Intelligent design bill irks faculty

Thursday, February 26, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 1:28 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

MU’s Faculty Council today will consider a resolution that would ask the Missouri General Assembly to reject House Bill 911, which would require that theories of intelligent design and evolution be taught equally in public school classrooms.

The resolution says the theory of intelligent design — the idea that life was created by an intelligent being or beings — does not represent science in any form.

“The teaching of this material will interfere with the education of prospective students for this institution and represents a violation of church and state...” the resolution says.

Some on the council are concerned that if they do not speak out against the bill, it will seem that there is silent acceptance of it, said Philip Johnson, MU professor of veterinary medicine and science.

“There should be a strong statement from the university saying that there is substantial opposition to the bill from much of the faculty,” Johnson said.

He said the council has discussed the bill for the last four or five weeks. He said that support for the resolution is mixed and that he didn’t know whether it would pass.

At the meeting this afternoon, the Faculty Council is expected only to discuss the resolution — although there may be a recommendation to vote on it at the next meeting, or, if there is strong opposition to it, to table it, Johnson said.

“I would be surprised if there is a vote on it (today),” he said.

To pass the resolution, a majority of the council’s 33 members would have to vote for it.

HB 911 was introduced to the House on Jan. 7, was read for the second time on Jan. 8 and has not budged since. The bill says, in part, that any teacher who doesn’t devote as much time to intelligent design as he or she does to evolution and natural selection or any school administrator who tries to prevent a teacher from doing so, could be fired.

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