On Monday, the Republican dominated Tennessee Senate passed an anti-evolution bill by a vote of 24-8. The bill, known as HB 368, is sponsored by Republican Senator Bo Watson and “provides guidelines for teachers answering students’ questions about evolution, global warming and other scientific subjects,” according to Knox News, “The measure also guarantees that teachers will not be subject to discipline for engaging students in discussion of questions they raise, though Watson said the idea is to provide guidelines so that teachers will bring the discussion back to the subjects authorized for teaching in the curriculum approved by the state Board of Education.” The bill basically encourages teachers to present scientific weaknesses of “controversial” topics. In the case of evolution and climate change, both have been scientifically proven and the only weaknesses that have been presented by the right-wing are based on unscientific biblical verses. In other words, Republicans want teachers to use religion to destroy accepted science.
This bill is yet another attempt by Republicans to inject creationism pseudo-science into science classrooms. It gives students the ability to interrupt the teaching of real evidence based science with religious nonsense that belongs in church. So basically, as long as students bring up creationist theories, teachers can discuss them. This opens up the classroom to conflict between students of different religions or none at all, who all have different doctrines and points of view. Such conflict only serves to bury actual science under religious myth and superstition and is a distraction to learning real facts.
According to the National Center for Science Education,
“Among those expressing opposition to the bill are the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, the American Institute for Biological Sciences, the Knoxville News Sentinel, the Nashville Tennessean, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, the National Earth Science Teachers Association, and the Tennessee Science Teachers Association, whose president Becky Ashe described the legislation as “unnecessary, anti-scientific, and very likely unconstitutional.”
The bill now heads to the House, which just passed a Ten Commandments bill, so we should expect them to pass this bill as well as part of the GOP war against freedom of religion and separation of church and state.