As if the Scopes Monkey Trial wasn’t enough of an embarrassment for the state, the Tennessee legislature has seen fit to enact a law that allows teachers to question the veracity of evolution in the classroom. Now, if there were other credible, evidence-based theories available, I would have no problem. However, this is quite simply a Trojan Horse that will allow the conservative majority in the state to sneak “Intelligent Design” into the classroom. Basically, any teacher can introduce their own personal biases into the classroom under the guise of critical thinking.
In an attempt to head off a lawsuit from the ACLU, the sponsors of the bill included language that prohibits talk of religion. However, I know of no other opposition to the theory of evolution than from the religious right. In a brilliant move, they have even sought to turn the debate around, and accused opponents of the bill of being against teaching students how to think critically.
Of course, the theory of evolution is not the only scientific concept under attack. Climate change, a favorite whipping boy of the right, has also been allowed to be questioned by teachers that are so inclined. Now, I’m not opposed to honest academic debate, but the fact that this comes from the Republican dominated legislature, tells me that honest academic debate has nothing to do with it.
In the end, this is, quite simply, a repudiation of science and reason. There are those of my fellow Tennesseans that believe that the Bible is a literal play by play of the origins of the universe. They cannot grasp the thought that, perhaps, God set our natural order in motion, and that evolution was the way it all played out. While there is no factual proof that we evolved from lower life forms, the science suggests that we might have. Science does not deny God. In fact, it serves to demonstrate the wonder and glory of the Almighty. If only we would get the memo.