Yes, you read it right — that’s our prediction. We’re talking about the creationism bill that is starting to make its way through the Tennessee legislature. In Tennessee Creationism Bill Makes “Progress” we reported that the bill filed in the state House now has an identical companion bill in the Senate. We remarked that this creationist initiative is being well managed; but we didn’t realize until now how well managed it really is.
We’re starting to see more of the picture. The creationism bill has political support from an organization called Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), which is affiliated with Focus on the Family — that’s James Dobson‘s outfit. In other words, FACT is deep into the social conservative movement. Very deep.
The president of FACT is David Fowler, a lawyer and former Tennessee state Senator, who also taught for a few years at Bryan College in Dayton Tennessee — site of the Scopes Trial. The college is named after William Jennings Bryan. This is the Mission Statement at their website. The old populist, progressivist, creationist blowhard would be proud.
Why are we telling you about FACT and Fowler? Because Fowler wrote an article appearing in the Chattanoogan, an online newspaper, supporting Tennessee’s creationism bill. It’s titled Making John Scopes Proud — Finally. Our irony meter shatters every time we see that title and wonder what John Scopes would really say about this bill in Tennessee. Anyway, here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
John Scopes, the Rhea County schoolteacher who in 1925 stood trial for violating a Tennessee law prohibiting the teaching of evolution, would surely support new legislation pending before the General Assembly.
The crux of the infamous Scopes trial was the Tennessee General Assembly’s effort to reduce, by law, the scope of what could be taught in the science classroom, namely, to prevent the then relatively new theory of Darwinian evolution from being taught in the science classroom. The law was called the Butler Act, named after state Rep. John Butler, head of an organization known as the World’s Christian Fundamentals Association.
But now the shoe is on the other foot, and the scientific community, generally speaking, wants to use the law to limit the scope of what can be taught in science class, and they often seek to impugn any school of thought critical of Darwinian evolution.
Why stop with Scopes? Fowler should claim that Darwin would approve of this legislation too. Let’s read on:
Certainly intelligent design theory is not without its critics, and if the subject is going to be taught, then discussion of those criticisms is appropriate. But it is also appropriate that students understand that intelligent design is a theory that many scientists are beginning to consider and hold because of the weaknesses in the scientific evidence supporting evolution.
He then quotes from the Scientific Dissent From Darwinism, and at this point we’re wondering who really wrote this article, because it looks to us like something written in Seattle.
We’ll skip most of Fowler’s article because we’ve seen these arguments too many times before. He assures us that he’s only interested in good science education. That’s what they all say, but we know they’re saying it for the record, not the rubes. We saw the same thing in Louisiana (see Louisiana’s Ben Nevers: Creationist Doublethink). Here’s how Fowler’s article ends:
We need more science teaching, not less. In fact, today’s evolutionary scientists have become the modern-day equivalents of those who tried to silence Rhea County schoolteacher John Scopes for teaching evolution in 1925, by limiting even an objective discussion of the scientific strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory.
We’re accustomed to creationist apologetics; Fowler has done a good job. Your Curmudgeon humbly suggests, however, that he went a bit too far by invoking the posthumous support of John Scopes. Everyone can see that this Tennessee bill is a memorial to William Jennings Bryan.
But let’s not get ourselves all worked up. We know how this shabby affair will end because we’ve seen this movie before, so just relax and enjoy the show. Here’s how things will play out:
The legislative hearings will be little more than show-trials. They’re already lining up a list of “expert” witness that will include creationists from local bible colleges, and perhaps they’ll bring in a few “big names” from the Discovery Institute. Everyone will follow a script that’s already been written. Their testimony will create cover for the legislature to find that evolution is a controversial science, and that will be their officially declared justification for passing the bill which is now under consideration.
That’s how the game was played in Louisiana (see Louisiana Legislature Used Creation Science Witnesses). Tennessee’s governor, Bill Haslam, is a creationist (see Tennessee Governor’s Race: Incurable Creationism). He’ll sign the bill into law.
To the genuine scientists who will testify against this legislation, we say this: Go ahead and testify, but don’t get your hopes up, The stars are aligned against you. The dice are loaded, the skids are greased, the deck is stacked, and the game is rigged. Science is going to lose this one, and the lights are going out in Tennessee.
Is there any hope? Yes, the rational side can win, but only if the creationists blunder badly, which is not likely to happen here. It’s time you learned one of life’s important lessons: Don’t bring a slide rule to a knife fight.
Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.