Science

Fighting Words

By Sean Cavanagh — January 10, 2006 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

When you think about it, what topic offers as much prime debate material as “intelligent design”?

The concept has fueled angry squabbles among scholars, school leaders, and pretty much everybody—not to mention prompting an internationally watched federal court case.

And yet last month, the North Dakota High School Activities Association removed intelligent design as a potential topic for its state debate tournament, scheduled to begin next month in Fargo. The association heard concerns from school debate coaches and administrators, who had fielded objections from parents about the combustible subject, said Bob Hetler, an assistant executive secretary for the association.

He said a survey he sent to North Dakota school districts indicated that several would not take part in a tournament that included debate on intelligent design. While he did not know the exact nature of the objections, he believed they were rooted in concerns over how both intelligent design and the theory of evolution would be presented. “I know, growing up in the Midwest,” Mr. Hetler said, “it was volatile stuff.”

Intelligent design was recommended as a topic by the National Forensic League, in Ripon, Wis., which stages its own national debate tournament, independent of North Dakota’s event. It is using intelligent design as one of its topics, which vary by month, said J. Scott Wunn, the executive secretary of the league.

Proponents of intelligent design believe that the complexity of humans and other living things points to the role of an unnamed master architect in shaping life. The vast majority of scientists dismiss that idea. They say that the evidence overwhelmingly supports the theory of evolution, which holds that human and other life has developed over time through natural selection and random mutation.

Many scientists believe it is improper to debate design, which they say is a religious view, in the realm of science.

Last month, a federal judge issued a landmark ruling declaring intelligent design to be religiously based and thus not a valid topic for public school science classes. (“Possible Road Map Seen in Dover Case,” Jan. 4, 2006.)

Just how problem-plagued a subject is intelligent design? Consider what North Dakota chose as a substitute topic for its upcoming debate tournament: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Related Tags:

Events

School Climate & Safety K-12 Essentials Forum Strengthen Students’ Connections to School
Join this free event to learn how schools are creating the space for students to form strong bonds with each other and trusted adults.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
Future-Proofing Your School's Tech Ecosystem: Strategies for Asset Tracking, Sustainability, and Budget Optimization
Gain actionable insights into effective asset management, budget optimization, and sustainable IT practices.
Content provided by Follett Learning
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Science Download DIY Ideas for Safe Eclipse Viewing (Downloadable)
Here's a guide to safe, do-it-yourself ways to view next month's total eclipse, in or out of school.
1 min read
Image of a colander casting a shadow on a white paper as one way to view the eclipse using a household item.
iStock/Getty and Canva
Science Q&A How Schools Can Turn the Solar Eclipse Into an Unforgettable Science Lesson
The once-in-a-lifetime event can pique students' interest in science.
6 min read
A billboard heralding the upcoming total solar eclipse that Erie will experience is shown in Erie, Pa., on March 22, 2024.
A billboard heralding the upcoming total solar eclipse that Erie will experience is shown in Erie, Pa., on March 22, 2024.
Gene J. Puskar/AP
Science Letter to the Editor A Call to Action for Revitalizing STEM Education
An educational consultant and former educator discusses the importance of STEM education in this letter to the editor.
1 min read
Education Week opinion letters submissions
Gwen Keraval for Education Week
Science Opinion The Solar Eclipse Is Coming. How to Make It a Learning Opportunity
The value of students observing this dramatic celestial phenomenon for themselves should be obvious, write two science educators.
Dennis Schatz & Andrew Fraknoi
3 min read
Tyler Hanson, of Fort Rucker, Ala., watches the sun moments before the total eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. (John Minchillo/AP) Illustrated with a solar eclipse cycle superimposed.
Education Week + John Minchillo/AP + iStock/Getty Images