A scientist’s atheism must be declared along side his/her theory if taught in a New Hampshire public school

… if House bill 1148, introduced by Republican Jerry Bergen is passed into law. It is only in the pre-file stage,but it will be taken up in the upcoming 2012 session of the New Hampshire legislature.

Specifically, the bill says:

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.

And that’s pretty much the whole bill (get your copy here).

I can imagine that it is a small step from requiring that a person’s “atheism” be identified if their “theory” is taught in school, to requiring that the teacher’s “atheism” be declared, say, to the school board on renewal of contracts or in considerations of raises or promotions.

But wait, there’s more. HB 1457, introduced by Republicans Gary Hopper and John Burt. demands that the scientific method be “instructed” in a certain way as per order of the state legislature. As such:

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.

I like this bill exactly as it is becuase there is no such thing as the noun “inquire” so the bill therefore has no meaning. It is an unfunded, ungrammatical mandate!

The NCSE has this press release:

The two antievolution bills on the horizon in New Hampshire have now been prefiled in the state House of Representatives. House Bill 1148, introduced by Jerry Bergevin (R-District 17), would charge the state board of education to “[r]equire 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.” House Bill 1457, introduced by Gary Hopper (R-District 7) and John Burt (R-District 7), would charge the state board of education to “[r]equire 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.” Although HB 1457 as drafted is silent about “intelligent design,” Hopper’s initial request was to have a bill drafted that would require “instruction in intelligent design in the public schools.” Both bills were referred to the House Education Committee; HB 1148 is scheduled for a hearing on February 9, 2012, and HB 1457 is scheduled for a hearing on February 14, 2012. A columnist for the Nashua Telegraph (July 3, 2011) who interviewed Bergevin and Hopper about their bills commented, “My taxpayer dollars pay science teachers to teach science, not philosophy. Let’s hope lawmakers don’t try to get in the way.”

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24 Responses to A scientist’s atheism must be declared along side his/her theory if taught in a New Hampshire public school

  1. Celeste says:

    Exactly how many scientists would they have to name? The theory of evolution has been rigorously tested by so many different scientists of widely varying backgrounds that I can’t help but think that the list would be ridiculously long.

  2. Randomfactor says:

    Shades of a certain not-to-be-named regime where “Jewish science” was appropriately labeled so as to be appropriately derided.

    Or the Soviet Union, where nonsense in the laboratory could be forgiven if it had the RIGHT political label…

  3. kantalope says:

    Take out the evolution and make it for all of science.

    The Classical Theory of Gravity….wooooo…proposed by an alchemist and heretical anti-trinitarian. Politics are slanted toward monarchism and centralized banking. Oh, my. Now reject gravity….reject it!

  4. Russell says:

    Were I teaching any science course in New Hampshire public schools, from geology to computer science, I would begin it something like this: “Though this is a course about X, at various points it likely will involve itself in evolution, which is the core theory of biology. Because of that, the state legislature requires me to inform you that I am an atheist. I am including with your first homework assignment a list of other scientists who might be mentioned throughout the semester, who also are atheists. And notes about what they have done.”

    Should be a fun hand-out to make.

  5. carlie says:

    Maybe they could make it even easier and require atheists to always wear a tag on their sleeve indicating their status or something to make it easier to identify them.

  6. A tag on their sleeve? Easily removed. I think tattoos or other permanent marking would be more trustworthy.

  7. Nentuaby says:

    Seems… Paradoxical. Maybe we should get one of those wingnut mailing lists and mail this out with the following headline:

    “NEW HAMPSHIRE BILL WILL FORCE ATHEISM INTO CLASSROOMS! THE LIE-BERALS MUST BE STOPPED!”

  8. Andrew says:

    So are they going to identify the Moonies involved in the “Intelligent Design” movement?

  9. F says:

    The noun “inquire” must be like the noun “ask”.

