School District considers adding

School District considers adding

Members of the Phoenixville, Pa., School Board have added a sentence to the school’s mission statement that one board member hopes might open the door to the teaching of «intelligent design» and creationism.

David M. Langdon, an evangelical Christian who believes in the creation account described in the Book of Genesis, originally introduced a proposal that would have specifically permitted including intelligent design in science classes. Administrators balked at that proposal but did agree to modify the school’s mission statement to assert, «Critical thinking, along with objective and thorough investigation of data and theories in all areas of study, is necessary to ensure the success of the educational program.»

Langdon sees the move as an opening for intelligent design. Evolution, he said, cannot be proven. «By and large, evolution denies any view of God being involved in the creation of any form of life on earth,» he told the Phoenixville News. «One is a theistic view and one is an atheistic viewpoint.»

Langdon told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he would press teachers to present «both sides» of the issue of evolution and said teachers should instruct about «the problems with evolution.» He added that he would like to see district teachers trained in how to «present ideas that are controversial in many different areas [such as] same sex adoption and gay marriage. You need to hear both sides to make a good, honest decision.»

Teaching intelligent design, Langdon insisted, does not promote religion. «It just says there is a higher intelligent power that started all this it doesn’t promote any one religion or religion in general.»

Frank Fish, a biology professor at nearby West Chester University of Pennsylvania, said Langdon had over simplified the matter. Fish pointed out that among scientists, evolution is not considered controversial and that intelligent design has little support in the academic community.

«It’s just creationism wrapped up in another guise, and that’s all there really is to it,» Fish told the News. «The question becomes, Is it a scientifically valid theory? ‘ The emphasis there is science, Is it science?’ It’s not. We’re talking faith; we’re talking religion, and that is outside the way science conducts itself.»

Robb S. Frees, president of the school board, said he backs Langdon and the new approach.

«There are holes in the theory of evolution, there are holes in creationism and there are holes in intelligent design,» he told the Inquirer. «None of them is definitive. When presented professionally and it’s the administration’s job to monitor that I believe it can be beneficial to have all viewpoints presented.»

Revolution in evolution? The evolution vs. creationism controversy continues to influence public school curriculum.

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