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Tennessee Passes Bill That Allows "Teaching the Controversy" of Evolution 1108

Posted by samzenpus
from the inherit-the-wind-II dept.
Layzej writes "The Tennessee Senate has passed a bill that allows teachers to 'teach the controversy' on evolution, global warming and other scientific subjects. Critics have called it a 'monkey bill' that promotes creationism in classrooms. In a statement sent to legislators, eight members of the National Academy of Science said that, in practice, the bill will likely lead to 'scientifically unwarranted criticisms of evolution.' and that 'By undermining the teaching of evolution in Tennessee's public schools, HB368 and SB893 would miseducate students, harm the state's national reputation, and weaken its efforts to compete in a science-driven global economy.'"
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Tennessee Passes Bill That Allows "Teaching the Controversy" of Evolution

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:54PM (#39430081) Journal

    The Senate approved a bill Monday evening that deals with teaching of evolution and other scientific theories ...

    Well, there's your problem, right there. The overall concept of evolution is no longer a theory. Surely even the staunchest of Creationists must acknowledge the so called "short-term" evolution that gives us the ability to manipulate plants or breed wolves into dogs.

    Yes, as with most fields, a long time ago there were sets of theories. Like prior to Watson and Crick, back when you had Darwinian Evolution, Larmarckian Evolution, etc. Not anymore though. You might have theories about very specific things in the field that might be impossible to prove -- like, say, what the Last Eukaryotic Common Ancestor (LECA) looked like -- but Evolution is no longer a theory. The field moves forward while Tennessee makes themselves look like idiots from some forgotten era.

    • by binarylarry (1338699) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:58PM (#39430151)

      This isn't about the facts.

      I mean the creationist counter argument is that it contradicts a bunch of fairy tales written thousands of years ago by sand people.

      You aren't going to be able to get the idea of evolution through that brainwashed blank stare they throw up when you start talking about science.

      • by lgw (121541) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:03PM (#39430261) Journal

        Exactly. A friend of mine went to high school in Georgia. The biology teacher was legally required to teach evolution. Here's how she taught it.

        "Today, I'm legally required to teach evolution. We all believe in Jesus, right? OK, next topic."

        I doubt the Tenesee law will change much in the classroom, merely decriminalize common behavior.

        • by AdrianKemp (1988748) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:36PM (#39430825)

          I am still stunned that people think this way...

          You (not you, they) believe in the bible and Jesus and invisible friends in the sky, great. That in no way interferes with the proven fact that organisms evolve based on their surroundings.

          Even if you want to completely dismiss that humans evolved, you should still (as an educator, no matter how dumb) desire to pass on knowledge.

          • by beh (4759) * on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @03:00PM (#39432299)

            From TFA:
            In a statement sent to legislators, eight members of the National Academy of Science said that, in practice, the bill will likely [...] harm the state's national reputation[...]

            The scientists got it wrong as well - thanks to blogging, like the publication here on Slashdot, the bill harms the state's INTERnational reputation... ;-)

        • by jcaldwel (935913) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:43PM (#39430991)
          Its amazing that she could get a degree in biology without "believing" in evolution. It's a bit like a physicist that doesn't believe in gravity. Next biology topic: Locusts only have four legs [biblegateway.com]!
          • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @02:00PM (#39431301) Journal

            Chances are the biology teacher didn't have a degree in anything resembling biology. Schools figure that they can take anyone with an education degree and make them teach anything.

          • by netsavior (627338) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @02:10PM (#39431497)
            Don't forget we should be teaching biblical Pi instead of heathen devil math.

            "And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one rim to the other it was round all about, and...a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about....And it was an hand breadth thick...." — First Kings, chapter 7, verses 23 and 26

            Clearly Pi = 3
            Sinners.

          • by readin (838620) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @03:28PM (#39432747)

            Its amazing that she could get a degree in biology without "believing" in evolution. It's a bit like a physicist that doesn't believe in gravity. Next biology topic: Locusts only have four legs [biblegateway.com]!

            For the specific example of the biology teacher - I don't care whether the biology teacher believes in evolution or not. I want a teacher who can present the evidence and the theory in a clear and interesting way, without getting preachy for either side of the debate.

