Ohio implicitly opens door to teaching Intelligent Design
After a long controversy, an Ohio State Board of Education committee yesterday adopted new science education standards on the teaching of evolution. The debate had included such proposals as mandating the teaching of Intelligent Design theory along with Darwinian theory, but such suggestions have been off the table for some time.

The key change put forward by the committee yesterday was one sentence in the 10th grade standards: "Describe how scientists today continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory."

"What we're essentially saying here is evolution is a very strong theory, and students can learn from it by analyzing evidence as it is accumulated over time," Tom McClain, a board member and co-chairman of the Ohio Board of Education's academic standards committee, told the Associated Press.

But the language is still controversial. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that some scientists say it still opens the door to teaching supernatural theories, and they'll try to get the full state board to reject the committee's language.

"It's obviously a political compromise," Ohio Academy of Science head Lynn Elfner told the paper. "At this point, my board is divided on whether to accept this."

If the full board does accept the proposed standards as expected today, it will essentially shift the debate on whether and how to teach Intelligent Design theory to individual school districts. It wouldn't change much. As The Cincinnati Enquirer reports, "The Ohio Board of Education's academic standards committee simply put into writing what teachers already are allowed to do — teach students about evolution, including that there are competing ideas about how life originated and changed.

Gardner-Webb University president resigns
As Weblog noted last week, Gardner-Webb University president M. Christopher White was under fire over recently revealed meddling with a student's "cheating F" grade in 1999. White resigned Friday. "For reasons I find hard to understand and even more difficult to articulate, the situation has reached the point where the integrity of the institution and all that it represents is in jeopardy," he said in his resignation letter. "I am sorry that what I did two years ago out of fairness to a student has led to such turmoil and controversy. But what causes me even more sorrow is that the harm of the past few weeks has been self-inflicted by men and women of the Gardner-Webb community to the detriment of our students whom we are here to serve, inspire and educate in accordance with Christian values."

E. Thomas Hardin, chair of the university board of trustees, issued a statement saying the board accepted the resignation, but did not request it. "Everyone associated with the university has been tainted by the unfortunate events that, quite frankly, have gotten out of hand," Hardin said. "Let me once again praise Dr. Chris White for his courage, dedication and commitment to the university and for the significant accomplishments he has brought to our campus."

But despite pleas from White and Hardin for closure, the controversy continues. "It's not officially completely over yet until the two people that stood up for righteousness get reinstated, in my opinion," student Chris Meekins told a local television station. Other students made similar comments to The Charlotte Observer. The paper reported Saturday that  "it looked as though the discord might be lifting," but the next day's issue had a headline titled "Gardner-Webb faces demands for redress: President's resignation is not enough, say students and alumni." A petition for the two professors' reinstatement is making the rounds.

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Billy Graham Texas mission:

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Church of England:

  • 'Heretic' primate faces backlash | Evangelical fringe groups in Church of England want resignation of next Archbishop of Canterbury because he ordained homosexual priest (The Guardian, London)

  • I believe in Bible, insists Williams | Says he accepts traditional church teaching on adultery and sex before marriage (The Guardian, London)

  • Williams is facing pay revolt over view on gays | The clergy at one of Britain's richest parishes are to refuse their Church salaries in protest (The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Clergy 'anxious' about attitude to gays | The next Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, was warned yesterday that well over a quarter of the clergy, including a number of senior bishops, are deeply concerned about his liberal views on homosexuality (The Daily Telegraph, London)

Sexual ethics:

Politics and law:

Books:

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  • Faith marched on in horrors of war | The book, Faith Under Fire, recounts the Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox experiences of men on the front lines during World War 2 (The Washington Times)

  • Back to basics | Colleen Carroll's The New Faithful combines first-hand reporting with social-science metrics to examine a remarkable trend toward religious orthodoxy among Americans born roughly between 1960 and 1983 (The Wall Street Journal)

  • All in our heads | According to the blank slate theory of human nature, we don't have any. (The Washington Post)

  • Also: 'The Blank Slate': The evolutionary war | Steven Pinker sees human nature as largely inscribed by indelible genes (The New York Times)

  • Feeling their pain | Why do so many otherwise kindly Christians and compassionate conservatives not only tolerate the widespread abuse of farm, lab and game animals but also routinely label those who attempt to defend and protect these animals as dangerous, misguided radicals, dismissing every argument for mercy? (The Washington Post)

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