Oklahoma’s most recent creationism measure has made it over its latest hurdle.
The Oklahoma Common Education committee passed the Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act Tuesday in a close 9-8 vote, Mother Jones reports.
Introduced by Republican state Rep. Gus Blackwell, the legislation would “permit teachers, schools, and students to explore alternative theories without repercussions,” the Week columnist Dana Liebelson writes.
“Without repercussions”? Come, come now. This bill is about science denialism across the board, including of global warming, cloning, and especially evolution. A person cannot grow up in the 21st century and expect to be proficient in an ever more complex world when our schools are forcing scientific illiteracy on them. Just look at what one of the sponsors of the bill said:
While creationism bills have often been linked to religion, Blackwell insists that the legislation’s focus is scientific exploration.
“I proposed this bill because there are teachers and students who may be afraid of going against what they see in their textbooks,” Blackwell explained to Mother Jones. “A student has the freedom to write a paper that points out that highly complex life may not be explained by chance mutations.”
Highly complex life – indeed, all of life – is explained not merely by chance, nor merely mutations. There are a whole host of mechanisms which contribute to life’s erratic march, such as genetic drift and, of course, natural selection. (I say “erratic march” because, as Stephen Jay Gould noted, life does not evolve towards complexity, but rather diversity.) We cannot expect students to write coherent papers on this matter when there are people in charge like Blackwell who have obviously never even considered biology at this level.
Hopefully this bill will die just like a similar one did last year, but who knows. The power of the stupid-lobby remains as strong as ever.