior knowledge, because many of them have understandings of some of the content that was covered here today, maybe not a firm grasp but they have some knowledge of some of the arguments. Teachers can then-- if they have this information they could explain to students why the current definition of science, maybe this information is not considered admissible. And students would benefit in understanding also the dynamics of the science community. But they would be still provided with a variety of information that would allow them to make an informed decision to critically analyze this content.

Q. Do you believe the explanations about the origin of life and biological origins impact religion?

A. Yes. Explanations of origins impact the belief systems of students. And I base that on what they have shared with me. Every child comes into my classroom with prior knowledge. I was trained as a teacher to assess that prior knowledge when all new content was introduced. This would allow me to identify misconception or build on their knowledge. With evolution it was difficult for me to assess their prior knowledge because then I would have to identify many things they said as misconceptions.

Q. You say in your written remarks that with evolution why use naturalism to define science, I would identify children's belief systems as a possible misconception?

A. I believe in my mind that's what I would have to perceive them as.

Q. And so you believe this could have an impact on your students' beliefs?

A. Yes.

Q. So what are you saying here? Are you saying there that the evolutionary explanation is a naturalistic one and if that's the only explanation that's permitted then you're effectively skewing belief in that direction?

A. Yes.

Q. What-- would you say that the naturalistic explanation supports non theistic beliefs while the non naturalistic or the disagreement with that naturalistic belief supports theistic beliefs?

A. That seems to be the concern that has been expressed to me by many parents.

Q. And the parents' concern is that you aren't promoting a curriculum that supports only one kind of religious belief?

A. Right. At this point, though, I would not advocate for intelligent design or creationism to be brought into the science classroom. However, I do believe that students are entitled to hear the research, to analyze the research that contradicts and to teach the controversy, whether believed by us as science teachers or not, it is there and I believe they should be able to research it and discern for themselves.

Q. Do you think teachers are-- well, I would-- I believe Roger DeHart read a reference from the National Science Teacher's Association which would encourage teachers to not do anything that would diminish or weaken evolutionary theory. Do you believe that policy is implemented in Kansas public schools and what do you think the effect of that policy is?

A. I have read that policy. I believe it does impact the classroom. As a teacher I am-- don't want to be a rule breaker and that's why coming here today was a very difficult decision.

Q. Further, do you-- could you comment on whether teachers are actually encouraged by that kind of system to suppress evidence that might weaken the theory of evolution?

A. I do not believe it is blatant among educators, however, we are put in a situation where it is oftentimes inevitable. I have had students engage me in discussion over controversy surrounding evidence for evolution that is presented in our textbooks. For instance, the Peppered Moth photographs that have been found to be inaccurate. I allow students to share their thoughts, however, they will then question why is it in the book when we just adopted it three years ago. Or just last year as we read under the bold face heading a new species can form when a group of individuals remain separated from the rest of its species long enough to evolve different traits. The evidence for this tells this world population that became isolated in the small side of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, they read that this group evolved two types of squirrels. One with the black belly, one with the white. I think probably a lot of people are familiar with this, but I'll tell the story anyway.

Then they-- just below that they read this statement, "Scientists are not sure whether the squirrels had become different enough to be considered a separate species." And immediately a student inquired, Mrs. Gonzalez, doesn't the book also say that if species are the same aren't they able to mate to produce fertile offspring? So why don't those scientists just mate the two squirrels and see what happens. Now, keep in mind I do teach middle school so this was not an uncommon theme. This was a well analyzed statement, however, right up there on hierarchy. I was unsure how to field that question other than, well, yeah, maybe they should do that.

And let's say that a student does not bring up the controversy surrounding the Peppered Moths in England and therefore I don't because as a science teacher I have been encouraged not to do anything to weaken or diminish evolution by the National Science Teacher's Association. What do you suppose-- 'um, what do you suppose the child will think when he later finds out this discrepancy surrounding this evidence? To me it would do more harm to teaching of evolution as a unifying theory of science than to the teaching of science. The student will begin to question why they were lied to about this issue or at least they will perceive deception. Whether it's there or not that is their perception. And they will wonder what else is untrue.

There may be scientists that could explain this away, but as an educator how are we to deal with these controversies being brought up in our classrooms? We rely on scientists to provide us with unbiased content for our classrooms. That's what we rely on from our textbooks. This is our source of information and knowledge that we-- we give to our students.

