Dover High School Administrators: Dimwits
Below is the text of the statement by Dover High School Administrators.
The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin’s theory of evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.
Because Darwin’s theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The theory is not a fact. Gaps in the theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.
Intelligent design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view. The reference book, “Of Pandas and People,” is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what intelligent design actually involves.
With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the origins of life to individual students and their families. As a standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency on standards-based assessments.
Well it isn’t as bad as it could be. At least they make the tautological statement that a theory is just a theory instead of saying evolution is a theory (i.e., evolution is a fact, the theory of evolution is “just” a theory). Of course, this is true of all theories. The statement that theory is just a theory is like saying, rain is just rain. It is an obvious truism that contains almost no information.
There are gaps in a great many theories. All theories have controversies. These two facts do not render theories false, meaningless nor does it mean that alternatives are to be considered on equal footing. Such views underscore either an empty-headed understanding of science or it is a sign of dishonesty.
Further, neither neo-Darwinian evolution or Intelligent design are theories on the origin of life. Neo-Darwinian evolution is a theory about the diveristy of life that we observe. Intelligent design on the other hand is a claim about how natural processes are not capable of explaining all the diversity of life that is observed. So neither is a theory about the origins of life.
Also, I think it is misleading to simply say that students should keep an open mind about any scientific theory in general. Science does not work that way. Theories are ranked according to how well the theories fit the data. If a theory does not fit the data as well as another theory why should we opt for the theory with less explanatory power?
The overall thrust of the statement is scientifically bad, and it is especially inappropriate for an introductory course in any subject.