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Textbook Disclaimer Bill Proposed

On February 3 this year's session of the Oklahoma state legislature will open. Among the bills scheduled to be introduced at that time is House Bill 1504, sponsored by Rep. Bill Graves. This bill would require an evolution disclaimer in every textbook which discusses the subject.

Similar bills have been introduced in Oklahoma in the past, but failed to pass. The complete text of the bill, available on the Oklahoma legislature's website, reads as follows:

BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA:
SECTION 1. NEW LAW A new section of law to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes as Section 16-121.1 of Title 70, unless there is created a duplication in numbering, reads as follows:
A. All textbooks used by school districts in the state in which evolution is discussed shall include the following disclaimer:
"This textbook discusses evolution, a controversial theory which some scientists present as scientific explanation for the origin of living things, such as plants and humans. No one was present when life first appeared on earth. Therefore, any statement about life’s origins should be considered as theory, not fact. The word evolution may refer to many types of changes. Evolution describes changes that occur within a species, for example, white moths may evolve into gray moths. This process is microevolution which can be observed and described as fact. Evolution may also refer to the change of one living thing to another, such as reptiles into birds. This process, called macroevolution has never been observed and should be considered a theory. Evolution also refers to the unproven belief that random, undirected forces produced a world of living things. There are many unanswered questions about the origin of life which are not mentioned in your textbook, including: Why did the major groups of animals suddenly appear in the fossil record, known as the Cambrian Explosion? Why have no new major groups of living things appeared in the fossil record in a long time? Why do major groups of plants and animals have no transitional forms in the fossil record? How did you and all living things come to possess such a complete and complex set of instructions for building a living body? Study hard and keep an open mind. Someday you may contribute to the theories of how living things appeared on earth."
B. The State Textbook Committee shall determine which textbooks shall include the disclaimer set forth in subsection A of this section. If the disclaimer is not printed in the textbook by the publisher, the State Textbook Committee shall be responsible for ensuring that the disclaimer is inserted into any textbook authorized for use in public schools of Oklahoma.
SECTION 2. This act shall become effective July 1, 2003.
SECTION 3. It being immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety, an emergency is hereby declared to exist, by reason whereof this act shall take effect and be in full force from and after its passage and approval.