“If we are going to teach evolution, there is another viewpoint and one that holds pretty good too (evolution) in regards to creation,” Vander Plaats said. “I think that is something that I would want to visit further along with Jim Nussle in regards to ‘Where are you at on that?’ But my viewpoint is I would like to give both of these (time in the classroom).”
More after the jump…
The question was raised by Rachel Smith, an ISU senior in agricultural biochemistry. Smith later spoke out against the candidate’s response, arguing that intelligent design is not a scientific theory.
“It may be a theory in the way of being a concept, but it is definitely not a scientific theory,” Smith told Vander Plaats. “Evolution is a scientific theory, and it is accepted very, very widely.”
Vander Plaats responded that intelligent design is a “very real theory” that is widely accepted.
So many errors here. Most notably, of course, is that Smith (no relation) is correct: it’s not a scientific theory, it’s a half-assed idea that even ID supporters admit isn’t well formulated and ain’t ready for prime time. And that “wide acceptance” is a joke; the Discovery Institute’s vaguely-worded, 600-signature document notwithstanding (but how many of them are named Steve?)
“I think from an educator point of view, I want to give the theories that have creditability weight in the classroom,” he said. “There are some credible evidences on both sides, I think from an educator point of view as well as a full discourse to the students of ‘Here’s how people believe the world came to be.’
This “educator point of view” comes from Vander Plaats’ experience as a teacher (business, not science) and school principal. And of course, his appeal to “both sides” and fairness in the classroom is one that reverberates with a lot of voters, but the fact remains that there’s *is* no “credible evidence” of intelligent design. Additionally, he’s making the common mistake of wrapping evolutionary theory together with abiogenesis and cosmology when he says that evolution and intelligent design are different ways that “people believe the world came to be.”
The article ends with Vander Plaats’ quote:
“I don’t see where that can hurt.”
Except to mislead Iowa’s kids–rather a big issue with me, though apparently not to Vander Plaats.
Ironically, if you go to Nussle’s campaign site, you’ll see that his plan for achieving world-class education is at the top of his list:
Jim Nussle will energize Iowa’s education system so our schools are held accountable for results and our students are prepared for the job opportunities of the 21st Century. To compete in today’s global economy; Jim will encourage and entice students and teachers into the critical fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
And yet his running mate is undermining this, by suggesting that a religious, non-scientific idea be taught alongside evolutionary theory, the cornerstone of biology. Perhaps Vander Plaats doesn’t see the inherent contradiction in this; I don’t know. But as a former principal, you’d think he’d at least be familiar with what an effort to insert intelligent design into a school curriculum can do to a school district–lawsuits, division among the community, etc. Just ask Dover, PA.
Finally, to be fair, Vander Plaats does say that he’s not discussed his stance on the issue with Nussle, and having only lived here not yet two years, I’m still not that familiar with Nussle himself. However, according to this site, he’s received campain money for Discovery Institute funder Howard Ahmanson Jr., but I’ve not seen any statements from Nussle directly addressing the topic. (If anyone out there knows of any, please, pass them along). I’ve also emailed both campaigns to see if they had an official position on the topic, but haven’t heard back from those either. Stay tuned…