As indicated by this article in the Guardian, this debate seems to have transversed the Atlantic and is gaining momentum in British society.
Whether evolutionary theory is the only legitimate scientific explanation for the existence of life begs the question, ‘What is science?’ For, if science classes in schools covers that which falls under the remit of science, then creationism and intelligent design must first fulfil the criteria to be a considered science. Otherwise, their place is within religious studies or the general humanities.
Advocates of intelligence design might argue that the problem lies with our education system that delineates so severely between different subjects as if they were self contained entities. The very fact that we place such emphasis on science as a subject that tells us how the world ‘really is’ assumes that there is something particularly special about its methods and results. Religious studies in contrast, is usually reduced to a minor (and ‘easy’) subject.
This debate highlights limitations with our education system and the gravitas we give to particular subjects without studying the foundational assumptions upon which they rest. Where, in the national curriculum, is there any real discussion about what is science, and whether scientific methods are better than any other ways of understanding the world? This seems fundamental to the whole argument.
I have no truck with those that believe in intelligent design nor creationism but I do sympathise with their efforts to question the whole system of science education in schools. I would not advocate that either theory gets taught as part of the science curriculum, for they are not sciences, but I do think there should be a place for students to discuss the underpinning assumptions about science.