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No Future for Intelligent Design?

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In a decision that could have broad implications for public schools across the country, a federal judge in Pennsylvania has ruled that "intelligent design" is not legitimate science, but rather an unconstitutional religious concept with direct ties to biblically based creationism.

Will this ruling set the precedent for similar cases in other districts—and does it accurately reflect the views of the American people, and the laws set forth in the constitution?

Although the Dover ruling prohibits the specific teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution because of its religious roots, should other alternatives be considered, and presented, alongside evolution?

48 Comments

Alongside evolution? Not in science.

In a religious history, religious sudies, or current topics class? Sure.

Evolution is a THEORY,,,when will people understand that. It is NOT science...methods of studying the theory may be science, but evolution is NOT science. This isn't about religion, it is about truth in the classroom. To teach evolution as scientific fact is not acccurate. Let's quit labeling those who understand evolution is NOT fact and teach it for what it is...a totally unproven and unproveable theory.

We have two ears and two eyes, regardless of our belief in origins. Do we not need to teach our students to hear and see both sides of all issues such that they can make 'intelligent' choices for themselves? (No pun intended.)

Why is intelligent design and evolution being constructed as a narrow-minded political discussion? Is there no room in our public school educational system for a multiplicity of ideas and beliefs? This is the 21st century. Having beliefs, access to a wide range of information while being able to process knowledge is the foundation of our values, intellectual development and the fueling of our economic systems. Complete knowledge includes science and religious understanding. We should be teaching students how to independently investigate truth; understand how their cultural and religious beliefs influence their values and impacts how lives are lived. Science without religion and religion without science is shortsighted. The broader principle of the unity of science and religion can be traced to great to the rise of great civilizations from the beginning of time. America can become great again - if only our youth are given the chance to explore and think! What are we afraid of?

This is long over due. People/students/children have free will to THINK and consider options. Evolution by Darwin is used to support the FACT genes mutate and adapt to the environment. Yes, bacteria and AIDS viruses mutate and adapt.

How humans got to the current timeline position is unimportant to me. Which came first chickens or eggs? The issues of science now are maintaining the enthropy of dynamic energy use with limited non-renewable resources.

For the religous zealots, trying to claim secularism is ruining America, I say this, "Go teach the word (Christianity) to the 4-corners of the world" and "Live your life as a role model for Christianity". Legislating morality has not and will not work throughout human history.

Yes, I am a regular attending Christian and celebrate Christmas. I learned about the teachings of Darwin and balanced them with my Christian beliefs due to the "holy mysteries of God, which we cannot explain". Stop insulting human intelligence and let schools teach people-children to THINK and use their free will to make responsible decisions. Christians were challenged by Jesus and the teachings of Paul to go out and teach the words and beliefs of Christianity. Getter Done! Just Do It!

Thank you Andy, I have no intention of teaching religious beliefs in my science classes. Nor do any of my colleagues. However, I am not so obstinate that I don't allow the discussion of controversial topics in my classroom. Evolution IS a SCIENTIFIC Theory, NOT a Philosophical or Religious THEORY. DEsign is "Belief". A THEORY is a unifying explanation based on facts from observations and experimentation. Sicentists and teachers don't teach the "FACT" of Evolution, we teach the Theory of Evolution. I thank MY God for putting "Design" in its place, not in my classroom!

It is easy to bend words and make it appear that science and religion are on the same playing field, so students should see both so they can decide. That is a false assessment.
Religion is about what we believe to be true. It may be based on experiences, or what someone says, or what we read, but we believe it to be true.
Science is about what we believe to be true until a better thing comes along. It is based on assessing our experiences and ideas to ge the best fit. It that sense, the word "believe" does not mean the same thing in science as it does in religion. Further, the notion of "truth" is science does not mean the same immutable thing it does in religion. "Truth" in science is always contingent. Given the variety of religious beliefs people have, there a different sense in which "truth" is also contingent in religion.
As a religious scientist, I thank God that that judge had the wisdom and vision to see through the smokescreen the ID people had created. We are a land of law, and the law is quite clear that religion plays no part in our publically supported educational system.
So lets stop the smoke screen of giving children a choice of what to believe, belief is not the issue. Galileo said it well, the bible tells us how to go to heaven, but nature tells us how the heavens go...that's not exactly right, but you get the idea.
I am afraid of nothing except people's deceptions, especially when they use ignorance to support their own goals.

Hooray for common sense, student achievement and the future of this country. Public opinion does not change the laws of nature, no matter who deeply held the religious conviction. Intelligent design theorists should be ashamed of themselves for creating such unnecessary confusion within our student body. Next they will advocating the existence of Santa Claus and the Easter bunny because "X" number of children believe they exist...ludicrous.

Evolution, creationism, itelligent design and others have their detractors and supporters. I have no problem with any theory presented scientifically in a classroom. If there is a scientific proof for the existence of a creator, then it is worth exploring. What is missing in the intelligent design theory is the part about a god. This is a religious as well as scientific theory and can be taught as such.

I am convinced by these responses and so many others I have read on topics in this series, that many more Americans are thoughtful, intelligent people than are given credit.

This discussion started me thinking about intelligence and being an intellectual. Where in our current climate will the discussion fit that was started by far right political pundits (especially Rush Limbaugh) and fundamental Christians, that to be an intellectual is wrongheaded. That intellectuals are not patriotic, etc., etc. And now comes the support of intelligent design. Something seems amiss.

I, for one, think our American schools are doing an outstanding job teaching all of our children. I think the uninformed public and the politicans should stop trying to second guess them, start supporting schools like they should be and pay more attention to how they are living their lives as individual citizens in this country.

Perhaps the Doctrine of Inclusion that Rev. Pearson teaches has something in it we should all come to terms with. It might be true that the Hell we are all afraid of going to is, in fact, the mess we make here on Earth for each other and ourselves to struggle through.

