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MIDLAND DAILY NEWS — Intelligent design a hot issue

February 14, 2006

“Gary Glenn, president of the Midland-based American Family Association of Michigan, would like to see intelligent design taught as a theory alongside others, including evolution. ‘Intelligent design teaches the universe and its makeup is so complex that the odds are overwhelming that the universe was designed by an intelligent being,’ Glenn said. ‘Those of us who are people of faith believe … that was God.’  He said teaching intelligent design and evolution provides equal access and academic freedom. …’How do you justify censoring a particular theory?’ Glenn asked.”

MIDLAND DAILY NEWS
Midland, Michigan
January 29, 2006

Intelligent design a hot issue
by Angela E. Lackey
of the Daily News

When Eric Hovind talked about intelligent design at Coleman High School, he caused a Big Bang locally.

Hovind, of Pensacola-based Creation Science Evangelism, spoke in December about the universe and its creation by an intelligent designer.

His presentation was sponsored by the Coleman Wesleyan Church, not the school district, but it brought a firestorm of comments anyway.

Mark Camilleri teaches anatomy, physiology and advanced biology at Midland High School. He teaches about how species mutate and change.

“Evolution is a change over time — that’s what evolution means,” Camilleri said. “There’s no dispute about mutation.”

Students learn about natural selection, why some species survive and others become extinct, and the background of Charles Darwin. He said he hasn’t had any students bring up intelligent design.

“I think as long as you’re not telling kids they had tails or used to be green slime … they don’t bring it up,” Camilleri said.

He said he is a Christian and doesn’t think there is a problem telling students there is a God. He said the teachers are not telling them they can’t believe in God and evolution.

“We would never tell a kid there’s no such thing as a God,” Camilleri said.

However, he said young people need to go to church to learn about God and the Bible.

Jeff Jaster, MHS science department chairman, said science teachers from both Midland high schools talked about intelligent design at their recent monthly development meeting.

“It’s a bit of an issue some teachers have to struggle with personally,” Jaster said. “A lot of people on the staff consider themselves to be very religious.”

However, he said other teachers look at teaching evolution as “sharing scientific knowledge.”

The meeting’s details were not released. However, Jaster said he prefers to teach theories that have the best current scientific backing. He expects the staff to talk about the issue at its next meeting, too.

Gary Glenn, president of the Midland-based American Family Association of Michigan, would like to see intelligent design taught as a theory alongside others, including evolution.

“Intelligent design teaches the universe and its makeup is so complex that the odds are overwhelming that the universe was designed by an intelligent being,” Glenn said. “Those of us who are people of faith believe … that was God.”

He said teaching intelligent design and evolution provides equal access and academic freedom. He added that evolution is only a theory, and hasn’t been proven.

“How do you justify censoring a particular theory?” Glenn asked.

He said he hopes to get the AFA more involved with this issue in the future.

Jonathon Cleland Host, a scientist and father of two young boys, said he probably would move if intelligent design were taught in the Midland schools.

“It would mean (the schools) abandoned scholarly integrity,” he said.

Cleland Host said intelligent design is the latest attempt by the religious right to shut down biology teaching. He said the first attempt was creationism, and the name was changed to intelligent design to avoid controversy. He said the recent Dover court decision stated that intelligent design is same as creationism. Dover is a Pennsylvania school district that had mandated teaching intelligent design, but was ruled against in court.

“Because it’s not science, because it’s a religious approach, it doesn’t belong in science class,” he said. “I think that a class on comparative creation stories could be appropriate in the philosophy department of a public school.”

Cleland Host said the class would have to cover a variety of creation stories, such as Hopi, Mayan and Hindu, so it was not biased.

What is the danger of teaching intelligent design as science?

“It would completely degrade science education,” Cleland Host said.

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