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The Lie: Evolution

Evolution Revolution Prequel

Evolution Resolution Prequel

By Karl Priest September 21, 2009 (revised 1-24-2015)

In 1999 a series of battles over the state mandated indoctrination of the basis of atheism (i.e. evolutionism) began in West Virginia’s largest school system—Kanawha County (KCS). At the time I was unaware of all the history of Creation Science in the system. Thanks to former Board of Education member, Mrs. Alice Moore, I obtained documents that provided the information for this article.

In 2009, Mrs. Moore contacted me regarding the 35th anniversary of the Kanawha County Textbook War. A short time later I received the material which consisted of newspaper clippings, personal notes made by Mrs. Moore, BOE memos and correspondence, and a booklet printed by the Creation Science Research center of San Diego, CA.

After substituting in the spring of 1972, I began my first year of teaching in Kanawha County for the 1972-1973 school year. I left after the 1974-1975 year and returned in the fall of 1978 and stayed until retiring in 2005. (I substituted for a year and a half after that).

To the best of my recollection I discovered (or received) a set of Creation Science books in my second classroom (1973-1974). The title was “Worlds without End (The Origin and Structure of the Universe)”. That was my introduction to Creation Science and opened my eyes to the fact that there was no need for compromise using concepts such as the Gap Theory which I held at the time. At the time, I had no idea of the story behind how those books made it into a public school classroom. Now I know the “rest of the story”.

Page 8-A of the February 9, 1973 Charleston Daily Mail had the headline “Mrs. Alice Moore promotes creation in schools”. The article reported on a lengthy discussion at the previous night’s BOE meeting. Mrs. Moore argued that it is discriminatory to teach only one theory. She stressed that her position was based upon science—not religion. The Board agreed to have the staff study her materials and make a report at the next meeting.

On February 20, 1973 (under the KCS letter head) a school system administrator, Llewellyn Cole, addresses a memo to school superintendent Dr. Kenneth Underwood and high level administrator Mr. John Santrock. The subject was “Some additional thoughts re the Creation-Evolution discussion”. That memo contained the following (a combination of exact quotes and summarization of comments).

After some additional homework and consideration relating to the problem, may I offer these additional thoughts?
1. She tried to separate evolution and origins
2. She used standard evolution smoke-and-mirrors over the meaning of “change”
3. She reminded them that the county was currently preparing a K-12 science curriculum

Her last sentence was, “As long as we do not teach ‘a religion’ there should be no major problem.”

Dr. Underwood issued a memo (#153-72/73) to board members on March 2, 1973 under the subject “K-12 Science Program”. His first sentence read, “One of the goals of general education is to provide opportunities for students to explore the many facets of big ideas and theories included in the various subject areas of the school curriculum.” Then he stated that science teachers were preparing an up-dated K-12 Continuous Progress (That was a pie-in-the-sky boondoggle that wasted untold hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless teacher hours. Karl) science curriculum. The last line of the memo is “Within this context, it is recommended that the K-12 science program include an opportunity for students to impartially examine theories of creation and evolution from divergent points of view.”

Mrs. Moore sent a November 29, 1976 memo to Central Office administrators Bob Kittle and Eloise McElfresh reporting on the Creation Science Foundation slide series “Mountains of Ararat”, “Research for Extraterrestrial Life, “Origin of the Solar System” and “Search for Noah’s Ark”. Mrs. Moore’s review was quite objective. She correctly said that quoting the Bible as an historical document did not establish a religion. She pointed out that one series was slightly out-dated due to recent scientific space exploration. For the “Origin” series Mrs. Moore reported on the objectivity of teaching that evolutionists “reject the Genesis account while creationists find it scientifically acceptable”. Regarding the “Search for Noah’s Ark”, she pointed out that several frames “most definitely make a religious appeal to the acceptance of Christ as Savior” and she “would suggest the CSRF be requested to edit this portion …to remove all religious connotations.”

The Daily Mail (March 23, 1977, page B-1) reported that the BOE adopted science books. Mrs. Moore voted “no” “as a protest” because the publishers only provided books heavily slanted toward evolution. At the BOE meeting she was criticized by the president of the Kanawha Valley Unitarian Fellowship for encouraging a “violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution”. He claimed that evolution was accepted by a majority of scientists so that made it secular. (On page 3B of the February 2 issue the Mail reported about Dr. Gary Parker’s (creationist) presentation to the National Youth Science Camp held in West Virginia.)

