Emily Rice Published

Lawmakers Hear Support For Intelligent Design In Public Schools

Two teenage boys with brown hair raise their right hands to swear in before giving testimony at a committee meeting.
Haden Hodge (left) and Hunter Bernard (right) are juniors at Hurricane High School. They testified before senators, arguing that intelligent design is an evidence-based theory about life’s origins that should be an option to learn in public schools.
West Virginia Legislative Photography/ Will Price

The Senate Education Committee heard Tuesday from two high schoolers in favor of Senate Bill 280 which would allow teachers in public schools to teach intelligent design.

Haden Hodge is a junior at Hurricane High School. He testified before senators, arguing that intelligent design is an evidence-based theory about life’s origins.

“So what is intelligent design? Well, to start, it is not a religious argument,” Hodge said. “I am not advocating for Biblical Creationism, or Adam and Eve, or the Muslim and Jewish narrative. This is not a biblical argument.”

Hodge said he is not asking for the teaching of intelligent design to be mandatory, but an option.

“I’m not asking for this to be required. I’m asking for it to be permissible,” Hodge said. “Why not allow teachers to offer students multiple views? Students deserve to hear a multitude of theories, and then follow which is more reasonable: life from blind natural processes, or life from a designer.”

Hodge testified that his science teacher told him recently that he wished he could discuss intelligent design in the classroom. 

Sen. David Stover, a Republican from Wyoming County, said that as a previous teacher himself, it disturbed him that teachers felt they couldn’t have discussions with their students.

“Are you telling me that your teacher is honestly afraid of repercussions? If one of you simply said, ‘Is it possible?”

The second student to testify before lawmakers, Hunter Bernard, another junior from Hurricane High School answered Stover’s question.

“Yes, sir,” Bernard said. “I asked my microbiology teacher where the first cell came from, and he could tell that I was probing in that direction. And he was clear that we can’t talk about that option of designer.”

Sen. Charles Trump, a Republican from Morgan County, addressed the committee. He said his concerns about last year’s version of this bill had been resolved by the committee substitute.

“As the chair may remember, I had some heartburn last year over a similar bill that we considered and ended up deciding that I would have to vote against it,” Trump said. “This committee substitute has addressed the concerns I had last year, and I’m happy to say that I am just now able to report support.”

All committee members voted in favor of reporting the committee substitute for Senate Bill 280 to the full Senate floor with the recommendation that it pass.