Divided over evolution: Darwin's theories are nearly 150 years old, but the debate over how schools should teach the origins of life continues.TEACHING OBJECTIVES
To help students understand the debate between those who favor teaching evolution in school science classes and those who want to teach an alternative explanation of the origin of life, which they call intelligent design.
BEFORE READING: Assign a student to read the First Amendment aloud. Ask students why they think the Founding Fathers prohibited government "establishment of religion." (One reason was that state religions had led to religious wars in the 16th and 17th centuries in England and France.) Make sure students understand the difference between the private promotion of religion and state-funded promotion of religion. How might students react if taxes were used to establish an official religion?
CRITICAL THINKING: Refer students to the comment of biology teacher Jen Miller, who says she sees no contradiction between the teaching of evolution and a belief in God. Ask students how Miller might explain how one could simultaneously believe in a divinely created universe and in evolution. (Some proponents of such a belief suggest that a deity set the universe in motion and allowed it to evolve.)
Remind students that everyone is free to make up his or her mind about evolution and intelligent design. A key issue in the debate is whether intelligent design is based on religion and whether teaching it violates the First Amendment's prohibition of a government establishment of religion.
WRITING AN OPINION: Divide the class into two groups. One group writes an argument opposing the teaching of intelligent design focusing on separation of church and state
* Do you think teaching evolution is an affront af·front
tr.v. af·front·ed, af·front·ing, af·fronts
1. To insult intentionally, especially openly. See Synonyms at offend.
a. To meet defiantly; confront.
b. to organized religion?
* What's the difference between a scientific theory that can be tested and something that cannot be tested? Do each belong in a public school science class?
* Did the Dover High School Dover High School can refer to:
Ever since last October, when the school board in Dover, Pa., voted to make their town the first in the nation to discuss an alternative to evolution in high school biology classes, students have been as sharply divided as the rest of this normally close-knit community.
"I think we should have a choice: They should teach you both," says Meagan Hass, 14. "Evolution to me is like we come from monkeys."
Jessika Moury, 14, says her mother supports the school board but she does not. "There are so many aspects of religion, so you have to teach what each of them says," says Moury. "There's Bible Club in school for this, and that's where it should be taught."
In recent years, several states have issued disclaimers to students, questioning the validity of evolution and claiming it is riddled rid·dle 1
tr.v. rid·dled, rid·dling, rid·dles
1. To pierce with numerous holes; perforate: riddle a target with bullets.
2. with gaps. The Dover school board went further when it voted to specifically identify a controversial alternative to evolution called "intelligent design" and encourage students to learn more about it.
But Dover High School's science teachers aren't happy. In early January, they refused to read to ninth-graders a statement written by the school board (see p. 20) that criticizes evolution and cites intelligent design as an alternative.
The teachers contend that such a change to the curriculum amounts to teaching intelligent design, whose proponents say that life is so intricately complex that an "architect" must be behind it.
"Kids are smart enough to understand what intelligent design means," says Robert Eshbach, a science teacher who refused to read the statement. "The first question they will ask is, 'Well, who's the designer? Do you mean God?'"
TESTING GROUND Noun 1. testing ground - a region resembling a laboratory inasmuch as it offers opportunities for observation and practice and experimentation; "the new nation is a testing ground for socioeconomic theories"; "Pakistan is a laboratory for studying the use of American
Eleven local parents represented by the American Civil Liberties Union American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), nonpartisan organization devoted to the preservation and extension of the basic rights set forth in the U.S. Constitution. and Americans United for Separation of Church and State Americans United for Separation of Church and State (Americans United or AU for short) is a religious freedom advocacy group in the United States which promotes the separation of church and state, a legal doctrine seen by the AU as being enshrined in the Establishment have filed a federal lawsuit against Dover's school board, contending that intelligent design is a way to foist foist
tr.v. foist·ed, foist·ing, foists
1. To pass off as genuine, valuable, or worthy: "I can usually tell whether a poet . . . religion on their children. It is the nation's first lawsuit challenging the teaching of intelligent design in the public schools and is expected to go to trial this summer.
