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The Beacon sheds light on HB 1227

The St. Louis Beacon (January 19, 2012) shed light on Missouri's House Bill 1227, which if enacted would require "intelligent design" to be taught alongside evolution in the state's public schools. The sponsor of the bill, Rick Brattin (R-District 124), told the Beacon, "We're trying to say intelligent design is a very viable theory, much like evolution." Both he and his fellow sponsor Sue Allen (R-District 92) stressed that in their view evolution was just a theory.

But Charles Granger, a professor of biology of the University of Missouri, St. Louis, replied, "I don't know of any practicing biologist who has actually studied evolution who believes that evolution is not the best explanation ... I don't think anybody argues against the general idea. What they do argue about is mechanisms, about how it can happen faster or slower. But as far as the general principles, I don't know of anybody who has published anything negative in a peer-reviewed journal."

As for Brattin and Allen's contention that evolution is just a theory and therefore ought to be open to challenge in the classroom, NCSE's deputy director Glenn Branch explained that as scientists use the word, "a theory is not a hunch or conjecture. It is a systematic explanation." He added, "In many ways, theories are more important than facts. Facts are isolated. If you want to make sense of the natural world, you need to have systematic explanations."

HB 911 and HB 1722, ancestors of HB 1227, died in 2004, and Allen acknowledged that HB 1227 is not likely to be passed. Asked why such bills are introduced, Granger speculated, "They can pull out this bill and show it to their constituents and say see, my name is on this. I tried." Unmentioned in the Beacon's article was Missouri's House Bill 1276, a version of the "academic freedom" antievolution bill, of which Brattin and Allen are also sponsors.