Saturday, March 09, 2002

Interest in evolution debate outgrows venue

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — An upcoming debate over rules governing the teaching of the origin of life in Ohio has drawn so much interest that the State Board of Education has moved it to an auditorium that seats about 4,000.

        At issue is whether proposed science standards being considered by the board should allow the teaching of the intelligent design concept in addition to evolution.

        “We've been overwhelmed with the amount of interest,” Board of Education President Jennifer Sheets said Thursday. “There are a lot of media outlets that want to attend, and just in the past few days we heard there were some school groups interested.”

        The intense interest prompted the board to move Monday's debate from the Ohio School for the Blind to the Veterans Memorial auditorium in downtown Columbus.

        The board, which will not vote on the matter Monday, has until the end of the year to come up with the new teaching standards.

        Supporters of the intelligent design concept say life is too complex and diverse to be explained merely through evolution and an unidentified higher intelligence must have played a role. They say that's not the same as creationism.

        Backers of evolution say intelligent design is merely a new spin on a decades-old effort to get religion in the classroom.

        In 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court barred states from requiring the teaching of creationism in public schools.


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