Thank you to all of you who have made such salient arguments on why ID is NOT science. I am in your court. I, too, am a Christian and a scientist. I, too, know that ID is not science nor should it be taught as one. I resent preachers trying to tell me what I should or should not teach in my classroom. I also resent an uninformed, scientifically-illiterate public trying to make scientific arguments and use scientific terms such as "theory" to fit their needs. Meanwhile, these arguments not only cheapen real scientific discussions but also make the petitioners seem ignorant and close-mided. Why does this battle need to continue when we have so many other issues in schools and in education in general that are far more worthy of our time and effort?

I won't tell your pastor/minister/preacher/priest what to preach in your church, so please don't tell me what I should teach in my classroom. I have a degree in SCIENCE (among other degrees); not one in THEOLOGY. I don't expect to encourage opposing theological arguments about the creation of living forms on earth in my class. I expect to foster critical thinking skills based on observations, experimentation, and analyzation of data.

It's interesting to me that this 'conflict' is only occuring in the U.S. - not the rest of the Westernized world. And, it is only a problem in certain sections of the U.S. - mainly rural, mainly Protestant, and mainly undereducated. Those who protest that we science teachers should teach 'both sides of the issue' are asking us to give credence to an idea that has as much scientific value as the existence of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, and ghosts. No matter how much the general public truly believes in these ideas, they STILL don't belong in a science class.

Obviously, Tuesday's court decision won't settle the matter of creationism versus evolution. But one reason the battle won't go away is because schools do not adequately explain scientific method. Because schools fall short in this regard, too many people believe they need to give "equal time" to pseudoscience, as they would provide equal footing to the two major political parties.

If one fully understands scientific method, then it's easier to accept evolution as the most plausible explanation of the operation of the mechanism of life, and easier to see that intelligent design belongs in a discussion of faith, rather than science.

When the public has a better understanding of basic scientific method, the notion of requiring schools to discuss intelligent design in science class, rather than in social studies or literature settings, won't gain so much ground.

Meanwhile, not every church requires rejection of evolution as a condition of belief. And we may never really know the origin of the first spark of life. We weren't there.

One key issue that the judge highlighted but that many gloss over is the difference between the colloquial and the scientific understanding of what constitutes a theory. Colloquial "theory" is just a casual proposal rather than something that is useful. Scientific "theory" is what many people confuse with "natural laws". Newtonian physics was clearly understood as a theory when Einstein suggested some problems. The key difference between these interpretations is that scientific theory must be "intersubjectiveloy testable". That means that it is stated as a set of hypotheses that can be tested and either rejected or not rejected by an independent, objective researcher.

Of course evolution is a scientific theory - and this is not pejorative; gravity, physics, thermodynamics are all theories. They are the best understanding we have about how things behave. As soon as someone tests one of these hypotheses and comes up with an unexpected result, it must be discarded, reformulated, and retested.

When proponents of intelligent design can formulate their propositions as a set of testable hypotheses, then it can be considered a theory. Until then, it's in the philosophical realm; equally valuable, but focused on a different set of questions than science. Science concerns itself with the "how" of our lives while religion and philosophy concern themselves with the "why". They can (and should) peacefully coexist and, as both Jimmy Carter and the Pope have pointed out, are not contradictory.

Regardless of what anyone thinks, the science class is exactly the place for the idea of intelligent design vs. evolution to be presented. Where better to discuss the scientific principles behind both and for students to assess the truth of either based on facts. Science classes are the perfect platform for this debate. I've taught both evolution and creationism, and it allowed my students to understand the premise of the evolutionary theory, expose the fallacies and confirm the truth that "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

I agree with Cheryle. If we are to reach truth in scientific investigations, we must at least be able to explore all the theories. Neither evolution nor ID can be proven at this point and thus, they are both theories. When we don't allow our students access to all theories, we are doing them an injustice and censoring the information. I'm not advocating the teaching of religion in schools; I am advocating giving students ALL the information they need, teaching them HOW to think (scientifically by analyzing the evidence), and allowing them to make their own decisions (critical thinking). On another note, I am unclear as to how the courts can label ID as "religion" when evolution is often thought of as a religion as well (by many atheists). In Education 101, I was taught that children are physical, intellectual, social, emotional, AND spiritual beings. Why are we so afraid of letting them explore their spiritual side? While we certainly do not want to teach any particular religion, we also do not want to pretend that spirituality is not a very important part of the human existence.

Ms. Wood: You are certainly correct in identifying evolution as a theory. All ideas in science are theories—our best explanations for gravity, the properties of matter, the processes that shape our weather and the face of our planet, how organisms develop and why they behave as they do—all are ‘merely’ theories. You are also justified in claiming that no scientific theory is “totally proven,” even those so convincingly supported by evidence and logical argumentation that they are widely regarded as “facts” or “truth” (perhaps even by you). Indeed, there are no such things in science, nor should theories be taught as such. All scientific ideas are conditional, held as valid until a better explanation supported by more convincing evidence and/or argumentation comes along.

Conversely, you are seriously mistaken in claiming that evolution “is NOT science” or “totally unproven.” Evolution is one of the most thoroughly and convincingly supported explanations we have for why the world around us is as it is. The science that generated the explanation of evolution is the same collection of institutions, processes, and individuals that has produced the technological world we all depend upon and daily take for granted.

No one has ever seen an electron, nor can anyone travel back in time to see the original creation of electrons and the other particles of matter that constitute our universe. In this respect, one might consider the electron to be nothing more than a “theory.” Nevertheless, this “theory” is based upon careful observation, experimentation, and analysis and was the subject of critical debate and review by the scientific community over an extended period of time. It became widely accepted largely because it is capable of successfully explaining and making predictions about many aspects of the natural world. Furthermore, this “theory” made possible the design and construction of the device on which I am now writing this response, a machine that many living only 50 years ago might have regarded as absurd were they not able to see it firsthand.

