MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A bill introduced in the Alabama legislature that would allow students to learn the strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories is being criticized and ridiculed by evolutionists as an attempt by “religious fanatics” to “undermine the integrity of science education.”
On April 30, House Bill 592 was introduced in the Alabama House of Representatives. HB 592 would amend the state’s education policy to allow for objective review and discussion of existing scientific theories.
“This bill would require the State Board of Education, local boards of education, and staff of K-12 public schools to create an environment that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about scientific subjects,” the bill’s synopsis states. “This bill would also allow public school teachers to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of all existing scientific theories covered in a science course.”
HB 592 also encourages public schools to “review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of all existing scientific theories.” The bill would also allow students to discuss and debate disputed scientific subjects, “including, but not limited to, biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, and human cloning.”
Though the bill specifically prohibits the promotion of “any religious doctrine,” supporters of evolution claim HB 592 is a backhanded attempt to undermine Darwin’s theory.
“This is a thinly-veiled attempt to open the door to religious fanatics who don’t believe in evolution, climate change or other scientifically-based teaching in our schools,” ACLU of Alabama executive director Susan Watson told AL.com.
The National Center for Science Education, a pro-evolution activist group, denounced HB 592 as “antiscience.”
“[The bill] would undermine the integrity of science education in the state by encouraging science teachers with idiosyncratic opinions to teach whatever they pleased while preventing responsible educational authorities from intervening,” the group claimed on their website.
Supporters of the legislation, however, stress that HB 592 simply encourages honest discussion and debate about scientific issues. The bill’s lead sponsor, Representative Mack Butler, says he doesn’t understand why so many people are vehemently opposed to the proposed law.
“To clarify HB 592 only encourages debate on scientific theories! Nothing is mandated,” Butler posted on Facebook last week. “I don’t understand all the profanity laced emails from a few liberals I’m receiving about this bill. There is nothing to fear in a little healthy debate as debate helps develop critical thinking skills for our students.”
Later, Butler explained via a Facebook post that many teachers in Alabama are in favor of the bill. The most vocal opposition has come from pro-evolution organizations, like the ACLU.
In recent years, supporters of evolution have routinely resisted candid debates of scientific issues in classrooms. As previously reported, a Pennsylvanian lawmaker was accused of attacking evolution when he introduced legislation to protect teachers’ freedoms to discuss controversial topics. In 2014, a Virginia bill that encouraged discussion of scientific theories’ strengths and weaknesses was described by evolutionists as an “antiscience bill.” Then, last month, two atheist organizations complained about a Christian science teacher’s practice of teaching “both sides of the argument” surrounding evolution.