Friday, November 11, 2005
In Tuesday's election, voters soundly defeated eight members of
the Dover Area School Board. The ninth member was not up for
reelection. For now, Dover children will learn biology untainted
by religious fable, but events in Kansas should be a warning. Six
years ago, the Kansas School Board simply eliminated any mention
of biological evolution, or the big bang, from the curriculum
(WN 13 Aug 99). Kansans woke
up to laughter and voted them out. Unfortunately, school board
elections don't get much notice until there's a problem. As soon
as the voters relaxed, religious zealots were back on the ballot.
The religious right again controls the Kansas School Board.
As expected, the Kansas Board of Education adopted new teaching
standards on Tuesday that go beyond merely letting in intelligent
design. The board went straight to the heart of the matter and
redefined "science." WN noted earlier that by the Oxford English
Dictionary definition, "intelligent design" isn't "science"
(WN 5 Aug 05). No problem.
If ID doesn't fit the definition, change the definition. In
Kansas schools, "science" is now a search for "more adequate
explanations of natural phenomena." Who needs physics? Divine
intervention can explain everything without all that math.
Last week, WN quoted Cardinal Poupard, head of the Pontifical
Council for Culture: "we know the dangers of a religion that
severs its links with reason and becomes prey to fundamentalism.
The faithful have the obligation to listen to that which secular
modern science has to offer." To which WN said "amen." We were
still trying to find out if atheists could now become Catholics,
when the Pope made it clear that he is the guy in charge. The
Pope described the natural world as an "intelligent project," to
the delight of the Discovery Institute. Meanwhile, televangelist
Pat Robertson warned the people of Dover that if disaster strikes
them "don't turn to God, you just ejected him from your city."
It happens every few years. U.S. pat. 6,960,975, was issued on
November 1, 2005 to Boris Volfson for a "Space vehicle propelled
by the pressure of inflationary vacuum." It uses a Podkletnov
rotating superconducting gravity shield to "change the curvature
of space-time." Of course, he does not mention the forbidden
words "perpetual motion." The patent office rejects patent
applications that use those words under the 1985 ruling in Newman
v Quigg. These days you have to call it "zero-point energy."
Ironically, the patent was issued shortly after arbitration
required the Patent Office to reinstate Tom Valone, who lost his
job in the fallout from the 1999 Conference on Free Energy
(WN 2 Aug 02).