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Missouri ID Bill

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Introduction

Some legislators in the Missouri General Assembly have introduced a pro-ID/creationism bill (pre-filed December 19, 2003). EvoWikiPedes may wish to criticize it a bit at a time and so develop a full refutation. The original text of the bill is available from the Missouri General Assembly webpage.

Please indent (simply start the line with a colon :) for the bill text, and insert comments outside the blocks. Links to longer FAQs on specific topics are also encouraged.

The Bill

170.018.

1. This section shall be known as, and may be cited as, the "Missouri Standard Science Act."
2. As used in this section, the following terms mean:
(1) "Analogous naturalistic process", a verifiable process which is either a present-day naturally occurring process similar to a past naturalistic process or the human-directed duplication of a process similar to a past naturalistic process. The verifiable process uses similar natural materials, mechanisms, and conditions as the past naturalistic process and produces an equivalent end result;

The house is welcome to redefine "Biological Evolution" as they like, but this is not the definition used by scientists (see Evolution). Evolution does not deny the operation of God, it simply doesn't need a God to operate [1]. This definition also appears to be getting confused with abiogenesis in places, as suggested by the phrase "initial or subsequent development of life".

(2) "Biological evolution", a theory of the origin of life and its ascent by naturalistic means. The first simple life was developed from basic elements and simple molecules through the mechanisms of random combinations, naturally occurring molecular structures, other naturalistic means, and millions of years. From the first simple life, all subsequent species developed through the mechanisms of random variation, mutation, natural selection, adaptation, segregation, other naturalistic means, and millions of years. The theory is illustrated by the evolutionary phylogenic tree. Theory philosophically demands only naturalistic causes and denies the operation of any intelligence, supernatural event, God or theistic figure in the initial or subsequent development of life;

This section appears to be the unabridged evidence for ID rather than a definition. There is no evidence that naturalistic mechanisms do not provide a means for making life from simple molecules [2] or making sufficient new genetic material to cause ascent from microscopic organisms to large life forms [3]. It is interesting that even in proposed laws the ID movement has to attack evolution rather that present a case for why ID is better [4]. The authors didn't even get the "hypothesis" bit correct: hypotheses are testable, and should have a valid scientific reason for their conception.

(3) "Biological intelligent design", a hypothesis that the complex form and function observed in biological structures are the result of intelligence and, by inference, that the origin of biological life and the diversity of all original species on earth are the result of intelligence. Since the inception of each original species, genetic material has been lost, inherited, exchanged, mutated, and recombined to result in limited variation. Naturalistic mechanisms do not provide a means for making life from simple molecules or making sufficient new genetic material to cause ascent from microscopic organisms to large life forms. The hypothesis does not address the time or sequence of life's appearance on earth, time or formation of the fossil record, and time or method of species extinction. The hypothesis does not require the identity of intelligence responsible for earth's biology but requires any proposed identity of that intelligence to be verifiable by present-day observation or experimentation. Concepts inherent within the hypothesis include:

This says nothing about the theory of evolution, since evolution is independent of abiogenesis. Still, they got this wrong too [5]

(a) The origin of life on earth is inferred to be the result of intelligence directed design and construction. There are no plausible mechanisms or present-day experiments to prove the naturalistic origin of the first independent living organism;

This is true: we can't prove universal common descent. However, common descent (which is proven with speciation) is good evidence for UCD.

(b) All original species on earth are inferred to be the result of intelligence directed design and construction. There are no significant mechanisms or present-day experiments to prove the naturalistic development of earth's species from microscopic organisms;

No they don't [6] [7] [8].

(c) Complex forms in proteins, enzymes, DNA, and other biological structures demonstrated by their constituent molecules in regard to size, shape, quantity, orientation, sequence, chirality, and integration imply intelligent design was necessary for the first life on earth. Intelligence is capable of designing complex form;

Modern bacteria and archaea do not represent the first life on earth. Viruses are possibly slightly better representatives of early life, but are still very much modern.

