Subject: School board OKs teaching evolution alternatives [sic]
2005-01-16 by Bonny C. Millard of The Daily Times Staff
The Blount County school board approved a resolution allowing teachers to present alternatives to biological origins.
Board member Don McNelly, who introduced the resolution at Thursday night's board meeting, said the board agrees that teachers should be able to teach intelligent design in conjunction with the theory of evolution.
``The controversy of evolution can be discussed in an academic environment with secular intent,'' he said.
The board voted unanimously on the resolution.
Intelligent design is secular in nature and is based on scientific criteria, according to McNelly.
The resolution says, ``The omission or denial of such information may unfairly deprive students of the opportunity to examine the full range of scientific theories about biological origins.''
With the discovery of DNA and subsequent research, scientists have a better understanding about the commonalties that human beings have with other life forms. For instance, a zebra fish has 97 percent of the same DNA as humans, he said.
Intelligent design theorists believe that proteins, amino acids and other elements had to have direction in the way they are arranged rather than by random chance, McNelly said. The evidence is pointing toward the complexities and how there had a be a guiding factor.
McNelly cited a book by physicist Gerald Schroeder called ``The Science of God.'' Schroeder discusses the Cambrian era, 530 million years ago, and contends the basic anatomies of all life existing today appeared simultaneously in the ocean, McNelly said.
Paleontologists, cosmologists and other scientists have come to recognize the intelligent design theory, he said.
If students want to study the issue on a deeper level, the teacher does not readily have curriculum available to share with the student, he said.
``If we look at the textbooks we have now, it doesn't include the more recent scientific data, therefore it becomes indoctrination,'' McNelly said. ``By authorizing the teachers to look into these controversies, our students are going to better understand biological origins. That's within the confines of academic environment.''
The current textbooks have only information on the theory of evolution.
One of the points in the resolution says, ``It is constitutionally lawful for teachers and school boards to expose students to scientific problems with current Darwinian theory as well as to other scientific alternatives with respect to theories about biological origins.''
The resolution further states that biological origins are a forum for free speech and can't be denied because of the content of the discussion. The resolution makes seven points.
``Nowhere did we call or quote a religious authority,'' McNelly said. ``I feel comfortable what we have done as a board meets the test of the court cases.''