Several states have recently introduced legislation pertaining to the teaching of evolution in high school classrooms. In the past month, state legislatures in both Florida and Tennessee have introduced bills that would force teachers to adopt a “critical thinking” approach to the teaching of evolution. Analysis of the proposed bills finds that they do little to provide the nation’s students with a robust scientific education, but rather open the door for the teaching of theology-based concepts of creationism and intelligent design. The Florida Academy of Science criticized the effort for allowing “the introduction in the public school curriculum of nonscientific and covertly religious doctrines.”
After teaching of intelligent design was resolutely rejected by a 2005 ruling in Dover, PA, proponents shifted tactics. Attempting to delegitimize the tenets of evolution, creationism was rebranded as “critical thinking,” a shrewd move which has unfortunately proven to be successful. In 2008, Louisiana passed the Louisiana Science Education Act, which instructed educators to promote “open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.” The bill was derided by scientists and educators nationally, but ultimately was signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal. In a surprising move, the Louisiana legislature this week introduced a bill that would repeal the LSEA, a move spearheaded by the tireless efforts of high school student Zack Kopplin and his website, www.reprealcreationism.com.
As a society, ASBMB has strongly opposed legislation such as the examples in Florida and Tennessee, noting the error in thinking in defining evolution as mere “scientific theory.” In May 2009, the society issued the following statement on this issue:
“Evolution is a fundamental organizing principle of biology, and must therefore be taught as an essential part of the science curriculum. Any explanation of the origin of life not based on science has no place in the science curriculum.”
If your state is considering “anti-evolution” legislation, ASBMB encourages you to write your state representatives, as well as the editors of your local papers, to explain the importance of science, and only science, being taught in science class. If you should so require, ASBMB Public Affairs staff (contact: firstname.lastname@example.org) can help you craft and submit a message.