Kelly L. Seagraves (of the Institute of Creation Science-ICR) contacted KCS assistant superintendent, Bob Kittle, on June 15, 1977. He wrote a cover letter to accompany a packet of material for “telecasts”* and a statement from creationist Dr. Robert E. Kofahl regarding Kofahl’s needs for a August 29 meeting. Seagraves was coming for sessions on July 18 and 19.

The new superintendent, John Santrock, and high level administrator John Lyons received a 5-page report (with 3-page supplement) on KCS letterhead from Mr. Kittle on July 19, 1977. The subject was “Implementation of the Board’s Directive Regarding the Balance of Creation and Evolution Theories”. This report referred to the March 24 BOE meeting where the Board requested the Division of Curriculum and Instruction to “pursue ways to provide in-depth directions to teachers in teaching the theory of creation and the theory of evolution.” Mr. Kittle described the plan for two Instructional Television programs on August 29 for elementary teachers to learn about the grade 1-8 Creation Science paperbacks “currently in elementary schools”. An “Introduction to Creation Theory” session was planned for all secondary science teachers. The 3-page attachment was a requested review of the County adopted science textbooks. That June 24 review described where evolution was taught in those textbooks. Kittle requested a writing committee develop a statement of the BOE’s position, a philosophy of science, and goals and objectives for teaching creation-evolution. The proposed budget to do that was $4,195. To purchase all Creation Science materials for the entire county was to cost $9,173.50.

On July 20, 1977 (p. B-1) the Daily Mail reported that, in 1973, KCS was the first system in the United States to adopt textbooks published by the Creation Science Research Center (CRSC). Mrs. Moore was quoted as stating that “Up to now the books remained mostly packed in boxes.” And “Many teachers didn’t even know they were available.” The article reported that elementary teachers were to watch two 30-minute tapes* on Channel 33 while a CRSC staff member trained secondary teachers. The in-services were mandatory. Bob Kittle said, “Equal time is the whole idea, but as far as telling teachers how to teach, we can’t do that. We can only give them the materials and let them know the Board’s position.” He planned a recommendation at the August BOE meeting on the teaching of “Both theories”.

An unsigned editorial appeared in the July 22 Daily Mail (p. 4-A) which supported the balance teaching of origins, but wanted to see more on the destination of mankind.

A KCS letterhead January 12, 1978 memo was sent to all KCS elementary and secondary principals about four graduate courses to be offered by the local graduate school. One was “The Use of Two Models, Creation and Evolution, in the Teaching of Origins” by Kelly Seagraves to be taught at Piedmont Elementary School.

On October 19, 1987 the BOE issued a directive banning the teaching of Creation Science. (This mandate was brought to my attention when the battles began in 1999.)

Twelve years later the battles began.

*The elementary teachers received a 14 page guide to the taped telecasts with this introduction: “These telecasts are to acquaint you with the teaching of creation as a scientific alternative to the theory of evolution and to demonstrate the use of the Science and Creation Series as an effective supplement to the science materials already in use in Kanawha county Schools.”

The long range goal of the first tape was to “Plan how to effectively use the discovery method in presenting the students with creation and evolution so they can intelligently make up their own minds and effectively defend their position based on the evidence presented.” There were four pages of two columns headed “Evolution” and “Creation” contrasting “design”, “change”, “fossil record”, “life”, “man”, “universe”, beginning of the world”, and “time”.

The second tape’s long range goal asked “What ideas do you have that will enable you to help the students to think for themselves and seek answers on their own? How can you use science and the concepts discussed in this telecast to prepare students for the future and for life itself?” This section included synopses of the grades 1-8 Science and Creation Series books.

I am not sure if each teacher received a complete price list of available Creation Science books which included the titles “The Creation Explanation”, “”Handy Dandy Evolution Refuter”, several film strips, and other books, film strips, and cassettes mainly for junior high through high school.


Mrs. Moore told me (October 2009) that she is searching through her files and may have additional information regarding this article.

After the article was prepared I found a Charleston Daily Mail item dated January 1, 1979 reporting that Mrs. Moore would become the president of the Board of Education. One of her priorities was for in-service sessions in training “how to teach creation as a scientific theory of man’s origin as well as evolution.” She said, "Teachers need to learn when evolutionary philosophy is being presented as theory and when as scientific fact. There’s a lot of prejudice in that area that we’ll have to overcome.”