What Parents Involved in the Dover Intelligent Design Challenge Have to Say

Document Date: November 23, 2005

“Intelligent Design” is a religious view, not a scientific theory, according to U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III in his historic decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover.

The lawsuit was brought by the parents who objected to the decision by the school board in Dover, Pennsylvania, to promote teaching intelligent design in their children’s public school. Here are their stories.

Tammy Kitzmiller

As a parent, I chose to take a stand for a sound science education for my child. Each year the US science and math scores fall further behind the rest of the world. ID, introduced as a ‘scientific’ explanation, would only increase that gap. I’ve always encouraged my children to explore new ideas, try new things, to think outside of the box. But at the same time, I’ve stressed the importance of education and having a firm knowledge of the basics. To have a school muddy the waters of science – when within the scientific community there is no controversy – left me greatly disappointed. When and where my children learn about theological ideas should be my decision, not the Dover Area School Board’s.

The Dover Area School Board’s efforts to introduce Intelligent Design in the science classroom are wrong. The events that took place leading up to the school board’s decision to include ID in their science curriculum lead me to believe they were motivated by their own particular religious beliefs, rather than a desire to enhance the education of our students. The school board wants us to believe that ID is science; yet none of the board members introducing this concept had formal training in science. In fact, the scientific community has serious problems with ID, particularly because there is no way to test ID using the scientific method. The introduction of ID in the science classroom has only muddied the waters for much needed, true scientific education.

For me, this lawsuit is not about squelching the free flow of information, but about putting religion and science in the appropriate curriculum. Members of the Dover community, including teachers, clergy and parents have asked for ID to be introduced in the appropriate forum only to be denied by the school board. I would like nothing better than to see the Dover Area School District practice religious pluralism. What better way to prepare our students for life in a global, religiously diverse society than to talk about the concept that all religions are legitimate and valid – when viewed from within their particular culture.

Steven Stough I have joined this lawsuit because I believe that religious education is a personal matter whose instructional component is best reserved for home or at a church of one’s choice. It is my responsibility for the direction of my daughter’s religious instruction not the public high school.

My daughter is a ninth-grade student who attends Dover High School in the Dover Area School District. She is currently enrolled in the required ninth-grade biology class at Dover High School. In January 2006, she will be exposed to the implementation of the biology curriculum revision of October 18, 2004, which requires an administrator to read a statement in her class that implies that intelligent design has standing in the discipline of science equal to Theory of Evolution. Intelligent design is neither a theory nor is it scientific. Intelligent design claims that a divine or supreme being is responsible for the appearance of life on earth. As a result, intelligent design is inherently religious and has no place in science instruction in the public schools.

BRYAN REHM Bryan Rehm As a parent and a person of faith, I want to share my religious beliefs with my own children. But as a high school physics teacher, I believe it would be a great disservice and fallacy to teach students that a perfectly valid faith constitutes scientific knowledge.

Since faith is very personal, families instead of schools should be the ones to discuss this subject. I have no problem with teaching Creationism in a comparative religion class, which includes all faiths’ views of how we got here.

Any time an individual or group’s personal, political, or religious agenda interferes with my children’s education and ability to compete for jobs other than menial labor, I am concerned. Not only does the introduction of this new curriculum turn back the clock to the dark ages for education, it opens the door to religious intolerance and the hatred that it will ensue.

BARRIE AND FRED CALLAHAN Barrie and Fred Callahan We have joined this lawsuit for two primary reasons. First, we believe that the proponents of Intelligent Design have a clear religious purpose, and while there may be appropriate settings for religious discussions in public schools such as comparative religion or philosophy courses, clearly science education should be reserved for theories that are supportable through the proven methods of scientific discovery.

Secondly, introducing ID in conjunction with the teaching of evolution places scientific instruction on a slippery slope and is an unwarranted intrusion that cannot help but corrupt that instruction. It casts doubt where there should be none. While it gives comfort to those that would stymie scientific discovery that conflicts with their personal religious views, it does so at the expense of those who are seeking, and entitled to, an unobstructed view of proven science. At the same time, it acts to intimidate educators from teaching what has been proven, in an effort to avoid the conflict.

I fail to see how intelligent design receives the prestigious title of scientific theory. This relatively new concept of creation science has not been accepted by our scientific community, and cannot be tested using scientific method. Yet the Dover school board has implemented this controversial idea in the 9th grade biology curriculum, despite outcry from parents, clergymen, science teachers, and science faculties of local universities.

The Foundation for Thoughts and Ethics, the publisher of the intelligent design reference book Of Pandas and People , openly admits they are committed to providing textbooks and curriculum that challenge the world-view of naturalism. This can only be warranted on a religious level, not a scientific one. There is no controversy among the scientific community. Biology is the study of our natural world, and evolution is a part of it that has withstood the scrutiny of scientific method to become a well-accepted scientific theory.

It is clear that the Dover school board members overstepped their qualifications in making the curriculum change, and acted instead to promote their own religious beliefs. I firmly believe that this constant challenge to evolution will result in a sub-standard science education for our students.

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