Question: Should U.S. schools teach “intelligent design”?
YES – Intelligent Design: What We’re Really Banning
By: Nathan Tabor
The verdict is in: it is now “unconstitutional” to teach Intelligent Design as an alternative to Darwin’s theory of evolution in a Pennsylvania public school classroom. It cannot even be discussed by students or faculty.
In Darwin’s theory, the only constitutionally acceptable explanation for our existence, there are gaps that aren’t explained. Darwin admitted that he did not understand the origin of life’s complexity. He merely studied the process of change that has occurred within the species, noting how we have “evolved”. Without disputing the theory, there is still no evidence of how or why changes have taken place other than the speculation of “natural selection”.
Intelligent design does not negate Darwin’s findings, though those against its teaching would prefer to assert it does. Intelligent design does not name a creator, does not promote any specific religion, nor impose a forced set of religious beliefs. It is not, nor has it ever been, Creationism.
Intelligent Design is very simple. It speaks to the possibility of an unknown force controlling the development of life. For some, that may be a God, for others, something else.
Let’s put ideology and politics aside. Simply stated, one side of an issue is effectively silencing another. We aren’t banning religious teachings, rather we are banning free thought and discussion, a chance for our children to see two sides and two theories and come to their own conclusions. The opinions of Michael J. Behe and Kenneth R. Miller, scholars who write from both sides of this issue, will be disregarded. Our students will never understand the concepts of “irreducibly complex” and “successive modification” and how that applies to biology.
Do you know what we lose? A potential great scientific mind is hearing only one half of the story, raising her hand to ask a question in a Pennsylvania classroom, only to have her teacher state that the topic “can’t be discussed”. Where is education in that? And what of the huge price this recent court decision has on society?
We are also losing our democratic beliefs and replacing them with liberal socialism. Liberals don’t want a fair argument – they only want to present one side of an issue, creating a “fact” by default.
My condolences to the students who will suffer from this ruling. Now is the time to speak out against the banning of free thought and discussion in our public schools. When our government starts telling us how we can learn and think, government has gone too far.
NO – Intelligent Design: A Dangerous Distraction
By Alan I. Leshner
The controversy over teaching Intelligent Design in public school science classrooms is often cast as a clash between science and religion, between Darwin and God. But this view is simplistic and distracts us from a deeper risk: If we undermine the integrity of science education, we jeopardize our nation’s long-term economic strength.
Science is a method of understanding the natural world. It’s a problem-solving process requiring an open mind and the rule of evidence. Evidence is gathered, tested and challenged, and if it bears out, new discoveries translate into treatments for illness, disease-resistant crops and safer motor vehicles. It’s understandable, then, that scientists and science educators have been troubled to watch ID advocates trample evidence and manipulate facts.
Advocates see “gaps” in evolution science. But there are gaps in our understanding of cancer, the climate and distant galaxies, too. Not long ago, our ancestors thought the Earth was flat. It’s the job of science to fill those knowledge gaps.
They say that evolution is unproven and scientists are divided. In fact, evolution is supported by extensive evidence, from ancient fossils to living DNA. Every mainstream scientific society in the world accepts it.
For most people, science and religion are not in opposition. Many scientists are religious, and religious leaders from many faiths see no conflict. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), America’s largest general science society, says fact and faith can happily co-exist – just not in science classrooms, lest we confuse tomorrow’s innovators about what is and isn’t science.
Advocates say ID is not about religion. Yet their 1999 “Wedge Document” pledged to promote “a science consonant with Christian … convictions.”
U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III, a Republican, saw through the spin. In a devastating ruling against the former school board in Dover, Penn., he concluded that ID cannot be taught as science. Today, his decision creates an opportunity to focus on more urgent issues together.
Science and technology have accounted for up to 50 percent of U.S. economic growth over the past several decades; clearly, continued research is crucial to our future. But while India and China are graduating an increasingly well-educated technical workforce, interest among our students is declining.
Science classrooms are where we cultivate a spirit of discovery that benefits millions of people worldwide. The challenge is not to bring religion into those classrooms, but to teach science better than ever, with new imagination and energy.