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Evolution on Election Day:

The debate over the teaching of evolution and "Intelligent Design" will be placed in front of Ohio voters on November 7. As the New York Times reports, 75 of my scientific colleagues at Case Western Reserve Unviersity have endorsed a candidate for the Ohio Board of Education because, according to their letter, the incumbent has "attempted to cast controversy on biological evolution in favor of an ill-defined notion called Intelligent Design that courts have ruled is religion, not science." For this reason, they argue, voters should support Tom Sawyer over Deborah Owens Fink.

Fink denies calling for the teaching of "Intelligent Design." Instead, she says, "critically analyze evolution, as they should all scientific theories." Yet according to this website, Fink was responsible for pushing the idea of "Intelligent Design" within the Board of Education. Further, the Times quotes Fink saying it is "laughable" that a scientific consensus supports evolutionary theory.

All of this suggests evolution faces another test at the ballot box. How will it fare?

[I encourage commenters to address the politics of this race and the broader issues of subjecting educational standards to the democratic process, rather than rehashing the debate over whether ID is science. It's not.]

UPDATE: I should have noted in the original post that this is not a statewide race. Fink and Sawyer are running for the 7th District seat on the Board of Education. Also of note, the two appeared on Cleveland's local NPR station (WCPN) this morning along with a prominent scientist (Ken Miller of Brown) and a proponent of "Intelligent Design." Audio is available here.

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  1. Evolution Wins in Ohio:
  2. Evolution on Election Day:
61 Comments
Evolution Wins in Ohio:

How to teach evolution and whether to teach "Intelligent Design" were big issues in the race between incumbent Deborah Owens Fink and challenger Tom Sawyer for the 7th District seat on the Ohio Board of Education. Fink argued there was no scientific consensus in support of the theory of evolution, and thought state education standards should reflect that, if not also call for the mention of non-scientific alternatives. Sawyer was supported by a large group of scientists, including many of my colleagues at Case, who sought to ensure that Ohio science education standards would be science based.

Like the bitter school board battles in Kansas last summer, the Ohio board races produced high drama. Voters were treated to the unusual sight of Kenneth Miller, a nationally renowned biologist, stumping like a ward-heeler for pro-evolution candidates, and Pastor Ernie Sanders, an evangelical radio host, blasting Sawyer as a merchant of sin.

In the end, however, Sawyer won handily. This was not an isolated event, as it appears that the pro-science/pro-evolution candidates won across the board.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Evolution Wins in Ohio:
  2. Evolution on Election Day:
3 Comments