Is intelligent design religion or science?
Intelligent Design vs Evolution in the classroom.
Teaching Evolution or Creation Debate
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The New Monkey Trial
By persuading the Dover, Pa., school board to teach creationism, Christian zealots have provoked a showdown over the status of not just evolutionary theory, but science itself. It was an ordinary springtime school board meeting in the bedroom community of Dover, Pa. The high school needed new biology textbooks, and the science department had recommended Kenneth Miller and Joseph Levine's "Biology." "It was a fantastic text," said Carol "Casey" Brown, 57, a self-described Goldwater Republican and the board's senior member. "It just followed our curriculum so beautifully."But Bill Buckingham, a new board member who'd recently become chair of the curriculum committee, had an objection. "Biology," he said, was "laced with Darwinism." He wanted a book that balanced theories of evolution with Christian creationism, and he was willing to turn his town into a cultural battlefield to get it. "This country wasn't founded on Muslim beliefs or evolution," Buckingham, a stocky, gray-haired man who wears a red, white and blue crucifix pin on his lapel, said at the meeting. "This country was founded on Christianity, and our students should be taught as such."
|State v. John Scopes The Monkey Trial|
|Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan during the trial
Photo Credit: CORBIS/Bettmann
Who would dominate American culture--the modernists or the traditionalists? Scopes Trial Journalists were looking for a showdown, and they found one in a Dayton, Tennessee courtroom in the summer of 1925. There a jury was to decide the fate of John Scopes, a high school biology teacher charged with illegally teaching the theory of evolution. The guilt or innocence of John Scopes, and even the constitutionality of Tennessee's anti-evolution statute, mattered little. The meaning of the trial emerged through its interpretation as a conflict of social and intellectual values.
Unpublished Photographs from 1925 Tennessee vs. John Scopes "Monkey Trial" in Smithsonian Archives
"Evolution | Creation Debate: A Time for Truth"
"It is a fact that the earth, with liquid water, is more than 3.6 billion years old. It is a fact that cellular life has been around for at least half of that period and that organized multicellular life is at least 800 million years old.
It is a fact that major life forms now on earth were not at all represented in the past. There were no birds or mammals 250 million years ago.
It is a fact that major life forms of the past are no longer living. There used to be dinosaurs and Pithecanthropus, and there are none now.
It is a fact that all living forms come from previous living forms. Therefore, all present forms of life arose from ancestral forms that were different. Birds arose from nonbirds and humans from nonhumans. No person who pretends to any understanding of the natural world can deny these facts any more than she or he can deny that the earth is round, rotates on its axis, and revolves around the sun."
Those who favor intelligent design want to offer it as an alternative to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, critics want to keep the idea out of biology textbooks. They say the theory is nothing more than a dressed-up version of creation science, which the U.S. Supreme Court has prohibited from public schools as a violation of the separation of church and state.
The alternative to evolution theory is not creationism or intelligent design.
But if one is to be objective one would point out that non-proven theories fall into the category of "theoretical" eg "theoretical physics"; "theoretical biology" etc. Not all disciplines have a formally separate "theoretical" branch. If the theoretical branch included philosophy, then we could point out that in philosophy, religious philosophy is compared with other ideas and concepts. Descartes' ideas are discussed in philosophy without any fear of separation of church and state. Thus for religious ideas to be discussed in biology, a separate branch of biology, being "theoretical biology" or "biological philosophy", must be considered where all unproven or contentious ideas can be evaluated together. As "intelligent design" is a religious philosophy, it does not belong in biology classes.
A scientist wishes equate valid theory with public knowledge, not belief, via education. It is religion that wishes to equate belief with public knowledge, by force if necessary. Everything in the sciences is just an assumption so everything is open to reasoned discussion.
All science does is validly compare ideas.
To be able to do this requires an exacting methodology.
Thus "quibbles over details of the philosophy of science" are more important than almost anything else.
The epistemology of science is one of the most important studies that is available because it provides the thin blue line that allows us to know the difference between a belief and a theory. I would estimate that most of us waste our minds on a needless conflict between theory and belief. Epistemology provides a way to know the difference.
The difference is enormous.
The scientists made an enormous epistemological blunder trying to contest creationists on their own ground: the battlefield of belief. Theory cannot contest belief and belief cannot contest theory. If you make them contest they destroy each other. People ask "do you believe in evolution?" What is the only possible scientific reply? Evolution is not a belief, it is a testable theory.
Bruce Chapman, president of The Discovery Institute has led a movement on the "intelligent design theory" -- a belief that species did not evolve by natural selection but instead progressed according to a plan or design. San Antonio Express-News reported on 8/13/03 that the Texas Education Agency disclosed that biology textbook publisher Holt, Rinehart & Winston had submitted changes in its biology textbook to a passage directing students to "study hypotheses for the origin of life that are alternatives" to others posed in the book. The elected Texas Board of Education has no control over textbook content but can reject books because of errors or failure to follow the state curriculum, which is mandated by the Legislature.
Teaching Evolution Feb. 6, 2004
According to the Georgia Department of Education, the word evolution is a "controversial buzzword" that should be removed from the state's biology curriculum. In this hour, we'll take a look at science education in schools. Should evolution be out? And what should science class teach us about the age and origins of the universe? Join NPR's Ira Flatow for a look at new challenges to teaching evolution in public schools.
Guests: Eugenie C. Scott
*Director of the National Center for Science Education, Inc.
NCSE -- a nonprofit, tax-exempt membership organization working to defend the teaching of evolution against sectarian attack. We are a nationally-recognized clearinghouse for information and advice to keep evolution in the science classroom and "scientific creationism" out. http://www.ncseweb.org/
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
Eugenie C. Scott, Ph.D.Executive Director 510-601-7203 fax: 510-601-7204
420 40th St., #2 Oakland, CA 94609-2509