Saturday, September 3, 2005

School to make evolution optional

A SYDNEY Christian school has moved quickly to incorporate the controversial Intelligent Design theory into its science classes as an alternative to the conventional theory of evolution.

High school students at Pacific Hills Christian School have begun to study ID theory, which claims to have scientific evidence that life on Earth was at least partly the work of a designer.

The school's decision appears to be one of the first forays of the controversial US-developed theory into the Australian school system where it will be met with strong opposition from the nation's science teachers.

The issue has already proved deeply divisive in the US, where the promotion of religion [bondage] in schools is constitutionally banned. Australian science teachers have decided to oppose teaching ID, but will allow its discussion as a "belief system" [propaganda] in science class.

"We would have no problem with ID being taught in religious or science classes," said the school's principal, Ted Boyce, adding that teachers were working to include it in the curriculum for next year.

"Evolution is taught in the school system as if it's a universally accepted theory and there's no other way to view the origin of man and creation," Dr Boyce said. "I have trouble with this. We would teach evolution as a theory and ID as an alternative theory."

Sydney's Catholic Archbishop, Cardinal George Pell, said he was "agnostic" about whether ID, which uses DNA, proteins and mathematical formula to argue its case, should be taught in schools.

But he said he would be happy to see ID discussed in classes where evolution was sometimes taught in an "anti-God way". [anti religious bondage?]

"There's no doubt evolution explains a lot of things," he said.

"But it's there to be replaced or improved -- there are many things it doesn't explain."

ID is being incorporated into Catholic school texts on religious studies, said Monsignor Peter Elliott, Episcopal Vicar of religious studies in the Melbourne Archdiocese.

"I don't think you hermetically seal off science from other questions," he said.

But prominent scientists have attacked ID as unscientific and "creationism in disguise".

"You can't teach it in science class," said prominent physicist Paul Davies, who has written extensively on the nature of God and science. "God has never been a part of science."

Professor Davies argued that ID theory was not scientific because it could not be subjected to standard scientific tests.

"It isn't a scientific theory, it's a religion," he said. "There are all sorts of beliefs out there: flat-earthers, fairies and philosophy class might be appropriate."

Pushing ID into the broader school system is sure to meet strong resistance.

Gary Thomas, the president of the Australian Science Teachers' Association, said the association had agreed to resist pressure to have ID taught in science classes.

"The study of science is about what is measurable, testable, and evidence-based," he said.

"The theory of evolution is the best scientific explanation forexplaining the changes in life on Earth."

But science teachers also agreed that they could include ID as a topic in the classroom.

"While Intelligent Design has no status as a scientific theory, teachers of science may wish to contrast it to other belief systems with scientific theories like evolution, as a means of assisting students to understand better the nature of science," ANSTA has concluded. [Religious bondage.]

By Roy Eccleston 3 September 05


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