January 4, 2006
Find a Place for Intelligent Design in Public Schools
A memo to all who
are embroiled in the ruckus over intelligent design: Let's have
everybody climb down from the high horses, and we might actually
do right by our kids.
It seems the only
people who can be found for comment are atheists who seethe at
the notion of faith arising in any fashion in a public school
course and evangelicals getting their licks in after 40-plus years
of school-prayer frustration.
This is driving the
rest of us nuts. There are millions of Americans of faith who
are willing to have evolution taught as what it is – a theory.
Conversely, there are staunch believers in evolution who have
no quarrel with a school curriculum that finds room for the discussion
of whether all of creation is a happy accident or the plan of
a supreme being.
The battle is over
where that subject comes up.
Religious people have
had it up to their eyeballs with the clumsy overreach of school
districts that have perverted their responsibility for religious
neutrality by exercising genuine religious hostility.
They want the notion
of intelligent design taught in science class, right alongside
Darwinism, and let Madalyn Murray O'Hair whine all she likes in
whatever dark corner of the afterlife she occupies.
But there's a problem:
Intelligent design is not science.
It is the job of science
to have no comment about that which is objectively unobservable,
and God is at the top of that list.
That means science
has no basis for arguing for God's existence, but should not argue
against it either. There's that pesky neutrality obligation again.
But is a child fully
educated if he is never asked to consider something most of the
Putting specific faith
completely aside, isn't the notion of our creation one of the
most compelling philosophical issues of any lifetime?
from my Christianity, I would say as a pure matter of logic that
an omniscient creation is far more plausible than the belief that
we are all here just by chance.
Others may disagree.
Let them, and please let it be within earshot of kids in school.
A philosophy course, social studies, whatever anyone wants to
call it – but let's not be hamstrung by the phony argument
that this amounts to religious instruction.
I remember a high
school course that taught the religious creation theories of the
ancient Norse cultures, the Egyptians and a host of other societies.
Why not our own?
Kids may believe what
they wish, and such teaching would not prod them toward or away
from any belief. It would simply tell them what those beliefs
Would that science
academicians exercised such restraint when anyone looks askance
at the holy grail of evolution.
don't want science classes diverted into areas beyond science's
purview. That's fine.
But any advocate of
a culturally literate student body should also hope that kids
get an earful of what most in America and the rest of Western
culture believe on a variety of issues, some of them spiritual.
of how we all got here enjoys its proper place in our schoolbooks.
If room is not made in some other class for a more ethereal view
on that subject, our kids lose out.
The shame in this
whole debate is that it has been hijacked by hard-liners on both
sides with no room to give an inch.
A teacher once told
me, "I could learn tomorrow that every speck of the theory
of evolution is true, and I would be in no less awe of God, because
I would know it was his plan."
In today's bare-knuckle
atmosphere, that teacher gets fired. But it showed me that all
the competing ideas about such lofty things as creation need not
be mutually exclusive.
We will not know the
answers to these matters in our time on Earth. So let's work together
to find a way to bring the scientific, philosophical and even
religious teachings into schools – not to compete in a loser-leaves-town
brawl, but to blend onto the plate of a thorough education.
Davis is a columnist for the Dallas
The Mark Davis
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His e-mail address is email@example.com.