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« on: January 07, 2005, 09:25:39 PM »

Intelligent Design Proponents Face Lawsuit, Censorship

by Jim Brown
January 7, 2005

(AgapePress) - A pro-intelligent design think tank is urging a Pennsylvania school board to withdraw and rewrite its policy on teaching evolution.

The American Civil Liberties Union recently filed a lawsuit challenging a Dover School District policy that allows alternatives to the theory of evolution to be taught alongside Darwinism. The ACLU suit argued that any discussion of intelligent design in public schools is unconstitutional. However, a spokesman for the Seattle-based Discovery Institute says the civil liberties group is shamefully attempting to use raw political power to shut down all discussion of intelligent design.

Dr. John West, Associate Director of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, says the Dover School District is to be commended for wanting to make sure different viewpoints are taught. However, he feels the Pennsylvania district needs to craft clearer and more defensible science education guidelines.

"The policy itself that they adopted, first of all, is rather confusing," West says. "It says things that appear to be contradictory to each other. At one point it says the origins of life will not be taught; at another point it says intelligent design is basically required; and at another point it says it's forbidden."

The Center for Science and Culture spokesman feels classroom discussion of intelligent design should be permitted but never mandated. Meanwhile, he asserts, school districts must be very careful in how they frame their science policies in order to ensure that they do not violate the law.

"There are constitutional ways of doing this," West says, "and we're happy to advise districts. One of our biggest frustrations is when school districts go and do policies without consulting with the experts and others who are actually working on theories like the theory of intelligent design. They can end up doing more harm than good by having a poorly framed policy."

The Discovery Institute is calling on the Dover School Board to withdraw its current, unwieldy policy and draft a new one. The think tank is suggesting that the rewritten policy allow -- rather than mandate -- the teaching of intelligent design and other alternatives to Darwinism.

Meanwhile, WorldNetDaily reports that a PBS station in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has canceled a scheduled airing of a documentary on the theory of intelligent design, drawing criticism and charges of "politically correct censorship." The show, "Unlocking the Mystery of Life," was slated for broadcast on KNME-TV, but the station abruptly pulled the program from the schedule and cancelled all newspaper advertising for it.

"Unlocking the Mystery of Life" looks at DNA and what it reveals about the origin of life, and also explores the ideas of many scientists who are skeptical of naturalistic explanations for genetic origins and have come to consider theories of design instead. The 58-minute documentary follows the development of intelligent design theory through discussions with key design scholars and theorists.

A spokeswoman for the station was quoted as saying the documentary "wasn't supposed to be scheduled in the first place" because there was concern about the fact that those who funded the film have some connection to a religious viewpoint. She also noted that many Albuquerque residents were "very, very upset" about the canceling of the program.

The Discovery Institute's Rob Crowther told WorldNetDaily that he finds this kind of censorship "simply astounding, and he remarked in outrage, "Doesn't anyone at KNME believe in free speech?" He went on to note that the documentary is currently for sale on PBS's national website and has aired in many top media markets around the U.S., including public broadcasting stations from California and Colorado to Florida, New York, and Washington, D.C.

As Crowther observed, public TV ordinarily prides itself in exploring new ideas, rather than suppressing them. But with KNME's decision to pull the plug on this informative discussion of intelligent design, the opposite appears to be the case. And the New Mexico viewers are the ones losing out, Crowther notes, since the station is denying them their opportunity to see the program and forcing them to go to the national PBS website if they are to access it at all.


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