Note: this page was last revised in 2004.  

Missouri Scientists and Educators for Quality Science Education

More than 450 Missouri scientists and educators have endorsed a statement (see below) opposing the teaching of "intelligent design," a form of creationism, in public school science classes. Intelligent design is the idea that the biological world is so complex that it can only be explained by reference to a "designer," not necessarily a divine being. Missouri House Bill 911, filed by Rep. Robert Wayne Cooper of Camdenton, would mandate equal treatment for intelligent design alongside biological evolution in public elementary and secondary schools, including classes in "Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Health, Physiology, Genetics, Astronomy, Cosmology, Geology, Paleontology, Anthropology, Ecology, and Climatology."

 

The Bill (summarized)

HB 911 -- Standard Science Instruction
Sponsor: Cooper (155)

This bill prescribes definitions for the teaching of standard science in public elementary and secondary schools by distinguishing the differences between scientific law, scientific theory, and hypothesis and by requiring the equal treatment of viewpoints in written and orally presented material. The bill prescribes seven major criteria for the presentation of information in course materials and instruction. Textbook publishers must certify that their books meet the requirements of the bill, and the Commissioner of Education must post a list of suitable textbooks by January 1, 2006. Textbooks purchased after January 1, 2006, must meet the requirements of the bill; and all textbooks in use after January 1, 2016, must meet the requirements. The commissioner is required to appoint a committee of no fewer than five supporters of intelligent design who are knowledgeable about science to develop supplemental materials for interim use by September 1, 2005. Willful neglect of the requirements of the bill is cause for termination of a teaching contract. State-controlled testing must conform with the bill, and a copy of the bill must be posted in each eighth through twelfth grade public school classroom in which only science is taught.

Missouri HB911: the complete text

The bill has been revised, mainly by removing the provision that teachers who did not comply would be fired. Here is a link to the new bill

Missouri HB1722

 

The Statement

Let's Teach Science in Science Classes

Missouri House Bill 911 wants to change the Education statutes to mandate the teaching of "intelligent design" creationism alongside Darwinian evolution in public school science classes. Missourians of all persuasions should reject this attempt to force non-science into the science curriculum.

Proponents of Intelligent Design advertise it as an "alternative" to biological evolution. Advocates of HB911 frame their argument in terms of fairness, pointing out that it is necessary to teach all sides of a controversy. If the controversy about Darwinian evolution vs. Intelligent Design were truly scientific, we would enthusiastically support its inclusion in the curriculum. As educators, we know that one of the best ways to engage students in studying science is to present them with an unsolved problem. Look at how the current search for evidence of past life on Mars excites students at all levels.

Intelligent Design, however, isn't science. The characteristics of science that are accepted in U.S. law derive from a 1982 court decision, McLean vs Arkansas Board of Education.

Intelligent Design doesn't meet these tests because it is a philosophical or theological perspective, not a scientific one. The Intelligent Design movement was started by a Berkeley law professor, Phillip Johnson. As Johnson's own writings assert, anti-evolution is a "wedge" to get religious "values" inserted into the public school curriculum. Thus, the motivation behind Intelligent Design has nothing to do with advancing science.

Even without considering their motives, Intelligent Design proponents haven't shown that there is anything in it that meets the criteria for being judged as science. Intelligent Design advocates presuppose the existence of a Designer and then try to debunk existing data; science works the other way around. The Designer explicitly does not follow the known processes of physics or chemistry so it isn't guided by, nor can it explain things by referring to physical or biological law. Intelligent Design fails to make predictions that we can test by observation or experiment. What if we found alien bacterial life on the moons of Jupiter? Would that be evidence for or against multiple instances of Design?

The court left out the final, and for scientists, definitive, test of whether something is science or not. An idea is judged first by whether it leads to new experiments or observations that make sense in light of the idea. Any theory or hypothesis, no matter how attractive, is discarded if it doesn't prove useful in this sense. Johnson started his wedge strategy over a dozen years ago, and the Intelligent Design advocates have published numerous books, position papers, essays and so on. In all that output, however, there has not been a single peer-reviewed paper in a scientific journal that uses Intelligent Design as a guide to a new experimental result or observation. To the contrary, a number of claims made by the Intelligent Design advocates have been tested scientifically - and they haven't held up. We are forced to conclude that Intelligent Design, despite all the publicity, hasn't contributed anything to the physical or biological sciences and therefore has no place ! in the public school science classroom.

