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Wednesday, August 11, 1999 Published at 20:52 GMT 21:52 UK

World: Americas

Kansas rejects theory of evolution

Opponents of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution have scored a victory in the United States after the board of education in Kansas voted to drop evolution as a subject in the science curriculum.

The State School Board approved by six votes to four a new curriculum that eliminates the teaching of evolution.

The BBC's Paul Reynolds: Success for the creationists
It offered a compromise instead, endorsing the theory of micro-evolution - which explains changes within a species - but rejecting evolution as a way of explaining the origin of species.

The decision is being seen as a victory for the supporters of creationism who believe the world came into being more or less as described in the Bible and who refuse to accept Darwin's teaching as scientific fact.

'Bunch of hicks'

Evolutionists gave a hostile reaction to the decision, saying that it would diminish the credibility of the Kansas curriculum.

[ image: Creationists refuse to accept Charles Darwin's theories]
Creationists refuse to accept Charles Darwin's theories
The heads of all six state universities had earlier written to the board chairwoman, saying the proposal would set Kansas back a century.

Charlie Pierce, who has taught biology at Hutchinson High School for 18 years, said before the vote: "We're going back to the 1880s. It does make us look to the people in the rest of the country that we're a bunch of hicks."

But creationists argue that the theory of evolution is not proven and that to tell students that it is a science is a deception.

Evolution off the timetable

Kansas is one of a handful of states - including Arizona, Alabama, Illinois, New Mexico, Texas and Nebraska - where school boards have attempted in recent years to take evolution out of state science curricula or reduce the emphasis on evolutionary concepts.

The debate began soon after Darwin produced his theory of natural selection and evolution famous in the 19th Century.

It culminated in the US in the so-called Monkey Trial in Tennessee in 1925 in which biology teacher John T Scopes went on trial for breaking a state law banning the teaching of evolution.

He was convicted and fined $100, but the verdict was later reversed on a technicality. The law was not repealed until 1967.

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