Buttars' Bill Says Evolution Cannot Be Taught as Fact

Buttars' Bill Says Evolution Cannot Be Taught as Fact

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Sen. Chris Buttars' divine-intervention bill does not actually mention divine intervention or intelligent design, and it does not halt public schools from teaching evolution.

But it would not allow evolution to be taught as established fact.

It would require that state Board of Education policies not endorse a particular theory and "stress that not all scientists agree on which theory is correct."

The West Jordan Republican said his draft bill, presented to the Senate Republican Caucus this week, still could be changed before it is introduced.

"It doesn't hinder them (teachers) about talking about evolution at all," Buttars said. "They can talk about evolution from the Big Bang or life crawled out of the slime somewhere. But what they can't do is ... tell students, 'This is how it happened, how you became man, you evolved from an ape."'

Buttars originally planned for the contents of the bill not to be made public yet, but after a television station obtained a copy, he gave the draft to the Deseret Morning News, saying "obviously, it's been leaked."

The bill begins by saying: "In order to encourage students to critically analyze theories regarding the origins of life or the origins or present state of the human race, consider opposing viewpoints, and to form their own opinions, the Legislature desires to avoid the perception that all scientists agree on any one theory or that the state endorses one theory over another."

The proposal directs the state school board to set up curriculum requirements. Instruction on life's origins "shall stress that not all scientists agree on which theory is correct."

It said state board policies will "stress that not all scientists agree on which theory is correct."

Buttars said that just how that would work is up to the state school board.

When asked if it opens the door to intelligent design discussion, Buttars said: "I'm staying right out of that.

"This does not talk about intelligent design, this does not talk about faith-based theories," Buttars said. If teachers do talk about it, "they're on their own risk, aren't they," he said. "I'm talking about the scientific community and ... things they do not know regarding evolution."

However, the bill still concerns state curriculum director Brett Moulding.

"The bill avoids talking about specifically the theory of evolution or intelligent design, but it's clear it's asking for other theories to be discussed, and there are many, many theories about the origin of life that have no scientific basis," he said.

Carol Lear, director of school law and legislation for the state Office of Education, said, "It is a bill trying to force intelligent design on the school districts through the state Board of Education, when the state board has voted unanimously against imposing it as a scientific theory."

She said Buttars has discussed intelligent design at length, and the courts have considered discussion leading up to bills in determining a law's constitutional muster.

Lear also is concerned about bill language that she says overreaches into state school board powers.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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