Q. Would you comment on how your Christian faith played a role on your views of evolutionary theory and has it dictated your conclusions or caused you to critically analyze it from a different-- from a scientific standpoint?

A. I believe the change in my faith from secular humanism to Christianity and that's my understanding of science in regards to my ability to respect information presented to me by people that hold similar as well as different world views. I think in many ways it has opened my mind to the vast amount of knowledge and information that I have yet to learn.

My faith has played an integral part of who and how I view my students and the respect I give them, but as a professional in the public school my job is not to present content from only my world view. This would hamper academic freedom and not foster my role as an objective educator. My job is not to change their thinking it is to encourage them to think and seek out knowledge from a variety of resources and to make informed decisions.

Q. How do you think the Minority Report proposing changes would impact the typical high school, middle school science classroom?

A. I think as a teacher the more information I am provided with on the prior knowledge that students may have as well as the contents in the scientific community would help me to develop lessons, would help me address issues that will be brought up within my class and will not leave me with my mouth open when a student comes up with something that they have read in a journal that I was not familiar with.

Q. Do you-- could you go on to a bit more detail, Jill, about how the Minority Report and standards would impact the classroom?

A. It is my opinion that the standards would lead to an environment that would allow for greater academic freedom. Though I have received e-mails by science teachers in my own school and within the state in support of the proposed changes. I also have been encouraged by others to make sure I will not regret anything I say. So I have read some of the opposition's opinions and found two common themes that I would like to address.

One, we should only teach what scientists think about scientific topics. The argument is that no scientists support anything counter to evolution. I would say that by today's testimony this just is not the case. I am more concerned that perhaps censorship has been applied to these scientists because they hold views that are counter to the secular humanist world view.

And second-- I'm sorry, but I'm just imagining my cross here. All right. Two. A second thing is is that if we allow discussion into the criticisms of evolution or if we changed the definition of science to not allow only natural causes that this could somehow lead to the educator being forced to acknowledge an array of other viewpoints within the classroom. Okay.

I believe one example was what if a student was interested in the occult. Okay. The teacher would be forced to acknowledge it as somehow valid. My opinion is that I already allow for free exchange of ideas and respect the views of my students when I cover a wide variety of topics. I allow for academic freedom on a variety of subjects so why not evolution? So if a student showed interest into some aspect of the occult that was dealing with an area of what they perceived science to be, I would encourage them to apply the steps of scientific method and research this interest. It is at that point looking at the data, whether they could gather data or not, that the students-- they would have to gather data, but that the students would need to draw their own conclusions. I take issue with invalidating anyone's thoughts because they may derive from a world view counter to mine. This concerns me and that is why with much contemplation I chose to speak today.

This has not been exactly a career move to speak up when so many have chosen to boycott. I am not here to advance my own agenda, but to promote greater academic freedom for our children.

Q. Jill, during your testimony you're reading from a document, and I believe this is correct, this is a document-- I think I sent you a list of questions that I wanted you to address, which was a much longer list than what you addressed, and we talked about it and decided that what you should do is just put together your own list of questions, answer those questions and that would be your talk. Is that essentially --

A. That's correct. So am I done?

Q. So the reason why we have this-- everything, questions and answers, are purely out of your pen. Is that correct?

A. That's correct.

Q. So you would agree with me that I didn't provide any of the questions or the answers here?

A. No.

Q. Okay.

A. You gave me some ideas on the questions, but not the answers. You made me toil over those.

Q. Okay. Let me-- one thing, if you could, you've read the Minority Report?

A. Yes, I have. And the Majority Report.

Q. And as we-- and have administrators at your school read the-- or you discussed this with the administrators of your school before you came. Correct?

A. Yes. I followed protocol and spoke with my principal and I spoke with my superintendent. They were-- they were in support of me being here today.

Q. And did you discuss this with other teachers?

A. I did.

Q. And what kind of feedback did you get?

A. Mostly positive among the area and field which I teach. I would say out of the six teachers within my school five agreed with me that I spoke with. And of course when I tried to tell them, well, then you come up here and do this they-- they declined. And then I also have gotten e-mails from teachers around the Kansas and different communities as well.

Q. And those e-mails how-- have they been supportive?

A. Some have been supportive and some not. This is my opinion and it's not based-- actually it's based on my observation of my students and what their parents have expressed to me as concerns, and as a public educator my duty is not to serve the science community other than to provide them with good students that are able to critically analyze. My job is to serve students and their parents. I also believe that's the job of our school board as well.