Science is likewise conservative and extremely skeptical in considering new ideas. Evolution makes so much sense as an explanation for the enormous diversity of life that abounds on our planet that it became widely adopted by the scientific community shortly after it was first proposed by Darwin in 1859. By comparison, that same general collection of institutions, processes, and individuals took nearly a century to accept the idea that all matter is made up of atoms and even smaller particles, including electrons.

Are there those who do not accept or believe evolution? Sure there are. But there are also those who believe that the earth is flat, hollow, or does not go around the sun. That does not mean we should teach our children these ideas, any more than we should teach them alternative “theories” regarding gravity, the properties of matter, the processes that shape our weather and the face of our planet, or how organisms develop and why they behave as they do. Evolution is the best scientific “theory” we have regarding the process by which species change over time, and until a better explanation comes along, it should be taught as such in all our schools.

This discussion shows how split the American public is on any issue that involves religion. It appears scientists, especially science teachers fear religious discussions. Religion does not negate science; rather, it supports it. As science supports religious beliefs. It's almost as if teachers don't want to prepare for additional curriculum. Most parents & students who adhere to Creationism would be happy with a nod that their beliefs exist. The intelligencia of the scientific community shuts down on this one point. What's wrong with expression of ideas and thoughts that cannot be wrapped up in a neat, precise package? Human emotions can be volitle, classrooms can be controlled, and students should be allowed a forum to express beliefs and ideas openly. Even written papers seen only by the teacher can give a student the feeling that their beliefs and ideas have value. Whatever the format, it should begin with the definition of "theory!"

Hooray! An unscientific idea has been removed from the science curriculum!

Yes, that's right - unscientific. Science is based on knowledge gained by using the scientific method. In order to be valid scientifically, an idea must be testable, be able to be falsified, utilize all evidence, and not rely on the supernatural.

Why not the supernatural? Science is a naturalistic process: it is based on what we can see, hear, taste, smell, touch. It is based on empirical evidence. In order to be able to test an idea, you must be able to design an experiment to test it. Supernatural ideas are unable to be tested by the fact that they are beyond the natural universe.

ID postulates a supenatural being who left no evidence, and yet was able to program DNA to mutate and diversify the living forms on this planet in such a way as to lead to humans being here now. How do you test such an idea? Can you find evidence for the Designer? No. Why do we have opposable thumbs? Because the Designer wanted it that way. Why do pandas eat only bamboo? Because the Designer wanted it that way.

There is no "null" scenario - no way to falsify this idea. Any question about why anything is the way it is can eb answered with "because the Designer wanted it that way." No conctrete tests, no way to falsify the idea, and the central theme is something beyond what science cna find evidence for.

It is not science, and it does not belong in the science classroom. Philosophy? Yes. Comparative religion? Absolutely. Social studies? Sure.

Science? Not until the problems can be corrected.

The "problems" exist not with the concept of design by a higher power, but only with those who, as put by a previous writer, want to legislate their own brand of righteousness, morality, or religious conceptions. The teaching of so-called "intelligent design" as part of a science course may be out of line simply for the reason that it would seem inappropriate to leave such teaching in the hands of a science teacher, who, no offense intended, is likely not qualified to present the subject in a religious light and context. And it is a religious context, make no mistake about it. What place such instruction has in public schools is another debate for another time.

Science teachers should teach science. If they include the theory of evolution as part of this, so be it. Well informed parents can certainly help direct their children in however they feel these ideas should be counter balanced with other beliefs, and not try to palm this job off on the school system. It is not the school's job to be faith builders anymore than it is their job to be babysitters. I am especially sympathetic to this since my mother was a teacher who taught science, among other things, but helped us at home to build faith elsewhere.

The Bible is not a science text, and that is not its purpose, so comparisons between the two should be kept to a minimum, although an unbiased examination may lead one to conclude that the Bible is not as far out of harmony with proved science as some might lead one to believe. Many of the superstitions and erroneous ideas people carried in folklore or as supposed religious "truths" for centuries have no basis in the Bible at all, but were often the result of persons trying to use religion to control others.
I would hate to see this trend rear its ugly head once again.

Christians were urged by Christ to preach the gospel of the Kingdom to anyone willing to listen, not spend time and money engaged in influence peddling, trying to bend the will of school boards or lobby legislators. They were to accept that "faith is not a possession of all people" and be willing to allow others the same free choice God allows all, with each of us accepting whatever the consequences of those choices are.

Our society's inability to resolve this issue to the public’s satisfaction, and not that of a jurist’s satisfaction, has major implications that go beyond whether to teach theory and belief alongside one another. The judge did his job and cast his vote based on the evidence. But, unless we’ve just woken up from a ten year long sleep, all of us are well aware that the public is casting a vote with its feet. The number of articles in our professional publications related to parents moving their students to home-schooling, private schools, or charter schools seem to increase daily. I see a trend of downsizing of our public schools as a result. And, least we say that it’s all the better for our public schools, let me remind everyone of the October student count where student population results in budgetary funding increases or, more so, decreases. If we don’t address the issue in a civil manner and allow an opportunity for discussion of all opinion, whether it’s in the same classroom or different classrooms, our public education system, and our national psyche will suffer as a result.

I believe Oscar Wilde said something like, "Science is the history of dead religions." Looks like creationism and ID and their supporters belong to the "dead religions."

