But now news comes from New Hampshire (always just a bit out of step with the rest of the region) of two new bills being promoted under the guise of “academic freedom.” As David Brooks of the Nashua Telegraph writes
Rep. Jerry Bergevin, R-Manchester, has sponsored an LSR [Legislative Service Request] “requiring the teaching of evolution in public schools as a theory.”Funny, I thought evolution was a theory. I am not sure which is worse: the fact that those promoting these bills don't know what a theory is, or that they don't do basic scientific research to find out. The only reason Hopper thinks that Darwin's theory is antiquated is because he has absolutely no idea what Darwin's theory actually teaches. This kind of legislation is almost inevitable no matter where you go because everybody likes the idea of “academic freedom” even if they have no idea what the agenda behind the recent push for it is.
That sort of wording is often used to imply that evolutionary theory, the product of a century of evidence and study by tens of thousands of researchers, is nothing more than a complex guess. It confuses, I think, the word “theory” in everyday use (what science calls a hypothesis) with a scientific theory, which is as solid as most of the material we call fact.
The argument goes that since evolution is “just a theory,” it shouldn’t be taught as if it were, say, the Pythagorean theorem (which is also “just a theory,” come to think of it).
“My LSR is not anti-evolution, I am anti-indoctrination,” Bergevin wrote in an e-mail response to my query.
Bergevin also wrote: “This LSR would include a study of the proponents’ ideology and position on atheism.”
I’m not sure what he means by evolution’s “proponents,” since that constitutes most of the world’s scientific community, but this is the sort of detail that can be worked out as a bill is drafted.
Rep. Gary Hopper, R- Weare, approaches the matter more directly with an LSR “requiring instruction in intelligent design in the public schools.”
In a phone interview, Hopper said his concern with evolution as a science involves the beginning of life.
“Darwin’s theory is basically antiquated,” he argued.
Yet another reason why politicians shouldn't be involved in the education process.