            So you believe that for someone to properly study Islam, they must believe in Islam? For someone to be a student of Greek gods and goddesses, the person must believe in those gods and goddesses?

            I think my eighth grade teacher handled the question perfectly. When he introduced the topic he said we didn't have to agree with the theory but that to be educated people in the modern world we had to understand it. If I remember correctly, some (perhaps most) of the test questions started with the phrase, "According to the theory of evolution...".

            Assuming that the evidence and the logic speak for themselves, the students will be able to decide for themselves so long as they have the evidence and the theory presented to them, so there is no need to get upset that the teacher isn't trying to force the students to believe in the theory - they can figure it out.

        • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:46PM (#39431057) Journal

          Why didn't your friend sue?

      • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:04PM (#39430285)
        Actually creationists have many counterarguments. You picked one of the more intelligent ones.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:09PM (#39430375)

        This isn't about the facts.

        I mean the creationist counter argument is that it contradicts a bunch of fairy tales written thousands of years ago by sand people.

        You aren't going to be able to get the idea of evolution through that brainwashed blank stare they throw up when you start talking about science.

        Am I the only person who read "sand people" and immediately thought of the deserts of Tatooine *hoooooooark hoark hoark*?

      • by ILongForDarkness (1134931) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:19PM (#39430533)

        Perhaps creationism has a place in a course on logic (eg. ontological, prime mover etc). I think to ensure freedom of religion or at least to keep the schools free from a biased view of religion it needs to be not only from the christian standpoint and more of an academic course rather than just a "we are a christian society and this is what christian's should believe" kind of course. I see nothing wrong with teaching religion as part of history, logic/philosophy, etc. It is a massive part of society. Even atheists often point to religious objects (churches, vatican, paintings etc) as being some of the finest works of art. It would be a shame to ignore the background of everything and just look at the paintings as pretty pictures. So much of the field was controlled by the church funding it, people's rather dreary look at the human state etc that the (mostly Catholic) church instilled in people in the 14-19th centuries. Similarly with science: we can't ignore the fact that these ideas had huge impact as to how people view themselves in relation to the universe and that there are still a large number of people that reject the ideas outright, or would modify them to include that God controls evolution to serve His purpose.

        Separating the church from the state doesn't necessarily everyone in the state needs to remain ignorant of things religious just that the state shouldn't be controlled by the church(shrine, temple, insert whatever name you use for whatever building you consider sacred). I think the state has no place to say which religion is right but teaching facts about a religion and its place in history and culture? No problem there IMHO.

        • by RazzleFrog (537054) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:23PM (#39430611)

          There are classes on religion and that's where this stuff belongs. A class on science has no business talking about religion.

          And really this whole freedom of religion is really just that the government shall establish no state religion. Not that religions should have free reign to do whatever the hell they want.

          • by jeffmeden (135043) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:36PM (#39430821) Homepage Journal

            There are classes on religion and that's where this stuff belongs. A class on science has no business talking about religion.

            And really this whole freedom of religion is really just that the government shall establish no state religion. Not that religions should have free reign to do whatever the hell they want.

            Not that this is even worth mentioning, but the Constitution says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" which goes a bit further than just "we won't have a state religion" and says that we *won't* have any law that specifically establishes (endorses) a religion as the precedent for governing (or running a government school.)

          • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:57PM (#39431247) Journal

            A science class that doesn't teach the history of science is practically religion itself. You don't teach science (well) by listing a load of current theories. You start with simple theories and go through the observations and experiments that invalidated them. Creationism definitely has a place there, because that is what people believed. You start by explaining that people believed that species never changed, and then list some of the examples that disproved this. Then you go on to things like ring species that demonstrate that the concept of a species is itself somewhat flawed and that speciation is a gradual process.

            Science is a process, and without teaching the history surrounding each step in the process it's very hard for students to distinguish it from dogma.

