A Mississippi lawmaker wants public school teachers to be able to tell students about bogus theories that fly in the face of science, like creationism and challenging climate change, the Clarion Ledger reports.
Rep. Mark Formby (R) said a constituent approached him with concerns about a teacher that was questioned for bringing up creationism.
“I just don’t want my teachers punished in any form or fashion for bringing creationism into the debate. Lots of us believe in creationism,” Formby, the chairman of the House Revenue and Expenditure committee, told the Ledger. “To say that creationism as a theory is any less valuable than any other theory that nobody can scientifically prove I just think is being close-minded.”
The bill would allow teachers "to help students understand, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught." According to the Ledger, “biological evolution, chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning” could prompt teachers to discuss "alternative theories."
State law already protects teachers from discipline if they talk about the origins of life.
“If a teacher believes in global warming, she should be able to say ‘I believe in global warming,’ then if she believes the Earth was created by a Supreme Being, that maybe there are other theories than the big bang theory where there was nothing, then nothing exploded and created something," Formby said.
This is of course a misstatement of the Big Bang theory, which posits that matter changed form, not that matter came from nothing.
Glenn Branch, deputy director for the California-based National Center for Science Education, told the Ledger that federal courts have ruled against religion-based ideas like intelligent design and creationism being introduced in public schools. Formby's proposal, he said, could present a slippery slope where teachers with bigoted, debunked beliefs could introduce them to school children.
“There’s no reason a teacher couldn’t say that women or blacks are inferior, or … that the Earth was flat or the sun goes around the Earth, and then couldn’t be shut down by the administration," he said.
While the bill was refereed to the House Education Committee, which is chaired by one of its co-authors, Rep. John Moore (R), Moore said it's very unlikely it will make it through.
"We’re very limited on the amount of legislation we move forward,” Moore told the Ledger. “This has a long way to go to make it through the process, if I even bring it up.”