Tennessee ACLU Opposes Creationism Bill

When we first reported about this year’s creationism bill in Tennessee, we treated it as we did the others that are routinely introduced into state legislatures each year. But later we predicted that Tennessee’s Creationism Bill Will Become Law. Now the ACLU seems to be getting involved.

In the Knoxville News Sentinel of Knoxville, Tennessee we read Dunn-backed bill slammed by ACLU leader. The “Dunn” in the headline refers to Bill Dunn, the Tennessee tree surgeon who sponsored this silly bill. While we’re repeating old information, here’s a link for tracking the progress and status of HB 368 as Dunn’s bill works its way through the legislative process.

But let’s get to the story in the Knoxville News Sentinel. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

An American Civil Liberties Union leader says a bill sponsored by Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, is a backdoor means of promoting the teaching of creationism and the debunking of evolution in Tennessee schools.

In a House Education Subcommittee meeting, the measure was also criticized by Jerry Winters, lobbyist for the Tennessee Education Association, as a ‘lawyer’s dream’ containing ‘some of the most convoluted language I’ve ever seen in a bill.’

It’s not all that convoluted, but perhaps your Curmudgeon has become jaded by his continuous exposure to creationist argumentation. Dunn’s bill is a typical anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism bill authorizing teachers to present the “strengths and [alleged] weakness” of certain “controversial” subjects, with the usual (and nonsensical) directions to the courts to construe it in a manner contrary to its manifest purpose of permitting creationism to be taught in science classes. Let’s read on:

Dunn said the measure — HB368 — is simply a move to help students become ‘critical thinkers’ on scientific subjects and that opponents are trying to ‘get off on some tangent’ by wrongfully saying ‘we think there may be something hidden in there.’

Ever since we’ve been blogging about The Controversy between evolution and creationism, we’ve found that every creationist politician who supports legislation like Dunn’s says almost exactly the same thing. Some may be honestly brain dead, and are therefore without guilt when they babble incoherently, but we think most of them know they’re lying. Creationist politicians have no honor, no integrity, and can’t be trusted in anything. We continue in the Knoxville News Sentinel:

Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU in Tennessee, said the bill was reminiscent of the 1925 ‘Monkey Trial’ of a Dayton, Tenn., teacher charged with violating the state’s law of the time prohibiting the teaching of evolution.

Hedy wasn’t well-briefed for this press conference, because she’s quite wrong about that. In the Scopes trial to which she refers, Tennessee had a much more honest law that flatly prohibited the teaching of evolution. Dunn’s bill is a stealth attack on evolution; it allows creationism to be deceptively slipped into science class in the guise of presenting the (non-existent) weaknesses of evolution. Here’s more:

[Still quoting Hedy of the ACLU:] ‘This legislation, we believe, is the latest line of attack against evolution in a long-standing campaign,’ she said, declaring the bill ‘riddled with various euphemisms’ used by promoters of creationism or intelligent design who ‘seek to subvert scientific principle to religious ideology.’

At least she got that much right. Maybe the ACLU will figure it all out before the trial. Oh — this part of the news story is really good:

Robin Zimmer of Knoxville spoke to the subcommittee in support of the bill, citing a report that said only 28 percent of science students nationwide are proficient in the subject at grade level and that the United States ranks ’31st in the world in scientific education.’ He declared that promotion of critical thinking would ‘start turning those statistics around.’

Brilliant! US schools are flunking in science education, so the way to fix that is by teaching creationism. But who is this Zimmer guy? The story gets into that:

Zimmer identified himself as a scientist who previously headed a research company on genetics and has learned that many scientific theories are refuted by more research triggered by critical thinking. He did not give his current affiliation in testimony to the subcommittee.

A scientist? Is that possible? But the newspaper swiftly clears things up:

The website of Center for Faith and Science International, which states a belief in God as creator of the universe as a core principle, refers to Zimmer as director.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Zimmer’s testimony is a metaphor for this kind of legislation. It presents itself as being entirely about science; but upon examination, it becomes obvious that something else is going on.

We’ve learned something today, dear reader. Creationism may be crazy science, but it’s very reliable as a social marker: Its supporters are almost inevitably disingenuous and untrustworthy.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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2 responses to “Tennessee ACLU Opposes Creationism Bill

  1. I have already written every member of the education committee but I am also worried that this one will make it out the committee and may get passed. A lot can happen so I don’t want to speculate too much. Dunn attempted to shutdown any discussion of creationism at the meeting and Fowler still seems to have a lot pull in the state legislature. His article in the Chattanoogan showed the true intent of this bill. They are all lying. I will keep you posted if I hear anything outside of the blogsphere here in Knoxville.