Creationism in Michigan gubernatorial race


Creationism emerged as a burning issue in Michigan's gubernatorial race, after Republican candidate Dick DeVos told a questioner at a September 8, 2006, campaign stop that he supported teaching "intelligent design" alongside evolution in the public schools. The questioner, Eric B. Fauman, recounted the exchange in a letter to the editor of the Ann Arbor News (September 14, 2006), commenting [Link broken], "At a time when our students' science literacy is already significantly below average ... teaching our children sectarian religious beliefs as science can only harm our state's ability to compete internationally." DeVos subsequently told [Link broken] the Associated Press (September 20, 2006), "I would like to see the ideas of intelligent design that many scientists are now suggesting is a very viable alternative theory ... That theory and others that would be considered credible would expose our students to more ideas, not less." The Detroit Free Press (September 20, 2006) also quoted [Link broken] him as saying, "Local school boards should have the opportunity to offer evolution and intelligent design in their curriculums." His Democratic opponent, incumbent Jennifer Granholm, opposes teaching "intelligent design" as science.

The reaction to DeVos's comments from the scientific and educational communities in Michigan was unsurprisingly negative. The president of the Michigan Science Teachers Association, Paul Drummond, told the Free Press that "intelligent design" is "not science," and the president of the Michigan state board of education, Kathleen Straus, described it as "religious theory." Speaking to the Livingston Daily Press & Argus (September 21, 2006), Michigan State University professor Robert T. Pennock, the president of Michigan Citizens for Science, posed [Link broken] the question, "How could Michigan students compete in the life sciences, so important to our economy, if DeVos has them learn pseudoscience?" And the state's newspapers were critical of DeVos as well, with the Lansing State Journal (September 22, 2006) editorially commenting [Link broken], "'intelligent design' is not science. It is an attempt to forge the trappings of scientific inquiry around a fundamental structure of beliefs. It has no business in any science classroom," and a columnist for the Midland Morning Sun (September 22, 2006) opining that DeVos's position, though unsurprising, casts doubt on his "ability to properly engage science."