‘Intelligent design’ believers, sect seek curriculum change

Charleston Gazette, Jan. 14, 2003
http://www.wvgazette.com//
By Tara Tuckwiller

People who believe in “intelligent design” are trying to change the way science is taught in West Virginia’s public schools. This time, they have an unlikely ally: the Raelian sect espoused by baby-cloner Brigitte Boisselier.

On Friday, the public comment period ended for four statewide education standards. The standards for reading, math and social studies slipped through fairly quietly — but not science. More than 100 people spoke out about the new science standards, the state Department of Education estimates.

The new standards aren’t much different from the old ones, but a Kansas-based group called Intelligent Design Network Inc. wants to change that. The group’s Web site features a 20-page letter to the West Virginia Department of Education and the state school board. It enumerates ways in which West Virginia’s proposed standards for scientific learning — which allude to species adapting to their environment, for example — don’t fit with the idea that life on Earth was designed by an intelligent being. It encourages the school board to change the policy in several ways — don’t teach about the origin of life before ninth grade, for example, and make sure students understand that evolution is only one explanation.

Jerry Davis of West Virginians for Science Education Excellence submitted the state’s science standards to the Intelligent Design Network for inspection. John Calvert, a Nebraska lawyer who is managing director of IDnet, noticed several points in the standards that Davis says “promote indoctrination into a naturalistic view.” Davis said, “We do not want them to stop teaching evolution. We do not want creationism taught. We want a completely neutral stance, when it comes to science.”

IDnet includes Muslims, Native Americans and others who don’t believe in the Bible’s version of creation, Davis said. Most of the science policy comments came from people affiliated with Intelligent Design Network, according to the Department of Education.

All comments will be transcribed and discussed with a group of teachers and department staff before the policy is presented to the state school board in February.

Meanwhile, the Raelian movement — the same sect that claims Clonaid’s Boisselier as a bishop — disseminated a press release Nov. 15 stating that it “supports the Intelligent Design Movement and their attempt to promote the teaching of ID theory within science classes.” Raelians believe that life on Earth was created by extraterrestrials. “Not God, not evolution, but a third and much more plausible theory,” the release states.

The Raelians’ support wasn’t enough to clinch a victory for intelligent design in the Ohio and Louisiana school systems. Last month, both states rejected attempts to change science curricula to reflect anything but evolution.

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