Palmetto Sunrise: Evolution debate rekindled as Education Department kept in the dark

The SC Statehouse. AP photo.

When deciding on a menu, the normal procedure is to consult a chef. Cocktails at the bar? Bartender. You get the idea.

For the concoction that is the state's science standards, it appears that the people who probably know the most at the Department of Education were out of the loop as the policy-making State Board of Education put how evolution is taught in South Carolina's classrooms back on the table, the Post and Courier's Cynthia Roldan reports.

"Why would they (the Education Department) have to be involved?" asked Board Chairman Barry Bolen. "They don't approve the standards."

But they do write the standards - and for that a Seattle-based intelligent design organization called the Discovery Institute was well informed on the issue and seems to have had plenty of input. A vote on the new evolution standard is expected today, with Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, a prominent driver of the issue.

The compromise going before the board Wednesday requires students to understand that the theory of evolution, like any other scientific theory, may change as new scientific information is obtained. Evolution is still controversial among some religious conservatives who believe it casts doubt on the Biblical teaching.

That's precisely what worries Rob Dillon, a professor of biology at the College of Charleston and president of South Carolinians for Science Education. It's no compromise, he said, because it singles out evolution.

"The idea is simply to make evolution controversial," Dillon said. "They simply cast doubt on evolutionary science."

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