Reason prevails in Dover, PA

Voters tend to ignore their local school boards until the board does something outrageous, which the Dover, Pa., board did last year by requiring that all ninth-graders hear a prepared statement on intelligent design before starting their biology course.

The statement begins by saying that the state requires that students study Darwin’s theory of evolution and then disingenuously adds, “Because Darwin’s Theory is a theory, it is still being tested as new evidence is being discovered,” as if the theory itself was not settled science.

The statement then goes on to make a pitch for intelligent design, “an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view. The reference book, ‘Of Pandas and People,’ is available for students to see if they would like to explore this view in an effort to gain an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves.”

The board members’ Web site goes further and suggests that there is scientific support for intelligent design, which overwhelmingly there is not.

A group of parents sued the board _ the judge’s decision is still pending _ but on Tuesday all eight members of the board up for re-election were voted out by a slate of candidates pledged, along with many other worthy plans, to scrap the statement.

It didn’t take long for the Rev. Pat Robertson to weigh in on the election results. “I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God. You just rejected him from your city,” he said on his “700 Club” show.

Later, in trying to explain away his remarks, Robertson reinforced them: “If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin. Maybe he can help them.”

Meanwhile, the Kansas board of education, while denying it was doing so, rewrote its standards for teaching science in a way that allows for the teaching of intelligent design.

But Robertson’s remarks support the theory that intelligent design is creationism dressed up in a lab coat and, in the minds of its supporters, a means of getting the biblical explanation of mankind’s origins into the public-school curriculum.

(Contact Dale McFeatters at McFeattersD(at)