In that original post, I had contended that I didn't think personal politics or religious doctrine (outside of a religion course) should be taught within a public school.
The part, naturally, that fired up the comments was it came around the same time U.S. President George Bush announced that he wanted the concept of "intelligent design" to be taught in public schools.
Jess from jess mahone, came in with the latest comment and specifically the one that I want to continue the debate with. I'm referring to the first paragraph of her comment:
"Intelligent design," as I understand it, is to be taught with evolution, and having been taught in a U.S. public school, I can say that evolution- which itself is not proven (well, specifically macro-evolution is not)- is absoutely taught as the only acceptable viewpoint, and students are frequently discouraged from having any religious viewpoint in any course, not simply science. So yes, Jim, Andy is dead on. To teach one theory as fact to the neglect of all other theories is wrong.Where it gets controversial is that while evolution is a pan-scientific theory (generally accepted by all scientists, although they may disagree on the particulars), intelligent design is not a pan-religious theory accepted by all religions. On top of that, science class, as it should be taught, is not about teaching science. It's about teaching the scientific method; the purpose, the hypothesis, the observations, and the conclusion. Not all conclusions are reachable, that's why further experimentation is required. Besides evolution, there are other theories of a similar nature - relativity, black holes, quantum mechanics, etc.
First, let me talk about the scientific method.
I'll start with an example; it is insufficient for students to be taught that fire causes hydrogen to explode "just because". They must be taught why it explodes, why we think it explodes, what is the chemical reaction, what are the after effects, and ultimately, does it really explode or is just a theory? If we can't come to a conclusion, what further experimentation can we do to lend evidence to our hypothesis?
Intelligent design does not lend itself to the scientific method because it doesn't lend itself to observation - we have to believe that God (or whomever) pushed or prodded or threw that lightning bolt to get things moving. That's faith. That's the domain of religion and should reside solely there. So, while you may argue that the proof of evolution is as as elusive as it is for intelligent design, evolution has produced scientific observations - a wide body of observations, in fact.
Secondly, intelligent design is not a pan-religious belief. Not all religions nor religious belief structures (eg. polytheism, agnosticism or atheism) hold to a hand-of-God-directly-intervening type of scenario - will we introduce all "intelligent design" theories, or just certain, more "popular" ones? Public schools need to be inclusive of all belief structures within core courses - even if that makes them secular. That's why, I support religious theology teaching (of all religions), but not adding doctrine to core courses. Religious theology should be optional, like Grade 11 Latin was for me (where, incidentally, I learned the Lord's Prayer in Latin - Pater Noster, qui est in caelus - can you tell I was a hit at parties?). Within those theology courses, you can teach the creation stories and the moral philosophy.
Tags: education, evolution, intelligent design, religion