Missouri GOP Rep. Rick Brattin still doesn’t buy that whole evolution thing. Indeed, Brattin is the latest politician to seek to make science conform to religious beliefs by introducing bills that would force creationism into science classes and make “intelligent design” theories equivalent to evolution as a scientific subject. Brattin has proclaimed in this district that he would work to stop the “slow erosion of our God ordained liberties and freedoms.” That apparently begins by ordering “God-ordained” science for Missouri children. By the way, Missouri is already ranked 41st out of 50 states in school quality. Brattin appears committed to beating South Dakota for the distinction of the worst school system in the nation. Students will now receive education in the three rs: reading, ‘riting, and religion.
House Bill 291 defines biological evolution as a “philosophy” that “denies the operation of any intelligence, supernatural event, God or theistic figure in the initial or subsequent development of life.” It further states “The origin of life on earth is inferred to be the result of intelligence directed design and construction. There are no plausible mechanisms or present-day experiments to prove the naturalistic origin of the first independent living organism.”
The law dictates a religious based understanding of science, including “Intelligence-directed action is necessary to exceed the limits of natural species change, which is a combination of autogenous species change and environmental effected species change. Multi-generation breeding experiments illustrate the limits of natural species change and its inadequacy for developing required genetic information found in dissimilar species.”
The rather convoluted and pseudo-sciencific language then states:
(3) If scientific theory is taught, the theory shall be identified as theory when taught orally or in writing. Empirical data and conjecture may be presented to support taught theory where considered instructive. As used in this subsection, the term “theory” shall mean theory or hypothesis;
(a) If a scientific theory concerning origin or destiny is taught without the teaching of opposing scientific theory, the taught theory may be criticized by the teaching of conflicting empirical data where considered instructive;
(b) If scientific theory concerning biological origin is taught in a course of study, biological evolution and biological intelligent design shall be taught. Other scientific theory or theories of origin may be taught. If biological intelligent design is taught, any proposed identity of the intelligence responsible for earth’s biology shall be verifiable by present-day observation or experimentation and teachers shall not question, survey, or otherwise influence student belief in a nonverifiable identity within a science course;
(c) If scientific theory concerning biological origin is taught in a textbook, the textbook shall give equal treatment to biological evolution and biological intelligent design. Other scientific theory or theories of origin may be taught.
The tortured language is an effort to avoid the word “creationism” and to dress up religious beliefs as scientific theory while treating evolution as a philosophy.
The bill would recreate “standard science” in a more faith-based image and guarantee Missouri will fall further in its educational rankings. What is clear is that the drafters may be the best argument against evidence of evolution. The law is poorly crafted and both intellectually and politically dishonest. It is little more than to legislate that science teachers will legitimate religious views despite the overwhelming support for the fact of evolution.
Bratten has only a high school degree and science does not appear to have been his favorite subject. However, his bio assures voters that “He and his kids are devoted Christians and members of the Strasburg Baptist Church.”