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, 104 Suppl 1 (Suppl 1), 8669-76

Biological Design in Science Classrooms


Biological Design in Science Classrooms

Eugenie C Scott et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.


Although evolutionary biology is replete with explanations for complex biological structures, scientists concerned about evolution education have been forced to confront "intelligent design" (ID), which rejects a natural origin for biological complexity. The content of ID is a subset of the claims made by the older "creation science" movement. Both creationist views contend that highly complex biological adaptations and even organisms categorically cannot result from natural causes but require a supernatural creative agent. Historically, ID arose from efforts to produce a form of creationism that would be less vulnerable to legal challenges and that would not overtly rely upon biblical literalism. Scientists do not use ID to explain nature, but because it has support from outside the scientific community, ID is nonetheless contributing substantially to a long-standing assault on the integrity of science education.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.
A comparison of phrasing in the prepublication manuscripts of the ID textbook Of Pandas and People. Early manuscripts freely used cognates of “creation” (creationism, creationist), but these terms were replaced by the phrase “intelligent design” after the mid-1987 Edwards v. Aguillard Supreme Court decision outlawing the teaching of creationism.
Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.
The missing link between creation science and intelligent design. In the early 1987 manuscript (a) of Of Pandas and People, the original wording of a sentence in chapter 3 reads, “Evolutionists think the former is correct, creationists accept the latter view.” In the second 1987 manuscript (b), an incomplete (and uncorrected) block-and-paste of “design proponents” for the term “creationists” leaves “cdesign proponentsists” (sic), forming a missing link between creationism and ID.

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