Teach the Controversy

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How Should Schools Handle Evolution? Debate it

Though many have portrayed the hearings that led to the Kansas policy as a re-run of the Scopes trial, the reality is much different. Rather than prohibiting teachers from teaching about evolution (as Tennessee law did for John Scopes in 1925), Kansas is poised to adopt a policy that would enable students to learn more about the topic. Read More ›
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Teacher with a group of high school students in classroom. View from the hands of the teacher explaining the lecture

Intelligent Design A Debate Evolves

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.”

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Students Should Learn the Weak Points of Evolutionary Theory, Too

Accurate teaching of evolution (along with the continuing debate) could be improved greatly by educating students about the important difference between microevolution and macroevolution. Microevolution refers to variation within a species. There is 100 percent consensus in this “fact of evolution,” as we see it every day in instances like the breeding of dogs and the creation of hybrid corn Read More ›

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Intelligent Design, Unintelligent Me

I was one of those blissfully nerdy kids who fell in love with dinosaurs in the fourth grade and never outgrew it. In adulthood, people like me go to natural history museums, see Steven Spielberg movies and read the essays of the late paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould. That is usually enough to keep us happy. But a couple of weeks Read More ›

How to Teach the Controversy Legally

Want to teach the scientific controversy over evolution but aren’t sure what is allowable? This short video clearly and concisely summarizes the legal framework for teaching about evolution. A great resource for teachers, school board members, and parents, this video features interviews with scientists and legal scholars and explains how to teach the controversy over evolution in a legally responsible Read More ›

Photo by Allie Smith

Teaching about Scientific Dissent from Neo-Darwinism

In their recent Opinion article in TREE1, Eugenie Scott and Glenn Branch argue that teaching students that there is a scientific controversy about the ‘validity of evolution’ is ‘scientifically inappropriate and pedagogically irresponsible’. In so doing, Branch and Scott assume that they have critiqued my position on the teaching of evolution. But they fail to define their terms and engage the Read More ›

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Un día en un gimnasio Panameño cuna de campeones mundiales de boxeo
Photo by Nathz Guardia at Unsplash

Discovery Institute Weighs In

Dear Editor, Abraham Lincoln is often credited for the old maxim that “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” If this statement is true then matters do not sit well for a few of the more extreme Darwinists who Read More ›