Few Christians have any problem with the concepts of microevolution; it is macroevolution that requires faith (just like religion). In the marketplace of ideas, it is embarassing to me that any theory or idea that contradicts Darwinism is automatically shouted down as pseudoscience or religion masquerading as science. A number or the proponents of Intelligent Design do not even espouse Christianity. They simply see what they believe in incontrovertible evidence of something other than blind chance operating in the universe and speak to that evidence. Whatever the specific issue: whether it is irreducible complexity, polonium haloes, or a First Cause, it should be open for discussion in schools and any other public fora. We should encourage kids to formulate their own beliefs based on the best evidence we can give them for the total picture of origins. It should be discussed in science classes and social studies classes, and written about in composition classes. The Pennsylvania jurist misses the point whenever he links ID to some plot by bible believing Christians (I think "fundies" is the new epithet of choice). It's really simpler than that: Why don't we just openmindedly follow to where the ID evidence leads and see what rational conclusions we arrive at? What if science were to prove the God of the Bible existed? Would that be a bad thing? Aren't secularists (including many Darwinists) hoping to prove the opposite?

One of the most depressing and humbling parts of this whole debate is the apparent fact that science teachers, both at the high school and university levels, have failed in teaching their students the true meaning of science. When science teachers and professors demonstrate that they do not actually know what a THEORY is, either in a science classroom or in everyday life, then how can we expect our students to know what a theory is? To explain that evolution and intelligent design are both just "theories" and students should choose for themselves shows a complete disrespect for all the fabulous scientific research and discovery concerning evolution and the genetic/ecological mechanisms that cause it, not to mention a disrespect for the rule of law and a long-standing separation of church and state. Phrenology is a "theory" too, but I don't see it being taught alongside neurology in medical school. Neurology is, after all, just a theory. It just happens to have a considerable amount of evidence and experimental discovery to support it. The theory of evolution is very similar.
Intelligent design is a lot of things, but it is not science. As such, it has no place in a science classroom. A discussion with my students about this debate would be fascinating and enlightening, but not in the classroom. In my classroom, I teach my students to draw on past knowledge of science to solve current problems, to use evidence and proper experimental design to reach scientific conclusions, and to constructively criticize each other's conclusions to refine them.
When the Intelligent Design crowd decides to publish their research in peer-reviewed journals, create testable hypotheses, and submit their findings for review by their colleagues, then I will start teaching it as science. Until then, it does not belong in any science classroom.

Ms. Wood, the board member above, states that: 'Evolution is a THEORY,,,when will people understand that. It is NOT science...'

Ma'am, with all due respect, because evolution is a theory - that is, it is subject to rigorous testing through the scientific method, and because it has moved beyond a hypothesis due to a plethora of supporting evidence - it is precisely science!

Intelligent Design may have it's scientific proponents - although their use very little scientific scrutiny to support their claims. However, the truth is, Intelligent Design is only a hypothesis, and, since it requires the conjecture that there exists some unknown, unseen, inevident 'designer', in order to exist (even as hypothesis), it will likely NEVER rise to the status of 'only a theory', that you so painfully try to use, to denigrate evolution.

Here's a hypothesis for you...http://www.theonion.com/content/node/39512. Intelligent Falling. Of course, perhaps we should include this in our science curriculum? Or better yet, let's include this....http://www.venganza.org/. Touched by His noodly appendage.....

A couple of decades ago Erik VonDaniken was convinced that man had been 'touched' by space aliens - leading many to hypothesize that man may have been 'intelligently designed' by creatures from outer space. Even to this day, his followers proport their 'scientific evidence' and anthropological evidence that space men vistited earth centuries ago and 'enlightened us'. http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/information/biography/uvwxyz/vondaniken_erich.html

These examples are precisely why we must INSIST that science be conducted with integrity and according to that which is measurable, replicable, empirical, subject to strict scrutiny and analysis, through the scientific method.

These examples are precisely why evolution will continue to win these challenges, and 'intelligent design' has a dim future.

I think this is an important issue, but we are missing the bigger picture: Would those who support the teaching of "intelligent design" as "freedom of religion" also support the teaching of creationist theories held by Bhuddists, Muslims, Hindis, and other religions? I sincerely doubt it, just as those who would like to see the 10 commandments displayed at courthouses would not likely view a Star of David, model of the Koran, or statue of Bhudda as appropriate. Make no mistake: what we are talking about here is not freedom of religion, it is institutionalization of one religion over all the others practiced in our multinational country. Anyone who has studied European history knows that this is a dangerous road; religion as part of public policy always leads to persecution of others on a grand scale. Always. And to those who would say it's appropriate because Christianity is the most popular religion in this country - I say, just because something is the most widely held belief, does not make it right. As I recall, at one time the most widely held, church-supported belief was that the earth was flat.

Ms. Wood, the board member above, states that: 'Evolution is a THEORY,,,when will people understand that. It is NOT science...'

Ma'am, with all due respect, because evolution is a theory - that is, it is subject to rigorous testing through the scientific method, and because it has moved beyond a hypothesis due to a plethora of supporting evidence - it is precisely science!

Intelligent Design may have it's scientific proponents - although their use very little scientific scrutiny to support their claims. However, the truth is, Intelligent Design is only a hypothesis, and, since it requires the conjecture that there exists some unknown, unseen, inevident 'designer', in order to exist (even as hypothesis), it will likely NEVER rise to the status of 'only a theory', that you so painfully try to use, to denigrate evolution.

Here's a hypothesis for you...http://www.theonion.com/content/node/39512. Intelligent Falling. Of course, perhaps we should include this in our science curriculum? Or better yet, let's include this....http://www.venganza.org/. Touched by His noodly appendage.....

A couple of decades ago Erik VonDaniken was convinced that man had been 'touched' by space aliens - leading many to hypothesize that man may have been 'intelligently designed' by creatures from outer space. Even to this day, his followers proport their 'scientific evidence' and anthropological evidence that space men vistited earth centuries ago and 'enlightened us'. http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/information/biography/uvwxyz/vondaniken_erich.html

These examples are precisely why we must INSIST that science be conducted with integrity and according to that which is measurable, replicable, empirical, subject to strict scrutiny and analysis, through the scientific method.

