Mississippi Legislator Introduces Bill to Allow Creationism in Public School Science Classes

Mississippi State Rep. Mark Formby just introduced legislation that would make students even more confused about science than they already are.

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House Bill 50 would open the door to teaching Creationism in the classroom — using conservative code words meant to challenge the strength of evolution without actually bringing up any real science:

The teaching of some scientific subjects required to be taught under the curriculum framework developed by the State Board of Education may cause debate and disputation, including, but not limited to:

(i) Biological evolution;
(ii) The chemical origins of life;
(iii) Global warming; and
(iv) Human cloning.

Neither the State Board of Education, nor any local school board, public school superintendent, public school administrator or principal shall prohibit any teacher of a public school system from helping students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of all existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught within the curriculum framework developed by the State Board of Education.

Not only does the bill suggest evolution and global warming are controversial in any meaningful way, it also would allow teachers to raise doubts about the scientific power of those theories without government interference.

Formby told a local newspaper his real intention with this bill:

I just don’t want my teachers punished in any form or fashion for bringing creationism into the debate. Lots of us believe in creationism,” Formby, the chairman of the House Revenue and Expenditure committee, said. “To say that creationism as a theory is any less valuable than any other theory that nobody can scientifically prove I just think is being close-minded.”

It is less valuable than other theories because there’s no evidence to back it up. It’s not closed-minded to say that; it’s the truth. As the saying goes, you shouldn’t be so open-minded that your brain falls out.

The National Center for Science Education pointed out that this bill, if passed, would be unconstitutional:

[NCSE Deputy Director Glenn] Branch said the problem with bills like Formby’s is the federal courts have ruled against the introduction of creationism and intelligent design into school curriculum.

He also said Formby’s proposal could let teachers teach unsubstantiated and potentially discriminatory beliefs.

“There’s no reason a teacher couldn’t say that women or blacks are inferior, or … that the Earth was flat or the sun goes around the Earth, and then couldn’t be shut down by the administration.”

The House Education Committee says there’s a good chance this bill won’t even come up for discussion, but the fact that it’s being discussed at all tells you plenty about the people in charge of making educational decisions in the state. They care more about promoting faith-based bullshit than making sure students are learning the best available science and preparing themselves for careers in scientific fields.

(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Randy for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.