Saturday, June 24, 2006

Well, I guess they changed their minds...

As I'm sure you have noticed, we haven't really been keeping this project updated. From the outset, the MESIC project was meant to be something of a "pre-emptive" effort to keep Intelligent Design (ID) out of our public schools. As noted in detail in previous posts, a couple of Colorado legislators were expressing an interest in promoting pro-ID legislation in Colorado and our project sought to head this off. Perhaps we succeeded? Regardless, in the wake of the Pennsylvania ruling that properly identified "Intelligent Design" as a front for Biblical Creationism, the evangelical ID advocates have lost a lot of steam. Similarly, the Colorado politicians previously arguing for pro-ID legislation have gone quiet. We have sent repeated inquiries to their offices and staff for comment and they have refused to say anything. With Colorado Republicans hoping to win back the legislature this November, it can come as no surprise that they have completely dropped this idiotic topic.

In that the existing status quo (U.S. federal law and the Establishment Clause) does keep Creationism out of our public schools, any initiative - like MESIC - seeking to defend this is restricted to reaction and response. In that the pro-ID elements in Colorado have dropped the topic for the time being, there isn't really much for projects like ours to do do presently. Undoubtedly the project - including MESIC & this blog - will hop back into the fray should the Creationists launch a new initiative in Colorado, but in the meantime there isn't really much to do.

For the record, we are keeping the petition updated and active (so please feel free to sign). Otherwise though, until the ID Creationists launch a new effort in Colorado, this project will remain largely dormant.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

02/05/06 New Developments

So far the Colorado politicians that earlier expressed their intention of introducing "intelligent design" legislation - Sen. Brophy (R-Wray) & Rep. Stafford (R-Aurora) have remained quiet on the issue. Further they have continued to refuse to answer specific inquiries from MESIC on the question. Needless to say, this is good news. On a more ominous note, at the national level, the new House of Representative Majority Leader, John Boehner, is a strong advocate for the imposition of ID on our public schools. For more about this see: "Friend of Balanced Science Education is New House Leader" by Bruce Chapman, 2 February 2006, Evolution News & Views (a pro-ID front group) and/or "What Every American Jew Should Know About John Boehner" by the National Jewish Democratic Council (2 February 2006).

We would also like to highlight the successful preemptive effort by concerned citizens that contacted the Jefferson County School Board on the question of imposing "intelligent design" on the district's schools. A number of residents participated in a national anti-intelligent design movement by sending letters to both the Colorado Board of Education and the local board. Their letters were marked with the quote, “Teach intelligent science – not ‘intelligent design.’ ” To read all about the initiative and the positive response of the school board, see "Intelligent design opponents contact school board" by Nancy Hull, 24 January 2006, HighTimberTimes.Com. We at MESIC were not involved in this project, or even aware of it, but this is precisely the sort of grass-roots community action our project has been design to support and encourage. We would like to sincerely congratulate those who took part in this initiative and hope that they decide to endorse the MESIC project.

We are also happy to report that the Colorado Springs-based Citizens Project - http://www.citizensproject.org - has become the first formal organization to endorse the Maintain Educational Standards in Colorado project. Please visit their excellent "Understanding the Controversy Regarding Creationism, Intelligent Design (ID), and the Theory of Evolution" FAQ on the topic of evolutionary science and "intelligent design".

Upcoming Events:

  • 02/12/06, National (including: Boulder, Broomfield, Centennial, Colorado Springs, Denver, Fort Collins, Gunnison, & Wheat Ridge) "Clergy Letter Project Presents Evolution Sunday" From the website: "On 12 February 2006 hundreds of Christian churches from all portions of the country and a host of denominations will come together to discuss the compatibility of religion and science. For far too long, strident voices, in the name of Christianity, have been claiming that people must choose between religion and modern science. More than 10,000 Christian clergy have already signed The Clergy Letter demonstrating that this is a false dichotomy. Now, on the 197th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, many of these leaders will bring this message to their congregations through sermons and/or discussion groups. Together, participating religious leaders will be making the statement that religion and science are not adversaries. And, together, they will be elevating the quality of the national debate on this topic." For more information see http://www.uwosh.edu/colleges/cols/rel_evol_sun.htm


  • 02/12/06, Salida "Darwin Day" Guest Speaker: Nikki Hemmesch, Curator, Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Research Institute. Steamplant Theater, Sackett & 'G' Streets (downtown Salida), 2-4 p.m, Free Admission, Donations Accepted
    http://www.coloradoheadwaters.com/calendar/event_detail.cfm?EventID=387&Month=2&Year=2006


