Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
The Journal Editorial Report
Features
Front Page
Lead Story
Briefing & Opinion
Tony & Tacky
TV Schedule
For Teachers
About the Series
Archive



Briefing and Opinion
May 27, 2005

Dr. Eugenie C. Scott, left, and Richard Thompson, right.
1. Evolution vs. ID
2. Science Education
3. Is ID Religious?
4. Is Evolution Religious?
5. Scientists' 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: Is intelligent design a religious theory?

THOMPSON: The intelligent design theory merely looks to see if a particular cell structure is designed. It does not go into the character of the designer. The content of the theory is not religious, but it does have religious implications. If you believe in intelligent design, then there is the implication that there is a designer. There are a lot of people who then postulate that designer is God, the creator.

Watch the VideoWhat we are saying is, if intelligent design cannot be taught in public schools because of its religious implications, then the theory of evolution cannot be taught in public schools because of its religious implications. That is, the religion of secular humanism or atheism, which courts have postulated before, are religions under the broad definition of what a religion is.
SCOTT: The idea that intelligent design is not a way of slipping religion into the classroom is ludicrous. Intelligent design's whole raison d'etre is that evolution can't do the job: evolution is inadequate to explain body plans and to explain the present diversity of life forms.

Watch the VideoIf evolution didn't do it, what did do it? The intelligent agent. Who is the intelligent agent? The intelligent agent is God, of course. Students are not stupid. They're going to figure this out. The students are going say, "Gee teacher, if evolution can't do the job, what did it?" And what is the teacher going to say, "I'm sorry, we can't talk about that. It has to be an intelligent agent. Maybe it was an extraterrestrial from Alpha Centauri." This is a way of saying God did it without being so blatant that the establishment clause comes along and kicks you in the shins.
Q: Does the theory of evolution posit an atheistic or secular humanist religion?

Watch the VideoSCOTT: Evolution is no more a religious theory than cell division is. In science we restrict ourselves to explaining the natural world through a natural cause. If we're talking about the diversity of living things, we're going to explain that diversity through a natural cause. If we are talking about how a cell divides, we are going to use natural cause.

Evolution may have implications for Christian theology, but it doesn't compel any particular belief, nor does it inherently require any kind of acceptance or rejection of a supernatural form. It merely says we're restricted to trying to explain the natural world using natural cause. That's what we call methological naturalism. That's the only naturalism there is in science.
Watch the VideoTHOMPSON: Evolution itself has religious implications, just like intelligent design. What we are saying is, if intelligent design cannot be taught in public schools because of its religious implications, then the theory of evolution cannot be taught in public schools because of its religious implications. It is hijacking into the science class the religion of secular humanism or atheism, which the Supreme Court and federal courts have said are also very religious in nature because of the broad definition that they are giving to religion.
Related Links:

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