Science Curriculum Decision in Pennsylvania May Be a First

Preliminary comment

on October 21, 2004

The Dover Area School Board (southern Pennsylvania, USA) voted on Monday evening to require the teaching of intelligent design1 in its public school science classes. As far as we know, it is the first public school district in the USA to do so.

According to the York Daily Record newspaper (Wednesday, October 20), the board voted 6 to 3 to approve the teaching of alternative theories to evolution, “including, but not limited to, intelligent design.” The paper reports that the newly revised biology curriculum states that “students will be made aware of gaps/problems in Darwin's Theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to, intelligent design. Note: Origins of life will not be taught.”

The teaching of alternative ideas to evolution...may turn out to be counter-productive.
AiG will be looking more into what the board has decided (including its comment that the topic of the “origins of life will not be taught” and what that really means), but we have some cautions for the moment. AiG has stated many times that it does not favor the mandating of the teaching of alternative ideas to evolution (such as the teachings in the book of Genesis) because it may turn out to be counter-productive (e.g. science instructors, in a mocking fashion, might teach alternative theories like ID inaccurately and poorly, and students could become confirmed in the evolution belief system).

This board action will most certainly be taken to court, and thus may become a test case of the 1987 US Supreme Court decision that ruled that a Louisiana law requiring creation to be given equal time to evolution was unconstitutional “because (the law) lacks a clear secular purpose.” Most ID proponents would argue that ID has a secular purpose because it does not promote a particular religion or a religious book like Genesis. As currently constituted, however, the less-than-sympathetic-to-religious-matters Court may not look at it this way.

If our research of the board decision comes up with more information, we will post it here.

Footnotes

  1. “Intelligent design” (ID), as we have written about extensively (see the ID section in our Design Features Questions and Answer page), is the idea that life is too complex to have come about randomly, and must have been created by some divine being. Some of its proponents are not necessarily believers in the full authority of the book of Genesis, and accept an old age for the earth, the big bang, etc., and many don’t even claim to be Christians.

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Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.