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News Link • Education: Government Schools

Tennessee's 'Monkey Bill' Will Protect Anti-Science Teachers

•, Common Dreams staff
 Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam is likely to sign into law a bill requiring Tennessee's public schools to allow teachers to discuss purported weaknesses of theories such as evolution and global warming in their classrooms. Haslam has until Tuesday to sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature.
Opponents, including science organizations, teacher groups and the ACLU, argue the law -- SB 893, "The Monkey Bill" -- injects religion into public education and raises the specter of the 1925 "Scopes Monkey Trial", when a high-school science teacher in Tennessee was convicted of teaching evolution. The conviction was later overturned on a technicality. The statute prohibiting the teaching of evolution remained on Tennessee's books until it was repealed in 1967.

1 Comments in Response to

Comment by Dennis Treybil
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Purported  weaknesses?  Weaknesses like sexual reproduction . . .  How do you get both a male and a female individual of a new species (same genus species variety) to spontaneously "happen" on the globe at the same time?  At the same time means sufficiently close enough together in time to meet while both are fertile.  Then, how do you get that same male and female of that new species to spontaneously "happen" at the same place?  At the same place means close enough together to find each other.

And how do they figure out what to do?

And if these accidental spontaneous happenings fail, how long before the next such couple appears?

Ok, let's say they succeed.  And let's say their first generation of offspring succeed.  Doesn't that involve inbreeding?  Where does the genetic variety spring forth?

In the classic Newtonian worldview of a mechanical universe, it is assumed that matter and energy, the foundation of the cosmos, is inert - mindless.  Darwin, as I understand him, seems to follow in this blind-chance mindless matter/energy foundation in his study of evolution.

Goswami traces this separation of mind and matter to Descartes of Cogito ergo sum fame.  It seems some sort of tacit truce between science and church was struck on the basis that science would study matter leaving the province of mind/spirit to the church.

The above-described convenient unwritten treaty may be the source of a lot of misery in the west.

Health is approached in terms of technical repairs to a body understood almost entirely in mechanical terms.  This has many benefits.  Those benefits might be extended to currently untreatable maladies by a more complete understanding of the human individual - one that sees the mind and body more as one - but I digress.

The separation of religion and science is an accident of fairly recent history.

The attempt to separate individual education and religion is an atrocity committed in the name of the first amendment - the very amendment that should have prevented it.

Public funding of "education" - and especially federal funding of "education" - made this subtrefuge possible.  (Aside: And fake money made that funding possible.  Ron Paul is the only presidential candidate who advocates policy that will come anywhere near to addressing that.)

The Dogon Priests living about 120 miles west of the Nile River in Egypt ran afoul of the Egyptian establishment about the time of Tutankhamun.  Depending on whether you see the Hebrew Exodus occuring under Pharaoh Ahmoses (1400's BC) or Ramses (1200's BC), this was either just after or just before the Exodus.  Since the Hebrew were in Egypt 430 years or so, they and the Dogons dwelt in Egypt at the same time.  The Dogons fled when things went awry for them.

Doubtless the Hebrew contributed to Egyptian culture as well as borrowed from it.  How much contact and exchange may have occured between them and the Dogons is completely unknown to me - but it's an enticing question.

It seems the Dogon have knowledge of astronomy that is difficult to explain.  In 1934, their priests knew that Sirius had a companion star that orbited it every 50-60 years.  Western astronomers established this using modern technology - technology the Dogons did not have.  If Sirius' companion star had been discovered in 1934, it was not common knowledge.

I grazed past an Egyptologist enroute to a stone observatorium (not unlike Stone Henge, just not nearly as big) not far from where the Dogons currently live.  He spoke of them saying, "Ask Stephen Hawking how many subatomic particles exist and he will say over 200.  Ask the Dogon priests the same question and they say exactly 266."

The fact that people who refer to themselves as priests would even be interested in such knowledge shows how closely science and religion are linked.

Here's a hint:  Google agricola if you don't already know what it means.  It's not the references to a Scottish King by that name that I'm pointing to.

More to the point of protecting anti-science teachers.  Pointing students to the study of the objective material world is valuable up to a point.  But to do that to the exclusion of pointing them to the study of the subjective non-material (spiritual if you will) world is a mistake.

I will cede that doing either to the exclusion of the other is an equally egregious error.

Rational thought is valued among us occidental tourists.  Plato valued it.  According to Carl Sagan's telling of the tale in Cosmos, Plato also loved numbers at first.  But when he discovered irrational numbers such as PI or the square root of 2, he sorta' went nuts. 

Rational refers to calculations that can be accomplished in a finite number of steps.  Rational then means convenient.

But just because something is inconvenient doesn't necessarily means it's not true or not worth knowing.

God is inconvenient in terms of explaining existence, rendered thus by the question, "Where does God come from?"  This leads to infinite regression.  Infinite regression cannot be resolved (calculated) in a finite number of steps.  Thus, infinite regression is irrational, inconvenient.

But does that means it's not true?  Not worth knowing?

Amit Goswami in his book The Self-Aware Universe posits monistic idealism - the idea that consciousness (not matter and energy) is the foundation of all that is.  He also appears in the DVD series Down the Rabbit Hole which I have just begun watching.  He uses this concept to explain some paradoxes of quantum physics.

Quantum physics appears to be an area of interest to the Dogons.  The aforementioned Egyptologist went onto say that he expected modern western science to confirm or deny Dogon knowledge in this area within 50 years.

Maybe the schools will have caught up by then too.  If they do, I doubt they will be federally funded.

And if they do catch up, this dichotomy of mind and matter will be abandoned, rendering arguments of which should be taught in school science or creation moot. 

DC Treybil




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