Evolution Bill Hits Florida

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Sean McDowell
Ben Stein's movie Expelled is starting to make an impact (expelledthemovie.com). The movie claims that educators and researchers are discriminated against if they question evolution. After screening the movie, a bill is now being pushed in the Florida House and Senate that would allow public school teachers to present evidence critical of Darwinian evolution without fear of reprisal. The controversial bill is known as The Academic Freedom Act, which seems appropriate for those who want genuine freedom within our classrooms.
The bill does not mandate the teaching of either creationism or intelligent design, but merely offers legal protection for teachers for offering objections and challenges to evolution in class. The Florida Family Policy Council sent a letter to Senators arguing for academic freedom.
"This bill gives the right and protection for teachers to present relevant and objective scientific information that is critical of the theory of evolution," says the letter. It claims the bill would strengthen the science curriculum through allowing "more information about evolution to take place." The clear benefit is that teachers could discuss evolution fairly without fear of being fired or harassed.
The department of education claims that no public school teacher or student has ever claimed they faced any punishment or discrimination relating to their views on evolution. But this is false. The well-known example of Roger Dehart is a case in point. DeHart taught high school biology for 23 years until he was re-assigned to teach earth science after introducing biological evidence critical of Darwinian evolution.
As a Christian who supports the work of intelligent design (I have a book coming out this fall with William Dembski entitled, Understanding Intelligent Design, Harvest House) I am pleased to see a bill of this sort being debated in the public arena. There is a lot of wisdom in approaching the issue of intelligent design/Darwinian evolution with an incremental approach such as this. This is a positive step in the right direction.
The debate over academic freedom is just heating up. With Expelled being released on April 18th, discussion over this topic is sure to increase substantially. Two things we can do about it: (1) Support Expelled when it comes out. Bring a church group, small group, friends, family, and whoever else you can get to attend the movie; (2) if you live in Florida, please contact your state Senate office and show your support for the bill.
Here is a helpful link to multiple articles in Florida papers about this story: http://www.flascience.org/wp/?cat=11.

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