We have a new bill here in Michigan that contains language that sounds very objective and unconnected to ID, but that will obviously pave the way for the introduction of ID (or at least common ID arguments) into science classrooms. HB 5606 apparently replaces HB 5251, which was introduced last year. While the previous bill specifically mentioned evolution and global warming as theories about which “critical thinking” should be required, the new bill does not mention any particular theories. Here is the relevant text:
The course content expectations for science shall include using the scientific method to critically evaluate scientific theories and using relevant scientific data to assess the validity of those theories and formulate arguments for and against those theories.
This is part of a much longer bill that sets standards on what must be taught in every subject. This is a pretty broad statement. Do they really want students to formulate arguments for and against heliocentrism or the germ theory of disease? Of course not. This is aimed at evolution and everyone knows it. The Detroit Free Press even notes that one legislator who supports the bill, Rep. Moolenaar, acknowledges that it will lead to the teaching of ID at the whim of the local school board:
The wording for Palmer’s bill was taken from a bill by Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Midland. That bill would require a statewide high school curriculum to include a critical evaluation of the theories of evolution and global warming. Palmer’s bill, however, doesn’t mention evolution or intelligent design.
Moolenaar said Palmer’s does not require the teaching of intelligent design, but that such a decision would be up to local school boards. He said Darwin’s theory of evolution is under legitimate scrutiny, and that science students should know about the theory’s possible weaknesses. “A scientific controversy should be viewed in a teachable moment for a student to learn the scientific method,” he said.
But in fact, this will lead to the opposite result of what Palmer claims to want:
Palmer said his aim is to standardize what is taught in mandated courses. For example, it would require all world history classes to focus on cultures before 1600, starting with the Mesopotamian and Hebrew civilizations, designed to “acquaint pupils with the historical roots of the Western heritage.”
But with the broad wording of the science section of the bill, the opposite will result. Some teachers and school boards will certainly take this as permission to teach ID as a critique of evolution, or at least adopt ID arguments. Other teachers will likely go in the opposite direction and teach that ID is not a valid scientific critique of evolution because it requires supernatural causation and so forth. The result will inevitably be less standardization than we have now. If the bill should pass, the result will be some schools teaching ID and being challenged in court, as they were in Dover.