Charles Darwin Knew

Almost 150 years ago, Charles Darwin knew something that the scientific establishment seems to have forgotten -- something that is being endangered today in the state of Ohio. In Ohio, high school science students are at risk of being told that they are not allowed to discuss questions and problems that scientists themselves openly debate. While most people understand that science is supposed to consider all of the evidence, these students, and their teachers, may be prevented from even looking at the evidence -- evidence already freely available in top science publications. In late 2002, the Ohio Board of Education adopted science education standards that said students should know "how scientists investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory." The standards did not say that schools should teach intelligent design. They mandate something much milder. According to the standards, students should know that "scientists may disagree about explanations . . . and interpretations of data" -- including the biological evidence used to support evolutionary theory. If that sounds like basic intellectual freedom, that's because it is. The Ohio Department of Education has responded by implementing this policy through the development of an innovative curriculum that allows students to evaluate both the strengths and the weaknesses of Darwinian evolution. And that has the American scientific establishment up in arms. Some groups are pressuring the Ohio Board to reverse its decision. The president of the National Academy of Sciences has denounced the "Critical Analysis" lesson -- even though it does nothing more than report criticisms of evolutionary theory that are readily available in scientific literature. Hard as it may be to believe, prominent scientists want to censor what high school students can read and discuss. It's a story that is upside-down, and it's outrageous. Organizations like the National Academy of Sciences and others that are supposed to advance science are doing their best to suppress scientific information and stop discussion. Debates about whether natural selection can generate fundamentally new forms of life, or whether the fossil record supports Darwin's picture of the history of life, would be off-limits. It's a bizarre case of scientists against "critical analysis." And the irony of all of this is that this was not Charles Darwin's approach. He stated his belief in the ORIGIN OF SPECIES: "A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question." Darwin knew that objective science demands free and open inquiry, and while I disagree with Darwin on many things, on this he was absolutely right. And I say what's good enough for scientists themselves, as they debate how we got here, is good enough for high school students. Contact us here at BreakPoint (1-877-322-5527) to learn more about this issue and about an intelligent design conference we're co-hosting this June. The Ohio decision is the leading edge of a wedge breaking open the Darwinist stranglehold on science education in this country. The students in Ohio -- and every other state -- deserve intellectual freedom, and they deserve it now. For further reading and information: Visit Science Excellence for All Ohioans to learn more about the effort to teach the controversy and to learn how to contact school board members (urge them to "support the Critical Analysis of Evolution lesson plan") and Gov. Bob Taft. If you live in Ohio and want to learn who your school board member is and how to contact him or her (please do so BEFORE MARCH 5), call 1-877-322-5527. "Ohio Darwin Groups Enlist Help of Controversial Legal Expert," Discovery Institute, 26 February 2004. "Ohio Academy of Sciences Criticized for Scare Tactics on Evolution," Discovery Institute, 24 February 2004. "Law Professor Says Ohio Academy of Sciences Gave Gov. Taft Bad Legal Advice," Discovery Institute, 24 February 2004. Scott Stephens, "CWRU scientist threatens court fight if state approves biology lesson plan," Cleveland Plain-Dealer, 26 February 2004. Robert Sandler, "Bill would require teaching of 'intelligent design'," Kansas City Star, 15 February 2004. (Free registration required.) On March 6, "BreakPoint This Week" features an interview with Bill Dembski, a fellow of the Discovery Institute, on the issue of intelligent design. Find out when your local station will air it. If your local station does not carry the weekend edition (BPT1 on the previously linked station log), please encourage them to do so. On June 24-26, the Wilberforce Forum is co-hosting the Intelligent Design Conference with Highlands Community Church in North Carolina. A separate youth conference will also be held at the same time. Register early to take advantage of the early bird rate! Visit the Center for Science and Culture of the Discovery Institute. Visit the Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center, which endeavors to establish student groups on high school and college campuses. Phillip Johnson, "Intelligent Design, Freedom, and Education," BreakPoint WorldView, May 2003. Adam G. Mersereau, "Evolution: On Its Last Legs?BreakPoint Online, 9 December 2002. BreakPoint Commentary No. 020405, "Standing Up for Intellectual Freedom." (Archived commentary; free registration required.) BreakPoint Commentary No. 020314, "What Would Darwin Say?" (Archived commentary; free registration required.) Phillip Johnson, The Right Questions: Truth, Meaning, and Public Debate (InterVarsity, 2002). Phillip Johnson, The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism (InterVarsity, 2000).


Chuck Colson


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