New Hampshire Legislators Want to Challenge the Teaching of Evolution

Two new bills have been introduced and referred to the House Education Committee tackling the science curriculum currently taught in public schools in New Hampshire.

Rep. Jerry Bergevin is serving his first (and hopefully last) term and introduced the first bill, which would require schools to teach evolution as a theory, and would include “the theorists’ political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism.” I’m not sure why this would be relevant or anyone’s business, but I’m sure he’ll clarify and explain his reasoning coherently…

“I want the full portrait of evolution and the people who came up with the ideas to be presented. It’s a worldview and it’s godless. Atheism has been tried in various societies, and they’ve been pretty criminal domestically and internationally. The Soviet Union, Cuba, the Nazis, China today: they don’t respect human rights.”

*Phew* For a minute there, I thought he might say something asinine, offensive, and totally false.

There are so many things wrong with that quote and it begs me to wonder how, yet again, the most ignorant among us continue to infiltrate government positions. Bergevin also made this statement:

“As a general court we should be concerned with criminal ideas like this and how we are teaching it… Columbine, remember that? They were believers in evolution. That’s evidence right there.”

Are we really going to do a head count for who has done more harm based on their religious or non-religious ideations. Some bad people might be atheists, but they aren’t bad because they are atheists and most bad people who are atheists aren’t doing bad things in the name of atheism.

Reps. Gary Hopper and John Burt introduced the second bill, which has a slightly higher probability of actually being passed but is equally as obnoxious. Basically, they are challenging science as a field altogether, even going so far as to say:

“I want the problems with the current theories to be presented so that kids understand that science doesn’t really have all the answers. They are just guessing.”…

Currently, science class “is like having a creative writing class where the students are told what to create,” [Hopper] said. “Science is a creative process, not an absolute thing.”

Hopper wants Intelligent Design taught in classrooms, but hasn’t yet been able to find an example of it being successfully legislated into schools…

Um, maybe that’s because there isn’t a shred of real evidence to support such a theory and one might even make the claim that Intelligent Design is one step short of a guess.

He then attempts to tug on the heartstrings by claiming to care about the students’ sense of purpose in life.

“But more and more scientists are coming to the conclusion that it was not even remotely possible that it happened by accident. I want to introduce children to the idea that they have a purpose for being here.”

Thank goodness there is at least one voice of reason out there. Eugenie Scott, Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, speaks out:

“Yes, it is the case that scientific explanations change with new data, but at some point you reach the stage where there is an agreement among scientists… You’re not improving science education for young people by pretending that well-established ideas are up for grabs. The idea of evolution, that living things have common ancestors, is not being challenged in science today,” she said.

She added that Bergevin’s bill “should be obviously unacceptable to legislators on its face. They ought to be able to see pretty quickly that this bill is just silly.”

Oh, how I hope Scott is right.

This topic goes round and round, with a different ringleader each time and usually — hopefully — the same results. Intelligent design has no place being taught in public schools and is, at best, a farfetched and highly implausible theory that counters everything that science represents (and not in an “intelligent” and challenging kind of way). Let’s hope common sense and reason are plentiful in New Hampshire on voting day.

About katied

Katie is a Child & Family Therapist who works with children who have experienced trauma or abuse. She currently resides in beautiful British Columbia, Canada.

  • Rod Chlebek

    His ignorance is obvious to me… evolution a worldview?
    I wonder how he feels about teaching astrology.

  • george.w

    “Columbine, remember that? They were believers in evolution. That’s evidence right there.”
    All too often real news makes me think I’m reading The Onion

    • Chuckatcleveland

      “The Spanish Inquisition, remember that?  They were believers in intelligent design.  That’s evidence right there.”  Chuck Martin

  • Anonymous

    Um, maybe that’s because there isn’t a shred of real evidence to support such a theory

    Don’t dignify ID, by implying that it’s a scientific theory. It’s indeed a hypothesis at best and there is no evidence for it

    • Sware

      Hypothesis?  You are very kind.  I usually call it outright fabrication.

      • Beau Quilter

        Actually, ID creationism doesn’t even qualify as a hypothesis. All hypotheses (as well as theories) are falsifiable by experimentation or scientific observation of predicted evidence. 