(d) Complex functions demonstrated by growth, reproduction, repair, food metabolization, waste disposal, stimuli response, and autonomous mobility in microscopic organisms imply intelligent design was necessary for the first life on earth. Intelligence is capable of designing complex function;

DNA can't have evolved because it's simple? This is an absurd argument [9].

(e) Within the history of human experience, all exhibits of recurring discrete symbols from a set of symbols arranged in a specific sequence which store information and can be read by human intelligence, is itself the result of intelligence. DNA contains stored information for the assembling of proteins and enzymes which can be read by humans and is the result of intelligence. The recurring discrete symbols sequenced within DNA which store information are the molecules adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine;

The author has forgotten natural selection, which is quite a feat and must have involved much willpower. When natural selection is reintroduced this argument falls apart [10] [11] [12].

(f) Intelligence-directed design and construction of all original species at inception without an accompanying genetic burden is inferred rather than random mutational genetic change as a constructive mechanism. Random mutational genetic change results in an increasing genetic burden and species degradation rather than species ascent;

No it isn't, and no they don't [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18].

(g) Intelligence-directed action is necessary to exceed the limits of natural species change, which is a combination of autogenous species change and environmental effected species change. Multi-generation breeding experiments illustrate the limits of natural species change and its inadequacy for developing required genetic information found in dissimilar species;

No they don't, and it's incredible that people are still claiming that organs like the eye couldn't evolve [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] (last link contains links to many other relevant articles).

(h) The irreducible complexity of certain biological systems implies a completed design and construction at inception rather than step-by-step development, as indicated by the structures observed for sight, hearing, smell, balance, blood coagulation, digestion, and hormone control;

There are many transitional fossils, and evolution can explain why there aren't more, in fact, we shouldn't expect there to be large numbers of transitional forms [26] [27] [28].

(i) The lack of significant transitional forms between diverse species existing today and in the fossil record implies all original species were completed at inception rather than by a step-by-step development from other species. A lack of transitional forms is illustrated by the appearance of large complex life forms in the Cambrian fossil record without any significant previous fossils;

This is a very weak argument [29]

(j) Common designs and features evident in different species imply the intelligent reuse of proven designs analogous to the reuse of proven designs by human designers;

What lack? See reply to section (g). See also [30] for evolution of new features.

(k) The lack of significant present-day observable changes in species due to random variation, mutation, natural selection, adaptation, segregation, or other naturalistic mechanisms implies intelligence as the cause for all original species;
(4) "Destiny", the events and processes that define the future of the universe, galaxies, stars, our solar system, earth, plant life, animal life, and the human race and which may be founded upon faith-based philosophical beliefs;
(5) "Empirical data", information obtained from observation or experimentation about the physical universe. The components of observed information include the identity of the observed object, date of observation, location of observation, means of observation, observational tools, observing personnel, and recorded observations. The components of experimental information include the methodology of experimentation, date of experiment, location of experiment, experimental apparatus, experimenting personnel, and recorded observations. Empirical data is not speculative, theoretical, hypothetical, inferred, or extrapolated and of which conjecture;

Since we've established that ID is not scientific (above, [31] [32] [33]) it does not deserve equal treatment in science courses [34] [35].

