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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Saying it wouldn't upset anyone except atheists, Sen. Chris Buttars proposes requiring public schools to teach divine design alongside evolution.
Divine design, sometimes called intelligent design, "doesn't preach religion," the West Jordan Republican said. "The only people who will be upset about this are atheists."
Supporters of intelligent design say nature is so complex that it could not have occurred without the guidance of a higher power.
Some school officials believe teaching divine design could violate the principle of separation of church and state.
"We don't teach religion in school," said Brett Moulding, curriculum director for the state Board of Education. "We don't believe this law would be in the best interest of public education."
"The divine design is a counter to the kids' belief that we all come from monkeys. Because we didn't," said Buttars, the retired director of a private school for troubled boys. "It shocks me that our schools are teaching evolution as fact."
Buttars will have the backing of the Eagle Forum, led by Gayle Ruzicka, who has independently pushed for divine design education in the schools.
"What an insult to teach children that they have evolved from a lower life to what they are now, and then they go home and learn that they are someone special, a child of God," Ruzicka said. "This is not right."
Scott Berryessa, president of the Jordan Education Association, said he more often gets complaints from students and families upset that divine design is mentioned in the classroom.
"If either theory is shortchanged on exposure in Utah schools it would probably be the theory of evolution," Berryessa said. "Teachers wish that our Legislature would stop micromanaging the process of education -- especially when it comes to issues as personal as these."
Rep. David Cox, R-Lehi and a school teacher, believes in evolution, but believes God started the evolutionary process.
He said people are too easily offended when religion is mentioned in public, but he doesn't like the state dictating to teachers.
"I'm conflicted," Cox said. "But I want the teachers to have the freedom to say there are different philosophies."
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)