In 2009, Republican Florida state Sen. Stephen Wise failed to pass a bill that would have required intelligent design to be taught in public schools.
Wise, who is now chairman of the Senate Education Committee, is at it again, hoping that his resurrected bill will fare better among newly elected Republicans.
Florida’s Senate Bill 1854 calls for educators to “teach efficiently and faithfully… a thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution.”
“If you’re going to teach evolution then you’ve got to teach the other side so you can have critical thinking,” Wise told the Florida Times-Union in 2009.
While the term “critical analysis” may sound benign, Broward/Palm Beach News Times‘ Brandon Thorp noted that for Wise, it’s a code word for intelligent design.
“Why would you not teach both theories at the same time?” Wise asked.
“‘Evolution’ is not a theory,” Thorp wrote. “It is a fact, demonstrable in laboratories and in nature.”
“The only theory is ‘evolution by natural selection’ — which is to say, it is theorized that the fact of evolution is made possible by the action of natural selection.”
“In order for there to be an ‘other side’ in a debate about evolution by natural selection, there would have to be a theory other than natural selection with its own arsenal of evidence. There isn’t one,” he added.
In an 2009 interview with WMNF radio, Wise seemed to be working off his own set of facts.
“Why do we still have apes if we came from them?” Wise said. “And those are the kind of questions kids need to ask themselves. You know, ‘how did we get here?’ And, you know, there’s more than one theory on this thing. And the theory is evolution, the other one is intelligent design.”
In 1987, The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a Louisiana law requiring creation science to be taught alongside evolution was unconstitutional.
Howard Simon, executive director of the Florida ACLU, told The Tampa Tribune that Wise’s bill “would require the teaching of intelligent design, which is – despite the proponents and the people in the Legislature who will jump up and scream that it is science and not religion – it is, at its heart, a theological belief.”
If the bill passes, Simon warned that ACLU might be forced to take the school system to court.
“There would be litigation were some county school district to be silly enough to be enticed by the legislation to teach religion instead of science,” he said.