Q. Would you --

A. I'm sorry?

Q. Is it fair to say that the current science teacher in the biology classroom does not really know where the boundaries are in terms of criticizing evolution. Is that a fair statement?

A. I can speak to myself. I do not.

Q. You don't know where your boundaries are, other than you can't go too far in terms of weakening the theory?

A. Right.

Q. Right. So-- and that-- is there a tension there between your conscience on the one hand, information in your head, and-- and these undefinable boundaries and does that affect your students in the way you deal with your students and-- and will the Minority Report in anyway leave-- alleviate that, would it provide maybe more --

A. Yes.

Q. -- comfortable boundaries?

A. Right. I believe it will provide teachers, whether they agree or disagree, but with the information and content that students may be coming into their classrooms with, some of the arguments that the students know. I mean, if I have an eighth grade student that can voice to me five things that she has found wrong with some of the information here in the book and I don't know how to respond other than to do my own research, I think it would-- I think it would be beneficial to provide this resource, which the standards are a resource for our educators.

MR. CALVERT: Thank you so much for coming.

MR. SISSON: May I speak to you briefly?


MR. SISSON: May I talk to you briefly?

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: Sure. Excuse us.

(THEREUPON, an off-the-record discussion was had).

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: Mr. Irigonegaray.

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: I have no questions.

MS. GONZALEZ-BRAVO: Oh, you're kidding me.

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: I have no questions.

MS. GONZALEZ-BRAVO: Okay. You are merciful.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: That's not appropriate. Do either one of you have questions?

MS. MARTIN: Just again want to say thank you so much for coming. As a teacher for many years I do understand exactly where you're coming from. We need to look at our students and look at what their needs are, what their parents expect of us. As a professional educator we need to do our job and I applaud that you're trying to meet their needs. It is difficult to understand what a teacher's limitations will be in addressing this issue. E-mails and things I've gotten, probably very similar to the ones you have saying are you going to teach this and I say, well, no, you don't teach it exactly. And so I don't think people that are not in the education teaching field in a public classroom understand how you don't actually teach controversial subjects. You allow for the discussion and I think that's where you're coming from. I heard some very excellent public school teachers here today try to address that. That we want to address the controversy, not teach one or the other as facts. It's never good science to teach anything as a fact, but as an improvement.

MS. MORRIS: I think you did a great job and someone used the phrase critical mass of data coming forth that refutes Darwinian evolution and eventually that will catch up with the evolutionists, and you, you dear wonderful teacher, will be on the leading edge. You'll be great. You'll do fine.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: I'm sorry, I do have some questions.



Q. Where were you teaching prior to being employed at Rose Hill?

A. I was teaching at Alcott-- Alcott Academy, which is in Wichita public schools.

Q. How many years have you been teaching the controversy in your classroom now?

A. I'd say seven.

Q. Any complaints?

A. Oh, I'm sorry, I don't teach the controversy. No. I --

Q. Okay. How would you describe it?

A. Can you tell me-- ask me that again? I-- am I teaching evolution in the classroom? Seven years. But I don't teach the controversy currently because the standards don't allow for the controversy, so I would not do that. I teach to the standards.

Q. Okay. Did I misunderstand when-- you said you were an alternative school?

A. Yes.

Q. And you-- it wasn't that you were teaching the controversy it was that they were bringing up the controversy, is that a correct statement then?

A. Right right.

Q. Okay. And you were trying to answer some of their concerns as they were presenting them as questions?

A. At that point I did not-- I was not familiar with the controversy.

Q. You were --

A. I did not see any-- I did not believe there was --

Q. I see.

A. -- any controversy. I drew the conclusion that whether I believe there's a controversy or not my students believe there's a controversy. They bring the controversy up. It's-- and I believe the standards should address their needs. And these are questions that they have that they feel and they ask me, and I'm unsure as to the controversy as to how to address them, because they are not within the standards.

Q. Okay.

A. Okay.

Q. If some form of the Minority Report were incorporated into the science curriculum standards how would it be of value-- would it be of value to you as a teacher and to the students? And you spoke briefly about that, but more in detail, how would it be a value to teachers and students?

A. The changes in the Minority Report, I believe it would provide us with more information on the controversies that students are aware and that parents are aware of two aspects of evolution.

Q. Would you-- how would you categorize, are there a number of teachers like you around the state that-- I guess the best way is to describe it might be unsure, is that a fair description of what you're telling us? Unsure how to proceed, what your limitations are, would you say there are a fair number of teachers. Is that-- is that an accurate description of what you're telling us?