            • Be more careful with that word "believe". Science is most emphatically not about belief. Science is not a religion and takes nothing on faith. Science also does not claim to have all the answers. All of science is based on observable evidence, repeatable experiments, and logical deduction and modeling. I cringe a little every time I see that phrase "scientists believe" in reference to a hypothesis we think is likely true, or a theory, or some other bit of scientific thinking or uncertainty.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:46PM (#39431067)

        >>>Evolution is no longer a theory.

        Last time I looked it up, textbooks still said "Theory of Evolution" not "Law of Evolution". In fact I've had many professors over the years argue even Newton's Law of Gravity should be renamed a Theory, since the misnamed "law" has been debunked by later discoveries over the centuries.

        In science ALL things are theories, because we will never have a complete understanding and the theories are eventually proven wrong (or at least flawed). Maybe if we evolve into the Q we'll finally understand it all, but that's definitely not the case now.

        We have theories of how the world works.
        Not absolutes. Not laws.

        • by Jason Levine (196982) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @02:22PM (#39431703)

          The problem is that the word "theory" has different meanings to Scientists and Layperson. To a layperson, a theory is a guess as to how things are, often a guess with little to no evidence backing it up. To a scientist, a theory is an explanation that matches a set of data. This theory can be used to make predictions which will then either be proven true, thus supporting the theory, or shown to be false, thus causing the theory to be modified.

          The Theory of Evolution has made many predictions and has even been wrong sometimes. Unfortunately for Creationists, it was wrong in small ways and the theory was easily modified to take these into account. The Theory of Evolution as it stands today might never reach the status of "Law", but it also is highly unlikely to be completely overturned. Of course, this doesn't stop Creationists from grabbing upon the scientific word "theory", applying the layperson definition, and touting this as proof that Evolution has no evidence supporting it.

        • by Dahamma (304068) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @02:42PM (#39432029)

          I think you should go look up the definition of "scientific law". Nowhere does it claim to be an absolute truth, in fact that's not even remotely what it means. If your professors seriously argued changing Newton's Laws to theories, they don't understand the terminology either.

          In fact, a law is not even really on the same continuum as a theory - a theory is an explanation for a phenomenon, and a law is just a statement of results *in specific circumstances*. A scientific law can be disproved, sure, but it makes no sense to be "demoted"...

          That misunderstanding is one of the primary weapons of the anti-science creationists who try to introduce doubt where none really exists by claiming that "evolution is just a theory". In science not *all things* are theories, but certainly all *explanations* are theories (in various levels of certainty).

          The National Academy of Science has a nice statement summarizing this:

          Why isn't evolution called a law?
          Laws are generalizations that describe phenomena, whereas theories explain phenomena. For example, the laws of thermodynamics describe what will happen under certain circumstances; thermodynamics theories explain why these events occur. Laws, like facts and theories, can change with better data. But theories do not develop into laws with the accumulation of evidence. Rather, theories are the goal of science."

    • by jhoegl (638955) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:59PM (#39430169)
      On the contrary, science has always touted the fact that everything it discovers as theory.
      This allows people to attempt to disprove it until accepted.
      So, things that we take as fact "sun is center of our galaxy", "earth is round", is now a proven theory. But in essence, still a theory.
      It is one thing I have admired about the scientific community, always allowing scrutiny of the ideas and findings.
      This is why I think the summaries counter arguments against the bill are the wrong way to go about it. I would challenge people to find proof against the theory.
    • by Raul654 (453029) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:00PM (#39430197) Homepage

      "Surely even the staunchest of Creationists must acknowledge the so called "short-term" evolution that gives us the ability to manipulate plants or breed wolves into dogs. " - the standard creationist reply to this would be that they accept "micro evolution" (natural selection and adaption) but that they don't accept "macro evolution" (the ability for one species to evolve into another). Scientifically, there's no meaningful distinction between the two - it's only a difference of degree, not kind.

      Most creationists do not accept the existence of beneficial mutations. (They argue that adaption only brings out attributes that already have some preexisting genetic basis, and that no new beneficial alleles can be created)

    • by wasabii (693236) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:06PM (#39430315)

      Evolution is still a theory. And a fact. The terms aren't exclusive.

