Proposed amendment would change way evolution is taught
CARSON CITY – A proposed constitutional amendment would require Nevada teachers to instruct students that there are many questions about evolution – a method viewed by critics as an opening to teach intelligent design.
Las Vegas masonry contractor Steve Brown filed his initiative petition with the secretary of state’s office, and must collect 83,184 signatures by June 20 to get the plan on the November ballot. To amend the Nevada Constitution, he’d have to win voter approval this year and again in the 2008 elections.
Brown said Tuesday that he hopes that volunteers will help him collect the signatures, but at this point has no name-gathering organization set up. A Democrat and member of a nondenominational church, he said he hoped for broad support from people who share his views.
“I just want them to start telling the truth about evolution,” Brown said. “Evolution has occurred, but parts of it are flat-out unproven theories. They’re not telling students that in school.”
Brown, who has three school-age children, said he’s been interested in evolution for years. He added that if people take time to read his proposal, “how can this not pass?”
The petition says students must be informed before the end of the 10th grade that “although most scientists agree that Darwin’s theory of evolution is well supported, a small minority of scientists do not agree.”
The plan says several “areas of disagreement” would have to be covered by teachers, including the view by some scientists that “it is mathematically impossible for the first cell to have evolved by itself.”
Students also would have to be told some scientists argue “that nowhere in the fossil record is there an indisputable skeleton of a transitional species, or a ‘missing link,”‘ the proposal says.
Also, the proposal says students “must be informed that the origin of sex, or sex drive, is one of biology’s mysteries” and that some scientists contend that sexual reproduction “would require an unbelievable series of chance events that would have had to occur in the evolutionary theory.”
Brown commented on his plan following a decision Monday by the Utah House to scuttle a bill that would have required public school students to be told that evolution isn’t empirically proven.
Last month, the Ohio Board of Education deleted a science standard and lesson plan encouraging students to seek evidence for and against evolution – another setback for intelligent design advocates who maintain that life is so complex it must have been created by a higher authority.
In December, a federal judge barred the school system in Dover, Pa., from teaching intelligent design alongside evolution in high school biology classes. The judge said that intelligent design is religion masquerading as science.
Also last year, a federal judge ordered the school system in suburban Atlanta’s Cobb County to remove from biology textbooks stickers that called evolution a theory, not a fact.
But critics of evolution got a boost in Kansas in November when the state Board of Education adopted new science teaching standards that treat evolution as a flawed theory.
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