A. I can speak for myself and it seems with-- when I discuss it with other educators-- well, yes, I would say educators that I have spoke to they see the debate among our students. Do you understand what I'm saying? They may not see the controversies but they see that there is debate within the classroom when this topic occurs, whether they agree with the issues or not that are coming up, the students do come in with a certain amount of-- of knowledge on this.

Q. Is there a number of teachers that would like assistance to more accurately-- that they would be more accurately-- accurately able to know where they are-- their limitations are and how they could proceed and what to do?

A. I believe if there were more teachers that agreed with it they'd be here speaking with me today. But I do believe there are quite a few that-- and-- well, actually I believe that maybe people just aren't aware. The way that this has been presented is that we are trying-- or the Minority Report is trying to incorporate intelligent design and I don't see that in these standard changes. If I did, I don't know if I could support creation being brought in.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: Thank you very much for your time, Ms. Gonzalez-Bravo.



MR. CALVERT: I would like to present as our last witness for the day John Millam. John is a theoretical physicist.

MR. MILLAM: Theoretical chemist.

MR. CALVERT: Theoretical chemist. Okay.


Q. And I'm not really sure I can explain what he's doing now so I'll let him tell you about that.

A. All right. My background is in chemistry and physics. I have a double degree there from the University of Arizona. I have a Ph.D. in Computational Chemistry or Quantum Chemistry, depending on how you want to call it. Basically that's a borderline between chemistry and physics. Involves less of mathematics and quantum mechanics. And I'm currently employed developing computational chemistry software for use in science.

Anyway, I have-- I'm not a biologist but I think my different background will bring some insight into what other speakers may not have presented. I'm also interested in looking at the historical origins of science. That's been a hobby of mine. I'm also a scientist layman trying to help ordinary people understand what's happening in science. Charles Boyle (sp) said chemistry was a scientist's layman and I kind of take him as a role model.

Anyway, so why am I here to testify? Do you have my power point?

Q. Yeah. To lead into that, I asked Dr. Millam with respect to two issues. The first is-- and they're both related. The first is with respect to the proposed change in the definition of science, which we've all heard and it's on the screen.

The second change, and you're familiar with this change, and I would assume everybody in the audience is familiar with it by now. The second change is with respect to the description of scientific knowledge on Page 22. Somebody has been wanting me to give page descriptions. And the proposed change here is that the Majority Report would define scientific knowledge as knowledge describing and explaining-- knowledge that describes and explains the physical world in terms of matter, energy and forces. Whereas the Minority Report would revise that to say scientific knowledge describes and explains the natural world. So I would appreciate your commenting on those two important changes. And I believe you have a power point to go into that? Do you want to run this?

A. All right. I'm going to show my primary topic is what is science and particularly science versus methodological naturalism. You know, here is from the draft two of the science standard which you just saw which talks about seeking natural explanations of the universe or seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us. Stick to one.

Anyway, so what I mean here to discuss is that a methodological naturalism is not science and therefore that should not be included in our def-- in our-- in the Kansas State science standards. So the question is what is science? We need to have an understanding of that.

Science in the broadest sense is simply investigation of the natural world. But when we talk about science today we're really talking not about science generically, but modern science, modern science which developed in 16th and 17th century Europe, and in particular modern science is distinguished from ancient and medieval science by emphasis on testing, experiment, falsification, use of scientific method, uses Occam's razor. That is the principle simplicity is important to other things such as-- this is a few key elements here. So again, that-- that philosophy of science developed in the 16th and 17th century Europe. Methodological naturalism is a philosophy that arose in the mid 18th century. So it is something distinct from science developing after science was well established.

You know, I want to take a little time to explain the birth of modern science, because what's astonishing is that scientists are not taught about science. Scientists are taught about what scientists do, how to run experiments, but scientists traditionally are not told about what science is. We're taught about the discoveries of science, but little about the philosophy or origins of science. And the way I discovered this was after, you know, five years of undergraduate-- five years of graduate school and three and a half years of postdoctoral work, I didn't know about how science began until a philosopher actually questioned me about that subject and so I've had to learn it on my own. I did not learn any of this, even at the highest level of academia.

