Education

Man who believes the earth is 6,000 years-old is helping to revise Arizona’s education standards on evolution

Thanks to Arizona’s Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas, a committee tasked with revising the state’s science curriculum standards on evolution now has as one of its members a man who takes the bible literally when it comes to how life on  earth was formed.

As the Phoenix New Times points out, Joseph Kezele is the president of the Arizona Origin Science Association, an organization that promotes young earth creationism — a worldview that looks to the bible as a historical and scientific record. Now, just in time for the final review on teaching standards regarding the theory of evolution in Arizona public schools, Kezele was appointed to an eight-member panel tasked with doing the job.

Kezele, who also teaches biology at Arizona Christian University, thinks that evolution is a false theory and advocates for teaching his version of science in public schools.

“I’m not saying to put the Bible into the classroom, although the real science will confirm the Bible,” Kezele told the Phoenix New Times. “Students can draw their own conclusions when they see what the real science actually shows.”

Among the many claims he says is supported by scientific evidence is his notion that the earth is only about 6,000 years-old and that dinosaurs were among the animals housed on Noah’s Ark.

According to Arizona Department of Education spokesperson Stefan Swiat, Kezele was selected “to include a broad collection of contributors from the scientific community.”

“Both the working group, as well as the head of ADE’s science standards, were completely unaware that Dr. Kezele was a creationist,” Swiat told the Phoenix New Times in an email. Swiat also said that Kezele’s “personal creationist beliefs” were not included in his work with the panel.

Nevertheless, Kezele’s beliefs apparently did have an influence on the panel’s review.

From the Phoenix New Times:

Kezele successfully convinced other members to de-emphasize evolution in at least one instance.

The committee signed off on changing a reference to evolution as “the explanation” for the unity and diversity of all living and extinct organisms to “an” explanation.

Another committee member, University of Arizona Associate Professor William Roth, said that the panelists didn’t want to hold up the process for that detail, even though it is misleading to imply that there is an alternative explanation to life on Earth.

“In the context of science, evolution is the explanation,” Roth said.

Although Kezele’s views may be on the fringe in a general sense, bible literalism in regards to the origins of life on earth are common in evangelical Christian circles. One of the most prominent promoters of this form of pseudoscience is Ken Ham, who founded the organization Answers in Genesis and who spearheaded the development of the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter theme park in Kentucky. Like Kezele, Ham is devoted to making sure his worldview is taught in public schools and has even characterized established science as “intellectual child abuse.”

Unfortunately, Ham has help in his mission to convolute people’s understanding of evolution and Superintendent Douglas is no exception. Douglas’s education department has been seeking to undermine evolution in the state’s science standards for some time. Writing for AZCentral, Laurie Roberts says Douglas is committed to bringing “a little Sunday school into science class.”

This spring she took a red pen to the proposed new science standards, striking or qualifying the word “evolution” wherever it occurred.

This, after calling for creationism to be taught along with evolution during a candidate forum last November.

“Should the theory of intelligent design be taught along with the theory of evolution? Absolutely,” Douglas said at the time. “I had a discussion with my staff, because we’re currently working on science standards, to make sure this issue was addressed in the standards we’re working on.”

According to Kazele, students should be able to judge for themselves whether creationist theories or the theory of evolution “actually is consistent with the real scientific evidence that we have,” adding that students can then “do some thinking and see which one holds up.”

“In general, that’s what education should be, not just indoctrination,” he said.

Considering that indoctrination is the only vehicle that allows his backward ideas to take hold, Kazele shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a panel that influences how young and impressionable minds are educated.

[The title of this article has been updated]

Featured image via screen grab/YouTube

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