To Mark This National Day of Reason . . .

1 05 2008

Florida’s academic freedom bill is dead; long live academic freedom! 😉

I heard the good news on local public radio coverage of the end of session. Here’s the Discovery Institute’s version, poor things, bet they’re cross:

Are Florida’s House Republicans Trying to Sabotage Evolution Academic Freedom Bill?

Florida citizens who support academic freedom legislation on evolution might want to ask some tough questions of House Republican leaders in their state. Rather than pass an academic freedom bill previously adopted by the state Senate, the Florida House earlier this week adopted its own seemingly tougher measure that would actually require critical analysis of evolution. But wait: the Florida Senate had previously rejected the House approach, and with only a week left in the legislative session, Florida House members had to know that it would be extremely difficult to hammer out a new bill that could pass both houses within the remaining time. If the Florida legislature adjourns without passing an evolution academic freedom bill–after both legislative chambers previously approved bills on the topic by strong margins–Florida’s House Republican leadership will need to explain why they allowed academic freedom for Florida teachers to be sabotaged.

I hope I’m wrong, but it’s beginning to look like someone in the Florida House leadership is intentionally trying to kill the academic freedom bill. If so, that’s outrageous, and I hope concerned citizens in Florida will demand some answers.

Posted by John West on May 1, 2008 12:12 AM |

And here’s a fine opinion piece from an Intelligent Christian in our capital city newspaper yesterday — I thought bringing CS Lewis into it was a particularly nice touch:

Seeking ignorance in the name of God
Christians should have no fear of evolution

by Richard Lindsley Walton
My View

C.S. Lewis, the Oxford professor and author of “The Chronicles of Narnia,” once said that it isn’t what the devil puts into our minds that we should be afraid of; it’s what he keeps out.

We should all, religious and nonreligious people alike, be familiar with the concepts of creationism and intelligent design. Public school, however, is not the place to disseminate this “scientific information.”

The problem with the Florida Senate’s so-called Evolution Academic Freedom Act, and a similar bill passed by the House, is that the logic supporting the effort fails to rise to the standards of its own lofty title. In other words, this bill is not truly concerned with responsible academic freedom.

. . .If, in the name of academic freedom, we are going to ask whether creationism or intelligent design could be, then are we also going to ask whether unidentified flying objects or intelligent life on other planets could be? Similar to creationism and intelligent design, those interested in UFOs and extraterrestrial life could also boast of a few prominent scientists to support their cause. Or, in the name of academic fairness, are we also going to ask whether various conspiracy theories could be, particularly those relating to the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, or those relating to the bombing of the World Trade Center, some of which assign partial blame to the United States or direct blame to the government.

Is that the kind of academic freedom Mr. Webster is advocating for our public schools?

. . .Another problem with the Evolution Academic Freedom Act is that, in the end, it will only deepen the divisions of our nation. For Christians, this kind of legislation not only alienates us from secular society; it also forces the Christian community to become a house divided against itself, a scandal that Jesus fervently prayed would never occur. There are hundreds of thousands of Christians across the state of Florida — and I dare say millions of religious people throughout the country — who feel absolutely trapped between extremists of various kinds, whether Christian fundamentalists (apparently like the sponsors of the bill in question) or scientific fundamentalists (perhaps like Richard Dawkins of “The God Delusion”). And I can only imagine how the many scientists who are already faithful members of the religious community must be feeling.

The Christians for whom I am attempting to speak, do indeed believe that God created the heavens and the earth, including the process of evolution, by which we have arrived at this unique place in the history of the world. We also believe that God has spoken to us through the inspired words of Scripture. And we even believe that God continues to hear our prayers, however imperfect our understanding of that phenomenon may be. But what we do not believe is that God created the universe in a literal six-day period a relative few thousand years ago.

We also do not believe that mentioning God’s name in public a few more times each day will cure the ills of our country. And we do not fear the theory of evolution being taught to our children in the public schools.

Christians have no reason to fear evolution, and in fact have much to celebrate when considering the wonder of biodiversity, of which we humans are an integral part. But we should fear ignorance in God’s name. . . when one considers the time, energy and money spent debating this legislation, at the very same time that our education budget is drastically being cut, it is especially outrageous.

And personally speaking, whether my children become priests or paleontologists, politicians or plumbers, my wife and I are now starting to fear that Florida cannot offer the level of education they will need to utilize all the many gifts and skills that God has given them.

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7 responses

1 05 2008
Nance Confer

Oh, that is good news!

Nance

3 05 2008
Deanne

I like that Walton piece. Very well put!

3 05 2008
JJ

And here’s some very intelligent evolution writing from, um, “Jewish science?” 😉

“Human Evolution” at Culture Kitchen

3 05 2008
Dawn

Okay, I keep seeing the title and thinking this will be an ironic piece on Laden. 😀

3 05 2008
Dawn

I remember listening to a lecture that made the case that before Darwin, evolution was a favourite subject for preachers in England. Why? Because it seemed to point so well to design and design points to a divine creator.

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