By Erin Rowley
COLLEGIAN STAFF WRITER | firstname.lastname@example.org
Adam Allshouse saw the effects teaching intelligent design can have firsthand when his senior high's school board mandated the theory be taught.
The year was 2004, the place was Dover, Pa., and Allshouse (junior-business administration) and his Dover Area High School classmates were bombarded with media attention by the decision.
Allshouse believed the situation in Dover was "blown out of proportion" and didn't have a problem with the teaching of intelligent design, which says that life is too complicated to have evolved on its own and must have been created.
"You can say we evolved, but you need to present the other side, too. Some people believe we were created by God. Since we don't know for sure, you need to present all points," he said.
The events in Dover partly inspired Penn State professor of political science Michael Berkman and his colleagues to create a survey about the teaching of evolution, creationism and intelligent design in American high schools.
What they found was 12 percent of United States high school biology teachers consider creationism a "valid scientific alternative to Darwinian explanations for the origin of species," and believe "many reputable scientists view these as valid alternatives to Darwinian theory."
In 2005 Dover's intelligent design policy was ruled unconstitutional, because in 1987 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled states cannot require public schools to balance evolution lessons by teaching creationism.
"The Court decision was not surprising. The law is fairly clear on this. They don't have to teach evolution, but they can't teach theories rooted in religion," Berkman said.
Although 32 percent of biology teachers said creationism and intelligent design should be taught as inaccurate theories and 40 percent said they are religiously valid but should not be taught in class, 25 percent of respondents said they spent time dis-
cussing creation or intelligent design in their classrooms. The poll questioned more than 900 teachers and was published in the Public Library of Science Biology in May.
"The focus of the study was how teachers approach the subject of evolution," Berkman said.
The most surprising statistic to Berkman was 16 percent of biology teachers believe God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years.
"Personal beliefs do influence what they teach," Berkman said.
Another interesting statistic was 17 percent of biology teachers don't mention evolution at all, and 50 percent don't spend more than two hours on the subject, Berkman said.
Creationism should not be taught in a science class, said Jeffrey A. Kurland, associate professor of biological anthropology and human development.
"Creationism and intelligent design is not science; it's a variety of fundamentalist religion," said Kurland, who teaches courses about anthropology and evolution.
Kurland often talks about the lack of validity of creationism and intelligent design during his classes and has had few complaints about it, he said. The director of his department backed him up when a student wrote a letter saying she was offended by his refusal of religious theories.
"For some students, evolution is difficult to accept," Berkman said.