There’s good news, modified with a bit of bad news, out of Oklahoma regarding the ongoing Republican legislative push for evolution and climate change denialist opinion to taught instead of real science. Oklahoma House Bill 1551, which passed the House, died in the Oklahoma Senate, since they were unable to report out of committee in time. Similarly, Senate Bill 1742 also died in the Oklahoma Senate. Both bills essentially required Oklahoma public schools to teach their students about the “debate” between creation and evolution, and about global warming. Continue reading “Creationism legislation–Oklahoma update 4”
There’s really not much more to report, except that House Bill 368 is still sitting on Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s desk, awaiting his signature or veto. Actually, there’s a third way, he can just ignore it, and it will become law after a set period of time.
The Los Angeles Times, in an editorial, Tennessee’s attack on the teaching of evolution, makes a few more points that were intended for the eyes of Gov. Haslam, if only we could be sure that he read the LA Times.
In deciding whether the bill advances a religious agenda, the governor needs to look at context and history as well as the text. A useful reference work would be a 2005 decision by a federal judge in Pennsylvania striking down a school board policy requiring that students be made aware of “gaps/problems in Darwin’s theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to, intelligent design.” In that case, Judge John E. Jones concluded that intelligent design and teaching about “gaps” and “problems” in evolutionary theory are “creationist, religious strategies that evolved from earlier forms of creationism.” Continue reading “Creationism legislation–Tennessee Monkey Bill (Update 5)”
[pullquote]If you’re looking for a cure for your cancer, don’t look to evolution-deniers for hope. As for me, I give thanks to Darwin and the researchers who have stood on his shoulders.–Leslie Brunetta[/pullquote]
A quick update on Tennessee’s “Monkey Bill”, which is a Republican-led anti-evolution and global warming denying bill. The bill, HB 368, was sent to Governor Bill Haslam this week for consideration. Gov. Haslam has until April 9 2012 to either sign it, allow it to become law without his signature or veto it. The bill encourages teachers to present the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” in topics such as “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life (known as abiogenesis), global warming and human cloning.” The scientific weaknesses are nearly nonexistent, except in the mind of the science denialists that inhabit the Republican Party, particularly in the South.
The reach of the crazy creationists always seemed like a southern thing. Mississippi and Alabama are backwards states with bad education where they invest more in football than science education. Tennessee is trying to relive the Scopes Monkey Trial. Oklahoma and Louisiana are trying to have their students deny all kinds of science from evolution to climate change.
But we have always assumed that the northern progressive parts of the USA were resistant to these science denialists. Unfortunately, the stupidity has reached north into the New York City Department of Education, by far, the largest public school district in the United States with over 1.1 million students. They have decided to ban the following words for testing, because it might offend some of their students: Continue reading “Antievolution and anti-science education–New York City?”
As we discussed previously, Tennessee is doing all it can to violate the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution by pushing an anti-science legislation onto the public school students of the state. They want teachers to allow discussion of the non-existent “scientific controversy” regarding the origin of life, evolution and climate change. The only controversy is in the deluded brains of Republican legislators pushing the religious agenda of the fundamentalist Christians. Continue reading “Creationism legislation–Tennessee ACLU update”
Tennessee Senate Bill 893, which, if enacted, would encourage teachers to present the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of “controversial” topics such as “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”
There are no scientific controversies about biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming or human cloning. The only controversies exist if you add political expediency, religious faith and corporations who want to pollute without restrictions.
Unfortunately for the science side of the equation, the Tennessee House passed the bill in April 2011, so after a conference between both houses to resolve small differences in language (the Senate amended the bill), it will be sent to the Governor of Tennessee, Bill Haslam, for final approval. Haslam is a Republican, but has stated in the past that the State Board of Education and not the legislature who should be responsible for educational standards. Nevertheless, even if he signs it, the state will be sued soon thereafter for violating the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution, costing the Tennessee school system millions of dollars. Undoubtedly, the legislature did not fund the bill to help school districts fight the inevitable lawsuits.
Again, it’s nice to live in an area of the United States that lacks this overt religious dominance over the body politic.
There’s been lots of news this week regarding anti-evolution legislation. Republicans in various state legislatures are starting to push their religious agenda in violation of the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution. Remember, according to the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution, teaching religion in public schools is prohibited, and numerous court rulings have clearly stated that creationism is a religious doctrine, not a scientific controversy. These Republican legislatures are trying to push a full anti-science agenda, forcing school children to think that abiogenesis (the origin of life on Earth), global warming and evolution are somehow scientifically unsound principles. In the real world, these is no controversy, except with regards to fine-tuning mechanisms, rather than on the broad theory.
In 1925, in the state of Tennessee, the most famous legal proceeding in the battle between evolution and anti-evolution occurred. In what became known as the Scopes Monkey Trial, a high school science teacher, John Scopes, was accused by the State of Tennessee for violating the Butler Act,a Tennessee law that required school teachers to not “deny” the Biblical account of the origin of man. The trial grabbed the attention of the whole country, and two of the greatest attorneys of that era, William Jennings Bryan (a three time Democratic candidate for President of the US) prosecuted the case, and Clarence Darrow defended Scopes. Even though the trial is often considered a science vs. religion battle, in fact, it centered around a “modernist” view, that evolution was consistent with the bible and religion, against a “fundamentalist” view, that the bible is the “word of god”, which would exclude evolution. Continue reading “Creationism legislation–Tennessee, or The Return of the Monkey Bill”
One of the two anti-evolution and anti-climate change bills, introduced into the Oklahoma legislature earlier this year, died in committee. The remaining bill, HB1551, was passed by the Oklahoma House Common Education Committee in February, so may be scheduled for a floor vote soon. The surviving bill is modeled upon the Louisiana Louisiana Academic Freedom Act, which states:
…the teaching of some scientific subjects, such as biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning, can cause controversy, and that some teachers may be unsure of the expectations concerning how they should present information on such subjects.
When Republican climate change denialist, Ken Cuccinelli, was elected as attorney general of Virginia, he decided that his position entitled him to squash science that didn’t meet his limited, and clearly anti-science, viewpoint of the world. Just three months after being elected, he decided to go after Dr. Michael E. Mann, at that time, a University of Virginia geophysicist and world-renowned climatologist. In other words, Dr. Mann, a real scientist with numerous studies published, offended the Republican anti-science and global warming denialism credo. That must have spurred Cuccinelli to use his vast powers to suppress such knowledge from the world. Continue reading “Academic freedom prevails over Republican “witch hunt””