House OKs bill critics say would allow teaching of creationism

Thursday, April 7, 2011 at 2:40pm

With lawmakers scoffing at science, the Republican-controlled state House voted overwhelmingly Thursday for legislation that critics say is aimed at opening public school science classes to the teaching of creationism.

“This whole situation right here has to do with critical thinking. Evolution between one species to another species has never been proven. So how could you teach that as a fact?” said Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby.

During a 30-minute debate, Republicans complained that they had come under harsh criticism by the bill’s detractors. Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga, denounced “intellectual bullies who have hijacked our education system.”

Rep. Glen Casada, R-College Grove, said he was called “a Neanderthal” in “overwhelmingly vicious emails.” Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, said, “My wife wanted me to call the TBI about one person who called our house.”

The vote was 70-23. The companion bill is awaiting action possibly next week in the Senate Education Committee.

The proposal requires public schools to “create an environment” in which teachers “respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues,” including evolution and climate change. It also orders administrators to “assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies.”

Dunn insists his bill aims only to promote “critical thinking” in schools about the origins of life. But opponents say the bill is clearly intended to open the door to teaching intelligent design in public schools, and creationists acknowledge they’re behind it.

During the debate, one lawmaker after another rose to denounce science as the House applauded.

“I was taught things in science class in high school which have turned out not to be true,” Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, said. “I remember so many of us when we were seniors in high school we gave up Aqua Net hairspray. Do you remember why we did that? Because it was causing global warming. That aerosol in those cans was causing global warming. Since then scientists have said that maybe we shouldn’t have given up that aerosol can because that aerosol was actually absorbing the earth’s rays and was keeping us from global warming.”

Butt said the bill “protects a teacher” who refuses to teach science as fact.

“If a child questions the theory of evolution, oftentimes that child is made to feel ignorant or dumb or stupid,” Butt said. “We need to make sure that doesn’t happen in the classrooms of the state of Tennessee. I’m tired of people saying if you don’t completely accept the theory of evolution, you are not very bright. Nobody has the right to make our children feel that way.”

Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, recalled his own time as a teacher and football coach.

“At some risk to myself,” he said he refused to follow instructions not to mix religion with school activities. He said he feared “some zealot could pursue me at any moment” for praying with his football team.

“I was told I couldn’t pray with my football players. So I did it anyway. Not only did I do it, I did it in the middle of the football field at the 50 yard line. So sometimes it’s important to just do it. This protects teachers. It’s good for teachers.”

Some Democrats objected to the bill, generally on the grounds that the legislature was tampering with school curriculum.

“We should not tell science teachers how to teach,” Rep. Jeanne Richardson, D-Memphis, said. “We don’t want to dictate how all our subjects are taught.”

40 Comments on this post:

By: house_of_pain on 4/7/11 at 1:00

Wow. Seriously? These people are morons, and they want to take our kids down with them. Shame.

By: TheHunter on 4/7/11 at 1:38

I got nothing, I wouldn't cry one bit if the Gov't shut down completely

By: gdiafante on 4/7/11 at 1:39

Sheila Butt...you were told to give up Aqua Net because it caused a hole in the Ozone layer. This is a fact. Twit.

They really have elected some of the dumbest people in the state to the legislature.

By: gdiafante on 4/7/11 at 1:41

If they're going to teach Creationism in public schools, we can teach string theory in church.

I

By: greystone on 4/7/11 at 1:49

Since my son is currently learning about Judism, Christianity and Islam can he also learn about Agnosticism? I doubt it.

Just as bad as the Supreme Court upholding a credit for people sending their children to private schools.

Stupidy abounds.

By: Antisocialite on 4/7/11 at 1:50

Sheila Butt said:
Since then scientists have said that maybe we shouldn’t have given up that aerosol can because that aerosol was actually absorbing the earth’s rays and was keeping us from global warming.

I.... I.... I just.... I just don't have words for this kind of stupidity.

By: Buzz1 on 4/7/11 at 2:02

Using science and creationism in the same sentence is as stupid as using the current Tennessee Legislature and intelligence in the same sentence.

By: Buzz1 on 4/7/11 at 2:04

buzz The Earths Rays! Really!

By: Loner on 4/7/11 at 2:05

Eighty six years have come and gone since the notorious Scopes Monkey Trial, in Dayton, TN; but there has been very little, if any general enlightenment in the Volunteer State since those days. Actually, attitudes and opinions in the Coonskin Cap State may have actually de-evolved...when I read this headline, I heard the opening chords of .

There is no "scientific controversy" concerning the validity of the theory of evolution, or the natural mechanisms directing and enabling the evolution of life on planet Earth. To suggest that there is a major scientific debate on this issue is disingenuous at best. The fossil record speaks for itself.

Not content to stick the big nose of government onto the Biology classroom, the Tennessee theocrats are injecting politics into the Earth Science classrooms too....they want public school teachers to attack the science suggesting that human beings may be affecting the earth's climate, due to atmospheric pollution.

Pandora's Box has been opened in Tennessee. If this law stands, the theocrats will be emboldened and they will bring about more of this faith-based foolishness.
Things like the humanity of single-cell, fertilized, human eggs, for example.

The History classrooms will also be targeted by these Judeo-Christian zealots.....expect fundamental revisionism and bold-faced lies.

Spanish classes will probably be cut, along with anything labeled, "bilingual".

Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, the pompous and pious ex-football coach proudly witnessed for Jesus Christ on the fifty-yard line, back when he was a high school coach....grandstanding on the fifty....that's Tennessee. Coach Shipley is now an elected theocrat and he is an experienced grandstander...he even brags about his bragging....Oy!

The only classroom that may remain safe from these science-hating Holymen & Holywomen is the mathematics class.....but that may be buggered too....the Republican budgetary arithmetic seems to be based on faith....not mathematics.

Yeah, I hear Deliverance as the theme for the documentary they'll be doing about how Tennessee went to Hell in a Holy Hand-basket....Bah-Dah-Der-Bah-Der....Bah-Dah-Der-Bah-Der.

By: Loner on 4/7/11 at 2:08

HTML error above, let me try that again.....nobody's human.

Eighty six years have come and gone since the notorious Scopes Monkey Trial, in Dayton, TN; but there has been very little, if any general enlightenment in the Volunteer State since those days. Actually, attitudes and opinions in the Coonskin Cap State may have actually de-evolved...when I read this headline, I heard the opening chords of Deliverance.

There is no "scientific controversy" concerning the validity of the theory of evolution, or the natural mechanisms directing and enabling the evolution of life on planet Earth. To suggest that there is a major scientific debate on this issue is disingenuous at best. The fossil record speaks for itself.

Not content to stick the big nose of government onto the Biology classroom, the Tennessee theocrats are injecting politics into the Earth Science classrooms too....they want public school teachers to attack the science suggesting that human beings may be affecting the earth's climate, due to atmospheric pollution.

Pandora's Box has been opened in Tennessee. If this law stands, the theocrats will be emboldened and they will bring about more of this faith-based foolishness.
Things like the humanity of single-cell, fertilized, human eggs, for example.

The History classrooms will also be targeted by these Judeo-Christian zealots.....expect fundamental revisionism and bold-faced lies.

Spanish classes will probably be cut, along with anything labeled, "bilingual".

Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, the pompous and pious ex-football coach proudly witnessed for Jesus Christ on the fifty-yard line, back when he was a high school coach....grandstanding on the fifty....that's Tennessee. Coach Shipley is now an elected theocrat and he is an experienced grandstander...he even brags about his bragging....Oy!

The only classroom that may remain safe from these science-hating Holymen & Holywomen is the mathematics class.....but that may be buggered too....the Republican budgetary arithmetic seems to be based on faith....not mathematics.

Yeah, I hear Deliverance as the theme for the documentary they'll be doing about how Tennessee went to Hell in a Holy Hand-basket....Bah-Dah-Der-Bah-Der....Bah-Dah-Der-Bah-Der.

By: Loner on 4/7/11 at 2:09

WTF....stuck on Italics?

Testes: one two three....

By: Loner on 4/7/11 at 2:10

By: Loner on 4/7/11 at 2:12

The post previewed properly, but displayed in full Italics....sorry 'bout that.

By: Loner on 4/7/11 at 2:15

Sorry, I tried some HTML tricks to Italicize "Deliverance"....I think I'll leave the Italics to the Italians, thank you.

Maybe the Devil did it?

By: pswindle on 4/7/11 at 3:54

The GOP will not be happy until preachers are now teachers. That way they can get kids early and then let the brain-washing begin.

By: Loner on 4/7/11 at 4:28

Amen, Pswindle, it's a time-honored tradition...scare the Hell out of the kids....then fill them with myths, prejudice and smug certitude....the kids develop into adults who proudly display an arrogance born of ignorance.

Chances are excellent that these theocrats were scared into believing at a very early age. Some folks learn to get past the stunting effects of this socially sanctioned form of child abuse...others go from victim to perpetrator. Sadly, the perps are running the statehouse.

By: Moonglow1 on 4/8/11 at 5:56

Moonglow1: Instead of placing value on the letter written by Vanderbilt professors urging these Theo-nuts s not to pass this unbelievably Taliban-like legislation (Taliban -like because it is not science this is religion), fellow legislators instead value the "science" of Aqua Net as expounded upon by Sheila Buts. She is aptly named for sure. Are teachers able to teach students the theory that we are all in a video game. We are simulations. Why not? Where do we draw the line. Also how is it possible that our tax money can go to teach creationism? I plan to make all major purchases out of state to avoid paying TN sales tax & thus "starve the beast."

By: treehugger7 on 4/8/11 at 6:33

SO glad they are fosued on jobs! When can we have a recall election?! Our legislature is an embarassment and an abomintaion. With any luck, this whole cracker box of nutcakes will be impeached for stupidity, before they kill the state's reputation. I feel sure that the people who have moved here from other areas are questioning their decision.
Tthey didn't know they were moving into the dark ages.

By: Moonglow1 on 4/8/11 at 6:40

Moonglow1: Breaking News. Sheila Butt, Republican from Columbia, TN has discovered that climate change is a flawed theory as evidenced by her ground breaking experiments using Aqua Net. The TN legislators were so enthralled with Ms. Butt's discovery they passed legislation to teach creationism in the schools. And the Columbia county fair officials voted to give Ms. Butts a blue ribbon for her vigorous scientific approach to dispute climate change & the city is offering free Aqua Net from their prized museum stash to the first fifty women in line willing to send their children to the new Neanderthal creationism class. Sorry Scott Walker, the intellectuals in TN are grabbing the global stage now.

By: Moonglow1 on 4/8/11 at 7:06

Moonglow1: treehugger 7. I am in favor of initiating a recall movement based on the fact that these legislators are intellectually compromised & unfit to make critical decisions that affect our state. Where is the TN democratic party on this.

By: Community-carl-... on 4/8/11 at 7:34

I am sick of liberals attempting to force their views on everyone else.

There is nothing wrong with a teacher presenting and teaching scientific evidence supporting the historical and ongoing processes of evolution while respectfully acknowledging that a controversy exists between some scientists and supporters of evolution VS members of the religious community that support the idea of creationism. Lack of overt bias and mutual respect should prevail.

Personally, I have no problem with both concepts: I feel that my God has created, and continues to create (and cause/allow to evolve). Other than that, I feel that there are certain things that either we are not meant to know, or will revealed to us at another time, perhaps in the afterlife.

To me this is a very personal issue, but I do believe that depriving inquiring (students') minds of certain basic facts and/or theories is the very essence of bias and censorship. Each individual has the right to make their own informed decision as to what to believe based on all prevalent theories, facts, and information.

Neither the Creationists nor the Evolutionists have a right to dominate or exclude the other in a public place, school, forum, etc. Fostering an atmosphere of mutual tolerance and respect would a long way toward improving human relations in this country.

By: firstmagnitude on 4/8/11 at 7:55

I emailed State Rep. Bill Dunn two days ago asking why Tennessee is always ranked in the bottom 10 in education compared to the rest of the nation? I also asked him how this piece of legislation (HB 368 ) was going to help Tennessee Education become higher ranked. So far, I am still waiting for a response.

By the way, if the legislatures can pass bills on road kill, what can you expect from them but very little.

By: treefrogdk on 4/8/11 at 8:08

again.... PLEASE stop capitalizing scott walker's name.

By: Ingleweird on 4/8/11 at 8:16

@Treefrog: why no on caps?

By: HighlyAnnoyed on 4/8/11 at 8:30

Just more proof religion makes you retarded.

By: Ingleweird on 4/8/11 at 8:41

A few ruminations:

"Evolution between one species to another species has never been proven," says Rep. Faison. Well, neither has the divinity of Jesus Christ, or the existence of heaven or hell. Critical thinking, my monkey-butt!

Maybe in her "experiments," Sheila Butts was huffing the Aquanet?

To the contrary, Sheila, where is it written that I have no right to let your numbskull science-denying children know they are morons? Adults in this day and age haven't a shred of moral higher ground on decency and respect.

By: treefrogdk on 4/8/11 at 8:52

he is not worthy.

By: global_citizen on 4/8/11 at 9:19

People who want to teach creationism claiming they want to foster critical thinking. There is some serious irony in that.

By: global_citizen on 4/8/11 at 9:23

"During the debate, one lawmaker after another rose to denounce science as the House applauded."

Tennessee lawmakers are denouncing science of the floor of the state capitol. Great! Thanks to our legislators for making us a national laughingstock. Can't wait to see this mentioned by Jay Leno or David Letterman.

By: Mulachi on 4/8/11 at 11:51

“We should not tell science teachers how to teach,” Rep. Jeanne Richardson, D-Memphis, said. “We don’t want to dictate how all our subjects are taught.”

Which is exactly the point of passing the bill. As it stands, teachers are told they are only allowed to teach evolution. The bill gets government out of the classroom and frees teachers to lead discussions regarding different opinions about uncertain subjects.

You evolutionist can pretend you know the truth but that is all you are doing. The FACT of the matter is this; anyone who says creationism is the only way is a fool and anyone who says evolution is the only way is also a fool. We don't know the answer to the origin of life so until we do let's have healthy discourse about the possible answers.

