Friday, April 13, 2007

Bishops call for the teaching of intelligent design in WA public schools: follow-up

Courtesy of Perth old-earth creationist blogger Stephen Jones, here is the full text of the original Sunday Times article:

Paul Lampathakis. (April 8, 2007). "New role call for religion in schools." The Sunday Times. p 12.

MORE religion, including the intelligent design theory, should be taught in public and private schools, church leaders say.

Perth's Catholic and Anglican archbishops said during Easter, that children needed more focus on things like the meaning of life in school subjects as well as religion. Otherwise schools risked producing children who were "robots" suffering from a "deep emptiness". Catholic Archbishop Barry Hickey said intelligent design theory would give students a chance to question the mysteries of life that science couldn't explain.

The theory, which suggests some parts of the universe and nature are so complex they must have been designed by a higher intelligence, has sparked debate and court battles in the US. "I would like the notion of intelligent design to be examined, also in government schools, without necessarily becoming a proof of the existence of God," Archbishop Hickey said.

"Because I think that if it is not (examined), then science is not being entirely honest. I think science has to show us what is there. And if it comes up with a very intricate marvellous design, let's call it intelligent design." Under such teaching, children with faith would say, "yes that's the result of the creator", and those without would say, "it's there by chance and we have no explanation", Archbishop Hickey said. "(those) with faith will make the next step to God," he said. "The school can't do that. But it can say, `yes, look at the human eye, look at all the things we find in nature. There seems to be an ... intelligent design in what we discover'."

Anglican Archbishop Roger Herft said children did think about "deeper questions". "If our classrooms do not allow for the exploration of the spirit, the exploration of the questions of meaning, then we're going to produce, ultimately, human beings who have deep emptiness in them," he said. "They will seek to fill that emptiness in a number of ways, whether it's drugs, or violence, or gang life or other groups that ultimately tend to be antisocial."

WA Education Minister Mark McGowan said he would not introduce intelligent design into the school curriculum and it was not part of school science programs because it was not evidence-based. He said questions like "where do we come from?" and "who made us?" were often discussed in class and children were able to make their own decisions.
Unfortunately, it doesn't clear up the question of whether Herft actually supports the teaching of ID in schools, and perhaps is misrepresenting him. (However, what he is quoted as saying--that without religion, our kids will turn to crime/drugs/gangs--is silly enough.) Hickey, however, is clearly in the ID camp, placing him at odds with his own church, including Pope John Paul II.

P. S. The current pope's views on evolution are more equivocal, though he apparently does not endorse ID/creationism and defends the "theistic evolution" position maintained by the Catholic Church (and other mainline churches).

P. P. S. Herft has been described elsewhere as "Australia's leading liberal Anglican."