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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Making a Monkey of out Scopes

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If you thought the state of Tennessee is full of only Bible thumping, inbred, possum eating, toothless, half-witted snake handlers, you are wrong. Tennessee is full of Bible thumping, inbred, possum eating, toothless, half-witted snake handlers who have political savvy. Scary. These right wing wackadoos have managed to pass a law intended to turn public schools into public churches. Yes, my little pretties, the state famous for the Scopes Monkey Trial that determined the right to teach the scientific theory of evolution in the public schools is now allowing fundamentalist religious wingnuts to monkey with years of science curriculum in the name of "critical thinking skills" on "controversial issues."

This month the Tennessee House voted 70 to 28 (not even close, people!) to pass a bill (HB 368) that would allow science teachers to discuss "alternatives" to scientifically accepted schools of thought on certain "controversial" issues, including biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning. Although cloaked in language of "respect" for "differences of opinion," what this bill essentially says is that it is now fine for a science teacher to tell his or her students that the theory of evolution may not be correct and that there is room in the science curriculum for creationism. What these backwoods yahoos don't seem to realize is that no matter what they believe, creationism is Christian theology and has no place in a public school classroom.

I was able to pull up some video of the Tennessee House of Representatives debating House Bill 368. Watch this on an empty stomach or what you see may cause you to revisit your lunch. If you are unable to view the video, I'll provide you with a brief summation of the circus of idiots that passes for government in Tennessee.

First, we have Representative Frank Niceley, who begins by quoting one of the greatest scientists of all time, Albert Einstein,who was basically an agnostic Jew. According to Mr. Niceley, Einstein said that "a little knowledge would turn your head toward atheism, while a broader knowledge would turn your head toward Christianity." I guess Mr. Niceley has been reading some of the more obscure biographies of Einstein because I have never heard that particular quote attributed to him.

Another highlight of this intellectual firestorm is Representative Sheila Butt. She expounds on her "Aquanet Theory" of global warming, on which, I believe, she and Al Gore will soon be publishing a paper. According to Ms. Butt, she and many other girls in high school, gave up their Aquanet hair spray because scientists told them it was "bad" and caused global warming. Now, she says, those same scientists are saying that the aerosols from their hair spray might be "absorbing the earth's rays and keeping us from global warming." Therefore, Ms. Butts argues, what children learn in science class might turn out to be wrong. And something about chocolate. She ends with a statement that will make all prospective industries and corporations think twice about locating to Tennessee; Butts insists that no child in Tennessee should be made to feel ignorant for not accepting the theory of evolution or any other scientific theory. In a science class. In a public school.

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"Inherit the Windbags" TN House of Reps Debate Debacle

I wonder whether the good folk in the Tennessee House of Representative have considered that they may have opened a Pandora's box (that's Greek mythology; it's not in the Bible, Reps. Niceley and Butt) with their bill. If teachers are now allowed to critique evolution and offer "alternative" theories of creation and evolution, what's to stop a practitioner of Wicca from talking about her theories of creation or a Muslim from talking about Allah? Do the people of Tennessee really want their science classes to turn into a class on World Religions? I bet not.

It truly frightens me that this absurdist political theater has crawled its way into children's classrooms. If these folks want to brainwash their kids in their own homes and in their churches, have at it. But where taxpayer dollars are concerned, keep religion out outside the doors of the public schools.


  1. I for one of hopefully millions do not believe I came from a monkey & don't like the idea that it is being taught to my grandsons. With me it ranks right in there with santa clause, the easter bunny and crap like that. Personally matters concerning my faith should only be taught by me, my grown children and our churches since the schools do such a poor job of it anyway.

  2. Ooooora!!!! I'm a huge advocate and proponent of keeping out any and all circuitous or surreptitious attempts at proselytizing any form of religion in public schools. Our Federal Constitution speaks to this issue.

    Hopefully, the more educated segment of our society understand the critical importance of this issue and will somehow address this in discourse.

    To misquote Einstein (should be "... a little knowledge is a very dangerous thing." and " ...imagination is more critical than knowledge") in this way is an indication to the true 'intent' by these self serving rightwing hypocritically moralistic 'buffoons'. Phew!!! I feel better.

  3. Odie-We can certainly agree to disagree on matters of creation, and I, too, think that schools should STAY OUT of matters of faith. They have enough other stuff to cover, and, as you said, they often don't do that very well. It just scares me, however, that if the teachers in TN are anything like those Reps., given free leeway to teach what they please, they may end up giving kids lessons on how Aquanet saves the earth from global warming and how Einstein endorsed Christianity. That video was FRIGHTENING!

  4. nene-glad you feel better! I always welcome additional rants to my rants!

  5. In case it's not too late to comment:

    True, Einstein never said what Niceley quoted him as saying. It's basically a paraphrase of Francis Bacon (16th century), who was also a pretty brilliant man. The real quote is "It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion."

    As for the controversial issues (no need for quotation marks, since whether you like it or not there is a controversy), here's one from Nobel Prize-winning astronomer and chemist Fred Hoyle and chemist Chandra Wickramasinghe: "In accepting the 'primeval soup theory' of the origin of life, scientists have replaced the religious mysteries which shrouded this question with equally mysterious scientific dogmas."

    Francis Crick, another Nobel Prize-winner and co-discoverer of DNA: "An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going."

    George Wald, professor of biology at Harvard: "One has only to contemplate the magnitude of this task to concede that the spontaneous generation of a living organism is impossible. Yet here we are as a result, I believe, of spontaneous generation."

    In other words, many scientists agree that the accepted neo-Darwinian theory of evolution is impossible, although they may believe in it nevertheless.

    Incidentally, I wasn't aware that there was a "scientifically accepted" school of thought on human cloning. I thought it was an ethical controversy, not a scientific one.

    Scientists are often just as dogmatic about their theories/(dis)beliefs as fundamentalist Christians are about their beliefs. Unless they are willing to take seriously the evidence against their theories, they are not doing good science.

    The solution is not to teach Christianity in the schools. But evolution should not be taught as dogma, and the evidence against it should be presented.

  6. Well,donut day IS coming,wish the day of the world's awakening to the awareness of evolution as a process and pillar of modern Biology-rather than a philosophical/religious explanation of the meaning of life -had a clock.Then again,waiting 28 days for donut day can't compare to contemplating the wait for superstition and dogma to quit retching and death rattling and just please die."I don't know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention,how to fall down into the grass"
    Mary Oliver


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