The filing of the brief coincides with the beginning of the defense offered by the Dover School Board, which has required students to be notified about the existence of the theory of intelligent design as an alternative to Darwinian theory.
“The ACLU is claiming that no matter how carefully intelligent design is presented, and no matter what good educational reasons there might be for teaching it, doing so is just plain illegal and we think that’s nonsense,” said David DeWolf, a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute and a law professor at Gonzaga University in Spokane.
Discovery Institute opposes efforts to mandate intelligent design as misguided, but it supports the right of teachers and students to voluntarily discuss intelligent design.
“The ACLU’s heavy-handed effort to ban all teaching about intelligent design is a blatant attempt at censorship,” said Casey Luskin, a program officer in public policy and legal affairs at the Institute.”
Discovery Institute’s Brief reviews the constitutional law regarding the establishment clause, which is broken up into questions about whether the school board’s actions have a secular purpose and whether they have a neutral effect on religion.
According to the Brief, there are many secular purposes for teaching students about intelligent design including informing students about competing scientific theories of biological origins, helping students to better understand the contrasting theory of neo-Darwinism, and enhancing critical thinking skills.
The Brief also answers the ACLU’s claim that intelligent design is not a scientific theory, and as a result its primary effect is to advance religion. As the Brief explains, “there is every good reason to regard the theory of intelligent design as a scientific theory, and thus, the primary effect of informing students about it is to improve science education.”
DeWolf further noted that: “The inclusion of alternative scientific theories was clearly authorized by the U.S. Supreme Court Edwards v. Aguillard.”
The Brief will be available later today online at the Discovery Institute website, www.discovery.org. Regular reporting of developments in the trial and commentary by Discovery Institute Fellows is available at Evolution News & Views, www.evolutionnews.org.