These examples are precisely why evolution will continue to win these challenges, and 'intelligent design' has a dim future.

I think that labeling the evolotion theory/fact debate as a religious issue is misleading. It seems to me that the real problem is world view--There are simply things in this world that we can't explain, prove or disprove--like the existence of God, a creator, or intelligent designer.

The scientific world view seeks to concentrate on that which can be test empirically--the natural world. This focus sometimes becomes myopic and many scientist forget that the existence of a supernatural world cannot be discounted simply because it cannot be quantified.

The religious world view commits a similar sin when it discounts that which is provable by scientific inquiry. It is unfortunate that science and religion have become political advesaries when both share the intent of seeking truth.

Like the confusion over the secular vs. scientific definition of "theory" there appears to be confusion over what can and what cannot be proven. Proofs exist in mathematics and other arenas where one clearly states the starting assumptions and acceptable rules/transformations. Proof does not exist in physical science. Theories of how the world we live in must be testable to be scientific theories - and as such they can be refuted, but they cannot be proven. No matter the extent of the corroborating evidence, the first contrary experimental evidence invalidates the theory. Einstein "disproved" Newtonian physics (at least under certain conditions). If ever there was a set of physical theories (unfortunately, some folks call them laws), it would have to be Newtonian physics. But, since they were objectively testable, Einstein revised the theory.

As several have commented, when intelligent design is able to formulate hypotheses that are testable (and therefore refutable), then it may move into the realm of science. If the only "proof" is what you believe (or who can holler louder) then it's still philosophy or religion.

And it is this disctinction between philosophy and science that belongs in the science classrooms - students need to know how to identify what is and what is not science; a real understanding of the scientific method.

I am not a scientist, and neither were any of the science teachers that taught my classes in school. Its interesting to see people differentiate science, philosophy, and religion. Perhaps, this more than anything, is the product of the doctrinaire approach to evolution. Like an overzealous prosecutor, mounds of evidence is withheld for fear of confusing the jury. If a dinosaur footprint is found in a 10,000 year old rock, well, there must be some explanation. Mathematical probabilities of mutations occurring in a manner that produces sentient, intelligent life? Philosophy often begins with a single pre-supposition. At this point in our educational evolution, science must begin with a naturalist pre-supposition. Anything that begins with a "super-naturalist" pre-supposition is determined to be at worst, religion, and best, philosophy. Neither pre-supposition can be proved scientifically. "Faith" is required for each. Thankfully, very few (even among science teachers and scientists) are willing to claim a completely naturalist world view. It may be messy to consider all reasonable ideas in a diverse society, but, the comparmentalization of our search for truth likely moves the truth even further from our grasp.

It is stated above that: 'Evolution is a THEORY,,,when will people understand that. It is NOT science...'

With all due respect, because evolution is a theory - that is, it is subject to rigorous testing through the scientific method, and because it has moved beyond a hypothesis due to a plethora of supporting evidence - it is precisely science!

Intelligent Design may have it's scientific proponents - although their use very little scientific scrutiny to support their claims. However, the truth is, Intelligent Design is only a hypothesis, and, since it requires the conjecture that there exists some unknown, unseen, inevident 'designer', in order to exist (even as hypothesis), it will likely NEVER rise to the status of 'only a theory', that you so painfully try to use, to denigrate evolution.

Here's a hypothesis... http://www.theonion.com/content/node/39512. Intelligent Falling. Of course, perhaps we should include this in our science curriculum? Or better yet, let's include this.... http://www.venganza.org/. Touched by His noodly appendage.....

A couple of decades ago Erik VonDaniken was convinced that man had been 'touched' by space aliens - leading many to hypothesize that man may have been 'intelligently designed' by creatures from outer space. Even to this day, his followers proport their 'scientific evidence' and anthropological evidence that space men vistited earth centuries ago and 'enlightened us'. http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/information/biography/uvwxyz/vondaniken_erich.html

These examples are precisely why we must INSIST that science be conducted with integrity and according to that which is measurable, replicable, empirical, subject to strict scrutiny and analysis, through the scientific method.

These examples are precisely why evolution will continue to win these challenges, and 'intelligent design' has a dim future.

As one learns in basic philosophy, Truth and Fact are not the same. Science is not a search for truth but for FACTS. Evolution is not taught as a truth but as a theory. (And here it might be helpful to look up the definition of theory as it is used in Science!) Theory is used in science to ensure continued testing of the facts, to prevent dogmatism and to ensure that a given field of study will continue to advance. ID is not a theory, nor is it science, it is doctrine. Since it “postulates” that which can NEVER be proven (i.e. that there is a divine intelligence.) Since God cannot be proven as a fact and cannot be analyzed, the use of a divine intelligence in a scientific theory is not allowed, if one is to remain in the realm of science!

To date, evolution is the best theory to explain the observations that have been made over the past one hundred plus years! For some Christians to represent that the theory is flawed, is inaccurate. Is it also intellectually dishonest, as the judge makes clear!

As an ordained minister, I believe I can speak to the issues of faith and truth. If people wish to believe that humankind sprung out of a creation that is six thousand years old, that right is granted to them under the U.S. constitution. Such a belief, however, goes counter to facts from many differing fields of study! Also, the same constitution that protects the rights of individuals to believe that which runs counter to factuality is the same constitution that protects all of us, from having such beliefs forced on us in public schools that are supported with tax dollars. We have learned from history that to allow religious institutions to determine the course of study is to invite abuse, fear and a lack of progress.

America is falling behind other nations in science and math education. One reasons for this, as the judge so eloquently put it, is that we waste so many of our resources on this ridiculous argument and others like it!

