Universities discuss whether to incorporate intelligent design in biology curriculum

Jamie VanGeest

Some say apes, humans and bacteria, with a pinch of Charles Darwin, create the perfect college biology course. Others say intelligent design is a key ingredient missing from the batch.

Federal judge John Jones ruled Dec. 20 that it is unconstitutional for public high school teachers in Dober, Pa., to present intelligent design as an alternative to evolution.

The case is different with biology curriculums in Twin Cities’ higher education institutions. The University teaches evolution, but there are universities that teach evolution and intelligent design.

University biology professor Randy Moore said intelligent design is a way for people to get their religion into the classroom.

“Intelligent design is based on ignorance,” he said.

Moore said there is no way to prove we were designed. If humans were designed this way, they would not have so many useless body parts. This uselessness has caused much inefficiency and suffering in nature, he said.

“It’s Darwin’s world and we just live in it,” he said.

Evolution is the only idea that enables one to make sense of things without having to evoke miracles or somebody’s god, Moore said.

Moore said intelligent design is appropriate for a philosophy or comparative religion class, but not for a college-level biology class.

Moore said he knows many biologists who accept Darwinism and a religious faith.

“They just don’t look to the Bible, or whatever their religious text is, as a science book,” he said.

One school that does incorporate intelligent design into its curriculum is Bethel University in St. Paul.

That university has a full biology program with more than 100 students. The program teaches intelligent design as well as evolution.

Tim Shaw has been a Bethel biology professor for 25 years. He teaches a course called Christian Perspectives in Creation and Evolution.

“We don’t leave our faith out of the classroom,” Shaw said.

In his classroom, Shaw teaches everything taught in a secular biology class, but intelligent design is included in the mix.

“We don’t want to shun science or shun the faith,” he said. “One should be able to talk about ideas freely in education.”

Shaw said it would be inappropriate to discuss only one method in the classroom and that it would defeat the purpose of academic freedom.

First-year University student Maggie Davis said it’s important to teach all ideas ” including intelligent design ” in the classroom.

However, kinesiology sophomore Allie Klumpp had a different opinion.

“I don’t mind (intelligent design) being taught; it’s just not true,” she said.