Evolutionary

November 10, 2005

Two votes on Tuesday show the vehemence and persistence of both sides of the debate over intelligent design. In Dover, Pa., a majority of voters said, "Enough!" They ousted the school board that had pushed intelligent design as an alternative to the theory of evolution. But just as those intelligent design enthusiasts fell, others sprang up to take their places. Despite objections by major science groups, the Kansas Board of Education voted, 6-4, to weaken science standards by declaring that high school students study doubts about evolution.

The debate keeps raging - and the dynamics keep shifting - between proponents and opponents of intelligent design, the idea that only a higher intelligence can account for some complex aspects of the natural world. After the Dover school board insisted that ninth-grade biology students be told about intelligent design, 11 parents complained in court that the policy promoted creationism by another name. A federal judge is expected to rule within weeks, but the six-week-long trial probably motivated other anti-intelligent design voters to go to the polls.

A similar cycle may occur in Kansas, where opponents of the state board's action will undoubtedly challenge the new standard in court. Meanwhile, intelligent design opponents there are also looking to the ballot box, as some current members who supported the new policy are up for re-election next year. Is there an evolutionary pattern here? We hope that some higher authority - like the courts - continues to step in and declare the theory of intelligent design extinct.

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