Important Concord Monitor Article on evolution and "scientific method" bills in NH Legislature, by Sarah Palermo, 12/29/11

posted Jan 7, 2012, 1:41 PM by Bill Duncan
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This story is very important because of the way it draws the legislators out on their thinking on these issues and follows up with further reporting.  Tells it straight.  

Several of the many good quotes are below.  Go to the Monitor via the link for the full story.


Bills aim to roll back teaching evolution
Lawmaker says kids must get alternative
By Sarah Palermo / Monitor staff
December 29, 2011

To state Rep. Jerry Bergevin, the horrors of the Columbine school shooting and the atrocities of Nazi Germany are linked by the theory of evolution, and that's all the evidence he needs to see that New Hampshire's children shouldn't be taught that it's correct.

Bergevin, a Republican from Manchester serving his first term, introduced one of two bills that will be before the Legislature next year addressing evolution, the first in the state since the late 1990s.

The second bill, introduced by Reps. Gary Hopper of Weare and John Burt of Goffstown, more vaguely calls for science teachers to "instruct pupils that proper scientific (inquiry) results from not committing to any one theory or hypothesis . . . and that scientific and technological innovations based on new evidence can challenge accepted scientific theories."

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"I want the problems with the current theories to be presented so that kids understand that science doesn't really have all the answers. They are just guessing," he said.

Currently, science class "is like having a creative writing class where the students are told what to create," he said. "Science is a creative process, not an absolute thing."

Bergevin is less interested in the science of evolution than he is in the political and religious views of Darwin and his disciples. His bill would require schools to teach evolution as a theory, and include "the theorists' political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism."

"I want the full portrait of evolution and the people who came up with the ideas to be presented. It's a worldview and it's godless. Atheism has been tried in various societies, and they've been pretty criminal domestically and internationally. The Soviet Union, Cuba, the Nazis, China today: they don't respect human rights," he said.

"As a general court we should be concerned with criminal ideas like this and how we are teaching it. . . . Columbine, remember that? They were believers in evolution. That's evidence right there," he said.

While some evolutionary biologists claim to be Christians or otherwise religious, "it changes every six months. What today is evolution is going to be different six months from now."

But none of that is true, said Eugenie Scott, the executive director of the National Center for Science Education, which promotes education of evolution, climate change and the teaching of science as a way of knowing facts about the world.

"Yes, it is the case that scientific explanations change with new data, but at some point you reach the stage where there is an agreement among scientists. . . . You're not improving science education for young people by pretending that well-established ideas are up for grabs. The idea of evolution, that living things have common ancestors, is not being challenged in science today," she said.

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Bergevin's bill "should be obviously unacceptable to legislators on its face. They ought to be able to see pretty quickly that this bill is just silly," Scott said.

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Besides, the bill would present teachers with the impossible task of tracking down information about every scientist mentioned in a textbook or other class material, "which is pretty dopey," she said.

Hopper's bill is more broadly worded and could be used to challenge scientific teachings on any topic.

"In a sense that makes it more dangerous," she said.

Both bills have been referred to the House Education Committee for hearings in early February.

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or spalermo@cmonitor.com)


Source URL: http://www.concordmonitor.com/article/300905/bills-aim-to-roll-back-teaching-evolution
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