New Hampshire: Both Creationism Bills Are Dead

Creationist bill, road kill

We have good news from New Hampshire. As you recall, we’ve been writing about Creationist Madness in New Hampshire. Not one, but two creationism bills had been introduced into the state legislature.

One was the brain child of Representative Jerry Bergevin. His bill was HOUSE BILL 1148, which would add this to the duties of the State Board of Education:

Theory of Evolution. Require evolution to be taught in the public schools of this state as a theory, including the theorists’ political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism.

The other bill was the product of Representatives Gary Hopper and John Burt. That was HOUSE BILL 1457, which would add this to the duties of the State Board of Education:

Scientific Inquiry. Require science teachers to instruct pupils that proper scientific inquire [sic] results from not committing to any one theory or hypothesis, no matter how firmly it appears to be established, and that scientific and technological innovations based on new evidence can challenge accepted scientific theories or modes.

Now, as reported at the website of the Concord Monitor, House committee dismisses bills on evolution. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

The House Education Committee dismissed two bills this morning that would have dictated classroom lectures on evolution, saying the legislation stepped too far over the bounds of local control.

Ah, yes … the local school boards can do what they want, but let’s not impose lunacy at the state level. Let’s read on:

“In this committee, we’ve always taken the policy not to recommend what subjects the school teaches,” said Rep. Ralph Boehm, a Litchfield Republican and vice chairman of the education committee, discussing [Gary Hopper’s] bill. “This bill is going a bit further and would recommend down to what they teach in a subject.”

[…]

In moving to dismiss the second bill, Rep. Joseph Pitre of Farmington said only “ditto.”

Regarding the preliminaries to today’s action, there’s an article in yesterday’s Union Leader of Manchester, New Hampshire titled Testimony heard on evolution education bill. It says, with our bold font for emphasis:

A hearing for a bill that would require the teaching of evolution as a theory, not scientific fact, drew heated testimony Tuesday. Bill sponsor Rep. Jerry Bergevin, R-Manchester, told the House Education Committee panel that his concerns about evolution went beyond its claimed unsoundness as a theory.

“Nations that supported atheism and evolution destroyed more human beings than any others in history,” Bergevin said, referring to the Nazis, Soviets and Chinese communists. “Evolution,” he added, “is the air supply of atheism.”

Quite a guy. For more on him, see Is New Hampshire’s Jerry Bergevin Insane? We continue with the Union Leader‘s story:

No one testified in support of Bergevin’s bill, however, it did face several opponents, including representatives from the New Hampshire Science Teachers Association and the N.H. School Administrators Association — as well as Jackson Hinkle, a 10-year-old student from Nashua.

There’s a lot about the testimony against Bergevin’s bill, which we’ll skip, and then the Union Leader discusses the other pending bill — the one sponsored by Gary Hopper and John Burt:

HB 1148 is the second bill to come before the Education Committee that could affect the teaching of evolution. House Bill 1457, heard by the committee last week, requires that science teachers instruct students that proper scientific inquiry “results from not committing to any one theory or hypothesis, no matter how firmly it appears to be established.”

Members of the committee asked no questions and made almost no comments during the hearing, except to praise the students for participating.

Rather devastating. There’s also an article about this at the website of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE): New Hampshire antievolution bills dismissed.

For the moment, New Hampshire’s reputation is intact. But those creationists are still in the legislature, and there’s always next year.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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12 responses to “New Hampshire: Both Creationism Bills Are Dead

  1. Hmmm….teach the Theory of evolution as a theory. . .Do they know Darwin was in school to become a Clergyman and that the Big Bang theory was proposed by a priest?

  2. ‘”Nations that supported atheism and evolution destroyed more human beings than any others in history,” Bergevin said, referring to the Nazis, Soviets and Chinese communists.’
    Well, all us evil secularists know that you can’t make an omelet without ruthlessly crushing dozens of innocent eggs beneath your iron-shod atheist boots, and then publicly disemboweling the chickens who laid them as a warning to the others.
    Sorry- sometimes, heavy-handed and over-the-top sarcasm is the only proper response to sheer idiocy like that.

  3. “Evolution,” he added, “is the air supply of atheism.”

    Right, because no atheists existed before the 1850s. Where do these guys get their education, off the back of a crackerjack box?

  4. Evolution is not the “air supply of atheism” of course, but creationism is the Air Supply of pseudoscience.

  5. It should be noted that the Nazis were neither atheists nor supporters of evolutionary biology. I don’t know enough about Mao to say whether he had any interest in biology. Stalinist Russia was famous for supporting Lysenko.
    As well as that there have been plenty of theists who have been supporters of evolutionary biology.

  6. A small clarification: the bills aren’t officially dead, because committee votes in New Hampshire are in effect only advisory, and both bills will proceed for a vote on the floor of the House next week. But it is rare for committee votes to be overturned.

  7. Thanks, Glenn. We’ve been told that in New Hampshire, when a bill gets branded “inexpedient to legislate” (which I assume is what happened here) that it’s pretty much going nowhere.

  8. Correct (both Glenn and the OurDearCurmudgeon™.)

    Unless a bill is tabled in committee, all House bills are eventually voted up or down on the floor of the House in the NH Legislature. The committees vett the bills, giving them a thumbs up/thumbs down after a hearing, and then the vast majority of them are bundled up and placed on the “consent calender” where the thumbs up bills are approved and the thumbs down bills are voted down en mass and without debate by the full House. In exceptional cases, bills will be pulled from the consent calender for floor debate and individual votes. Since no one spoke in favor of these bills in committee, it’s safe to assume there is little support for them in the House, and there would be no reason to pull them off the consent calender for debate and individual floor votes. The sponsors of the bills *COULD* demand it, but the GOP leadership in the House would likely get pissed at them for clogging up the proceedings with votes for bills that are clearly doomed.

    So, technically, while the fat lady hasn’t sung yet on these bills, to a 99.9% certitude, they are for all practical purposes DOA, just as I predicted they would be months ago.

  9. Longie says: “they are for all practical purposes DOA, just as I predicted they would be months ago.”

    Yeah, yeah. You were desperately hoping we wouldn’t find out how creationist your state really is.

  10. 2/17/2012 H Committee Report: Inexpedient to Legislate for Mar 7 (Vote 16-0; CC)

    http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/members/memberbill_docket.aspx?lsr=2176&ecode=376905

    Not a single person spoke in favor of the bill, and a 16-0 blow-out by the committee to put a stake through the heart of this bill! Those NH creationists sure are a force to be reckoned with!

  11. Update: “Mad Man” Bergevin must have pulled the bill from the consent calender, and forced a floor vote by the whole House!

    As reported in the Nashua Telegraph, the bill went down in flames: 280-7.

    A bill that would have required public schools to teach evolution as a theory, a move often used by proponents of creationism to discredit the science of evolution, was handily shot down by the House of Representatives Thursday, 280-7.

    http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/news/953675-196/evolution-as-theory-bill-not-fit-to-survive-in.html

    I’d bet Bergevin is persona non grata with the House leadership after wasting everyones’ time on this idiocy.

    Oddly, the story reports that a DI spokesperson testified in committee hearings for both this and another related bill. That conflicts with previous reports.

  12. longshadow says:

    “Mad Man” Bergevin must have pulled the bill from the consent calender, and forced a floor vote by the whole House! As reported in the Nashua Telegraph, the bill went down in flames: 280-7.

    I’ve seen that, but I already wrote a week ago that his bill was dead, so I’m just not going to bother with it. Have no fear, we’ll be hearing from him next year.