Dover, a town of 25,000 located about 100 miles west of Philadelphia, has become a testing ground in a widening national debate. Last November, in Grantsburg, Wis., the school board voted to teach a critical approach to evolution. Opponents of the teaching of evolution recently won a majority on the state school board in Kansas. And in 2002, biology textbooks in Cobb County, Ga., were labeled with disclaimer stickers stating that "evolution is a theory, not a fact." (A federal judge ruled in January that the stickers must be removed, and the Cobb County school board has voted to appeal.)
These developments are all part of a controversy that began in 1859 with the publication of Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species. In this book, Darwin, a British naturalist, explained his theory of evolution by natural selection: that every species of plant and animal evolves or develops from an earlier one. The Origin of Species sparked immediate objections from religious thinkers and some scientists. But by the 1870s, Darwin's theory had gained wider acceptance, and today evolution is almost universally accepted by modern science.
Many people have objected to evolution because they believe it contradicts the biblical account of creation as told in Genesis. In 1925, Tennessee legislators made it illegal for public schools to teach "any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible." That same year, a teacher named John T. Scopes John Thomas Scopes (August 3, 1900 – October 21, 1970), a teacher in Dayton, Tennessee, was charged on May 25, 1925 with violating Tennessee's Butler Act, which prohibited the teaching of evolution in Tennessee schools. He was in court in a case known as the Scopes Trial. , 24, was tried and convicted for teaching evolution in a high school biology class in Dayton, Tenn. (See Times Past, p. 26.)
During the 1970s and 1980s, some states mandated equal time for teaching "creation science" (based on the biblical account of creation) alongside evolution in public schools. In 1987, the Supreme Court ruled in Edwards v. Aguillard Edwards v. Aguillard, that such requirements were was a case heard by the Supreme Court of the United States. The Court ruled that a Louisiana law requiring that creation science be taught in public schools whenever evolution was taught unconstitutional unconstitutional adj. referring to a statute, governmental conduct, court decision or private contract (such as a covenant which purports to limit transfer of real property only to Caucasians) which violate one or more provisions of the U. S. Constitution. because they violated the First Amendment clause: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion ..."
In some communities, objections to teaching evolution are as strong as ever. Last November, a CBS News CBS News is the news division of American television and radio network CBS. Its current president is Sean McManus who is also head of CBS Sports. Current productions
Current television shows
'JUST TOO MUCH TROUBLE'
Even in school systems where evolution is part of the curriculum, it may be kept out of the classroom. Eugenie Scott Eugenie Carol Scott (born October 24 1945) is an American physical anthropologist who has been the executive director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) since 1987. She is a leading critic of creationism and its offshoot, intelligent design. , executive director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE NCSE National Center for Science Education
NCSE National Council for Science and the Environment
NCSE National Council for Special Education
NCSE National Center for School Engagement (Denver, CO) ), says that many teachers do not teach evolution "because it's just too much trouble."
Dover High School's science teachers say that a school-board member first approached them about evolution in the fall of 2003. Last summer, some school-board members tried to stop the purchase of a new biology textbook because it mentioned Darwin. The books were ultimately ordered, but the board voted 6-3 to have teachers read a statement making students aware of intelligent design as an alternative to Darwin's theories.
The Discovery Institute in Seattle is a driving force behind the intelligent-design movement. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. its Web site, the organization does not claim that intelligent design is the work of a "higher power Higher power is a term used in a 12-step program, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, to describe "a power greater than yourself." Although many participants equate their higher power with God, a belief in God or in formal religion is not mandatory; the higher power is intended as a ." Nor does it advocate making the topic mandatory in public schools. But it does recommend "that states and school districts focus on teaching students more about evolutionary theory
Critics argue that intelligent design has no basis in science and is creationism cloaked in scientific-sounding language. "It's another way of saying God did it," NCSE's Scott told Newsweek. "It isn't a model, it isn't a theory that makes testable claims." NCSE reviewed Of Pandas and People Of Pandas and People: The Central Question of Biological Origins is a controversial 1989 (2nd edition 1993) school-level textbook written by Percival Davis and Dean H. Kenyon and published by the Texas-based Foundation for Thought and Ethics (FTE). , the book cited in the Dover school board's statement, and called it "bad education and bad science."
