No state in the country has remained untouched by the controversy over the teaching of evolution in public schools.
Watch an interview with author, financial expert and actor Ben Stein. Stein has a new moving coming out soon titled Expelled. The movie looks at the evolution and intelligent design controversy going on in the country. Click the play button to view.
Most states have squelched criticism of the theory and the alternative theory of Intelligent Design. But the issue just will not go away -- in places like Texas.
Lone Star Textbook
When Texas chooses a textbook, the rest of the nation listens and other states often follow their lead. Even California, a traditional textbook bellwether, has lost influence because their education funds are depleted because of misspent tax funds.
This means national attention in the looming state battle over science and health textbooks that teach evolution. Attorney Cynthia Dunbar is serves on the Texas State Board of Education.
"What we want is for our students to be taught critical thinking skills, to be taught the scientific method," Dunbar explained to CBN News. "And what rises to the level of being deemed a theory -- teach the strengths and weaknesses of any and every theory."
However, most scientists say evolution has no weaknesses.
"Evolution is probably the most successful and impressive scientific theory of all time," said Dr. Lawrence Krauss, a physicist at Case Western Reserve. "It has been tested over and over and over again."
New Movie Challenges Darwinian Theory
A new motion picture will be released in April that challenges that idea. The movie is titled Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. It stars actor Ben Stein.
In one scene from the movie, Dr. David Berlinski talks about Darwin's theory. "One of my prevailing doctrines about Darwinian theory is: 'Man, that thing is just a mess. It's like looking into a room full of smoke," he says.
Berlinski is a mathematician and philosopher. He has taught at Stanford, Rutgers, and the University of Paris.
"Nothing in the theory is precisely, clearly, carefully defined and delineated," he said. "It lacks all of the rigor one expects from mathematical physics. And mathematical physics lacks all the rigor one expects from mathematics. So we're talking about a gradual descent down the level of intelligibility until we reach evolutionary biology."
According to polls, most parents want those criticisms of evolution presented. They don't want life taught exclusively as an accident and would like the theory of intelligent design to be in the curriculum.
Intelligent design or ID, is the theory that nature shows evidence of planning and forethought, unlike evolution's claim that chance and mutations can create complexity.
In the future, parents want ID taught fairly unlike current offerings.
"There are some textbooks which give maybe two paragraphs on it," said Dr. William Dembski. "And they misrepresent it. So they will characterize it as creationism and then trash it."
Dembski is a Texas parent and an expert on ID. He says evolution maintains its power not because it's valid, but because it's an entrenched bureaucracy.
"They can't afford, as it were, to think outside the box," he explained. "Because once they allow that intelligent design is a legitimate scientific project they're sunk, because then they have to consider the evidence for and against evolutionary theory."
Dembski knows about that power. He formerly headed an ID research center at Baylor University until evolutionists got that effort kicked off campus after just a year of operation. Also a mathematician and philosopher, he now teaches at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Dunbar says evolution needs to be seen for what it largely is -- almost a religion of nature -- cloaked in science.
"What you have is a belief system that's based upon faith that's being taught and mandated to be taught without exception," she said. "And students are not allowed to even be able to think about these issues."
Dunbar is careful to explain that when she refers to the belief system aspects of evolution, she is referring to macroevolution. That's the grand scheme of man evolving from one-celled creatures. Microevolution is the variation and change about which everyone agrees.
Dunbar says that means macroevolution -- as a belief system -- should not have protected status in Texas textbooks or anywhere else. Otherwise, states face a potential accusation that they are teaching religion. Of course, she says, microevolution should continue to be taught as it has been for decades.
*Original broadcast March 13, 2008.