The question of legitimate authority: considerations of Intelligent Design in public schooling



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Texas Tech University


This study will address some of the questions surrounding the contemporary debate as to whether or not – or, the extent to which – Intelligent Design (ID) justifiably can be included in public high school science curriculum. More specifically, its first guiding question will unpack three primary arguments that ID proponents often assert to validate its legitimacy, and to advance support for its inclusion in curriculum: namely, that ID is a valid insertion in the public school curriculum that allows for the re-placement of teleological concerns in modernity; that it is not neither a “God in the gaps” theory, nor essentially religious; and, finally, contrary to the contentions of some its critics (e.g., Antolin and Herbers, 2001; Forrest, 2005a, b; Hewlett and Peters, 2006; Matzke and Gross, 2006; Scott, 2006, 1997; Wexler, 2006, 1997), ID is not creation-science with a new name. The second guiding question of this study will address ID’s figurative placement in the culture war by examining: the extent to which recent attempts at its inclusion in the public school curriculum represent good pedagogical practices; the hegemonic discourse that its advocates both debunk and adopt; and the relevance that the combination of the afore-mentioned factors ultimately have upon considerations of education for posterity.

The study will provide, primarily, philosophical and theoretical analyses of some of the critical issues and questions surrounding ID. More specifically, it will weave together theoretical and philosophical, as well as some historical, concerns, as it addresses some of the prominent arguments that shape support for ID, and the question of its authoritative status in public school curriculum. As such, this study will be an analysis of relevant contemporary research, and offer insight both into how and why ID has developed into an intellectual inquiry, and emerged as a potent idea supported by numerous academics and at least some of the general the public. For its discussions regarding ID specifically, this document primarily will focus upon the writings of two thinkers who have gained prominence in the continued development of the theory; namely, William Dembski, a mathematician and philosopher, and Michael Behe, a biochemist.