Friday, September 23, 2005

Intelligent Design and the Schools

I really am not sure about the concept of intelligent design. What I mean by this really is I am not sure that it should be 'taught' in public school. I have always been of the opinion that religious education should be done at religious institutions.

I sort of started to 'bend' on this subject to some extent last week. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart had 'Evolution' week and on one show they had a panel discussion. The points made by the intelligent design panelist were very interesting. The fact is that much of what this panelist discussed was very close to what I believe as a 'religious' matter. And this is where I run in to that problem again.

The legal case based on a disagreement between a group of parents and the Dover Pa School Board on this subject is moving in the direction of going to the Supreme Court. This is going to be one of those 'fundamental societal' decisions possible for generations to come. Just as the Scopes trial was in it's time. One would think that the Court as it is possibly going to be composed by the time this case is heard could 'overturn' Scopes. The problem still comes down to the Establishment clause of the Constitution. If one looks at the constitution strickly, and that is how I think it should be interpreted, the Establishment Clause argument could really be taken two ways, that ONLY the Federal government, and Congress in particular, is prohibited in the establishment of any type of state religion, or that by prohibiting the Federal government from establishing a state religion, all levels of government are there by prohibited.

I generally go with the first explination, but I still don't like the idea of a public school system teaching a religious concept.

My concern on this particular case is statement from groups involved such as "It's a disturbing prospect that the outcome of this lawsuit could be that the court will try to tell scientists what is legitimate scientific inquiry and what is not," West said. "That is a flagrant assault on free speech." This type of concept bothers me. First of all to argue the first idea, that not teaching this will prevent legitimate scientific inquiry, this is a blantantly ridiculous comment. I don't recall ever being taught how to do anytime of medical research or stem cell/DNA extraction studying in school, yet these areas of science seem to be having a large amount of scientific inquiry. Second, no one is saying that these subjects are illegal to discuss, only that they should not be taught, at this time, in school.

The school board says there are "gaps" in evolution, which it emphasizes is a theory rather than established fact, and that students have a right to consider other views on the origins of life. In their camp is President George W. Bush, who has said schools should teach evolution and intelligent design. I am not sure exactly why this is even the argument, unless you are saying you are teaching religious creationism. The general statements on intellegent design that I have heard, do not ignore the evidence that at least some evolution has occured, but that the 'gaps' as the article calls them are filled by some type of intellegence contribution to the continuence of the cycle/system of development. These statements are further moved along the realm of a religious argument when you take into account that The board is being represented by "The Thomas More Law Center, a Michigan-based nonprofit which says it uses litigation to promote "the religious freedom of Christians and time-honored family values."

The local trial begins on Monday in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and is expected to last about five weeks. I will attempt to try to keep up on the issues in this trial as it goes on and see if we can discuss these issues further.

CNN Article

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