Teacher's plan to teach 'intelligent design' sparks controversy

MODESTO, Calif. _ Of all the much-wrangled issues in public school education, the case of evolution may be the most fragile peace.

Last month, a Modesto science teacher announced at a back-to-school night that he would teach the theory of intelligent design alongside evolution. Modesto City Schools district officials say that won't happen.

However, some trustees and other science teachers say it should. Parents on both sides of the divide are discovering that it is.

"I agree that some science and other teachers (teach intelligent design), yes, and it is unethical when they do so," retired science teacher Mike Kennedy of Oakdale, Calif. said in an e-mail.

Intelligent design is the theory that living things are too complex to have happened randomly in nature. Proponents say science proves there was a master designer.

Skeptics argue a theory that can't be disproved is not science, it is faith, and as such does not belong in science class.

"The problem is that intelligent design is trying to somehow wed science to faith, and it can't because in intelligent design you start with an assumption and it's unquestionable," said Central Catholic High School science teacher Chris Wilde.

Wilde's classroom has a life-size cutout of Albert Einstein by the window and a crucifix over the door. The 34-year teacher, who holds master's degrees in physical sciences and theology, said there is no conflict between evolution and her faith.

"I love this quote by Pope John Paul II: 'Let science tell us what and how. Let religion tell us who and why.' Truth is truth. We just answer different questions," she said. "We believe in a God that is so powerful he could create it all, then allow it to unfold. To me, that is a far more awesome God."

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