FRESNO, California (AP) -- A rural high school teaching a religion-based alternative to evolution was sued Tuesday by a group of parents who said the class should be stopped because it violates the U.S. Constitution.
Frazier Mountain High in Lebec violated the separation of church and state while attempting to legitimize the theory of "intelligent design" by introducing it as a philosophy class, according to the federal lawsuit filed by parents of 13 students.
The suit was filed by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. While I am hardly an adovocate for intelligent design (ID), I'm not sure this suit has merit. The class is only an elective, and ID is in no way a part of the school's standard science curriculum. (I am glad that we have Americans United to fight for the separation of church and state, but I think that the organization often goes too far and becomes a caricature of itself.)
On the other hand, while I support the right of public schools to teach elective intelligent design classes, this course in particular is suspect. The school is offering the class, "Philosophy of Design," as a philosophy, rather than science, course; and it will be taught by a social studies teacher. That would be OK if not for the course description (from the AP article):
An initial course description sent to parents in December said it would examine "evolution as a theory and will discuss the scientific, biological and Biblical aspects that suggest why Darwin's philosophy is not rock solid."
If the class's primary objective is to debunk a scientific viewpoint, it should probably be taught by a science teacher. Moreover, simply pointing out flaws and holes in the theory of evolution—or pointing out how the theory conflicts with the Bible—in no way proves or supports ID. For ID to be taken seriously, it needs to be more than an anti-evolution theory.