A biologist’s view on the passing of the "Monkey Bill"

If you are not familiar with the “Monkey Bill” that was passed yesterday in the TN legislature, please take a second to check it out: http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2012/04/11/tennessee-monkey-bill-becomes-unsigned-law/ OR http://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/apps/billinfo/BillSummaryArchive.aspx?BillNumber=SB0893&ga=107 According to the Wall Street Journal, the bill provides guidelines for teachers when answering students’ questions about evolution, global warming, human cloning, etc. The bill guarantees that teachers will not be subject to discipline for challenging the science of evolution and climate change.

Here is an excerpt from the bill (HB368 / SB893):

“The teaching of some scientific subjects, including, but not limited to, biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning, can cause controversy . . . The state board of education, public elementary and secondary school governing authorities, directors of schools, school system administrators, and public elementary and secondary school principals and administrators shall endeavor to assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies.”

I was actually in a high school biology classroom this morning doing research when I learned of the passing of this bill. The teacher was informing her uninterested class about the details. She made the comment that we are “devolving” in the great state of Tennessee rather than “evolving.” Whether you agree or not, there are more pressing matters at stake.

I am far more concerned with the presentation of climate change as a controversial possibility than I am about the evolution/ creation debate. It seems Christians/ Creationists and Evolutionists have formed two opposing camps and aren’t willing to budge on this issue, which I find very sad.

From a biologist’s perspective, I must say, this bill is a slap in the face to the scientists who are working diligently to research the many processes of this biological, chemical, and physical world. Think about it. You owe a lot to science. Antibiotics. Vaccines. Eradication of Small Pox. Your computer’s electricity. Cancer prevention and treatment. Safe foods. Pasteurization of milk. Anti-retroviral HIV drugs. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Yogurt. Cheese. Beer. Wine. Waste disposal. Measles vaccine. Eradication of Chloroflorocarbon (CFC) usage. Airplanes. The Law of Gravity. Clean water you just drank.

I could continue to go on about the advancements in science that have not only extended the life-span of Homo sapiens, but thrust us into the advancements of modern day society. We no longer remember the repercussions of an outbreak of small pox because our scientists have created a vaccine and as of 1977, small pox was eradicated globally. I could go on and on, but let me digress so that I can attempt to approach my point.

Scientists have spent much time, labor, and taxpayer money researching the effects of climate change. It is happening. I am appalled that the lawmakers of TN feel that they can pose climate change as a “possibility” or a “controversy.” Neither of which it is. We are now educating a generation of students to believe that climate change is more of a political agenda than a factual event. This is appalling to me.

Let’s think about this… whether you agree climate change is happening or not, the repercussions of not addressing an existing problem are far worse than addressing a non-existent problem.

My point here is that we can’t afford to refuse to address pressing scientific issues because we think that religion can’t co-exist with science. I beg to differ. I am living proof that both can co-exist in peace. Faith and science collide in my world everyday. I am not so presumptuous to think I have everything together, I just think it’s important to critically think about the scientific facts instead of feeding this “denialism” of all things science in the name of faith.

As a TN resident, as a woman, as a Christian, as a biologist, I oppose this bill.

I welcome your opinion. Comment. Let me know what you think.

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