Michigan Board of Education OKs curriculum supporting the teaching of evolution, not intelligent design

Tuesday, October 10th 2006, 9:34 pm
By: News On 6

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- The State Board of Education on Tuesday approved public school curriculum guidelines that support the teaching of evolution in science classes -- but not intelligent design.

Intelligent design instruction could be left for other classes in Michigan schools, but it doesn't belong in science class, according to the unanimously adopted guidelines.

"The intent of the board needs to be very clear," said board member John Austin, an Ann Arbor Democrat. "Evolution is not under stress. It is not untested science."

Some science groups and the American Civil Liberties Union had worried that state standards would not be strong enough to prevent the discussion of intelligent design as the course expectations developed over the summer.

The guidelines approved Tuesday detail what the state expects school districts to teach in their science classes. If a district or teacher chose to include intelligent design in a science class, they could face a court challenge from opponents of teaching intelligent design.

Intelligent design's proponents hold that living organisms are so complex they must have been created by a higher force rather than evolving from more primitive forms.

Some want science teachers to teach that Darwin's theory of evolution is not a fact and has gaps.

Gregory Forbes, a community college biology instructor, said it appears the "doors have been shut" on those in Michigan who support the teaching of intelligent design as a viable scientific alternative to evolution.

"To suggest intelligent design is a scientific theory is inappropriate because it is not testable. ... It hasn't earned its way into the science classroom," he said.

Richard Thompson, leader of the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, said intelligent design should have a home in science classes. The center describes its mission as defending the religious freedom of Christians.

"It would make students more knowledgeable about science and more interested in science," he said in a phone interview. "Evolution is a theory. It's not a fact."

Intelligent design has also become an issue in the Michigan governor's race.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos, a conservative Christian, said last month that he approves of intelligent design being taught along with evolution in science classes, though he said the decision should be left up to local school districts.

Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who is Roman Catholic, said Michigan schools need to teach evolution in science classes and not include intelligent design. She said school districts can explore intelligent design in current events or comparative religions classes.