Essays academic service


An argument in favor of teaching creationism in public schools

This article was posted on behalf of Discovery Institute as part of a series of articles both for and against ID at OpposingViews. Wexler, Anti-ID legal scholar at Professor of Law, Boston University Law School ID has legal and educational merit because it is a bona fide scientific theory that can enhance the effectiveness of science instruction. A Preliminary Point Before explaining the legal and educational merit of teaching intelligent design IDthe following point must be made clear: While I strongly believe that ID should be considered constitutional to present as a scientific alternative to evolution, I do not support mandating ID into public school curricula.

Attempts to mandate teaching about intelligent design only politicize the theory and will hinder fair and open discussion of the merits of the theory among scholars and within the scientific community.

Furthermore, most teachers at the present time do not know enough about intelligent design to teach about it accurately and objectively. Dover lawsuit, there has been an intense spike in the persecution of teachers, students, and faculty who support ID. The long-term success of ID depends on its scientists having opportunities to produce good scientific research and scholarship, and not being constantly dragged before courtrooms or school boards to defend ill-conceived educational policies.

Thus, in arguing that ID has legal and educational merit, I am not therefore arguing that the best thing for the scientific progress of ID is to force it into public schools. Nonetheless, I do think that ID should be considered perfectly constitutional and that teaching students about the scientific debate between ID and evolution can have great educational benefits.

No, ID has not been banned from U. Contrary to popular belief, the U.

  1. Even if Judge Jones believed that ID is false, it was not his responsibility to investigate the scientific truth or falsity of ID.
  2. As I argued in my first opening statement " Intelligent design ID has scientific merit because it uses the scientific method to make its claims and infers design by testing its positive predictions ". Most teachers would not ask students to evaluate whether balloon angioplasty or by-pass surgery should be used to treat heart failure, and that question deals "only" with medicine, one field in biology.
  3. First, by admitting that it exists—not somewhere else, but here.
  4. American Museum of Natural History announces results of nationwide survey on science literacy. The negative argument is that such interactive systems resist explanation by the tiny steps that a Darwinian path would be expected to take.
  5. There are three approaches discussed here to help teachers deal with antievolutionism.

Supreme Court has never addressed the teaching of intelligent design. In fact, the only case which has ever squarely addressed the teaching of intelligent design was a federal trial court in the middle district of Pennsylvania--a ruling that applies only to the parties in that case and does not apply to the rest of the country.

This 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover case will be discussed extensively below. The arguments for the constitutionality of teaching ID are remarkably simple--on the surface.

  • Whether they accept the modern scientific consensus that evolution occurred is up to them;
  • A Preliminary Point Before explaining the legal and educational merit of teaching intelligent design ID , the following point must be made clear;
  • Teaching such claims in science class misinforms and mis-educates students;
  • In other words, although there may be several plausible explanations, they do not all have equal weight;
  • After one such initial brainstorming session, one teacher presented students with a short quiz wherein they were asked, "Which statement was made by the Pope?

In the 1987 case Edwards v. Aguillard, the Supreme Court sanctioned the teaching of scientific alternatives to evolution provided that they were taught under legitimate secular purposes: In my first opening statement " Intelligent design ID has scientific merit because it uses the scientific method to make its claims and infers design by testing its positive predictions "I argued that ID is a bona fide scientific theory because it makes its claims using the scientific method.

In my third opening statement " Any larger philosophical implications of intelligent design, or any religious motives, beliefs, and affiliations of ID proponents, do not disqualify ID from having scientific merit "I argued that the religious beliefs, motives, and affiliations of ID proponents, and any larger philosophical implications of ID, do not disqualify it from being scientific. In the fourth opening statement " ID Does Not Address Religious Claims About the Supernatural "I explained how ID limits its claims to what can be learned from the empirical domain and does not make unscientific appeals to the supernatural that might violate methodological naturalism.

What, then, stands in the way of considering intelligent design as a scientific theory? Legally assessing whether ID science or religion is complicated by the fact that courts have not agreed upon a consensus definition of science or religion.

