New Hampshire state Republican Jerry Bergevin recently railed against science and the atheist eggheads who call themselves teachers: “I want the full portrait of evolution and the people who came up with the ideas to be presented. It’s a world view and it’s godless.”
While New Hampshire didn’t end up passing Bergevin’s anti-evolution law, Tennessee did. Its new statute allows – even encourages – teachers to express scepticism toward, as the bill says, “scientific subjects, including, but not limited to, biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, and global warming”. The American Institute of Biological Sciences, the National Earth Science Teachers Association, the National Centre for Science Education and all eight of Tennessee’s members of the National Academy of Sciences oppose the new law, calling it “miseducation”. But what do these no ‘count heathen elitist PhD Darwinites know? The government of Tennessee wants you to know they ain’t kin to no monkey.
Tennessee, you will recall, is the proud home of the famous “Monkey trial” of 1925 in which John Scopes, a high school science instructor, was prosecuted for teaching evolution. These days the forces of anti-thinking don’t simply deny the science, they demand that ignorance be given equal time. David Fowler, a former state senator and head of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, who helped craft the bill aided and abetted by a creationist front group called (with no discernable irony) the Discovery Institute, complains that Tennessee textbooks call the Genesis story a “creation myth” – as opposed to revealed truth. Moreover, teachers don’t present a “balanced” view of evolution. They don’t present a “balanced” view of the laws of gravity, the speed of light and the fact that the earth revolves around the sun, either.
And there you have it: the conservative attitude to knowledge. No reading, no exploration, no empirical evidence, no learning, no free play of ideas. Just rumour, Fox News and the Bible. Why think? It’ll just make you unhappy.