Newsletter News Main Debate Page Background information for the Debate in Charleston, WV
by Various Sources
Note Karl Priest is a local middle school teacher in Charleston, West Virginia and also heads up the local creationist group there -- Kanawha Creation Science Group

Subject: local "war" report Date: Friday, October 15, 1999 8:27 PM

The local situation has made it to statewide talk radio. I did not hear the program, but here is a report from a Kanawha Creation Science Group member.

After hearing Don Marsh blast Karl this morning (on WV talk radio), I emailed the following letter to Talk-Line. Hoppy read the entire letter, and Marsh responded, "Then why do they need to pass the resolution?"

Hoppy, I heard Karl Priest speak at the last 2 board meetings he attended. He made it perfectly clear that, although he does believe in creation, he is not advocating that it be taught in the schools! The Board's own attorney drafted that resolution, and he assured the Board that it does not change or violate the existing policy.

So why do we need it? Betty Jarvis is correct - teachers do fear intimidation from people like the Gazette's editor and Marsh, who are vehemently opposed to the resolution. They do not feel free to present scientific evidences opposed to Darwinism, because the texts, for the most part, teach Darwin's theory as fact, and to oppose that belief automatically brands you as a fundamentalist Christian. Priest gave several quotes from anti-creationist scientists who do not find Darwin's theory to be credible.

Marsh needs to talk to the Board's attorney about this before he gives citizens the impression that this resolution changes things!

Citizen (name deleted)

Well, since the ACLU is involved I guess the evolutionists are getting nervous. This article, by the paper whose editor is a self-proclaimed "militant atheist evolutionist" is so full of propaganda and bunk I am torn between laughter and exasperation that they get away with it. No reporter called me (not that I would have said much) and (to my knowledge) no Gazette reporter was at the last meeting when the Board voted around 11:00 p. m.
Creating problems? ‘Evolution resolution’ opens a can of worms Thursday October 14, 1999


A proposed Kanawha County school board resolution that supports teachers who teach “theories for and against evolution” sparked mixed reviews this week.

School officials sent the “evolution resolution” to principals and teachers at the county’s 87 schools Monday.

“This is nothing more than a disguised attempt to bring creationism into our public schools,” said Hilary Chiz, who directs the state’s chapter of the

American Civil Liberties Union. “In case anyone thinks we’re far behind Kansas, just click your heels.”

A Kanawha County school board policy — approved in 1987 — states, “creation science is not to be taught. ”

School board Attorney Jim Withrow drew up the resolution at school board member Betty Jarvis’ request.

Jarvis said Wednesday she has fielded dozens of calls from teachers who feel they’ll be reprimanded if they criticize evolution theory in the classroom.

“We have to present all theories,” Jarvis said. “Creationism is a theory. A lot of science books deal only with evolution. Teachers are afraid to stray from the track.”

Karl Priest, an Andrew Jackson Middle School teacher who supports teaching creationism in schools, has gone to four school board meetings in the past year, urging board members to pass a resolution that would back teachers if they choose to expose “flaws” in evolution theory. School board members have put off Priest each time.

Priest said school board members were using “stalling tactics. There should be a part for teachers and students that questions evolution,” Priest said.

The school board plans to vote on the resolution at a December meeting. Board President John Luoni opposes it.

“We recognize there’s more than one point of view on the subject,” Luoni said. “But when in science class, we need to focus on science, not get off on other tangents.”

In 1987, school board members eliminated a policy that required teachers to give creation science equal time with evolution theory.

Ditty Markham, a counselor at Marmet Elementary School, sat on school board at the time and supported the policy change.

Markham said current school board members were “asking for problems” if they approve the resolution. She predicted groups on both sides of the debate would challenge it, “bogging down” the school board.

“It scares me when these kinds of things start creeping in,” Markham said. “They’re really opening up a door. They ought to stick to curriculum.”

Ken Pyles, a Methodist minister who teaches at Riverside High School, said school board members should trust teachers, not try to sway them on the issue.

