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2007-06-06 / Opinions

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Say no to intelligent design

Dear Editor,

I read with some astonishment part of the article "More demanding classes are coming to Chesterfield" on May 23 concerning new science textbooks.

I think Dr. [Jeremy] Lloyd was being polite to suggest that there were ever any intelligent design (ID) science textbooks. There can be no science textbooks on ID because ID is not science.

This was made abundantly clear in Dover, Pa. on Dec. 20 of last year when a federal judge explicitly exposed the philosophical and religious underpinnings of ID in his 139-page ruling. U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III stated that requiring the teaching of ID as science violated the First Amendment. So, contrary to [Dale School Board member David] Wyman's analysis of three kinds of people looking at the evolution vs. ID's contrived dualism, there are really only two kinds: those that follow the Constitution and those that do not.

The county's current policy seems to be on the right path; intelligent design is a belief system, and students should discuss this with their parents. And when the School Board says that they need to form a policy on the matter, I hope that is what they mean.

Don Fruhwald

Chesterfield

Dear Editor,

Last week's article titled, "Evolution vs. Intelligent Design" was deeply misleading, and the School Board quotes just plain frightening. There is no scientific debate regarding evolution. Evolution is a scientific FACT that is not in dispute. Darwin's idea explaining this fact is now called a scientific theory - meaning that there is overwhelming evidence supporting his ideas.

The list of 700 "scientists" mentioned in the article is laughable and highly misleading. Many on the list are not scientists, and legitimate scientists, in less than one year, have a greater list of scientists limited to only those with the name Steve signing a statement supporting evolution.

More to the point, the democratic argument "teach the controversy and let children decide for themselves" is extraordinarily dangerous. We have scarce time with these students - we need not waste it with astrology, creationism or intelligent design, all ideas wholly apart from the scientific method.

There may be a controversy, but it is political and religious in nature, not scientific. Judge Jones' (a conservative Bush appointee) ruling in the Dover, Pa. case was correct. As he ruled: "Intelligent design is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory."

David Lehr

Midlothian

The responsibility of the Chesterfield Observer is to accurately report what goes on at School Board meetings. Editor

Dear Editor,

I am profoundly disturbed by the report in the May 30 issue of the Chesterfield Observer of the Chesterfield School Board's efforts to accommodate those who are seeking to have creationism (or intelligent design, as it has come to be called after a 1987 Supreme Court decision ruled that the teaching of creationism in science classes was unconstitutional) taught in Chesterfield County's science curriculum.

This is simply another in a long series of efforts by Christian fundamentalists to subvert the constitutional separation of church and state as well as the basic principles and methodologies of scientific inquiry. The "debate" between intelligent design and evolution is no more a scientific debate than the debate between astrology and astronomy, the debate between alchemy and chemistry, or the debate between Ptolemaic and Copernican theories of the universe. Indeed, to characterize this issue as a "debate" that is intended to foster, as the School Board declares, a "thriving, dynamic and inspiring educational environment" in our schools is at best misguided, and at worst disingenuous.

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has noted that intelligent design is not science because it is not testable through scientific experimentation, and because its claims "subordinate observed data to statements based on authority, revelation or religious belief." Advocates of intelligent design, moreover, "do not offer hypotheses subject to change in light of new data, new interpretations or demonstration of error. This contrasts with science, where any hypothesis or theory always remains subject to the possibility of rejection or modification in the light of new knowledge."

I urge the superintendent and the School Board to examine the December 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover (Pennsylvania) Area School Board case in which U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III (a Bush appointee and a devout Lutheran) ruled that efforts to include intelligent design in the school's science curriculum violated the constitutional separation of church and state. What is impressive about Judge Jones' ruling is the extent to which he explores the central question: Is the debate between evolution and intelligent design a legitimate scientific debate, or is it an imaginary debate manufactured by those engaged in an effort to promote Judeo-Christian doctrines in the classroom - a violation of the Establishment clause of the Constitution? Jones' 139-page decision declares that the evidence overwhelmingly supports the latter view, and in his evaluation of testimony from both sides of the issue, he exposes intelligent design as being utterly, and completely non-scientific, and nothing less than creationism in disguise.

Chesterfield residents would also do well to think about Judge Jones' comments about the effect of the controversy and trial on the Dover community: "The breathtaking inanity of the [Dover School] Board's decision [to include intelligent design in the science curriculum] is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources."

I sincerely hope the Chesterfield School Board thinks long and hard before it makes our fine county the next subject of national ridicule on this issue.

Shawn Smith

Midlothian

Letters to the editor can be e-mailed to letters@chesterfieldobserver.com, mailed to P.O. Box 1616, Midlothian, VA 23113, or faxed to 744-3269. Letters should include the writer's phone number and home address, but neither will be printed. All letters may be edited for clarity or space. For complete guidelines, visit www.chesterfieldobserver. com and click on "letters policy."

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