State Sen. Stephen Wise of Jacksonville announced through an article in the Florida Times Union that he plans to file a bill this legislative session to require evolution to be balanced with a discussion of intelligent design. Yes, require. Not just allow, but to require. Of course, we have to wait for the bill to be filed so we can see the actual language. Sometimes news accounts tweak what people say just a little bit, but then the whole meaning changes. Sometimes the person interviewed isn’t clear enough when talking to reporters.
Perhaps the bill won’t require the teaching of intelligent design. But if it does, I have to wonder if Sen. Wise has all of his marbles. A similar move was made in Pennsylvania. It didn’t go well for the intelligent design folks at all. They lost in a federal court case. The local school district was stuck with a million dollar legal bill. School board members were voted out of office. Intelligent design as a challenge to evolution went down in flames because of its clearly religious roots and purpose.
Wise doesn’t seem to know this, or if he does, he doesn’t understand. Here’s a quote of his from the story:
Wise said that if the Legislature passes the bill, he wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a legal challenge.
“You just never know. They use the courts all the time. I guess if they have enough money they can get it in the courts,” he said. “Someplace along the line you’ve got to be able to make a value judgment of what it is you think is the appropriate thing.”
No, Sen. Wise, this is not about getting enough money to get it in the courts. That was never a problem. There were plenty of folks willing to take on this case pro bono. The bill comes when the smoke clears at the end, and the loser gets stuck with it. The loss was so devastating for the Pennsylvania school district and the concept of intelligent design, that intelligent design stands little to no chance of surviving another court battle.
Of course, I’ve been wrong plenty of times before. Perhaps the case will be presided over by an ultra-conservative judge. Perhaps the legal team defending intelligent design will be a bit more competent than the folks who handled the job in Pennsylvania. Maybe the Flying Spaghetti Monster will intervene on their behalf. You just never know. But the evidence showing intelligent design is just the latest evolution of creationism is overwhelming. That hurdle is so high that the Discovery Institute itself prefers the “teach the controversy” academic freedom smelly crap over mandating intelligent design.
Take a look at Wise’s quote again: “you’ve got to be able to make a value judgment”. The anti-evolution folks just can’t resist, even when they know the religion angle is the the stone that sinks them every time. You’re wrong again, Sen. Wise. It’s not about making value judgments. It’s about teaching science, and the Pennsylvania case determined without a doubt that intelligent design is devoid of any real science.
Last year when the Florida legislature was going to tackle the deceptively-named “academic freedom” bills I predicted they would flounder. I was wrong. The bills passed both houses and only failed at the very end of the session because there were two versions that couldn’t be reconciled. This time around, the situation looks like it will be completely different. If Sen. Wise does introduce an intelligent design bill, my prediction is that the bill(s) won’t survive intact. Take a look at what happened when the Discovery Institute stumbled into Florida last year here and here. The media beat them to a pulp over intelligent design. Unless the Florida legislature is filled with complete idiots (and many people probably think it is), intelligent design won’t survive. The bills may instead morph into “academic freedom” before the session is over.
It’s nice to see that Florida Citizens for Science members and supporters got significant ink in the story. Paul Cottle, David Campbell, and I were all quoted.
Sen. Wise has now fired the opening shot. It’s now time to respond. Contact your representatives and senators. Call them. Write them. Visit them. Educate them. Don’t send hate mail to Sen. Wise. Instead, tell your own representatives and senators how worried you are about education and money. Tell them you are scared that what happened in Pennsylvania will happen here. In today’s horrible economic times, no one can afford a million dollar legal bill.
What’s important here is that you DO SOMETHING. Don’t sit on the sideline and think that there are plenty of other people to take on this fight. There are never enough people. Do something NOW. Don’t wait until the bill is already working its way through the system. Let your voice be heard right now. Florida Citizens for Science will create materials and talking points you can use, but don’t wait around on us. As a matter of fact, if you are not already a member, join up and help us out.