Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Intelligent Design of Ethical Education

So I'm writing this post in response to a recent discussion on Blog Catalog, and boy did it ever get people all riled up! Not surprisingly, the debate is a familiar one: Should intelligent design be taught in the classroom? Before I completely shoot down this notion, let's explore the facts from an ethical perspective.

Such a curriculum would automatically meld the interests of Church and State. In Canada, this issue is further complicated by certain provinces (Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec) actually funding Christian institutions as "separate schools." This has become extremely problematic considering Canada also has large Aboriginal, Jewish, and Sikh populations. Even in the 19th century, many Canadians recognized that such a system was flawed. As Manitoba entered federation in 1870, the Manitoba Act was passed shortly after in order to exclusively protect the religious and language rights of English-speaking Protestants and French Catholics. Such protection came in the form of publicly funded Christian schools and language laws in order to represent the separate interests of the Anglophone and Francophone majority. But as the face of Manitoba began to change, so did the demand for these denominational institutions. Many politicians argued that including the Church into public schools greatly undermined the Constitution. They eventually won. In 1890, the Manitoba Schools Act was passed in order abolish the existence of these separate schools and French language laws within the province.

Ethically speaking, public institutions are extensions of our government, and thus have the responsibility of being entirely inclusive and representative of all citizens as enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. By all means, if parents want their children to learn Creationism in the same breath they learn the Theory of Evolution, they definitely have the freedom to do so at any private school of their choice (unless the family happens to live in any of the 3 provinces mentioned above). So if public schools were to teach the idea of intelligent design, then the curriculum should also include teachings of Aboriginal spirituality, scriptures of the Torah, and the ancient philosophies behind the Guru Granth Sahib--not to mention all of the other spiritual teachings from our multicultural society. Honestly, do you actually think the Canadian government would be willing to open up that can of worms and fork over that kind of funding? (Especially since they are too busy wading through the crap of yet another expensive scandal. But that's in a whole other post, folks...)

Since I got that off my chest, what are some of your thoughts on this issue?


The End said...

You have to love that spin - Intelligent Design. It just sounds like something you'd want to learn about - until you find out what it is.

I doubt you'll find any one with a good argument for teaching just the Christian aspect of intelligent design in public schools.

What is interesting is why is it such a necessity to teach the big bang theory. Generally this has no major impact on a pupils learning. It is not a fundamental corner stone for learning the rest of science.

In fact all that it is is the atheist explanation for the beginning of the world. In respect of fairness they just shouldn't teach this either without teaching all the other major views.

It's the hegemony of science in our culture. Oh and I'm a nihilist if you want to know where I'm coming from.

Mark Dykeman said...

You know, you've posted one of the simpler, most logical rebuttals to teaching intelligent design that I've ever read.

To be quite honest, I don't really know where I stand on intelligent design. I certainly don't assume that it's valid, nor do I necessarily espouse its opposite. But you make a good point about whether or not it should be taught.

Don Thieme said...

Here in the state of Georgia we now have not merely one but several classes in the bible being offered in the public schools. So we are definitely already spending a great deal of money to teach religion. Hopefully a few enlightened teachers and school administrators will follow your lead in offering a more multicultural and non-denominational cross-section of theological views. I have personally come around to the view that religion should be covered in public education. At least at the college level, I believe that students with a religious outlook can broaden the classroom science that I teach. I would perhaps take a different view were I teaching high school or middle school science.

Scumop said...

Nice take on the Xtian vs everyone else aspcts of ID/YEC and the rest. We can do without public financing of religious education and schools - these have no place in a secular society. However, it might be useful to teach about creationism and other ideas, including flying spaghetti monsterism (venganza.org), in a comparative course on religions and belief systems. But not in a science class. Creationism is not science.

--Bamboo Blitz-- said...

Hey scumop...

You don't think teaching flying spaghetti monsterism is relevant? ha ha ha! Yeah, I just wanted to approach the debate from an ethical standpoint since that's a language everyone can (usually) relate. Thanks for visiting and taking the time to give your two cents...

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