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Pennsylvania School District Considers Supplemental Textbook Supportive of Intelligent Design

Discovery Institute continues to recommend fully teaching Darwinian evolution, including scientific challenges to the theory

In October, 2004, the Dover Area School District in Pennsylvania decided to make available as a supplementary textbook, Of Pandas and People which discusses the theory of intelligent design. According to the district superintendent, the text is not a required part of the curriculum but will be available to students or teachers who want to use it as a reference in biology class, particularly during the discussion of evolution.

Recent reports have circulated about Dover Area School District and its consideration of Of Pandas of People for optional inclusion by science teachers alongside the District’s required, standard biology textbooks. Although Of Pandas and People is an excellent educational resource covering a topic appropriate for inquiry and discussion, the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture has not endorsed its inclusion in public school science curriculum.  

“Examination of evidence and critical thinking are the hallmarks of good science education,” said Seth Cooper, program officer for public and legal affairs at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture. “It follows that students should learn about the scientific data that supports Darwin’s theory of evolution, as well as the data that goes against the theory and which continues to puzzle scientists.”

As the nation’s leading think-tank challenging Darwin’s theory from a scientific perspective, the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture maintains that students should be exposed to both the strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian evolution.  

“Our recommendation is that students receive a full and fair disclosure of the facts surrounding Darwin’s theory and that the leading scientific criticisms of the theory not be censored from classroom discussion,” said Cooper. “Of course it is perfectly acceptable for teachers to discuss the full-range of scientific theories of biological origins and that includes the theory of intelligent design, but our recommendation is that Darwinian evolution be completely and fully covered, including it’s strengths and weaknesses.”

However, a recent news report seemed to suggest that the Center for Science & Culture endorses the adoption of textbook supplements teaching about the scientific theory of intelligent design (ID), which simply holds that certain aspects of the universe and living things can best be explained as the result of an intelligent cause rather than merely material and purposeless processes like natural selection. Any such suggestion is incorrect.  

“Locally elected school boards usually have broad discretion in curricular matters, and we would not presume to tell them what they must do,” added Cooper. “Nonetheless, our policy approach in favor of exposing students to the leading scientific criticisms of Darwin’s theory remains clear.”

Although the Center for Science & Culture is the nation’s leading think-tank exploring and publicizing the scientific theory of intelligent design, ID remains a growing and emerging theory, leading the Center to endorse the more limited educational policy of requiring disclosure of the scientific weaknesses of Darwin’s theory to students.

Discovery Institute

Discovery Institute promotes thoughtful analysis and effective action on local, regional, national and international issues. The Institute is home to an inter-disciplinary community of scholars and policy advocates dedicated to the reinvigoration of traditional Western principles and institutions and the worldview from which they issued.