Intelligent design in science lessons

22nd June 2007 at 01:00
As the argument about discussing intelligent design (ID) in science lessons goes on, it is perfect timing also to consider the teaching of critical analysis across the curriculum.

First, in science we teach and try to develop the difficult skills of analysis and evaluation based on evidence, not opinion. In subjects such as history, different perspectives are balanced against lines of evidence to arrive at a conclusion. At the heart of English lies the ability to criticise constructively such writings as poetry and novels. But one subject does not open itself to real criticism: RE.

Having taught biology for 27 years, I am happy to open up debate about any topic. I would discuss ID in lessons on evolution. There is, however, a consequence in the fact that religious opinion is moving directly into the area of science. It is throwing down a gauntlet.

If opinion-based theories such as ID are to be debated in science, why stop there? Let us assess the validity of all religions by the scientific method. Extending this argument, should we start to ask students about the idea of, say,a virgin birth from a scientific angle and let them produce a conclusion? This will not be done as it opens a Pandora's box and releases a host of furies into society by challenging the pillars of faith, matching sets of ideas against others and asking people to choose.

Bringing ID into the science curriculum could be the fuse to light an uncontrollable fire.

Rebecca Pascoe. Fairfield Park, Bath

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