On December 20, 2005, during the Dover School Area District Court Case, the courtroom was silent while waiting for the decision sure to come from Judge Jones’s mouth. As if on cue, the judge issued that intelligent design being taught in class is unconstitutional. The crowd began its murmuring which filled the entire room. Another battle on the same issue won to some and lost to others, however, the war is far from over. I propose we put a stop to this maddening issue once and for all. Intelligent design should be taught along with evolution in biology class to appease academic freedom and a serious need to end this war with a compromise.
To some, this issue is unimportant. However, according to Mr. Knight, a teacher from Proctor High School, it is a dangerous battle that keeps raging on. “Our students are not being taught to see the evidence and decide for themselves. Not only that, but they think, based on our actions, that they are not even allowed to��? (Knight). America is ignoring the need to solve the evolution versus intelligent design issue made evident by court case after court case. We need to come to an agreement and stick with it before the argument tears schools apart.
The problem started in 1859 when Charles Darwin came out with the publication of “Origin.��? In 1925, 15 states considered the topic illegal for schools, and in that same year, John Scopes was charged for teaching evolution in what is known as the “monkey��? trial. More than 60 years later, the Supreme Court turned the table in Louisiana declaring that the Creationism Act, which promoted the teaching of creationism in school, was unconstitutional (Adams). After these events transpired, the court cases piled up with arguments and debate.
First, one must know what theories I am referring to. Intelligent design is a theory that proposes that living organisms are so complex that some supernatural entity must have been at work (Adams). Evolution is a gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form (Definitions evolution). This is usually referring to the process of humans evolving from primates into what we are today. Evolution is the theory that is accepted in most public schools, but intelligent design is not. Avoiding the teaching of intelligent design is a violation of academic freedom. The definition of academic freedom is the liberty to teach, pursue, and discuss knowledge without restriction or interference, as by school or public official (Definitions academic freedom). This definition of academic freedom favors the teaching of intelligent design. It means that we are to teach knowledge without interference, but we are interfering all of the time by blatantly ignoring intelligent design. The argument has come up that just because a select few people believe that the earth is flat, should we present it? This argument is weak because obviously intelligent design is a theory that many people agree with not just a select few. In fact, according to the article, <em>Teaching Science with Faith in Mind</em>, more than 50% of people believe that humans were created as we are today, without having undergone any evolutionary development. About 40% of U.S. citizens completely reject the theory of evolution and believe in creationism (Eisen). Why then are we not allowing our students to explore the possibility of this topic? There are scientists out there who even support intelligent design. One, for example, is Michael Behe, who has developed the argument for design from biochemistry and has published over 35 articles in biochemical journals. Another example of a scientist in favor of intelligent design is Dr. Gonzalez, a world-renowned astrobiologist and assistant professor of astronomy at Iowa State University (Smith). Obviously, when we consider that these are people who study science, we can conclude that this theory is one worth looking into.
Students should have the right to be presented the facts without teachers only pushing certain theories. When asked if ignoring intelligent design is a violation of academic freedom, Mr. Knight responded, “Most teachers present it like they have to prove one or the other. It’s like they are worried that teaching creation would put it on the same level as evolution. Their answer to this worry is to not address it at all. That’s an agenda. It may be hidden well, but it is still an agenda.��? This statement is made evident by the attacks that of come from the public during the trials associated with evolution and intelligent design. Certain comments have been heard such as, “religion ruins science,��? and “pro-creationists are trying to ruin the science programs.��? It is not about ruining anything. It is about academic freedom. Let’s stick to the facts. John H Calvert, a lawyer, states this, “Policies that endorse the teaching of material causes for life and forbid teaching alternative evidence of intelligent design violate Constitutional neutrality by favoring one religion over another. The materialist, non-theistic world view that supports evolution is as much a religion as world views that believe life was created by God or gods��? (Calvert). It is Calvert’s professional obligation as a lawyer to understand constitutional ideas like academic freedom, and if he says ignoring intelligent design is a violation, then perhaps the citizens should take a breath and consider it. Perhaps we would come to the conclusion that both are theories, so if America wants to sustain academic freedom, then teaching intelligent design is vital.
When asked if a compromise is needed regarding this topic in school, Mr. Knight states, “It would help, but it won’t happen.��? Now the problem has shifted from a violation of academic freedom to teaching our students to be narrow-minded and biased. In order to avoid this, a compromise must be made. According to an article from <em>School Administrator</em>, there are tools to successful compromising. The first is called integral vision. This is the commitment to hold all sides of the conflict, in all their complexity, in our minds. It is about being open to the whole picture of the issue. We can apply this by simply being open-minded to the idea that we can tastefully present intelligent design. The second is known as presence. This can be applied by simply being present emotionally while the other side of the conflict is being presented. We should not shut down and refuse to think about the issue of intelligent design being taught (Gerzon). How do we expect to teach these principles to our students, if we are too afraid to show them in our conduct? To some, avoiding this compromise is not a big deal. The fact is though, it is. We are teaching kids that we should not even consider different options to life’s problems than the one we “think��? we know. We should always be open to opinions, questions, and concerns and we should teach our children the same. In fact, our students want us to. They want us to show them the evidence, and trust them enough to choose the right theory for them.