So anyway, modern science really developed in 16th and 17th century, but it has roots in the sciolistic period. That's the 11th to 15th century. For example, Roger Bacon and Albert Magnus in the 13th century, they're the ones that first emphasized the experimental method. Durandis and William Bochan are the ones that popularized Occam's razor. Again, this is in the context of Christian philosophy at the time. We have Francis Bacon and Galileo, the 17th century. They're the ones that really pioneered the scientific method. Then finally of course we have the big names, Johannes Kepler, Isaac Newton, Charles Boyle, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. These are the people that took this newly developed scientific method and applied it and actually demonstrated its effectiveness.

So a couple conclusory statements. One in almost every branch of modern science can be traced back to this time period. But I think there's another point relevant to tier is that there's nothing inherent in the scientific enterprise that requires restricting it to natural causes or natural explanations only.

Science is about what is testable not necessarily what is naturalistic. And kind of a supporting evidence for that, all of the figures who founded and developed modern science such as the people I just mentioned, none of them held to this idea of methodological naturalism.

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: Excuse me, sir? Sir? Sir, sir, can you hang on just a second? There's an issue that needs to be addressed, because I believe there's been a misrepresentation.


CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: Draft 2 does not deal with-- does not mention methodological naturalism.

MR. CALVERT: Could you back up to the quote.

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: I would like that backed up.

MR. SISSON: Back in the beginning. One more. There is nothing in our draft that says this --

MR. CALVERT: I object to this.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: Just a second. Just is second.


MR. CALVERT: I completely and totally object to this. The rules provide there is no interruption during presentation.

MR. ABRAMS: Mr. Calvert?

MR. CALVERT: This could be handled on cross-examination.

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: No, we can't. This is a fraud.

MR. MILLAM: Let me-- let me-- I downloaded this off the official Kansas web site two days ago. I'm sorry. Maybe I grabbed the wrong file.

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: Excuse me, sir. That is incorrect and should not be made out to the public as a standard.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: Mr. Irigonegaray, Mr. Calvert, we're trying to get this settled here. At this point in time I don't see any reference to methodological naturalism in the actual draft.

MR. MILLAM: I may have downloaded the wrong file. But I did go to the official Kansas web site and downloaded this page. Maybe this is contrary in there. I'm willing to retract everything after that first statement. The part about seeking natural explanation I believe everyone agrees is in?

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: That is-- that is a correct statement, yes. I just wanted to comment about the methodological naturalism because it is not found in draft 2.

MR. MILLAM: Right.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: The specific words.

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: And any reference to it being in the standards should be struck from the record as being an inaccurate statement.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: I'm sorry. Please continue.

A. All right. Again, methodological-- methodological naturalism came about in the 18th century. Immanuel Kant was one of the major developers of this idea.

This is for history, he came up with what is called nebula hypothesis, where galaxies formed and developed from a collapsing nebula. And the basis-- on the basis of his science he then proposed a set of philosophical axioms such as knowledge is limited to five senses, cause not to be proof and affects, miracles are illusory and several others. And he had an unstated premise that-- that at no point could God or any other supernatural force ever be objectively detectable, hence that was the basis of that philosophy. So we do see a-- a religious, not a purely secular idea coming out of Kant's philosophy.

Based on-- he made a scientific theory, he made some philosophy, now he came back and proposed three scientific claims. One is that the universe is infinite static-- an infinite static universe, the universe had no beginning, no ending, and it has no edge or limit.

He had the Copernican principles, that is there's no design in the universe and that natural process alone explains life. So that he was seen as a prototype of evolution of Darwin. Obviously I would come in on that issue later. And these three scientific claims buttressed his philosophy and have undergirded science for the last 200 years.

So, again, methodological naturalism as I'm presenting here is not a strictly scientific belief, but is undergirded on-- on agnostic or deistic belief system.

Now, let's also look at some history. The question why-- why are these three pillars important for us to understand, because in a constant infinite static universe, universe is uncreated, there is no beginning, no ending. There's infinite time for natural processes and infinite extent. So habitat of life sustaining plants are guaranteed. In an infinite universe there's infinite chance of guarantees naturalistic solution to life origins. And hence, as long as the scientific claim is true we can always exclude anything other than naturalism at the outset and scientific investigation.

Now, of course, we no longer believe in an infinite static universe. Einstein developed the general relativity that shows the universe is expanding. But it's very interesting that Einstein undercut his own work by introducing a fudge factor to bring back infinite static universe. In other words, he-- rather than embracing his own discovery he tried to get around it. The term Big Bang was actually created from a derision because-- and the reason I'm pointing all of this out is that many scientists actually initially opposed Big Bang cosmology because it undercut an infinite static universe. It undercut a purely methodological naturalist universe. Let's see. So again we see methodological, this idea of under-- hindering science. As an example, Albert Einstein was also discouraging looking for problems with that prevailing idea of the infinite static universe. There's a number of arguments against that-- that model, but largely they were dismissed.

