[quote][b][u][b]District defends evolution teaching plan[/b][/u]Thursday, January 6, 2005 Posted: 9:05 AM EST (1405 GMT)
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (Reuters) -- A Pennsylvania school district Wednesday rejected charges that plans to include references to an alternative to Darwin's theory of evolution in high school biology classes would be illegal.
The Dover Area School District near Harrisburg is the first in the United States to introduce "Intelligent Design," a theory that the natural world is so complex it must have been made by an intelligent being, rather than occurring by chance, as held by Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.
The district was sued by the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State on December 14 over plans to teach the theory starting next week. The lawsuit is the first to challenge the teaching of Intelligent Design, which the groups say violates the Constitutional separation of church and state.
The civil rights groups argued that "Intelligent Design" is a thinly veiled version of creationism -- the belief that the earth was made by God. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 1980s that teaching creationism in public schools would violate the constitutional separation of church and state.
The school district said in Wednesday's court filing that its "biology curriculum policy does not advance religion."
Instead, it informs "students about the existing scientific controversy surrounding Darwin's Theory of Evolution."
Christian conservatives, who played an important role in the re-election of President Bush, have been pressing for decades for creationism to be taught in schools.
Lawyers for the school board said that neither creationism nor "Intelligent Design" will be taught to students, and that no religious beliefs will be taught.
Intelligent Design does not presuppose any supernatural being, and is not creationism, the school district said in its response, saying the school district will also continue to teach evolution.
On January 13, teachers will be required to read a statement saying that Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view, and that if students want to read more about it, they can read a book called "Of Pandas and People" which they can find in the school library.
Witold Walczak, legal director of the ACLU in Pennsylvania, said the plaintiffs will not seek an order to stop the policy being implemented next week and hope the case will go to trial in the coming months.
"This is the first legal challenge to Intelligent Design, and that alone makes it important," Walczak said. "If we lose, we really fear that you will see school districts all across the country teaching Intelligent Design."
There are many scientists who are believers in Intelligent Design, especially many who do not consider themselves to be religious. There are also many who were proud athiests who have "turned" towards ID. In fact, the atheist movement within hard sciences like astrophysics has lost considerable momentum over the past twenty years or so (read Science magainze, they had an article about it a while back). Anyway, there are differences between the two theories, Creationism and ID. IMO it is not accurate to lump ID in with Creationism or religion, though perhaps this is a back-door way to get eventually get Creationism in these schools...I can't speak about the true motives of the proponents since I don't know.
Though I don't believe it, personally, I have no problem with ID being taught in schools, so long as evolution is also taught. I have no problem with that at all...for what that is worth.