Saturday, March 15, 2008

FL Acacdemic Freedom Law

I heard today that there is a bill in Florida that would ensure academic freedom for students and teacher who bring up contrary opinions to Darwinian evolution. I was doing some research on the web about it and came across this post. If anyone knows where I can read the text of the bill myself, I would love to do so.

Florida Darwinists Can’t Get Story Straight about Opposition to Academic Freedom Act
Darwinists in Florida are in a tizzy trying to figure out why they oppose the proposed Academic Freedom Act in their state. Sometimes they claim the act isn’t needed because no one who questions Darwin is being denied academic freedom. Other times they insist the act should be rejected because academic freedom is nothing but
“smelly crap.” Still other times, they insist the act is bad because it supposedly authorizes the teaching of religion in science class, even though the text of the act clearly says the exact opposite (“This section shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.”)

Many times, of course, Darwinists simply declare that no scientific evidence challenging Darwinism exists for academic freedom to protect. But in an
article Wednesday in the Miami Herald, even pro-Darwin reporter Marc Caputo had to concede that “indeed, natural selection is under active challenge from evolutionary-developmental biologists, who say multicellular organisms can dynamically change form under certain environmental conditions, producing major evolutionary jumps.” In point of fact, there are lots of scientific criticisms of Neo-Darwinism made by credentialed scientists. Yet teachers and scientists around the country have been harassed and fired for discussing them. That’s the situation the Academic Freedom Act is designed to remedy.

The Florida Darwinists’ latest gambit to scuttle the bill is to refocus the debate on intelligent design. This was the main point of Caputo’s article. Misrepresenting the words of Casey Luskin at Wednesday's press conferences, Caputo insinuates that the point of the Academic Freedom Act is to push intelligent design, despite the fact that the bill doesn’t even mention the term. The bill simply protects the right “to objectively present scientific information relevant to the full range of scientific views regarding biological and chemical evolution in connection.” Does this language protect information about intelligent design? The bill does not decide that question.
Right now, as Luskin correctly pointed out at the press conference, there is a debate raging over whether intelligent design is science. Scientists and philosophers who support ID certainly think it is scientific in precisely the same way Darwinism is scientific. But the proposed Academic Freedom Act does not wade into the design debate one way or another. If and when ID supporters are able to win the debate over whether ID science, then by definition any scientific information about it that pertains to biological or chemical evolution would be protected—just like any other scientific information relevant to those topics. But, again, the bill doesn’t decide the debate over whether ID is science. It leaves that debate alone.

So who would decide what is scientific under the bill?

The same people who currently must make that determination: science teachers themselves in consultation with their science curriculum staff and their school boards. And if they happen to promote something that isn’t science, we can be sure that groups like the ACLU will be ready to police their activities—just like they do now.

Ironically, the only reason Florida Darwinists would have to fear that this bill might protect intelligent design somewhere down the road is if they already have concluded they cannot win the debate over whether ID is science. Indeed, by insisting that intelligent design must be covered by the bill, Darwinists in Florida seem to have admitted that despite their rhetoric, they really believe that intelligent design is science after all! And that may be the most telling admission in the entire debate.

Posted by John West on March 14, 2008 5:38 AM

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