This state's Board of Education adopted new science standards for classrooms that, more than other such measures approved in the U.S., go further in challenging Darwin's theory of evolution and redefine the word "science" itself. Tuesday's 6-4 vote by the education board was a big win for proponents of "intelligent design", those who believe the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power.
The new standards cast doubt on Darwinism and defy mainstream views on the mystery of mankind's origins. The measure's language redefines "science" so that it's not limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.
But critics say intelligent design is merely creationism, a literal reading of the Bible's story of creation, camouflaged in scientific language, and it does not belong in a science curriculum. They worry that the vote will encourage attacks on evolution in other states.
"This action is likely to be the playbook for creationism for the next several years," said Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education. "We can predict this fight happening elsewhere."
The Kansas board's action is already part of a national debate on teaching evolution. In Pennsylvania on Tuesday, voters came down hard on school board members who backed a statement on intelligent design being read in biology class, ousting eight Republicans and replacing them with Democrats who want the concept stripped from the science curriculum.
The election unfolded amid a landmark federal trial involving the Dover public schools and the question of whether intelligent design promotes the Bible's view of creation. Eight Dover families sued, saying it violates the constitutional separation of church and state.
In August, President George W. Bush endorsed teaching intelligent design alongside evolution, the AP reports.
The Kansas board's vote is likely to heap fresh national criticism on the state. In 1999, the board deleted most references to evolution in the science standards. That decision was overturned in 2001.