When the orthodoxy of America's science classrooms - namely, Neo-Darwinism - meets
even the hint of a challenge, be assured of a firestorm. That's exactly what
occurred in an Atlanta suburb recently - reminiscent of similar cases in Alabama,
California, Kansas and, most recently, Ohio. The issue: school boards (or
in some cases, textbook committees) show the temerity to bring Darwinian naturalism
onto the academic "table" for scrutiny, and in some cases, to give option
to its competitors, such as Intelligent Design.
In September, 2002, the school board in Cobb County, the second largest school
district in Georgia, was considering the adoption of a new science education
policy. The policy, while not restricting the teaching of evolution, would
allow the teaching of other "disputed" views on science. If alternative views
have scientific merit, they can enter Cobb's classrooms. This could include
Intelligent Design theory and overt Creationism.
Many concerned parents, family groups, and churches urged the policy's enactment.
Others were quite opposed to the policy, including the ACLU and the National
Academy of Science, whose members comprise 96% atheists and agnostics, according
to recent research done for Oxford University. The whole story was drawing
national attention and, true to form, the media painted proponents with a
Scopes-trial, backwoods-religionist brush. However, that party line hit some
real static when 28 scholars from public and private universities all over
the state signed a statement expressing reservations about Darwinism's ability
to explain life as seen both from a life sciences and paleaontological perspective.
When 130 other credentialed professors from around the nation - a significant
number from top universities - joined in the signing of the admittedly minimal
statement, the stage was set for a fight which detractors felt was fair for
once. The Cobb County board unanimously approved the policy, which for all
intents and purposes simply opened up classrooms to the kind of fair-minded
scrutiny and discourse taken for granted in academic circles, but so assiduously
curtailed by much of the established science education elite.
Why the brouhaha and the newsworthiness of such a seemingly simple step?
According to evolution's (that is, macroevolution's) detractors, much
has to do with the predisposition of scientists and science educators not
only to close off debate, but to place themselves and their views above the
review even of other disciplines - much less the public. Time and time again,
the issue of whether or not the problems with evolutionary theory and alternative
explanations are presented becomes clouded by ad hominem attacks of skeptics'
motives and straw-man accusations of "importing religion into science." A
recent debate on a National Public Radio talk show hosted by Ira Flatow -
weighted toward the pro-Darwinism-only side - was typical: a representative
of The Discovery Institute, a pro-Intelligent Design public policy think tank
in Seattle, was attacked and verbally run over by Darwinist spokesmen (transcript
In this Special Focus, we look back at similar instances of controversy
regarding Darwinism, its competitors and public science education, as well
as essays and articles by those who present alternatives to naturalistic views
and challenge popularly held notions of science and religion. Seeing that
every view is colored inexorably by one's worldview - the framework one adopts
through which to view reality - we call into question some of the most accepted
norms of our day regarding how to teach one of life's most important lessons:
where did that life come from? Your comments
and questions are welcome.
—Byron Barlowe, Editor/Webmaster, Leadership University
The Alabama Insert: A Call for
Access Research Network
"Most Alabamians know by now that the State Board of Education voted last
month to paste a warning label inside biology texts used in public schools...The
push to adopt this label was provided by religious fundamentalists whose fear
of science is rooted in a poor understanding of the methods of science...
Must we now portray Alabama as a state that mocks science, confuses its children,
insults its teachers and trivializes religious faith?" (From December 8, 1995,
editorial in the Mobile Press Register.)
This quote is an example of a highly emotional reaction to the Alabama State
Board of Education's decision to place an educational aid at the beginning
of all high school biology texts. Is this reaction warranted? The purpose
of this paper is to present the data upon which the State Board of Education's
decision was based, and to allow the readers to make up their own minds.
a Step Back in Kansas
"In August , the Kansas State Board of Education voted to remove references
to macroevolution from state science testing standards." Dr. Ray Bohlin dissipates
the rhetorical fog surrounding the recent decision by the Kansas State Board
of Education, revealing the core issues and discovering some surprising support
for Intelligent Design.
Dealing with the Media in
the Science Textbook Controversy
Practical introduction and guide to common misconceptions regarding instruction
of Darwinism in public schools. Makes important distinctions between microevolution,
macroevolution and Darwinism. Although written in response to the Alabama
science textbook controversy in the mid-90s, this quick read is a good resource
for current similar controversies, especially in dealing with news reporters.
Intelligent Design as Religion or Science?
William A. Dembski
It is a mistake to teach Intelligent design as religion. Intelligent Design
is properly a scientific research program. To teach it as religion is not
only to confuse what it is, but also to give up an incredible advantage in
the culture wars. Intelligent Design is the key to dislodging the materialism
in our culture. It needs to be taught correctly and in the correct context,
namely, in a science classroom.
Science Framework: How Firm a Foundation? (A Call for Impartial Science)
Access Research Network
Editorial on the 1989 California Science Framework and its shortcomings. Although
dated (LeaderU.com makes no claim as to the current position of the
State of California), it displays a very common but erroneous notion held
still at every level: that science is, unlike other disciplines, singularly
logical and above review. Many school systems and the National Center for
Science Education tend toward this damaging view.
Darwinism: Science or Philosophy?
Foundation for Thought and Ethics
Editors Jon Buell and Virginia Hearn
The proceedings of a highly academic symposium, including introductory
remarks by well-known representatives of the Darwinian naturalism - theism
debate, a watermark debate between Darwinian spokesman Michael Ruse and theistic
philosopher and author Philip E. Johnson and general papers and discussions
(in debate format) on related topics. Provides a one-stop resource for a balanced
view of the discussion on whether Neo-Darwinian naturalism - with its privileged
and, as Johnson and others claim, usurper's place in academia - suffices to
explain the world in which we live (especially the world of living things).
