Does God Belong in Public Schools?

By Kent Greenawalt | Go to book overview

Introduction

CONTROVERSIAL CIRCUMSTANCES

1. On March 11, 2002, the Ohio school board heard conflicting testimony over what the state should teach about the history of life on earth. Parents had objected to their children being taught that Darwinian evolutionary theory is true. Believing that the theory is not only false but undermines sound religion and morality, the parents wanted teachers to present an account of life that recognizes God's creative hand. Two scientists testified that standard evolutionary theory cannot explain the complexity of organs like the eye and of many individual cells, which reveal an intelligent design. Unlike many so-called creationists, who claim that the earth is less than ten thousand years old and that all basic kinds of plants and animals were created at the same time, these scientists did not dispute that the earth is billions of years old, that single-cell life-forms were the ancestors of all life on earth, or that natural selection of organisms best suited for survival accounts for much of the development of life. Unlike Darwinians, however, they argued that natural selection cannot explain nearly as much as most modern biologists assume, and suggested instead that the history of life on earth demonstrates the activity of an intelligent designer. Opponents of teaching intelligent design claimed that teaching it, no less than teaching creationism according to the Genesis account, is teaching religion, not science. Should the board have directed its schools to teach intelligent design?

2. A junior high school course on sex education includes information about the use of condoms. Faced with extensive parental complaints that artificial contraception violates God's law and that schools should not teach it, should the school board direct that teaching about condoms stop?

3. The Edgemont public school long celebrated the Christmas season by having students gather in the central hall before classes and sing Christmas carols. All students attended a Christmas pageant put on by ninth and tenth graders, under the

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