published Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Evolution and education

Evolution and the teaching of it in Tennessee’s public schools is a topic that will never die. At least, it seems that way. The latest proof is a Senate bill sponsored by Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, that would protect teachers who allow students to critique scientific theories in classroom discussion. On the surface that sounds prudent; careful study of the bill, however, shows that it would subvert science education and the principles that support it.

The bill, nevertheless, won Senate approval on a 24-8 vote Monday. It now goes to the House, where a different version of the legislation was approved last year. The language in the House and Senate version of the bill differs significantly. Watson amended his version in an effort to placate the scientific community, which viewed the House bill passed last year as de facto approval of teaching “any non-scientific, nonconventional theories in the scientific classroom.”

The scientists were correct then, and they are right now. Watson’s bill panders to those who favor pseudo-science — i.e., “intelligent design” and “creation science” — over established science based on decades of research.

Those “non-conventional” approaches include alternatives and challenges to theories such as evolution and global warming. Never mind that almost every scientist and educator now agree that the evidence for evolution and global warming is overwhelming. A tiny minority would have us believe otherwise, and they’re willing to use the power they hold over a highly partisan legislature to promote their faith-based views.

Whatever Watson and supporters of his bill say, the legislation regarding the teaching of science is rooted in religion. Why else would Sen. Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City, report that teachers have expressed concerns to him about questions they get from students on evolution, saying “Wait a minute, this doesn’t mesh with what I learned in Sunday school.” Crowe said teachers “aren’t sure how to respond.”

The answer is simple. Educators should respond by teaching the scientific canon, not engage in debate about dubious challenges to scientific theory and methodology that confuse and miseducate youngsters. Faith-based questions about science — or just about any other academic topic — are best addressed at home or in church, synagogue or mosque. They have no place in a public school setting.

There’s nothing wrong with faith. Many scientists and others who firmly believe in evolution and global warming are deeply religious. They, however, can and do separate religious teachings from evidenced-based knowledge. Watson’s bill does not. It should be defeated.

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librul said...

"There's nothing wrong with faith."

... Unless it is allowed to overrule reason and logic which its UNintelligent designers have always intended to do. Ignorant people, incapable of thinking outside their church house "boxes", are easier to control and deceive. "Scientists" who would elevate superstition alongside knowledge standing upon physical evidence do not deserve the title. Any who do should be stripped of any credentials conferred upon them.

March 21, 2012 at 12:46 a.m.
una61 said...

Whenever politicians, including school boards, dictate classroom curricula, education suffers. Watson's bill, if enacted, will require HS science teachers to waste valuable classroom time presenting the Genesis Myths disguised as "Intelligent Design" om "Creation Science". Watson should know better. His bio says he majored in biology at UTC, which makes him a hypocrite.

March 21, 2012 at 8:49 a.m.
holdout said...

I wish I had caught on to this when I was in school. I could have gotten all the way through to my degree using the stock answer, "cause god made it that way" on any test question I couldn't otherwise answer.

March 21, 2012 at 8:58 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

The reason there are miracles in abundance and interactions of God with humankind in the Bible, from the story of creation to the great flood to the parting of the Red Sea and to a half-man/half- god "savior" who walked on water and rose from the dead, is very simple to explain: those stories of larger-than-life proportion were primitive man's way of understanding and coming to terms with his world and the heavens above. There was no scientific knowledge or understanding of the world or of the skies or of ourselves.

For those who deny that those stories are myths and insist that they really took place at a certain time and place in history, it is unfortunate that they feel compelled to deny science and logic in order to cling blindly and stubbornly to their faith, which they consider to be their ticket to salvation. And it's unfortunate that, here in the 21st century, we still have to waste time wrangling with people of diminished capacity who insist on afflicting the rest of us with their childish nonsense in the realm of public education. I don't have an answer as to how to deal with it. It's just very sad and disgusting that we have to deal with it at all.

March 21, 2012 at 3:04 p.m.
conservative said...

It never ceases to amuse me how often those who believe in evolution use the word "science" but never monkey or a similar word.

March 21, 2012 at 3:47 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

conservative, you are unable to run with the big dogs on this topic, so you best stay on the porch

March 21, 2012 at 6:16 p.m.
ceeweed said...

Derision, Yes!...Evolution, Never!...Just how far can our law makers dumb down us voters? We elect these Yahoos, therefore, we get what we deserve...Just study some of the recent bills being proposed in Nashville and you will want to give up on evolution, not to mention, intelligent design, at least as it applies to our elected officials.

March 21, 2012 at 7:58 p.m.
conservative said...

ike...... I'm not going to "monkey around" with figures of speech, just the truth : Romans 1:20 - For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and deity; so that they are without excuse:

March 21, 2012 at 8:23 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Good comments, conservative.

lkeithlu,

This thread would not be complete without a comment from you. Thank you for your contributions. Now go back to recess.

March 21, 2012 at 9:33 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

Hahaha. Yeah Stewwie. So what have you learned about evolution since the last time you were here?

March 21, 2012 at 10:18 p.m.
Stewwie said...

That it's still just as untrue as before.

March 22, 2012 at 1:18 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

Sorry, hon. Evolution is still the only scientific theory that explains ALL the evidence for the diversity of life on earth. Back to the books with you-you still got some larnin' to do. If you need recommendations for titles, just ask.

March 22, 2012 at 7:33 p.m.
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