“You don’t need the Board of Education telling you need to teach all sides,” Pyles said. “To have some big resolution, that’s demoralizing to education professionals. It’s undermining morale.”

Jewell Wilburn, a Grandview Elementary School teacher and president of the Kanawha County Education Association, said school board policy already addresses the teaching of controversial issues.

“If Mr. Priest’s intent is to tear down a scientific theory, I have problems with that,” Wilburn said. “The board would be opening up a can of worms. We would open ourselves up to national ridicule.”

School board member Pete Thaw doesn’t understand the fuss. He has read the resolution over and over. He sees nothing wrong with it.

“I can’t find anything objectionable in there,” Thaw said. “We have got to tell the kids there are two ideas. This is what we ought to be doing.”

In August, the Kansas Board of Education adopted new classroom science standards that do not require the teaching of evolution. Many scientists, educators and the state’s governor expressed outrage at the decision.

To contact staff writer Eric Eyre, call 348-5194. Write a letter to the editor. © Copyright 1999 Charleston Gazette

Friday October 15 6:08 PM ET

W.Va. Board May Lift Creationism Ban

By MARTHA BRYSON HODEL Associated Press Writer

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A proposal before a county school board would lift a ban on teaching the biblical story of creation.

The proposal, introduced by Kanawha County board member Betty Jarvis, was submitted for comment this week to principals and teachers of the 87 schools in the state's largest county.

``We have to present all theories,'' Jarvis told The Charleston Gazette. ``Creationism is a theory. A lot of science books deal only with evolution. Teachers are afraid to stray from the track.''

Jarvis did not return telephone calls from The Associated Press.

The county board will vote on the proposal in December.

``The part that really disturbs me is the argument that 'this is the other theory,''' said Hilary Chiz, director of the West Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

``Creationism is not a scientific theory. It is a religious idea about human development, and this is simply a transparent scheme to teach religion in our schools,'' she said.

Creationism is the belief that a divine power created the universe in six days, while the theory of evolution holds that humans evolved from more primitive species.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled more than a decade ago that states cannot teach creationism. Since then, some creationists have turned to attacking evolution's validity.

Gov. Cecil Underwood, a former teacher, said he does not oppose teaching creationism in public schools.

``I think education is search for the truth. We need to look at all theories to decide what is the truth,'' Underwood said Thursday.

The Kansas State Board of Education sparked a national debate two months ago by approving science standards that de-emphasize evolution.

Baptist Press

Intelligent design seen as key as evolution debate continues

By Lee Weeks

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--As several state school systems wrangle over what to teach about the origin of life, a group of creationists say . . . . . click for http://www.baptistpress.org/CurrentBaptistPress/story1.html

Subject: Praise & Prayer report Date: Thursday, November 11, 1999 5:01 PM

We have been contacted by an outstanding (but, not nationally known) scientist from California who has offered to come, at his own expense, to speak and debate prior to, and at, the December showdown. PTL!

Details remain to be worked out so make this a matter of prayer.

Of course, we will want to reimburse him as much as possible.

Also, we have the promise (made to Bobby and I several months ago, of a prominent YEC author who is willing to come to Charleston to debate and speak. We have not contacted him regarding this issue.

It has become obvious that this is a fight that has national implications. The Gazette has lent its full force to fight us and principalities are throwing darts at a pace that will only increase. Please pray daily for the people who have stepped up to the front line and are engaged in this spiritual warfare.


This latest development in the unfolding controversy / debate in Charleston WV over a teacher's request the school board go on record permitting teachers to be critical of evolution science theory -- by pointing out it's weaknesses. The school board vote December 16 on the issue---currently the board is split 3-2 in favor of not establishing a policy to clarify criticizing evolution -------- stay tuned-----

Subject: Grassroots Report (Evolutionist "Roars") Date: Thursday, December 02, 1999 6:48 PM

Below is an article sent to me by Dr. Fezer with a note saying he sent it to the Gazette which refused his proposal. He says his offer still stands if a willing newspaper is found of sufficient circulation.

