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ID on West Wing

I want to congratulate West Wing on NBC for providing some thoughtful coverage of the ID issue. While scientific and theological articles and books may cover the issue more thoroughly, intelligent handling in the context of a popular TV show helps get the message through the culture.

Presidential candidate Matt Santos, played by Jimmy Smits, answers questions indicating that he believes the universe is designed–as a matter of faith, but that he doesn’t want his faith taught in the classroom. In one exchange, an audience member tells him that he wants his children to hear his view in the classroom.

This latter incident brings up the other side of intelligent design in the classroom. I certainly do not want the science curriculum to be diluted with elements that are not tested science. ID has failed to demonstrate that it is a viable scientific theory. Until it does (an unlikely event), it doesn’t belong in High School science classes. But as a person interested in spiritual matters, and an active, committed Christian, I have an even more disturbing problem with this. Who is going to be teaching religion to the children and young people of my church? When a theological concept is taught in science class, it will have to be taught by science teachers, who are not qualified to teach theology. I find this quite disturbing. Not only are we introducing theology into the science curriculum, but we will almost certainly be introducing incompetent theology there. I doubt that many science teachers are going to be interested in trying to learn to teach theology.

Of course, as a moderate Christian, I am likely to find some of this theology objectionable. But my more conservative brethren will, I think, find some of it even more objectionable? So why are they advocating the teaching of faith in the science classroom? Simply because this will be a first step. Once you have the precedent set of one religious idea that can be taught in the high school classroom, the next will be much easier. The intention, make no mistake about it, is to get conservative Christian views–the views of only some conservative Christians–introduced into the public school classroom, and enforced on the children of many parents who will disagree.

So why can’t each of us have “our view” taught in the public school science classroom? First, we don’t all have the same view. To teach “our view” we will have to teach many views. Second, because our faith views are not part of the field of competence of the science teachers, and should not be.

There is a much better solution. Let’s teach science, consensus science, in the public school science classroom, and leave the teaching of religion to churches, synagogues, mosques, and other private centers of religious education.

Oh! Wait a minute! That’s what we’re doing now, isn’t it?

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