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Proposed Evolution Education Policy, Alabama’s HB 258, Is Not a Good Idea

Sarah Chaffee

Alabama

In the context of proposed education policies on evolution, what type of legislation should be avoided? Well, for an example, see HB 258, just filed in Alabama by Representative Steven Hurst. The synopsis reads, in part:

This bill would enable public school teachers who teach kindergarten through 12th grade to include, as a portion of instruction regarding the scientific origins of man and the Earth, instruction regarding the Biblical theory of creation, so long as evolution is also taught. This bill would further allow any teacher who desires to instruct students regarding the Biblical theory of creation to read passages from the Bible in class which he or she deems necessary to propel the instruction forward.

What could go wrong? First, if this bill were to be passed, it would be declared unconstitutional by the courts (Edwards v. Aguillard)! At Discovery Institute, we’re about addressing the scientific evidence regarding evolution. Not bringing sacred texts into the biology classroom.

Second, constitutional considerations aside, this isn’t a good idea. There are strong scientific reasons to doubt Darwinian evolution. There is controversy in the scientific community about the mechanisms of evolution. Lots to talk about there. Leave the Bible out of it, please.

Sample lesson plan? Why not ask students to review ideas discussed at the November 2016 Royal Society meeting? Not only would that expose curious young people to current thinking on evolution, it also offers the makings of some first-rate science education.

Let’s invite students to grapple with the evidence and think critically. That is, after all, what it means to think like a scientist.

Photo: Alabama State Capitol, by Eric Hunt (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons.