I recently watched “Expelled“. It is a documentary about the theory of “Intelligent Design.” It attempts to make the argument for why Intelligent Design should be taught in public schools along side Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. It was produced by and starred Ben Stein, a well known speech writer, political commentator and bit actor of “Ferris Bueller’” fame. He is a very outspoken critic of Darwinism and a proponent of teaching Intelligent Design in public schools. I finished the documentary with the exact same opinion as when I started.
When I was growing up, if someone has asked me what I thought of “Intelligent Design” I would have asked if that was a Maytag Dishwasher innovation. It was just not a hot topic in Northeast public high schools of the 70′s. We were strictly of the Darwinian mindset.
In Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District (2005), a United States federal court ruled that a public school district requirement for science classes to teach Intelligent Design as an alternative to evolution was a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The court ruled that intelligent design is not science and is essentially religious in nature.
As we all know or should know, Intelligent Design is the concept that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. The proponents of Intelligent Design believe has the force of scientific theory that stands on equal footing with, or is superior to, current scientific theories regarding the evolution and origin of life. Proponents hold that living organisms are so complex they must have been created by a higher force rather than evolving from more primitive forms.
Which ever side of the fence you are on, there is no disputing that it is an emotionally charged issue with big time support on both sides. In 2005, former President George W. Bush voiced his support for the teaching of intelligent design in public schools during a roundtable interview with 5 Texas newspapers. Bush stated:
“I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought,”
Notwithstanding the former President’s views, it is risky business for a public school teacher to even mention creationism.
In 2007, Texas Science Education Curriculum director Chris Comer used her work email account circulate an email announcing a speech by Barbara Forrest, co-author of Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design and an expert witness in Kitzmiller v. Dover case. Shortly after the email was circulated to some colleagues and online groups. Within hours of the email being sent she was called on the carpet and forced to resign in lieu of termination for insubordination.
In August of 2007, The Texas State Board of Education came out firmly against the teaching of Intelligent Design. According to an article in The Dallas Morning News, interviews with 11 of the 15 board members found little support for the teaching of the theory in biology or other science classes.
Intelligent Design and variations of it do have support in some parts of the country. In light of the Kitmiller decision, school districts have been trying their own end runs by taking steps to “unofficially” encourage students to question Darwinism rather than make it an official part of the curriculum.
The Cobb County School District in Georgia attempted this tactic by placing disclaimer stickers on science books. The stickers described evolution as “theory, not a fact,” and said students should consider the subject with an open mind Several parents and the ACLU sued the school district to have the stickers removed. A federal court ruled that the stickers were unconstitutional. It ruled in January 2005 that the stickers represented an attempt by the board to advance religion in the classroom. The stickers have been removed.
In 2005 The Kansas Board of Education became the first public school entity to sanction the teaching of it along side Darwinism.
The Louisiana House of Representatives passed a the “Academic Freedom Bill” that singles out evolution and other theories or fields of science and implies that they are controversial. The Louisiana state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted a policy that gives teachers the ability to use materials outside of the regular curriculum to teach “controversial” scientific theories including evolution, origins of life, and global warming. Backers of the policy state that it is intended to foster critical thinking in students. Opponents insist its only purpose is to provide a loophole for creationists to attack the teaching of evolution.
Should Intelligent Design be taught hand and hand with the theory of evolution letting the students make come to their own conclusions? Is it just a clever way of doing an end run around the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?
While the theory of evolution admittedly has linear gaps, Intelligent Design has no credible basis in scientific theory to justify being taught as accepted social or science fact in public high schools. Unlike the theory of evolution there is simply too much room for manipulation based on personal religious beliefs in violation of the Establishment Clause Of The 1st Amendment. That is my side of the fence.
It appears that over 80 years after Scopes trial, the monkey is still king of the jungle for now.
What side of the fence are you on?
©2009 Brian Cuban