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Legislation proposed in the Missouri House of Representatives on Wednesday would require schools to treat the theory of evolution and intelligent design equally.

The Missouri Standard Science Act states the theory of evolution must be taught side-by-side with intelligent design in public elementary and secondary schools. The bill also requires any textbook that discusses evolution to "give equal treatment to biological evolution and biological intelligent design."

Proponents of intelligent design, a variant of creationism, believe the complexity of life cannot be adequately explained by natural processes such as biological evolution.

The bill was introduced by State Rep. Rick Brattin, and cosponsored by State Reps. Andrew Koenig and Kurt Bahr. All three lawmakers are Republicans.

Brattin introduced a nearly identical bill last year. He told local media outlets the bill was "just good science" and promoted "objectivity in the science room."

Brattin, Koenig, Bahr and other Missouri lawmakers also introduced legislation this month that would encourage teachers to discuss the "scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses" of the theory of evolution. Critics said the law was intended to undermine scientific teaching by presenting evolution to students as if it was a controversial topic among biologists.

"It's ironic that creationist strategies continue to evolve," Eugenie C. Scott of the National Center for Scientific Education said. "At first, creationists tried to ban the teaching of evolution in the public schools altogether. When they were no longer able to do so, they tried to 'balance' it with the teaching of Biblical creationism, or scientific creationism, or intelligent design. After the Kitzmiller trial in 2005, in which teaching intelligent design was found by a federal court to be unconstitutional, there's been a shift toward belittling evolution - as just a theory, or as in need of critical analysis, or as the subject of scientific controversy."