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Education United States News Science

Tennessee "Teaching the Controversy" Bill Becomes Law 672

MrKevvy writes "The Tennessee 'Teaching the Controversy' bill was passed into law today. 'A law to allow public school teachers to challenge the scientific consensus on issues like climate change and evolution will soon take effect in Tennessee. State governor Bill Haslam allowed the bill — passed by the state House and Senate — to become law without signing it, saying he did not believe the legislation "changes the scientific standards that are taught in our schools."'" The governor adds: "However, I also don’t believe that it accomplishes anything that isn’t already acceptable in our schools."
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Tennessee "Teaching the Controversy" Bill Becomes Law

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  • by Shatrat ( 855151 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:37PM (#39645523)

    I don't think this law does what you think it does. I believe the goal of this law is to allow teachers to present creationism as a legitimate scientific alternative to natural selection.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:47PM (#39645729)

    One 'side' isn't science.

  • by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:53PM (#39645819)

    Without evolution, nothing in biology beyond the 4th grade level makes sense. Morphology, Anatomy, Physiology, Cytology, Embryology, Ecology, Taxonomy, Genetics, Paleontology, Microbiology... nothing, nothing, nothing in any of those fields can be adequately explained without bearing evolution in mind. Debating evolution in a biology class is like debating Netwon's third law of motion while riding a rocket to the moon.

  • Monkey Law (Score:4, Informative)

    by Spiked_Three ( 626260 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:53PM (#39645837)
    A very appropriate name. Kids raised in TN are destined for failure. I'm sure there are some smart people there, but they moved in from out of state and/or are the exceptions.

    I moved there in 2004, couldn't believe the ignorance, and ran out last year. That place is scary.

    To be honest this is the kind of lawmaking I would expect from people there, a waste of time and further dragging the country down with more uneducated bible thumpers.
  • by DJRumpy ( 1345787 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:55PM (#39645853)

    Exactly what it is. If I had my child in a Tennessee school and the Teacher started using tax payer money to advance creationism, I would be the first to line up to sue the school, and I hope that is exactly what happens. Tax payer money should not be used to fund religious teachings and any state that thinks this is ok deserves to be hit with a lawsuit.

    Stupidity at it's finest.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District [wikipedia.org]

    For the reasons that follow, we conclude that the religious nature of ID [intelligent design] would be readily apparent to an objective observer, adult or child. (page 24)
    A significant aspect of the IDM [intelligent design movement] is that despite Defendants' protestations to the contrary, it describes ID as a religious argument. In that vein, the writings of leading ID proponents reveal that the designer postulated by their argument is the God of Christianity. (page 26)
    The evidence at trial demonstrates that ID is nothing less than the progeny of creationism. (page 31)
    The overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory. (page 43)
    Throughout the trial and in various submissions to the Court, Defendants vigorously argue that the reading of the statement is not ‘teaching’ ID but instead is merely ‘making students aware of it.’ In fact, one consistency among the Dover School Board members' testimony, which was marked by selective memories and outright lies under oath, as will be discussed in more detail below, is that they did not think they needed to be knowledgeable about ID because it was not being taught to the students. We disagree. .... an educator reading the disclaimer is engaged in teaching, even if it is colossally bad teaching. .... Defendants’ argument is a red herring because the Establishment Clause forbids not just 'teaching' religion, but any governmental action that endorses or has the primary purpose or effect of advancing religion. (footnote 7 on page 46)
    After a searching review of the record and applicable caselaw, we find that while ID arguments may be true, a proposition on which the Court takes no position, ID is not science. We find that ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science. They are: (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980s; and (3) ID's negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community. It is additionally important to note that ID has failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community, it has not generated peer-reviewed publications, nor has it been the subject of testing and research. Expert testimony reveals that since the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries, science has been limited to the search for natural causes to explain natural phenomena. (page 64)
    [T]he one textbook [Pandas] to which the Dover ID Policy directs students contains outdated concepts and flawed science, as recognized by even the defense experts in this case. (pages 86–87)
    ID's backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not ID itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard. The goal of the IDM is not to encourage critical thought, but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with ID. (page 89)
    Accordingly, we find that the secular purposes claimed by the Board amount to a pretext for the Board's real purpose, which was to promote religion in the publi

  • by ArsonSmith ( 13997 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:59PM (#39645927) Journal

    This is Slashdot, but did you even think to browse the page and a half bill? It's quit simple in saying that only discussions with scientific merit are worthy and to be sensitive to other views and discuss that the controversy exists and not that it is right.

  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:59PM (#39645949) Journal

    What's there to talk about. There is no controversy in the scientific community. Creationism was rejected more than a century ago. It's only a real controversy when a meaningful number of authorities in the same or similar fields disagree, like say, string theory. That's a scientific controversy. But no one in any of the sciences related to biology has seriously thought Creationism was rational, let alone, scientific in generations. Even one of ID's chief formulators, Michael Behe, doesn't disagree with evolution or common descent. There's certainly no generic conflict with Christianity, as most of the major churches have had no objection to evolution for decades.

    So "balkanized" is an absurd word to use, because it to somehow suggests there is a middle ground. But there is no middle ground.

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @01:42PM (#39646669) Homepage Journal

    Because creationism is not science.
    There is not debate. There is no controversy. Just a bunch of religions zealots shoving their shit with lies and manipulation down children's throats.

    "cosmological theories cover the fact that we evolved to this point, but that the Universe was created by some omnipotent being,"
    No, there isn't. There are no cosmological theories that say the universe was creating by some omnipotent being.
    But that is besides the point, the are talking about evolution not the beginning of all things.

    That said, the very notion that some being created the beginning of the universe means you have no clue what beginning of the universe means.

    What you are talking about is made up crap by christian apologists.

  • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @02:16PM (#39647207) Journal

    The man did all his greatest work by the age of 22 and spent the rest of his life on a road with no destination. ...
    Finally - Newton is a horrible choice for an authority when it comes to science. He wasn't a scientist. He was a natural philosopher - which is a sort of early fore-runner of science.

    Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica was published in 1687. Newton was born in Dec 1642. That means that Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica was published when Newton was 44 years old. Literally twice the age at which you said he had completed "all his greatest work". I don't know about you, but I consider Newtons Laws of to be a pretty significant piece of work. When you write something that is "justly regarded as one of the most important works in the history of science", you can come back and question Newton's qualifications.

    Next, I never said Newton was a Christian, but he was certainly a theist.

  • by gstrickler ( 920733 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @02:26PM (#39647385)

    Clearly, you have no idea how a government is supposed to work. The reason an executive has signing and/or veto authority is so he can prevent bad/inappropriate laws from being passed. If he believes it unnecessary (doesn't allow/protect anything that isn't already allowed/protected under current law), then he believes it to be unnecessary and should have vetoed it.

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @02:38PM (#39647587) Journal

    It's in the Constitution actually. Article 1, Section 6, Clause 1 reads in part "for any Speech or Debate in either House, they[Senators and Representatives] shall not be questioned in any other Place."

  • by silentcoder ( 1241496 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @02:58PM (#39647905)

    > Literally twice the age at which you said he had completed "all his greatest work"

    Newton's greatest work was the theory of optics, NOT principia. Principia is much more famous work but it was a far less impressive and world-changing theory than his theory of optics and he himself readily admitted that and decried the fact that his later work paled in comparison to what he did as a young man. The ultimate proof of that ? The vast majority of Newton's theory of optics is still held as valid today while the laws of motion have been replaced entirely.

    The only thing we changed with optics was to discover the underlying structures that made them happen (quantum physics), and throw away that 7th color in the rainbow he made up because he was too much of a theist to be a scientist. Specifically he was a Spinozan, I said that in my post - Spinozan's are a form theism. What they are NOT are deist.

    Either way - you suggested Newton as proof that religion and science can mix - I showed you that Newton wasn't a scientist which completely refutes your position, and furthermore that even in his most scientific work he was greatly HAMPERED by his spiritualist thoughts. If anything his religious views caused him to make embarrassing mistakes (well they weren't seen as such in his time but would be today) - like adding a clearly non-existent extra color to the spectrum because 7 is a holy number and 6 isn't -even though to do so he had to violate the very mathematical principles of colour mixing that he himself had discovered (three primary colors cannot make 7 secondary colors) or spending decades upon decades lost in pursuit of alchemical results.

    Point being - Newton wasn't religious in the way you think of the concept - he was religious more in the way of Arthur C. Clarke - and even THAT religious viewpoint was a major hamper to his work - and part of the reason he was NOT and never should be DEEMED a scientist. Religion and science can co-exist, but they sure as fuck cannot and should not mix.

  • by the gnat ( 153162 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @02:58PM (#39647915)

    Stop being disingenuous. The law specifically mentions the theory of evolution as being controversial. They're not pushing this legislation because it allows teachers to critique the strengths and weaknesses of Gould's hypothesis of punctuated equilibrium - it's an opening to attack the last 150 years of life sciences research.

  • I don't care what your pre-conceptions are, science is supposed to embrace and seriously consider all theories.

    Young-Earth creationism was considered. For the whole of scientific history, up until the late 1800s when the gathering evidence finally made it impossible for geologists to take the idea seriously [talkorigins.org].

    "Intelligent Design" has also been considered, and so far it has failed the tests. Every proposed example of "irreducible complexity", for example, has been conclusively shown not to be - the bacterial flagellum [talkorigins.org], the clotting cascade [pandasthumb.org], the vertebrate immune system [pandasthumb.org], and so forth. Cdesign proponentsists" [pandasthumb.org] can't even coherently define the 'information' they think living things display [blogspot.com].

    That's why we say that creationism and ID are not science.

"Say yur prayers, yuh flea-pickin' varmint!" -- Yosemite Sam