    • by gratuitous_arp (1650741) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:15PM (#39430469)

      When scientists say "theory" they mean something different than what most other people think of when they use the word. "Theory" is used in the "I'm pretty sure the thing I'm typing on is a keyboard, but I could be hallucinating and giving my cat, Whiskers, a backrub" sense. It's the best information that humans have, but we are humble enough to permit the idea that there is something unknown about the subject that could, if someday discovered by research, invalidate it.

      It's correct to call evolution a scientific theory, people just don't understand why the word "theory" is used here and it gets misused into making evolution look less like "the only game in town."

  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:54PM (#39430083)

    Why do politicians think they know more than scientists about reaching biology? They're wrong on this one... to much science to say evolution happened and the only support the creationists have is one book that's proven to be mostly fiction. If Adam and Eve were the first humans, then who wrote the biblical story?

    • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:05PM (#39430311)
      Because to them, it isn't about science. It's about two things far more important to them. Religion, and willing popular support.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:07PM (#39430343)

      Not that I subscribe to Creationism, but your logic is flawed. By definition a story about some event cannot be written until after the event. So to say that somebody before Adam & Eve had to write the story about Adam and Eve is a flawed argument. Since the story of Adam and Even is not presented as a prophesy, but rather a story of what was, it was by definition written after the event (real or imagined).
      To put in other terms, nobody can write a story about your life until after you are born, and lived some portion of that life.

  • by Kenja (541830) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:57PM (#39430125)
    Just as math should be taught in math class and so on. If you want to teach religion in a class dedicated to the subject, I'm OK with that. But it would need to cover ALL religions and beliefs, which I think people would throw the hissy fit to end all hissy fits over.
  • by webheaded (997188) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:57PM (#39430127) Homepage
    That education chalk board picture where 2+2=5 has never been seemed so relevant.

    Some day, I'm hoping that all these retarded laws get bitch slapped back. Is it just that I'm young or are these people become more shrill and outspoken about this kind of idiocy? I'm only 25 and I'm hoping this is just a phase before we inevitably tell them all the shut the hell up and move on with things.
  • Simple solution... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hsthompson69 (1674722) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:57PM (#39430133)

    ...require any science taught in schools to have a necessary and sufficient falsifiable hypothesis.

    Evolution qualifies, creationism doesn't.

    Astronomy qualifies, astrology doesn't.

    Oh, and FWIW, Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming *doesn't* qualify, unless of course some brave soul would like to make a clear falsifiable hypothesis statement for it :)

    • by SJHillman (1966756) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:05PM (#39430309)

      What about an interdisciplinary course covering phrenology and alchemy. Then we could have gold dandruff!

      • by trout007 (975317)

        I think alchemy is now covered under nuclear physics. And the philosopher's stone is now a nuclear reactor.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Laser Lou (230648)

      Oh, and FWIW, Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming *doesn't* qualify, unless of course some brave soul would like to make a clear falsifiable hypothesis statement for it :)

      Rising temperatures are not falsifiable? Hmm..

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kenja (541830)
        The non-falsifiable argument gets tossed around a lot and has never been explained to my satisfaction.
        1. Average temperatures are rising
        2. The rise in temperatures is due to so called 'greenhouse gasses'.
        3. The increase in greenhouse gasses is caused by human action.
        All of the above seems falsifiable to me. As are the corollary items such as number 1 causing changes in weather, melting of ice caps etc.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hsthompson69 (1674722)

        Rising temperatures happened well before humanity existed. We've had global warming and global cooling and global staying the same for the entire history of the planet.

        The question is, what observations would convince you that rising temperatures are due to natural variation, and not human activity (much less that they'll be catastrophic)?

        Natural climate change is the null hypothesis (since climate changed well before humanity came into play). CAGW, which cites both warm temperatures and cold temperatures

        • by tgibbs (83782) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @04:37PM (#39433585)

          Rising temperatures happened well before humanity existed. We've had global warming and global cooling and global staying the same for the entire history of the planet.

          Or to make a similar argument, "Forest fires happen all the time from lightning strikes, so that forest fire cannot be due to me throwing my lit cigarette into a pile of dead leaves." Perhaps you can spot the fallacy when the same argument is placed in another context.

