A piece of legislation that is slowly making its way through the Tennessee General Assembly would allow public school teachers in Tennessee to teach science in a more objective manner. The bill, House Bill 0368 sponsored by Representative Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) and Senator Bo Watson (R-Hixson) as SB 0893, would not allow for teachers to be penalized for presenting the other side of a scientific debate, and it is obviously aimed at the State’s science classrooms where only the theory of evolution-and a certain brand of it at that-is discussed.
Those who oppose this legislation say that it is opening the door for the open teaching of creationism in the public schools of Tennessee. The opposition comes from the usual quarters, liberal Democrats who apparently have a problem with the very mention of God’s name in public, and militant evolutionists who imagine that this bill mandates the teaching of the appearance of the known universe in six 24-hour days. Here is what the relevant text of the bill actually says:
The state board of education, public elementary and secondary school governing authorities, directors of schools, school system administrators, and public elementary and secondary school principals and administrators shall endeavor to assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies. Toward this end, 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.
Neither the state board of education, nor any public elementary or secondary school governing authority, director of schools, school system administrator, or any public elementary or secondary school principal or administrator shall 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.
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.
Would someone care to explain how “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” somehow translates into the public schools openly teaching Christian religious doctrine, including a six-day creation?
What some of these folks are really afraid of is the reality that evolution, like intelligent design, is just a theory, and it is a theory that many militants want to pass off as fact. If someone legitimately questions evolutionary theory, it might lead them to wonder not just if the universe is designed, but of course they’ll begin to wonder in their humanity just who the Designer might be-and that isn’t a question for the science classroom, but it is also one that many of the militant evolutionists do not believe that people should ask.
For the record, in no way does this writer believe that Tennessee schools should quit teaching evolution as the predominately accepted theory with regard to the origin of the universe. There are plenty of questions about that theory, however, and it is not air-tight as many “scientists” would have everyone believe. Tennessee’s children need the freedom to question and their teachers need the freedom to be able to give an honest answer, not merely the rote answer given in the study guide