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Education Reporter

monkey Missouri Bill Would Require
Teaching Alternative to Evolution 
Texas Corrects Science Texts
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Intelligent Design theory would have to be taught in schools on an equal basis with evolutionary theory, according to a bill introduced in the Missouri legislature.

The Missouri Standard Science Act (H.B. 911), sponsored by Republican state Rep. Wayne Cooper, is the brainchild of Missourians for Excellence in Science Education, which cites an August 2001 Zogby poll showing that 78% of American adults support teaching "scientific evidence that points to an intelligent design of life."

"Im very excited about it," commented Lois Linton, vice president of Missouri Eagle Forum. "Its strictly from a scientific point of view."

The seven-page, technically written bill aims to avoid promoting the teaching of specific religious beliefs. It defines "biological intelligent design" as "a hypothesis that the complex form and function observed in biological structures are the result of intelligence" and "requires any proposed identity of that intelligence to be verifiable by present-day observation or experimentation."

More broadly, the bill mandates that all science taught in Missouri public elementary and secondary schools be "standard science," defined as "knowledge disclosed in a truthful and objective manner [about] the physical universe without any preconceived philosophical demands concerning origin or destiny . . . based upon verified empirical data obtained through observation and experimentation. . . ."

If scientific theory is taught, "the theory shall be identified as theory." The group that launched the idea describes the bill as "a truth in labeling law for the teaching of science." Stating that evolution should be identified as theory, the Missourians for Excellence in Science Education position paper asserts, "The commingling of factual data with speculation and theory is currently misleading and confusing to both teachers and students."

H.B. 911 is currently in the Missouri House education committee, chaired by Republican Rep. Jane Cunningham.

In Texas, which already has a law on the books requiring science texts to spell out strengths and weaknesses of all scientific theories discussed in them, the state board of education recently adopted 11 new biology textbooks in a compromise hat included a commitment to correct certain errors relating to evolutionary theory. While four of the 15 board members objected to how nine of the books portray the theory of evolution, they joined a unanimous vote on November 7 to approve all the texts with corrections.

"We were not trying to put creationism in. We were asking merely that the law be followed," explained board member Terri Leo. "There are no transitional species ever found" in the fossil record.

The errors to be corrected include the removal of old, inaccurate Haeckel diagrams comparing human embryos and those of other species in an attempt to demonstrate common ancestry under evolutionary theory. The revisions drew praise from the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which promotes the theory of intelligent design.

"This is real progress in the cause of science education reform," said institute president Bruce Chapman. "Finally fixing these errors is an important step to improving the accuracy of science education about evolution."

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