June 13, 2002

Ohio's Largest Paper Flips; The Wedge in Brazil

By Mark Hartwig

The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Ohio’s largest newspaper, has never been a friend of intelligent design. Throughout the controversy over how to teach origins in Ohio’s public schools the paper has vigorously defended the Darwinist status quo.

An editorial on March 19 (“Get Back to Science”) for example, remarked that debating evolution and intelligent design “does nothing but embarrass our state.” Noting that the state’s public university presidents had written the state board of education urging it to “reject intelligent design and embrace the theory of evolution,” it called on Governor Bob Taft to “be at least as bold.”

In an apparent turnabout, however, a recent editorial (“Missing Link,” June 11) said that “the best option would be simply to teach evolution honestly, explaining the theory's strengths and weaknesses, as well as the truth that plenty of gaps exist in man's knowledge about life's development.”

The editorial also stated that “intelligent design should be covered in school”--albeit only in such “humanities classes” as philosophy and theology, which aren’t terribly common in public schools.

What caused the flip is most likely the realization that “teaching the controversy” is not some marginal view held by a few religious charlatans, but a view that most folks consider common sense. Just a few days earlier, a Plain Dealer Ohio Poll (“A majority of those surveyed want evolution, intelligent design to get equal time in school,” June 9) showed that “a clear majority of the state's residents--59 percent--favor teaching evolution in tandem with intelligent design in public-school science classes.”

The poll report noted that “evolution supporters, including most scientists, deride the intelligent design idea as pseudo-science or stealth creationism.” But it also acknowledged that “most Ohioans aren't buying that argument. While they are not terribly familiar with what intelligent design entails, and they aren't heavily involved so far in the debate, the idea of teaching intelligent design alongside evolution appeals to their sense of fair play.”

That notion of fair play is the big elephant in the science classroom. And it is heartening that The Plain Dealer, however grudgingly, is beginning to acknowledge that.

To be sure, presenting the pros and cons of Darwinism in science classrooms while sequestering intelligent design in the humanities is a bit schizophrenic. If the scientific evidence is presented fairly, students who are not committed to philosophical materialism are going to ask about alternatives. Or, more likely, they’ll present those alternatives themselves. It will be very awkward explaining to them why legitimate scientific questions raised in one class may only be answered in another.

Nonetheless, the paper’s proposal is far better than what we’ve gotten from the Darwinist establishment--which has been ad hominems and denial. Let’s hope this is a sign of better things to come.

The fledgling intelligent design movement in Brazil recently got a morale boost from one of the country’s largest popular-science magazines, Superinteressante. Enézio E. de Almeida Filho, an active participant in the Wedge down there, reports that the June issue ran one of the most balanced articles on ID he’s seen to date in such a magazine.

According to Enézio, the magazine echoed some of the comments we hear in the US, labeling intelligent design proponents as neo-creationists and complaining that they spend their time “writing books” rather than doing peer-reviewed research.

On the other hand, he said, the article conceded that “neo-Darwinism does not have all the answers and has inconsistencies.” What’s more, the magazine treated intelligent design as a scientific contender to neo-Darwinism—a first for the Brazilian media.

Although the ID movement in Brazil still has “miles to go,” Enézio said, “this report has given us the exposure we have never imagined to gain so soon.”

Copyright 2002 Mark Hartwig. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
File Date: 6.13.02

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