(6) "Equal treatment", the approximate equal teaching of each specified viewpoint for a single course of instruction in course textbooks and teacher-directed activities as follows:
(a) Course textbooks contain approximately an equal number of pages of relevant material teaching each viewpoint. Textbook materials include text, pictures, illustrations, graphs, tables, questions, discussion items, student exercises, teacher support material and other material supplied with the textbook, with freedom allowed the textbook publishers to arrange, substitute, or size material to provide an approximately equal teaching of each viewpoint for a specific textbook;
(b) Teacher-directed activities teach each viewpoint approximately equal. Teacher directed activities include lecture time, visual aids, reading assignments, homework, experiments, speakers, test material, and other activities directed by the teacher, with freedom to lengthen, shorten, or substitute activities to provide an approximately equal teaching of each viewpoint for a specific course of instruction;
(c) In the absence of course textbooks which provide equal treatment, written interim material may provide alternate viewpoints, with interim textbook material developed pursuant to subsection 5 of this section allowed to be used for a period not to exceed the compliance date specified in subsection 4 of this section;
(7) "Extrapolated radiometric data", estimated data based on the radiometric decay of an unstable isotope as measured in half-life and which can be used to estimate the date or age of an object containing the isotope. Estimated data may be accurate, partially accurate, or inaccurate due to measurement variation, object heterogeneity, contamination, infiltration, leaching, isotope uptake variation, and other uncontrolled factors. Examples of estimated extrapolated radiometric data are dates based on Carbon-14, rubidium-strontium, potassium-argon, argon-argon and uranium-lead dating methods;
(8) "Hypothesis", a scientific theory reflecting a minority of scientific opinion which may lack acceptance because it is a new idea, contains faulty logic, lacks supporting data, has significant amounts of conflicting data, or is philosophically unpopular. One person may develop and propose a hypothesis;

This is a very unsatisfactory definition - a hypothesis is not defined as the minority view at all, but rather as a testable statement. A hypothetical hypothesis could easily reflect the majority of scientific opinion, and still be a hypothesis. It would appear the word has been defined here in a way as to suggest that ID is not accepted by the majority of scientists because it is new or philosophically unpopular. This is certainly not the common definition of the word. Since hypothesis is a scientific term, the authors of the bill are being quite dishonest by redefining it.

This definition can not really be disputed, since the word origin does not have a fixed biological definition. However, it's worth noting that the word appears to be defined as to suggest that all theories of origins are faith based.

(9) "Origin", the events and processes previous to written history that define the beginning, development, and record of the universe, galaxies, stars, our solar system, earth, earth geology, earth geography, fossils, species extinction, plant life, animal life, and the human race, and which may be founded upon faith-based philosophical beliefs;



The author has completely redefined theory! Faith based philosophy is not science, it is therefore not part of scientific theories. Even when scientists do propose unproven ideas they are not faith based! The rest of the definition is also unsatisfactory.

(10) "Scientific theory", an inferred explanation of incompletely understood phenomena about the physical universe based on limited knowledge, whose components are data, logic, and faith-based philosophy. The inferred explanation may be proven, mostly proven, partially proven, unproven or false and may be based on data which is supportive, inconsistent, conflicting, incomplete, or inaccurate. The inferred explanation may be described as a scientific theoretical model;
(11) "Scientific law", a statement describing specific phenomena about the physical universe which has been verified by observation or experimentation and has no exceptions of verified empirical data. The statement may be described by formula;

Which is why evolution is standard science, and intelligent design is not science at all.

(12) "Standard science", knowledge disclosed in a truthful and objective manner and the physical universe without any preconceived philosophical demands concerning origin or destiny. Knowledge is based upon verified empirical data obtained through observation and experimentation and serves as the factual basis for formulae, events, processes, principles, and laws and may be a component of theory, hypothesis, conjecture and extrapolation. Knowledge growth as a result of human endeavor serves as the foundation for the continuous reevaluation of theory, hypothesis, conjecture, and extrapolation to determine their correctness based on supporting or conflicting verified empirical data.
3. All science taught in Missouri public elementary and secondary schools, including material concerning physics, chemistry, biology, health, physiology, genetics, astronomy, cosmology, geology, paleontology, anthropology, ecology, climatology, or other science topics shall be standard science. All standard science course materials and instruction shall meet the following criteria:
(1) If empirical data is taught, only such data which has been verified or is currently capable of being verified by observation or experimentation shall be taught. Data with the appearance of empirical data which has never been verified and is currently incapable of being verified shall be identified as nonverifiable when taught orally or in writing;

This is entirely unnecessary, since extrapolated radiometric data can be verified in all manner of ways, which is why Creationists always fail in the endeavour to discredit it.

