Colorado School Axes Creationist Movie After Complaint

A complaint from the secularist organization Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has forced a Colorado public school to stop showing a creationist movie in a science class.

Carl Christianssen, a science teacher at Dakota Ridge High School, used the film "Unlocking the Mysteries of Life" as part of his curriculum. The film, which has been endorsed by the Campus Crusade for Christ, presents the supposed scientific basis of intelligent design. According to the film's website, the movie claims that natural selection alone cannot explain the origin of life and that there are gaps in Darwin's evolutionary theory. Additionally, cell biology has provided scientists evidence of intelligent design, or the idea that life was purposefully created by an intelligent entity and not by chance.

FFRF claimed in a statement that showing this film in a classroom is against the law, as creationism is not based in fact. Intelligent design, although appearing scientific, has been found by federal courts to not be a viable alternative to evolution and therefore, cannot be taught in schools. The New York Times reports that in 2005, a judge rejected teaching intelligent design in schools as the theory violates the First Amendment's commitment to keep public officials from endorsing any particular religion. The judge maintained the idea that intelligent design is not science, but "creationism relabeled." 

"Unscientific mumbo-jumbo like intelligent design has no place in a public school classroom,"  FFRF Co-President Dan Barker said in a statement. "It doesn't even bear a passing resemblance to reality, and so should not be taught to our students."

Superintendent Daniel McMinimee confirmed FFRF's allegations by saying that the movie was indeed shown during class time. 

"The district staff members develop [an] approved list of videos for curriculum content," McMinimee wrote in a letter to FFRF. "The video was not on our approved list, and, therefore, we have taken remedial actions designed to ensure that this video is not shown again."  

Sources: FFRF, The New York Times, Illustra Media / Photo credit: Allison Meier/Flickr

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