This last one in thermodynamics is one that is particularly interesting because a simple college level proof in thermodynamics that showed infinite static universe-- (reporter interruption). A simple college level proof using thermodynamics should have demonstrated infinite static universe was impossible, however, curiously, that was not discovered until long after the infinite static universe model was gone. And-- in other words, no one was encouraged to challenge that view of the universe.

I'm just using that as an example of how, you know, this idea of naturalism and, you know, that science can get caught into ideas that no longer allows-- no longer encourages challenging or testing.

This is an interesting quote. This is from Robert Jastrow. He's actually an agnostic, but he makes an interesting point about all the things I've just been saying that-- that as an agnostic he's noting a very peculiar reaction among his astronomical colleagues and the question is why. Responses of scientific minds, supposedly a very objective mind when evidence uncovered by science leads to conflict with the articles of faith in our profession. In other words, that science-- the scientists had so accepted a certain view of the universe that they no longer challenged it and became literally emotionally upset when that was challenged by natural evidence.

This is a similar one for scientists who live by faith and the power of reason alone, the story ends like a bad dream. Again noting-- again, he's noting an emotional reaction against, you know, this particular idea that the universe has a beginning, hence the universe is not infinite.

Okay. So, again, methodological naturalism in part is based on a pillar, which is now known to be false. The Big Bang cosmology has implications for biology because it takes away the infinite chance argument used by strict natural evolution. Note I'm saying strict natural evolution as opposed to evolution in the generic sense.

Again, methodological naturalism opposed and hindered the development of Big Bang cosmology.

Pillar number two, undesigned universe. Copernican principle, the principle of mediocrity says that we cannot be special in any way. There's no question about our sun, our planet or anything. If there's life here there must be life elsewhere in the universe. This was popularized in the 1960's by people like Frank Drake and Carl Sagan. Of course, the popular search for extraterrestrial focus. So initially they assumed that only two things had to be right for there to be habitability, had to have the right star-- the right-- the planet the right distance from the star. Today there's a growing body of evidence that we need hundreds of things to be right for a planet to be able to sustain advanced life.

There's a growing movement towards-- today towards what's called the rare earth hypothesis, arguing that habitable planets are rare at best. And, again, part of the reason for emphasizing astronomy, even though, you know, on the issue of biology is that a lot of the early ideas were as long as you have so many places where life could start then we can explain life here, just one of those random acts, but the problem is we're now taking away both in the time and in large number of places where life could potentially start.

Let's see. In terms of naturalistic evolution, I'm not going to deal with evolution itself. Other people will be dealing with that. Since I'm not a biologist I'm going to stick with just the Urey Miller experiment, since that's chemistry.

The Urey Miller experiment was to demonstrate the formation of key biological molecules in support for the Oparin Haldane naturalistic origin of life or non life, or anodic evolution. The Urey Miller experiment is great chemistry, but we now realize that it really does not have a whole lot to do with, you know, modern theory for a number of reasons. One is the original experiments used the wrong atmosphere. They used a heavier reducing atmosphere, which would be very energetic and give him lots of products. A neutral atmosphere inhibits biological molecules. Oxygen, of course, stops pretty much all together.

Their experimental apparatus only allowed the creation of molecules and protected them from destruction. That would not be true in nature. And geology has not found any evidence of a primordial soup. That is, there are no common deposits that, you know, ancient paths do not have biological markers associated with them.

But amazing-- the thing that was amazing to me as a graduate level chemist, the Urey Miller experiment was discussed very briefly, but never once did they talk about some of these newer aspects or that-- you know, that it-- it no longer really reflects that-- the atmosphere we use no longer reflects what we understand about the early atmosphere. And so, you know, I think I agree with Jonathan Wells who's calling this an icon of evolution. And it's distressing. If this is happening at the highest level of academia among professional chemists, you know, it's not surprising this is happening elsewhere as well.

Again, you know, part of my note here is certain ideas are hindering discovery, discouraging-- discouraging investigation, and this problem is not restricted to just, you know, young college-- young high school students or grade students.

