ANTI-DARWIN BILL FAILS IN UTAH
Written by Kirk Johnson – NY Times
Tuesday, 28 February 2006
In a defeat for critics of Darwin, the Utah House of Representatives on Monday voted down a bill intended to challenge the theory of evolution in high school science classes.
The bill had been viewed nationally, by people on each side of the science education debate, as an important proposal because Utah is such a conservative state, with a Legislature dominated by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
But the bill died on a 46-to-28 vote in the Republican-controlled House after being amended by the majority whip, Stephen H. Urquhart, a Mormon who said he thought God did not have an argument with science. The amendment stripped out most of the bill's language, leaving only that the state board of education "shall establish curriculum requirements relating to scientific instruction."
Legislative officials said the bill was not likely to be revived before the scheduled adjournment of the Legislature on Wednesday. The Origins of Life bill, in its initial form, would have required teachers to issue a disclaimer to their students saying that not all scientists agree about evolution and the origin of species. It did not mention any alternative theory to Darwinism, but was viewed by some supporters and opponents as part of the drive to encourage the teaching of intelligent design, which says that life is too complicated to have evolved without an architect.
Some Mormon legislators opposed the bill because they agreed with Mr. Urquhart that science and religion should remain separate, others because they thought intelligent design was not in keeping with traditional Mormon belief.
Casey Luskin, a spokesman for the Discovery Institute, a research group based in Seattle that has promoted the ideas of intelligent design, called the vote "a loss for scientific education," but said it was a purely local Utah matter.
A spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Joe Conn, said Utah's vote would resonate.
"If the creationists can't win in a state as conservative as Utah, they've got an uphill
battle," Mr. Conn said.