Eighty years after the famous Scopes Monkey trial (read Inherit the Wind if you don't know the story), why is there a resurgence now in the debate over teaching evolution in schools?
Today, there is a movement to teach "intelligent design" (ID, the idea that a higher being (not specified) created life because it's just too complicated and too perfect to have evolved that way) along with or instead of evolution in the public schools. Proponents of ID argue that evolution is "just a theory" and thus, competing theories must be taught.
There has been a lot public controversy in the past few years (especially in Kansas) and a lot of editorials and letters to the editor in the science community press in the past few months. This week Science tackles the subject in their lead editorial. The science community generally comes down hard against teaching ID alongside evolution, and I stand alongside them.
ID supporters are not only intentionally distorting the nature of science, and the scientific meaning of the word "theory", but they are also asking public schools to teach religious ideas (even if not spefically Christian) in direct violation of the separation of church and state. How would a young agnostic or atheist feel if their science teacher started lecturing that life was created by a higher being? Or how about the daughters of biologists and geologists who have been taught by their parents about evolution and its evidence all around us? Even religious believers can still support evolution as a scientific principle; believing that we evolved from monkeys does not diminish the possibility of an awesome God.
I am discouraged by the growing strength of the fundamentalists Christians and their influence on secular society and science. I worry about the sort of environment that I will bring kids into. Good science is good science and it should not be disparaged because it does not support seven literal days.