There’s been a lot of press and internet complaints about the new Tennessee anti-evolution bill that recently passed the Tennessee Senate, and passed last year in the House. Essentially the bill encourages 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.” And I can’t say this enough, what scientific weaknesses? The only debate that makes sense would one on the ethics of human cloning, but then again, it could be a code word for anything from stem-cell research to in vitro fertilization.
The Nashville Tennessean published an editorial against the legislation in Evolution ‘debate’ bill is religion, poorly disguised. Unfortunately, it begins with:
Natural selection, mutation, speciation, the empirical bases of evolution are in dispute, and the Tennessee legislature thinks it can help, again.
In dispute? Says whom? The newspaper is correct, however, even it were, we don’t want politicians with no science background trying to help out. Obviously, the writer believes there’s some debate about evolution that’s happening in science, but there isn’t. Maybe a little discussion on mechanisms, but mostly those are settled too. Is there some discussion about abiogenesis, or the chemical beginning of life? A bit, but that’s settling out too. A few are claiming that life was seeded by extraterrestrial objects (in this case, asteroid or comments, not bogus UFO’s), but the lack of evidence is eventually going to kill that idea. (As an aside, it’s clear that the earth was “seeded” with water and carbon from meteor and comet strikes during the early stages of the planet).
The newspaper’s editorial does make one point that sets aside any “controversy” over evolution:
Does anybody think that Senate Bill 0893, as amended, is really about making our children smarter, more intelligent and better critical thinkers? No, not on any side of this argument. This bill is about wedging open a door to include a radically divisive, ultra-conservative Christian agenda disguised in politically correct language.
Clearly, that’s the goal of the legislation: pushing Christian theology on students. Again, the Republicans in the Tennessee legislature need some coursework in the US Constitution, specifically the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The one that says that the government should stay out of the business of religion.
If you want more information, these two articles have some good background and opinion: