There have been numerous articles written lately concerning HB 368 (available to read in full Here), the Teacher Protection Academic Freedom Act which, as introduced, protects a teacher from discipline for teaching scientific subjects in an objective manner. Sadly, it has been very difficult to get an accurate understanding of this legislation as the majority of the articles written have been in emotional terms with an agenda. While this Bill would protect teachers talking about a multitude of controversial subjects in science the main objections have been concerning the origin of life.
The need for academic freedom legislation began receiving national attention with the release of the documentary “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed“, which exposed the intimidation and persecution many figures of academia have received for offering scientific objections to the neo-Darwinian interpretation of biological evolution.
Neo-Darwinism contends that the origin and complexity of life can be explained solely in terms of blind, unguided natural selection acting on random genetic mutation.
Refuting neo-Darwinism is Intelligent Design (ID), routinely confused with creationism, a scientific theory that infers to the existence of an intelligent cause to account for the empirical evidence of design in certain features of nature and living things. In contrast, creationism holds that the creation of the earth and all living species occurred during a literal 7-day process as described in the book of Genesis. The charge that ID is “creationism” is a rhetorical strategy to delegitimize design theory without actually addressing the merits of its case.
ID and Neo-Darwinism are both theories. Both theories have proponents and detractors, however, the important part for our discussion is that they are both THEORIES.
Why do we only permit the one sided discussion, Neo-Darwinism, in our classrooms? Could it be that those with the power are using the public education system to indoctrinate instead of educate – failing to introduce children to the multitude of ideas they will encounter and instill critical thinking skills?
A recent study that followed several thousand undergraduates through four years of college found that large numbers didn’t learn the critical thinking, complex reasoning and written communication skills. Many of the students graduated without knowing how to sift fact from opinion, make a clear written argument or objectively review conflicting reports of a situation or event. We manage to educate children for 16+ years, yet fail to teach far too many of them HOW to think.
Is this failure to impart critical thinking skills an accident or by design?
It is the position of TNSC that Tennessee’s teachers should not fear reprisal for allowing conflicting theories and open discussion on controversial issues, whether it is ID/Neo-Darwinism, Global Warming, etc. in the classroom. Those fighting this Bill have failed to make their case beyond “We don’t want creationism/ID in the classroom.”
Learn more about academic freedom Here.
For those who came up through the public education bubble you may learn more about the Intelligent Design-Darwinian evolution debate Here or view the videos below.