Friday, February 10, 2012
Bill would protect teachers who want to teach alternatives to evolution
By DAVID BROOKS Staff Writer
CONCORD – Obscure-sounding tweaks to the duties of the New Hampshire Board of Education don’t often draw national attention, so it was a surprise to some when the Seattle-based Discovery Institute sent a speaker to a hearing Thursday on a bill titled “relative to scientific inquiry in the public schools.”
“Are you going to other states, too?” asked a surprised Rep. Mary Gorman, D-Nashua, of Joshua Youngkin, program officer in law and policy for the Discovery Institute, a prominent opponent to the teaching of evolution. Youngkin was in Concord on Thursday testifying before a legislative hearing on the bill.
The Discovery Institute advocates for teachers having the right to teach alternatives to evolution in science class, especially “intelligent design,” which says that most or all living things were created by an unspecified intelligence at some time in the past.
“There are non-creationist, skeptical alternatives to Darwinist theory that teachers could bring into their classroom,” Youngkin told the House Education Committee. “We are committed to academic freedom … to critical thinking.”
That is also the general argument put forward by prime sponsor Rep. Gary Hopper, R-Weare, in his bill, HB 1457. It would “require science teachers to instruct pupils that proper scientific inquire (sic) results from not committing to any one theory or hypothesis, no matter how firmly it appears to be established.”
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Its similarity to the Biblical creation stories has caused opponents to describe it as thinly disguised theology, not science.
David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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