Debate Evolves over Biology Lessons; Ohio Considers Adding 'Design'

Article excerpt

Byline: Larry Witham, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Ohio School Board is considering teaching high school science students that some scientists believe parts of biological life are "designed" - not evolved from a single ancestor by blind chance as declared by Charles Darwin.

Next month, it will be the first school board to consider adding to its statewide standards the "intelligent design" theory, which advocates say explains complex parts of biology that are elusive in Darwin's evolution paradigm.

Critics of the theory, such as the newly formed Ohio Citizens for Science, say intelligent design is simply a new form of creationism because it implies a higher power must have created the design.

"Our challenge is to show that we can keep the process informed, open and fair, and come to a good decision," Ohio School Board President Jennifer L. Sheets said Thursday.

"There is so much misinformation on each side already," said the self-described moderate Republican with a "rural law practice."

"Absolutely nobody is saying, 'Take evolution out of the science standards.' Some people are asking for additional information to be added."

The debate over intelligent design began in mid-January when its advocates told at a board meeting that it was not a religious but a scientific concept that could be raised in science classes.

The board and a science-standards-writing team was asked to amend 10th-grade science with a requirement to "know that some scientists support the theory of intelligent design, which postulates that the influence of intelligence is a viable alternative explanation for the origin and diversity of life."

An explanatory note says the design theory is "compatible with belief in God and the Bible, but it does not require adherence to any particular faith or doctrine."

The idea of design implies that God or even extraterrestrial intelligence designed, for example, the first life, DNA, or some mechanisms in a cell. …