A lot has changed in the 85 years since the Scopes trial. Today it’s the opponents of Darwinism who are fighting for academic freedom and the Darwin lobbyists who want to censor scientific views they disagree with.
You can see this clearly in an op-ed authored by a trio of professors in the Tennessean, under the outlandish title “Anti-science legislation offers prospect of a new Scopes trial.” Opposing Tennessee’s Academic Freedom Bill, the authors claim:
the Tennessee legislature is doing the unbelievable: attempting to roll the clock back to 1925 by attempting to insert religious beliefs in the teaching of science
We’ve already refuted these false claims — Tennessee’s Academic Freedom bill contains an express provision that expressly does not protect the teaching of religion:
This section only protects the teaching of scientific information, and shall not be construed to promote any religious or non-religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or non-beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or non-religion.
What would the effect of the bill actually be? Well, look again at the text of the legislation:
Neither the state board of education, nor any public elementary or secondary school governing authority, director of schools, school system administrators, or any public elementary or secondary school principal or administrators shall prohibit any teacher in a public school system of this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught within the curriculum framework developed by the state board of education.
So the bill encourages students to “understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught” — the opposite of taking science out of the classroom.
If anything here is “unbelievable” it’s the claim of critics that the Academic Freedom Bill would return Tennessee to the Scopes era. Ironically, if the opponents of academic freedom prevail, then Tennessee really will be taking actions reminiscent of the 1920s.