Continuing debate on Minister's support for intelligent design teaching

CLICK HEREThe assertion of Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson earlier this month that the theory of intelligent design could have a place in the school curriculum has sparked fresh debate.

In the United States President George W. Bush has left open the possibility that intelligent design could be taught alongside evolution in science classes in American schools. Here, the Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson told the Press Club earlier this month that intelligent design could have a place alongside evolution in our schools if parents wished.

The ABC's PM reports that scientists are "angry". One described intelligent design as "creationism in a cheap tuxedo", but to those who support the theory, it's all about keeping an open mind. It says scientists are "still surprised and some are quite horrified" that the debate over intelligent design has made its way to Australia.

The idea basically states that Darwin's theory of evolution can't inadequately explain complex life forms and that life must have been created be some form of intelligence, or an intelligent designer.

Critics say this belief doesn't even classify as a theory, but the case is put in educational DVD being distributed within Australia.

'Unlocking the Mysteries of Life' is a slick American production featuring impressive computer graphics and an array of prominent scientists. They each take turns in explaining why they no longer support Darwin's theory of evolution.

One of these scientists is Dean Kenyon, who wrote a respected textbook on chemical evolution, but has since seen the light in intelligent design.

"We have not the slightest chance of a chemical evolutionary origin for even the simplest of cells, so the concept of the intelligent design of life was immensely attractive to me and made a great deal of sense," he said.

Senior Lecturer in evolutionary biology at the University of New South Wales Rob Brook says intelligent design is all about religion, not science.

"I think the fact that somebody has a PhD in science, or even works in a particular area of science, in itself isn't really acceptable evidence that something is scientific," he said. "So from the point of view of Kenyon, I don't really know what is it that's motivating him, and I don't think that we're told publicly what it is that's motivating him, but a lot of the prime people in the intelligent design movement appear to have had religious conversions of some type or another."

Brendan Nelson suggests 'intelligent design' could be taught in schools (ABC Radio PM 26/8/05)

Dr Brendan Nelson - Australian Government Minister for Education, Science and Training

Vatican Observatory head clashes with cardinal on evolution (CathNews 8/8/05)
Cardinal redefines Church's view on evolution (CathNews 11/7/05)
Vatican Observatory sponsors conference on evolution (CathNews 22/6/04)
Vatican scientist joins effort to define new object in solar system (CathNews 29/3/04)
'Intelligent design' theory threatens evolution in US schools (CtahNews 24/11/04)

Intelligent Design: One chance encounter explains it all (Japan Times 28/8/05)
Speak up, says PM: so hear this (Sydney Morning Herald 27/8/05)
Guy Rundle: How Brendan Nelson turned and ran (The Age 22/8/05)
'Intelligent design' an option: Nelson (The Age 11/8/05)
Intelligent Design and God (Online Catholics 10/8/05)
Evolution and Intelligent Design - Eureka Street Comment (Jesuits Australia)

29 Aug 2005