Kansas Evolution Vote

By George Grow

This is Bill White with the VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT.

Voters in the American state of Kansas have rejected a decision by Kansas education officials to remove the study of evolution from science education programs in the state. The theory of evolution says that all life on Earth, including humans, developed from common ancestors in a biological process.

The voters defeated two current members of the Kansas Board of Education and another conservative in a special election for Republican Party voters. All three candidates had supported the decision to reduce the importance of evolution in the state's science education programs. As a result, an effort to include evolution in science programs appears likely when the new Board of Education takes office.

Some scientists say evolution is the most important idea of biology. British scientist Charles Darwin developed the theory of evolution in the Nineteenth Century. It was a way to describe the development of new kinds of animals, including humans.

Darwin believed that most animals reproduce in larger numbers than their environment can support. Only those animals best able to live in the environment survive. They must change as the environment changes, or they die out. This is the idea known as natural selection.

Some religious leaders have condemned Darwin's ideas. They argue that evolution cannot be proven. Conservative Christians say the ideas conflict with their belief that God created the universe and all living things on Earth, including humans. This belief is known as creationism.

Last year, the Kansas Board of Education approved rules that would remove evolution as a subject necessary for the study of biology or other sciences. The rules would affect science education at all levels in the state. They would not ban the teaching of evolution in schools, however.

The Board's action shocked scientists and educators. The action represented a major victory for religious conservatives. Supporters of the rule changes say they would let local school officials decide what to teach.

The election this month was the first time voters in Kansas had a chance to decide if the board members who approved the rules should keep their jobs. Only one board member who voted against evolution teaching survived the Republican primary election. Five seats on the Board will be filled in November.

This VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT was written by George Grow. This is Bill White.

Voice of America Special English