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Evolving debate


Controversy surrounds a state bill challenging the teaching of evolution in schools.

Jerry Shottenkirk February 22nd, 2012

A bill assailed by some for challenging science in the classroom is making its way through the state Legislature. Senate Bill 1742, authored by Sen. Josh Brecheen, would create the “Oklahoma Science Education Act.”

If enacted, it would require the state Board of Education to assist teachers and administrators in promoting “critical thinking, logical analysis, open and objective discussion of scientific theories including, but not limited to, evolution, the origin of life, global warming, and human cloning.” It also allows the use of supplemental textbooks and instruction materials “to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner.”

Opposition drawn
SB 1742 has attracted the sort of reaction common to similar bills.

Victor Hutchison, president of Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education, said such legislation has been presented 40 times in a dozen states.

“The only one to pass was in Louisiana and it’s caused huge problems,” said Hutchison, who is professor emeritus in zoology at the University of Oklahoma. “These stem from the Discovery Institute, a so-called think tank that is anti-evolution and that gets lots of attention. This is anything but freedom.”

right Josh Brecheen

John Loghry, Oklahoma City chapter president of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said his organization is at the ready to fight such proposals.

“Seems like it comes up a little watered-down this time,” Loghry said. “They seem to be learning from mistakes. They said it’s not about intelligent design, but it is. Introducing this really puts us on a slippery slope.”

‘Teaching truth’
Brecheen declined repeated requests for comment, but last year he outlined in the Durant Daily Democrat his concerns with teaching evolution.

“As a high school and university student forced to learn about evolution, I was never told there were credible scientists who harbor significant skepticism toward Darwinian Theory,” wrote the Coalgate Republican.

“Ideologues teaching evolution as undisputed fact are not teaching truth. Renowned scientists now asserting that evolution is laden with errors are being ignored. That’s where we should have problems with state dollars only depicting one side of a multifaceted issue.

“Using your tax dollars to teach the unknown, without disclosing the entire scientific findings, is incomplete and unacceptable. For years liberals have decried how they want to give students both sides of an argument so they can decide for themselves, however when it comes to evolution vs. creation in the classroom, the rules somehow change.”

Loghry said measures such as SB 1742 are not new, nor is their opposition.

“Genesis is not science and does not need to be history,” he said. “A great amount of people know the Genesis story. They also know it’s not historically correct. And there are other creation myths that are outside of intelligent design. School should be securely sacred from religion.”

Hutchison said the bill — with similar legislation introduced in Missouri, Indiana and New Hampshire — contains a number of well-known buzz words.

“Science should not include the supernatural,” he said. “I’m not anti-religion. If this passes, it will be challenged and will go to federal court. Anytime that’s happened, it’s been overturned.”

Hutchison cited a 2005 ruling in Dover, Pa., as an example.

“The courts ruled that intelligent design was religion, not science.”

 
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02.23.2012 at 11:02 Reply

WHY does this state legislature waste SO MUCH DAMN TIME AND MONEY with issues that don't affect the greater good of Oklahoma??? This isn't about playing church. It's about improving our quality of life. 

 

 
 
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