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Antievolution bills in Tennessee advance

Tennessee's House Bill 368 was passed by the House Education Committee on March 29, 2011, and referred to the House Calendar and Rules Committee, while its counterpart, Senate Bill 893, is scheduled to be discussed by the Senate Education Committee on March 30, 2011. These bills, if enacted, would require state and local educational authorities to "assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies" and permit teachers 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." The only examples provided of "controversial" theories are "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning."

Among the opponents of the Tennessee antievolution bills are the Tennessee Science Teachers Association, which described HB 368 as "unnecessary, anti-scientific, and very likely unconstitutional"; the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which explained, "Asserting that there are significant scientific controversies about the overall nature of these concepts [i.e., global warming and evolution] when there are none will only confuse students, not enlighten them"; and the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, which charged, "this legislation is not aimed at developing students' critical thinking skills. Rather, it seeks to subvert scientific principle to religious ideology by granting legal cover to teachers who wish to dress up religious beliefs regarding the origin of life as pseudo-science."