        There is no way falsify ID Creationism. It is a God of the Gaps approach by the purest definition.

        • TheBlackCat

          I refer to it as a “conjecture”

  • Anonymous

    Rep. Bergevin sounds like a Poe. I know he’s not, but he honestly sounds like the over-the-top comically stupid troll an atheist might come up with for fun. He could not be worse if he were literally made of straw.

    Currently, science class “is like having a creative writing class
    where the students are told what to create,” [Hopper] said. “Science is a creative process, not an absolute thing.”

    *Briefly imagines how easy projects would be if she could just make shit up instead of doing replicas, controls, statistical analysis etc.*

    One of the beauties of science is that it is a creative process that actually allows us to find out the truth. It’s a creative process within a very strict set of rules. The creativity comes in when thinking of how to figure out a given process. You can use pre-existing methods, or change them to suit you, or come up with entirely new ones. A certain level of creativity also comes in when trying to make predictions on what is actually happening. However once you’ve made those predictions you have to test them to see if they are actually, you know, true.

    *sigh* It makes me mad sometimes, how people with such contempt for science are still able to reap all the benefits of it, even as they try to undermine it at every turn.

    • Ducky

      I’m with you. Physical Chem would be sooo much easier if I could just make up elements and not have to write twenty page reports on lab results. Shit, Physics would have been a blast!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adam-Patrick/100000027906887 Adam Patrick

      *Briefly imagines how easy projects would be if she could just make shit up instead of doing replicas, controls, statistical analysis etc.*Wouldn’t it be creationism then?

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    Science is like creative writing class.  In a creative writing class, you write a long bad poem and you put half the class to sleep.  In a creative chemistry class, you mix bleach and ammonia and you still put half the class to sleep.   See, they are exactly the same, except for the whole horrible death part.   

    FSM and Chemistry

  • http://twitter.com/the_ewan Ewan

    The comparison with a creative writing class is sort-of interesting though ; I don’t know how English is generally taught in the US, but here in the UK I did separate courses and separate exams in English, and also English Literature. There’s an argument for separating science classes in a similar manner, to give both education about the process of science, and separately, teaching people the things that we know about the world and the universe as a result of applying the scientific method. At the moment the results and the process are conflated under one banner as simply ‘science’.

  • EJC

    I cannot see this getting passed in New Hampshire.

    And I am simply stunned daily, as I read the stupidity of the ID idiots…

  • Mike Hitchcock

    Hemant – please stop calling IDiocy a theory. It doesn’t even qualify as a hypothesis. Let’sa find a single word for made-up delusional bullshit and use that.

    • Anonymous

      This wasn’t written by Hemant

    • Mihangel apYrs

      “religion”

    • katied

      Perhaps theory was a poor choice of words, but I meant it in a more philosophical realm rather than a scientific realm…which perhaps I should have clarified. A set of assumptions (that are ridiculous), but held by many to be a possible answer to a question. In no way did I intend to give ID any credence or support. I personally like the term delusional bullshit and will keep that for further use:)

  • Mihangel apYrs

    “…it begs me to wonder how, yet again, the most ignorant among us continue to infiltrate government positions. …”

    like appeals to like.  They press the buttons of fear, ignorance, complicity (“you’n’me use common sense not like those high-falutun’ elitist, int’lectchul scientists)

    Bearing in mind the pockets of ignorance among voters, and scientific illiteracy among many others, all tinged with godity, then it’s surprising that some politicians can read

  • atheo

    They want to call evolution a “theory” when it clearly has more evidence of being truer than the bible . The bible has no fossilized evidence, and no mentioning of past fossils or primate ancestors. 

  • Eleanor O’Neill

    If only we could teach the commenters on that web site — and everywhere else, it seems — to stop calling atheism a “religion.” *sigh*

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    “As a general court we should be concerned with criminal ideas like this and how we are teaching it… Columbine, remember that? They were believers in evolution. That’s evidence right there.”

    Alright, I know it’s all meaningless, but lets play the Ad Hominem game and see how many bad people we can count that believed in evolution versus how many bad people believed in creation.

