Creationism Disguised as Intelligent Design in Public Schools Violates the First Amendment

Conservative school boards all across the nation are still trying to find a happy medium between teaching evolution and intelligent design in science classrooms. Would-be politicians on the intelligent design side try to rationalize any unexplained instance inside of intelligent design without specifically linking it to god or Christianity in general. Scientists on evolution’s side argue that intelligent design is simply religious creationism coined for the politically correct 21st century.
Most science teachers in public schools would be horrified if intelligent design, especially disguised as creationism were to be taught in their science classes. They don’t think it should be ignored as a theory in general, instead they argue that no scientific studies can prove the supernatural aspect of intelligent design, therefore it should not be taught in science classes.
Most theists automatically equate intelligent design to a god or Christianity specifically and would be shocked to find out that they are wrong, at least in the preferred political sense of the term. Since it’s widely known that intelligent design is not accepted as a scientific theory and therefore has no place in our science classrooms, intelligent design supporters have gone out of the way to cover up any former links to religious creationism. They try to substitute miracles (pretty much anything unexplained was chalked up to a miracle) for scientific explanations even when none can be made in order to have their ideals published in science textbooks and accepted in our public schools as a sort of propaganda instead of trying to teach another unbiased/possible theory.
They even go so far as to say publicly that creationism isn’t and never was intelligent design and note how the book of Genesis in the Bible is true creationism, an acknowledgement that understandably bewilders many Christians. Intelligent design supporters say it is a liberal theory without a shred of conservatism or religious motives.
The word theory in scientific terms isn’t a one to be used loosely. Supporters of intelligent design say that Darwinism is a theory that cannot be proved, while supporters of evolution say scientific theories are based on evidence and hypothesis, and whatever cannot be currently explained is being thoroughly researched.
For instance, is the theory of gravitation not a very real occurrence? What about atomic theory? Both are scientific theories and not considered laws of science but they do exist and are at work today. Intelligent design on the other hand is a grand idea, not a scientific theory. Spiritual causes for advancement or placement can not be proven scientifically, more specifically the who, when, where and why would be intrinsically missing from the explanation.
Darwinism or evolution says creatures evolved and continue to evolve by using natural selection to improve on inherited traits. Evolution is also dependant on climate or climate changes and general living conditions over a period of many years. The theory of Darwinism was originally devised by Charles Darwin in the 19th Century, long before scientists were able to study DNA or genetics in general. The scientific discoveries and advances of the 20th century are what give evolution credibility in the scientific community.
Now intelligent design supporters are left with half of an argument. They say everything from bacteria to the Earth itself was designed by an intelligent designer yet since they aren’t allowed to say god, they must now try to fill in the empty space with iffy scientific facts that aren’t proven or supported by the mainstream scientific community.
Some individuals on the forefront of intelligent design, such as the so-called father of intelligent design Phillip Johnson, say that a god wasn’t necessarily needed in this specific process or that all life was created at one time. He also said that one can believe in evolution and still believe in a god or supreme being. Evolutionists would argue that a god was not needed for evolution or basic placement, ever, and it is a natural process.
Science doesn’t claim to have all of life’s answers. Science cannot share with us our purpose for being here on Earth, nor can it explain seemingly random unexplained phenomenon’s, designs, placements or even the “miracles” of creationism or intelligent design for that matter. Alternately, intelligent design supporters who desperately want to fill in these holes with the term miracle are not allowed to if they want to avoid violating the 1st Amendment.
Both sides of the evolution argument went on trial in 2004 when Dover, Pennsylvania school board member Bill Buckingham asked for intelligent design to be introduced into Dover’s science classes. When parents, teachers and students alike got word of this, they decided to fight to keep religion out of public schools.
Surprisingly, much of the opposition were Christians who conceded that there is indeed a difference between intelligent design (whether motivated by creationism or not) and science/biology yet all realized their constitutional rights were being violated by allowing religion into the public school system.
At first it seemed like evolution supporters were fighting a losing battle, with much of the town consisting of conservative Christians and with Judge John E. Jones III, well-known for his conservatism (and appointment by President Bush), presiding over the case.
During the proceedings, some of the eleven parents involved in the lawsuit, as well as the judge, received death threats by so-called Christians opposing Darwinism in their community. Two of the parents who initiated the lawsuit were both active Christians and the son and daughter of ministers. When they weren’t receiving death threats, Christians in the trial were labeled unfairly as atheists by more closed-minded Christian conservatives in the community. Also, some of the parents’ children were receiving hate mail from Christian opponents of evolution, but this hypocritical judgment and hatred is another issue in and of itself.