To paraphrase the late Jay Gould, evolution is the theory that fits the facts and that ends the matter. If people wish to convey their views of "truth" and, in spite of the discovered facts, push the idea that the earth is only six thousand years old that is why they have churches. Theology and science need to be in dialogue, however, religion should not be allowed to dictate to science - just ask Copernicus and Galileo!

I agree to a great extent with Durwin Sharp: Evolution is a theory. All scientists know this and all scientists know that theories must be allow for, and even welcome, testing. The goal is always to further knowledge, not to defend one's belief, value system, or profession. In keeping with the spirit of scientific inquiry and epistemology, evolutionists should be open to, welcoming, and encouraging of criticisms and challenges to the verity of evolution. With respect to intelligent design, they are not. The argument used to dismiss it is that intelligent design is not a credible challenger. However, I would argue that the opinion that the challenger is not "credible" is irrelevant. Any challenge should be respected. If not credible, that will surely become evident.
As for the proponents of intelligent design, there are scientific means by which the case can be presented and evolution challenged. This has not beeen done, however, to the obvious detriment of their position. Advocates of intelligent design must do more than opine that everything in the universe that is unexplainable today proves the presence of a greater Mind. They must apply the rules of scientific inquiry.

Today's Christian Science Monitor had a thoughtful opinion piece by George Alexander about the Dover decision.

I view the decision as correct, given the evidence presented at the trial. But, as the discussion here shows, the debate and controversy is far from over. It will continue in other states and school districts.

As I approach Christmas, I reflect on my faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and he came to this world to share forgiveness and show love. That faith doesn't negate the incredible amount of scientific evidence pointing to evolution as the mechanism to explain the diversity of life on this planet. No contradiction for me...my faith is only increased by the wonder of life and the awe at God's handiwork.

It is interesting to read the various remarks and comments. In many cases it seems as though language and definitions are the culprit for the misunderstandings.

I am amazed at how individuals choose to adopt definitions that fit thier needs and beliefs. For scientists, the definitions have been fleshed out so that there are no misunderstandings. For the general public who does not understand these definitions the waters become muddy.

Unfortunately those with a mission or a cause choose not to explore the true definitions and present thier case in the context of a fields established definitions. (such as scientific theory) This in turn causes such religious theories as ID to be argued as scientific theories. The two are incompatable.

The field of science is not intent on disproving God as one author suggested. The field of science is intent on understanding our natural environment. Even Einstein believed in a God and was not shy about saying so. This does not mean that the desire to test, theorize, and understand our natural world was forbidden because of a higher being.

Unfortunatly too often logic and reason are in conflict with those who propose religious beliefs. And to force those beliefs onto others is what many are fighting.

I believe in God and that God has had a hand in designing this great universe. I however, also believe in scientific discovery and the theory of evolution. Why is it that people cannot understand that evolution does not say there is no God? Evolution only seeks to answer questions about how we came to be who we are today. Each new scientific discovery does not disprove God. In fact I think it only strengthens the existence of some higher being. The bueaty of how things work and believing that a higher being was somehow involved is not in conflict. However to teach a specific way in which a higher being is involved is wrong.

If we could stop arguing about these issues we could focus on things of more importance such as resources and better teaching for our nations poor.

Following up on what Alisa said regarding carefully chosing words and understanding the language each of us uses, it is amusing to me that I find a lot of the comments on here reminiscent of President Bush continually linking Iraq and 9/11. There was no link, we all know it, he's admitted it; and yet in his speeches he continues to meld the two together to create the desired reaction.
When people say that ID is Biblically based, and how would Christians like it if their children heard about the Buddhist concept of Creator, etc., etc., they either negligently or willfully confuse ID and Biblical Christianity. ID does not say the world is young, or that evolution from lower to higher forms has not happened.

Biblical Christianity says that man was created pretty quickly after the world was formed, and that nothing died before the fall, (i.e., original sin). Evolution and Biblical Christianity are deadly enemies, and that's why the people who work in Creation Science focus their energy on trying to prove the grand canyon was formed quickly and all the rest.
There is nothing about ID that speaks of sin, redemption, a savior, or anything that is central to B. Christianity. It also does not speak to reincarnation, or karma, or the Torah or the Quran or anything else.

When I see people that claim to be knowledgable on the subject of ID use B. Christianity as a derogatory synonym, I'd like to give them all a one-way bus ticket to Crawford, Texas.

Scientists are continually discovering aspects of our universe for which they have no answer. Evolution as a theory still does not answer some of the most basic questions of the creation of the universe and humankind. To say that there is simply no other anwser besides evolutionary or scientific theory is absurd. As I look at the standards for science CSAP in Colorado, standard 1 asks students to "hypothesize, problem solve, attempt to explain". Seems to me that having two or three "theories" might engage their brains a little and expand their background knowledge of "politics" in public education.

One of my biggest passions in teaching my students and my own children is to think. Critical thinking takes time and comparison. If we take away theories that we don't agree with because of fear, what have we gained/lost? When I taught at a Christian school, I carefully introduced evolution so the children could compare it with creationism. Why can't students in a public school have equal opportunity to compare theories?

I love that a principal from my home state supports critical thinking!

As far as being able to prove that God exists, I have plenty of proof. My children survived the shootings at Columbine High School. I can tell you eye witness accounts of how God was there.

Let's promote teaching children to look at a variety of materials and come to conclusions themselves. I can't wait to see what new things they will discover!

In reading through this lengthy chain of opinions on an emotional, polarizing topic, I have noticed that several times the issue of "science teachers" doing an inadequate job of teaching the basics of "science" has been cited as a main mitigating factor explaining the general public ignorance that prevails regarding this subject. If only the teachers did a better job teaching the "basics" of scientific method, the theory goes, we would no longer suffer through the endless debates and confusion, and would arrive at a more monolithic point of view that is, or course, in harmony with "settled" evolutionary theory.

