Tennessee’s Creationism Bill: 11 Mar ’11 Update

The theocratic anti-science axis is actively sweeping Tennessee into Western Civilization’s trashpile. They’re promoting HOUSE BILL 368 (2-page pdf file), sponsored in the legislature by Bill Dunn, a tree surgeon. While the bill is working its way toward becoming law, it’s gaining in what passes for public opinion in the state that gave the world the Scopes trial. You can use this link to follow the progress and status of HB 368.

When we wrote that Tennessee’s Creationism Bill Will Become Law it was because we detected a well-organized public relations effort, the kind that succeeded in Louisiana back in 2008. The Tennessee operation (probably code-named “Lights Out”) seemed to be headed by 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. Fowler is president of an organization called Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), which is affiliated with Focus on the Family — that’s James Dobson‘s outfit.

Then it was disclosed by Lauri Lebo that the bill Dunn introduced in the legislature was given to him by Fowler, and Fowler got the bill from the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

So now we know who the players are in Tennessee’s latest struggle in the ancient contest between the forces of reason and the forces of darkness. Today there are two dueling columns appearing in The Tennessean, which is located in Nashville, Tennessee. The first one, opposing Dunn’s “Lex Lunacy” is Proposed bill’s intention is to push a religious agenda. It was written by the head of the ACLU in Tennessee. We won’t discuss it because it’s no fun to write about articles we like. Go ahead and read it, but we’ll deal here with the article on dark side.

The column favoring the creationism bill is Critical thinking, analysis foster good science. It’s full-blown, hard-core, flat-out creationist propaganda. The author — or at least the name in the byline — is Robin D. Zimmer, Ph.D., who is described like this at the end of the piece:

Robin D. Zimmer, who lives in Knoxville, is a private biotech consultant and affiliate of the Center for Faith and Science International, which was founded to assist faith-based organizations such as churches better understand the importance and benefits of science and how it relates to their faith.

We have no idea what his “PhD” is all about, nor — even after reading that bio several times — do we have any idea what Zimmer actually does for a living. All we know is that it looks like he’s in the creationism business. Ah, we found the website for his Center for Faith and Science International. Whoa! Anyway, here are some excerpts from his article, with bold font added by us:

The Wall Street Journal reported that 80 percent of our high school seniors nationwide are now scoring below proficiency in science and mathematics (January 26). Moreover, our country has now slipped to 31st in world science and math education. It is clear that something is wrong with our approach to teaching and something must be done for the welfare of our kids, our state and our great nation.

Yes, something is definitely wrong. We assume Zimmer thinks the problem is a lack of emphasis on Noah’s Ark in science classes. Let’s read on:

Mr. Dunn’s timely amendment (HB 368) offers an improvement in our approach to science education. The bill simply proposes that public teachers be permitted to allow critical analysis of scientific theories within the public classroom.


This is the scientific process. Why would we deprive our future scientists from understanding how to critically challenge and assess scientific theories?

That sounds like it could have been drafted by the Discoveroids in Seattle. We continue:

Those who oppose the bill seem to be focused on the teaching of evolution as a non-controversial fact. But are there controversies associated with theories such as full Darwinian macroevolution? Sure there are. Michael Behe, a biochemist from Lehigh University, recently published a book …

Behe? Hey, now we’re convinced — this thing really was written in Seattle. We can even guess by whom. Here’s more:

I am not writing to argue for or against macroevolution or any other scientific theory. But the bottom line is that critical thinking and analysis fosters good science. For high schoolers, their love of science and acumen for it will not come from memorizing and repeating textbook prose, but rather by diving into the strengths and weaknesses of theories such as evolution.

Right — Zimmer’s not for or against “macroevolution.” He’s just a great guy seeking fairness. He wants teachers to have academic freedom to babble about all the “weaknesses” in the theory of evolution.

Well, that’s it for today in Tennessee. We still think the game is rigged and Dunn’s bill is going to pass. But let’s look on the bright side. Will it really be all that bad? Seriously — if the next generation in Tennessee grows up to be scientifically ignorant, will that make any noticeable difference?

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

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6 responses to “Tennessee’s Creationism Bill: 11 Mar ’11 Update

  1. Oh, the irony! Calling the article “Critical thinking, analysis foster good science” when in reality that is the EXACT opposite of what they are trying to accomplish, by teaching kids that the answer to all life’s questions come from an ancient manuscript, and indeed NOT from critical thinking, analysis and rational thought. Isn’t this like the double-speak crap from “1984”?

  2. Zimmer is listed amongst “Darwin Doubters” on this page: http://www.orgsites.com/oh/creation/_pgg10.php3

    It claims he has a PhD in environmental science from Rutgers.

  3. Zimmer is the director of the Center for Creationist Stupidity, or something like that, and is up to his eyeballs in Discoveroids. It’s a veritable rogue’s gallery of creationist lunatics from Luskin to Wells. Young earth bible thumpers all the way down.

    The turtles didn’t have a chance.


  4. At least there’s good news to the north:


    I’m most worried about Tennessee. I can’t see it getting out of committee in Missouri, just like its multiple predecessors. I think Florida won’t want to go through the same dog and pony show from a few years ago. And the Texas bill actually uses “intelligent design” in a post-Dover world.

  5. James F says: “At least there’s good news to the north”

    True. I may write something about that one.

  6. Curmudgeon: “We assume Zimmer thinks the problem is a lack of emphasis on Noah’s Ark in science classes. ”

    C’mon, you know that a “biotech consultant” who cites Behe knows darn well that the Ark story is nonsense, and would never propose teaching it. Why risk having students critically analyze it? Without reading the article I’ll bet that bogus arguments that promote unreasonable doubt of evolution is all he demands. Though in that case, less is truly more, in terms of misleading students.