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Amarillo College nixes intelligent design class

"Amarillo College nixes intelligent design class" Continued...

ID is an evidence-based theory, however. And even if a class were to discuss religion, that’s not unusual. Amarillo College, supported by state and local funds, offers other courses on religion such as “Life of Christ” and “The Old Testament.”

As a compromise, Green suggested to Matney that the college allow “this Stan guy and the Freethought guy [to] have a public debate on our campus, called Evolution vs. Intelligent Design.”

Asked whether worries about separation of church and state were behind the cancellation, Matney repeated that his decision was based on format, not topic. “I certainly believe in a free discussion,” he said, adding that Amarillo College wants its continuing education classes to be held in a civil and positive climate. “I just think that the issue itself is a passionate issue, it's a controversial issue. … We decided, ‘Let’s find the proper format.’”

At least one student who had registered for the class complained in an email to Matney that he and a fellow classmate were “sadly disappointed in the cancellation; but even more in the reason given. It shows a lack in AC’s will to pursue enlightenment or a fear of institutional political incorrectness.”

In an Aug. 22 email to the board of regents, Matney explained his reasoning in more detail. “A gentleman,” he wrote in a reference to Farren, had been “disturbed by the class and indicated his intent to enroll students who might potentially create a disruptive environment in the classroom—a ‘protest’ if you will. It appeared to us that there would be a significant chance of conflict and disruption in this environment.”

Matney continued, “After considerable deliberation, we concluded that because … this issue is ‘emotionally charged,’ and because there appears to be two ‘sides’ who feel strongly about the issue, we could not guarantee a positive learning experience for our students enrolled in these classes.”

Daniel James Devine
Daniel James Devine

Daniel is a reporter for WORLD who covers science, technology, and other topics in the Midwest from his home base in Indiana. Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanJamDevine.

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