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Christian groups sue Kansas schools, say teaching science is 'atheistic'

An attempt by Kansas schools to adopt teaching standards for science is being challenged by organizations that say science teaching "endorses a non-theistic world view."

How best to unmask the secrets of the world to Kansas's innocents?
Crimson Mist/YouTube Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Science and religion have one thing in common: Neither has all the answers.

Personally, I'd like to believe in both. I'd like science to solve all the hideous mysteries like cancer, traffic, and human friction. Then I'd like religion to prove to me that there is everlasting life, so that I can have eternal joy, free of cancer, traffic, and human friction.

Sadly, I always ask too much. Now, certain organizations are asking me to choose between science and religion.

As Raw Story reports, Christian organizations are suing Kansas schools for their temerity in trying to enact teaching standards for science.

The Citizens For Objective Public Education and the Pacific Justice Institute both feel that there is something terribly wrong with these standards: They promote atheism.

Indeed, COPE can barely cope with its upset at what it deems in its legal complaint "concealed Orthodoxy."

This Orthodoxy -- dubbed "methodological naturalism or scientific materialism" -- "requires that explanations of the cause and nature of natural phenomena may only use natural, material or mechanistic causes, and must assume that teleological or design conceptions of nature are invalid."

The Pacific Justice Institute, in its complaint, offers that the new standards "would create a hostile learning environment for those of faith."

In the institute's press release, its president, Brad Dacus, insisted: "It's an egregious violation of the rights of Americans to subject students -- as young as five -- to an authoritative figure such as a teacher who essentially tells them that their faith is wrong."

I might mention that 25 other states have already adopted these very same science standards.

However, Kansas has had an especially thorny history with science teaching. As the Kansas City Star reports, the state has had six different sets of standards in the last 15 years. Naturally, these depended on which sort of political or religious persuasion happened to be in power at the time.

Those who oppose the proposed new standards fear, like John Calvert, an attorney involved with the case, that the result will be: "By the time you're in middle school, you're a Darwinist."

Oh, Lordy. If only the two sides could find some mutual accommodation. But there seems an unwillingness to recognize each other's positions.

Just as it would seem useless for one side to wonder why wars have constantly been waged over religion, but never over science, it would be useless for the other side to point out just how often science has been absolutely, totally mistaken.

Those in the scientific camp, such as Steven Case, director of the University of Kansas' science education center, told the Kansas City Star that the lawsuits are thoroughly frivolous and don't stand a chance of being taken seriously.

I fear, though, that only Google's Larry Page can bring a conclusive end to this raging, other-worldly argument.

If, with his new and highly scientific company Calico, he can solve the mysteries of death, then we won't have to worry about the afterlife, will we?