I want to define two key terms before I close-up here. One is what I've been referring to as methodological naturalism or strong methodological naturalism where the scientists are restricted to natural causes or natural explanations only. Weak methodological naturalism by contrast you start by looking for natural explanations, but you follow the evidence wherever it leads. Only weak methodological naturalism evolution is consistent with modern science.

Q. John, would you agree that the definition of science that's in the current standards that's proposed by the Majority effectively implements your strong methodological naturalism definition?

A. Yes, that is one.

Q. And then also the definition of scientific knowledge, would you also agree that limiting scientific knowledge to simply describing the physical world in terms of matter and energy and forces, essentially is the other buttress to the methodological naturalism in the standards?

A. Right, I agree. In both cases there are effectively limiting science to only dealing with natural explanation. Again, we look at the history and origin of science, that is not how science has developed. That is something that developed later and it effectively extremes or limits the practice of science.

MR. CALVERT: Thank you very much.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: Mr. Irigonegaray, I'm sorry, you have ten minutes.

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: Ten minutes.


Q. Because my time is limited I'm going to ask you first a few questions and I would like you to answer. In your opinion how old is the earth?

A. The earth I believe is 4 point 6 billion years old. The universe is 13 point 7, plus or minus.

Q. I didn't ask you about the universe --

A. Okay.

Q. -- I asked you about the earth. Do you accept the principle of common descent that all life is biologically related back to the beginning of life? Yes or no?

A. I will say no, because --

Q. I didn't ask you for an explanation. Yes or no?

A. Okay. No.

Q. Okay. 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 that you propose then for human species?

A. Again, I'm a chemist, not a biologist.

Q. I didn't ask you that. I asked you what is your explanation if you do not believe in common descent from prehominid ancestors?

A. I do not think the scientific evidence is sufficient to give an answer to that question.

Q. You have no personal view about that?

A. I have a personal view, but the question is what does science say.

Q. What is your personal view about that?

A. I-- again, I do not believe that the scientific evidence is sufficient to rule out --

Q. I didn't ask you scientifically. I'm asking you what is your personal opinion about that issue?

A. Again, I-- at this point I do not believe in a natural explanation for the origin of humanity. I'm willing to change my mind if I find that evidence.

Q. Did I hear you say that since Einstein that science has in essence been restricted from progressing?

A. Not necessarily restricted, but it discouraged people from challenging the range paradigm.

Q. Is it your understanding that there has been a conflict between special relativity and quantum mechanics?

A. There is.

Q. And did you find any evidence to suppress the problems of special relativity and quantum mechanics for science or have you found a strong and active debate in trying to find out how those two conflicting issues may be resolved?

A. In that particular issue I do see a lot of, you know, working together. I don't see any --

Q. And did you see how in attempting to resolve those theories, such as string theory and super string theories and all of the issues surrounding those particular theories have come about as a result of the vigorous and rigorous scientific process that occurs in this country and around the world on a daily basis?

A. And I support that, yes.

Q. Do you further understand that issues such as dark energy and dark matter have come about since Einstein's early predictions?

A. Uh-huh. I am excited about that, yes.

Q. And are you familiar with the issue of-- with the-- with the hypothesis of dark energy?

A. Right.

Q. Are you familiar with dark matter?

A. Again, I'm not an expert, but I am familiar with it, yes.

Q. You are familiar. And you would agree with me that all of those scientific advances would not have occurred if what you say is true, that science today denies further knowledge?

A. I think you're misrepresenting my --

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: Excuse me. Did you make a comment?

MS. MORRIS: Me? No, I'm sorry.

Q. (By Mr. Irigonegaray) You may answer.

A. All I'm saying is not in every case, but in some cases scientists will hold to philosophical applications and sometimes hinder-- hinder research in those areas, because either they're encouraged not to investigate certain things or they simply are not interested in finding things that contradicts their paradigm. That's not true in every single issue of science, but there are cases.

Q. Your testimony is that scientists are purposefully withholding the ability of other scientists to come up with answers to questions facing humanity today?

A. I have not claimed that. I gave --

Q. In your --

A. Okay.

Q. In your opinion is evolution as it is being taught in mainstream science courses across this country today an atheistic philosophy?

A. Evolution is a very broad term, you know --

Q. Just answer my question yes or no. Is science, in your opinion, as far as the teaching of evolution in mainstream America today being taught in an atheistic fashion?

A. I think some people do teach it in that fashion. Not all of them.

Q. So you don't believe it is?

A. Again, there's different aspects to evolution. For example, I don't have trouble with the earth being old. You know, I don't have trouble with A appearing at a certain time and B and C, but I do have trouble when people assume that everything happens purely by-- strictly by natural processes even though they cannot verify the claim.

