As I have touched on in previous posts, there is an ongoing battle over science education in our nation's public schools. Conservative lawmakers in Tennessee, the state that was at the center of the famous "Scopes Monkey Trial" in 1925, have introduced numerous bills that are attempting to protect the teaching of "both sides" of the debate between the scientifically-supported theory of evolution and the non-scientific "theory" of intelligent design. More information on the bills can be found at: http://ncse.com/news/search?filter0=56&filter1=415&filter2=Evolution
I am aware that I am not presenting a balanced approach to this debate and the reason for that is quite simple: this shouldn't even be a debate. There is no controversy within the scientific community on the merits of evolution. The overwhelming majority of scientists, especially biologists, accept evolution for what it is: a scientific fact with an enormous amount of evidence and supporting data. The ID community is crying foul over the fact that their "theory" is not being given the same considerations as evolution and is not being taught in public schools. The ID community, which cannot separate itself from its creationist origins, has simply had to evolve over time and change up its tactics. It lost in court when it was attempting to get creationism back in the classroom in the 1980's (info found here: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/edwards-v-aguillard.html ) and as a result of that defeat, they changed their approach and the intelligent design movement came into being. This change of tactics would prove futile as well, when in the 2005 court case in Dover, Pennsylvania, the teaching of intelligent design was found to be in violation of the constitution (info here: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/kitzmiller_v_dover.html ).
What we are seeing now is the reaction, and change of tactics once again, of the intelligent design community. Since creationism and intelligent design cannot be taught in public schools, they have taken to arguing "teach the controversy." As I have mentioned though, there is no controversy within the scientific community. This is simply the latest installment of the creation/intelligent design movement's slow and agonizing spiral into obscurity. As of April 7, the most recent bill passed the Tennessee House with an overwhelming 70-23 vote. The Senate's version of the bill is expected to be voted on on April 20 ( http://ncse.com/news/2011/04/tennessee-antievolution-bill-passes-house-006609 ). With this victory in the House, we will see whether the Senate actually values solid, fact-based science or if they will give in to the ideological pressure being thrust at them.
One of the anti-evolution bill's supporters, Rep. Nicely, incorrectly attributed a quote to Albert Eistein in an effort to, I assume, give the idea that this bill would be supported by the famous scientist (more here: http://thinkprogress.org/2011/04/15/tn-rep-einstein/ ). As the author of that article points out, Eistein never said such a thing and I find it rather lame that a politician would attribute a quote to the incorrect individual, with the hope that using Einstein's name would make his information seem valuable and important, all in an effort to pass a bill that is not supported by the scientific community.
Unfortunately, this isn't the only bill being discussed and voted on that attempts to give intelligent design/creationism the same status as evolution. They are popping up all over the country but not all are being met with open arms. In Florida, an anti-evolution bill has, hopefully, been held up in committee and won't likely be passed before the end of committee hearings (more info here: http://ncse.com/news/2011/04/opposition-to-florida-antievolution-bill-continues-006614 ). This is good news for Florida! The thing to pay attention to, however, is that all of the recent anti-evolution bills have the same idea behind them: teach the controversy. The idea is that they are taking on the form of concerned citizens who are upset that critical thinking is not being allowed in science classrooms. As if their idea of "critical thinking" is supported by the scientific community. Like I mentioned, this is evidence of a change in tactics by the intelligent design community and is likely to fail just as miserably as all of their other attempts to dumb down science. At least one can hope...