One state senator, backed by a powerful conservative lobby, wants Utah public schools to teach “divine design” side by side with evolution, allowing students to decide which theory is more valid.
The decades-old debate expected to erupt during the next legislative session in January will also involve decades-old arguments, but with a new twist.
Some school officials believe teaching a divine design could violate the constitutionally protected separation of church and state.
“We don’t teach religion in school,” said Brett Moulding, curriculum director for the state Board of Education. “We don’t believe this law would be in the best interest of public education.”
An informed correspondent mentions that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) aka Mormonism, takes a fairly standard theistic evolution stance: God set things in motion, but science is science.
It wasn’t that long ago that Mormons were persecuted for their beliefs (Joseph Smith died from a gunshot wound received as he was being busted out of jail in Illinois). As a consequence, Mormons are pretty big on separation of church and state. That’s not to say that Utah’s religious leaders aren’t intertwined with the political leaders in a special way, but they respect the importance of not using the state government to promote religion directly. Or so my source says.
That should make the Utah battle particularly interesting.
Of course, everything has limits:
Sen. Chris Buttars, R‑West Jordan, plans to lead the fight for instruction of divine design in Utah public schools. He wants to defuse some of the expected controversy by avoiding the term “creationism” altogether.
Instead, he favors “divine design,” sometimes called “intelligent design,” which “doesn’t preach religion,” he said. “The only people who will be upset about this are atheists.”
Yep, no one will be bothered but the atheists. Who cares about them anyway? Never mind that religious scientists will be unhappy as well.
“What they forgot to kill went on to organize.”