  • T-Rex

    My list of states to avoid living in at all costs has increased yet again. How depressing.

    • monyNH

      NH has long been one of the least religious states in the country–it ranked second to last in a Gallup poll in 2008 that asked, “Is religion an important part of your daily life?” We’ve always had the odd crackpot rear his or her ugly head, and their ideas rarely go anywhere (remember, we have the third-largest legislative body in the English-speaking world).

      That said…we moved from NH to VT last year, and it seems like the newly elected representatives are crazier and more reactionary, and there are more of them. My husband and I frequently consider ourselves as having dodged a bullet by moving when we did.

      Which reminds me, I should probably change my username…

    • http://twitter.com/luciferadi Adi Rule

      As monyNH says, we are not a particularly religious state. We do, however, have an enormous legislature, and nothing they talk about surprises me anymore. This past year has been particularly insane.

  • Anonymous

    Allow me to slightly modify Rep. Bergevin’s statement:

    …”Columbine, remember that? They were believers in gravity . That’s evidence right there.”

    I see the start of a new meme.  What else did the shooters believe that we can use to tie to the shooting?  The stupid.  It burns.

    • Anonymous

      Gravity is a lot less understood than evolution actually. We don’t know what causes gravity and there is no quantum theoretical explanation for gravity. Reconciling general relativity and quantum mechanics is the one biggest outstanding achievements in physics

  • http://twitter.com/FelyxLeiter Felyx Leiter

    Teach the kids evolution is a theory.  It’s about the only sensible thing Bergevin proposed.

    These people don’t know when to stop talking for their own good.  If they can’t wrap their heads around the scientific definition of the word “theory,” they probably shouldn’t be making policy decisions about it.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    I want the problems with the current theories to be presented so that kids understand that science doesn’t really have all the answers. They are just guessing.

    Yeah Hopper, so when your doctor gives you those pills to control your blood pressure and cholesterol, he’s just guessing, the pharmacologists who made the pills are just guessing, the researchers who think high blood pressure and cholesterol contribute to heart attacks and strokes are just guessing…

    Since they’re all just guessing, then your guess is as good as theirs.  Don’t bother taking those stupid pills.

    • Rich Wilson

      Further pontification-

      I was in a recent discussion over the ‘rejects science’ stereotype, and found myself coming to the conclusion that nobody rejects the scientific method, they may just not realize it.  What people do is selectively reject particular results of the scientific method.
      Even Amish use tools from metal alloys, and I presume plant crops on a timetable based on what has shown to work, rather than looking it up in the Bible.

      • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

        Yes, exactly. That’s what frustrates me,  the pick-and-choose attitude these bumpkins have toward science. They happily accept all the gifts of science, but when the exact same method of thinking reaches conclusions that don’t flatter their egos, or soothe their childish fears, or confirm the stories Mommy told them, oh no, science is suddenly  a suspicious and deceitful pack of guesses and lies. They’re like spoiled brats who want their allowance but don’t want to do their chores. They want to eat the dessert but not the broccoli. All the benefits of science and none of the responsibilities. 

  • Thegoodman

    Katied,

    Please edit and rephrase this segment of your post..
    “Intelligent design has no place being taught in public schools and is,
    at best, a farfetched and highly implausible theory that counters
    everything that science represents”. ID is not a scientific theory.  It is arguably not even a scientific hypothesis.

    Thanks

    • Thegoodman

      Opps, sorry, this was already addressed.

      • katied

        Perhaps theory was a poor choice of words, but I meant it in a more philosophical realm rather than a scientific realm…which perhaps I should have clarified. A set of assumptions (that are ridiculous), but held by many to be a possible answer to a question. In no way did I intend to give ID any credence or support.

        • Thegoodman

          I completely understand your intention, unfortunately it is a misuse that is prevalent in anti-scientific rhetoric. Your layman (and incorrect) use of the word theory in a discussion about the validity (or lack thereof) of ID is a huge breaking point in your argument.  By referring to ID as a theory, you actually support the argument that it should be taught in a classroom.