I understand that teachers fear the compromising effect this issue will have on students. Why this issue and no others? Teachers effectively teach different subjects every day tastefully. For example, when discussing the country’s political views, the teacher is obligated to present both the republican and democratic party free of bias. The teacher has a political view of course, but it should not be shown to the students. They in turn get to choose for themselves which direction they want to go. Intelligent design can be taught tastefully also. One doesn’t need to push religion, but just present the facts. Different theories should not be excluded in our schools (Mackenzie).
Obviously, arguments against the teaching of intelligent design must be addressed. The separation of church and state is a major issue. This means that the teaching of the church along with religion should not be forced in our schools. No student should be forced to do anything religious. In fact the United Methodist Church adopted a pro-evolution resolution reaffirming its stance against government-sponsored religion in public schools. They feared teachers teaching religion in the wrong way (S.B). To some, this was a huge victory to anti-intelligent design activists for schools because if they can get the pro-creationist to agree then the argument will be gone. However, according to Mr. Knight, who is in favor of the separation of church and state, teaching intelligent design does not violate this rule because the teacher would be presenting the theory by focusing on the scientific evidence behind it. The teacher does not have to push faith. I agree and realize that I am calling for our society to be open-minded and unbiased. In high school, I was taught by a number of teachers to think for myself. I want that kind of freedom to be given to the high school students of today. However, in order for this dream to become reality, a compromise must be made, intelligent design must be presented, and it must be presented in a neutral way to give the academic freedom that our students deserve.
I understand there are some, however, that fear addressing intelligent design, because it goes against the very nature of science. However, this is false. The definition of science is the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena (Definition science). If one argues that intelligent design does not fit this definition then one can also argue that evolution does not either. Mr. Knight brings up a fair rebuttal when he states, “I’ve seen both sides of both theories. There are holes that are present in the theory of evolution and there are things that you just have to believe about intelligent design. But there is evidence for both.��? In the end, both evolution and intelligent design are theories. If you are going to present one, then you must present the other. According to Kerwin Thiessen, an activist for intelligent design to be presented in schools, neither theory can be proven because no one, who could record it, was present to see what happened. Once again, if one is taught, the other must follow.
The murmuring that fills the courtroom can be silenced. The students can enjoy the freedom that comes with being presented theories and being trusted to choose the right one for them. The country can stop fighting. Teach intelligent design in school and provide a happy ending for every party involved.
Adams, William Lee. “Other Schools of Thought.” <em>Newsweek</em> 146.22 (2005): 57. <em>Academic Search Premier</em>. EBSCO. Web. 21 Apr. 2010.
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“Definitions of science.” <em>Dictionary.com</em>. Ask.com, 2005. Web. 28 Apr 2010.
Eisen, Arri, and David Westmoreland. “Teaching Science, With Faith in Mind.” <em>The Chronicle of Higher Education</em> 55.34 (2009). <em>Professional Collection</em>. Web. 21 Apr. 2010.
Gerzon, Mark. “Leading through conflict: catalyzing school change can turn emotional differences of opinion into learning opportunities.” <em>School Administrator</em> 63.10 (2006): 28+. <em>Professional Collection</em>. Web. 21 Apr. 2010.
John H. Calvert. “Outlawing Discussion of Intelligent Design in Schools Is a Violation.” <em>At Issue: Intelligent Design vs. Evolution</em>. Ed. Louise Gerdes. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2008. <em>Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center</em>. Web. 21 Apr. 2010.
Knight, Matthew J. Personal interview. 25 Apr. 2010.
Mackenzie, Jim. “How biology teachers can respond to Intelligent Design.” <em>Cambridge Journal of Education</em> 40.1 (2010): 53-67. <em>EBSCO MegaFILE</em>. EBSCO. Web. 21 Apr. 2010.
S., B. “METHODISTS OPPOSE CREATIONISM IN PUBLIC SCHOOL SCIENCE CLASSES.” <em>Church & State</em> 61.7 (2008): 6. <em>EBSCO MegaFILE</em>. EBSCO. Web. 21 Apr. 2010.
Smith, Anika. “Scientists who support intelligent design.” <em>Evolution: News and Views</em>. Discovery Institute, 11 May 2007. Web. 4 May 2010.
Thiessen, Kerwin. <em>Forum: Should Creationism Be Taught in Public Schools? Yes!</em>. Direction, Oct. 1982. Web. 21 Apr 2010