It used to be that when politicians spoke up against censorship and in support of academic freedom they were applauded. Not anymore, at least in Michigan. Now if you express support for academic freedom and speak out against censorship and dogmatism, you get attacked by rabid Darwinists and their knee-jerk supporters in the mainstream media.
Michigan finds itself the latest ground zero for the debate over evolution and intelligent design thanks in part to a comment from gubernatorial candidate Dick Devos and the state school board’s adoption of new science standards.
First, when legislators modestly proposed that high school biology students should be told that Darwinism may or may not be supported by the evidence, Darwinian activists threw a fit because this didn’t fit their dogmatic “Darwinism only and no questions” approach to science education.
The State Board of Education is about to adopt new science standards. Three state legislators asked the Board to hold off until their next meeting. The three were in a meeting of the House Education Committee and they put a question to the Board as to why some guidelines in state standards which require critical analysis are not applied to evolution. They said the Board was proposing to study evolution dogmatically.
The legislators have merely suggested that the guidelines include language which says the evidence “may or may not” support evolution. Immediately the ACLU and the media jumped all over the legislators with the absurd allegation that they were trying to inject religion into the classroom.
There is nothing religious about acknowledging the scientific debate over Darwinian evolution. The scientific literature is rife with challenges to Darwin’s theory that are based on science, not Sunday school.
The second thing that happened was that Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos made the following comment to an AP reporter in an interview earlier this week:
“I would like to see the ideas of intelligent design–that many scientists are now suggesting is a very viable alternative theory–that that theory and others that would be considered credible would expose our students to more ideas, not less.”
Later he clarified:
“Lots of intelligent people can disagree about the origins of life. In the end, I believe in our system of local control,” he said in a news release Wednesday afternoon. “Local school boards should have the opportunity to offer evolution and intelligent design in their curriculums.”
Although Discovery Institute does not advocate requiring the teaching of intelligent design in public schools, it does believe there is nothing unconstitutional about voluntarily discussing the scientific theory of design in the classroom. As a matter of public policy, Discovery Institute opposes any effort require the teaching of intelligent design by school districts or state boards of education. Attempts to mandate teaching about intelligent design only politicize the theory and will hinder fair and open discussion of the merits of the theory among scholars and within the scientific community. And that’s now exactly what is happening here. The candidate’s remarks are being twisted into a political weapon used to attack him by people who are likely supporters of his opponent.
Just as it was with the proposal by the legislators, the media tried to turn this into a discussion of religion. The Lansing Journal pontificated that intelligent design is not science but instead “is an attempt to forge the trappings of scientific inquiry around a fundamental structure of beliefs.” This simply isn’t true (see here for just one response to charges like this).
CSC Senior Fellow Stephen Meyer wrote in the Daily Telegraph (UK) earlier this year:
Contrary to media reports, ID is not a religious-based idea, but an evidence-based scientific theory about life’s origins. … ID holds that there are tell-tale features of living systems and the universe that are best explained by a designing intelligence. The theory does not challenge the idea of evolution defined as change over time, or even common ancestry, but it disputes Darwin’s idea that the cause of biological change is wholly blind and undirected.
Michigan’s media has gone hogwild in piling on anyone who dares to question the dogmatic teaching of Darwinian evolution. There’s little doubt that they are spurred on by the politically correct censors and stiflers of science.