What's it all about?
Actor-economist-political adviser-celeb Ben Stein made his pitch today in Tallahassee for SB 2692/HB 1483 - the "Academic Freedom" bill on the teaching of biological origins. It's not about dogma, the Palm Beach Post quotes him as saying. "It's about freedom of speech."
The ACLU of Florida would beg to differ.
After Stein's press conference, ACLU exec director Howard Simon released his own statement on the subject matter. Simon says it's about science, and what should be taught in the science classroom:
The presumption of this bill is that all you have to do to teach something in a science class is to call it science. Simply saying something is science does not make it so and calling Intelligent Design science, does not make is science. Intelligent Design relies on the assertion that there is a supernatural creator, which inherently precludes it from being scientific, as the ACLU proved in our landmark case in Dover, PA.
The issue is not whether theories such as Intelligent Design can be taught in our public schools, but in what setting. Controversies about theories that rely on a supernatural explanation may be suitable in a political science or literature class, but to be included in a science class it must be a theory that is scientifically verifiable. Allowing schools to masquerade Intelligent Design as science would be a blunder and an embarrassment for the Florida Legislature. The courts have spoken on this issue and the message was clear: Intelligent Design, because it relies on a supernatural power, is a religious view not a scientific view.
The State Board of Education recently added evolution to the science curriculum, calling it a "scientific theory" that undergirds much of biology. Critics see the bill as an attempt to get from lawmakers what they couldn't get from the State Board, namely, an entry point for creationism and/or Intelligent Design into the curriculum. The bills have yet to progress in either house of the Legislature.
Some members will be viewing Stein's documentary on the topic this evening.