« Titan's methane not of biological origin | Main | "Stealth Attack On Evolution" in Time »

January 28, 2005

Is Banning Intelligent Design a Mistake?

If you have an interest in the creation/evolution struggle, you're probably familiar with the recent decision by the Dover Area School District in Pennsylvania to require the reading of a statement about Intelligent Design in all 9th grade biology classes. The statement says, basically, that evolution is just a theory, that there are problems with it, that an alternative theory called "Intelligent Design" exists, and that interested students can learn more by checking out a book in the library. (The full text of the statement can be found online.)

According to an article in the York Daily Record, Students Miss ID Idea, after the statement was read in their biology class by a school administrator, the students still knew nothing about Intelligent Design. Here's an excerpt from the article that caught my eye:

After students heard the statement, they were told that if they had any questions, they should speak to their parents or contact district administrators, students said. They were also told they could refer to one of 60 copies of the book, "Of Pandas and People," kept in the high-school library.

Yagodich said some of her friends had questions, but administrators left the room before anyone could raise their hands.

"Pretty much on the last word they were headed for the doors," she said.

And later in the article:

After Miller returned to the classroom, she said some students were a little confused and frustrated.

"Students did voice their frustration that they couldn't ask more questions about intelligent design," Miller said.

I think this indicates a big problem with the "ban Intelligent Design" strategy. Imagine for a moment that you're a school student and you've just been told that there's this thing called "Intelligent Design", but that it is forbidden to teach you anything about it. What do you suppose you're going to do? Well, if you're like most students, you're going to forget about it 'cuz you've got better things to do in your life. :-)

But it's possible that you'll wonder about this "forbidden fruit" and will pick up a copy of a book like "Of Pandas and People" to read. You'll then read lots of claims about the alleged shortcomings of evolution — without anyone to explain how those claims are wrong.

If, on the other hand, your biology teacher, in teaching evolution, also teaches Intelligent Design, two things happen. One is that ID is no longer "forbidden fruit". The other is that, as your teachers mentions each claim made by ID, he/she can also explain why that claim isn't valid, debunking ID on the spot.

I've heard that in many European countries, rather than prohibiting religion from the classroom, they teach numerous religious ideas in school. As a result, someone who only knows Christianity is also exposed to Islam, Buddhism, Shinto, Hinduism, Confucianism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, etc. They supposedly quickly get the point that not all of them can be right, so perhaps they should be a bit more tolerant and open to the ideas of others. As a result, they don't have as many problems with Christian religious fundamentalists insisting that public institutions reflect their beliefs. And in particular, they don't have to worry about teaching creationism in the classroom.

If this is truly the case in European countries (can anyone confirm this?), I'm wondering whether it's something we ought to consider implementing here in the US.

Submit to Digg | Submit to Reddit

January 28, 2005 in Creationism and Evolution | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
https://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d834544a0669e200d8344daf7853ef

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Is Banning Intelligent Design a Mistake?:

Comments

I was reading the articles about evolution/creationism/intelligent design on you web site and wanted to ask your honest opinion. I'm not sure any of us have an "honest" opinion, but an opinion is expressed my most of us anyway.
Fundementalist Christians like most Americans are lazy complacent people. They let others form their opinions for them. They also pay taxes to have their children's opinions formed for them in the public school system. Some pay extra to have those opinions formed in private schools.
Shouldn't they have a right to express a desire to regulate what kind of crap they pay to have their kids taught?
If something is crap it shouldn't be fed to others as food. Evolution is just another belief system like most religions. It is Crap.
If I go into the woods and find a pond and something crawls out of it maybe I should go running to the news media and have them print the headline "Local Man Observes Evolution First Hand". What kind of skeptic are you? Would you believe me if I S--- out a new life form from my rectum? It's something I can duplicate. It's not just a theory. Why do you side(sound like you side)with evolution? What's wrong with a "theory" of intelligent design? How else can you explain the human body? How else can you explain the environment with all its systems? Evolution doesn't work.
Are you familiar with the term "Mongoloid" with regards to a crtain genetic defect? It comes from a theory that says a life form goes through various stages negroid-mongoloid-caucasoid.
Or perhaps nonwhites are of lesser value?
Of course there are those who would say this proves evolution. (Of course there is no proof of anything-only evidence)
Come on and become a REAL skeptic. Don't believe the crap they teach you look it up for yourself.
Join the real scholars and be hated of all men.

Posted by: Jim | Jul 16, 2005 7:54:34 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.