See Table of Contents here for links to all portions.
Evolution's Big Bang
Dr. Ray Bohlin
The Cambrian explosion of life has long befuddled evolutionists. New data
have only deepened the mystery and caused a critical rethinking of cherished
Is God Unconstitutional?
Phillip E. Johnson
Dr. Phillip E. Johnson, author of Darwin on Trial and Reason in
the Balance, brings his acute legal mind to the many issues surrounding
Darwinism. He exposes the deeply philosophical bias for faith in evolution
held by the theory's advocates.
Defeating Darwinism: Phillip
Johnson Steals the Microphone
Book review by Rick Wade
Phillip Johnson's important book, Defeating Darwinism, explains how evolution
gained dominance as a theory of origins, and exposes its unscientific
How to Talk to Your Kids About
Dr. Ray and Sue Bohlin
If parents have a basic understanding of creation and evolution issues with
some helpful answers, it will be a lot easier to answer their children's questions
and lead them into discussion about these important subjects. Dr. Ray Bohlin
discusses with his wife Sue some of the questions kids and parents ask.
Second Thoughts About Peppered Moths
"Every student of biological evolution learns about peppered moths. The dramatic
increase in dark forms of this species during the industrial revolution, and
experiments pointing to differential bird predation as the cause, have become
the classical story of evolution by natural selection. The same careful scientific
approach which established the classical story in the first place, however,
has now revealed major flaws in it. It... should no longer be presented as
a textbook example of evolution in action. If the purpose of science education
is to teach students how to do good science, then instead of retelling the
classical story textbooks would do better to focus on how science revealed
Patricia A. Mondore, M.A. and Robert J. Mondore
The discovery of a city clearly points to the blueprints and design of its
architects. Similar logic was used by William Paley, author of "Natural Theology"
who used the illustration of finding a watch in the road as proof of a watchmaker.
Scientists have now discovered a similar evidence of design within the microscopic
world. When one discovers the complexity of the cell world, and the encoded
language of DNA there is only one logical explanation for its existence; God
is the Builder of everything.
Science and Religion: Oil
We are led to see science and religion as mortal enemies or at least as incompatible
means to explain the universe. But is this popular notion just a myth? Get
viewpoints from scientists and theologians themselves in our Special Focus.
The Church of Darwin
The Kansas Board of Education recently ignited a firestorm when they removed
macroevolution from state testing requirements. Is this primarily a science
issue or are there other, deeper considerations? See our Special Focus.
Designer Universe: Intelligent Design
Theory of Origins
Intelligent Design (ID) is an alternative theory to Darwinian evolution receiving
frontpage prominence in papers like the New York Times. It's also turning
heads in academia and science, but not without stirring hot debate. Discover
more in our Special Focus.
Our Universe: Fine-Tuned for Life?
Science has recently discovered just how finely tuned the universe must be
to accommodate us and the rest of carbon-based life on our planet. Many believe
the best explanation is a Creator. We examine the arguments in our Special
J.P. Moreland, Ph. D.
Dr. J.P. Moreland, Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, responds
to the question "How are we to understand the relationship between science
and Christianity?" He concludes, "There is nothing wrong in principle, however,
with bringing one's theology into the practice of science.... It is time for
Christians to rethink these matters and allow theistic science to be a part
of how they love God with their minds."
Science, Metaphysics, and Worldviews
James Stump, Boston University
One's worldview and the presuppositions supporting it have much to do with
one's response to the issues of science's relationship to religion (metaphysics)
and how science is presented. This essay addresses the roots of how one's
worldview affects and is affected by its intercourse (dialectic) with other
ideas. Stump writes, "Using the case of Copernicus as my paradigm, I will
first argue for the premise that the picture one has of his world, the weltanshauen
or worldview, is the final controlling factor for thought.... Then at a second
level, I will argue that all beliefs - whether scientific, metaphysical, political,
religious, etc. - are interconnected in a web of beliefs which provides the
context for the first-level dialectic between them. It is this context that
I call a worldview."
Stump concludes, "...Our Christianity does come to bear in our thought processes.
It forms a central part of our worldview and is an organizing principle of
experience. But again, this commitment is not free from critical examination
or development itself. Indeed it is a task of the utmost importance for the
intellectual Christian to develop and to show the consistency of a Christian
worldview which can dialogue with modern science and which reflects the timeless,
absolute truths of the Gospel in our unique culture and generation."
Scientific Facts and Christian Faith:
How Are They Compatible?
Dr. Otto J. Helweg
The causes of the science versus Christianity battle may be traced to three
errors. First, the proponents on both sides often fail to define the term,
"evolution." Second, both sides have failed to see science as a product of
a Christian worldview. And, finally, both sides confuse the realms (limits)
of science and theology.
Creation: Science, Faith & Intelligent Design
William A. Dembski, Editor
The publication of Mere Creation - containing the proceedings from
the 1996 Christian Leadership Ministries-sponsored conference by the same
name - signaled a broadening, multidisciplinary movement of scholars who challenge
naturalistic evolution on scientific and philosophical grounds. Scientifically,
specialists in the relevant fields show that the evidence points to intelligence
which fine-tuned the universe and designed complex organisms. Philosophically,
the authors insist that origins science must be separated from the naturalism
which excludes design or a Designer by definition. Abstracts of the essays
and information on the authors are available
Go here to see
our past Special Focus features.