@ issue: “Intelligent Design” in Social Studies

Bloggers and media on the Christian Right are sounding off on recent developments concerning treatment of “Intelligent Design” [ID] in social studies.

First, the Board of Directors of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) approved an official position statement in May 2007, concluding that

The National Council for the Social Studies believes that a free and open discussion of ideas is essential to a healthy democracy. However, the social studies classroom should not and cannot be used for teaching any specific religious belief, as this is antithetical to the First Amendment. The National Council for the Social Studies recommends analysis, and thoughtful discussion, not indoctrination.

The NCSS web page also includes resources and links recommended by the NCSS Task Force on Intelligent Design.

On October 4 2007, the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) posted an item on its website reporting the NCSS action, and announcing that the NCSS statement “will appear in the forthcoming third edition of NCSE’s Voices for Evolution, a collection of statements in defense of evolution education from scientific, educational, civil liberties, and religious organizations.”

On October 5 2007, Robert Crowther posted an item on Evolution News an Views, a blog at the pro-ID Discover Institute [DI], with his characterization of these actions by NCSS and NCSE. The DI post concludes:

The NCSE and the NCSS have made it quite clear that they see no room for any discussion of intelligent design anywhere in schools today. Not in science, not in social studies, and if the Darwinists have their way, not in lunchrooms, hallways or on the front steps either. It seems they won’t be satisfied until non-Darwinian thoughts are banished from students’ minds altogether.

Try as they might, they can’t ban thinking about intelligent design. Thoughtful students will continue to explore what is so dangerous about this idea that no one can even be allowed to whisper its name.

From there, the issue is being taken up by religious media, such as in Katherine T. Phan’s article for the Christian Post, with the headline “Anti-Creationism Group Flip-Flops on Intelligent Design in Schools.”



  1. meg
    Posted October 14, 2007 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    Let me first say that as a social studies teacher I have taught evolution before believe that Darwin’s theory is, for the most part, correct. I am not affiliated with any organized religion. However, I always include a discussion of religious beliefs about how the world began. It seems like it would be irresponsible not to considering how many people believe.

    This past summer, I saw an interview with Michael J. Behe, a biochemist at Lehigh University who has done some interesting research to see if there is evidence of design in nature. I think that to completely ignore the idea – even from a non-religious standpoint – would be irresponsible. As a social studies teacher, I can’t imagine shying away from such a juicy debate. Parents never complained to me because I always allow my students to make up their own minds.

  2. Carroll Starling
    Posted October 14, 2007 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    There’s a difference between teaching an idea as something to be believed and teaching it as something which, currently and historically is, in fact, believed. Meg, above, has the right idea.

  3. riddlej
    Posted October 14, 2007 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad to see that maybe Intelligent Design will get some expression in the social studies classroom. Maybe the multicultural ethic will work for Christians this time.

    But people who think that evolution is global or somehow above cultural expression are wrong. The history of evolution shows that it was birthed in Britain, disseminated by Europeans who were eager to prove their racial superiority, and is now currently defended to the death by the Western Academy. While our multicultural ears want to hear that there is affiliation between evolution and ancient Eastern cultures, the reality is that the affiliation is slight… any affinity is based more on atheism and naturalism than it is to real modern Western science, especially the hyper-institutionalized Neo-Darwinist theory.

  4. isoboy
    Posted October 14, 2007 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    Shall we also introduce the “Flat earth” hypothesis into the books? Or the “Geocentric” motion of the universe?

    Students are always free to make up their own minds – that’s a given. But there is little benefit in presenting facts that have been concluded as if they haven’t.

    If you had to mention ideas alternative to the mainstream, it would be best to place them under historical discussions. Just my two cents.

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