          The question is, what observations would convince you that rising temperatures are due to natural variation, and not human activity (much less that they'll be catastrophic)?

          Quite simply, identify the source of the natural variation and provide a plausible mechanism whereby it could produce such a large and prolonged increase in temperature. All this has been done for increased temperatures due to human CO2 emissions. We have the radiative physics, we have the calculation of the expected effect, we have the measurements of temperature changes, and it all matches. There are certainly plausible explanations for natural climate change in the past. If it's the sun (one of the sources of some past changes in climate), we should be able to detect a substantial change in solar output (but there isn't any). If it's CO2 from volcanoes, we should be able to show that the isotopic signature of the increased atmospheric CO2 matches that released by volcanoes (it doesn't). Etc.

          So basically the "skeptics" (who become utterly credulous when it comes to any argument that reassures them that they don't have to worry about global warming) are asking us to believe:
          1. There is some unknown source of warming that has been responsible for warming in the past (even though there are plausible explanations of past warming in terms of mechanisms that demonstrably aren't present today), and that for some unknown reason has kicked in over the last century or so (but whatever it is, it's going to stop Real Soon Now), and
          2. There is some other unknown mechanism that prevents the warming that is predicted based on the physics of CO2 (and which coincidentally matches the measured warming) from taking place.

    • Global warming relies heavily on the greenhouse effect, that's falsifiable.

      You won't get anything so simple that covers the entire global warming theory:

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/news.php?n=385 [skepticalscience.com]

      Sometimes people ask "what would it take to falsify the man-made global warming theory?". Well, basically it would require that our fundamental understanding of physics be wrong, because that's what the theory is based on. This fundamental physics has been scrutinized through scientific experiments for decades to centuries.

      • Global warming relies heavily on the greenhouse effect, that's falsifiable.

        Catastrophic anthropogenic global warming also relies heavily on the existence of humans, and that's falsifiable too. However, the mere existence of humans doesn't imply in any sort of way that they much be the cause of catastrophic global warming :)

        Heck, astrology relies heavily on the orbits of the planets, and that's falsifiable too - but you'll never find a necessary and sufficient falsifiable hypothesis for astrology, now will

        • Extrapolating a complex hypothesis from fundamental physics requires a bunch of steps, *each one* which must be subject to strict scrutiny and falsifiability.

          And indeed each one is falsifiable and "climate skeptics" have been attacking them all to find a weak spot to place their chisel for years, so far without success.

    • by dward90 (1813520) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:19PM (#39430523)

      Global warming certainly qualifies by any realistic definition of a hypothesis. You might disagree with the hypothesis, but it's at least as falsifiable as Evolution.

      Contributed to, at least in part, by human activity, a steady increase in global average temperature will have negative effects on the environment and human society at large.

      It's possible that you're talking about some ridiculous exaggeration of that ("OMG we're all gonna burn up in flames because Tom's car only gets 12 MPG!!"), but GW is a pretty clear statement that has plenty of measurable criteria. You can be pedantic and demand exact definitions for human contribution, temperature increase, and whether negative effects are caused by the former, but all are still clearly testable.

      It's most definitely science. Much of the disagreement about it comes on disputing the validity of data acquired and how it's interpreted. However, the fact that data is being acquired and interpreted, and the fact that it is under scrutiny, is what makes the entire process scientific and worthwhile in the first place.

      • You might disagree with the hypothesis, but it's at least as falsifiable as Evolution.

        Name a single set of global average temperature and global average CO2 observations, past, present or future, that would falsify Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming.

        For evolution, it's simple - find a modern rabbit fossil in the precambrian.

        a steady increase in global average temperature will have negative effects on the environment and human society at large.

        What observations would falsify that hypothesis (regardle

  • by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:57PM (#39430139)
    Call their bluff; announce an intent to entertain offers from other states to move their entire institutions, lock, stock, and intellectuals due to their services no longer being required by the state.