Supreme Court has studiously--and perhaps wisely--avoided giving blanket definitions for those categories. One of the few clear rules in this legal field is the U. In my fourth opening statement " ID Does Not Address Religious Claims About the Supernatural "I laid out the evidence documenting that ID does not try to address religious questions about the supernatural, and is distinct from creationism.

But is ID science? In the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover case, Judge Jones employed this reasoning after finding that ID failed a 6-part test he adopted for defining science: As we will discuss in more detail below, it is additionally important to note that [D] ID has failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community, [E] it has not generated peer-reviewed publications, nor [F] has it been the subject of testing and research.

Each of the six criteria Judge Jones used to claim that ID is not science was either incorrect or irrelevant to his analysis.

  • Helping students understand that evolution, like all scientific explanations, deals only with proximate, never ultimate cause, allows them to accommodate their religious views to evolution, if they so choose;
  • We only confuse students by presenting special creation and evolution as if both were equally scientific and as if scientists were still trying to decide between them;
  • In the 2005 Kitzmiller v;
  • Most Catholic and mainline Protestant denominations have accepted evolution as the way God brought the world about, and this is also true of the theology of all but the most conservative Jews.

ID does not require supernatural causation and the fact that it might permit it is irrelevant. In fact, ID meets the requirements of predictability and reliability laid down by methodological naturalism.

Still Fighting for Evolution in Schools

As Michael Behe writes: The negative argument is that such interactive systems resist explanation by the tiny steps that a Darwinian path would be expected to take. The positive argument is that their parts appear arranged to serve a purpose, which is exactly how we detect design. It is a negative argument against evolution because neo-Darwinian pathways cannot produce structures where large leaps in complexity are required to maintain functionality.

University of Kentucky philosopher Bradley Monton observes that being wrong does not necessarily make an idea unscientific. But something can be wrong and still be science.

Even if Judge Jones believed that ID is false, it was not his responsibility to investigate the scientific truth or falsity of ID. Our form of government requires a separation of powers. Two examples will suffice. However, a number of biologists have concluded the phylogenetic data disbars the T3SS from being a precursor to the flagellum.

In short, flagella are widely distributed among large numbers of types of bacteria, where as T3SSs are limited to a small range of bacterial taxa. This makes it difficult to argue that the flagellum evolved from the T3SS or a highly similar precursor. What we have here is evidence of a scientific debate between two experts--including a pro-ID expert an argument in favor of teaching creationism in public schools is a respected authority in this field.

Judge Jones should not have tried to settle the scientific debate. The unresolved challenge that the irreducible complexity of the flagellum continues to pose for Darwinian evolution is starkly summarized by William Dembski: Evolutionary biology needs to do better than that. Conversely, Behe properly tests irreducible complexity by assessing the plausibility of the entire functional system to assemble in a step-wise fashion, even if sub-parts can have functions outside of the final system.

He was presented with fifty-eight peerreviewed publications, nine books, and several immunology textbook chapters about the evolution of the immune system. However, they do not address the question that I am posing. So it's not that they aren't good enough.

It's simply that they are addressed to a different subject. One of the 58 articles dumped on Behe was an authoritative article published in Nature the year before the Kitzmiller trial which conceded that there were major questions about step-by-step accounts of the evolution of the adaptive immune system. The paper discovered that the antibody-equivalent in the lamprey a jawless vertebrate fish is highly dissimilar, both in structure and how they are assembled. In fact, the lamprey uses a completely different type of protein domain for its antibody-equivalent structures.

Rather, this paper is talking about the type of deeper question Behe raises: I highly doubt it.

DEALING WITH ANTIEVOLUTIONISM

In other words, some of the starting material might be crudely present elsewhere in biology, but Miller did not testify about any step-by-step Darwinian pathways as Behe requested, nor did Miller testify about the vast differences between our adaptive immune system and immune systems used by lower organisms like the Lamprey. These episodes provide vivid illustrations why it is dangerous for courts to try to settle these scientific debates.

Legal scholars agree with this basic point. The fact that ID is a minority scientific viewpoint is irrelevant to a determination of whether it is science. Judge Jones also claimed ID was not science because it has "failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community. Science is not a democracy, nor is it decided by votes. The level of acceptance of ID in the scientific community is not an appropriate test of whether ID is science, nor is it a good measure of whether ID will turn out to be scientifically correct.

