Monday, April 25, 2005

Response on PA Intelligent Design Bill

I got a response back from Rep. Thomas Gannon after sending him a letter which expressed my opposition to the bill in the education committee of the PA House which authorized the teaching of so-called Intelligent Design theory. Below is my letter and the key paragraph of the response, which I briefly deconstruct.

First my letter---

Dear Representative Gannon:

I am writing with regard to House Bill no. 1007, which is in the Education Committee. As your constituent and a parent of school-age children, I am compelled to contact you to let you know this bill would harm the quality of science education in our schools.

The notion of “Intelligent Design” is a philosophical or theological set of ideas, it is not an accepted scientific alternative to evolution. The correct way for new theories to reach our children is by first being tested and achieving wide acceptance among scientists, not through legislative interventions by non-scientists.

Compromising the quality of science education hurts our children and it ultimately harms the competitiveness of our Commonwealth. Please do what you can to prevent this harmful bill from becoming law.

The response --- after paragraphs thanking me for writing and reporting on the status of the bill(hasn't gone anywhere yet), he writes:

It should be noted that the bill does contain language that prohibits using supporting documentation or material specific to a denominational, sectarian, or religious belief.

Should I be thankful that obviously illegal provisions are excluded?

Thus, any supportive material will need to have a scientific or logic-based component to it, not theology. Good scientific theory should stand on its own merits and should be subjected to academic scrutiny, including both theories (evolution and intelligent design).

First a good comment about the need for academic scrutiny, which if done legitimately will kill ID in its tracks. But then the "balance boogeyman" comes in with language which implies evolution and ID are on equal footing as "theories".

I will be interested to see what recommendation the subcommittee makes and how that impacts the bill's chances for passage.

Non-committal on whether he would support the bill or not.
We'll see where this goes.

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