NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2011/01/07
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, A classic creationism/evolution debate from 1981 is now available. Plus the first antievolution bill of the year surfaces in Kentucky, and developments in a lawsuit involving a North Carolina teacher who claims she was punished over evolution.
THE MILLER/MORRIS DEBATE A debate on evolution versus creationism at Brown University in 1981 was so popular that the event had to be held in the largest building on campus -- a hockey rink. There's no need for skates and sticks, though: the debate between Kenneth R. Miller and Henry M. Morris is now available from NCSE. A transcript is posted on NCSE's website, and the complete audio, with illustrations, is posted on NCSE's YouTube channel. The debate was memorable for both participants. In a 2000 review of Miller's Finding Darwin's God (HarperCollins, 1999), Morris wrote, "He was clearly the most superficially convincing protagonist against creationism I ever encountered in my more than 30 creation/evolution debates," while Miller often -- as in the Brown alumni magazine in 2005 -- credits the debate with inspiring his passion for the creationism/evolution controversy. NCSE is grateful to Kenneth R. Miller and Henry Morris III of the Institute for Creation Research for their permission to post the debate and the transcript, and to Robert L. Camp, Richard B. Hoppe III, Jason Rosenhouse, and Christopher Nedin for helping to transcribe the debate. At NCSE, Glenn Branch compiled and proofread the transcript, Robert Luhn processed the audio, and Steven Newton selected the YouTube illustrations. For the transcript, visit: http://ncse.com/creationism/general/miller-morris-debate-1981 For the audio version, visit: http://www.youtube.com/user/NatCen4ScienceEd For Morris's review of Miller's book, visit: http://www.icr.org/article/finding-evolutionists-god/ For the story in the Brown alumni magazine, visit: http://www.brownalumnimagazine.com/content/view/386/40/ ANTIEVOLUTION LEGISLATION IN KENTUCKY Kentucky's House Bill 169 would, if enacted, allow teachers to "use, as permitted by the local school board, other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner." Dubbed the Kentucky Science Education and Intellectual Freedom Act, HB 169 was introduced in the Kentucky House of Representives on January 4, 2011; the sole sponsor of the bill is Tim Moore (R-District 26). In the previous legislative session, Moore introduced HB 397, which was substantially similar to the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act, Louisiana Revised Statutes 17:285.1, except for introducing the phrase "advantages and disadvantages of scientific theories." HB 397 died in committee on April 15, 2010. Where HB 397 explicitly cited "the study of evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning" as examples of scientific theories for which supplementary instructional materials would be used, HB 169 is silent. Kentucky is apparently unique in having a statute (Kentucky Revised Statutes 158.177) that authorizes teachers to teach "the theory of creation as presented in the Bible" and to "read such passages in the Bible as are deemed necessary for instruction on the theory of creation." But it is unclear whether teachers take advantage of the opportunity. The Louisville Courier-Journal (January 11, 2006) reported that in a November 2005 survey of the state's 176 school districts, none was teaching or discussing "intelligent design." For information on HB 169, visit: http://www.lrc.ky.gov/record/11RS/HB169.htm For KRS 158.177 (PDF), visit: http://www.lrc.ky.gov/KRS/158-00/177.PDF And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Kentucky, visit: http://ncse.com/news/kentucky A TEACHER PUNISHED OVER EVOLUTION? Was a North Carolina middle school science teacher unjustly treated when she was reassigned to a different job after a complaint about her presentation of evolution in the classroom? That is the question at issue in a lawsuit originally filed in 2007. In early 2005, the parents of a girl in Pamela Hensley's eighth-grade science class alleged that Hensley gave their daughter a low grade in retaliation for her comments during the class discussion on evolution, complaining that she was "antagonistic and rude when her beliefs are challenged by true 'Christian' students." After investigating, the principal concluded that there was no retaliation. According to Hensley, however, the parents lobbied the district to force her to apologize, to transfer her, and to revise its curriculum to "include a religious view of the teaching of science." Hensley was eventually asked by the school district to sign a letter of apology; regarding it as containing false statements as originally drafted, she refused. She was then transferred, mid-year, to a different position in the district. She was told that the incident "remains a source of tension and distraction within the school system, and it has diminished your credibility at North Johnston Middle School." The new position was a remedial language arts position, which Hensley contends is a "make-work position" and not suitable for her in light of a congenital hearing problem. In 2007, Hensley filed a complaint in the Johnson County Superior Court, subsequently removed to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, alleging that the district's actions violated her rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, the North Carolina Constitution, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Americans With Disabilities Act. On December 23, 2010, the court dismissed all of Hensley's claims except for her Americans With Disabilities Act claim. There is presently no indication in the court documents whether Hensley is going to continue with the case or not. Selected documents from the case, Hensley v. Johnston County Board of Education, are available on NCSE's website. For the court's recent order (PDF), visit: http://ncse.com/webfm_send/1527 For documents from the case, visit: http://ncse.com/creationism/legal/hensley-v-boe Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- http://ncse.com -- where you can always find the latest news on evolution education and threats to it. -- Sincerely, Glenn Branch Deputy Director National Center for Science Education, Inc. 420 40th Street, Suite 2 Oakland, CA 94609-2509 510-601-7203 x310 fax: 510-601-7204 800-290-6006 firstname.lastname@example.org http://ncse.com Subscribe to NCSE's free weekly e-newsletter: http://groups.google.com/group/ncse-news NCSE is on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter: http://www.facebook.com/evolution.ncse http://www.youtube.com/NatCen4ScienceEd http://twitter.com/ncse NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today! http://ncse.com/membership