The KC Strip is the sirloin of Kansas City media, a critical cut of surmisin' steak that each week weighs in on the issues of the day, dictating its column to Pitch managing editor Tony Ortega.

Holey Bible 

Bible thumping is about to take on a new meaning in Kansas.

The Strip is outraged by the intelligent-design squabble going on in the Kansas public schools.

So far, the local media have done a pathetic job of explaining the ideas behind "ID," giving us no real clue what's actually at stake in the effort to change science teaching standards.

Well, this meat patty will clue you in to the awful truth: The people pushing intelligent design are godless interlopers who want our children taught that the Bible got things wrong.

As far as they're concerned, the good book is just a bunch of fairy tales.

The Lord creating the Earth in six days just a few thousand years ago?

Didn't happen.

Adam naming the animals?

Just a myth.

Noah saving Earth's creatures from the flood?

No more than a bedtime story.

Nope, these ID-olators don't have much respect for the holy word. They suggest that the Earth is billions of years old and that animals have evolved pretty much the way Charles Darwin described more than a century ago.

For these folks of little faith, science answers most of the world's mysteries, explaining the history of the universe and the proliferation of life on Earth. The girlie-man God they worship steps in only to fill in small gaps in scientific knowledge and to lend a gentle helping hand in ways that cannot be measured, tested or debunked.

A couple of weeks ago, the Strip watched in dismay as intelligent design backers put on a pitiful display at a state board public hearing at a high school in Kansas City, Kansas.

The speakers took to a microphone, urging a board subcommittee to insert intelligent-design wording into the state's public-school curriculum. But did anyone cite the Bible? Did anyone stick up for God's version of what happened thousands of years ago?

Oh, no. ID wussies stepped up one after another to talk about the "weaknesses" in biological evolution, the "controversies" that they wanted their children to hear about.

The complete surrender of religion to the onslaught of science was a pathetic sight.

The utter defeat was not lost on Celtie Johnson, a God-fearing Johnson County mom who was largely responsible for the last battle over evolution in Kansas schools. Back in 1999, she led an honest fight for biblical truth, attempting to get the Genesis creation story taught to schoolchildren. She's back again, fighting evolution once more, but this time she's standing up for the watered-down ID agenda.

We asked how she really felt about intelligent design's unbiblical assault on the schools.

"It's pitiful. But what can I do?" she told this curious cutlet. "It's not that difficult to understand the Earth being 6,000 years old. But they [the ID crowd] tell me it's an incremental program."

An incremental program. Johnson was referring to people such as lawyer John Calvert and University of Missouri-Kansas City med-school professor William Harris, who have spearheaded the Kansas school effort with a Johnson County organization they call the Intelligent Design Network. Johnson claimed that the ID bigwigs assured her they have the same ultimate goal that she does -- to get religion into science classes -- and that ID allows them to take small, less controversial steps toward that goal.

"With media opposition, you can only go so far," she admitted. And for people like her who still believe in the Bible's origin story, she said, "It's a step back." But the ID people with whom she has allied herself are deluding themselves if they think they're doing heaven a favor with their "incremental" program. "They are not getting the whole picture, and they are not pleasing Jesus Christ, who is God," Johnson reminded us. "If you don't believe parts of the Bible, why are you calling yourself a Christian?"

Well, we wondered the same thing. So we asked Harris why he was so down on the Lord's story of life's origin.

"Some are lukewarm to the ID perspective because they feel that it does not go far enough and hence gives aid and comfort to believers who only want to believe halfway," Harris responded. "That's their privilege. It does not weaken the ID argument for design, though, in my opinion."

OK, so Harris is convinced that there's a "designer" behind the proliferation of life. But what's with the coy act? Isn't he really talking about the Christian God?

"As a Christian, I would equate that designer with the God of the Bible, but I know Muslims who equate that designer with Allah. I also know nontheists who, although agreeing that the evidence points to an intelligence behind nature, simply don't equate it with anybody."

Well, that's a relief. It's nice knowing that we could believe the universe was designed by our pet cat Whiskers and still belong to the ID club.

But, hey, here's what this rump roast really wanted to know. If ID folks like Harris acknowledge that the Bible's big, cinematic opening chapter gets things completely wrong, how can they be sure the rest of it isn't a fairy tale as well? For example, how can Harris be sure the Bible gets the whole "God" thing right?

"I think we get off on an unproductive rabbit trail when we start debating what's true and what's not in the Bible," Harris answered.

Oh, sure -- he wants to rake evolution over the coals, but the Bible is off limits?

ID folks, you see, really don't want to bring the Bible into the equation. They're very careful not to mention Genesis in front of school boards. And you won't find an ID adherent who attributes the vast abundance of Earth's life forms to God's six-day plan.

Truth is, they know evolution has pretty good answers for that.

Instead, to support their ideas they point to tiny flagella, those little hairlike things you find flopping around on bacteria.

In 1996, Lehigh University biochemistry professor Michael Behe gave intelligent design its biggest boost when he made a big deal about the lowly flagellum and how it's put together. He argued that the flagellum is a wondrous structure of amazing complexity. In fact, Behe argued, it's such a marvel of interlocking parts that it's impossible to imagine a less complex version of the flagellum being useful to any creature. Therefore, he concluded, there's no way evolution, through random chance, could have produced a flagellum from simpler forms. Instead, some intelligent agent (wink, wink) must have "designed" it.

Well, isn't that special? Evolution produced millions of species on Earth, but God pitched in by making the flagellum.

Go, God!

If you're a biblical Christian, that's gotta be pretty underwhelming.

And if you're a scientist, it's just plain stupid.

Ask a biologist -- just because Behe can't imagine how a flagellum could have evolved doesn't necessarily mean someone smarter than Behe couldn't come along and discover an evolution-based explanation that's quite sufficient. (In fact, several scientists already have.)

Now, don't expect ID promoters like Harris to bring up the complex structures of bacteria to the Kansas school board. He knows better.

Board members aren't likely to know a whole lot about science, and with a 6-4 conservative majority after last fall's elections, it won't take much to convince them to go along with Harris' slick pitch for "objectivity" in science standards.

Sometime in the next couple of months, the Strip imagines that the board will approve Harris' suggested changes to the state's science curriculum, allowing nonscientific attacks on evolution to become standard fare in the public schools.

Not that anyone will be able to tell the difference.

Al Frisby just retired after teaching science for 30 years in the Blue Valley School District, and he tells the Strip it's already impossible to talk about evolution's concepts to today's Kansas teenagers without getting a lot of eye-rolling in return. He's now teaching across the state line in Liberty, and he says in recent years, students' outright hostility to science has made it difficult to do his job.

Well, this flank steak reckons that's only to be expected when so many Midwest youngsters figure that Jesus is wicked rad.

But we wonder how our God-fearing youngsters will react when intelligent design becomes a regular part of the curriculum.

We're just glad it won't be our job to teach ID and tell churchy students that their favorite book is a joke.


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