Evolution News and Views (ENV) provides original reporting and analysis about the debate over intelligent design and evolution, including breaking news about scientific research.

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SC Dept of Education: Critical Analysis does NOT require Teaching ID

According to the recent Associated Press story on South Carolina's new critical analysis of evolution standard, the South Carolina Department of Education does not think critical analysis means teaching alternative theories, like intelligent design (ID):

"Education Department spokesman Jim Foster says scientific inquiry is taught at every grade level and in every subject. Foster says the wording does not require students to study alternatives to evolution that are out of the mainstream."

(Education panel approves wording on biology standards)

We've been agreeing all along that critical analysis of evolution policies do not require teaching about alternative theories like ID! This just shows that the Darwinist claim that critical analysis = ID is just another tired conspiracy theory. So is the South Carolina Department of Education now in on the big conspiracy too?

Teaching students to critically analyze evolution is different from teaching them about ID for a number of reasons:

1) The Educational Approaches are Logically Distinct:

One can critique evolution without discussing "replacement theories" or alternative explanations such as intelligent design. For example, the Kansas Science Standards require students to learn about critiques of arguments for evolution from the fossil record, molecular data, and embryology, without any appeals to any alternative explanations. The standards also critique chemical origin of life scenarios without proposing any alternative hypothesis. ID is not based upon mere refutation of evolution: thus teaching ID requires some positive argument. Mere critical analysis of evolution does not logically lead to the conclusion of ID.

2) Explicit Statements of Intent to Not Require Teaching ID:
Many districts and states which have sanctioned critical analysis of evolution have also included in their policies explicit disclaimers to ensure that teachers, students, and the public understand that the critical analysis policy does not call for teaching ID. For example, Kansas's State Science Standards, which are presently the strongest standards in the country calling for critical analysis of evolution, state "While the testimony presented at the science hearings included many advocates of Intelligent Design, these standards neither mandate nor prohibit teaching about this scientific disagreement."

3) Scientific Critique is a Separate Legal Category from Teaching about Alternative Theories:
In Edwards v. Aguillard, the U.S. Supreme Court distinguished between scientific critiques of prevailing scientific theories, and teaching alternative viewpoints to evolution. Other courts have followed this example. Critical analysis exists as a separate and already-protected legal category.

4) Critics of Darwin that Don't Support ID:
Some critics of Neo-Darwinism, such as structuralists or self-organization proponents, have explicitly disaffirmed intelligent design. For example, in January, 2006, Dr. Richard von Sternberg testified before the South Carolina Board of Education in favor of critical analysis of evolution, yet Sternberg himself is not an ID-proponent. Other prominent critics of Neo-Darwinism who are also not pro-ID include David Berlinski, Stuart Kauffman, and Lynn Margulis. If critical analysis equals ID then these people apparently do not exist.

5) Final Proof: The Pudding (the Darwinists' own behavior):
It took the Darwinists less than two months to file a lawsuit to ban ID from Dover, Pa, after their explicitly pro-ID policy was passed. If they really believed that policies calling for critical analysis of evolution during science instruction are the same as teaching ID, lawsuits would have arisen over the past few years over the many critical analysis of evolution policies around the United States. But they haven't filed such lawsuits, and they won't, because they know that critical analysis of evolution is different from teaching about ID.

(See Is Critical Analysis of Evolution the Same as Teaching Intelligent Design for more information.)

And as noted elsewhere, teaching students about ID requires some positive argument in favor of ID--mere critique of evolution, as is required by critical analysis of evolution policies, does not imply ID. Darwinists who claim that critical analysis of evolution policies are just secret code for teaching ID imply that various state departments of education are trying to promote some massive undercover conspiracy to teachers. Like many conspiracy theories, this one is false.