Florida Legislature Debates Teaching Evolution Alternatives

May 01, 2008 07:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Proposed legislation in Florida would require public schools to teach alternative theories of evolution. Critics feel it’s a veiled attempt to teach religion.

30-Second Summary

According to NPR, “Florida’s House and Senate have passed bills that would allow—or require—teachers to present alternative theories of how life evolved.” An agreement on the exact wording must be reached by May 2, 2008, when Florida’s legislature adjourns.

Some legislators question the motives behind the bill, fearing that the separation between church and state could be eroded if the bill should pass as is.

“Let’s be real clear on what it is that we’re actually voting about,” said Rep. Franklin Sands. “We’re voting about the separation of church and state. We’re voting about teaching religion in the schools. You can couch it any way you want.”

Other Florida lawmakers, including Rep. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, are adamantly in favor of “critical analysis” of evolution in public school classrooms. “What this bill does is tell the teacher, go ahead and teach the theory of evolution and make sure your students … know that it is only a theory, it is not gospel law,” he said.

Critics worry that if the proposed legislation goes through, students will be presented with an unconstitutional merging of religion and science, particularly the theory of Intelligent Design. According to ABC News, Florida did not include the words “scientific theory of evolution” in its science teaching standards until February 2008. However, the phrase “scientific theory” still upsets some.

Headline Links: Evolution debate in Florida schools

Background Link: The “scientific theory” of evolution

Opinion & Analysis: Handling “the biggest question”

Related Topics: The Discovery Institute and Intelligent Design


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