Intelligent Design to Enter School Classrooms in Australia

The theory of Intelligent Design (ID) will be entering school classrooms in Australia this year despite of the vigorous debate among secular educators, scientists and Christians across the world, local news agencies reported this past weekend.

The Pacific Hills Christian School at New South Wales, Sydney, will be one of the very first schools planning to include ID in this year’s curriculum, according to The Weekend Australian.

While introducing ID, the school will teach Darwinian evolution concurrently, allowing students to critically examine the possible limitations and merits of the Darwinian evolution.

"Evolution is taught in the school system as if it's a universally accepted theory and there's no other way to view the origin of men and creation," the school's principal, Dr Ted Boyce, said to The Weekend Australian. "I have trouble with this. We would teach evolution as a theory and ID as an alternative theory."

In addition, ID is being incorporated into Catholic school texts on religious studies, said Monsignor Peter Elliott, Episcopal vicar of religious studies in the Melbourne Archdiocese, to The Weekend Australian.

Sydney's Catholic Archbishop, Cardinal George Pell, responded that he was "agnostic" about whether ID should be taught in schools. However, he welcomed an alternative theory being discussed in classes where evolution was sometimes taught in an "anti-God way."

Cardinal Pell said, "There’s no doubt evolution explains a lot of things. But it's there to be replaced or improved – there are many things it doesn't explain."

The challenge of ID to Australian schools comes a month after the Australian Federal Education Minister Dr Brendan Nelson told the National Press Club in early August the theory of Intelligent Design should be taught alongside with Darwinian evolution.

As the most recent challenge to the theory of evolution, the theory of Intelligent Design states that some aspects of nature are so complex that they could not have been created by evolution and posits an intelligent creative agent that guides the process. Although the theory does not explicitly speak about God, some have said it leaves the door open to include a Divine guiding hand.

Critics of Intelligent Design say that the theory is merely religious creationism in the guise of science.

The Australian Federal Education Minister Dr Brendan Nelson, who backs ID, is a medical doctor and a Christian. While he encourages ID could be presented to students and parents as a choice, he does not agree that ID can replace the theory of evolution, which attempts to explain life exclusively through natural processes such as random mutations and natural selection

In early August, the national newspaper The Age reported that Dr Nelson had met Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) a day before he made his public statement showing his backing to ID.

Bill Hodgson, head of CCC Australia, welcomed Dr Nelson's remarks as "fantastic." He emphasised that ID is not advocating the teaching of religion, but any reasonable and balanced approach to education has to take that view.

CCC Australia told The Age, intelligent design was hard science, not creationism. "There is evidence of intelligent design. All we're saying is that the cutting edge of science is adhering increasingly to intelligent design," Hodgson explained.

CCC Australia has been seeking support from educationists, churches, politicians and scientists for the theory of Intelligent Design. It has been distributing its DVD presentation on ID, entitled “Unlocking the Mystery of Life,” to every Australian high school for inclusion in the curriculum.

Eunice Or
Christian Today Correspondent