LOS ANGELES, Sept. 26 (Xinhuanet) -- A US federal
court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, opened Monday to hear whether the so-called
"intelligent design" doctrine should be taught in basic schools to challenge
Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.
The landmark trial, which will
continue for five weeks, is widely seen as the first court test for US
anti-evolutionists, the CBS reported.
Eight students' families in Dover challenged the
decision of the school district for inserting "intelligent design" into
ninth-grade biology curriculum. The "intelligent design" says that life is
created by some God-like intelligence, but not the result of evolution and
The school district requires students to hear a brief
statement about "intelligent design" before biology classes.
The disclaimer says that "intelligent design is an
explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view." It also
notes that a reference book on intelligent design is available to students.
The parents and the American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU)accused this policy of violating the constitutional separation ofchurch
and state, which forbids teaching religion in public schools.They also argued
that "intelligent design" is unscientific and has no place in a science
But the Thomas More Law Center, defending the school
district, said Dover's curriculum change is "modest" and "embodies the essence
of liberal education."
This case "is about free inquiry in education, not
about a religious agenda," argued the center, which lobbies for what it sees as
the religious freedom of Christians.
Kenneth Miller, a Brown University professor and the
first witness called by the plaintiffs, said pieces of the theory of evolution
are subject to debate, such as where gender comes from, but "there is no
controversy within science over the core proposition of evolutionary theory."
On the other hand, "intelligent design" is not a
testable theory in any sense, nor is it accepted by the scientific
community,Miller said. If nearly all original species are extinct, then the
"intelligent design" creator was not very intelligent.
To some observers, the anti-evolutionists are winning
the public relations battle in recent years.
Although the science community scorns "intelligent
design"doctrine, US President Bush said " both sides (it and the theory of
evolution) ought to be properly taught."
Fourteen US states have introduced legislation in
support of "intelligent design." Dover is believed to be the first school system
in the US to require students be exposed to the "intelligent design" concept
since October 2004.
In this August, the Kansas Board of Education also
gave preliminary approval to science standards that allow "intelligent
design"-style alternatives to be discussed alongside evolution.