    It's not just the Taliban that wants to go back to the 12th century.
  • To be fair (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Baloroth (2370816) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:01PM (#39430213)

    Students who are unable to argue against those who attempt to oppose evolution on an argumentative basis are unlikely to ever go anywhere in the scientific community anyways. In other words, if the bill allows teachers to point out the arguments against evolution, and allows the students the freedom to argue against the teacher for those arguments freely, then I do not see it as being a problem. However, in reality most teachers will just fail or severely down-grade students who disagree with them, and if the bill does not include provisions to prevent that (which I doubt it does) then it is a terrible idea.

    Fill disclosure: I am religious, and I do believe evolution is a valid and highly probably scientific hypothesis (I don't want to say I "believe in" it, because it isn't a matter of faith, it is a matter of reason). The two things in no way contradict each other and anyone who claims they do doesn't know what they're talking about (most probably, doesn't know anything about either religion or science and their respective fields).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by WastedMeat (1103369)

      (Didn't mean to post as AC)

      Arguing with someone who chooses to disregard science is not a skill indicative of scientific aptitude. You can apply all of the logic and evidence with the best imaginable skill, but it still doesn't work when the teacher dismisses all of the evidence as a ruse by Satan, and finds no logical fault in an omnipotent and heavy-handed God whose existence is impossible to verify. You can't argue science with these people until after you convince them that they are crazy.

      My entire fami

  • by JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:03PM (#39430253)
    ...why so many places make such a big deal about evolution.
    I was taught it in school with no one complaining, and I grew up in the loony, backwards state of Texas.
  • by JazzHarper (745403) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:03PM (#39430259) Journal

    to illustrate the controversy by simply screening "Inherit the Wind" in the classroom?

  • Fine (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:03PM (#39430265) Journal

    Let's start teaching holocaust denial in history class then. It's a "controversy" too, right? And any lessons that touch on recent events should also teach the "controversy" about 9/11 being an inside job. Chemistry lessons should be augmented by alchemy.

    If all alternative points of view (including the batshit insane ones) are equally valid, you have to.

    • Re:Fine (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:28PM (#39430679) Homepage Journal

      Let's start teaching holocaust denial in history class then.

      They already do: it's referred to as "Manifest Destiny," and is the flimsy justification given to kids regarding the attempted genocide of the native American people. I'm sure someone will want to attempt to argue that point, but when you look at the facts objectively it becomes obvious the colonial settlers intentionally attempted to systematically wipe out an entire nation of people, in an effort to steal the native's land. /rant

      Sometimes it seems there are more American Holocaust deniers here, than European Holocaust deniers in all the world.

    • A more apposite example would be a statement that is in the legislators's holy book.

      Psalm 104, verse 5:
      "He hath founded the earth upon its foundations, so that it shall not be moved for ever"

      If we accept that a religious text can be the basis for a controversy about science, then it follows that science classes should "teach the controversy" about heliocentric astronomy.

      There is, by the way, not much Biblical support for the idea of scriptural inerrancy. Other Bible-based religions such as Judaism don't see

  • The Bill (Score:4, Informative)

    by UninformedCoward (1738488) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:04PM (#39430273)

    In case you want to read the bill [tn.gov]. I think 1D is the main issue.

  • by Shoten (260439) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:06PM (#39430317)

    Meh...they want to pass a law like that in their own state, I say let them.

    I mean, it's not like every state can have people that go off to college and become highly educated members of society. Someone has to build the cars, right? :)

  • by fermion (181285) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:08PM (#39430357) Homepage Journal
    For instance, in Texas in history we need to teach the controversy of the Alamo. Have the kids research and debate if the heros of the Alamo were in fact primarily concerned with keeping slaver in the nation of texas, a basic right that would have taken away if Mexico's liberal no slavery policy were allowed to prevail.

    There are many examples of this. In world history rather than focusing on wars, we could include the faith based authoritarian regimes and ask if faith has been used to create the oppress more than used to help the oppressed. Again, not take sides. Just have student read about the controversy in order to develop students better at problem solving.

    We could do the same thing in literature, reading books that teach the controversy of religion, democracy, and capitalism.

