The legislation to which our Darwin Day speaker, Dr. George Johnson, referred recently is House Bill 1266, the “Missouri Science Education Act.”Â The text of the bill is here, and you can listen to Dr. Johnson’s excellent talk here.
It’s hard to see at a first reading what could be controversial about the bill–it doesn’t have the words “creationism” or “intelligent design” anywhere in it. It just tells teachers to “separate” “verified empirical data” from that which only appears to be.Â Dr. Johnson explained how recent DNA evidence is verified empirical data that proves the theory of evolution. But I’m doubtful that will end the threat of such bills. I’ve heard some creationists say that evolution can never be considered a fact, because we can’t see humans evolve from lower forms of life with our own eyes–because it happened in the past.Â I know Missouri is the “Show Me” state, but it is taking the thing too far to undermine the teaching of empirically verified theories because no one alive today actually witnessed them in action.Â If we follow that logic, teachers should also feel free to present “alternatives” to anything that happens too far away or too small to see with the naked eye: astronomy, cosmology, quantum physics, molecular biology. Perhaps the Flying Spaghetti Monster is responsible for more than we thought. . . .
I don’t know the current state of HB 1266, but it’s not dead.Â Let me know if you have current information on the bill, and if you have an opinion on it one way or another, let your MO representative know.Â It can be easy for bills without the words “intelligent design” to fly below the radar.