Proposed Tennessee Bill would Teach “Both Sides” of Creation, Climate

March 21, 2012

 The long time dream of climate deniers like Senator James Inhofe once again takes a step closer to reality.
Science to be taught as opinion. Facts optional. Reality – Cafeteria style .  The bill’s sponsors advocate that “controversial” science fact be “balanced”, as the Nashville Tennessean reported:

““The idea behind this bill is that students should be encouraged to challenge current scientific thought and theory,” said state Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson.

“..(the) bill that says schoolteachers cannot be punished for “helping students to understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories” taught in public schools.”

National Center for Science Education:

The Senate approved a bill Monday evening that deals with teaching of evolution and other scientific theories,” theKnoxville News-Sentinel (March 19, 2012) reported, adding, “Critics call it a ‘monkey bill’ that promotes creationism in classrooms.” The bill in question is 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.”

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 Ashedescribed (PDF) the legislation as “unnecessary, anti-scientific, and very likely unconstitutional.”

The bill comes on the heels of the release of a new book by leading climate denier, Senator James Inhofe (R – Oklahoma), who has made the claim that bible verses disprove the theory of evolution.

The vote in Tennessee was lopsided, with only Democratic members dissenting.

NCSE again:

The Senate vote was 24-8. According to the Tennesseean (March 20, 2012), Andy Berke (D-District 10) “noted the state’s history as a battleground over evolution — the so-called Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925 drew national attention and inspired the Oscar-winning film Inherit the Wind — and said the measure would cast Tennessee in a bad light.” Berke also objected that the bill would encourage inappropriate discussions of religious matters, saying, “If my children ask, ‘How does that mesh with my faith?’ I don’t want their teacher answering that question.”

The bill now proceeds to the House of Representatives, which passed the counterpart House Bill 368 on April 7, 2011.

Knoxville News:

The Senate voted 24-8 for HB368, which sponsor Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, says will provide guidelines for teachers answering students’ questions about evolution, global warming and other scientific subjects. Critics call it a “monkey bill” that promotes creationism in classrooms.

The bill was approved in the House last year but now must return to that body for concurrence on a Senate amendment that made generally minor changes. One says the law applies to scientific theories that are the subject of “debate and disputation” — a phrase replacing the word “controversial” in the House version.

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.

Watson said the purpose of the legislation is to encourage teachers in helping their students learn to challenge and debate ideas to “improve their thinking skills.”

The theme of “climate science is against the BAH-bull” is a popular one that has been cited not just by Senator Inhofe, but on the floor of congress by Rep. John Shimkus.

16 Responses to “Proposed Tennessee Bill would Teach “Both Sides” of Creation, Climate”

  1. MorinMoss Says:

    Inhofe and Shimkus are proof that while some of us descended from monkeys, others came from morons.

  2. daveburton Says:

    “Facts optional” is the CAGW alarmist position, typified by the religious belief that increased atmospheric CO2 will cause increased sea level rise, in breathtaking defiance of 2/3 of a century of evidence to the contrary:

    Sen. Inhofe has long supported giving evidence-based science equal time with global warming religion, but he has nothing to do with TN’s Senate Bill 893 / House Bill 368. That bill is in the Tennessee State Senate, but Inhofe serves in the United States Senate.

    SB-893 / HB-368 simply “protects teachers from discipline for teaching scientific subjects in an objective manner.” It defends science teachers’ right to teach science as they think correct, protecting them from punishment by left-wing thought police, who don’t want to allow teachers to tell the truth. Quoting from the bill:

    “…teachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.
    (d)
    [school administrators shall not] prohibit any teacher in a public school system of this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.
    (e) This section 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 non-religion….”

    Of course, the Left calls permitting science teachers to teach the truth “anti-scientific, and very likely unconstitutional.”

    The bad news is that the Left’s war on the First Amendment, and on science, continues.

    The good news is that the Left is about to suffer a setback in Tennessee. Slightly different versions of this bill have now passed in both the TN House and TN Senate by more than 3-to-1 margins, with even many Democrats joining Republicans in defense of science teachers, and only the most extreme left wing Democrats voting “no.”

    • greenman3610 Says:

      so, just to be clear —- you believe young earth creationism should be taught on an equal footing with evolutionary biology?

