'Intelligent Design' Policy Axed

GENERIC: Intelligent Design, Chirch, Education, Evolution, Biology, God, School, Book
The Dover, Pa., school board has rescinded its policy of presenting "intelligent design" as an alternative to evolution in high school biology classes, two weeks after a federal judge found the concept was religious and not scientific.

There was no discussion by members of the Dover Area School Board before the voice vote Tuesday night.

The policy, approved in October 2004, required that a statement be read to students about "intelligent design" before ninth-grade lessons on evolution. The statement said Darwin's theory is "not a fact" and has inexplicable "gaps." It referred students to an "intelligent-design" book.

On Dec. 20, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III sided with eight families who argued that "intelligent design," which attributes the existence of complex organisms to an unidentified intelligent cause, is biblical creationism in disguise.

The school board said it was trying to improve science education by exposing students to alternatives.

But the judge said the board's real purpose was "to promote religion in the public school classroom," and said intelligent design could not be taught as an alternative to evolution in biology classes.

Most of the school board incumbents who had defended the policy were ousted in the November election, replaced by candidates who pledged to eliminate it.

The policy and federal lawsuit added fuel the national debate over "intelligent design."

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com