Does Changing the Definition of Science Solve the Establishment Clause Problem for Teaching Intelligent Design as Science in Public Schools? Doing an End-Run Around the Constitution
60 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2006
This article explores the merits of teaching intelligent design in public school science classes. In particular, the article examines the scientific and legal frameworks that govern the intelligent design debate. Applying those frameworks, I argue that intelligent design does not meet the longstanding definition of science and that there is consequently no valid secular purpose in teaching it in public school science classes. Rather, the purpose and effects of teaching intelligent design as science is to advance the religious views of its proponents, which would violate the Establishment Clause. Indeed, intelligent design is nothing more than Aquinas' fifth proof for the existence of God couched in modern language. To be sure, proponents of intelligent design have criticized the scientific framework for excluding supernatural explanations for natural phenomena. But allowing supernatural explanations to qualify as scientific explanations would stifle scientific development, because such explanations cannot be questioned or tested. Moreover, teaching intelligent design as science in public schools would leave students less prepared to understand and improve upon the technologies that affect our lives. The article is particularly timely as officials throughout the country are addressing the legal and policy issues presented by teaching intelligent design.
Keywords: Establishment Clause, Constitution, First Amendment, Intelligent Design, Religion, Education
JEL Classification: K1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation