Tag Archives: creationism

Evolution in the Senate; Commandments in the House

The Senate approved a bill Monday evening that deals with teaching of evolution and other scientific theories while the House approved legislation authorizing cities and counties to display the Ten Commandments in public buildings.
The Senate voted 24-8 for HB368, which sponsor Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, says will provide guidelines for teachers answering student questions about evolution, global warming and other scientific subjects… Critics call it a “monkey bill” that promotes creationism in classrooms.
The bill was approved in the House last year but now must return to that body for concurrence on a Senate amendment that made generally minor changes. One, says the law applies to scientific theories that are the subject of “debate and disputation” — a phrase replacing the word “controversial” in the House version.’
The measure also guarantees that teachers will not be subject to discipline for engaging students in discussion of questions they raise, though Watson said the idea is to provide guidelines so that teachers will bring the discussion back to the subjects authorized for teaching in the curriculum approved by the state Board of Education.
All eight no votes came from Democrats, some of whom raised questions about the bill during brief debate.
Sen. Tim Barnes, D-Clarksville, said he was concerned that the measure was put forward “not for scientific reasons but for political reasons.” And Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, said teachers were doing just fine teaching science without the Legislature’s involvement.
“We are simply dredging up the problems of the past with this bill and that will affect our teachers in the future,” Berke said.
Watson said the purpose of the legislation is to encourage teachers in helping their students learn to challenge and debate ideas to “improve their thinking skills.”
The bill authorizing display of the Ten Commandments in public buildings (HB2658) is sponsored by Rep. Mathew Hill, R-Jonesborough, who said it is in line with court rulings. In essence, courts have often declared displays of the biblical commandments unconstitutional standing along, but permissible as part of a display of “historic documents.”
The bill authorizes all local governments to display “historic documents” and specifically lists the commandments as being included.
Hill said the bill will prevent city and county governments from “being intimidated any further by special interest groups” opposed to display of the Ten Commandments.It passed 93-0 and now goes to the Senate.

Be It Teaching ‘Critical Thinking’ or ‘Creationism,’ HB368 Passes House

(Note: Updates and replaces earlier post)
By a 70-23 vote, the House approved and sent to the Senate Thursday a bill that protects teachers from discipline if they discuss alternatives to prevailing scientific theories, notably including evolution.
Sponsor Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, said the purpose is to promote “critical thinking” in science classes. Critics contend the measure (HB368) is a backdoor means of teaching creationism reminiscent of the 1920s Tennessee law that prohibited teaching of evolution, leading to the trial and conviction of a Dayton teacher and inspiring the movie Inherit the Wind.
House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh had referred to the measure as “the monkey bill” earlier. Dunn said after passage that critics were practicing “monkey see, monkey do” by believing and repeating unwarranted characterizations of the measure as an attack on evolution and promotion of religion in the classroom.
The bill provoked extensive debate on the House floor, with Republicans at times bringing up religion and the shortcomings of scientific predictions. They also described critics of the measure as “intellectual bullies” sending”vicious emails.”

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Whether it’s the ‘Monkey Bill’ or ‘Creative Thinking,’ HB368 Heads for Passage

A bill that would prohibit sanctions against teachers who promote discussion of alternatives to prevailing scientific theories – criticized by some as a backdoor means of promoting creationism – was approved by the House Education Committee Tuesday.
Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, sponsor of HB368, said it will simply promote “creative thinking.”
House Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh called it “the monkey bill,” likening the measure to a 1925 state law prohibiting the teaching of evolution in Tennessee schools. The trial of Dayton teacher John Scopes for violation of that law lead to a trial drawing national attention and filming of the movie, “Inherit the Wind.”
Rep. John DeBerry of Memphis, the only Democrat who supported the bill, sharply criticized opposition to the measure from university professors and scientists, who he said favored a status quo that “allows one segment of the population to make a determination of what everybody else thinks.”
“I find that totally un-American,” DeBerry said.
Hedy Weinberg, who heads the ACLU in Tennessee and staunchly opposed the bill, acknowledged afterwards that the measure appears headed for passage. She said that, if enacted, the ACLU will monitor what happens in classrooms with an eye toward legal action if needed.
“It’s going to embolden some teachers to inject religious beliefs into the classroom,” she said.