Evolution in the Columbia Missourian


The Columbia Missourian is doing a series on Evolution.

(7/31) Much ado about evolution

Rep. Cynthia Davis hurries along the basement corridors, looking for the hearing room where she will defend her bill calling for evolution criticism in Missouri textbooks. She peeks around the door and focuses on the back two rows, where her witnesses fidget while waiting to present their case.

Davis smiles and heads to greet them. All but one in her crowd are members of two home-schooled families who drove as long as nine hours to change public education.

It’s 8:05 a.m. on May 8, one week before the end of the legislative session. Davis completes the handshakes and settles into her seat before the House Committee for Elementary and Secondary Education. She looks straight ahead, confident, as committee members lounge around the room, exchanging pleasantries and refilling their coffees. The chairwoman of the committee, Rep. Jane Cunningham, R-St. Louis, calls the meeting to order.

(7/31) How the evolution debate evolved

1987 The U.S. Supreme Court rules creation science in public schools unconstitutional in Edwards v. Aguillard, striking down the Louisiana “Creation Act” as a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

1989 The Foundation for Thoughts and Ethics publishes “Of Pandas and People,” intended as a textbook supplement criticizing evolution and promoting intelligent design.

(8/1) Science teachers use care when teaching ‘e-word’

The students in Kerri Graham’s sophomore biology class habitually slump into their seats, apparently unfazed that they are at the bull’s-eye of the intelligent design movement, whose “teach the controversy” slogan intends to rile up high school classrooms just like this one. Intelligent design theorists contend that a purposeful creator is responsible for the beginning and diversification of life on the planet. But these sleepy teenagers care more about reaching driving age than the age of the Earth.

(8/2) Faith & Reason

The Discovery Institute, which, according to its Web site, operates with the “belief in God-given reason and the permanency of human nature,” consistently scoffs at accusations of a religious agenda. But the institute’s senior fellow, mathematician and philosopher William Dembski, gives credit to creation science guru Henry Morris for stirring evolution opposition and says intelligent design is much closer to creationism than to evolution.


As the hearing room stirs with whispers [after evolution is blamed for the Holocaust and Columbine], Davis remains still and smiling. She is no stranger to contentious analogies, cementing her national profile by comparing liberals to the Sept. 11 hijackers and announcing in April that hospital childbirth amounts to rape.

What drives these ideologies? I just don’t understand. Is it more ethical to have thousands of women die in childbirth at home rather than give them proper care and sanitation? And what I want to know is, if Ms. Davis has any children, did she give birth at home? These people belong in an institution, not in a legislative body.

Is it more ethical to have thousands of women die in childbirth at home rather than give them proper care and sanitation?

In Rep. Davis’ eyes, yes. In addition to her forays into Biology education, Cynthia Davis did indeed introduce a bill that would allow anyone to practice midwifery without specific training and with more legal protection than is given to physicians, a bill to eliminate the requirement that contraception be discussed in sex ed classes, and a bill that would eliminate the ability of next of kin to allow witholding of food and water to brain-dead relatives.

She is one of the more radical of the fundies in the MO assembly. Oh yeah, she has also called liberals as bad as the 9-11 hijackers, and is facing ethics charges that she used campaign money to pay personal expenses, not to mention a suit for defaulting on her student loans.

Self-limiting, I’d say.

Let’s see: Missouri Rep. Davis didn’t know whether there was a textbook review process in her state, hadn’t read the other states’ textbooks she referred to in her presentation and was quoted as saying that “…it is far beyond me to go into science.” Yet she feels perfectly qualified to pass judgement on the condition of biology education in her state. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad…

The reporter, Anya Litvak, is one sharp cookie.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Reed A. Cartwright published on August 2, 2005 7:19 PM.

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