In Dover, these arguments have split teachers, school-board members, clergy, parents, and students alike.
Jen Miller, who teaches ninth-grade biology in Dover, sees no conflict between evolution and religion. "Just because I teach evolution doesn't mean that God's not there or that I'm going against the religious beliefs of my students," she says.
With teachers refusing to read the school board's statement, administrators read it to students in January, as the new semester se·mes·ter
One of two divisions of 15 to 18 weeks each of an academic year.
[German, from Latin (cursus) s began. Students were allowed to opt out of the reading with their parents' permission.
The Rev. Warren Eshbach, an adjunct professor at Lutheran Theological Seminary There are multiple institutions known as Lutheran Theological Seminaries in the world.
Creating dissension or discord.
di·vi the issue might become. Like many fellow Dover residents, he says the biblical account of the origins of humanity should be taught in a comparative-religion class, not a biology class.
"Science is figuring out what God has already done," Eshbach says. "But I don't think Genesis 1 to 11 was ever meant to be a science textbook for the 21st century."
THE DOVER SCHOOL BOARD'S STATEMENT:
'The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to team about Darwin's theory of evolution and eventually take a standardized test A standardized test is a test administered and scored in a standard manner. The tests are designed in such a way that the "questions, conditions for administering, scoring procedures, and interpretations are consistent"  of which evolution is a part.
Because Darwin's theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The theory is not a fact. Gaps in the theory exist for which there is no evidence.
A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.
Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of rife rife
adj. rif·er, rif·est
1. In widespread existence, practice, or use; increasingly prevalent.
2. Abundant or numerous. that differs from Darwin's view. The reference book Of Pandas and People is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves.
With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the origin of rife to individual students and their families.
As a standards-driven district, crass instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency on standards-based assessments A standards based test is one based on the outcome-based education or performance-based education philosophy.  Assessment is a key part of the standards reform movement. The first part is to set new, higher standards to be expected of every student. .'
Divided Over Evolution.
1. Critics of intelligent design oppose teaching it because, they say, it
a has not been proved to be accurate.
b has emerged only to challenge evolution as the basis for the origin of life.
c is based on religion, not science.
d explains only part of the origin of Earth.
2. The principal argument of those who support intelligent design is that
a intelligent people can understand how riving and non-riving matter were developed.
b all matter was created at the same moment.
c all living things Living Things may refer to:
d Life is so complex that there must be an architect, or designer, that produced it.
3. Which of the following statements would you find in "Divided Over Evolution"?
a Supporters of evolution don't believe in God.
b Charles Darwin's theory has been proved to contain some important errors.
c in a recent poll, nearly two thirds of Americans favored teaching creationism alongside evolution in schools.
d Supporters of evolution can accept the argument that Earth is relatively young.
4. "Creation science" is based on
a the findings of religiously trained biologists.
b modern discoveries of ancient settlements in the Middle East.
c the biblical account of creation.
d theories developed by 19th-century explorers.
5. Explain why you agree or disagree with Verb 1. disagree with - not be very easily digestible; "Spicy food disagrees with some people"
hurt - give trouble or pain to; "This exercise will hurt your back" prohibitions against teaching creationism or intelligent design.
1. (c) is based on religion.
2. (d) life is so complex, there must have been an architect that produced it.
3. (c) a poll found nearly two thirds of Americans favor teaching creationism.
4. (c) biblical account of creation.
5. Possible Agree: They are religion-based and thus violate separation of church and state.
Possible Disagree: Education requires the airing of all views.
Neela Banerjee is a reporter on the national desk of The New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of Times,. additional reporting by Cornelia Dean of The Times and Suzanne Bilyeu.