(2) If extrapolated radiometric data is taught, such data shall be identified as extrapolated data and explained as estimated data when taught orally or in writing. For each textbook or course of instruction, if the date or age of an object is given based upon extrapolated radiometric data, a one-time explanation of the extrapolation method shall be taught when the date or age is introduced. The one-time explanation shall include the identity of the isotope used, the isotope decay process, the end product of decay, isotope decay half-life, specific materials which can be dated by the method, and the approximate time range of the dating method. The one-time explanation shall include assumptions of the extrapolation method, potential for error, and relevant examples of invalid, inaccurate, or suspect results;
(3) If scientific law is taught, written textbooks statements identified as scientific law shall have no known exceptions of verified empirical data;

The fact that the authors can use the words "theory" and "hypothesis" as though they differ only in scientific support shows why their definitions of the words are so unsatisfactory.

(4) If scientific theory is taught, the theory shall be identified as theory when taught orally or in writing. Empirical data and conjecture may be presented to support taught theory where considered instructive. As used in this subsection, the term "theory" shall mean theory or hypothesis;


But we've already established that there is no controversy to teach, and no theories that count as "rivals".

(a) If a scientific theory concerning origin or destiny is taught without the teaching of opposing scientific theory, the taught theory may be criticized by the teaching of conflicting empirical data where considered instructive;

Evolution and ID are not equal, they should not get equal time.

(b) If scientific theory concerning biological origin is taught, biological evolution and biological intelligent design shall be taught and given equal treatment. Other scientific theory or theories of biological origin may be taught and given equal treatment. If biological intelligent design is taught, any proposed identity of the intelligence responsible for earth's biology shall be verifiable by present-day observation or experimentation and teachers shall not question, survey, or otherwise influence student belief in a nonverifiable identity within a science course;

This is contradicting section 4b. Evolution is supported by prehistoric evidence, ID is not.

(5) If an event previous to written history is taught, the event shall be supported by physical evidence. Physical evidence and data concerning the event may be taught where considered instructive. Conjecture concerning an event previous to written history as to the occurrence of the event, cause of the event, date of the event, length of time for the event to occur, subsequent effects of the event, or other speculative details shall be taught as theory or hypothesis as specified in subdivision (4) of this subsection;
(6) If a naturalistic process previous to written history is taught, the naturalistic process shall be duplicated by an analogous naturalistic process. Details of the analogous naturalistic process may be taught where considered instructive. Conjecture concerning a naturalistic process previous to written history as to the occurrence of the process, cause of the process, date of the process, length of time for the process to occur, process conditions, process mechanisms, process materials, or other speculative details shall be taught as theory or hypothesis as specified in subdivision (4) of this subsection;
(7) If a scientific theory or hypothesis proven to be false is taught for historical, illustrative, or other reasons, the theory or hypothesis shall be identified as false when taught orally or in writing.
4. New textbooks purchased after January 1, 2006, for use in Missouri public elementary and secondary schools shall meet the requirements of this section. All textbooks used after January 1, 2016, in Missouri public elementary and secondary schools shall meet the requirements of this section.
5. The state commissioner of education shall appoint a temporary committee of no fewer than five individuals who are knowledgeable of science and supportive of intelligent design to serve without compensation. The committee shall develop supplemental textbook material for interim use by schools for the teaching of standard science and biological intelligent design by September 1, 2005. Interim textbook material shall be accessible for copying on the department of elementary and secondary education Internet web site without cost or restriction.
6. The state commissioner of education shall prescribe a list of suitable textbooks which meet the requirements of this section no later than January 1, 2006. The prescribed list shall be accessible on the department of elementary and secondary education Internet web site. The textbook publisher shall certify to the commissioner of education that each textbook edition complies with the requirements of this section.
7. Willful neglect of any elementary or secondary school superintendent, principal, or teacher to observe and carry out the requirements of this section shall be cause for termination of his or her contract.
8. The state commissioner of education shall ensure that any assessment or competency testing of elementary or secondary school pupils for academic performance used and controlled by the state conforms with this section concerning science material.
9. Each public school classroom in this state from grades eight through twelve in which science is taught exclusively shall post a copy of this section in a conspicuous manner.
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