international Internet group fights “intelligent design theory” in PA school

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Evolution Fight Goes International:International Internet Activists Donate Science Books to Anti-Evolution School District

An international email group that focuses on opposing the teaching of intelligent design creationism is donating over twenty science books to the Dover High School Library in Dover, Pennsylvania. Among the books being donated are “What Evolution Is” by evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr, “Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics” by Robert Pennock, and “Finding Darwin’s God” by biologist Kenneth R Miller.

Dover became the scene of a legal fight after supporters of “intelligent design theory” attempted to insert their viewpoint into science classes. Similar conflicts over “intelligent design theory” are taking place in Ohio, Kansas, Alabama, Arkansas, and elsewhere.

The cyber-activists from the DebunkCreation email list at Yahoogroups, from the United States, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada, Australia and Sweden, say they were motivated by reports that an “anonymous donor” gave sixty copies of the intelligent design textbook “Of Pandas and People” to the school district. “We wanted students in Dover to have access to accurate information about science, about evolutionary biology, and about the real agenda of the intelligent design movement,” says list founder Lenny Flank, a freelance writer from St Petersburg, Florida.

Activists from the UK, Canada, Australia and elsewhere point out that they too have a stake in fighting creationism. Many of them are facing their own anti-evolution movements, most of which are founded and funded by American creationist groups. “It seems almost unbelievable that the UK Government should be giving religious extremists control of our schools and then allowing them to corrupt the teaching of science,” says Alan Bellis, an anti-creationist campaigner in Great Britain. “Yet it is actually happening.” The Emmanuel Schools Foundation (Vardy Foundation), which operates three schools in the north of England and plans to open four more, has made no secret of its plans to teach creationism, and has recieved support from Answers In Genesis, an Australian group that was itself founded by members of the Institute for Creation Research, in California. “Fortunately,” says Bellis, “resistance against them is slowly growing and only recently, a concerted campaign by protesting parents halted the takeover of a school near Doncaster.”

The battle cry of the intelligent design movement has been to “teach the controversy”, but in reality, say list members, there is no scientific controversy over evolution. Michael Brass, a South African archeaeologist residing in England, and author of the anti-creationist book “The Antiquity of Man”, points out, “Recent reviews of the available anatomical and genetic evidence have convincingly re-affirmed yet again the theory that apes and anatomically modern humans share a common ancestry. There is no controversy, amongst palaeoanthropologists and archaeologists over the validity of evolutionary processes in human evolution.” Rather than being science, Brass says, intelligent design and creationist advocates “take their religious text as their starting point and attempt to force-fit the data into their religious paradigm.” Brass concludes, “Creationist works, and those who support such efforts, have no basis whatsoever in any scientific procedure and basic plain scientific reality.”

Despite it claims to be “science”, the cyber-activists conclude that the intelligent design movement is simply a religious crusade, coupled with a deliberate attempt to conceal that fact. The Discovery Institute (the primary force behind the intelligent design movement), which has been advising the Dover School Board members, goes to great lengths to claim that it has no ulterior religious motives. But Flank points to the ‘Wedge Document’, an internal Discovery Institute document that was leaked onto the Internet a few years ago. Under the heading ‘Governing Goals’, the Wedge Document states, “To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.” The primary financial backer of the Discovery Institute is California S&L mogul Howard Ahmanson, a supporter of the “Christian Reconstructionist” movement, which advocates placing the United States under “Biblical law”. The Dover intelligent design advocates are being represented by the Thomas More Law Center, which describes its mission as “Defending the Religious Freedom of Christians”. And recent published statements by school board members make clear the religious goals of their intelligent design “theory”. “It certainly sounds to me,” Flank says, “as if the intelligent design movement and its backers want to do exactly what the Supreme Court has already ruled they can NOT do — use the public schools to advance their religious opinions.”

“There was a time when science had to conform to the opinions of the prevailing religious authorities,” Flank concludes. “We call those times ‘The Dark Ages’. They are not fondly remembered by most people.”

The DebunkCreation email list, formed in 1999 and currently with over 400 members, is found at


Lenny Flank: [email protected] Brass: [email protected] Bellis: [email protected]