Given that so many science teachers have apparently done a shoddy, inadequate job teaching the basic fundamentals of THEIR OWN FIELD, why would I ever trust them to indoctrinate my children in the most important issues of life, such as origins? After all, if so many are incapable of teaching the basics, I have a tough time believing they are qualified to speak on a subject as vast, vexing and complex on the origins and diversity of life. So why would I ever entrust my child's intellectual and spiritual outlook/development to a public school classroom teacher who attempts to squash spiritual realities and moral truths with the hammer of science, yet fails when it comes to teaching the very basics of that science?

I have a child that is coming of school age in the not-too-distant future. This particular web post has convinced me beyond all doubt that the LAST place I ever want to send my child is the public school. And believe me, there are innumerable more people of faith who, more and more, will be making every contingency plan possible to ensure that THEIR children don't have to suffer through the deceptive indoctrination and social engineering of the public school system- an immoral battle ground of rapant seclularism, hedonistic sexuality, and the exulatation of "science" as some sort of god.

Finally, I want to respond to what I see as a ludicrous, short-sighted question by "Brent Jones- science teacher extrodinairre", who asked the question, "Can you find evidence for the Designer"? Apparently, you and those like you are so myopic that you fail to see the forest through the trees. The evidence for the "Designer" is all around you. You stand on His earth. You breath His air. You see, and perhaps enjoy His creation. But because God does not fit neatly into your narrow demand of being "testable", you conclude His inexistence, to your own detriment. You see His handiwork in natural creation, but deny His reality. What a shame that in your search for truth you have missed the TRUTH. "Since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:18).

Intelligent Design merely looks at the biological facts of life's complexity, and reasons to a Being of vast intelligence for an explanation of those facts, rather than pointing to mutations, time, chance and natural selection. Intelligent Design is non-sectarian. It does not propose a theological statement of faith. It does not support any particular, specific religious viewpoint. It does not attempt to name God, or proscribe a given spiritual path. ID is being railroaded by activist judges and nervous school teachers not because it is religious, but because it upsets and challenges their neat little pet theory- their "theology", so to speak. It darn well SHOULD be taught in public schools, right along side Darwin's controversial little theory. Then again, given they have apparently failed teaching the basics of science, I doubt many would be able to clearly communicate, in intelligent unbiased fashion, the competing and completely valid scientific explaination of life's origins know as Intelligent Design.

I have probably ranted enough. All I can say to those of you who stand against faith and and against God in your adherence to evolution is: "enjoy your life now, because this is your heaven". Live as if there is no God, and do it with all the zest and gusto that you can muster, because when Judgment Day comes, the party's over. Your evolutionary "wisdom" and your testable experiments will be shown before all of heaven and earth to be the ultimate in foolishness. Your appeals to "empiricism" will be utterly rejected. You will stand before God and realize that your scientific "reality" was a finely concocted delusion, and that you have staked your eternal future on the vain claims of dead people like Charles Darwin.

As for me and my house, we will stake OUR eternity on the Living One, Jesus Christ. It's your move. Make an ID- an "Intelligent Decision".

For those proponents of Intelligent Design, as an alternative theory to Natural Selection and Evolution, I wonder how many of them have given genuine thought to the unending list of possible ‘theories’ (wrongly used) that may be concocted under their broad umbrella.

For instance:
1. Von Daniken suggested, in the 1960’s, that the human race was created as a genetic blend between primates and space travelers who arrived here on earth. He presented quite a comprehensive study - which still retains a degree of scientific resonance - in his book Chariots of the Gods? Was mankind intelligently designed in this manner?

2. Victor Alexander has written a precipice in which he claims scriptural and scientific support for his theory, known as the Theory of the Aborigine. In this theory, he claims that God created the Neanderthal before he created Adam and Eve. These Neanderthals evolved as science has suggested, culminating with their interbreeding with the ‘Sons and Daughters of Adam and Eve’. The resulting species he calls the aborigine. (The Bible calls them the Nephilim)The author claims scientific, anthropological, religious, political and cultural evidence for his ‘theory’. Was mankind intelligently designed in this manner?

3. Many so-called ‘researchers’ claim that aliens landed on earth and genetically altered the primates that existed here; essentially engineering the modern Homo Sapiens from existing beasts. Was mankind intelligently designed in this manner?

Each of these ‘theories’ has quantifiable research to support the claims made by the proponents. Each of these ‘theories’ is believed to be true by thousands of people, and most are ‘supported’ by titled and degreed scientists. Which among them should we science teachers be required to teach? Which among them can stand up to the scrutiny of reason?

So where does the ‘theory’ of ‘Intelligent Design’ fit in? Much like the so-called theories described above – and unlike the genuine Theory of Evolution – Intelligent Design rests not on that which is observable, quantifiable or rational. Instead it rests wholly on the faith that somewhere there exists a hidden or hiding power, that is responsible for creating our world, for His pleasure. It rests on the need to explain our existence without the rigors of inquiry or scientific justification.

In other words, it is perfect fodder for developing the scientific minds of a culture in decline, and a nation seeking to be a third-rate technological afterthought in the world of the 21st Century.

I am amazed that many who believe in Intelligent Design as a scientific reality also believe that a belief in evolution and a belief in God are mutually exclusive. This is totally incorrect. Believing in evolution does NOT mean that someone cannot believe in God.

To believe that science can prove to us how things happened, can be tested, and retested is to use the talents God gave us to understand our world. When someone says that the existence of God cannot be tested and that there is no "evidence" of God existing, this is true. This does not mean that God does not exist.

The entire point of faith is to believe without being able to have proof. That is the point, and so not being testable is a fact, and it is okay, but it is not science, it is faith. And faith in God does not mean that one cannot also understand and believe in scientific theories.

