Briana Heaney Published

Senate Passes Intelligent Design Bill For Public Classrooms

Wooden classroom desks in close up with no students.
A new bill pass through the Senate that allows the teaching of intelligent design. The bill must be passed by the House of Delegates and signed by the governor to become state law.
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In 2005 a U.S District Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to teach intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in public classrooms. A bill passed by the state Senate Tuesday challenges that ruling. 

Senate Bill 280 allows teachers to discuss one or more theories about the origins of life on earth, including theories that life was created and designed by a higher power. Sen. Amy Grady, R-Mason, and the bill’s author, says the bill allows teachers to answer questions that widely accepted scientific theories can’t answer. 

“We do not want to discourage students from asking questions about theories,” Grady said. “The definition for theory is that there is some data that proves something to be true, but it doesn’t have to be proven entirely true. Even with Darwin’s theory of evolution, there are scientists who doubt that, based on evidence of fossils.”

However, Sen. Mike Woelfel, D-Cabell, says it is a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution, specifically the establishment clause that separates church and state. 

“There is plenty of case law out there from Republican judges,” Woelfel said. “The Kitzmiller case jumps out at me, that intelligent design has been struck as impermissible to be taught in public schools. Because of the creative, the prime being, the god, the supernatural, creationism is outside the realm of established scientific theories.”

If it becomes law, West Virginia would be the first state to permit intelligent design theory in public classrooms since it was barred as unconstitutional by the U.S. District Court. If the case were brought to a higher court, the litigation could cost taxpayers.