You’ve got to be kidding me …

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.

15 Responses to “You’ve got to be kidding me …”

  1. S.Scott Says:

    Disgusting. The economy is in the s*** hole – with education SERIOUSLY hurting, and this idiot dentist thinks he knows better than real scientists and science educators what ought to be taught in science class.

    At least he made his intentions clear …

    Intelligent Design – Biology.
    How long before he denies it?

  2. PatrickHenry Says:

    At the risk of appearing to be another voice on the internet who thinks he has the magic bullet that can kill legislation like this, permit me to link to what I strongly believe is the solution: The Curmudgeon’s Amendment.

    This should work. All that’s needed is for someone to introduce that amendment when the bill is proposed. It should be done in each house of the legislature. Surely there are a few people in Tallahassee who would be willing to do this.

  3. James F Says:

    Brandon,

    Wise tripped with his first step. Unlike Ronda Storms, he’s made the intent of this legislation very clear. If it really comes to a bill requiring ID to be taught (a bit tough because ID lacks a body of research), the education committee may actually have a clear idea of what they’re voting on.

    If you want to feel a little better, come on down and join this Facebook group:
    Can we find 200,000 by Feb 12 to wish Darwin a happy 200th birthday? They’re over 111,000 so far.

  4. Jam Says:

    Well look at the bright side; smart science teachers can make kids understand why ID isn’t science.

    Requiring the discussion wastes valuable time which could be spent teaching critical thinking and scientific method, but on the other hand it can be used to teach critical thinking and scientific method and how Intelligent Design is neither.

  5. Brandon Haught Says:

    The news article says that Rep. Hays was a guest speaker at Liberty University. Here is a link about the event and here is another page.

    No mention of Hays on either page.

  6. thadpeters Says:

    My reply:

    Dear Rep. Hasner:

    I am writing you this letter because I am very concerned about State Sen. Stephen Wise of Jacksonville who 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”.

    I feel that if you allow this to happen it would embarrass the people of the State of Florida, inevitably cost our Department of Education money in lawsuits
    that will follow, and even worse, if successful damage the chances of our students to compete in an increasing competitive and more demanding scientific
    workplace and world.

    Is Mr. Wise so unwise as not to be unaware of the high hurdle that “Kitzmiller vs Dover” has put upon bills such as these? Does Florida now need to retread the path of “Breathtaking Inanity” as Judge Jones called it, to placate this tireless religious lobby?

    Having failed at using words like “Creation Science” then “Intelligent Design” to deceive, It now attempts to misuse the words ‘”Balance and “Academic Freedom” to disguise their true motive, which is not to open young minds but to empty them.

    Please urge your colleagues to reject this cynicism in the name of responsible education in Florida.

    Respectfully

  7. Orlando_Atheist Says:

    Here we go again. The Creos just never learn do they?

  8. otakursed Says:

    I swear, Hitchens had it right about religion poisoning everything. If it’s not education, it’s family planning, or freedom of speech, or freedom of the press, or etc. I’d thought we’d taken a few steps out of the mire with both going blue and the state supreme court declaring the anti-gay bill unconstitutional, but now we’ve the Discovery Institute trying to shove their brainwashing propaganda into the curriculum again. How many times can their “science” be proven to be fiction until we can conclude they, and their spokespeople, are incapable of holding government posts? Isn’t this the measure of insanity?!?

  9. Green Earth Says:

    SUPER! uggg!
    Hopefully (as already mentioned) the fact that this is more “in your face” about it’s actual intentions, as opposed to Storms’ bill last year which did not include the words Intelligent Design (I’m sure you remember the debates, she refused to even say the words despite Sen Geller’s efforts), it will be easier to fight. We’ll see……..

  10. S.Scott Says:

    GE, come baaaaack!! :-( We miss you!

  11. Green Earth Says:

    Thanks! This whole up north winter thing is crazy! I’m going to be in FL over semester break, Feb 21-28, I’d like to try to make it to one of the Ham story telling sessions.

    I always send out updates about anti-science legislation to my FL friends/family (and refer them to this site).

  12. George Oertel Says:

    Write letters to the Newspapers. All our legislators read the newspapers. Letters sent to them are catagorized by bean counters. They very rarely read them all.

  13. Albert Yome Says:

    great!

    Once the Bill is passed I shall campaign for the laws of gravity to be repealed.

    Look, there’s the Sun orbiting the Earth again.

  14. Dr. William Love Says:

    For all concerned about intelligent design vs evolution, Dr Michael Shermer nationally known skeptic, monthly columnist with Scientific American, will be on stage with Reasons To Believe President and Vice President Dr. Hugh Ross (Astronomer) and Dr. Fuzz Rana (Biochemist). The site will be University of North Florida Lazzara Theatre, 7:00 pm Wednesday Feb 25th,
    2009. Come watch the sparks fly. Forward this to a friend.

    Ticket ($10) and parking ($3) information at University Ticket Office
    904 620-2878

  15. Lubbockgay Says:

    I’m surprised the religious folks don’t require a math teacher to couch his tutorials with “Isn’t so amazing how GOD created the world along Euclidean and Newtonian lines, and that calculus can be used to explain all relative motion?”