WASHINGTON- Supporters of a mandatory “creationism course” in public schools introduced a House bill requiring middle and high school students who study evolution to also be taught creationism. Republican State Reps. Bill Van Regenmorter of Georgetown Township and Barb Vander Veen of Allendale are the co-sponsors on the bill.
According to the two representatives, the legislation would provide a balance between the two “unproven theories.”
Teachers would have to "explain the competing theories of evolution and natural selection based on random mutation and the theory that life is the result of the purposeful, intelligent design of a Creator."
"This provides balance. The way this bill is set up is if teachers are teaching evolution as a viable theory, then they also should teach intelligent design as a viable theory," the Ottawa County lawmaker said.
However, critics argue the legislation is unsupported by science.
"This is smoke and mirrors. They have the right ideals but the wrong process. Intelligent design is not a scientific concept," said Kevin Padian, president of the National Center for Science Education and a professor at the University of California-Berkeley.
“There is no established evidence for the intelligent design theory, and it should not be taught as science in schools,” Padian said. “Intelligent design supporters are trying to short circuit the process. They want to go straight to the schools."
Vander Veen asserts scientific facts can be found for both evolutionism and creationism.
"There are scientific facts on both sides, and I think both sides need to be presented," Vander Veen said. "Our students are very intelligent, and they can make up their own minds."
"I have been accused of being a religious bigot, but I am not saying that we have to tell a child one way or another," she continued. "What I am saying is that we have to teach both sides of the scientific facts, because if we don't, then it's censorship."
In 1995, the Michigan state Board of Education rejected a proposal to include the Bible's story of creation with discussions of evolution in public schools. The bill is awaiting action at the House of Education Committee.