AMERICAN ATHEISTS MEDIA ALERT
KAGIN IN MOCK TRIAL WED. OCTOBER 22
NORTHERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY ~
“CREATION SCIENCE” v. EVOLUTION
“Fundies” to pack event? First 200 will serve
as “electronic jurors”
Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, KY. will be the site of a unique “mock trial” this Wednesday, October 22, 2008 pitting defenders of so-called “creation science” against proponents of evolution. The Resolved asks whether public school teachers should be permitted to teach creation science in public school classrooms.
Among those participating will be Edwin Kagin, National Legal Director for American Atheists. Mr. Kagin is a nationally recognized figure in the battle over evolution versus creationism.
The debate begins at 7:00 PM at NKU’s University Center in the Otto M. Budwig Theater. This event is free and open to the public. The first 200 persons in attendance will be invited to serve as “jurors” using small remote control clickers to register their opinions both before and after the trial. A the end of the proceeding, they will decide the case.
More information can be found at http://www.nku.edu/display_news.php?ID=3197 and http://www.edwinkagin.com . For information on driving and parking, visit http://www.nku.edu/ and scroll down to the bottom of the page.
Freethinkers, Atheists, Humanists and all other supporters of science and good teaching standards are urged to attend.
WHO & WHAT: Edwin Kagin, National Legal Director for American Atheist at the Northern Kentucky University “mock trial” on teaching creationism.
WHEN: This Wednesday, October 22, 2008 beginning at 7:00 PM.
WHERE: NKU’s University Center in the Otto M. Budwig Theater
MORE INFO: http://www.nku.edu/display_news.php?ID=3197 and http://www.edwinkagin.com . For information on driving and parking, visit http://www.nku.edu/ and scroll down to the bottom of the page.
(AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for nonbelievers; labors for the absolute separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.)
Creationism goes on ‘trial’
Attendees have opportunity to serve as ‘jurors’
By Andrea Remke • Enquirer contributor • October 22, 2008
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS – One of the country’s most controversial issues will be debated here tonight.
Northern Kentucky University will host an interactive mock trial – with local citizens as the jurors – on the issue of whether creationism should be taught in schools.
The trial is at 7 p.m. and is free to the public. It is sponsored by the Northern Kentucky Forum, the NKU Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement and Nonprofit Development and the NKU Chase College of Law.
The first 200 people will have an opportunity to serve as jurors. At the conclusion, they will decide the case.
Scripps Howard Center executive director Mark Neikirk said the center is trying to foster a dialog on public issues. Next month, the center will focus on the results of the presidential election and what impact it will have on the region.
“The trial is a structure for deciding what public policy should be,” he said. “We hope that people will listen and go away and think about the topic.”
The trial deals with the firing of a fictitious biology teacher, Susan Scott, who according to her complaint, encouraged students to “explore creation theories.” Scott, played by Simon Kenton High School teacher Heather Mastin, is suing the fictitious Chandler County School Board for wrongful termination.
The teacher will be represented by attorney Phil Taliaferro, who will argue that teaching creation theory is not only permitted in Kentucky, but legally protected. The defendant Chandler County School Board will be represented by attorney Margo Grubbs, who will argue that Scott’s termination was justified under law.
Scott’s chief witness will be Dr. Ben Scripture. He hosts weekly radio programs, “Scripture on Creation” and “That’s What Scripture Says” on radio stations in Indiana and on the Good News Network stations.
Scripture said his main approach will be to get the issue to revolve around evidence and not just “religion versus science,” he said.
“In this trial, there is no accusation here of (the teacher) bringing up God or Creation. … She brought up something that challenged evolution and she was fired.
“Now, this is a mock trial, but this kind of thing does happen,” he said.
Scripture, who is a creationist, said this isn’t a religious crusade.
“This is us wanting to have good science taught in our classrooms. … Right now it’s not.”
The school board will be represented by fictional Superintendent Bryan Boone, who will be played by retired Boone County Superintendent Bryan Blavatt. Its key witness will be real-life evolution advocate Edwin Kagin, a Union attorney.
Kagin is a founder of the Free Inquiry Group and is the originator of Camp Quest, the nation’s first residential secular summer camp. Kagin is also the national legal director for American Atheists.
Kagin said he’ll stress that intelligent design and creationism has no business being taught in a science classroom.
“It’s important that people learn critical thinking … to sort out what is valid and what is not,” Kagin said.
“I’m trying to show a method of science and why this is not science,” he said. “It’s a religion view and belongs in church.”
The trial judge will be played by retired Kenton County Circuit Court Judge Doug Stephens.
Neikirk said other upcoming forum topics tentatively planned include Northern Kentucky’s role in Frankfort, public education, energy policy and diversity in the region.
The Clergy Letter – from American Christian clergy
– An Open Letter Concerning Religion and Science
Within the community of Christian believers there are areas of dispute and disagreement, including the proper way to interpret Holy Scripture. While virtually all Christians take the Bible seriously and hold it to be authoritative in matters of faith and practice, the overwhelming majority do not read the Bible literally, as they would a science textbook. Many of the beloved stories found in the Bible – the Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark – convey timeless truths about God, human beings, and the proper relationship between Creator and creation expressed in the only form capable of transmitting these truths from generation to generation. Religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth. Its purpose is not to convey scientific information but to transform hearts.
We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as “one theory among others” is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children. We believe that among God’s good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator. To argue that God’s loving plan of salvation for humanity precludes the full employment of the God-given faculty of reason is to attempt to limit God, an act of hubris. We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge. We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.
• Christian Clergy Letter
• (11,714 signatures as of 10/22/08)
Clergy Letter – from American rabbis
An Open Letter Concerning Religion and Science
As rabbis from various branches of Judaism, we the undersigned, urge public school boards to affirm their commitment to the teaching of the science of evolution. Fundamentalists of various traditions, who perceive the science of evolution to be in conflict with their personal religious beliefs, are seeking to influence public school boards to authorize the teaching of creationism. We see this as a breach in the separation of church and state. Those who believe in a literal interpretation of the Biblical account of creation are free to teach their perspective in their homes, religious institutions and parochial schools. To teach it in the public schools would be to assert a particular religious perspective in an environment which is supposed to be free of such indoctrination.
The Bible is the primary source of spiritual inspiration and of values for us and for many others, though not everyone, in our society. It is, however, open to interpretation, with some taking the creation account and other content literally and some preferring a figurative understanding. It is possible to be inspired by the religious teachings of the Bible while not taking a literalist approach and while accepting the validity of science including the foundational concept of evolution. It is not the role of public schools to indoctrinate students with specific religious beliefs but rather to educate them in the established principles of science and in other subjects of general knowledge.
• Jewish Clergy Letter
• (378 signatures as of 10/22/08)