The merits of a bill that would change the way Missouri schools teach science were debated at a forum held Wednesday night at Hickman High School.
Richard Blount, a retired pastor representing the First United Methodist Church; Mike Burt, a pastor at Grace Bible Church; Jan Weaver, director of Environmental Studies at MU; and Glen Freirichs, a Westminister College chemistry professor, spoke about Missouri House Bill 911, which requires public schools to teach intelligent design along with evolution. Intelligent design is the theory that the diversity of life on earth was brought about by an intelligent being or beings.
Blount said he had many problems with the bill, including the section that says teachers and administrators that don’t comply with it can be fired.
“That is state intimidation,” he said.
Although Freirichs said he was uncomfortable with the state government influencing what was taught in public schools, he also argued that evolution is not a fact or a theory, but a belief.
But Burt said that HB 911 would be a good way to ensure that students are given more than one point of view on the origin of life, and that intelligent design fills in the gaps left by other theories.
“Intelligent design is not a sneaky attempt to bring religion into the classroom,” he said.
Weaver argued against requiring that intelligent design be taught as a scientific theory on the grounds that sound theories are supported both by strong scientific evidence and a large body of public research.
“Evolution has that; intelligent design does not,” she said.
No action has been taken on HB 911 since it received its second reading on Jan. 8.
Hickman sponsored four Speak Your Mind forums this year, where several sides of hot-button issues can answer questions from interested students. George Frissell, chairman of the Hickman language arts department and organizer of the forum, estimated that between 210 and 220 Hickman students attended.