Creation, Evolution and the First Amendment

National authorities to explore "Creation, Evolution and The First Amendment" in special roundtable discussion

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In August 1999, the Kansas State Board of Education adopted a new set of science standards that de-emphasized the teaching of evolution in Kansas public schools.

The constitutional issues related to this decision will be explored by a panel of nationally recognized authorities during a special roundtable discussion, "Creation, Evolution and the First Amendment," set for 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 4 in White Concert Hall on the Washburn University campus. This presentation will be unique in that equal representation will be afforded to all perspectives, with panelists being drawn from the disciplines of science, philosophy and law. Also participating will be two members of the Kansas Board of Education.

Participants will be:

The event will conclude with a question and answer period. Members of the audience will have the opportunity to submit questions.

Serving as moderator will be Topeka attorney Pedro Irigonegaray. The Honorable Harold Herd, Justice Kansas Supreme Court, retired, and presently professor at the Washburn University School of Law, will provide historical perspective of the First Amendment and analyze issues presented regarding the separation of church and state.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. No admission will be charged, but a ticket is required for admission. Seating will be first come, first served; therefore, ticket holders will not be guaranteed a seat. Latecomers will not be admitted. Persons leaving the auditorium any time during the event will not be readmitted.

Tickets may be obtained from Facts and Snacks in the Washburn University Memorial Union. Limit four tickets per person.

Security will be present. All persons entering the building will be screened by a metal detector. No cameras, recording devices, cellular telephones or other electronic devices will be allowed in White Concert Hall.

For more information regarding the event, call the Washburn office of informational services, (785) 231-1010, ext. 1154 or visit the event website at

Biographical Data

Steve Abrams
Steve Abrams has represented south central Kansas on the State Board of Education since 1995. Previously, he served four years on the local school board in his native Arkansas City. He represents the State Board of Education in its joint meetings with the Board of Regents.  A graduate of Kansas State University, he owns a veterinary practice in Arkansas City. He is past president of the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

David K. DeWolf
David K. DeWolf received his juris doctorate from Yale Law School.  A professor at Gonzaga University Law School, Spokane, Wash., he has co-authored a number of books on legal matters, including Washington Tort Law and Practice and Washington Contract Law and Practices, as well as several technical and popular articles inpublications, such as National Review and The Wall Street Journal.  DeWolf has done much research on the constitutional issues surrounding the teaching of origins in public schools and recently completed a law review article and a guidebook on the subject.

Stephen C. Meyer
Stephen C. Meyer received his doctorate in the history and philosophy of science from the University of Cambridge in 1991.  He is currently director of the Center for Renewal of Science and Culture at Discovery Institute and an associate professor of philosophy at Whitworth College. Meyer has contributed articles to several scholarly books and anthologies including The History of Science and Religion in the Western Tradition:  An Encyclopedia, Darwinism:  Science or Philosophy, Of Pandas andPeople: The Central Question of Biological Origins, The Creation Hypothesis: Scientific Evidence for an Intelligent Designer and Facets of Faith and Science: Interpreting God's Action in the World. He is currently working on a book formulating a scientific theory of biological design, which looks specifically at the evidence for design in the encoded information in DNA.

Timothy Miller
Timothy Miller is a professor of religious studies at the University of Kansas.  He received a doctorate in American studies from The University of Kansas and in 1991 received research honors from RQ and Choice for his book American Communes,1860-1960.  Other books published by Miller include The Hippies and American Values, Following in His Steps:  A Biography of Charles M. Sheldon and The Quest for Utopia in Twentieth-Century America.  He serves as a member of the steering committees of the new religious movements group and the consultation of millennial studies of the American Academy of Religion.

Robert M. O'Neil
Robert M. O'Neil, director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression at the University of Virginia and an authority on the First Amendment, teaches constitutional and commercial law.  After earning a law degree from Harvard, O'Neil clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr. before beginning his law faculty career, holding posts at the University of Cincinnati, Indiana University and University of Wisconsin.  He is president of the Virginia Council for Open Government, chairman of the Council for America's First Freedom, director of the Commonwealth Fund and the James River Corporation and chair of the American Association of University Professors Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure.

John R. Staver
John R Staver is professor of education (science) and director of the Center for Science Education at Kansas State University.  Presently, his research and scholarship focuses on constructivist epistemology and its implications for improving science teaching and learning. He has also conducted extensive research on the development and construct validation of group-administered tests on Piaget's formal schema, the effects of methods and formats of Piagetian task presentation on responses and the influence of reasoning on learning in science.  He recently completed a five-year term as executive secretary of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching and is president-elect of the Association for the Education of Teachers in Science.  In 1994 Staver was elected a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his work in behalf of a national reform agenda in science education.  He earned a doctorate at Indiana University.

Bill Wagnon
Bill Wagnon is both a member of the Kansas State Board of Education and a professor of history at Washburn University, where he also directs the university's Center for Kansas Studies.  Elected to the state board in 1996, Wagnon has been primarily interested in strengthening the state's school improvement system and bolstering public confidence in its public schools. He has been a champion of fostering school leadership skills and expanding resources for both early childhood development and professional development for teachers. Wagnon also coordinates the Shawnee County Historical Society's Historic Ritchie House preservation and interpretation project.  He holds a doctorate in history from the University of Missouri-Columbia

Jonathan Wells
Jonathan Wells has received two doctorates, one in molecular and cell biology from the University of California at Berkeley, and one in religious studies from Yale University.  He has done extensive work as a postdoctoral research biologist at the University of California at Berkeley, and has taught biology at California State University, Hayward.  Wells has published articles in both scientific and religious journals including Development, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, BioSystems, American Presbyterians and Patristic and Byzantine Review.  He is also author of Charles Hodge's Critique of Darwinism.  He is currently completing a book, The End of the Genetic Paradigm, with Berkeley professor Richard Strohman. Wells' work in developmental biology poses a serious challenge to the neo-Darwinian ideas that random mutations can create new body plans and organisms.

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