          Evolution and science in the classroom is hugely important to me and I am amazed how often ID apologists use the phrase “Its just a theory…” or “All theories deserve equal time…”.  These statements, and yours, demonstrate a complete lack of understanding the definition of theory. An IDiot could roll upon your words and actually use them to SUPPORT his/her cause of getting ID into classrooms.

          I apologize for attacking you, your post was otherwise great and I don’t want to discourage you from posting again in the future.  I just want to make sure it is clear how important the definition of the word ‘theory’ is when arguing with IDers about evolution.

          • Rich Wilson

            Perhaps the “The Anti-Theory of Intelligent Design”?

          • katied

            While I agree with some of your feedback, I disagree with some points. To be very literal, the word theory has various definitions (not just the scientific one), one being relevant to the way in which I used it (“a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural and subject to experimentation, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact”). ID is a proposed explanation even if it’s delusional bullshit, as another commentor noted. It will never be subject to proper experimentation of course as that would be likely impossibly and its status is obviously still conjectural as the entire idea is asinine. The word ‘idea’ is a synonym for ‘theory’ and it would be hard to dispute that ID is an idea that some people have about how the world began, even if it is one of the dumbest ideas out there. I agree that given the specific arguement I could have chosen a “better” word, but would disagree that I used the word incorrectly.

            I also disagree that my use of the word actually lends support to it being taught in schools given that there are many “theories”, ideas, ridiculous notions, etc. out there and nobody (especially me) would claim that all/any of them should be taught in school. I could personally develop a theory that the world began by way of flying pink unicorns and I may even get some followers, but just because I have this “theory” doesn’t mean that there is any more credence to that theory being taught in schools…let alone in a science class. I think most people could/would differentiate between the various definitions of the word theory and if not, then I suppose we engage in an arguement of semantics.

            All that said, I welcome your feedback, but likely won’t have time to respond again…and don’t worry I’ll still post more and you can continue to give me more feedback:)

  • Xeon2000

    We should start to learn about dowsing theory in geology, witch identification for FBI interrogators, demonology and exorcisms for neurologists, and what ever happened to voodoo dolls? Helloooo… If Guybrush Threepwood uses them, then they must be real.

    Stupid scientists have put us into the dark ages with their fancy magic.

  • http://www.robinlionheart.com/ Robin Lionheart

    Like I said on Why Evolution is True:

    “including the theorists’ political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism”

    Soooo, New Hampshire science teachers would be required by law to teach their students the concept of atheism?

    Can you imagine how dismayed religious parents would be when their children must be taught that nonbelief in God is an option?

  • Ducky

    When is America going to stop letting sloped forehead having motherfuckers have the reins of power? Good grief, if I have to listen to another one of these knuckle-dragging mouth breathers bukkake me with “It’s only a theory!” one more time, I’ll snap. Does everybody sleep through science class anymore? I ought to find a cop, and stab a guy standing next to him. When he arrests me, I’ll just say, “What? Murder’s just a state of mind. It’s not like it’s illegal or anything!” Shitheals….

  • WishinItWas

    I was born and raised in NH, went through the “standard” public schooling the entire time. Granted, I have not  been living there for 8 years but religion was never a huge social topic, as in the south, generally.  I can only assume these people have migrated *sarcasm*

    • http://twitter.com/luciferadi Adi Rule

      Absolutely. I was raised in an atheistic household in NH, and I never encountered religion in public school. Or anywhere else, really.

  • SJH

    ID should not be taught as science. There should be a clear distinction between science, theology and philosophy. We cannot prove that God exists or does not exist  and therefor cannot make any scientific statements about God. I do believe that science points to God but I cannot say that it proves God. It is not within the capacity of the state to properly educate the whole person (science, philosophy, theology). This is the problem with the state educating. For this reason and others, the state should not be teaching about religion (ID) this should be left up to home schoolers and private schools.  Please everyone send your children to private schools and lets reduce the influence of amoral, politically driven (right or left) education.

    • miw

      Which god does science point to?  The one you so conveniently believe in, perchance?

      • SJH

        I believe that God created the world so naturally it would point to him. If my understanding of God is correct or not is not the issue.

    • TheBlackCat

      “We cannot prove that God exists or does not exist  and therefor cannot make any scientific statements about God.”

