Battle Over Intelligent Design in Classrooms

By: Althea Paul
By: Althea Paul

September 27, 2005

The battle over teaching "intelligent design" is in high gear. A school district in Pennsylvania is fighting for the right to offer students the choice, other than evolution.

"Intelligent design" falls somewhere in between creationism and evolution. Some people are saying that this is not only unconstitutional, but that it is also too close for comfort.

Public schools have always gone with science to explain the origins of life. Now the school system in Dover, Pennsylvania is offering "intelligent design" as an option for students.

"What the theory of intelligent design says is, looking at the complex nature, it could not have happened by random chance. It could not have happened by Darwin's theory of natural selection," said attorney for the Dover school board, Richard Thomas.

However, the problem is parents are suing because they believe it promotes the Bible's view of creation, violating the constitutional separation of church and state.

"It is absolutely wrong to change the definition of science by introducing God," said Dover parent, Barrie Callahan.

"I do think that it jeopardizes that careful balance that we've had, that's been successful for over 200 years to begin to inject discussions of religion into the pursuit of science," said director of UVa's Biomedical Ethics Center, Dr. Jonathan Moreno.

But is intelligent design pushing religious views? Those fighting for the right to expose students to the theory say no, that the designer is not necessarily God.

"Creationism devises its science based upon the Holy Scripture. What intelligent design theorists do is go to the lab, look at the empirical data," said Thomas.

Some also argue that it's not a question of whether it should be taught, but rather where.

"I think the controversy is a very important one, and I think it's very important to teach it in a religious studies class or in a social studies class," said Dr. Moreno.

"What this is, is a controversy surrounding the biological evolution and this is why it should be in science class," countered Thomas.

The non-jury trail just wrapped up the third day. It's expected to last about five weeks.

The Dover school system is believed to be the nation's first to mandate that students be exposed to this "intelligent design" concept.

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