By contrast, evolution through natural selection has been tested ever since Darwin proposed it. Its principles and predictions fit with our observations of the contemporary and ancient natural world. We see examples of natural selection operating at molecular, organismal and species levels at the present time. Practically, we use evolution every day: to help select drug molecules, to follow the development of new species, to explore Earth and other planets, to develop new computer algorithms and to understand the human genome. It remains a vital and exciting area of science.

Missourians are working to build Life Sciences for the economic development of our state. We hope to discover new crops to feed the world, new medicines to comfort our lives and new materials that are more efficient and environmentally friendly than what we have now. Our state has important advantages in this effort: a central location, commitment and cooperation across the region, and strong educational institutions. Let's not throw these advantages away by undermining the science education of our young people. After all, we expect them to lead the way.

 

Endorsers

(Affiliations listed for identification purposes only)

 

Public Institutions

University of Missouri-Columbia (116)
Sandra Abell, John Adams, Jim Allen, Lloyd Barrow, Karen Bennett, Robert Blake (emeritus), Sarah Bush,
Michael Calcutt, John Cannon, James Carrel, Anand Chandresekar, Linda Chapman,
Gordon Christensen, Edward Coe, Leah Cohn, Karen Cone, Deborah Cunningham, Bruce Cutter,
John David, Joshua A. Deily, Christopher Duncan,John Dwyer, David Eide,
Janice Faaborg, John Faaborg, Mark Flinn, William Folk, Leonard Forte, Craig Franklin, Patricia Friedrichsen, Shari Freyermuth, Kevin Fritsche,
Candace Galen, Clark Gantzer, Peter Gardner, Walter Gassman, Jennifer C. Geib, Miriam Golomb,
Noah Gordon, Jennifer Graham, Thomas Guilfoyle, Richard Guyette,
Gretchen Hagen, Allen W. Hahn, Calvin Hale, Michael Harmata, Gerald Hazelbauer, Ann D. Havey, Tim Holtsford, Sarah C. Humfeld, TC Hwang,
Philip J. Johnson, Jack Jones, Robert Karoly, Marc Linit, Robert Livingston, Sudarshan Loyalka, Dennis Lubahn, Alan Luger, R. Lee Lyman,
Ruth MacDonald, Robin Hurst-March, Kelly Maynard, Thomas Mawhinney, Bruce McClure,
Matthew McClure,John McCormick, Mark McIntosh, Gabe McNett, Chris Merkord, Jan Miernyk, Joshua Millspaugh, Rose-Marie Muzika,
Stephen Nothwehr, Dennis O'Brien, Beryl Ortwerth, Deborah Pearsall, Philip Peters, Tom Philips, Joseph Polacco, M. Shane Pruett,
Linda Randall, Chada Reddy, Tracy Rittenhouse, Mitch Rosenholtz, Michael Roveto, Ralph Rowlett, Leona Rubin,
Lisa Sattenspiel, Thomas Scanlon, K. L. Schaffer, Frank Schmidt, Johannes Schul, Dennis Sentilles, Kevin L. Shelton, Stacy Small, George Smith,
Gary Stacey, Matthew Struckhoff
Jack Tanner, Jay Thelen, Kathy Timms, Randall Tindall,
Michael Underwood, Alber Vogt (emeritus), Mark Volkmann,
Reed Wadley, Judy Wall, Carol Ward, Jan Weaver, Daniel Wescott, Carol Wicks,
Lee Wilkins, W. Raymond Wood, David Worcester, Mark Yates, Steven Young

University of Missouri-Kansas City (16)
Keith M. Ashman, Deendayal Dinakarpandian, Leonard Dobens, Michael Ferrari, Saul Honigberg, Orisa J. Igwe,
Douglas J. Law, Appie Van de Liefvoort, Lee Likens,
Anthony Persechini, Jerry P. Place, Peter Rogan,
Thomas Schuman, Ann Smith, Jakob Waterborg, Karen Williams

University of Missouri-Rolla (30)
Ralph Alexander, Ron Bieniek, Frank D. Blum, Robert Dubois, Ron Frank,
Leslie Gertsch, Jay M. Gregg, Barbara Hale, John Hogan, David E. Hoiness,
Robert Laudon, Paula M. Lutz,
Don Madison, Anne Maglia, Melanie Mormile, Dev Niyogi, Tonya Numbere,
Francisca Oboh-Ikuenobe, Paul Parris, Barbara Patterson (emeritus), Gary Patterson, John L. Schmitt, Michael Schulz, Ekkehard Sinn,
Agnes Vojta, Thomas Vojta, Dave Westenberg, Gerald Wilemski, Terry Wilson, David J. Wronkiewicz

University of Missouri-St. Louis (8)
Carol M. Bourne, Charles Granger, Robert Marquis, Colin McDiarmid, Patricia Parker, Zuleyma Tang-Martinez, Marc Spingola, James Trager