By: Mulachi on 4/8/11 at 12:01

Excellent post Community-carl at 8:34.

By: Community-carl-... on 4/8/11 at 12:17

Why thank you, Mulachi. You are so right.......healthy and mutually respectful discourse is the tolerant and open-minded way to allow interested individuals to gather needed information to make informed decisions RE: their personal beliefs. No person has a right to dictate what another person should believe so far as their spirtuality, concept of creation, or lack of, is concerned.

Thanks again for your thoughtful post.

By: revo-lou on 4/8/11 at 12:22

{By: Mulachi on 4/8/11 at 12:51
“We should not tell science teachers how to teach,” Rep. Jeanne Richardson, D-Memphis, said. “We don’t want to dictate how all our subjects are taught.”

Which is exactly the point of passing the bill. As it stands, teachers are told they are only allowed to teach evolution. The bill gets government out of the classroom and frees teachers to lead discussions regarding different opinions about uncertain subjects.

You evolutionist can pretend you know the truth but that is all you are doing. The FACT of the matter is this; anyone who says creationism is the only way is a fool and anyone who says evolution is the only way is also a fool. We don't know the answer to the origin of life so until we do let's have healthy discourse about the possible answers.}

First and foremost creationism is NOT science, why in the hell would you want it taught in a SCIENCE class?

Second, if you think that a teacher worth their salt doesn't already broach other teachings then you are a fool.

Third, we now will be able to get rid of all the churchs, as they will not be needed any more. Actually that will be a plus.

By: gdiafante on 4/8/11 at 12:25

I must have missed the part where Creationism is science. Otherwise, you're blurring the lines of the establishment clause.

Unless Tennessee plans on teaching every religious theory on creation. Yes, even the Muslim belief.

I don't know why I'm ever shocked at anything that happens in this state...

By: Community-carl-... on 4/8/11 at 1:42

Creationism may not be science, but in my mind, it is entirely possible to integrate the two concepts.

And regarding the last paragraphs of revo-lou's 1:22 post, my wise parents always taught me that it takes a fool to know a fool. And your last paragraph, while it pains me, is your opinion that you have a right to. Just don't try to force your opinion on me. Personally, I feel sorry for you........

....and to gdiafante: I think if a student has enough curiosity and wherewithal to pose a question to a teacher regarding theories on Creationism, Evolution, or any related issue, the teacher has a responsibility to either give, or find out, an unbiased answer appropriate for the age and reasoning ability of the child. How would you feel if an authority figure in your life wouldn't/couldn't give you an unbiased answer to a bonafide question that you asked? Please don't ell me that you are endorsing censorship....................

By: revo-lou on 4/8/11 at 3:29

Carl, please save your sorrow for those in need. Look near by, I am sure you will find a target. It does seem though, you have a bit of trouble understanding who is "forcing" whom. Hint, it ain't me.

By: Community-carl-... on 4/8/11 at 3:38

revo-lou, I am not looking for targets because I am not attempting to force anyone to believe as I do. I am advocating mutual respect and tolerance. However, if you are looking for a closed mind, you may want to look in the mirror.

By: gofer on 4/8/11 at 7:05

According to a '10 Gallup Poll 49% of Postgraduates and 38% of college graduates believe in Theistic Evolution, only 16% and 25% respectively believe in Naturalistic Evolution. 40% of the general population believe in Creationism, 30% in Theistic Evolution and 16% in Naturalistic Evolution.

Regardless of people's beliefs, teachers shouldn't be forbidden to touch the subject if it comes up in discussion. As shown above, the majority of people believe in Theistic Evolution. Not many religious people object to teaching Theory of Evolution but why do some people go nuts when another bonafide viewpoint is even mentioned.?

BTW, Aqua Net (CFCs) is classified a greenhouse gas and there is no hole in the ozone, it only thins(over the poles) which is hard to imagine since it's only about 2-8 ppm. Ozone is needs little help in being destroyed since that's what it wants to do is destroy itself and has an extremely short half-life in air, depending on temp. and since not many people are sunbathing in Antarctica in Oct and Nov. the ban seems dubious. Dupont made billions off the ban and assured themselves billions more for many years is the more interesting aspect.

By: pswindle on 4/10/11 at 9:32

State and church are separate. Is this not in the Constitution?

By: TNSC on 4/13/11 at 1:21

HB368 ONLY protects topics already covered in curriculum (evolution). It does not protect teachers that introduce entirely new theories not part of the course curriculum (Intelligent Design-which is NOT a part of ANY TN school curriculum). Courts have found creationism is a religious viewpoint & it is illegal to teach in public schools. HB 368 does not protect teaching religion, ID, or creationism. Teachers will only be allowed to teach evolution objectively & discuss scientific strengths & weaknesses of evolution theory.