      Faulty logic.  Just because science cannot conclusively disprove something does not mean it cannot make any statements about it.  If that was the case science could not make any statements about anything, ever.  Science is about figuring out what is the best explanation given what we know, it doesn’t deal in absolute proof.

      We cannot prove that ether exists or does not exist, but we certainly can and do make scientific statements about (we reject it) because it does not tell us anything useful about the universe that we cannot get from more parsimonious principles (i.e. relativity).    The same is true of god (whichever one you pick).

      • SJH

        Maybe I should have stated it differently. I don’t think that you can make a final judgement as to God’s existence because it cannot be proven. Of course a scientific and reasoned analysis can be performed on the natural world which may or may not be attributed to God. If a miracle occurs and it defies the laws of science then there is a possibility that God has performed a miracle. Of course it is also possible that it is a hoax and science may prove that. It would follow that science can then make a statement that God did not cause a miracle (a statement about God).

        If you choose to reject the existence of God, you can do so but that decision is not a scientific one because it is not based on anything other than a lack of proof.

        Religion tells us a great deal about the universe. Its how we relate to one another. Maybe what religion teaches us about God is false (maybe not) but what it teaches us about how to relate to one another. It is religion that has provided us with guidelines regarding how to treat one another and it suggests that we should abandon our own desires and live as servants to the less fortunate which may be contrary to our natural instincts. I know that many atheists will argue that they can be good without God and that is good for them but that is not true for everyone. Many individuals throughout history have proven that those individuals cannot be good without religion.

        Even though some religious people perform evil acts, the fact is that religion has had a net positive effect on human history.

        • Anonymous

          Many individuals throughout history have proven that they cannot be good *with* religion either.  Some people are going to be evil and hateful, and they’ll use what they believe in to justify it, whether it’s jihad or the orders of the Pope or overthrowing the bourgeois or whatever.

  • SJH

    Also, Katied, the image you chose for your post is silly. Please do not
    perpetuate the false and prejudiced idea that religion and stupidity are
    somehow intertwined. There are many ignorant atheists out there just as there are many ignorant religious. We are all ignorant to some degree and I am
    sure that there are many religious people out there that are smarter
    than both you and I.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      That was my choice of image. Sorry if you don’t like it, though I agree with what you said and have said as much on this site before.

    • Anonymous

      All the image says is that when stupidity and religion go together, it results in fundamentalism. I’ve yet to see a smart fundamentalist

      • SJH

        True, good point. Maybe just being oversensitive.
        I have met some smart fundamentalists but their theology can be a bit inconsistent. But, none of us are perfectly consistent so basically we are all in the same boat trying to get across the same river.

  • Srhighguy

    So good to see healthy, robust and level-headed discussion among open-minded intellectuals here. I’m so glad we’re not like those angry, right-wing nut jobs who are incapable of honest and unemotional debate.

    • Monty Ryder

      Hah. “right wing nut jobs”? That sure doesn’t sound robust and level headed… Especially considering that the “left” is the party of “emotional” justification. One need only consider the failed morality of “need”.
      It’s disheartening to find a group of people who champion reason over faith in the arena of science and religion, but when it comes to morality, politics, and economics, revert straight back to irrationality and emotion in their decision making.
      Get over “left” and “right”.

  • SJH

    You state:
    “Some bad people might be atheists, but they aren’t bad because they are atheists and most bad people who are atheists aren’t doing bad things in the name of atheism.”

    Can you honestly claim that they are not bad because of their atheism. You never know, perhaps if you analyzed their chain of thought you might find that their atheism did have a controlling effect on their reasoning which lead them to their bad behavior. Unfortunately we are not in their mind so we will never know either way. Neither atheists or religious can make the claim either way with certainty.

    Your statement also implies that bad people who happen to be religious are driven by their religion to bad behavior or that they are doing it in the name of their religion.
    I disagree with this implication. You are a therapist, so correct me if i am wrong, but often times people justify their bad behavior by rationalizing. It seems to me that most people take the path of least resistance and rationalize with whatever is closest to them. So the religious person rationalizes that violence must be justified because of his religion even when his religion teaches him that violence is wrong. An atheist rationalizes that violence is justified because he believes that he is genetically superior and therefor has the right to eliminate those standing in his way even though reason would say that if we want to live happy lives we should live in harmony.

