Thursday, June 13, 2013

Flying Spaghetti Monster Approves

The Kansas State Board of Education put itself on the map back in 2005 when creationists voted to allow the teaching of "intelligent design" as an alternative to the theory of evolution. The vote spawned one of the most memorable Internet memes of all time, the Flying Spaghetti Monster. This satirical deity was invented by Bobby Henderson in a letter sent to the Board as a public comment prior to the vote, in which he explained the beliefs of the "Pastafarian" religion which parody those of creationists.

Henderson's ploy seems to have worked. After the Flying Spaghetti Monster attained Internet stardom, the Board voted in 2007 to once more reject the teaching of intelligent design as science. Creationists were furious, of course, but so far they have never been able to repeat the results of their 2005 vote. As Phil Plait reports on Slate, this year the Board has once more voted to keep real science standards in classrooms as it has every year since 2007.

There are standards for quite a few fields of science, like chemistry, physics, astronomy… and biology. Of course, fundamentalists went ballistic about this, and a few years back sneakily got creationists elected to the BoE. They twice voted to severely weaken the teaching of evolution. This—rightly—made Kansas the laughing stock of the planet.

In 2006, more moderate folks were elected to the board, and sure enough, soon thereafter, years of far-right religious damage was undone in Kansas when the BoE voted to put evolution back in the science standards where it belonged. And now, in 2013, it’s happened again—the BOE approved science standards that support evolution and its wonderfully coherent and cohesive explanations of biology. I looked over the old (2007) standards and the new ones where they discuss evolution, and they look pretty good to me. Creationists have also attacked such things as the Big Bang and, of course, global warming, but I see those are in the science standards as well.

It's not that there's anything wrong with metaphysical speculation. As an esotericist and ritual magician I engage in it all the time. But it's extremely important to keep in mind that such musings are not scientific until they can be conclusively demonstrated according to the tenets of the scientific method. As such, they have no place in science classes, which should focus on teaching experimental investigation of the natural world.

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