Accuracy in Media

Do you believe you evolved from an ape?  The theory of evolution has long been an issue of debate, but the question of it’s inclusion in high school science curriculum has recently come to the forefront again.

On February 27, 2006 a bill endorsed by Republican state Sen. Chris Buttars, failed in the Utah House of Representatives.

“SB96?would have required the State Board of Education to establish curriculum requirements stressing that the scientific theory about the origin of species and evolution is not empirically proven,” said Tiffany Erickson and Erin Stewart of the Deseret Morning News.

Sen. Buttars said, “I don’t believe anybody in there really wants their kids taught that their great-grandfather was an ape, and yet you try and clarify that and they confuse the issue saying that it was going to challenge all of science.”

New York Times reporter Kirk Johnson gave his own opinion about why the bill did not pass in Utah, “a conservative state with a Legislature dominated by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Johnson said, “Some Mormon legislators opposed the bill because they agreed with Mr. Urquhart that science and religion should remain separate, others because they thought intelligent design was not in keeping with traditional Mormon belief.”

But Republican Rep. Stephen Urquhart did not actually make his case against the bill an issue of upholding the separation of church and state.  Rather he took issue with the fact that religion seemed to be the only reason this particular theory was being challenged.

And despite what the New York Times claimed about the bill being refused because some legislators believed the bill endorsed intelligent design, Matt Canham of The Salt Lake Tribune said, “SB96 was amended and redrafted at least five times but never included the teaching of intelligent design, the idea that nature’s complexity must have been started by some supernatural power.”

What is wrong with teaching opposing views to the theory of evolution? Are scientists afraid of admitting that the theory of evolution is just that?a theory and not fact?

In Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District (2005) the U.S. District Court of Pennsylvania found that the Dover Area School Board’s requirement that a statement about intelligent design be read before a lecture on evolution violated the First Amendment because it pushed a religious theory. 

Similarly in Selman v. Cobb County School District (2005) the U.S. District Court of Georgia ruled that a mandatory sticker with a disclaimer about the theory of evolution in science textbooks violated the First Amendment because a responsible person could interpret the sticker as an attempt “to convey a message of endorsement of religion.” 

But in fact the sticker mentioned nothing about religion or intelligent design.  The disclaimer stated that the theory of evolution was not fact and as a theory it should be studied critically. 

Is the debate over evolution really a case for separation of church and state, even though that phrase is not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution?

Or is it more a case against intelligent design?

According to an editorial in the Omaha World-Herald, December 2005, “Intelligent design is the idea that an intelligent designer or ‘higher power’ played a role in some aspect of the evolution of life on Earth, usually the origin of life itself.”

If some scientists adopt evolution like it was a religion then why not allow another “religion” to be taught in schools.

“Critics suggest that intelligent design is creationism dressed in a lab coat, while supporters?say the concept proceeds from observations, not faith,” reported The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in September 2005.

Say schools do continue to throw out intelligent design as an opposing theory to evolution because of its religious undertones.  Why then are some scientists still seemingly so scared of teaching opposing views to evolution?  Do they want to hide what they choose to overlook?that the theory of evolution has as many holes as Swiss cheese and the author of the theory was a religious man?

Before Charles Darwin left on his voyage aboard the HMS Beagle in 1831 he had been studying to enter the ministry.  According to Darwin biographer James Moore, “?his findings contradicted literal interpretations of the Bible and the special place that human beings have in creation.”   “Darwin believed he was showing something even more grand?that God’s hand was present in all living things.”

Besides, “science’s proper role is to explore natural explanations for the material world,” said biologist Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome project, and an evangelical Christian.  “Science provides no answers to the question, ‘Why are we here anyway?’ That is the role of philosophy and theology.”

If nothing else, in an attempt to offer a broader education to students, it would not hurt to start teaching opposing viewpoints to evolution in schools, should they be religious or not.

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