Textbook wars: APA resolution against intelligent design as science

Psychology rests out on the end of the science spectrum, closer to “social sciences” than other branches of hard, research science, and sometimes affiliated with the pseudo-scientific, even while debunking false claims, such as the studies of parapsychology. Were there scientific merit in claims of evidence for supernatural design, psychology would be a natural home for most of the claims and much of the research. If any branch of science were to endorse intelligent design as science, psychology would be a likely first branch.

But not even psychology accepts intelligent design as science.

The American Psychology Association’s (APA) Council of Representatives adopted a resolution earlier this month which says intelligent design is not science, and that teaching it as science undermines the quality of science education and science literacy. The entire press release, and the resolution are below the fold.

This should be a serious blow to advocates of intelligent design who had hoped to make some recovery after the devastating loss in federal court in Pennsylvania in 2005, in the next round of textbook approvals in large states like California, Florida and Texas. There is no comment yet from the Discovery Institute, the leading organization in the assault on teaching evolution in public schools.

Here is the APA press release in its entirety:

APA Press Release
March 1, 2007
Contact: Public Affairs Office
(202) 336-5700


WASHINGTON, DC—The Council of Representatives of the American Psychological Association (APA) has adopted a resolution opposing the teaching of intelligent design as scientific theory and stating that teaching intelligent design as science undermines the quality of both science education and science literacy.The APA Council released the following statement after adopting the resolution:“While we are respectful of religion and individuals’ right to their own religious beliefs, we also recognize that science and religion are separate and distinct. For a theory to be taught as science it must be testable, supported by empirical evidence and subject to disconfirmation. Thus, intelligent design lacks a basis in science.”In adopting the resolution, APA reaffirmed its 1982 Resolution on Creationism which stated that “creationism does not conform to the criteria of science.” In adopting the current resolution, APA joins a number of other science and education organizations that have taken similar positions including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology and the National Association of Biology Teachers.Full text of the 2007 APA Resolution on the Teaching of Intelligent Design can be found at: http://www.apa.org/releases/IntelligentDesign.pdf

Questions and Answers about APA’s position on intelligent design

Q: Why is APA taking a position on intelligent design?

A: APA’s position is on the teaching of intelligent design as scientific theory. The Association believes that teaching any concept as science requires empirical evidence and the ability to test the concept using the scientific method. The teaching of concepts as science in the absence of such criteria undermines all science education and the goals of science literacy.

APA’s position is that all students should develop an understanding of what constitutes good science and that the teaching of intelligent design as scientific theory weakens such understanding.

Q: What about the teaching of intelligent design as religious theory?

A: APA is very mindful that religion and science are two very different pursuits. We fully support any individual’s religious choices and beliefs.

The APA resolution speaks to the absence of scientific methods or evidence to support the teaching of intelligent design as science. It is not meant to question the legitimacy of intelligent design as a religious philosophy.

# # #

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world’s largest association of psychologists. APA’s membership includes more than 145,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.

Here is the text of the resolution from the APA Council of Representatives:

APA Council of Representatives Resolution Rejecting Intelligent Design as Scientific and Reaffirming Support for Evolutionary Theory

The science, practice, and application of psychology depend on science education and the culture of evidence and critical thought to which it contributes. Evolutionary theory is one of the most powerful elements of contemporary science. With due diligence in repudiating misappropriations of evolution to justify social injustices, scholars informed by evolutionary theory can unify scientific knowledge and serve public interests in invaluable ways. Proponents of Intelligent Design (ID) present ID theory as a viable alternative scientific explanation for the origins and diversity of life. However, ID has not withstood the scrutiny of scientific peer review of its empirical, conceptual, or epistemological bases and thus is not properly regarded as a scientific theory.

WHEREAS: Intelligent Design Theory poses a threat to the quality of science education in the United States, and recognizing the urgency pressed upon it by the endorsement of teaching ID alongside evolutionary theory by some political leaders; (Baker & Slevin,
2005; Santorum, 2005)

WHEREAS: Evolutionary theory is a major unifying force in contemporary science; (Gould, 1994; National Science Teachers Association, 2003; Wilson, 1998)

WHEREAS: The bases of continuity and variation that follow from evolutionary theory inform, explicitly or implicitly, the work of many psychologists with humans and other animals; (Caporael, 2001; Crawford, 1989; Gray, 1996)

WHEREAS: ID proponents dismiss contemporary evolutionary theory as scientifically invalid; (Discovery Institute, n.d., Wells, 2000/2001)

