Education Icon Education
Free Speech Icon Free Speech

Why Discovery Institute Opposes the Missouri “Equal Treatment” Intelligent Design Bill

The news media are reporting on a bill in the Missouri State Legislature that would require “equal treatment for evolution and intelligent design.”

As we’ve mentioned many times before here on ENV, Discovery Institute opposes legislation like this, as it contradicts our longstanding policy to oppose pushing intelligent design in public schools. The Missouri “equal treatment” bill is entirely different from academic freedom bills, which we do support. Well-crafted legislation protecting academic freedom (a) doesn’t cover the teaching of intelligent design, (b) seeks to ensure the freedom of teachers who choose to teach about scientific controversies, and (c) does not require instructors to change their teaching in any way.

So why does Discovery Institute — the main organization supporting research into ID — oppose pushing ID into public schools? It’s simple. Our priority with ID is to see it develop as a scientific theory and not to politicize it by pushing the theory into public schools. Our Science Education Policy Page explains why we oppose mandating ID in public schools:

As a matter of public policy, Discovery Institute opposes any effort to 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. Furthermore, most teachers at the present time do not know enough about intelligent design to teach about it accurately and objectively.

If not intelligent design, what should be taught in public school biology classes? We think these schools should teach the evidence for and against Darwinian evolution, without getting into alternative theories like ID. Our Education Policy Page elaborates:

Instead of mandating intelligent design, Discovery Institute seeks to increase the coverage of evolution in textbooks. It believes that evolution should be fully and completely presented to students, and they should learn more about evolutionary theory, including its unresolved issues. In other words, evolution should be taught as a scientific theory that is open to critical scrutiny, not as a sacred dogma that can’t be questioned.

Discovery Institute’s policy on these issues is nothing new. As I recounted in detail last year, this was our policy long before the Dover case, and after it.


Casey Luskin

Associate Director, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.



Law and CourtsMissouri