Evolution Bill Put On Ice For Now

Evolution Bill Put On Ice For Now

History does have a way of reappearing, and in the Tennessee legislature an act introduced by Senator Watson is reminiscent of a legislative act from eighty-six years ago. It was in 1925 that a high school biology teacher, John Scopes, was accused of violating Tennessee's Butler Act that made it unlawful to teach evolution.

This year Senator Watson has introduced another bill that will fuel the debate between science and intelligent design.  See, Senate Bill 893.
    Here is an excerpt from the Bill:  
    The teaching of some scientific subjects, including, but not limited to, biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning, can cause controversy. Some teachers may be unsure of the expectations concerning how they should present information on such subjects 
    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.
    I was unaware that we needed new laws to help students understand science.  I assumed that science teachers already had their days filled with enough direction from elected politicians on how to run their classrooms.  But it appears I am mistaken as Senator Watson believes that it is important state business to introduce this bill.  From reading it, you can see that it really does not say anything, but it implies that new direction in science in the form of his crafted help is on the way to Tennessee classrooms.

    The "help permitted by teachers" is what is causing the controversy in Nashville and across the state. It seems that Senator Watson sees controversy in, among other things, evolution, and he feels compelled to give the students of Tennessee the opportunity to be reeducated on this point.

    Senator Watson has announced that he will pull the bill for now in various statements to the media.  But the bill is not gone for good, Senator Watson says:

     “I think it’s a good bill, I like the bill. But I’m trying to work with all parties to get it in it’s best form, that I can, so I anticipate it’ll probably be back next year.”

    If this bill does go through, then eventually expect a challenge of a kind similar to the one that resulted in a jury trial that Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan participated in at Rhea County Court during the summer of 1925. That is where the legislation contemplated by Senator Watson is headed.
    seven scientists who testified for the defense

old picture of man
John Scopes
attorney speaking
Clarence Darrow questions William Jennings Bryan  
outdoor proceedings during the trial


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