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Two Anti-Evolution Bills Die In MO Legislature

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Flickr/RyanSomma
Evolution may be a divisive topic, but the fossil record provides compelling evidence for the theory. (Also an infinite supply of "Homo erectus"-derived chuckles.)
Whether it was blocking Medicaid expansion, comparing abortion to car-shopping or cutting taxes, Missouri's Republican legislators threw their weight around this year's session.

But amid the victories, two Republican-sponsored anti-evolution bills died quietly in committee. One would have given parents the option of withdrawing their children from classes that taught evolution, and the other instructed science teachers to acknowledge the "controversies" of the biological and chemical foundations of evolution.

"We're talking about a science class here," bemoans Charles Granger, a professor of biology and education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. "Teach whatever you want in a theology class, but in science you have to teach the observable facts."

See also: Anti-Evolution Bill Lets Parents Pull Students from Class, Gets Missouri on the Daily Show

Of course, the bills' sponsors publicly insisted their bills were meant to strengthen science education in Missouri by creating a balanced learning environment for other opinions about evolution.

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Rep. Rick Brattin
Representative Rick Brattin, whose bill would have empowered parents to choose what kind of science their kids learn, told Daily RFT in 2013 that he is a "science enthusiast" -- but the kind of science enthusiast who disagrees with the fundamental tenants of biology.

Rep. Andrew Koenig, who wants teachers to encourage discussion of the "strengths and weaknesses" of evolution, told KRCU that his bill would support academic freedom.

Both Brattin and Koenig claim their measures aren't pro-religion. Koenig's bill, for example, includes the line:

The provisions of the bill must not be construed as promoting any doctrine or discriminating for or against any belief or promoting discrimination for or against theistic or nontheistic religion

As for Brattin, he maintains that "there are more theories than one in science."

To UMSL's Granger, however, the seemingly reasonable arguments behind these bills can't conceal their sponsors' religious motivations.

"There are some people who are trying to protect their idea of origins," says Granger, who holds degrees in biology, zoology, botany, and education, among others. "That's impractical and impossible as far as anybody learning anything scientific."

For Granger, attempts to equate divine origin -- or "intelligent design" -- to scientific theories represents a blatant misunderstanding of the scientific method.

"A scientific theory is based on observations, it's based on an inductive reasoning process. Whereas the origins as stated in Genesis is a story and there's no earthly evidence for it that we can find. You're not going to scientifically prove or disprove it. You're not even going to be able to scientifically make any kind of statement about it. All you can say about it is that it's written in Genesis," he says.

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com

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17 comments
stanfordalan
stanfordalan

Any self-described "science enthusiast" should know the meaning of the word "theory" in science. It's not a hypothesis as used in common language. A scientific theory is the body of knowledge about a given topic.


I think Brattin needs to return to fifth grade science.


Actually, I believe that anyone who runs for political office should be required to have some knowledge of the topics they're talking about and voting on. It just makes sense to not make uninformed speeches or decisions. We require this in every other profession. Doctors must know about the human body. Hair stylists are trained and licensed. Car mechanics understand engines. Lawyers know about the law. Designers have experience with color and space and aesthetic. And the list goes on. Why should those who govern be so ignorant? (And, no, not everything requires formal education. Even a fast Google search yields more than these two seem to know. We live in an age when reliable knowledge is available 24/7, for free, and at our fingertips. One just has to have the drive to type the words into a browser.)

jaco1175
jaco1175 topcommenter

Rick Brattin is just advocating freedom, in this case the freedom to set your brain aside and use your ass instead. Fucking inbred retard.

Steve Linderman
Steve Linderman

Anthony, have you ever heard of fossils? These have been carbon dated and compared. You're trying to debate facts with opinions...and you're losing.

Anthony Wininger
Anthony Wininger

Speciation occurs when populations are seperated. Evolution occurs in one population. This process theoretically takes eons, or millions of years. It is not observable. So, science I got. An understanding of nature I possess. Ignorance, I say, YOU are overwhelmed with.

Andrew Kamadulski
Andrew Kamadulski

Colchicine induced speciation in plants, sympatric speciation in fruit flies. Not to mention all the neat things you can do with bacteria. Learn science before attempting to comment about it. You only make yourself look silly when you say such stupid things.

Andrew Kamadulski
Andrew Kamadulski

They think that when science conflicts with their mythology that the science must be wrong. How foolish.

Kuryn Kroutil
Kuryn Kroutil

Shout out to Dr. Granger! Teach theology in theology classes, teach science in science classes.

Erik Hoss
Erik Hoss

"Of course, the bills' sponsors publicly insisted their bills were meant to strengthen science education in Missouri by creating a balanced learning environment for other opinions about evolution." Opinion? I though science classes were about tangible things, not opinions?

Christopher Schmidt
Christopher Schmidt

Quite obvious the Repubs introducing these bills in the Missouri legislature haven't fully evolved yet either.

Sara Ivie-Trankler
Sara Ivie-Trankler

After last week's perversion of democracy in our state, this is a huge win. Now get them out of my uterus.

Alexandra Lugger
Alexandra Lugger

Having faith and believing in God is great, but in order to obtain proper education in this country you need to have knowledge of accepted scientific principles. God and science are not mutually exclusive. Besides, this world is boring without science :-D

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