Why do I say this? Why should my beliefs--my evolutionary beliefs--be given unique status in biology classes? First, because teaching an essentially religious theory like ID--outside of the "comparative religions" scenario I've described--is illegal. ID is religion carefully disguised as science to get around the Constitution--that is why ID supporters rarely talk explicitly of God--but it is religion nevertheless. If the Supreme Court rules otherwise, then that will not be the first time that the Supreme Court has been wrong.

The case against "teaching the issues"

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  • More importantly, ID should not be taught because it is not fruitful as science. Saying that the designer did something is what the philosopher Alvin Plantinga has labeled a "science stopper." If you say that someone intervened, then you are stuck about what to do next. The successful scientist, including the scientist who spends all day Sunday on his or her knees in church praying, is a methodological atheist. Science works by assuming blind law and then going out to find it. Putting matters bluntly, today's biologists argue that Darwinian evolutionary theory works; it is well tested; and although there are controversies (for instance, over the paleontological theory of punctuated equilibrium promoted by the late Stephen Jay Gould), the theory is accepted. On the other hand, ID theory adds nothing to our store of knowledge. It is promoted only because people have religious beliefs they hold dear, and that is simply not the basis for good science.But what about the argument that students should be allowed to decide for themselves? Put both Darwinism and ID on the exam, and do not penalize a student for opting for one over the other? With all due respect to the president, that is nonsense. Good education is not a matter of indifferently offering to students a range of options--a kind of intellectual smorgasbord--and then letting them choose. Good education is teaching the best that you have, together with the critical skills to take inquiry further--perhaps indeed overturning everything that we hold dear. If I heard that my university's med students had to take time out from surgery or pharmacology in order to learn the principles of faith healing or witch-doctoring, because some people believe in them, I would be appalled--and so would you.

    So, I say: ID is religion. It is Creationism Lite. Teach students about it in comparative religion courses, along with Christian ideas and the ideas of other faiths. But keep it out of biology classes. It has no proper place in them.

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