Central Missouri State University (14)
Aaron Alford, Ruth S. Burkett, Stefan Cairns, Kurt Dean, Richard Frazier, John Gole, John B. Hess (emeritus),
Steve Mills (emeritus), Steve Mohler, Selene Nikaido, Jay Raveill, John Sheets, Frank Ray Voorhees, Stephen Wilson

Harris-Stowe State College (1)
Terry F. Werner

Lincoln University (2)
Jim Borgwald, Mike Scott

Missouri Western State College(1)
David C. Ashley

Northwest Missouri State University (12)
Gregg Dieringer, David A. Easterla, Barrett Eichler, Kurt A. Ken Jones, Haberyan, Peter Kondrashov, Patricia Lucido,
Phillip J. Lucido, Janette Padgitt, Karen L. Schaffer, John Shaw, Jeff Thornsberry

St. Louis Community College (1)
George Heth

Southeast Missouri State (20)
Allan J. Bornstein, James E. Champine, Philip W. Crawford, Gary J. Cwick, Bill Eddleman, Allen Gathman, Hamner Hill,
Alan Journet, Timothy M. Judd, James M. Knapp, Karen A. Lawrence, Walt W. Lilly, Cara Lunn, Rosemarie Mier, Carol Morrow,
Steve Overmann, John S. Scheibe, David Starrett, Nicholas Tibbs, Steven N. Trautwein, Margaret Waterman, Diane L. Wood

Southwest Missouri State University (46)
Douglas P. Aubrey, M. Christopher Barnhart, Daniel W. Beckman, Richard N. Biagioni, Michelle Bowe,
Justin Boyles, Bryan E. Breyfogle, Pam Brown, William J. Burling, Adam Crane, Dean Cuebas, Bradley J. Fisher,
Mark D. Given, John Havel, Charles W. Hedrick, John S. Heywood,
Frank A. James, Steven L. Jensen, Robert P. Jones, Brianna Kaiser, Roy King,
Joe Martire, Alicia Mathis, Robert Mayanovic, Mark L. McKnight, Miranda Milam, Thomas D. Moeglin, Brad Mormann,
James Puckett, Paul L. Redfearn, Jr., Mark M. Richter, Lynn W. Robbins, Russell G. Rhodes,
Georgianna Saunders, John G. Steiert, John Strong,Tina M. Tamme, William E. Thomas, Bob Thurman, Tom Tomasi, Anthony P. Toste,
Alexander Wait, Yang Wang, Robert J. Whitaker, Nathan Windel, George W. Wolf, Jim Zimmerman

Truman State University (38)
Michael J. Adams, Dawood Afzal, Matthew Beaky, Dawn Beaulac, Jon Beck, Anne Bergey, Michele Y. Breault, Marijke Breuning, Brent Buckner, Scott Burt,
Mark Campbell, David Christiansen, Cynthia Cooper, Maria C. Di Stefano, Taner Edis, Roger Festa, Stephanie Fore, Suren Fernando
Alan Garvey, Jon C. Gering, Peter Goldman (emeritus), Rob Graber, Wolfgang Hoeschele, Elisabeth Hooper, Michael Ira Kelrick, Barbara Kramer, Patrick Lobert,
Elaine McDuff, Judith M. Misale, Jeanne Mitchell, Anne Moody,
Jeffrey M. Osborn, Peter J. Ramberg, Marc Rice, David Robinson, Peter Rolnick,Pam Ryan Michael Seipel, George Shinn, Jeffrey R. Vittengl

 

Private Institutions

Central Methodist College (1)
Paul Porneluzi

Culver-Stockton College(1)
Joseph R. Coelho

Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (6)
Robert Baer, Garrett Edwards, Michael Lockwood, Julia E. McNabb, Philip C. Slocum, Karen Snider, Melissa Stuart

Rockhurst University (1)
Chad Scholes

St. Louis University (15)
Greg Comer, Carmine Coscia, David Crossley, Vijai Dixit, John Encarnacion, Karen A. Gregerson,
John C. James, Ronald T. Kellogg, Mark Knuepfer, Lacy Kolo, Andy Lechner, Heather Macarthur, Brian J. Mitchell, Jim Moore,
Larry M. Stacey, William D. Thacker, Peggy Weidman