  • 02/12/06, Boulder "An Evening of Ideas and Community" The Boulder International Humanist Institute will also be starting its 2006 speaker series with "An Evening of Ideas and Community" on Charles Darwin's birthday. This event will feature Chris Mooney, the Washington correspondent for Seed magazine and a senior correspondent for the American Prospect. He focuses on issues at the intersection of science and politics, and is author of the bestselling book The Republican War on Science. This event will be held on February 12, 2006 at 6:00 pm at the Flemming Law School (Near Baseline and Broadway). Admission is Free, Please call 303-543-9166 to reserve your seats. http://www.bihi.info/


  • 03/01/06, Denver Congregation Emanuel Programs: Cosmology and Intelligent Design. The age-old debate between Evolution and Creationism continues: Are religion and science in conflict? Panel: Dr. Bill Dean, Professor Emeritus of Constructive Theology, Iliff School of Theology; Dr. Lawrence Berliner, Professor of Biochemistry, DU; Dr. Dan Armentrout, Associate Chair Engineering, DU, physicist and licensed minister. Congregation Emanuel · 51 Grape Street, Denver, CO 80220, 7–8:30 p.m., http://www.jewishcolorado.org/content_display.html?ArticleID=166349


  • Selected Colorado Press Review 01/22/06 - 02/05/06

  • Intelligent Design Editorials by Mary Jane Eaklor Penrose & Jim Colson, 5 February 2006, The Pueblo Chieftain


  • "Seven Days; Science against the ropes" by Matthew Schniper, 2 February 2006, Colorado Springs Independent


  • "Know what I love most about intelligent design? It's totally retro!" by Kenneth Cleaver, 2 February 2006, Colorado Springs Independent


  • "Concerning the Opposition to Design Theory" by Tyler Wittman, 31 January 2006, The Rocky Mountain Collegian


  • "On Creation" by Kyle Morse & Amit Deshwar, 26 January 2006, The Rocky Mountain Collegian


  • "Naturalism is not Science" by Emily Mayfield, 24 January 2006, The Rocky Mountain Collegian


  • "Intelligent design opponents contact school board" by Nancy Hull, 24 January 2006, HighTimberTimes.Com (Evergreen)
  • Saturday, January 21, 2006

    01/21/06 New Developments

    To date neither Senator Brophy (R-Wray) or Representative Stafford (R-Aurora) have acted on their declared intentions to propose legislation opening Colorado's public schools to "intelligent design" (ID). In fact, both legislators have become very quiet on the issue and direct inquiries to both by MESIC have received no response. The general opinion expressed on Colorado's political blogs appears to be that it would be a mistake to raise the ID issue in view of the Republican's hope to retake the Colorado General Assembly in November. We can only hope that this is the case and matter will remain inactive in the General Assembly.

    In other events, Colorado State University and Summitview Community Church hosted Dr. John Morris, the Director of the Institute for Creation Research who is most noted for his many expeditions to Mount Ararat in the search for Noah's Ark.

    The Colorado-based Focus on the Family newsletter, "CitizenLink," included an article discussing the recent decision by the El Tejon School District in California to drop its proposed ID course. The article cites Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute as emphasizing: "It [the decision] should in no way be seen as a prevention for other school districts to teach intelligent design and the full course of scientific evidence both opposing and supporting evolution. ...". The article concludes with an advertisement by Focus on the Family selling the ID/Creationism movie, Unlocking the Mystery of Life.

    The official Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, published an article by Fiorenzo Facchini, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Bologna in Italy, reaffirming the Church's stance on ID. Specifically, the Church denies that ID constitutes science and says it should not be taught as such. In view of this reaffirmation, we decided to contact the Archdiocese of Denver to see their reaction. It should be remembered that the Archdiocese, through its official organ, the Denver Catholic Register, launched a rabid attack on science last October, deliberately attempting to equate secular science with the Nazi Holocaust, portraying "intelligent design" as some form of "science" and portraying scientific theory as a form of religious dogmatism. See, for example, "Author examines dangers of Darwin's evolution theory" by Wayne Laugesen, 19 October 2005, Denver Catholic Register. The Archdiocese did confirm that it is following Church doctrine and not teaching ID as science.

    We are also happy to report that the Telluride Watch has the distinction of being the first Colorado print medium to mention the MESIC project, on January 6.

    Upcoming Events:

    Noted theoretical physicist, science advocate, and lecturer on the topic of ID, Prof. Lawrence M. Krauss will be visiting Colorado later in January and early February talking about the ID assault on sound education.

