Degree Granting Department
Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Carol Mullen, Ph.D.
Darlene Bruner, Ed.D.
Darlene Bruner, Ed.D.
Dana Zeidler, Ph.D.
science curriculum, creationism, pseudoscience, science education, educational leadership
Evolutionary theory in the scientific curricula of public education has been
scrutinized by religious societies for the better part of a century around the globe.
Although Darwin’s explanation of the mechanism of evolution—the process of natural
selection—is widely accepted by scientists in the United States and other industrialized
nations, the U.S. has lagged behind these other countries in accepting evolutionary theory
in public school curricula. The debate of what to include in textbooks and classroom
lessons is one of America’s most controversial issues. The creationist worldview of life’s
origins has been incorporated into science curriculum as a direct challenge to natural
selection and evolutionary theory, stretching the interpretation of the First Amendment
and the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution under the guise of academic
freedom. The debate has reached the U.S. Supreme Court on more than one occasion.
Each landmark case has resulted in the Court’s decision to keep public school science
courses free of theistic explanations of the origins of life or creation of species, most
specifically humankind. The battle has continued and gained momentum in recent years,
even in light of the Court’s decisions. The idea of intelligent design (ID) is the latest
attempt by creationists to explain the existence of life, and many state boards of
education and school districts throughout the country are considering the adoption of new
science curricula that include ID as an adequate alternative to evolutionary theory. In the
recent federal case
Kitzmiller v. The Dover Area School District Justice John E. Jones, III
ruled that ID was not a science at all, and instead was a religious belief violating
Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Intelligent design is considered by scientists to be pseudoscience posing as
scientific principle. The scientific perspective is that unsubstantiated pseudoscientific
principles create misconceptions and have a deleterious effect upon science education. It
is argued herein that educational leaders must play a role in preventing cases of
pseudoscience arising in public school curriculum, thus strengthening the ability of our
country to produce knowledgeable scientists.
Scholar Commons Citation
Plank, Larry R., "Intelligent Design And Evolutionary Theory: Legal Battles And Classroom Relevance For School Leadership" (2006). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.