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Intelligent Design A Debate Evolves

Does Seattle group "teach controversy" or contribute to it? Originally published at The Seattle Times

This article, published by The Seattle Times, quotes Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Stephen Meyer.


Three years ago, the Ohio Board of Education invited a small but influential Seattle think tank to debate the way evolution is taught in Ohio schools.

It was an opportunity for the Discovery Institute to promote its notion of intelligent design, the controversial idea that parts of life are so complex, they must have been designed by some intelligent agent.

Instead, leaders of the institute's Center for Science and Culture decided on what they consider a compromise. Forget intelligent design, they argued, with its theological implications. Just require teachers to discuss evidence that refutes Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, as well as what supports it.

They called it "teach the controversy," and that's become the institute's rallying cry as a leader in the latest efforts to raise doubts about Darwin in school. Evolution controversies are brewing in eight school districts, half a dozen state legislatures, and three state boards of education, including the one in Kansas, which wrestled with the issue in 1999 as well.

"Why fight when you can have a fun discussion?" asks Stephen Meyer, the center's director. The teach-the-controversy approach, he says, avoids "unnecessary constitutional fights" over the separation of church and state, yet also avoids teaching Darwin's theories as dogma.

But what the center calls a compromise, most scientists call a creationist agenda that's couched in the language of science.

There is no significant controversy to teach, they say.

"You're lying to students if you tell them that scientists are debating whether evolution took place," said Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education, a nonprofit group that defends teaching of evolution in school.

The Discovery Institute, she said, is leading a public-relations campaign, not a scientific endeavor.

The Discovery Institute is one of the leading organizations working nationally to change how evolution is taught. It works as an adviser, resource and sometimes a critic with those who have similar views.

"There are a hundred ways to get this wrong," says Meyer. "And only a few to get them right."

Continue Reading at The Seattle Times