    To quote the announcement from Colorado College,
    "Science Under Attack, from the White House to the Classroom" on February 2, 2006:
    -

    "Lawrence M. Krauss, theoretical physicist and author, presents a lecture, "Science Under Attack, from the White House to the Classroom: Public Policy, Science Education, and the Emperor's New Clothes." Krauss is a professor of physics, professor of astronomy, and director of the Center for Education and Research in Cosmology and Astrophysics at Case Western Reserve University. He authored seven popular books including international bestseller "The Physics of Star Trek" and the award-winning "Atom." Krauss is also a regular essayist for newspapers such as the New York Times, and appears regularly on television. He is the only physicist to have been awarded the highest awards of the American Physical Society, the American Association of Physics Teachers, and the American Institute of Physics. He has led the effort by scientists to defend the teaching of science in public schools. His essay in the New York Times on "Evolution and Intelligent Design" in May 2005 helped spur recent controversy. Krauss argues that scientists and those interested in science need to become vocal evangelists for science on many fronts. Sponsored by the Harold D. and Rhoda N. Roberts Lecture Fund in Natural Sciences.
    [7:30 p.m., Packard Hall, SW corner of Cascade Ave. and Cache La Poudre St. FREE]

    Professor Krauss will also be speaking twice in Aspen:

    Jan 24, 2006 - Wheeler Opera House, Aspen CO
    Jan 24, 2005 - Explore Bookstore, Aspen CO

    The Boulder International Humanist Institute will also be starting its 2006 speaker series with "An Evening of Ideas and Community" on Charles Darwin's birthday. This event will feature Chris Mooney, the Washington correspondent for Seed magazine and a senior correspondent for the American Prospect. He focuses on issues at the intersection of science and politics, and is author of the bestselling book The Republican War on Science.

    This event will be held on February 12, 2006 at 6:00 pm at the Flemming Law School (Near Baseline and Broadway). Admission is Free, Please call 303-543-9166 to reserve your seats.

    Thursday, January 12, 2006

    01/12/06 New Developments

    The Second Regular Session of the Sixty-Fifth General Assembly convened yesterday with neither Sen. Brophy nor Rep. Stafford making any moves regarding their declared intention to impose "intelligent design" (ID) on Colorado public schools. We are carefully monitoring events, but so far so good.

    While the legislators have remained quiet on the issue, the Manitou Springs-based Summit Ministries, a "reconstructionist" ministry, has decided to take a stance on the issue in its "Truth & Consequences" newsletter. Noting that "ID scientists are willing to make observations about the natural world and are not afraid to explore both natural as well as supernatural explanations for interpreting the data, whichever best fits the facts," they conclude: "Only when students are allowed to hear both sides of the current controversy will they be given a true education. Anything less is blatant indoctrination. For that reason, ID deserves a place in the science classroom." To read the full article: What Was Eric Cornell Thinking? Science Can't Tell, Misrepresenting Intelligent Design by Chuck Edwards, January 2006, Truth & Consequences.

    Upcoming Event: Noted theoretical physicist, science advocate, and lecturer against ID, Prof. Lawrence M. Krauss will be visiting Colorado later in January and early February talking about the ID assault on sound education.

    To quote the announcement from Colorado College, Lecture: "Science Under Attack, from the White House to the Classroom" on February 2, 2006 -

    "Lawrence M. Krauss, theoretical physicist and author, presents a lecture, "Science Under Attack, from the White House to the Classroom: Public Policy, Science Education, and the Emperor's New Clothes." Krauss is a professor of physics, professor of astronomy, and director of the Center for Education and Research in Cosmology and Astrophysics at Case Western Reserve University. He authored seven popular books including international bestseller "The Physics of Star Trek" and the award-winning "Atom." Krauss is also a regular essayist for newspapers such as the New York Times, and appears regularly on television. He is the only physicist to have been awarded the highest awards of the American Physical Society, the American Association of Physics Teachers, and the American Institute of Physics. He has led the effort by scientists to defend the teaching of science in public schools. His essay in the New York Times on "Evolution and Intelligent Design" in May 2005 helped spur recent controversy. Krauss argues that scientists and those interested in science need to become vocal evangelists for science on many fronts. Sponsored by the Harold D. and Rhoda N. Roberts Lecture Fund in Natural Sciences.


