Unfortunate 'evolution' issue

Unfortunate 'evolution' issue

April 12th, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

It is unfortunate that a controversy -- again -- has erupted in the Tennessee Legislature concerning public school teaching of the subject of "evolution."

We recall the unfortunate so-called "Tennessee monkey trial," or Scopes trial, in nearby Dayton, Tenn., in 1925.

Now a bill has passed the Tennessee Legislature that protects teachers in classroom discussions about evolution, which some think of as just gradual development in life but others think of as "men descended from monkeys."

It's a controversy that shouldn't be concerning our people in general, or teachers, or school children or public officials.

Tennessee legislators and Gov. Bill Haslam unfortunately have been thrust into controversy, with the governor saying this week, "My concern is that this bill has not met this objective. For that reason, I will not sign the bill but will allow it to become law without my signature."

The law says school authorities cannot "prohibit any teacher in a public school system ... from helping students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing theories covered in the course being taught within" the state's "curriculum framework."

It also says the proposed law "only protects the teaching of scientific information and shall not be construed to promote any religious or non-religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or non-beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion."

That wording obviously seeks to avoid controversy. But does it?

The whole matter should really not be a controversy about science teaching or religion. But unfortunately it is.