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Posted at 04:00 AM ET, 01/06/2012

New Hampshire’s 2012 anti-evolution legislation (and the shocking thing a sponsor said)

You can’t make up this stuff: The chief sponsor of a new anti-evolution piece of legislation in New Hampshire said that Darwin’s theory is “godless” and that such thinking is linked to Nazi atrocities, the 1999 Columbine shootings and more.

That analysis came from Republican Rep. Jerry Bergevin, who introduced one of two new anti-evolution bills (see below for full text of bills) in the Granite State’s legislature.

His House Bill 1148 would require that evolution is “taught in the public schools of this state as a theory, including the theorists’ political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism.”

Why?

Bergevin was quoted as saying this in the Concord Monitor:

“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.”

And this: “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.”

Leaves you speechless, doesn’t it?

The second piece of New Hampshire legislation, House Bill 1457, 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, and that scientific and technological innovations based on new evidence can challenge accepted scientific theories or modes.”

In other words, the sponsors, Republican Reps. Gary Hopper and John Burt, want creationism taught in public schools right along with evolution.

That thinking ignores the overwhelming scientific consensus on the validity of evolution and tries to equate biology’s animating principle with creationist theory, which the science establishment rejects. (But why let science get in the way?)

Hearings on both bills are scheduled to be held in February.

The New Hampshire legislation are the first new anti-evolution bills introduced in any state in 2012 so far, according to the National Center for Science Education, a non-profit membership organization that defends the teaching of evolution in public schools.

Last year there were at least nine anti-evolution bills in seven states but none became law; at least one was postponed for considering this year. Many of those bills cited “academic freedom,” the idea that teachers should have the freedom to teach creationism and evolution equally.

The issue is important, especially at a time when most high school biology teachers are reluctant to endorse evolution in class, according to a 2011 poll conducted by Penn State political science professors Michael Berkman and Eric Plutzer and published in Science magazine:

*About 28 percent consistently implement National Research Council recommendations calling for introduction of evidence that evolution occurred, and craft lesson plans with evolution as a unifying theme linking disparate topics in biology.

* About 13 percent of biology teachers “explicitly advocate creationism or intelligent design by spending at least one hour of class time presenting it in a positive light.”

* The rest, about 60 percent, “fail to explain the nature of scientific inquiry, undermine the authority of established experts, and legitimize creationist arguments.”

Here are the two new New Hampshire bills:

HOUSE BILL 1148

AN ACT requiring the teaching of evolution as a theory in public schools.

SPONSORS: Rep. Bergevin, Hills 17

COMMITTEE: Education

ANALYSIS

This bill requires evolution to be taught as a theory in public schools.

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twelve

AN ACT requiring the teaching of evolution as a theory in public schools.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1 New Paragraph; Duties of the State Board of Education. Amend RSA 186:11 by inserting after paragraph XXXVI the following new paragraph:

XXXVII. Theory of Evolution. Require evolution to be taught in the public schools of this state as a theory, including the theorists’ political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism.

2 Effective Date. This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

--

And here is the text of HOUSE BILL 1457

HOUSE BILL 1457

AN ACT relative to scientific inquiry in the public schools.

SPONSORS: Rep. G. Hopper, Hills 7; Rep. Burt, Hills 7

COMMITTEE: Education

ANALYSIS

This bill requires instruction in the proper methods of scientific inquiry.

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twelve

AN ACT relative to scientific inquiry in the public schools.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1 New Paragraph; Duties of the State Board of Education. Amend RSA 186:11 by inserting after paragraph XXXVI the following new paragraph:

XXXVII. Scientific Inquiry. Require science teachers to instruct pupils that proper scientific inquire results from not committing to any one theory or hypothesis, no matter how firmly it appears to be established, and that scientific and technological innovations based on new evidence can challenge accepted scientific theories or modes.

2 Effective Date. This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

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By  |  04:00 AM ET, 01/06/2012

 
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