Intelligent design taught in science classes

Liz Buckley

Federal lawsuit scheduled for Sept. 26

A federal lawsuit has given the Dover Area School District in Pennsylvania national attention. The district requires its students to learn about the theory of intelligent design along with the theory of evolution in science classes.

“It’s kind of sad,” said Dennis Cooke, professor emeritus of biological sciences at Kent State. “They’re kind of falling off the deep end.”

According to The Associated Press, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege that the theory of intelligent design is a secular version of creationism, the biblical view that God created life, and this violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

Intelligent design is a theory that holds that the origin of life had to have been guided by a supernatural force because the universe is so complex.

The Thomas More Law Center, which is representing the school district in the federal lawsuit, would disagree. According to the center’s mission statement, it is a “not-for-profit public interest law firm dedicated to the defense and promotion of the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life.”

The center said, in a statement, that Charles Darwin did not have access to advancements in biochemistry and microbiology. These advancements have shown the complexity of cells and how they regulate biological processes. This suggests that the theory of intelligent design is the best explanation for the origin of life.

But the belief that Darwin’s theory of natural selection is about the origin of life is not true, Cooke said.

“No one knows where life came from,” he said.

Cooke doesn’t have a problem with the theory of intelligent design being taught in public schools. He just doesn’t think it should be taught in science class. Instead, it should be taught in a religion or philosophy class.

“It’s not a scientific idea,” Cooke said. “It can’t be tested. All sciences go through the peer-reviewed process. It’s not science. Anything supernatural is not testable.”

The argument about what theories to teach school children in science class has been going on since the Scopes Monkey Trial about 80 years ago. The Supreme Court of the United States decided the case of Edwards v. Aguillard on June 19, 1987. The Supreme Court held that a statute requiring public schools that teach evolution to teach creationism violated the constitutional separation of church and state.

The trial for the Dover Area School District lawsuit is scheduled to begin Sept. 26, according to the AP.

Contact science reporter Liz Buckley at [email protected].