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15.5 Shift in Strategy

The roots of the Intelligent Design movement’s strategy are found in the past attempts of creationists to force religious views into public school science classes. Recently creation science sought to provide a scientific cover for the biblical account of Genesis.

A rudimentary form of the “Teach the controversy” strategy emerged first among creation scientists following the Supreme Court’s Edwards v. Aguillard decision. The “Institute for Creation Research” (ICR) suggested suggested that “school boards and teachers should be strongly encouraged at least to stress the scientific evidences and arguments against evolution in their classes . . . even if they don’t wish to recognize these as evidences and arguments for creationism.”

Finally the Discovery Institute publicly abandoned advocating for any policies or laws that required the teaching of Intelligent Design, in favour of a “Teach the Controversy strategy”. Institute Fellows reasoned that once the “fact” that a controversy indeed exists had and put in the public’s mind, then the reintroduction of Intelligent Design into public school criteria would be much less controversial later.

By May 2006 the Discovery Institute, to revive the “teach the controversy” strategy, started to talk about other supposed legitimate scientific controversies such as global warming, cloning and stem cell research. These topics are widely accepted by the majority of the scientific community as legitimate science. The scientific community has responded to this tactic by pointing out that, like evolution, whatever controversy may exist over cloning and stem cell research has been largely social and political, while dissident viewpoints over global warming are often viewed as pseudoscience.