Q. Do you believe the National Academy of Science stands for the proposition that we should make assumptions when it relates to, for example, the origins of species?

A. Again, I have no trouble with making assumptions as long as they stay assumptions. That's part of science, you make hypotheses and you test them. I have trouble when --

Q. And do you-- do you believe it is appropriate --

MR. CALVERT: Will you allow the witness to finish his answer? You're interrupting the witness.

A. Right. Again, you know, I believe in the scientific investigation everything should be on-- should be put on the table, you know, and that's what I was trying to say.

Q. (By Mr. Irigonegaray) Do you believe it is appropriate to bring into the scientific model supernatural opinions? Yes or no?

A. We should work from the evidence so we should not work from either supernaturalistic or strictly naturalistic.

Q. My question is, do you believe that it is appropriate in the scientific process to bring supernatural opinions?

A. Defin --

Q. Yes or no?

A. Opinions, no.

Q. Do you believe --

A. Go ahead.

Q. Do you believe science should be neutral as far as theistic issues?

A. I believe it should be neutral in all respects, neither favoring or disfavoring theism or atheism.

Q. And you do not believe, correct, that mainstream science today as it relates to the teaching of evolution discriminates against any faith, do you?

A. 'Um, it-- it depends on how it's taught. You know, it doesn't-- you know, again, there are issues like something appearing at a certain time, fossil record, that's experimental evidence and I have no trouble with that. But it can be taught in a way that those discriminate. Again, I'm not a teacher. I'm really not interested in getting into that issue.

Q. Did you take the time to read the Majority Report?

A. I did not read it entire. I did read part of it.

Q. Are you aware that in Kansas teachers are encouraged to discuss a broad area of issues in evolution?

A. I'm not into teaching so I'll take-- I'll accept that.

Q. Do you believe that our students in Kansas should be taught in science the best science available?

A. Right. It should be taught the best science available, sure.

Q. And do you further agree with me it would be inappropriate to teach students as science mere opinions, suggestions or assumptions?

A. Right.

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: No further questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Mr. Irigonegaray, you had two more minutes.

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: I'm-- I'm wanting to save every penny I can for Kansas children. And she's being paid by the word. I have nothing further.

MR. SISSON: We'll remember that one for the next long question.


Q. Sir, you initially started talking about methodological naturalism and the second draft does not mention methodological naturalism. It does talk-- when it talks I'm going to read part of it right here, it says in the nature of science as it is practiced in the late 20th and early 21st century science is restricted to explaining only the natural world using only natural cause.

A. Right.

Q. That's one sentence out of that paragraph.

A. Correct.

Q. Is that-- how does that-- is there any application, is there-- please comment?

A. You know, again, the-- that first sentence which restricts science to natural explanations and the section pointed out by John Calvert limit the expression of science and I believe that that limitation is equivalent to methodological naturalism. That's my comment.

Q. You're saying you believe that that is imbued in this definition?

A. Yes.

Q. And that went on with the rest of what you were discussing about the pillars of Kant and so forth?

A. Right.

Q. Does methodological naturalism have any basis in inhibiting the-- either the research scientists or the scientists in the classroom, the teaching scientists?

A. I believe so. For example, I gave Uri Miller experiment where we were not-- we were told just one side, and I only learned the other side through other sources and through personal investigation, but if we were taught the full story, that there are problems, that it doesn't answer many things, I think more scientists would be encouraged to investigate what is the answer. I don't know what the answer is, but I think people would be encouraged if they were allowed and even challenged to, you know, challenge some of the ideas that were presented.

Q. If we had a-- more emphasis on empirical science as defined by what is observable, measurable, testable, refutable and falsifiable, if that were done empirical --

A. Could you repeat the question?

Q. I haven't done it, yet.

A. Okay.

Q. If-- I'm setting it up. If that-- empirical science were employed would that alleviate a lot of the philosophical claims that are made in the name of science?

A. I believe so.

Q. Would that also allow-- be of value for teachers to be able to move forward with the emphasis on empirical science?

A. Right. I believe that's correct.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: I don't have any more questions and I do thank you very much. That's it for today. Mr. Irigonegaray, Mr. Calvert, I thank you and that's it for today.

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: Thank you, sir.

MR. CALVERT: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: Audience, I thank you and we'll proceed starting at 8:30 tomorrow morning.


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