The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation is deeply concerned by efforts to include “intelligent design theory” in the proposed science curriculum of Ohio public schools. Intelligent design theory posits that living things are too complex to have developed through the operation of evolution over time, and thus must be the work of an unnamed Creator.
Proponents of intelligent design theory are frequent critics of evolution, and their theory, which has typically been rejected by mainstream science, is closely associated with Biblical creationism. In a number of cases decided in the nineteen-eighties, the United States Supreme Court held that states cannot require that creationism be taught in public schools alongside, or instead of, scientific evolution.
In doing so, the Court has held that creationism cannot be separated from its Biblical roots, and remains an essentially religious doctrine. Foes of Darwinian evolution have adapted their tactics accordingly: “This is a perennial battle,” said Christine Link, Executive Director of the ACLU of Ohio. “Advocates of Biblical Creationism have been trying for years to get their doctrine into the public schools, and this is just their latest way of doing so.”
Efforts to interject religious critiques of evolution into public school science curricula have come in many guises. Some proponents of creationism have portrayed their efforts as an attempt to teach a more diverse set of beliefs. Others have claimed that teaching creationism alongside evolution promotes critical thinking skills. Still others have claimed the right to teach creationism under the doctrine of academic freedom. Courts have consistently rejected these arguments as fig leaves designed to conceal attempts to teach religious doctrine.
“Intelligent design theory is the newest intellectual Trojan Horse of the religious right,” said ACLU of Ohio Legal Director Raymond Vasvari. “The courts have rejected creationism and creation science outright. This is just the latest effort to repackage those ideas and sneak them into the public schools. It is an effort we at the ACLU intend to resist if necessary.”