There are plenty of comments on the Dover decision going around right now. I’d like to recommend just a couple of them, though these are only examples of many good comments. Both provide some good links to more information.
I believe that the result of this trial was pretty much a foregone conclusion. There was little doubt that the Intelligent Design (ID) movement was essentially a religious movement, and there was no doubt at all that there was no theory of ID, certainly not one that was ready for the High School science classroom. We need to teach basic science, well-established science in our high schools, and we have very little time to accomplish that. New ideas need to establish themselves, go through the rigor of scientific debate, and gain a consensus before they become part of the public school curriculum.
But I want to address another issue. Many people who share my Christian faith are concerned tonight because they feel that religion is under attack. Those who accept one or another of the views involving special creation feel that their children can attend public school only at the risk of their faith. “Godless evolution” has won the day, and they don’t even get a hearing, not even a tiny disclaimer. I could tell them how well evolution is established as a scientific theory, and I would be right. I could tell them how bad an idea it is to trust religious education to the government, and I believe that’s a good point. I could point out the evil things that have taken place when government took distortions of faith and applied them by force, and that would be valid as well.
But none of those things are likely to move that fairly large group of people right now. I think it’s unfortunate that more dialogue and education does not take place in this area. More people need to realize how many people of faith, such as myself, and how many church leaders do not see a conflict between evolution and faith.
Let me suggest something that I think should strike home, not only for those opposed to the decision, but also for all other people of faith who support it. We need to look at reforming religious education. In our churches we have a substantial amount of time available in which to educate our children, to supplement the education that they receive in public schools or even in private schools. In many churches in my area we have Sunday School, one or two youth meetings per week, and a Wednesday night teaching program. That’s a great deal of time. Right now, we’re using most of that time to tell a few stories and make them feel good.
Parents have even more time. They can get involved in helping their children with homework. If you believe that there is a place where faith needs to be introduced into the study of science, you have the power to do it. At the same time as you’re doing it, you will be spending more time with your children, building your bond with them, and increasing the chance that they will become productive citizens. I have some ideas of what should be taught, but even if what you teach is repugnant to me, you have a right and even a duty to take the time and effort to teach it.
It’s very simple.
You want your children taught intelligent design? Get with your church’s education program and get some programs on it. I teach such a program for those who hold to a theistic view of evolution through Pacesetters Bible School, and I have produced a tract on the subject called God the Creator. Those who object to any form of evolution will not like my programs, but there’s no shortage of folks willing to teach other viewpoints.
You want your children to pray? Student led prayer is legal right now. Teach your children to pray–that is, after all, a function of parents and churches–and then release them to work and lead in their own way. You really aren’t prevented from any of this. (I teach this one too. See my book I Want to Pray! co-authored with Rev. Perry Dalton.)
You see, I don’t think the courts are taking away your right to educate your children about your faith. Not at all! What they are taking away is your right to be lazy and to expect somebody else to do your job, whether you are a religious educator or a parent.
So get out there, get active, and exercise the rights you have.