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Dover Decision on Intelligent Design “Legally Irrelevant for Ohio’s Critical Analysis of Evolution Model Science Curriculum,” Says Legal Scholar

“Judge Jones’ decision about teaching intelligent design is legally irrelevant for Ohio’s Critical Analysis of Evolution model science curriculum,” says legal scholar and Gonzaga University law professor David DeWolf, in response to calls from critics that the lesson plan should be repealed by the state board of education.

“The U.S. Supreme Court laid down the foundation for this body of law nearly 20 years ago when they wrote that “scientific critiques” of “prevailing scientific theories” may be taught in public schools,” said DeWolf, also a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture. “Not only is Ohio outside of Judge Jones’ legal jurisdiction, but the Ohio State science education standards explicitly acknowledge that they do not require the teaching of intelligent design, so his determination that intelligent design is not science doesn’t affect the actions of the Ohio Board of Education.”

Ohio’s “Critical Analysis of Evolution” model lesson plan was created to implement a benchmark in the Ohio state science standards which requires students to be able to “describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.” The standards also clearly state that they do not endorse teaching intelligent design.

The Ohio lesson plan does not discuss religion or alternative scientific theories such as intelligent design. Created with input from a science advisory committee that included teachers, science educators, and scientists from across Ohio, the lesson plan was defended by a number of scientists in public testimony before the state board of education adopted it in 2004.
Some Ohio critics of intelligent design are now talking about limiting the state’s teaching of scientific evidence which challenges Darwinian evolution.

“Unlike the ACLU, we want students to learn more about evolution, not less,” said Dr. John West, associate director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture. “Students need to learn Darwinian evolution because it is the dominant theory of biological evolution. But, they also need to learn about some of the scientific evidence that challenges parts of the theory.”

“Judge Jones thought he could write the definitive opinion that would spare the rest of the country the need to think further about these issues ,” added DeWolf. ” But our governmental structure provides for a multiplicity of voices, including the United States Congress, state boards of education, and legislatures, whose views are quite different from Judge Jones’ about the value of teaching the controversy. To borrow from Mark Twain, the reports of the death of the controversy have been greatly exaggerated.”

Robert Crowther, II

Robert Crowther holds a BA in Journalism with an emphasis in public affairs and 20 years experience as a journalist, publisher, and brand marketing and media relations specialist. From 1994-2000 he was the Director of Public and Media Relations for Discovery Institute overseeing most aspects of communications for each of the Institute's major programs. In addition to handling public and media relations he managed the Institute's first three books to press, Justice Matters by Roberta Katz, Speaking of George Gilder edited by Frank Gregorsky, and The End of Money by Richard Rahn.