Penn. School District Offers 'Intelligent Design' Book as Alternative to Evolution Theory

A Pennsylvania school district thought to be the first school to teach “Intelligent Design” released a statement on Friday clarifying that its procedural statements to be read as part of its biology curriculum is only an attempt to present a “balanced view” and not teach religious beliefs.

The Dover Area School District decided on Oct. 18 it would make alternative theories to evolution available to students. Its Biology curriculum was updated to include the following statement: “Students will be made aware of gaps/problems in Darwin’s Theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to Intelligent Design. The Origins of Life is not taught.”

On Nov. 19, the district said its officials will monitor the biology curriculum to “make sure no one is promoting but also not inhibiting religion."

The National Center for Science Education has labeled Dover Area School District as the first to teach the theory of Intelligent Design, which claims that natural laws and chance alone are not adequate to explain all natural phenomena.
Critics say the new curriculum is a cover-up for creationism, which holds that life and the earth were created by God as described in Genesis.

But Superintendent of the district, Dr. Richard Nilsen, has stated that no teacher will teach Intelligent Design, Creationism, or present his/her or the board’s religious beliefs. The book offering the Intelligent Design theory, “Of Pandas and People,” will not be a required text but listed as a reference book in the curriculum, according to the statement.

The following statement will be read to all students in the curriculum:

“The state standards require students to learn about Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and to eventually take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.

Because Darwin’s Theory is a theory, it is still being tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.

Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students to see if they would like to explore this view in an effort to gain an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves. As is true with any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind.

The school leaves the discussion of the Origins of Life up to individual students and their families. As a standards-driven district, class instruction focuses on the standards and preparing students to be successful on standards-based assessments.”