    Either way they are wrong, religion didn’t justify violence, nor did atheism. We all rationalize our bad behavior because we want to justify our selfishness. We are all flawed human beings and sometimes try to justify our behavior to various degrees.

    • TheBlackCat

      There is a fundamental difference in your two examples.  In the example of religion, there are justifications for violence in many, if not most, religions (Christianity included).  However, atheism doesn’t say anything about genetics, or even that genes exist (that is biology, not atheism, they are not the same). 

      So there are things in the teachings or holy books in many religions that can be and are taken as direct orders to kill others.  There is nothing in atheism that can be taken as such an order, in fact there is nothing in atheism that can be taken as an order, instruction, or even suggestion.  There might be in science, but science and atheism are not synonymous.

  • Ndonnan

    point is ,evolution as even an idea is laughable,there was an explosion,and over millions and billions of years life came to this,ha, sceintificlly impossable and they know it,of course it shouldnt be taught in schools,certainly not as sceince

    • Rich Wilson

      There are no explosions in evolution.

      • http://twitter.com/luciferadi Adi Rule

        But it would be way more badass if there were!

    • Anonymous

      Try getting some science books from your local library.  They’ll blow your mind, I promise.

  • Progenitus

    “1. The creation of the world is the most marvellous achievement imaginable.
    2. The merit of an achievement is the product of (a) its intrinsic quality and (b) the ability of its creator.
    3. The greater the disability (or handicap) of the creator, the more impressive the achievement.
    4. The most formidable handicap for a creator would be non-existence.
    5. Therefore, if we suppose that the universe is the product of an existant creator we can conceive a greater being – namely, one who created everything while not existing.
    6. An existing God therefore would not be a being greater than which a greater cannot be conceived because an even more formidable and incredible creator would be a God which did not exist.
    Ergo:
    7. God does not exist.”

    -Douglas Gasking

    • SJH

      How do you know that the creation of the world is the most marvelous achievement? Maybe there is a better one in the works.

      -Or-

      Implying that something is marvelous implies that there is something to compare to that is less marvelous. If we are one with God and created by God then there is nothing else and therefor nothing to which we can be compared. Then there is nothing more or less marvelous it simply is.

      -Or-

      Measuring achievements based upon handicap seems to be an emotional response. I am moved that a blind person can play the piano because it touches an emotional chord. The achievement in and of itself, when reviewed subjectively, is no more or less valuable.

  • Oblivliz

    I’m a banana! :D

  • gsw

    Hitler had brown hair – so no one with brown hair should be allowed to vote.
    All world-domination tyrants were men … need I say morre?

  • Estevan

    I refuse to believe this is real otherwise I will cry.

  • Anonymous

    I wonder if Mr. Bergevin knows that Charles Darwin was a devout Christian who rejected evolution when he stepped onto the Beagle? 

    I wouldn’t mind it if kids learned about how the scientific evidence he saw of an ancient Earth and evolutionary process was *so strong* that it completely changed his view, and how he came to feel that way and develop his theory of natural selection.

    But somehow I don’t think that’s what Mr. Bergevin had in mind.

    • Rich Wilson

      Just a nit, but since evolution was an idea Darwin developed while on the Beagle (and I think much more after he got home and found that all his birds were Finches) there wasn’t anything TO reject.

      • Anonymous

        Not exactly.  Darwin developed the theory of natural selection, but the idea of evolution had been kicking around scientific circles since before Darwin was born.  The most famous pre-Darwinian evolutionary biologist was of course Lamark (of the “giraffes developed long necks because their ancestors stretched their necks a lot” fame), but IIRC there was some other people advocating other ideas as well.  They just didn’t really have a good explanation of how it would work or enough evidence to prove it.  Darwin was the one that made that happen.

  • MontyRyder

    I’m sorry, but your Venn diagram needs correction to be accurate. Under Stupidity and Politics, “Republicans” must be accompanied by “Democrats”. The mistake should be corrected ASAP to avoid the appearance of partisan demagoguery.


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