Southwest Baptist University (1)
Mike Dickerson

Washington University, St. Louis (111)
Joseph Ackerman, Mark Alford, Garland Allen, Paul M. Allen, Aaron DiAntonio,
Nathan Baker, David C. Beebe, Carl M. Bender, Claude Bernard, Stan Braude, Michael Brent, James H. Buckley, Peter M. Burgers,
Jonathan Chase, Roberto Civitelli, Josephine E. Clark-Curtiss, Barak Cohen,
Patricia Collin-Osdoby, Jane Phillips-Conroy, John Cooper, Roy Curtiss III,
Willem H. Dickhoff, Tamara Doering, Sean Eddy, Elliot Elson, Timothy Fleming, Carl Frieden, Regina Frey, Michael Friedlander,
Peter Gaspar, Lev Gelb, Patrick C. Gibbons, Jeremy Gibson-Brown, Alison Goate, Edward Gogol, Daniel Goldberg, Ursula Goodenough,
Timothy Graubert, Diana L. Gray, Michael Gross,
Daniel F. Hanson, Erik Herzog, Thomas Hoerr, Tim Holy, Bradley Joliff,
T.J. Kappock, Ken Kelton, David Kirk, Daniel Kohl, Vjolica Konufca, Rachel Kopan, Robert Krantz, Kristen Kroll,
Marilyn Krukowski, Barbara Kunkel,
Harold L. Levin, Petra Levin, Walter Lewis, Timothy Lohman, Fanxin Long, Jonathan Losos,
Elaine Mardis, Charles W. Markman, Garland Marshall, Rebecca P. McAlister, Kathryn Miller, Kelle Moley, Michael Mueckler,
Michael Neff, Randall Odem, Mike Ogilvie, Karen O'Malley, David Ornitz,
Himadri Pakrasi, Rohit Pappu, William C. Parks, Marshall Alan Permutt, Steve Peterson,
Roger J. Phillips, Barbara Pickard, Craig Pikaard, Linda Pike, Joel Price, Ralph Quatrano, Janet S. Rader,
Eric Richards, Carmelo Romano, John H. Russell,
J. Evan Sadler, Meera Saxena, Barbara Schall, Stephen Scholnick, James Schreiber, Andrey S. Shaw,
Joshua Smith, William Hayden Smith, Jennifer Smith, Erica Sonnenburg, Thomas H. Steinberg, Wai-Mo Suen, Nobuo Suga,
Alan Templeton, Douglas Tollefson, Robert Tucker, Thomas Vaid, Herbert Virgin,
L. Lewis Wall, Ralf Wessel, Douglas Wiens, Clifford M. Will, Ernst Zinner

William Jewell College (7)
Judith Dilts, Stephanie Fiedler, Dan Heruth, Milton Horne, Paul Klawinski, Randall Morris, Anne Nickel

 

Research Institutions

Donald Danforth Plant Science Research Center (2)
Roger Beachy, Jan Jaworski

Missouri Botanical Garden (2)
Peter Hoch, Peter Raven

Stowers Institute (5)
James Coffman, Joan W. Conaway Robb Krumlauf, Linheng Li, Arcady R. Mushegian

 

National Science Foundation - PRISM (1)
Marilyn Rhea (Project Director)

 

Schools

Public School Teachers (5)
Robin S. Hankinson (Cape Girardeau HS), Becky Litherland (Columbia Public Schools),
Gary Midkiff (Farmington HS), Chris Reeves (School of the Osage HS), Carol Schatz (Holt HS)

Not included in the overall count - but still concerned

Parents and Citizens (10)
Brian Beckmann, Bill Boll (see website below), Kimberly Bordeaux (Inklings Creative), Alan Jacobs,
Dan Stefacek (parent), Mari Winn Taylor (Editor/Publisher The Joplin Independent), Bernard M. Ross (Senior at Lindenwood College),
Janet I. Stanford (grandparent) Debra Sullentrup (Student at Truman State), Gene Woodford

Out of State Scientists and Educators(3)
Stepen L. Timme (Pittsburg State University - KS), Marc Whitaker (Hillsdale Middle School - CA), Linda Hand (College of San Mateo - CA)

 

Links

Legislative Alert from the Science Teachers of Missouri (STOM)

National Center for Science Education

article in The Joplin Independent: Science vs. Intelligent Design

Understanding Evolution - from the University of California, Berkeley

Intelligent Design Net - among other things, this site describes some of the rhetorical tools creationistism/intelligent design proponents use to make their case. (the site is maintained by Bill Boll)

 

For further information contact:
Frank Schmidt 573-882-5668 schmidtf@missouri.edu
or Jay Gregg 573-341-4664 greggjay@umr.edu

 

To add your name to the list, please send an email to:

weaverjc@missouri.edu

with your name and institutional affiliation

last updated: 1 pm March 17, 2004
Maintained by: Jan Weaver, University of Missouri-Columbia