Alisa

I love the response from Ric Seager above. There are MANY theories/beliefs out there about our origins and if people are going to demand that ID be taught alongside evolution as two alternative theories -- then why not include all of the other beliefs and theories about our origins. All religions and cultures have their own beliefs about human origins and many of those beliefs contradict each other.

Honestly -- I can't understand why so many people can't balance their personal religious beliefs with science. I grew up in a Christian home and learned through my church and religious classes the Judeo-Christian ideas about how the world and life were created. In school I learned the scientific theories that were based on observation of the fossil record. Over time I found ways for all of it to make sense to me.

I also agree with the comments about keeping science and religion separate -- there is no need to teach science in church and no need to teach religious beliefs in the classroom.

I'm really quite tired of the narrow-mindedness of so many "Christians" who feel that everyone should be indoctrinated with their religious beliefs. Not everyone in this country is Christian and not every parent wants their child learning Christian beliefs in a public school classroom.

By the way -- if we are going to teach ID in schools... then please answer these questions for me:

1) Which version of the creation of mankind woudl be used? There are two different versions presented at the beginning of Genesis.

2) Will we also teach our children about the giants who once roamed the earth and who mated with the daughters of mankind? That's also in the book of Genesis -- go back and reread it if you don't believe me. If there were giants -- then where is the evidence in the fossil record?

I am with you, Alisa! I too am a born-and-raised Catholic, and born-again Christian. However, I like to quote Galileo, who said, 'I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.'

Belief in God and belief that God's Creation is greater that what is revealed in the Divine Word are not mutually exclusive. Only teh most closed-minded of us fail to (or wish to fail to) see that there is more to the story than what a few nomadic tribal leaders wrote about 4,000 years ago.....

To read more from Galileo, and to see clearly that he too was not atheist (as some would proport), go to www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/galileo/lettercastelli.html

'There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.' -- Hamlet, Shakespeare

Religion nor Science alone can explain all of the mysteries of life, the universe, and everything -- however, Evolution, as a Scientific Theory based on observation and analysis of the fossil record, should be addressed in a science class and anything that is based on faith or mythology (which all religions are classified as) should be left out of the science classroom.

That is not to say that the teaching of a faith-based viewpoint should not be taught to children, but the science classroom is not the place to teach it. Science is a specific discipline and therefore, the content of the curriculum should be based on that discipline.

I never thought I'd see the day when missionary zeal would wilt to the point that inclusion of revealed truth in the science curriculum would be sought to give it the ring of authenticity! It is crazy to force teachers, trained in natural science, to deliver such lessons and field the questions that they will inspire. Even worse, it is poor theology. As a Christian, I am, both, flattered and confused by this situation. My fundamental co-religionists have chosen my discipline, founded in a tradition of experimental attempts to negate, within which to advance propositions that are untestable! At the same time I am sort of "flattered" that my discipline is percieved to be so respected by learners that it should be a "big enough tent" to consider the unconsiderable, and, so, give it more status!

Perhaps these meddlers would better serve their mission to youth through prayer and witness.

i think that the whole theory thing is out of hand it it violating our constitutional rights as i am a high school student i think we should have a choice on this because we are americans and americans have no set cultures or religions so putting a religion in high schools is saying that children are to believe in god i myself believe but we do have people that dont so why not make it its own class to where we have a right to chose if we want to believe in god or not and dont make the class requird because all u r saying is that is what we are supposed to believe

As an ordained minister and licensed professional engineer with a Ph.D. in bioengineering, I wonder if I might understand something that those with a less diverse background could possibly overlook.

Evolution is directly observable, but so is creativity. Punctuated equilibrium is predicted by the Schrödinger equation of quantum mechanics.

Perhaps it would be wise to ponder the possibility that the equilibrium phase of what the Schrödinger equation predicts corresponds to a post-modern interpretation of Darwinian evolution and the punctuation phase corresponds to something usefully called creativity.

That the world was created in some magical way close to 6000 years ago is absurd from any sort of intelligible, scientific model of existence. Yet the laws of thermodynamics (conservation of mass-energy, entropy being monotonic-increasing, and those laws applying to all closed systems) quite simply do not allow the world to exist.

That there are no ideas today which did not exist fully formed in the distant past is also scientifically absurd.

Furthermore, adaptation to environmental stress through sorting of pre-existing genetic diversity does not allow for new species to arise that have a different number of chromosomes.

There is a very viable model of new species origination in which the new species has a different number of chromosomes than any prior species, and it is found in the "jumping genes" work of Barbara McClintoch. Yet events of that sort are rare enough as to be nearly indistinguishable from creativity.

Evolution is directly observable? Why else to we need new forms of flu shots for new variations of the flu virus? Creativity is directly observable? Why else do we have an equation that states that the speed of light is the square root of the ration of energy to mass?

The need for new forms of flu shots comes from small changes in the flu virus. But Einstein's theory of relativity was a scientific revolution.

I think of the story of the two people and the glass of water filled half way with water. The pessimist sees the glass as half empty and the pessimist sees it as half full.

But the glass is always full because air to breathe is not less important than water to drink.

Perhaps there is a meaningful way, that has not yet been created, to understand evolution thoroughly, and perhaps a way is evolving to understand creativity thoroughly.

Sometimes I wonder about that, when I observe that hurting people seems to be so much more important than helping people, at least to those who act as though they are intent for making rules for others which the rule makers observably cannot obey.

Correction to my prior message.

It seems that everyone makes mistakes from time to time. I had carefully proof-read my prior message several times, but missed one typographical oops.

One sentence that I wrote should read, "Why else do we have an equation that states that the speed of light is the square root of the ratio of energy to mass?"

Or does "the ration of energy to mass" have some significance that eludes me?

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