    • dana1981 Says:

      daveburton Says the Laws of Physics are a religious belief.

    • Alteredstory Says:

      “Sen. Inhofe has long supported giving evidence-based science equal time with global warming religion”

      Give me a break – he decided what to believe on climate change based on COST, not evidence – that’s what HE said.


    • I don’t really have to post the rising sea level graphs again for another denier? Please say I don’t. It’s ridiculous. Oh, ok. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Current_sea_level_rise.

      You can’t have your own facts.

      As for Inhofe, ka-ching – oil money and book revenues – and the crayons to go with it. He is a hoax.

    • owlbrudder Says:

      Sen. Inhofe has long supported giving evidence-based science equal time with his religious fanaticism, which gets its “evidence” from only those religious tracts he believes in.

      When did he start giving equal time to evidence-based science, or any other evidence-based proposition? The only viewpoint getting equal time with his religious mania is that of what appear to be his paymasters in the fossil fuel industry. One might say “The love of money is the root of all Inhofe”.

      Meanwhile, in the real world, he is seen as a rabid fundamentalist nutter, more dangerous to the future of our world than the rabid fundamentalists governing Iran. How do people like that manage to convince rational people to vote for them?

      • Martin Lack Says:

        Owlbrudder – It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that, in many parts of the USA, what you call “rabid fundamentalism” is still quite popular.
        Unfortunately, what I like to call “falsifiable theology” would be much safer for everyone; but it pre-supposes acceptance of the need for intellectual honesty – something large parts of the GOP is clearly not ready to do yet.

  3. Martin Lack Says:

    “…biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.” These are four very odd things to put together.

    Evolution is a theory that explains all that we can deduce from the fossil record about the development of life on Earth but, as the transmutation of species (as opposed to environmental adaptation) is unlikely to ever be observed, it should not be elevated to the status of atheist/humanist dogma… The origin of life is a mystery and, unless someone cracks time travel, I am pretty sure we will ever understand it… Human cloning is a very difficult issue that, along with stem cell research, is a bit of ethical mine field…

    However, anthropogenic climate disruption is only denied by those with prejudicial religious and political views who cannot – or will not – let the light of modern science intrude upon the darkness of their closed minds.

    The Church of Rome had to concede defeat in the face of the Enlightenment, but the Enlightenment should also now concede defeat in the face of the Environment… The Sun does not revolve around the Earth, but neither is humanity superior to Nature; and God is not going to rescue us from our stupidity if we trash the planet because we fail to recognise this fact.

    Belief in God is something science can neither prove nor disprove. Whereas, as if ongoing observational evidence were not enough, modern science has proven beyond reasonable doubt that ACD is a reality. Therefore, it is the denial of ACD that is now quite clearly the faith-based belief system.

  4. livinginabox Says:

    The Inhofes, Shimkus’ and like-minded individuals of this world should prove to the rest of us that our belief in physics is a delusion. A suitable place for this would be the Grand Canyon where they can step into thin-air and demonstrate conclusively to the world that gravity is a scientific conspiracy. I’m sure the Bible says somewhere that angels will ensure they come to no harm.

    Please form an orderly queue. I’ll bring my popcorn and binoculars and a seat.


  5. A Senator Inhofe once said,
    “The climate change ‘scare’ is quite dead.
    As for Evil-lution
    I think it pollution
    From a mind that was basically red.”

    One day Mr. Inhofe did die
    And stood at the Gates upon High.
    Saint Peter said, “Nope.
    You’ve not got a hope.”
    And told him that warming was nigh.

  6. guylacrosse Says:

    Sen. Inhofe and Rep. Shimkus are proof that evolution isn’t always a step forward.


  7. Will TN support my Flying Spaghetti Monster based theory of how we came to be on this planet? I’ll pack my bags.

  8. aranoff Says:

    The opposition to evolution is irrational. We do not understand what rational thinking is. See Rational Thinking, Government Policies, Science, and Living. Rational thinking starts with clearly stated principles, continues with logical deductions, and then examines empirical evidence to possibly modify the principles.


  9. […] campaign, and cigarette ads that Heartland has so enthusiastically defended for decades,  the recent spate of proposed laws  aimed at undermining science education targets the most vulnerable population.  It is meant to […]


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