    [7:30 p.m., Packard Hall, SW corner of Cascade Ave. and Cache La Poudre St. FREE]


    Professor Krauss will also be speaking twice in Aspen:

  • Jan 24, 2006 - Wheeler Opera House, Aspen CO


  • Jan 24, 2005 - Explore Bookstore, Aspen CO


  • Anyway, we are continuing to monitor developments closely and will be sure to keep our readers apprised of new developments regarding ID in Colorado as they happen.

    Tuesday, January 03, 2006

    01/03/06 New Developments

    Although Sen. Brophy (R-Wray) has not formally presented his "intelligent design" (ID) bill, he continues discussing it as a possibility. "Brophy said he is holding open a bill title in case he decides to sponsor a controversial bill that would allow the teaching of intelligent design alongside evolution in Colorado classrooms. 'I'm considering it but I haven't decided yet.'" ["Reps eye battle over Ref. C $$$", by K.C. Mason, 3 January 2006, Fort Morgan Times]. However, Brophy does seem to be on a mission against educational standards in Colorado. Other than the possible ID bill, he has already drafted a bill that would "Remove the authority of the Colorado commissioner on higher education to set uniform admissions standards for all colleges and universities in the state."[ibid.]

    In other developments, Paul Campos, an attorney, CU Boulder academic and Rocky Mountain News weekly columnist, decided to hop into the debate. With but few exceptions, the majority of leading ID advocates tend to be either philosophers or attorneys, people who essentially argue for a living as opposed to physical scientists, therefore this can come as no surprise. Following the lead of the Discovery Institute, Campos uses the "dissenting point of view" defense for imposing ID on our students. Freely granting that ID has a place in a philosophy or theology class, it has no bearing on, relationship to, or connection with, the physical sciences and thus no place in the science classroom. After referring to a "species of mental retardation" among those who support maintaining sound educational standards in our schools, he goes on to make a number of rather silly misrepresentations of basic science and its advocacy and concludes by comparing science advocates to the Spanish Inquisition. To read his article: "Campos: Orthodoxy of a liberal sort", by Paul Campos, 27 December 2005, Rocky Mountain News. An immediate rebuttal was written the same day: "Science and Intelligent Design", by Dale Franks, 27 December 2005, The QandO Blog.

    The issue probably won't become heated until either Sen. Brophy or Rep. Stafford makes their move, however the legislative session opens later this month.

    Selected News Articles, 12/23/05-01/03/06

    "Reps eye battle over Ref. C $$$", by K.C. Mason, 3 January 2006, Fort Morgan Times.

    "Intelligent design not proper for our public schools", Editorial, 28 December 2005, Daily Reporter-Herald (Loveland)

    "Campos: Orthodoxy of a liberal sort", by Paul Campos, 27 December 2005, Rocky Mountain News.

    "Science and Intelligent Design", by Dale Franks, 27 December 2005, The QandO Blog.

    Saturday, December 24, 2005

    12/24/05 Notes on the Colorado ID movement & opposition

    Noting the reactions against the recent Pennsylvania ruling on ID by the powerful and well-financed Colorado-based Focus on the Family and Colorado Southern Baptists, there is certainly a considerable element in our state seeking to see "intelligent design" imposed on our schools. This is all the more ominous in view of the fact that there is at least one openly avowed ID advocate in both chambers of the Colorado General Assembly. Colorado is also the home of a number of professional ID/Creationism advocates with experience in promoting their views elsewhere.

    Colorado Springs is the home of the Access Research Network (ARN), which - along with the Discovery Institute and the Intelligent Design Network - is one of the primary secular front groups promoting "intelligent design." ARN began as the "Students for Origins Research, Inc." with the stated purpose of "[assisting] students and educators in critically evaluating the creation and evolution models of origins from a scientific perspective," in 1988. Of the original directors, only two are resident in Colorado:

  • Dennis A Wagner is an avowed Creationist closely associated with the "American Scientific Affiliation" an organization of evangelical "Christian scientists" [See: "Put Another Candle on the Birthday Cake" by Dennis Wagner, 13 March 1997, "Origins Research"]


  • Mark Hartwig is an evangelical Christian with an interest in "challenging beliefs on which people have staked their lives - not to mention their lifestyles." [See: "In Defense of the Supernatural", by Mark Hartwig, 1998, Focus on the Family] A Director of ARN, with a Ph.D. in educational psychology, he is a free lance journalist and author. He also serves as a leader of the IDEA Center whose sole purpose is to promote "intelligent design."


  • Colorado also hosts Douglas Groothuis, who serves as Professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary and is a national level advocate for ID. Groothuis is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, and the Society of Christian Philosophers. He also writes pro-ID articles for local papers, see for example, "Speakout: 'Design' critics often employ straw men (10 December 2005, Rocky Mountain News).

