A Win for Science
Intelligent Design to be Taught in Dover Pennsylvania
The obstructionist . . . er, I mean, the supporters of Darwinian evolution failed in their effort to keep criticism of Darwinism from being taught in the schools in Dover Pennsylvania. According to the York Daily Record, in an article entitled "'Intelligent Design' Voted In":
The Dover Area School Board voted to add "Intelligent Design Theory" to the district's biology curriculum Monday evening just two weeks after Supt. Richard Nilsen assured former board member Lonnie Langione that wouldn't happen. The change passed by a six-to-three margin after a heated discussion by the board and a dozen members of the community.
During the Oct. 4 board meeting, Langione asked Nilsen if teachers would be required to teach "intelligent design," after he allowed 50 copies of the book "Of Pandas and People," published by the Foundation for Thought and Ethics, to be used in science classrooms as reference books.
"No," replied Nilsen at the time. "A teacher can, but is not required."
But during Monday's meeting, district biology teacher Jen Miller said the new curriculum wording implies that she will be required to teach "intelligent design."
The new wording in the curriculum states: "Students will be made aware of gaps/problems in Darwin's Theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to, intelligent design. Note: Origins of life will not be taught."
Personally, I think that this is a good thing. I don't agree with those who argue for an evolution-only curriculum because it prejudges that the only possible, viable, scientific theory it the theory of evolution. Certainly, the problems with evolution have been made known, and while supporters of evolution-only curriculums have tried to counter these arguments, they certainly appear to be losing ground in winning the hearts and minds of the public on this issue. The biggest problem for the evolution-only crowd is that they misjudge the reasons that people are rejecting evolution.
You see, they believe that the reason that the American public is rejecting evolution is because the American public is a bunch of dumb, uneducated schmucks. They think that if the American public just had a firmer grasp of science, they would see how incontrovertible evolution is. One problem with this view is that it doesn't explain why many educated scientists aren't buying the evolutionary model. I'm sorry, but I don't find it credible that all of the scientists who doubt Darwinism (and I certainly acknowledge that they are in the minority) do so because they are trying to sell books by telling the uneducated public what they want to hear. No, there are legitimate questions that have been raised to Darwinian evolution, and it is my opinion that most Americans believe that these questions should be aired and debated in the marketplace of ideas. And this is where the evolutionists shoot themselves.
The average American looks at the school system and believes (rightly) that it ought to be about education. It ought to be about teaching truth to the kids. If we start by teaching our kids something as fact when we know that it isn't fact (or know that there exist alternative theories which equally explain the fact) then we are not educating but indoctrinating. The argument made by those who support the evolution-only curriculum smells like indoctrination because it tries to exclude from the public education system a scientific theory (and yes, it is a scientific theory) that competes with the generally accepted scientific theory. This strikes people as wrong in light of our nation's commitment to the "marketplace of ideas."
But, of course, this puts the evolution-only crowd into a box. If they continue to argue that only evolution should be taught in public schools, they will continue to look like obstructionists and indoctrinators. If they cave in (as they should) and stop insisting that evolution is the only thing that should be taught, then they don't get what they want, i.e., a classroom free of ideas that compete with the generally accepted model of evolution. It appears to be a Hobson's Choice for them. Good luck.
By the way, I personally don't agree with the Dover School Board's wording in the curriculum. Recall that the language reads: "Students will be made aware of gaps/problems in Darwin's Theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to, intelligent design. Note: Origins of life will not be taught." Since at least 1982, I have been arguing not that theories other than evolution be taught because my personal experience is that biology teachers may have serious difficulties teaching theories that they don't accept without belittling them. (In my own college level biology course, the teacher taught the idea of "scientific creationism" in such a negative and belittling manner that I came away with a belief that I had not been given a fair presentation of the theory.) Instead, it is my belief that the teachers should simply be required to stress the idea of evolution as a theory or model, and teach some of the problems with evolution in addition to the evidence supporting it. If that were how schools proceeded, I certainly would have no problem (but I suspect that many others would disagree with me that such an answer does not go far enough--que sera sera).