Standing Up For Intellectual Freedom

  There's an old adage that says, "In a time of war, truth is the first casualty." Well, there's an intellectual war raging right now in Ohio about how science should be taught, and the truth has been badly wounded. Yet thanks to some courageous scientists and a wise proposal for a reasonable truce, intellectual freedom and truth may yet carry the day. Chances are, what you've heard from the mainstream press about the intelligent design controversy in Ohio is wrong. They've said that the religious right is trying to take over Ohio science education and force the teaching of intelligent design on science teachers and students -- not so. In fact, what has been proposed is quite simple -- so simple and straightforward, in fact, that the media distortions become all the more puzzling. Supporters of intelligent design are asking that the theory of evolution -- like any other theory -- be taught accurately, and by "accurately" they mean teaching everything we know about the theory. In other words, let students and teachers discuss the evidence for and against Darwinian evolution. In addition they propose that the curriculum ought to include the theory of intelligent design, another theory and an alternative to Darwin's theory, with evidence for and against. That's all that's been proposed in Ohio. If that surprises you, I can certainly understand it, because the truth has been severely battered by alarmist polemics of the national Darwinian lobby. Yet despite their distortions and their threats to shame Ohio if the state tries to open up science teaching, over fifty prominent Ohio scientists have courageously endorsed the intelligent design proposal. I say "courageously," because challenging the prevailing orthodoxy of naturalistic Darwinism can be risky to one's career in science. Their public statement is inspiring. "A quality science education," they say, "should prepare students to distinguish the data and testable theories of science from religious or philosophical claims that are made in the name of science." They added that "a science curriculum should encourage critical thinking and informed participation in public discussions about biological origins," and that "censorship of scientific views that may challenge current theories of origins" is wrong. The scientists who endorsed this statement include biologists from Ohio State and Case Western Reserve, top universities in Ohio. These scientists think there is a genuine scientific controversy here, one worth teaching about. It's a controversy that students and teachers should be free to discuss without intimidation and the threat of lawsuits. That's only fair. Let's be honest: All that these proponents of openness in science teaching are asking for is what scientists everywhere take for granted -- namely, the freedom to consider all the evidence and all the possible explanations for that evidence. We call this academic freedom. If you care about intellectual freedom and about giving teachers and students the chance to seek the truth, you still have an opportunity to express your views on this controversy. Call us here at BreakPoint (1-800-995-8777), or visit our website ( for more details on how you can help encourage the Ohio State Board of Education to stand up for intellectual freedom.   Take Action: You can contact the Ohio State Board of Education at 614-466-4838, or toll-free at 877-644-6338. Encourage them to stand up for intellectual freedom. For further reading: "Fifty-Two Ohio Scientists Call for Academic Freedom on Darwin's Theory," 20 March 2002. Chuck Colson and Nancy Pearcey, Developing a Christian Worldview of Science and Evolution (Tyndale House, 1999). Phillip E. Johnson, The Wedge of Truth (Intervarsity, 2000). Phillip E. Johnson, Darwin on Trial (Intervarsity Press, 1993). The Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center (IDEA) fosters conversation about intelligent design among students, educators, and other interested parties. Learn more about the Ohio State Board of Education Science Standards here. Visit the Discovery Institute's website to learn more about Intelligent Design theory.


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary