Intelligent Design is Not Science, and Should Not Join Evolution in the Classroom

To deny natural selection is to ignore fact—end of debate, writes Glenn Branch.

Skeletons of a chimpanzee, left, and a modern human, center are displayed at the new Hall of Human Origins of the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Defeated in court and unable to make their mark in science, creationists have increasingly turned to the fallback strategy of attacking evolution without mentioning any specific creationist alternative. The bills in Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Mississippi are examples, as are struggles over the treatment of evolution in state science standards in Kansas, Ohio, and Texas.

The legal fate of the fallback strategy is unclear. In recent cases, judges recognized that the ulterior purpose or the primary effect of antievolution policies was to promote a religious view, making them unconstitutional as well. But creationists are polishing their rhetoric for the next case.

In the meantime, creationism contributes to a climate of hostility toward, skepticism about, and ignorance of evolution—and, indeed, science—in America. Teachers often don't teach evolution or don't teach it properly because they are creationists themselves, because of pressure from creationists, or because they lack training. The sad consequence is students cheated of a chance to attain a proper understanding of the central principle of the biological sciences. In a global marketplace increasingly driven by medical, biotechnological, and environmental challenges, scientific literacy is not a luxury. Yet among developed countries, the United States is next to last—ahead of only Turkey—in its public acceptance of evolution.

Surveying the neglect of evolution in U.S. education on the 100th anniversary of On the Origin of Species, geneticist and Nobel laureate Hermann Muller lamented, "One hundred years without Darwin are enough." Discoveries since 1959 have only reaffirmed evolution's importance in understanding the living world. It is clear that 150 years without Darwin are more than enough.

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