    My problem with teaching the controversy is that if I ask a christian why we have public school prayer when the bible prohibits it, they don't want to take about that controversy. So why are we taking about evolution when there is really nothing in the bible, or at the Christian testament, that prevents it from validity. Of course if they really wanted to pursue a controversy, they would be working on disavowing the trinity [miguelservet.org], something that no good protest, only the modern Catholics who follow the Council of Niceae, should believe.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:08PM (#39430365)

    As a mathematics/science teacher in this fine state, I don't have a huge problem with this. I just made my students write a paper on Russell's Teapot, so I feel like I balanced it out.

    But seriously, anybody that thinks these two pieces of paper mean anything...they don't. They say they allow for these things, doesn't mean we have to. And we won't.

  • by Dixie_Flatline (5077) <vincent DOT jan DOT goh AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:10PM (#39430387) Homepage

    It's too bad they didn't do this properly. There ARE controversies in evolutionary theory. They're not controversies in whether or not evolution works, but there IS disagreement in the specific mechanisms of evolution. Punctuated equilibrium or phyletic gradualism? Duke it out! Teach those controversies!

    Oh wait, I guess I'm asking for science to be taught in science class. My bad.

  • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:20PM (#39430553)
    Now teachers can address the controversy surrounding the existence of God if creationism come sup in the classroom.

    Remember - A Sword cuts two ways.

  • by n5vb (587569) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:21PM (#39430575)

    is manufactured. It's that some religious extremists in this country can't deal with the fact that the reality that hard science is discovering and exploring doesn't exactly match their creation myth of choice, and keep stirring the s*** because they're still trying to stuff that genie back in the bottle long after it's way too late.

    There's only a "controversy" because they keep insisting it's "controversial" as a pretext to keep their foot in the door. And the fact is, creationism is not science, at best it's Bible-flavored pseudoscience that's already decided its conclusions and merely cherry-picks data to support those conclusions .. which is actually the opposite of science ..

  • It gets better (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sebastopol (189276) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @01:28PM (#39430669) Homepage

    My heart goes out to the intelligent youth in TN.

    It gets better.

  • by Theovon (109752) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @02:01PM (#39431319)

    One of the commenters pointed to this article:

    http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/832

    It essentially makes an information theoretic argument that some unspecified designer may need to be invoked to better explain modern observations of biological complexity. That is, they claim (but I don't see the evidence) that certain biological configurations are better or more easily explained or explainable at all if we assume that there was some intent behind some aspect of resulting organisms. I skimmed the article, but I didn't notice it saying anything at all about irreducible complexity. It simply mentions that some things have much too high of an information content to be plausibly the result of evolution according to completely natural processes.

    As I see it, the assumption that the governing processes are entirely natural is simpler, because it does not invoke the requirement for some external influence. They also make no claims in regard to the nature of these outside influences. Moreover, evolutionary theory doesn't preclude that some aliens or something may have had influence. It simply declines to explain in those terms, because there's no difference between an intelligent alien tweaking things in some imperceptible way versus some extra radiation causing some mutations and some specific ecological niche favoring certain traits. They seem to be implying that they can CALCULATE that certain biological complexity is extremely unlikely given our basic understanding of mutation and selection. But then again, everything we observe is a priori extremely improbable it's just that we have inordinate amounts of time and space for those improbable events to become probable, and we have evidence of the time scale from geology. We don't, however, have any direct evidence that there was anything other than planet-local natural influences behind evolution, and it's hard to define what exactly is and is not "natural."

    So, is this ID article just being vague? Or are they making some interesting point? I don't just want to dismiss it as creationist dogma. I think that an information theoretic analysis is warranted. I just don't trust their understanding of the science or their underlying motivations.

  • by RichMan (8097) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @02:03PM (#39431359)

    The whole thing comes down to politics. School boards are elected. Higher up politicians distribute funds to school boards. There are some fairly vocal individuals who may or may not represent the majority but have the ability to stir up powerful emotions among the electorate.

    Proper democracy requires an educated informed electorate to function correctly. Proper democracy does not provide a way to bootstrap the system where the fundamental requirements are lacking.

"You need tender loving care once a week - so that I can slap you into shape." - Ellyn Mustard

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