Evolution. Intelligent design. These are terms that can cause great consternation in the minds and hearts of many, particularly opponents of each view. Now, that anxiety and debate have resurfaced in theaters everywhere with Ben Stein's new documentary, "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." The press kit says, "('Expelled') exposes the widespread persecution of scientists and educators who are pursuing legitimate, opposing scientific views to the reigning orthodoxy." (To see a trailer of the movie or access its free resources, go to www.getexpelled.com.)
I like Ben Stein. I think he's funny, creative and an insightful commentator on a host of issues. I'm not bent on defending him or "Expelled," but I'm glad he made it. I saw it last weekend, and I liked it. I think it will wake up many people to the truth. What truth? That educational arenas have become limited learning environments because of biases against God, the Bible and creationism. Stein is correct in saying that passionate antagonism and hostility (that parallels any fundamentalist extremism) equally exists in naturalist and Neo-Darwinian camps. Proof of their avid bias easily can be seen in some evolutionists' reviews of this film. Many are loaded with as much inflammatory language, intolerance and bigotry as any hate-filled group.
I'm not endorsing the movie because it is flawless or unbiased in its presentation, but because it raises real issues of educational suppression. Why can't creationism or intelligent design be taught in public schools? Naturalists answer by saying that ID is not a science. Rather than debate classifications, however, I would ask further, Why can't variant theories of the origin of life be presented even outside science courses? Isn't education based upon presenting a wide array of knowledge and opinions?
Since when does science own the market on how life began? If it is based largely upon empirical investigation of present, repeatable data, then the evolutionary theory for the beginning of life stands upon no more solid ground than ID. Why? Because neither theism nor the naturalistic view of life's earliest origin is provable in a strict scientific sense. They are both past, unrepeatable singularities, which takes them out of the scientific realm of study and observation. For example, no branch of science can prove how inorganic matter produced organic cellular life. And evolution, even if accepted as factual, does not dispel a Creator because Neo-Darwinism cannot explain the inception of life on earth definitively. So if both evolution and ID stand upon similar hypothetical platforms of discussion and possibility, why can't they both be taught in academic arenas as theories of our origin? ID deserves a seat in classrooms across America.Again, dissenters of creationism answer this question by classifying ID as a religion and further say that religion belongs exclusively in homes and churches. Says who? They answer that the separation of church and state in the First Amendment bans ID from entering classrooms in any form. What they don't realize, however, is their conclusion is a constitutional misinterpretation and bastardization of the First Amendment. It was written and adopted, among other reasons, so that Congress neither would establish a federal religion nor restrict religious or speech freedoms, which can include religious instruction in public classrooms.
Whether theories of life's origin are classified as religion, science, philosophy or social studies, our Founding Fathers would disagree adamantly that any theory should be locked out of classroom instruction. In fact, when Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia, he did so with an expectation that a spirit of freedom would flourish among alternative educational views. While he prohibited sectarian theology in that particular university in order to establish its distinction from other denominationally affiliated higher institutions, Jefferson did not abolish instruction or debate on Providence, theism or creationism (which he even embedded in the Declaration of Independence).
On Dec. 26, 1820, he wrote to Destutt de Tracy, "This institution of my native state, the hobby of my old age, will be based upon the illimitable freedom of the human mind, to explore and expose every subject susceptible of its contemplation." One day later, he charged William Roscoe: "This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it."
That is why my wife, Gena, and I are on the board of the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, which has helped 443 public school districts in 37 states to implement a course on it. More than 200,000 students have been taught from it already. You, too, can learn more about the curriculum, why its teaching is constitutional, and how it can be implemented in your public school by contacting them:
National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools
P.O. Box 9743
Greensboro, NC 27429
It's time for every parent, teacher and school district to answer in the affirmative the question of Fisher Ames, who assisted in the creation of the First Amendment and also was chosen but declined (for health reasons) the presidency of Harvard University in 1805, "Should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a school book?"