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Mo. House bill proposes introduction of creationism into public schools

Nationwide, Missouri's bill is the fourth attempt to require creationism in schools.

Feb. 5, 2013

A new bill in the Missouri House of Representatives outlines that if biological evolution is to be taught in public schools, then biological intelligent design is to be given equal treatment.

House Bill 1227, which was introduced by Rep. Rick Brattin, R-Osage Beach, is this year’s fourth attempt at including creationism in public school curriculum. The other three bills were introduced in Indiana and New Hampshire, according to the National Center for Science Education.

The legislation, also known as the “Missouri Standard Science Act” defines various terms, such as “analogous naturalistic process,” “biological evolution” and “biological intelligent design.”

HB 1227 directs teachers to give equal time addressing both evolution and creationism in the classroom. It will require new textbooks ordered after the implementation of the law be manufactured illustrating both evolution and creationism in an equal amount of pages. However, any public schools that continue to use previous textbooks will not be penalized.

The bill also mandates to not impose or influence student belief in regards to human origins when teaching both theories.

Columbia Public Schools spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark referred to the school district’s standards in reference to the proposed bill.

“There is a fine line between teaching scientific theory and religious teachings,” Baumstark said. ”These standards are becoming common core standards that all states have to adhere by.”

With the proposition of the bill, the long-held idea of the separation of church and state is being called into question.

Rev. Amy Gearhart, the senior pastor at the Missouri United Methodist Church, said the Methodist Christian denomination supports the separation of church and state.

“Too often, a proposed bill … is an attempt to ‘Get God back into the schools,’ when in fact, God has never left the schools,” Gearhart said. “God is in the teachers and teaching and the students and learning.”

Gearhart said Christian teachings are better left out of the classroom.

“Our Christian faith is to be taught in the home and church so that Christians can interact with people of all races, faiths and creeds in the public schools and witness to a way of compassion, generosity and justice,” Gearhart said.

HB 1227 also requires the same procedures outlined for Missouri public school system be carried out by any introductory science course at a public institution of higher learning.

Dr. Karthik Panchanathan, an MU professor of anthropology, said for intelligent design to be taught in a classroom, it would need to have a more supported hypothesis.

“As a scientist, I'm troubled by attempts to undermine science with appeals to religion,” Panchanathan said. “Life on earth may well have been ‘intelligently designed.’ I see no evidence of this, but that doesn't mean it's not true.”

If this bill were to pass, it could affect introductory level science classes at MU.

“To me, claims that cannot be substantiated with evidence (like intelligent design), have no place in a science class,” Panchanathan said.

Similar legislation has been proposed before, but to no avail. This bill reads almost verbatim to a previous bill proposed in 2003.

The sponsors were unavailable to comment.

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Article comments

Feb. 5, 2013 at 6:16 a.m.

Paul Burnett: The utter scientific illiteracy of the pseudoscience of intelligent design creationism has no place in the science classroom. It does have a place in the history (of failures) classroom or in classes where (failed) philosophy or psychology are discussed. Legislators should review the Dover Trial article in Wikipedia before voting on this latest attempt by the fundagelicals to get their Dark Ages ignorance taught in public schools.

Feb. 5, 2013 at 6:43 a.m.

theot58: I support HB1227. The standard evolutionary tactic of framing the battle as science against religion is baloney. The real battle is between good science and Darwinism. When Darwinian/Macro evolution is critically scrutinised - it crumbles. In the science classroom, the scientific method should prevail. If the scientific evidence points to an intelligent designer (as I believe it does) why should students be prevented from exploring it?

Feb. 5, 2013 at 12:55 p.m.

Dr. GS Hurd: This is a well presented article. I strongly recommend reading the actual text of the proposed law. It is riddled with false statements regarding well established science, and make a joke of the Constitution. One example is this gem: "(i) The lack of significant transitional forms between diverse species existing today 64 and in the fossil record implies all original species were completed at inception rather than 65 by a step-by-step development from other species."

Feb. 5, 2013 at 5:20 p.m.

Bryce Johnson: Sure...let them include it in the curriculum, but not as a requirement of a science course. It is not science. It is religion/philosophy and therefore that is where it should be taught. Science is based on the ability to defend an idea/hypothesis with evidence and to conduct experiments based on that. Intelligent design has no leg to stand on in this department. As I said, they should be able to teach it, but both evolution and "intelligent design" have its place, but they don't both belong in a science course.

Feb. 20, 2013 at 4:57 p.m.

Will F: Mr Brattin, Congratulations. Your brain is now officially made out of cement. You've reached creationism nirvana. You are no fan of science. If you were you'd know creationism is attacks on science and reason with no science of its own. But, you don't so, again congrats. Impressive intellectual inventory indeed. :)

Feb. 20, 2013 at 4:59 p.m.

Will: Theot, the science community, the facts, the courts and mainstream chuirches disagree with your continual ridiculous claims. Take your medication.

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