    All said, we have all the basic ingredients for a major ID push here in Colorado, coupling professional ID advocates with the money and resources of powerful evangelical organizations with at least a couple legislators willing to hop into the fray. A purely scientific defense against such an onslaught is not reasonable since the issue is purely social/political in nature lacking any scientific significance at all. The issue is whether or not the evangelicals will be allowed to indoctrinate Colorado's children through its public schools. Effective opposition has to operate in the field where the conflict is to be held, that is, in the fields of public opinion and politics, not the Ivory Tower from which ID has already been soundly excluded.

    The ID advocates in Colorado have a ready pool of professional advocates to call upon and in this respect we opponents can compete via professional scientists and academics, many of which are already organized through Colorado Citizens for Science. However, the ID advocates, through organizations such as Focus on the Family and the Colorado Southern Baptists can also launch immediate lobbying campaigns (members writing to their representatives, to school boards, &c.), advertising campaigns, and other operations meant to either sway or confuse public opinion on the issue. The opposition has no such ability to immediately lobby on the issue, our sole recourse being the common sense of Colorado residents. However, as the Kansas case has shown, common sense isn't always enough against a massive PR campaign and politically prejudicial public officials. This is where MESIC hopes to come into play, by developing a popular rallying point for updates, information, and action to keep ID out of our schools.

    Thursday, December 22, 2005

    12/22/05 New Developments

    Despite the 139 page ruling by U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case that deemed "intelligent design" (ID) a variation on traditional Creationism, the fight is far from over. Although the Dover ruling does not directly apply to Colorado, it is likely to have national ramifications in that it sets legal precedent. However, the effort here in Colorado, being spearheaded by legislators as opposed to school boards, somewhat circumvents this precedent since the legislative efforts are not trying to directly insert ID into the curriculum, but instead seek to "allow" teachers the right to teach this notion independently.

    Colorado State Senator Greg Brophy (R-Wray) has joined Rep. Stafford (R-Aurora) in announcing an interest in promoting ID in Colorado. Brophy's proposal differs from Stafford's but they are mutually complimentary. As reported in the Rocky Mountain News, "Brophy said the bill he is considering would let local school boards adopt an intelligent-design curriculum, but not mandate such instruction." [" Debate over intelligent design theory" by Berny Morson, (21 December 2005), Rocky Mountain News] In that Stafford's suggested bill that would allow teachers to present "alternative theories" is somewhat too broad in scope (at least as she has described it) Brophy's measure is the more direct of the two. We now have at least one openly avowed ID advocate in both chambers of the Colorado General Assembly.

    While it seems unlikely that either Brophy or Stafford could push their respective proposals through the current General Assembly, raising the issue and sparking a public debate on the issue presents its own dangers. Specifically, launching such a public debate could prompt a local school board sympathetic to the idea to adopt an ID measure thereby generating a high-profile court challenge. It is safe to say that most Coloradoans are not extremists of any sort, nevertheless, it cannot really be denied that Colorado has often found itself at the center of issues promoted by well-funded and well-organized evangelical extremists resident in our state. While we can't stop the ID movement and its supporters from doing whatever they can to advance their agenda, what we can do is be prepared to counter their tactics through organization and close monitoring of developments. This is specifically what MESIC has set out to do.

    Selected Colorado News Round-up, December 19-22:

  • "Intelligent design bad choice for state" [Editorial] (22 December 2005), Rocky Mountain News

  • "Intelligent design in Colorado?" by Brian Newsome, (22 December 2005), The Gazette (Colorado Springs)


  • "Gavel to Gavel -- The Year in Review, Part III" by Andrew Cohen, (22 December 2005), CBS News (Channel 4, Denver)


  • "Debate over Intelligent Design Goes On After Court Ruling" by Francis Helguero, (22 December 2005), The Christian Post


  • "Debate over intelligent design theory" by Berny Morson, (21 December 2005), Rocky Mountain News


  • "Colo. groups split on ruling" by Virginia Culver, (21 December 2005), Denver Post


  • "Intelligent design ruling felt in Southern Colorado" by Sharon Brandman, (21 December 2005), KOAA-TV


  • "Religion vs. Evolution: A false dichotomy" by J. Brent Walker, (21 December 2005), Colorado Daily


  • "Not An Intelligent Design" (21 December 2005), Colorado Pols


  • "Judge Says Intelligent Design Has No Place in Public Schools" by Wendy Cloyd, (20 December 2005), Focus on the Family