An ‘intelligent’ decision

Earlier this week the Ohio Board of Education brought the state’s science classrooms back into the realm of reality.

On Tuesday, the Ohio school board voted to delete a passage in the state’s science standards critics have said opened the door to teaching intelligent design, The Associated Press reported.

In an 11-4 vote, the school board decided to eliminate material encouraging students to seek evidence for and against evolution.

According to those science standards, students should be able to “describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory,” the AP reported. The standards also included a disclaimer that the teaching of intelligent design is not required.

The vote is another setback for the intelligent design movement, which claims life and some systems of nature are so complex, they must have been created by a designer or supernatural higher authority. Such complexity, many intelligent design proponents say, cannot be explained by evolution.

School board officials in Pennsylvania recently ruled against intelligent design in the classroom. In December, a federal judge barred the school system in Dover, Pa., from teaching intelligent design alongside evolution in high school biology classes, reported. The judge, John Jones, said intelligent design is religion posing as science, and teaching it with evolution violates the separation of church and state.

We agree with Jones. Granted, Darwin’s theory of evolution is not perfect. It’s a theory (a well-established one). However, that cannot give one a license to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis rooted in religion – such as intelligent design – into our public school classrooms.

While the old Ohio standards did not require teaching intelligent design, having lesson plans specifically geared to “critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory” is a step toward bringing intelligent design into curriculums.

We’re not the only ones who feel this way, either. According to the AP, members of a committee that advises Ohio education officials on the state’s science curriculum said the standard unfairly singled out Darwin’s theory and pointed curriculums toward teaching religion.

Deleting the passage from the state’s standards also helps Ohio to avoid lawsuits.

Pennsylvania Judge Jones recently presided over a lawsuit filed by parents and advocate groups against a Dover Area School District policy requiring high school teachers to teach intelligent design as an alternative to evolution.

Jones’ ruling, which applied on to the Pennsylvania school district, blocked the policy.

Removing intelligent design, or any avenues leading to it, from Ohio’s classroom is indeed good for students and the state, not to mention science.

As Ohio school board member Martha Wise said, “It is deeply unfair to the children of this state to mislead them about science.”

While critics of intelligent design may be smiling now, supporters of the eliminated Ohio passage pledged to force another vote, the AP reported.

“We’ll do this forever, I guess,” board member Michael Cochran said.

We’ll just hope the school board continues to stay grounded as this debate, well, evolves.

The above editorial was the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.