Every single scientific revolution began as a minority viewpoint that was eschewed by the scientific majority. Automatically rejecting dissenting views that challenge the conventional wisdom is a dangerous fallacy, for almost every generally accepted view was once deemed eccentric or heretical.

Fighting Over Darwin, State by State

Perpetuating the reign of a supposed scientific orthodoxy in this way, whether in a research laboratory or in a courtroom, is profoundly inimical to the search for truth.

The quality of a scientific approach or opinion depends on the strength of its factual premises and on the depth and consistency of its reasoning, not on its appearance in a particular journal or on its popularity among other scientists. As an amicus brief submitted to Judge Jones by 85 scientists in defense of academic freedom for ID, new ideas in science typically start out as minority views opposed by the current scientific majority: Nor do scientists normally aim to invent new theories, and they are often intolerant of those invented by others.

This claim is irrelevant because the U.

Why It's Wrong to Teach Creationism in Public Schools

This claim is false because, quite frankly, Judge Jones chose to ignore the evidence that was presented to him documenting pro-ID peer-reviewed scientific publications published by ID proponents. The claim that ID has not produced scientific research is also both irrelevant and false. Regardless, those interested in a serious examination of Kitzmiller must remember that who did or did not appoint Judge Jones has nothing to do with whether his ruling was accurate.

The atheist philosopher and legal scholar Thomas Nagel explains that if neo-Darwinism is scientific, then it is difficult to argue that ID is unscientific: No one suggests that [neo-Darwinism] is not science, even though the historical process it describes cannot be directly observed, but must be inferred from currently available data. It is therefore puzzling that the denial of this inference, i.

The contention seems to be that, although science can demonstrate the falsehood of the design hypothesis, no evidence against that demonstration can be regarded as scientific support for the hypothesis. Only the falsehood, and not the truth, of ID can count as a scientific claim.

Had Judge Jones recognized that if neo-Darwinism is considered to be science, then ID must also be science, he might have ruled differently. As I argued in my first opening statement " Intelligent design ID has scientific merit because it uses the scientific method to make its claims and infers design by testing its positive predictions ": Nothing critics can say--whether appealing to politically motivated condemnations of ID issued by pro-Darwin scientific authorities, or harping upon the religious beliefs of ID proponents--will change the fact that intelligent design is not a "faith-based" argument.

Intelligent design has scientific merit because it is an empirically based argument that uses well-accepted scientific methods of historical sciences in order to detect in nature the types of complexity which we understand, from present-day observations, are derived from intelligent causes.

  1. We only confuse students by presenting special creation and evolution as if both were equally scientific and as if scientists were still trying to decide between them.
  2. There is another question regarding the "fairness" approach.
  3. The purpose of this exercise is to give the student some critically important information so that he or she will be more willing to listen to the scientific information you will present.

Given that ID should be considered science, the only remaining hurdle to teach intelligent design is thus whether it can be taught under legitimate secular purpose. In other words, although there may be several plausible explanations, they do not all have equal weight.

Students should be able to use the scientific criteria to find the preferred explanations. There are thus a number of clear secular purposes that justify teaching students about scientific alternatives to neo-Darwinian evolution like intelligent design.

5 Crucial Reasons to Teach Creationism in Public Schools

According to an amicus brief submitted to the court in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case, some secular purposes for teaching ID include: Informing students about competing theories of biological origins as they exist within the scientific community; Helping students to better understand neo-Darwinism by understanding a theory with which it competes; Enhancing critical thinking skills by exposing students to alternative explanations for the origin of life; Helping students to understand the value of dissenting viewpoints in the advancement of scientific knowledge; Increasing student interest in science by exposing them to current debates within the scientific community; and Advancing cultural literacy by helping students understand a current controversy about science and science education policy.

Aguillard that "teaching a variety of scientific theories about the origins of humankind to schoolchildren might be validly done with the clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction. Theory, Method, and Evidence, pg. Dover Area School District, 400 F. Arkansas Board of Education, 529 F. The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, pgs. Dissecting the Dover Decision 1-2, http: