Last updated on: 10/5/2007 | Author:

Should Intelligent Design Be Taught as Science in Public Schools?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, 2000, defined “intelligent design” as:

“The assertion or belief that physical and biological systems observed in the universe result from purposeful design by an intelligent being rather than from chance or undirected natural processes.”


A CBS News telephone poll of 808 adults published Oct. 23, 2005, found that a majority of Americans do not believe in evolution:

“God created humans in present form – 51%
Humans evolved, God guided the process – 30%
Humans evolved, God did not guide the process – 15%”

Oct. 23, 2005

Douglas Laycock, JD, Associate Dean for Research at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, in his Sep. 26, 2005 debate with Francis J. Beckwith, Associate Professor of Church-State Studies at Baylor University, titled “Is It Illegal to Teach Intelligent Design?” published in Legal Affairs, said:

“Science does say that intelligent design has not yet cast reasonable scientific doubt on prevailing scientific models. If that changes, the resulting scientific debate could be taught in public schools. But even in that event, the alternative explanation of an Intelligent Designer should still be reserved for the private sector. Government can teach that we just don’t know how life began or evolved, if that is scientifically true. But government cannot teach that God or some other supernatural power created or designed life.”

Sept. 26, 2005

PRO (yes)


David K. DeWolf, JD, Professor of Law at Gonzaga University School of Law, Stephen C. Meyer, PhD, Director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, and Mark E. DeForrest, JD, Instructor at Central Washington State University, wrote in their 1999 book Intelligent Design in Public School Science Curricula: A Legal Guidebook that:

“School boards have the authority to permit, and even encourage, teaching about design theory as an alternative to Darwinian evolution-and this includes the use of textbooks such as Of Pandas and People that present evidence for the theory of intelligent design…

The controlling legal authority, the Supreme Court’s decision in Edwards v. Aguillard, explicitly permits the inclusion of alternatives to Darwinian evolution so long as those alternatives are based on scientific evidence and not motivated by strictly religious concerns. Since design theory is based on scientific evidence rather than religious assumptions, it clearly meets this test. Including discussions of design in the science curriculum thus serves an important goal of making education inclusive, rather than exclusionary. In addition, it provides students with an important demonstration of the best way for them as future scientists and citizens to resolve scientific controversies-by a careful and fair-minded examination of the evidence.”



Charles C. Haynes, ThD, Senior Scholar at the First Amendment Center, wrote in his Dec. 05, 2004 commentary “Darwin Under Fire (Again): Intelligent Design vs. Evolution,” published on the First Amendment Center’s web site that:

“Many in the science establishment worry that teaching the controversy — even conflicts among scientists about some aspects of evolutionary theory — would open the door to creationist or other religious views. That’s why so many scientists and science educators oppose any attempt to expose kids to debate over intelligent design or any other challenge to evolution…

The strategy of exclusion may win court cases (at least thus far), but it shuts down the debate…If the aim of science education is scientific literacy, then students must learn the prevailing theories in science. But if we expect them to believe what they hear, they must also learn something about the conflicts and controversies surrounding those theories.”

Dec. 5, 2004


The Intelligent Design Network’s (IDnet) management stated in their Dec. 19, 2002 memorandum “Response to Resolution of the American Association for the Advancement of Science That Seeks to Censor Intelligent Design” that:

“Intelligent design or ‘ID’ is a scientific theory that some natural phenomena, including life and much of its diversity may arise from a process guided by some form of intelligence.

ID theory dates back to the beginning of civilization and framed scientific inquiry until the late 19th century. Although ID theory is not new, recent scientific discoveries about the complexity of living systems and the universe have generated renewed scientific interest in the theory…

Censoring ID in 2002 is no different than censoring evolution in 1925. The principles are the same, only the names have changed. The idea now under attack is not evolution but ID. We believe the attack is not only unseemly, but is built on hidden assumptions and lame excuses. It is also inconsistent with logic, academic freedom, good science, the US Constitution and the views of a growing number of credentialed scientists, Congress and the public.”

Dec. 19, 2002

CON (no)


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reported in its Dec. 14, 2004 press release, “Pennsylvania Parents File First-Ever Challenge to ‘Intelligent Design’ Instruction in Public Schools,” that:

“‘Teaching students about religion’s role in world history and culture is proper, but disguising a particular religious belief as science is not,’ said ACLU of Pennsylvania Legal Director Witold Walczak. ‘Intelligent design is a Trojan Horse for bringing religious creationism back into public school science classes.’…

The [ACLU argues in the] lawsuit that teaching students about ‘intelligent design’ in public school science classes entangles government with religion and violates the separation of church and state. Of Pandas and People, the alternative book available for students, was authored by advocates of so-called creation science and published by a Christian think-tank that aims to preach ‘the Christian Gospel and understanding of the Bible.'”

Dec. 14, 2004


Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank, in its Jan. 16, 2006 press release titled “Discovery Institute’s Science Education Policy” stated:

“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.

Instead of mandating intelligent design, Discovery Institute seeks to increase the coverage of evolution in textbooks… 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.”

Jan. 16, 2006


Michael Dorf, JD, Professor of Law at Columbia University School of Law, wrote in his Dec. 22, 2004 article, “Why It’s Unconstitutional to Teach ‘Intelligent Design’ in the Public Schools, as an Alternative to Evolution,” in FindLaw Legal Commentary that:

“If the intelligent designers were to apply the same criticisms to physics that they apply to evolution, they would have to say that gravity, too, is ‘just a theory.’…

Even if one is prepared to accept the possibility that science could, without sacrificing its essential premises, include accounts of supernatural phenomena, the concept of intelligent design, standing alone, is simply a label, not an account…

[A]bsent either radical changes in nearly everything we know about biology, or a wholesale reformulation of the tenets of intelligent design, the latter should not be deemed a legitimate scientific theory. And if intelligent design is not science, then it follows that the objective purpose of those who would have it taught alongside evolution in the public schools is to advance a religious view.”

Dec. 22, 2004