Skip to comments.'Intelligent design' theory threatens science classrooms
Posted on 06/22/2003 5:29:39 PM PDT by Aric2000
In Cobb County, Ga., controversy erupted this spring when school board officials decided to affix "disclaimer stickers" to science textbooks, alerting students that "evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things."
The stickers were the Cobb County District School Board's response to intelligent design theory, which holds that the complexity of DNA and the diversity of life forms on our planet and beyond can be explained only by an extra-natural intelligent agent. The ID movement -- reminiscent of creationism but more nuanced and harder to label -- has been quietly gaining momentum in a number of states for several years, especially Georgia and Ohio.
Stickers on textbooks are only the latest evidence of the ID movement's successes to date, though Cobb County officials did soften their position somewhat in September following a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. In a subsequent policy statement, officials said the biological theory of evolution is a "disputed view" that must be "balanced" in the classroom, taking into account other, religious teachings.
Surely, few would begrudge ID advocates their views or the right to discuss the concept as part of religious studies. At issue, rather, is whether ID theory, so far unproven by scientific facts, should be served to students on the same platter with the well-supported theory of evolution.
How the Cobb County episode will affect science students remains uncertain since, as the National Center for Science Education noted, the amended policy statement included "mixed signals."
But it's clear that the ID movement is quickly emerging as one of the more significant threats to U.S. science education, fueled by a sophisticated marketing campaign based on a three-pronged penetration of the scientific community, educators and the general public.
In Ohio, the state's education board on Oct. 14 passed a unanimous though preliminary vote to keep ID theory out of the state's science classrooms. But the board's ruling left the door open for local school districts to present ID theory together with science and suggested that scientists should "continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory."
In fact, even while the state-level debate continued, the Patrick Henry Local School District, based in Columbus, passed a motion this June to support "the idea of intelligent design being included as appropriate in classroom discussions in addition to other scientific theories."
Undaunted by tens of thousands of e-mails it has already received on the topic, the state's education board is now gamely inviting further public comment through November. In December, Ohio's Board of Education will vote to conclusively determine whether alternatives to evolution should be included in new guidelines that spell out what students need to know about science at different grade levels.
Meanwhile, ID theorists reportedly have been active in Missouri, Kansas, New Mexico, New Jersey and other states as well as Ohio and Georgia.
What do scientists think of all this? We have great problems with the claim that ID is a scientific theory or a science-based alternative to evolutionary theory. We don't question its religious or philosophical underpinnings. That's not our business. But there is no scientific evidence underlying ID theory.
No relevant research has been done; no papers have been published in scientific journals. Because it has no science base, we believe that ID theory should be excluded from science curricula in schools.
In fact, the Board of Directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the largest general scientific society in the world, passed a resolution this month urging policy-makers to keep intelligent design theory out of U.S. science classrooms.
Noting that the United States has promised to "leave no child behind," the AAAS Board found that intelligent design theory -- if presented within science courses as factually based -- is likely to confuse American schoolchildren and undermine the integrity of U.S. science education. At a time when standards-based learning and performance assessments are paramount, children would be better served by keeping scientific information separate from religious concepts.
Certainly, American society supports and encourages a broad range of viewpoints and the scientific community is no exception. While this diversity enriches the educational experience for students, science and conceptual belief systems should not be co-mingled, as ID proponents have repeatedly proposed.
The ID argument that random mutations in nature and natural selection, for example, are too complex for scientific explanation is an interesting -- and for some, highly compelling -- philosophical or theological concept. Unfortunately, it's being put forth as a scientifically based alternative to the theory of biological evolution, and it isn't based on science. In sum, there's no data to back it up, and no way of scientifically testing the validity of the ideas proposed by ID advocates.
The quality of U.S. science education is at stake here. We live in an era when science and technology are central to every issue facing our society -- individual and national security, health care, economic prosperity, employment opportunities.
Children who lack an appropriate grounding in science and mathematics, and who can't discriminate what is and isn't evidence, are doomed to lag behind their well-educated counterparts. America's science classrooms are certainly no place to mix church and state.
Alan I. Leshner is CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and executive publisher of the journal Science; www.aaas.org
Oh well, Scientists agree with ME, ID is NOT science.
So is Gravity, Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Chaos, ....
Nice of them to tell scientists how to do their jobs.
No problem. Just get your alternatives through peer review before mandating that they be taught in class. We have to have some standards for education, you know.
Relativity is theory, chaos theory is well, theory. Quantum mechnics . . .is largely theory.
Evolution is very much theory.
Unfortunately evolution doesn't even qualify as a true science.
A definition of science given by the Oxford Dictionary is:
"A branch of study which is concerned either with a connected body of demonstrated truths or with observed facts systematically classified and more or less colligated by being brought under general laws, and which includes trustworthy methods for the discovery of new truths within its own domain."
Evolution fails to meet the criteria of being a true science.
Evolution has never been observed by anyone... and evolutionist themselves admit no transitional forms have been observed in the fossil record.
Evolution has never been demonstrated in a laboratory.
Though it is rather funny that all these supposedly "highly educated" men would spend so much time trying to cause something to "evolve" and create even the most basic form of life..JUST to prove to us that it *took no higher intelligence to create life.
This equal time argument is a joke. Unless you propose that we give equal time to flat earthers every time a math class discusses the circumfrence of the globe.