Karl Priest

The Kanawlia school board is scheduled to vote on a resolution that, in violation of the First Amendment and numerous court decisions, would allow science teachers to promote arguments based on biblical literalism. Karl Priest was and is the driving force behind this proposal. Now he has challenged me and others to debate Dr Joseph Mastropaolo, visiting from California, shortly before the Board vote. I refuse his invitation, but I offer a counterproposal that would give Priest the "level playing field" that he wants. A word of explanation: I have participated in three public debates with creationists, most recently with Duane Gish of the Institute for Creation

Research, which bills him as the world's leading creationist debater. At that event, the bused-in audience overflowed the auditorium before local college students even arrived. During the debate this audience cheered their champion and then, while I spoke, chattered. By agreeing to participate, I, in effect, enhanced what was a pep rally for creationists. I thought, and still think, that everything I said made a compelling case for evolution. For his part, Gish has a quick wit and, I have to admit, was more entertaining than I. In a circus, entertainment is what matters. After the debate I transcribed eleven minutes of Gish's remarks and analyzed them in detail. In those eleven minutes I found dozens of scholarly sins, such as false claims, misrepresentations, non sequiturs, and argument by bluster. On careful examination, not one of his arguments made any sense.

This analysis was published in a 17-page paper (available free to anyone who asks). As part of a friendly correspondence with Karl Priest, I sent him a copy and asked him to tell me if he could find anything unfair or unreasonable in my analysis. Evidently he could not, because he sent it on to Gish, leaving ft to him to defend his own indefensible behavior. Eventually I heard from Priest, who said that Gish had explained everything to his satisfaction, but that "it would be futile" to summarize Gish's arguments for me because, said Priest, I am too biased to consider them objectively. So I have yet to hear specific criticisms of my paper.

"Creation science is a system of thought whose internal contradictions force its adherents, even those with scholarly credentials, into committing scholarly sins. Science is a very different system of thought. I believe that the scientific community must explain these differences to the public and document the scholarly sins of those who challenge the scientific consensus. But the scientific community must also explain to the public why there is a consensus on some matters, and why challenges to the consensus have been rejected. There are many books that do this.

The playing field is level. Creation scientists are free to submit research reports to reputable scientific journals. If they meet standards, they have as good a chance as others to get their work published. They also have their own vast publishing industry. That most of their material is judged to be of poor quality is not the fault of their critics. Nevertheless, I sympathize with their desire for a direct, public confrontation with the science they seek to "correct."

Better than a one-time oral debate would be a written one, spread over as long a time as needed, in which each side would have time to develop each argument carefully. My proposal depends on the willingness of a daily newspaper to commit one page a month to a written debate on this subject: up to half a page provided by each side. Each month's page would be limited to discussing one narrow, agreed-on topic.

The National Center for Science Education would appoint a coordinator for its contribution and the Institute for Creation Research (or the Creation Research Society) would appoint one for its side. These two persons would set an agenda and draw on the resources of their organizations. The actual authors could be anyone they select. Each side's monthly half-page contribution would consist of two parts:

(1) presentation of relevant facts and an analysis both of its own position and that of its opponent. This, together with appropriate documentation, would be submitted to the opposing coordinator in final form one month before publication. I'll call this the "primary piece."

(2) Commentary by each side on the opponent's primary piece and on anything from previous months. The first set of pieces could be published in March 2000 and could present differing conceptions of what science can and cannot do and of how the Bible should be interpreted. It would consider what is and what is not religious. The range of views on each side would be surveyed, but the debate would concentrate on positions taken by the debating organizations. Meanwhile, I urge the Kanawha school board to reject the proposed resolution at its meeting in December.

Karl D. Fezer, Emeritus Professor of Biology, Concord College, Athens and West Virginia liaison for the National Center for Science Education.

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