Vol. 3, Issue 20, September 13, 2005
Kansas School Board Considers Teaching that World Created in 1997
A group of self-described "Ultra-Creationists" has formally petitioned the Kansas Board of Education to teach its own version of "intelligent design" in classrooms. Ultra-Creationists believe the world was created in 1997.
"We applaud the very rational and fair-minded decision by the Kansas Board of Education to consider alternative theories of how the world came to be," said Terrence Foster, a spokesperson for the group. "The next step, of course, is to move away from the well-intentioned but demonstrably flawed doctrines of intelligent design that have been proposed as the primary alternative to evolution."
The Kansas Board of Education recently approved a draft of academic standards which essentially cemented a victory for conservative Christian board members who say evolution is largely unproven and can undermine religious teachings about the origins of life on earth. Various board members have gone on record in support of creationism, but none, apparently, had heard of the Ultra-Creationist movement.
"It does concern me that, next to this new group, I seem to be some kind of liberal," said one anonymous board member. "That just won't do. If I have to move farther to the right, I guess I will. I didn't know there was any further to go though."
Ultra-Creationism began when pastor Jack Kellogg read the front matter of a New American Standard Bible a few years ago.
"There it was inside the front cover, plain as day: "1997 edition," it said. How much clearer does the Lord need to be?"
Among the "factoids" offered on the group's website is the assertion that dinosaur fossils were all created as a publicity stunt tied in to the release of Jurassic Park II. Most other pre-1997 events are written off as fiction devised by the Devil and/or Aaron Spelling.
"This group's approach is unique, I'll give them that," said Kent Parsons, a faculty member in the Harvard Divinity School. "And the idea that the sitcoms of the early 1990s never actually happened is strangely compelling. However, it must also be observed that the 1997 date rather conveniently absolves Pastor Kellogg from certain unfortunate tax issues from 1996 on back."
Kellogg was one of many religious leaders who foretold the end of the world on January 1, 2000; like many others, he wrote off the world's continued existence to "calendar errors" which had arisen since the creation of the world 3 years previously.
Although Kellogg's sect is virtually unknown, it has obtained a surprising degree of support from Kansas education officials, faced with requests to offer equal consideration to competing creation accounts in the classroom.
"At least this guy still uses the Bible," said Kansas Board member John Bacon, speaking anonymously and off the record. "You should see some of these other proposals we're getting: ridiculous ideas about flying spaghetti monsters and Hinduism and other made-up stuff. I mean, we do want to stick to the facts after all. And do we really need to remember anything that happened before 1997 other than what's in the Bible?"