Michael Behe, a member of the Discovery Institute, which studies intelligent design, was the key pro intelligent design testimony in the Dover case. He stated that creationism has nothing to do with modern intelligent design theory.
When asked to define the term design within that context, he quoted a paragraph from his book Darwin’s Black Box, “Design is simply the purposeful arrangement of parts. When we perceive that parts have been arranged to fulfill a purpose, that’s when we infer design,” which isn’t exactly a strong definition as evolution could be behind this purposeful arrangement, hence natural selection and evolution itself.
Next, Behe brought up a weak example of intelligent design by showing the court a picture of a bacteria flagellum, or the complex motor like appendage that allows bacteria to get from one place to another. It is a highly complex accessory that rivals the best mechanical motors of today and Behe argued that this perfect mechanism could in no way be an accident. It is so complex that it must have been designed by intelligence.
I included a picture of a flagellum to go along with this article but it doesn’t do the appendage justice. Seeing it in action shows what an intricate, amazing structure it really is. It allows the bacteria to move in any direction instantly thanks to the specialized motor at the base of its tail. Amazing as it is, it doesn’t automatically infer that something real or supernatural designed it. Plenty of modern-day advancements were essentially borrowed from nature. The flagellum just happens to be more complex.
Another argument brought up was how the human immune system has never been successfully traced by evolution, but that notion was quickly shot down by ACLU lawyers placing book after book of historical scientific discoveries specific to the immune system on the stand.
Irreducible complexity, a term held onto dearly by intelligent design supporters, was also scrutinized. Irreducible complexity is defined by saying all components of something, such as a bacteria flagellum or even a mousetrap must be present and in perfect condition for the object to work.
This theory was debunked when a pro-evolution witness entered the courtroom wearing a rather odd contraption on his tie. Biologist Kenneth Miller from Brown University objected by explaining how when any one of the 5 components of a traditional mousetrap is taken away it will not work as a mousetrap, this is true, but when certain elements are removed, it does make a handy tie clip.
One by one the arguments of intelligent design witnesses were being shot down.
In the end, intelligent design itself wasn’t on trial. The lawsuit was a direct result of a violation of the first amendment of the Constitution, which says church and state shall be separated. Intelligent design supporters, especially school board member Bill Buckingham ultimately had to prove that religion wasn’t the motivating factor behind the introduction of intelligent design into the Dover science classrooms. To prove his motivation, lawyers on the pro evolution side showed how intelligent design had morphed out of creationism. Now the term creationism had taken the hot seat in the trial.
One Dover school employee testified that when the textbooks in question were first delivered to Dover High School, in the box was a paper that had catalogued the textbook under “creation science.” By now the term creationism was recognized to be purely religious yet a few years ago the same intelligent design supporters were in fact creationist supporters.
This was proved when one of the ACLU lawyers found an article from a creation newspaper back in 1981 that had interviewed the authors of the intelligent design textbook, Of Pandas and People the same textbook to be placed in Dover High School Libraries if not the curriculum. In this article, Charles Thaxton, one of the authors said he was, “…working on a book that would present “both evolution and creation.”
In the 2004 trial the term intelligent design was shown to have been a political name change in the 1980s from creationism. It had evolved to specifically discount the Christian theory of a god being behind the design. This way, they had evidently found a loophole that allowed intelligent design into our public schools.
The climax of the trial came when lawyers uncovered previous drafts of the textbook Of Pandas and People. Another trial held in 1987 deemed this book unconstitutional because creationism was mentioned in the draft at the time. After the 1987 trial, the word creationism was changed in the new draft to intelligent design, proof that it is creationism re-labeled and therefore still unconstitutional.
Due to the underwhelming proof that intelligent design was a true scientific theory and the overwhelming proof of intelligent design’s true intentions, Judge Jones ruled in favor of both evolution and the constitution and ruled that intelligent design is not science and should not be taught in Dover’s science classes.
He said while Darwin’s theory is not perfect because not every nuance of evolution has been discovered, one can not discount the vast scientific discoveries made thus far. He also said certain witnesses had lied during the proceedings to cover up the real meaning of intelligent design.
This was not the first time and will not be the last time state and church goes to trial over school curriculum. Those with a strictly religious agenda will always try to push the limits of our nation’s constitution. There will always be religious elitists out there who think more of their specific religion than the United States Constitution, which was written in part to make our country one free from religious oppression.
Aside from the breach in the Constitution, scientists say that labeling intelligent design as science in the classrooms would be a disservice to students trying to form an opinion on the true definition of science. Neil Shubin, a Paleontologist at the University of Chicago put it best when saying, “Not every idea, no matter how beautiful, qualifies as science”.