Teach the Controversy

Are we due for a twenty-first-century version of the Scopes Monkey Trial? That's what a lot of scientists, educators, and reporters seem to believe. The National Center for Science Education reports that the teaching of evolution is being challenged in seventeen states. These include Kansas, where a decision will soon be made on whether intelligent design should be taught in schools, and Wisconsin, where one school district requires the teaching of the "scientific strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory." One Georgia county required a sticker in school science textbooks explaining that evolution is "a theory, not a fact" -- until last month, that is, when a court (wrongly, in my opinion) ruled the stickers unconstitutional. Many see all of these challenges and debates as nothing less than an all-out assault on science by the great unwashed. The most frequent complaint is that intelligent design is a religious theory, not a scientific one, and as such has no place in a science classroom or textbook. For instance, the executive director of the National Association of Biology Teachers has said, "There is no research to support [intelligent design], and it is clearly religious in that it posits a higher being." This complaint displays abysmal ignorance. There are peer-reviewed scholarly journals being published which discuss intelligence in the universe's design. Indeed, Einstein himself said there is intelligence in the universe. The number of scientists who believe this is growing, and they study the same evidence that evolutionists do. And by the way, they agree that natural selection takes place -- within a species. What they posit, however, is that the Darwinian theory of origins is not enough to explain the complexity of life and that the appearance of design in nature justifies the belief that nature was designed. But for many scientists today, science is inseparable from naturalism, and so a challenge to one leads to a challenge to the other. One critic of intelligent design calls it an attack on all of science, which, for him, is necessarily atheistic. But that completely ignores the fact that some of the greatest scientists in history, like Isaac Newton, have believed in an intelligent designer. And their number is growing, including, of all people, the long-time notorious atheist philosopher Antony Flew, who has become convinced there is a God because of evidence presented by advocates of intelligent design. Now, you need to understand what's at stake here and you need to get the best arguments available. Those who try to participate in this debate without fully understanding the subject can sometimes do more harm than good, by confirming the widespread belief that the anti-Darwinism forces just don't know what they're talking about. We need to argue science against science and teach, not less evolution, but more -- including all the holes in the theory Darwinians try to cover up. ( has materials and links that will give you a helpful grounding on this issue.) In fact, there's no good reason why our schools shouldn't be able to teach students about both sides of the controversy. Questioning the weaknesses in the Darwinian theory of evolution doesn't mean you have to bring the Bible into a science classroom. It does mean you have to keep an open mind and study all the available evidence -- scientific evidence, that is. Isn't that what education is all about?


Chuck Colson


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