Scopes Part 2
On September 26, an event that the national media will surely depict as a new Scopes trial is scheduled to begin. Hearings will commence in a First Amendment lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union against the Dover, Pennsylvania, school district over its decision to introduce “Intelligent Design,” or ID, into its biology curriculum. The analogy with the 1925 Tennessee “monkey trial” certainly has its merits. With a newly rejuvenated war against evolution now afoot in the United States, one being prosecuted by religious conservatives and their intellectual and political allies, it is virtually inevitable that the courts will once again serve as the ultimate arbiters of what biology teachers can and cannot present to their students in public schools.
The problem here is simple: Intelligent design should not, under any circumstances, be taught as part of a science curriculum. Even the main proponents of intelligent design, the Discovery Institute agree with that point:
Nevertheless, ID hawkers have crisscrossed the United States arguing that public schools should “teach the controversy” over evolution -- a controversy they themselves have manufactured. In Ohio, one state where they have enjoyed considerable success, the state board of education adopted a model lesson plan in early 2004 inviting students to “critically analyze ﬁve different aspects of evolutionary theory.” In fact, the lesson plan contains spurious critiques of evolution that scientiﬁc experts have rejected and that were explicitly opposed by the National Academy of Sciences. In the Dover Area School District in Pennsylvania, meanwhile, local anti-evolutionists have actually gone further and explicitly introduced intelligent design into science classes (a tack the Discovery Institute has come to oppose, probably because of its obvious unconstitutionality). So successful has the Discovery Institute been in popularizing ID, it may have lost control of how anti-evolutionists at the local level go about applying its ideas.
So there you have it. Even the Discovery Institute doesn't want ID taugh in science classes. Why? Because it's not science.
It's faith. I have it, too (I know it might be surprising to some of the regular readers of this blog). I've never felt convinced that the Big Bang was a satisfactory explanation for the beginning of the universe and I, too, have a hard time believing there isn't a Creator of some kind. But -- and this is the most important point -- my faith simply does not belong in a science curriculum.
Nor does anyone else's.