Intelligent Design Movements in the U.S.

Intelligent Design Movements in the U.S.

One of the stated goals of the Discovery Institute is to promote the theory of intelligent design in the political and social spheres as a way to counter the dominance of evolutionary theory, which they believe promotes atheism and materialism. Its proponents aim to reintroduce what they view as lost Christian values through scientific inquiry and publicity. The movement has received significant attention since 2000 and has made some headway in establishing its ideas within the popular and political culture of the U.S. As of 2008, about half of the adults in the US say that they doubt evolution, which means that acceptance of the science behind evolution is lower in the US than in any other developed country besides Turkey.

Political commentators have noted the rise of the religious right during the presidency of George W. Bush. Though Christianity and politics have often been intertwined in American culture, the Bush administration funded faith-based initiatives more profoundly than any previous president. Moreover, President Bush remarked that he supportted the teaching of intelligent design alongside evolutionary theory in public schools.

In 2004, the Dover Board of Education in Pennsylvania voted to include the teaching of intelligent design in high school biology classes. A year later, however, in the federal case Kitzmiller v. Dover, intelligent design was deemed creationism in disguise and banned from the classroom. Members of the school board were accused of promoting Christianity and violating the separation of church and state.

Many scientists and opponents of intelligent design hailed the decision, and continue to strongly criticize intelligent design while pointing out that none of the scientists that support it have yet to submit a research paper to a peer reviewed scientific journal. It is neither of scientific nor educational value, they argue, and state that if such a theory were to ever take root, the quality of science education in the U.S. would be undermined. Despite this court decision in Pennsylvania, a bill was introduced in Louisiana in 2008 to teach intelligent design in the classroom, and another introduced in Mississippi aimed to insert warnings about evolutionary theory into biology textbooks.

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