A newly-proposed Missouri bill pushes the teaching of intelligent design, the idea that life was created in its present form by a form of intelligence, at all levels of public education, including public universities.
If passed, House Bill 291 will require teachers to allow “equal treatment” for curriculum on evolution and intelligent design.
Intelligent design is the theory that matter, the various forms of life and the world were created by a designing intelligence. The validity of teaching intelligent design as part of the scientific theory is the argument at hand.
According to the scientific method, there must be measurable and testable material to support an idea. Jeffry Thornsberry, associate professor in the biology department, said intelligent design lacks the research and data to be defined as science.
Rick Bratton, Republican house representative and sponsor of the bill, disagrees.
Bratton said a great amount of intelligent design research exists but is not popular because those researchers were “ridiculed and kicked out of the science community.”
“There is plenty of evidence to consider intelligent design as a theory,” Bratton said. “I find it laughable that (evolutionists) want to laugh at (intelligent design), but they can’t back up their own theory that we went from nothing to something. There’s no evidence for that.”
Thornsberry said he believes the bill attempts to reduce the teaching of a theory that denies religion. Thornsberry said the bill is a “back door way of eliminating our discussion of evolution in its entirety.”
Bratton denies the bill contains any religious motive and in turn refers to evolution as “just as faith-based as intelligent design.
“Because of the atheist outlook that’s enshrined in the theory of evolution, it’s a religion of itself,” Bratton said. “…Is that what we’re teaching at school, a religion of no god?”
The passing of the bill could have consequences for the science community. Thornsberry said he believes many faculty members at Northwest would refuse to comply with the new standards.
“Certainly at the levels of higher educations, they would be facing a major outbreak of civil disobedience on the part of faculty members,” Thornsberry said. “Faculty would perceive this essentially as a slap in the face to the scientific process.”
Bratton said the committee has until Aug. 28, 2014, to vote to hear the bill.