The public debate between proponents of evolution and so-called “intelligent design” has been growing in public schools across the country.
What is Intelligent Design?
Intelligent design (ID) suggests that life on earth is too complex to have evolved through natural selection alone, and therefore must have been “guided” by a “supernatural” or “intelligent” force. Opponents of teaching intelligent design in public school science courses, including the Reform Movement, argue that ID is little more than an attempt by the religious right to continue to promote the concept of creationism in public schools, despite the fact that it has repeatedly been found unconstitutional. Rather, they advocate the teaching of the theory of evolution, which most mainstream scientists agree has been well-tested and supported.
What is the Conflict?
The public debate between proponents of evolution and so-called “intelligent design” has been growing in public schools across the country. Some teachers, school boards, and state legislatures are beginning to incorporate the idea of “intelligent design” into public school curriculum. However, this debate is hardly new. Ever since Charles Darwin published the highly influential book, “The Origin of Species” in 1859 and introduced the theory of natural selection, this conflict between science and religion, tradition and progress has existed. Natural selection and evolution have been controversial ever since, as they challenge long held beliefs and religious ideology, and offer scientific theory to explain natural phenomenon. In the early 1920’s, the anti-evolution movement began to gain momentum. Led by former Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, anti-evolution groups lobbied states to pass legislation banning evolution from the classroom, claiming that it was both “immoral and irrational.” Fifteen states introduced the legislation, and several states passed such laws, leading to the beginning of the court battle between the two ideas.