NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2017/04/21
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear friends of NCSE, Sad news of the death of Walter R. Hearn. And Florida's antiscience bills are hammered in a pair of op-ed columns.
WALTER R. HEARN DIES Walter R. Hearn, a biochemist active in defending evolution within evangelical circles, died on April 11, 2017, at the age of 91, according to the American Scientific Affiliation (April 14, 2017). As Ronald L. Numbers wrote in The Creationists (1992), "As one of the first biochemists to play an active role in the ASA, Hearn felt a God-given responsibility to inform members about the growing importance [in the 1950s] of biochemistry in theories of evolution ... Because of his outspokenness, he often found himself the center of controversy with the ASA, but because of his unfailingly sweet temper, he seldom made enemies." "Everybody in the 'science-faith game' has a history," Hearn wrote in a 2014 essay. "As a minor-league player recalling many seasons, what 'strikes' me is the number of 'big-leaguers' I've actually known." He proceeded to relate his encounters with such figures as Harry Rimmer, Henry Morris, Ronald L. Numbers, John C. Greene, John Polkinghorne, Duane Gish, Francis Collins, Phillip Johnson, Michael Denton, Forrest Mims, Robert Russell, Ian Barbour, and NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott. Especially with regard to evolution, Hearn often stepped up to the plate himself, though. In the last thirty years, for example, he coauthored Teaching Science in a Climate of Controversy (1986), which sought -- with mixed success -- to advise teachers how to defuse creationism/evolution controversies; appeared in the WGBH/NOVA series Evolution (2001) to discuss the 1961 furor over evolution at Wheaton College; and contributed a chapter to Darwin and the Bible: The Cultural Confrontation (2009). He was a loyal member of the American Scientific Affiliation for over fifty years, editing its newsletter for twenty-three years, serving in the 1960s as the book review editor of its journal (where he published negative reviews of Whitcomb and Morris's The Genesis Flood), and regularly contributing to its publications. Hearn was born in Houston, Texas, on February 1, 1926. He attended Rice University, where he earned his B.A. in chemistry in 1948, and the University of Illinois, Urbana, where he received his Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1951. He taught at the Yale School of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, and finally Iowa State University from 1955 to 1971. He was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1963. From 1978 to his death, he was professor of Christianity and science at New College Berkeley, part of the Graduate Theological Union. Hearn was the author also of Being a Christian in Science (1997). For the notice of Hearn's death from the ASA, visit: http://network.asa3.org/forums/Posts.aspx?topic=1351806 For Hearn's 2014 essay, visit: http://godandnature.asa3.org/essay-players-by-walt-hearn.html FLORIDA'S ANTISCIENCE BILLS DENOUNCED Florida's House Bill 989 and Senate Bill 1210 -- bills aimed at empowering taxpayers to object to the use of specific instructional materials in the public schools, with climate change and evolution clearly among the targets -- were the subjects of sharp criticism in a pair of commentaries. Writing in the Tallahassee Democrat (April 14, 2017), Brandon Haught of Florida Citizens for Science warned that if these bill become law, "school boards will become inundated with demands that certain books be banned and that schools must discontinue using textbooks that don’t mesh with a vocal minority's ideological views." As evidence, he cited affidavits submitted by the bills' supporters that complain, "I have witnessed students being taught evolution as a fact of creation rather than a theory," and "I have witnessed children being taught that Global Warming is a reality." If legislators fail to recognize the problems with the bill, he concluded, "school boards, teachers, communities and students will suffer the consequences." Writing in the Gainesville Sun (April 14, 2017), Jiri Hulcr, Andrea Lucky, and Brandon Haught presented the case against HB 989 and SB 1210 vividly: "Imagine a crazy law that would empower anyone, regardless of credentials or expertise, to alter their local school's curriculum, and would require the school board to hire and pay a legal specialist to be an arbiter between the school and special interest groups. This is a very real possibility if the current instructional materials bill, HB 989/SB 1210, passes." They asked, "Do our schools need more legal burdens? Do we really want to force school boards to have to hire, and pay for, hearing officials? Can we afford to allow elected officials to support ideological interest groups in dictating the quality of public education?" HB 989 passed the House Education Committee on April 6, 2017, and may be heard on the House floor as early as April 18, 2017. Its counterpart, SB 1210, having passed the Senate Education Committee on March 27, 2017, is presently in the Senate Appropriations Committee. For information on Florida's House Bill 989 and Senate Bill 1210, visit: https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=58685 https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2017/1210/?Tab=BillText For Haught's and Hulcr, Lucky, and Haught's columns, visit: http://www.tallahassee.com/story/opinion/2017/04/14/haught-anti-science-education-bill-benign/100456818/ http://www.gainesville.com/opinion/20170414/jiri-hulcr-andrea-lucky-and-brandon-haught-bill-seeks-to-hijack-educational-standards And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Florida, visit: https://ncse.com/news/florida WHAT'S NEW AT NCSE'S BLOG? Have you been visiting NCSE's blog recently? If not, then you've missed: * Stephanie Keep discussing a proposed major revision in dinosaur classification: https://ncse.com/blog/2017/04/wouldn-t-it-be-interesting-to-test-that-0018516 For NCSE's blog, visit: http://ncse.com/blog 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 and climate education and threats to them. -- Sincerely, Glenn Branch Deputy Director National Center for Science Education, Inc. 1904 Franklin Street, Suite 600 Oakland CA 94612-2922 510-601-7203 fax 510-788-7971 email@example.com http://ncse.com Check out NCSE's blog: http://ncse.com/blog 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