Marc Caputo at the Miami Herald noticed something in a press conference featuring actor Ben Stein and Discovery Institute spokesperson Casey Luskin. It had to do with what, precisely, could be taught as protected speech under bills currently filed in the Florida legislature if they became law.
The religiously tinged evolution-questioning theory of Intelligent Design could more easily be brought up in public-school science classrooms under a proposed ”academic freedom” legislation being pushed by conservative lawmakers.
And it’s not just the ACLU saying it anymore.
A leading voice for the Intelligent Design movement acknowledged as much Wednesday by saying that the theory constitutes ”scientific information,” which the bill expressly and repeatedly says teachers should present in questioning and criticizing evolution without fear of persecution.
The remarks by Casey Luskin, an attorney with the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, were made during a press conference with actor-columnist-speechwriter-gameshow host Ben Stein, who’s exhibiting a documentary in support of the legislation.
The bill was drafted after the state Board of Education voted last month to include repeated mention of evolution and natural selection in state science standards for the first time in state history. The bill expressly bans the teaching of religious theories — which a federal court has ruled Intelligent Design is.
The Discovery Institute doesn’t want, it says, mandated teaching of “intelligent design”. They do want teachers and students to have complete immunity for bringing “intelligent design” creationism into science classrooms, either as “scientific information” or as simple disruptive tactics to distract from the curriculum that will express the recently adopted standards.
The only reason the Discovery Institute makes a big deal about not “mandating” instruction in “intelligent design” creationism (IDC) is that a law doing so could be challenged immediately without waiting for it to actually affect a classroom. By relying upon the known demographic that 30% or so of science teachers would be totally on board with slipping in bogus old religiously-motivated antievolution arguments, like the content of “intelligent design” creationism, the Discovery Institute is able to recruit a substantial proportion of science teachers into providing lawsuit fodder at some later time. Add on to that the fact that in many cases even if a teacher is blatantly proselytizing in a classroom, it is often difficult to find someone with standing that wants to go through the process of becoming a plaintiff. By not “mandating” IDC, they get a chunk of science teachers purposely passing their anti-science drivel on to children, most of whom will never be challenged as they should be.
The falsely so-called “academic freedom” bills aim to maximize the proportion of teachers that will participate in the Discovery Institute miseducation scheme and to extend the strategy to also recruit children into being as disruptive as possible whenever evolutionary science is a topic in a classroom. There’s already evidence that this is exactly what the DI wants in the PDFs they offer of what they think of as poser questions to be printed on labels and stuck in school biology textbooks. This, by the way, is also standard operating procedure for young-earth creationist advocacy groups, who urge parents to prepare their children to loudly challenge their teachers whenever evolution is mentioned in class.
The bills should be termed more accurately “academic irresponsibility” bills. The only purpose served is to spread confusion about the content and nature of science and to inculcate a distrust of science — and scientists — within students.
While Caputo is to be commended for the catch on Luskin letting slip the fact that the Discovery Institute believes that “intelligent design” creationism will be protected under either of the “academic irresponsibility” bills being considered, he did give them a pass on being the original source of the draft bill that two legislators filed versions of. That’s right, this entire kerfluffle is being engineered and orchestrated from Seattle, Washington. The various actions that we’ve seen of antievolution advocates spouting off about “academic freedom” during the science standards revision process has the DI fingerprints all over it. They have obvious “plants” in place, including “intelligent design” creationist advocate Fred Cutting, who acted as the conduit for an alternative draft of the science standards that would have incorporated the DI’s academic irresponsibility notions. It’s not like this information is going to go undiscovered if any such case goes to court. The contacts with the Discovery Institute will be a primary item for the legal discovery process to uncover at that time. At that point, we’ll be seeing Barbara Forrest or another expert witness who will testify as to the DI’s long plans for their governing goal:
To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.