NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2011/07/08
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, Further details on the impending antievolution bills in New Hampshire. A review of recent events in the creationism/evolution controversy in Church & State. And a bumper sticker contest sponsored by NCSE.
UPDATE FROM THE GRANITE STATE A columnist for the Nashua Telegraph (July 3, 2011) discusses the two antievolution bills on the horizon in New Hampshire. As NCSE previously reported, two requests to have antievolution bills drafted for the 2012 legislative session were included on a list of legislative service requests dated June 14, 2011. David Brooks, who writes the "Granite Geek" column for the Telegraph, interviewed both of the legislators who submitted the requests. Jerry Bergevin (R-District 17) asked for a bill "requiring the teaching of evolution in public schools as a theory" -- which, as Brooks notes, seems to imply that evolutionary theory is "nothing more than a complex guess." Responding to Brooks's query, Bergevin explained, "My LSR is not anti-evolution, I am anti-indoctrination," and added, "This LSR would include a study of the proponents' ideology and position on atheism.” Brooks commented, "I'm not sure what he means by evolution’s 'proponents,' since that constitutes most of the world’s scientific community." Gary Hopper (R-District 7), who asked for a bill "requiring instruction in intelligent design in the public schools," explained, "Darwin's theory is basically antiquated," and also complained that evolutionary theory is at bottom "a theory that we are here by accident, that there is no purpose. The conclusion is that we're a bunch of accidents … you really have no purpose for existence. ... Teaching a child that it's very possible that they were designed would infer [sic] that they actually have a purpose. There's some purpose they were created, so that is a reason to live." Brooks, for his part, disagreed with the legislators' view that accepting evolution is tantamount to nihilism, writing that on the contrary, "[c]reationism is meaningless, but evolution is a door to infinite wonder." "But," he concluded, "this is irrelevant here, because it has no bearing on what to teach in science class. My taxpayer dollars pay science teachers to teach science, not philosophy. Let's hope lawmakers don't try to get in the way." For the column in the Nashua Telegraph, visit: http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/newsstatenewengland/924904-227/lawmakers-pushing-creationism-in-schools-is-a.html And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in New Hampshire, visit: http://ncse.com/news/new-hampshire "CREATIONISM CRUSADE" IN CHURCH AND STATE Rob Boston's "Creationism Crusade," published in the July/August 2011 issue of Church & State, reviews the latest battles, in state legislatures and elsewhere, over the teaching of evolution. The antievolution bills in Tennessee -- House Bill 368, which passed the Tennessee House of Representatives in April 2011, and its counterpart Senate Bill 893, which is on hold in the Senate until the legislature reconvenes in 2012 -- were described as "showing an increasing sophistication on the part of activists who are determined to revise biology instruction to conform to religious dogma." Also discussed was the attempt to repeal Louisiana's antievolution law. Zach Kopplin, the Baton Rouge high school student who spearheaded the repeal effort, told Church & State, "I've always wanted to take this law on, since it was passed three years ago ... When it first passed, friends and family from around the country read about it in The New York Times, and it was really embarrassing. This law doesn't just affect my reputation with friends and family though. Louisiana has an anti-science reputation that will make it harder for Louisiana students to get the cutting-edge jobs in science that they want.” Boston also cited Michael B. Berkman and Eric Plutzer's National Survey of High School Biology Teachers, which found that only 28% taught evolution forthrightly, while a whopping 60% were "cautious" about teaching evolution, often due to pressure from their communities. NCSE's deputy director Glenn Branch commented, "Teachers need to know that they have support for teaching evolution forthrightly ... in a scientifically accurate and pedagogically appropriate way, without any compromises to mollify the objections of those who reject evolution on religious grounds." After noting that not all people of faith are opposed to evolution (and citing NCSE's Voices for Evolution, which includes a number of denominational statements on evolution), Boston concluded by quoting Barry W. Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for Separation for Church and State (which publishes Church & State), himself an ordained minister. "The Religious Right aims to replace science instruction in public classrooms with fundamentalist Sunday School lessons," Lynn commented. "Religious liberty and good science education are at stake. That's why we must speak out.” For "Creationism Crusade" in Church & State, visit: http://www.au.org/media/church-and-state/archives/2011/07/creationism-crusade.html For NCSE's previous coverage in Tennessee and Louisiana, visit: http://ncse.com/news/tennessee http://ncse.com/news/louisiana For NCSE's previous coverage of Berkman and Plutzer's survey, visit: http://ncse.com/news/2011/01/too-many-teachers-ignore-evolution-006454 And for NCSE's Voices for Evolution, visit: http://ncse.com/voices ANNOUNCING A BUMPER STICKER CONTEST! It's time to sharpen your pencils, cudgel your brains, and consult your muse: NCSE is running a bumper sticker contest! This is your chance to speak loud, speak proud for evolution, by crafting a killer slogan that could end up on the tail end of thousands of cars. The aim of this mobile message: to spread the good word about evolution and evolution education. Your bumper sticker can be funny, profound, fierce -- whatever, as long as it's good. Full details of the contest, and a list of the fabulous prizes on offer, are available on NCSE's website. The contest ends on September 5, 2011. For details of the contest, visit: http://ncse.com/evolution/bumper-sticker-contest 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 x305 fax: 510-601-7204 800-290-6006 firstname.lastname@example.org http://ncse.com Read Reports of the NCSE on-line: http://reports.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/join