The critics, in my opinion, are quite right that "intelligent design" is an (apparently successful) attempt to inject creationism into Kansas public schools. I'm less convinced that the mere mention of the possibility of a superempirical design force, without filling in any of the details, violates the constitutional separation of church and state. I think, at worst, it is possibly a step onto a slippery slope that pushes towards violating the separation of church and Kansas. I don't think you're going to find California schools rushing to teach intelligent design.
The 6-4 vote was a victory for "intelligent design" advocates who helped draft the standards. Intelligent design holds that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power.
Critics of the new language charged that it was an attempt to inject God and creationism into public schools in violation of the separation of church and state.Supporters of the new standards said they will promote academic freedom. "It gets rid of a lot of dogma that's being taught in the classroom today," said board member John Bacon.
And the supporters have a good point. It's not that allowing the teaching of intelligent design will "get rid of a lot of dogma", but it does allow balancing dogma regarding evolution with creationist dogma. I'm absolutely convinced at this point that many of the proponents of evolution are "True Believers". They use terms like "believe in" when talking about evolution, common descent, etc., which clearly implies a religious or dogmatic belief. If you don't believe that, consider the following:
It is absolutely safe to say that, if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I'd rather not consider that). -- Richard Dawkins, a leading proponent of evolution, (September, 2001)Dawkins later defended this statement, so it wasn't just a slip of his tongue. The statement wraps up a definition of dogma with the definition of what is heretical thought with respect to the dogma. If that's not the speech of a believer, I don't know what is.
In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.
Many opponents point to this "redefinition" of science as one reason not to teach Intelligent Design. I don't think this holds much water. The first definition for science is "The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena." It doesn't say that it need be limited to the search for natural explanations. The other approach to eliminating the "redefinition" of science is to call it "Science and Philosophy of Science" class. There's no reason such topics need to be taught at different times. I personally think an emergent and integrated curriculum is a better approach anyway.
The article states that the Kansas School Board is "[r]isking the kind of nationwide ridicule it faced six years ago" when it contemplated the same thing. Unfortunately, it may be that evolution proponents' position in this debate is so weak, that the only weapon they have left is to ridicule the other side.