If somebody proposed that the universe is chaotic, and eratic because God does exist, he just isn't a very talented designer, but he is a semi competent nincompoop, would you like that to be given "equal time" in schools?
You are a literalist christian. Bully for you. Until God allows himself to be proven scientifically, you can discuss him at church, at home, with friends, but not as the teacher of a science course at a public school.
Which "Gravity" would that be?
Classical Newtonian Gravity (with its known errors at all extremes)?
General Theory of Relativity Gravity, (with its problems in the subatomic area)?
Quantum Gravity, (with its inaplicability to the macro world)?
"We are now about 120 years after Darwin and the knowledge of the fossil record has been greatly expanded. We now have a quarter of a million fossil species but the situation hasn't changed much -- ironically, we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transition than we had in Darwin's time. By this I mean that some of the classic cases of Darwinian change in the fossil record such as the evolution of the horse in North America, have had to be discarded or modified as a result of more detailed information." (Field Museum of Natural History Bulletin, 50:22-29)
Lincoln Journal Star [Nebraska]
January 24, 2003
When Charles Darwin published his theory of evolution in 1859, most scientists were skeptical and said the theory lacked sufficient evidence.
Now, nearly 150 years later, the vast majority of scientists accept evolution as the best explanation for life's diversity.
Nevertheless, a small contingent of scientists is pushing for an alternative. They call it "intelligent design." And just as the early evolutionists, their theory has met with widespread skepticism.
On Sunday, Paul Nelson, a philosopher of science from the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and a leading proponent of intelligent design, appeared in a debate sponsored by the Center for the Advancement of Rational Solutions.
His opponent was Massimo Pigliucci, an evolutionary biologist from the University of Tennessee. More than 150 people braved snowy streets to attend the event in the sanctuary of Saint Paul United Methodist Church, 1144 M St.
Unlike religious creationists, scientists who theorize about intelligent design do not use the Bible or faith-based arguments to support their case. Instead, they try to show that intelligent design offers the best explanation of the empirical evidence,Nelson said.
He noted the complex protein molecules in intestinal bacteria and the wide difference in structures of various sea creatures as examples of phenomena he believes could better be explained as the result of intelligent design than evolution.
By refusing to consider evidence for intelligent design, scientists are limiting their knowledge, Nelson said. "Even if I were an atheist but a curious human being I would want that tool in my arsenal."
Pigliucci argued that the concept of intelligent design "is founded on an argument from ignorance." Proponents of the theory say, "I cannot explain x, therefore x must have been intelligently designed," he said.
He noted that scientists were not opposed to considering intelligent design, for example, when seeking evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence by monitoring radio signals from outer space. But scientists reject "supernatural" explanations based on intelligence that has no natural explanation, he said.
The theory of evolution is not intended to explain the origin of life or how the entire universe came to exist, Pigliucci said. Instead, it confines itself to the development of living organisms.
"We don't know how life originated," he said. "The only conclusion I can draw from that is that we don't know."
After nearly an hour of debate, the two took questions from the audience. One former biology teacher said he could see no evidence that different species of plants and animals were the result of evolution.
Nelson said he disagreed with those who pressure schools to teach intelligent design alongside the theory of evolution. Once the theory gains acceptance by scientists, he said, it will be taught.
One questioner said 90 percent of parents wanted creationism taught in schools, yet "evolutionary atheists," who make up about 5 percent of the U.S. population, have a "stranglehold on public education."
In response Pigliucci noted that very few people were brain surgeons, yet would trust one if they needed surgery. He added that as "a professional evolutionary biologist" he is qualified to teach the subject.
Asked how much he knew about religion, Pigliucci replied, "Nothing. That's why I'm not teaching it."
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Discovery Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan, public policy think tank headquartered in Seattle dealing with national and international affairs. The Institute is dedicated to exploring and promoting public policies that advance representative democracy, free enterprise and individual liberty. For more information visit Discovery's website at http://www.discovery.org.
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The evolutionist George Gaylord Simpson has conceded, that the gaps are a universal phenomenon: "...every paleontologist knows, that most new species, genera, and families, and that nearly all categories above the level of families appear in the record suddenly and are not led up to by known, gradual, completely continuous transitional sequences." (Major Features of Evolution, 1953 p. 360)
"In any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors; it appears all at once and fully formed." (Natural History, 86:12-16)
This, of course, is exactly what creationists would expect to find.
"That the Earth is round is a theory, not a fact,
you might equally believe that the Earth is flat"
Evolutionist Steven M. Stanley concluded that: "The known fossil record fails to document a single example of phyletic evolution accomplishing a major morphologic transition." (Macroevolution: Pattern and Process, 1979 p. 39)
As a parent I am disgusted that the science of alchemy has been forced out of schools by chemisty weilding terrorists and that hedonistic perverts desire to keep the truth about human reproduction from youth!
Without the stork humans would go extinct!
Exactly. It doesn't qualify as a real science.
As an ex-evolutionist I can tell you that as far as I'm concerned evolution is one of the dumbest theories I have ever believed...an absurd hoax.
The human body can be studied factually and healed through an application of that factual study. How we came to be humans is either a matter of theory or faith, or both.
"Intelligent deisgn" is probably no more or less fanciful a theory than is the theory of evolution.
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