The Washington Post and The New York Times argued in their editorials on January 24 and 23, respectively, that public schools should not teach intelligent design, which is not a science, as an alternative to evolutionism, an established science theory.
Their argument goes that teaching intelligent design in science class violates the constitutional separation of church and state.
Some say that the editorials of the two newspapers are based on concerns over the recent conservative trend in U.S. society and legal circles after the reelection of President George W. Bush.
Intelligent design is a theory saying that man cannot be thought of as the result of evolution given the sheer complexity of the biological world, and that it had to be created by a supernatural being with intelligent power.
The concept was first widely publicized by Phillip E. Johnson, a legal scholar, in his 1991 book Darwin on Trial. Since then, it has been welcomed by creationists as a refutation of evolutionism in that it criticizes evolutionism without involving God or religion.
In particular, christian creationists, who was on the defensive after failing to win an appropriate alternative after a 1987 landmark ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court, enthusiastically endorsed the idea. The U.S. Supreme Court said in its 1987 ruling regarding the education courses of the state of Louisiana that it is prohibitted to restructure a science curriculum to conform with a particular religious viewpoint. The state of Louisiana cannot include creationism in its science curriculum.
Intelligence design was made an issue again at the end of last year when a school board in the Dover Area School District, Pennsylvania decided to teach it along with evolutionism in science classes.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a civic group, filed a complained against the decision with the Federal Court on behalf of parents.
However, lawyers at the Dover school board claimed, Intelligent design is not subject to the 1987 ruling, which is based on constitutional separation of church and state, as the theory is not a religion.
The ACLU filed a provisional disposition prohibiting the education, saying, If not God, is the supernatural being in the intelligence design an alien? but failed.
Encouraged by the result, administrators in school districts of Kansas and Wisconsin said that they would also file lawsuits that support intelligent design within the year. A school board of a county in Georgia decided to appeal against the ruling that it should remove stickers reading: evolutionism is not a fact, it is just a theory, which it attached to science textbooks, which is an example of the ever-growing controversy over the issue.
Meanwhile, in a recent survey conducted by CBS, 55 percent of Americans and 67 percent of those who voted for President Bush responded that they do not believe in evolution at all. In addition, a Gallup poll showed that a third of U.S. citizens believe in the literal truth of the Bible.