Thursday, January 20, 2005

Intelligent Design?!?

I can't believe it. The full story is linked here. To summarize a public school district in PA is having its science teachers teach intelligent design along with evolution. To quote from the article:

"The district is believed to be the only one in the nation to require students to hear about intelligent design -- a concept that holds that the universe is so complex, it had to be created by an unspecified guiding force."

Even though teachers and students are not required to hear it, it is still integrating religious beliefs into public education where it really has no place. Actually, that is not entirely true. I remember being fascinated by my World Cultures class, but the religious material was presented more as a comparison - this religion believes this and this other religion believes something different. It wasn't hostile and it wasn't a competition to see which religion was the correct one. Teaching intelligent design directly pits religion against science.

Furthermore, if we have to present a religious viewpoint for evolution then we will have to present religious for other phenomena. What about homosexuality? In high school my classmates would often question the teacher as to why some people were gay. The scientific answer involves a theory about subtle brain differences which is what she would tell the class. However, many religions believe that being gay is "wrong" and that they are going to hell, etc. Will a teacher have to read a statement like that at every tolerance assembly?

Finally, while religion does not play a large part in my life, I understand that it will for many of my students. I do not believe in intelligent design, but many of my students will. Hopefully, I will be able to teach evolution, maybe not extensively, but it is an issue that my students should be aware of. I will probably say something to the effect that this is just one possible way that the world could become what it is today, but there are also other ways it could have happened. I see no need to be specific as to what those other ways are. Then I would present the evidence supporting evolution and let my HIGH SCHOOL students make what they will of it. They can make their own decisions...but I guess that is what so many people are afraid of.

**Note: I am not anti religion, I am just opposed to it in public schools. I'm not on a crusade to erradicate religion I just don't want to be required to teach it in anyway.


At 4:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the purpose of school is to prepare students for life, so I want them to understand a lot of different points of view, so they can interact with people who hold those views.

I examine those theories, from the big bang to intelligent design, as theories, still to be proven. I just say "some people think...", "some other people think" etc.

When students want to know 'the truth' from me (when they insist on hearing my views), I'll tell them what I think, but, since I'm a naturally skeptical person, I'll often say, "but I don't know if that's actually true. Do some research of your own, etc."

Even as an athiest, I don't consider it an imposition to explain religious views in school. Whatever they're interested in, I'll talk about.


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