The Evolution News and Views blog from the Discovery Institute has put out a series of posts bragging about the success of academic freedom legislation. They seem to think that this is some big win for the side of ID (and irrationality). Well, they are right. The newest strategy of ID proponents seems to attack evolutionary theory by pointing out its supposed flaws and weaknesses. ID of course can then swoop on in and become the alternate “theory”. This is exactly what these bills aim to accomplish which can be found here.
One of the provisions of the bill is that it should not be
construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.
This is exactly the reason these bills have been called stealth pro-ID bills. ID is not science; it is religion. However, it does masquerade as science allowing it to be taught in schools as science, which is why it is so dangerous. Furthermore, just because the bill says that it is not meant to be for any particular religion, or subset of religion, doesn’t mean that the teachers themselves won’t take advantage to spread their particular brand. I can remember several teachers in school who ignored the standard curriculum and textbook in favor of their own material.
Getting back to the construed language, here is what Sen. Ben Nevers, who introduced the bill, said when discussing why he proposed the bill:
They (The Louisiana Family Forum) believe that scientific data related to creationism should be discussed when dealing with Darwin’s theory. This would allow the discussion of scientific facts,” Nevers said. “I feel the students should know there are weaknesses and strengths in both scientific arguments.
As we all know, creationism is a religious doctrine. Therefore, the that shalt not construe language is simply BS.
The bill aims to allow teachers to use alternative materials as teaching aids when discussing controversial subjects, including evolution. I am not really too sure what other science subjects are controversial, but I can make a few guesses though. Geology: the determination of the age of various fossils, including transition fossils. Astronomy: the red-shifted spectra of stars and galaxies that show the universe is ~13.7 billion years old. But why stop at science? History: the holocaust, crusades, slavery, etc. All of these subjects could be deemed controversial.
I find it odd that this type of bill, chiefly aimed against evolution, would be proposed in the face of more and more evidence arising for evolution. Within the last two years, we have seen the discovery of a key transition fossil (Tiktaalik), the observation of phenotypic changes in isolated lizard populations, and most recently, the spontaneous ability to metabolize a new carbon source in E. coli. At the same time, no real evidence has been produced in favor of ID/creation or evidence against evolution. This sort of absurdity is like if there was a murder investigation ongoing and new pieces of evidence had been appearing everyday to point to a particular person, but the detectives decide to focus on a person that has no motive and no evidence against them.
This bill, and others like it are dangerous because they have the possibility of removing any real academic standards. Education should be limited to the facts and not subject to interpretation or by any religious views.