I know we’ve been overly critical of the whole intelligent design incursions into public school science classes, but this latest news has me going contrarian with the anti-religion crowd. You see, this time, the school administrators in Lebec, California actually got things right — they taught the course as philosophy. But it seems that’s not enough for some people, as there is a lawsuit now underway to even ban that:
An initial course description, which was distributed to students and their families last month, said “the class will take a close look at evolution as a theory and will discuss the scientific, biological and biblical aspects that suggest why Darwin’s philosophy is not rock solid. The class will discuss intelligent design as an alternative response to evolution. Physical and chemical evidence will be presented suggesting the earth is thousands of years old, not billions.”
The plaintiffs argue that merely calling it a philosophy course is not enough and that “the school district has no intention of setting up an open debate on comparative religion or competing philosophies.” In a way, they’re right, but underneath, I have to wonder if they’d accept a comparative religious course as philosophy if it approached “Intelligent Design” in any scientific theory manner since the plaintiffs readily state they are against any course that “was designed to advance religious theories on the origins of life, including creationism and its offshoot ‘intelligent design.’ ”
Teaching religion and ID as a philosophical course is exactly where it belongs, and I hope the lawsuit ends where the comparitive course begins, but I have my doubts. I have a feeling that arguing semantics once it hits the philosophy course level is only confirming the religious defender’s fears that there is an effort to completely ban religious discussion in schools.
In a contextual environment and taught as philosophy, even athiests among the libertarian crowd would agree that religion has a place in the education system. After all who wouldn’t like to see the Flying Spaghetti Monster in some philosophy textbooks?
Update: I guess I should clarify that I am happy they are at least heading in the right direction by classifying it as philosophy. From the many comments, it’s pretty obvious the pro-ID folks have a ways to go on in making this course less one-sided and have more context with other religions and evolution philosophies. On the other hand, I’d hate to see another case where the outcome is to throw religion completely out of education because neither side wants to compromise on how it should be taught.