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Briefing and Opinion
May 27, 2005

Dr. Eugene Scott, left and Richard Thompson, right.
1. Evolution vs. ID
2. Science Education
3. Is ID Religious?
4. Is Evolution Religious?
5. Scientist Views
6. Church and State
7. The Dover Case
Dr. Eugenie C. Scott, a physical anthropologist, is the executive director of the National Center for Science Education.

Richard Thompson is the president of the Thomas More Law Center and head of the Christian legal defense group representing Dover's school board.
Q: What is the argument and evidence for these two theories?

SCOTT: The evidence for the inference of evolution, which is that living things had common ancestors, comes from a wide range of scientific fields. Virtually any information from the biological realm supports the idea of common ancestry. When you look at biochemistry, you can look at the similarities and differences of proteins of animals and you find that some animals are much more similar in their proteins than others.

The inference of evolution is that, the more recently you've shared a common ancestor, the more similar your proteins are going to be. That is carried over in areas like comparative anatomy, embryology and it is even carried over in behavior. It comes from all of these various sources of evidence that show that living things are arranged in this set of nested hierarchies of greater and greater similarity.

Watch the VideoIt's not that intelligent design supporters and evolutionists look at the data differently and come to different conclusions. That's not the problem. The problem is the intelligent design supporters ignore a great deal of the data that supports our position. And, frankly, they really don't have data supporting their position. Their position largely is evolution can't do the job. Here's a little anomaly that proves that evolution didn't work.
THOMPSON: There are basically two theories. Either we were just an unplanned accident of the cosmos, or we were in some way intelligently designed. When you talk to some person who says, "I believe in evolution," what are they saying? Do they believe that there is change over time? There is change in a species? I think most people will agree with that.

Watch the VideoBut when they talk about evolution as the scientists look at it, that is, living matter having come from non-living matter without any causation other than natural selection, then you have a problem because you don't have any scientific experiment that can show that. It cannot explain the complexity of the living cell. It is such a complex mechanism it could not have happened by random chance. A Christian cannot believe in evolution, if evolution means the unplanned purposeless evolving person from pre-biotic soup without the hand of God in it.
Q: How do we determine which scientific theories we teach in high school?

Watch the VideoSCOTT: It's clear that the American public likes the idea of fairness and equal play and giving students all the information. But the issue here is what do you teach in high school, and what you teach in high school is the consensus view of the scientific discipline. The biggest danger, I think, is that students who are taught intelligent design will confuse religion with science and they will believe that you can claim as science a view that is profoundly anti-scientific. The whole purpose of intelligent design is to try to claim that evolution is inadequate to explain the diversity of living things and that you have to have an intelligent agent to explain all the different kinds of plants and animals. It is, unfortunately, a profoundly unscientific idea.
Watch the VideoTHOMPSON: Good science education requires that we not only teach Darwin's theory of evolution. Students are going to have to be involved in critical thinking. That is all we are asking science students to do: evaluate the evidence, look at Darwin's theory of evolution, look at the facts that show Darwin's theory is not working. Look at the theory of intelligent design, look at why it may or may not be supported by the evidence. Ultimately you will make those students more interested in science if they have this controversy.
Related Links:

Monkey See, Monkey Do? Dover school board controversy
National Center for Science Education
Thomas More Law Center