In the 1987 case of Edwards v. Aguillard, the US Supreme Court shot down creationists’ attempt to get creationism into public schools or at least get evolution out of it. The ruling struck down Louisiana’s Creationism Act as a sectarian intrusion into public schooling. Now creationists are trying a new angle: intelligent design (ID). Proponents of ID want public schools to “teach the controvesy”; that is, teach schoolkids both evolution theory and their alternative to evolution. This seemingly fair-minded campaign is wrong on three counts.
No Controversy in Science
There’s no controversy in science to be taught. The creationist disagreement is between scientists and creationists, not among scientists. There are actual controversies among scientists, such as whether race is a meaningful way of categorizing humans, but these controversies don’t look anything like the so-called controversy over ID.
No Controversy in Other Fields
Teaching discredited minority opinions isn’t standard practice in any fields. Public schools, for example, don’t teach Holocaust denial, despite the “controversy.”
No Controversy in ID
The big failing of ID, ironically, is its lack of internal controversy. Specifically, there’s no controversy within ID over the age of the earth. ID claims that modern science is so insightful, so knowledgeable about the origins of life on earth, that reasonable scientists can rule out a natural explanation for it. According to ID, we understand the early earth so well, down to the molecular level, that we can go further than concluding we have no good natural explanation for life’s origin all the way to concluding that there can be no natural explanation. Yet, despite this supposedly ironclad evidence, ID proponents can’t tell whether the earth is ten thousand or 3.5 billion years old. Imagine having all that definitive knowledge of the young earth and still not being able to determine the earth’s age to within a factor of 350,000.
Why is there no controversy within ID about the age of the earth? If ID were based on actual scientific observation, there would be controversy. But ID is not a theory reached by observation but a tenet supported after the fact (if at all) by observation. ID proponents don’t care whether their peers believe in a young or old earth because ID is not a theory but a political maneuver aimed at getting God into the classroom, or at least getting Darwin out of it.
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