does that work? Both bills claim to support teachers’ freedom to
address scientific strengths and weaknesses of scientific issues (House
Bill 1674 cites evolution specifically, Senate Bill 758 doesn’t).
most obvious problem is that we do not need new laws to free science
teachers to do that: such discussions are always part of science
This is like legalizing human bipedalism.
The less obvious trick here involves cryptically distorting the word
“scientific,” a detail not mentioned in these particular bills but part
of the nationwide strategy. In a string of high-profile trials spanning
decades, creationists have tried redefining science so as to include
supernatural explanations. This never works.
in 2006, the citizens of Dover, Penn., paid more than $1 million in
legal fees and damages after a lengthy federal trial exposed
“Intelligent Design Theory” as religious. Teaching religious views as
scientific theory violated the constitutional separation between church
and state that the framers deemed essential to protect “the people,”
including impressionable young schoolchildren, against government-run
The two Oklahoma bills
adopt language by the same Discovery Institute folks who thought nobody
would recognize the God of Genesis if disguised as an unnamed
intelligent designer. Hello? The federal judge described this
transparent gambit as “breathtaking inanity” in a clear warning to
communities wishing to avoid Dover’s example. Oklahoma should think
twice about encouraging new Dovers to appear.
more at stake than squandering time, money, and dignity. Science is a
terrific system for finding out how nature really works, with a
phenomenal track record of success that underpins current technology,
medicine, and much of modern life. We must not weaken that key part of
education by permitting nonscience to invade its logic.
the past two centuries, for example, human life expectancy has tripled
by requiring solid evidence for each medical concept. Germ Theory
concerned pathogenic microbes too small for us to see, but their
importance could be tested rigorously and then incorporated into
effective public health practices. Modern microscopes now make germs
seem obvious, but indirect methodology detected them decades earlier,
thereby saving millions of lives. Let us not be fooled by bogus attempts
to “reform” science education that only provides sheep’s clothing for
anti-science wolves. These two bills are unnecessary at best —
dangerous, costly, and unconstitutional at worst. Real science is
essential if future generations of Oklahomans are to enjoy its many
contributions to our economic and intellectual growth.
Mock, Joseph Thai and Tom Boyd, Norman
Mock is a biology professor;
Thai, a law professor; and Boy, a religious studies professor. All are
at the University of Oklahoma.