WHEREAS: ID proponents promulgate their theory as science in the absence of empirical evidence or, indeed, a means of testing it that passes scientific muster; (Young & Edis, 2004) and

WHEREAS: The teaching of ID as science would seriously undermine both the vitality of psychological science and the science literacy so essential to an informed, responsible citizenry; (Gray, 1996; Shtulman, & Weisberg, 2006; National Science Teachers Association, 2003)

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that APA applauds the consistent repudiation by federal courts of Creationism, Creation Science, and now ID as a part of science education; (Edwards v. Aguillard, 1987; Kitzmiller et al v. Dover Area School District, 2005; McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, 1982; Peloza v. Capstriano Unified School District, 1994; Webster v. New Lennox School District, 1990)

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the APA reaffirms earlier relevant resolutions (APA, 1982 & 1990) and joins other leading scholarly organizations including American Association for the Advancement of Science (2002), American Astronomical Society (2005), American Society of Agronomy (2005), Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology (2005), and National Association of Biology Teachers (2005) in opposing the teaching of Intelligent Design as a scientific theory.


  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (2002) Resolution on intelligent design theory.Retrieved May 9, 2006 from http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2002/1106id2.shtml
  • American Astronomical Society (2005) Statement on the teaching of evolution. Retrieved May 9, 2006 from http://www.aas.org/governance/council/resolutions.html
  • American Psychological Association. (1982). APA Council of Representatives resolution on creationism. Retrieved May 9, 2006 from http://www.apa.org/about/division/cpmscientific.html
  • American Psychological Association. (1990). APA Council of Representatives endorsement of American Association for the Advancement of Science resolution on the use of animals in research, testing, and education. Retrieved May 9, 2006 from http://www.apa.org/about/division/cpmscientific.html
  • American Society of Agronomy (2005). Position statement in support of teaching of evolution (2005). Retrieved May 9, 2006 from http://www.asa-cssa-sssa.org/pdf/intdesign_050815.pdf
  • Baker, P. & Slevin P. (2005, August 3). Bush remarks on “Intelligent design” theory fuels debate. The Washington Post. Retrieved May 10, 2006, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/02/AR2005080201686_pf.html
  • Caporael, L. R. (2001). Evolutionary psychology: Toward a unifying theory and a hybrid science. Annual Reviews of Psychology, 52, 607-628.
  • Crawford, C. B. (1989). The theory of evolution: Of what value to psychology? Journal of Comparative Psychology, 103(1), 4-22.
  • Discovery Institute (n.d.) A scientific dissent from Darwinism. Retrieved May 4, 2006 from http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/
  • Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578 (1987).
  • Gray, P. (1996). Incorporating evolutionary theory into the teaching of psychology. Teaching of Psychology, 23, 207-214.
  • Gould, S. (1994). The evolution of life on earth. Scientific American, 271, 85-91.
  • Lombrozo, T., Shtulman, A., Weisberg, M. (2006). The Intelligent Design controversy: Lessons from psychology and education. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 10(2), 56-57.
  • Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District. 400 F. Supp. 2d 707 (MD Pa. 2005).
  • McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, 529 F. Supp. 1255 (ED Ark. 1982).
  • National Association of Biology Teachers (2000). Statement on teaching evolution. Retrieved May 9, 2006 from http://www.nabt.org/sub/position_statements/evolution.asp
  • National Science Teachers Association. (2003). Position statement on the teaching of evolution. Retrieved May 4, 2006 from http://www.nsta.org/159&psid=10
  • Peloza v. Capistrano Unified School District, 37 F.3d 517 (9th Cir. 1994).
  • Santorum, R. (2005). Teaching the controversy. Retrieved May 10, 2006 from http://santorum.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAct…egion_id=0&Issue_id=0&CFID=1399365&CFTOKEN=28056303
  • Webster v. New Lennox School District #122, 917 F.2d 1003 (7th Cir. 1990).
  • Wells, J. (2000/2001) Survival of the fakest. The American Spectator, Dec 2000/Jan 2001.
  • Wilson, E. O. (1998). Consilience: The unity of knowledge. New York: Knopf.
  • Young, M., & Edis, T. (Eds.) (2004). Why intelligent design fails: A scientific critique of the new reactionism. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Please play nice in the Bathtub -- splash no soap in anyone's eyes. While your e-mail will not show with comments, note that it is our policy not to allow false e-mail addresses. Comments with non-working e-mail addresses may be deleted.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: