- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Creationists and Darwinians converged on the District yesterday to continue a debate that is shaping how science is taught in public schools.

Stephen C. Meyer, director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, says scientists are abandoning the Charles Darwin theory of evolution to back scientific evidence that shows a “complexity” in human cells that is best explained by a designer, or God.

“There are almost 400 scientists who have signed a statement of dissent from Darwinism,” said Mr. Meyer, who discussed the intelligent design theory before about 100 people at the Heritage Foundation. “In public schools, we want students to know about that.”

He also will debate the theory today at the National Press Club.

Taner Edis, an assistant physics professor at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., calls the theory a “close cousin” of creationism and said today’s debate is “scientifically meaningless.”

“That’s just going to be a performance,” said Mr. Edis, who last year co-wrote the book “Why Intelligent Design Fails.”

He also said the growing interest in the theory is “hardly unexpected.”

“Intelligent design is a very well-connected movement,” Mr. Edis said. “Lately they seem to have the feeling that — politically speaking — their time has come. I don’t think anybody is surprised that they are making a move for it.”

Mr. Meyer disagrees, saying the theory is an intellectual movement that started 20 years ago, but has now been “framed politically in the context of the 2004 presidential election.”

“The people in the schools and universities are getting more interest in the work we’re doing, which makes it a more political issue, then the media pays attention,” he said.

He disputed the view the intelligent design theory is purely political or religious.

“This isn’t a science-versus-religion issue,” Mr. Meyer said. “This is a science-versus-science issue. We want the public and students to know that this is an argument between two competing interpretations of the scientific evidence. We don’t drool and slobber and have bad white shoes. There is a stereotype of all that. And part of the reason we’re here is to dispel all that.”

The theory has been debated by school boards across the country, including the one in Cobb County, Ga., that ordered stickers placed inside science text books that stated: “Evolution is a theory, not a fact.”

In January, a federal judge ordered the stickers removed. But in Kansas, the state board of education is being urged to implement similar stickers.

In Dover, Pa., the American Civil Liberties Union has sued the school board for including in the biology curriculum a statement that evolution is a theory.

In Charles County, Md., the school board has discussed eliminating science textbooks biased toward Darwinistic evolution.

Mr. Meyer said the Center for Science and Culture is not pressing for the theory to be taught in the public schools.

“We want Darwinism to be taught, and we want the criticisms of it to also be taught,” he said.

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