  10. StevoR says:

    .. would charge the state board of education to “[r]equire 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,

    Time travel tale

    Scene : a near future New Hampshire High school science class post this legislation’s passage.

    Hopefully an alternative history :

    “Now kids the hypothesis that the Earth goes around the Sun appears to be well founded and established but remember that we cannot committ to it because its only Copernican theory and he was a Catholic cleric and diplomat coming from that particular philosophy and ideology so we also have to consider the alternative notion that the Sun goes round the earth as the pagan Greek Ptolemy suggested – and also that Danish monarchist supporting nobleman and scientist Tycho’s alternative model that the planets go round the Sun but then the Sun around the Earth – are correct.

    What’s that? Oh yes, Joshualeene you are quite right to cite that law again. Yes.

    Okay class. Before we can go into those adanced theories we have to challenge the merely scientifically well-established hypothesis that the world is round with the alternative notion that it is flat and resting on an infinite number of turtles and or elephants.

    Yes Adam? Why elephants and not mammoths or deinotheres since they were there earlier? Good question. I’ll set you that one as homework.

    Katie, you want to use this mathematical formula to show how the curved shadow of the moon during eclipses and the way sailing boats disappear below the horizon masts-last is evidence for the Round Earth theory?

    Well, fine, but before making any mathematical calculations to show this one way or the other you need to challenge the speculative idea that Pi equals other than exactly 3 as Congress wanted us to have it and the idea that calculus is correct – despite calculus appearing to be well established that needs to be re-proven from the ground up or is that ground down? Remeber here especially class that Isaac Newton was coming form the position of an unorthodox Christian and occult-lover who didn’t believe in the holy trinity and that Leibniz, along with René Descartes and Baruch Spinoza, was one of the three great 17th century advocates of rationalism who also wrote a bit on politics so that automatically must make all of calculus suspect.

    Why Jo? Well because, uh, because, .. Oh wait, teacher needs her special headache easing glass of “water” here .. (Glug, glug, glug. Sigh. Long pause. Glug, glug, glug. Sotto vocce “Oh for pity’s sake.” Glug. Sigh.Pause. )

    … Now where were we up to again was it the Zeus theory of cosmology or the Flying Sphaghetti Monster one?

    *****

    PS. Posted this comment earlier on the other Greg Laden blog too. I hope that’s okay, my apologies if it is not.

  11. shouldbeworking says:

    Any contributions to science and made by the French will automatically discounted. So what would the unit of current be, electrostatics would not work and Gaussian distribution curves would cease to be.

  12. imjustred says:

    I propose an additional bill demanding that lawmakers that oppose science jump off of a cliff to demonstrate Intelligent Falling to balance out the mere theory of gravity.

  13. shouldbeworking says:

    How about lawmakers submitting their high school report cards before being allowed to vote on any science or technology issue? Law school marks don’t necessarily translate to knowledge about science.

    • Greg Laden says:

      How about lawmakers submitting their high school report cards before being allowed to vote on any science or technology issue? Law school marks don’t necessarily translate to knowledge about science

      Honestly, I think verifying that one is not an idiot in the important areas, the things we are actually supposed to learn in high school, is a very good idea!

  14. jacobfromlost says:

    If only someone would pass a law to make stupidity illegal, everyone would be smart.

    (What if you claim to be a Christian–whether true or not–while teaching evolution? Does the law force you to denounce Christianity and become an atheist since all True Christians must fight the very idea of evolution? Does the law also force you to become a Communist if you teach evolution? How does the law determine, exactly, what is in the teacher’s head?)

    When I taught high school, I refused to tell the students (or coworkers) my politics and my religious views, if any. Whenever they asked, “Are you an [fill-in-the-blank]?”, I’d answer, “Could be.” I even had some students use some pretty clever tactics (and critical thinking), asking me if I eat pork, drink coffee, or drink alcohol. I admitted to eating bacon and ham, but I don’t drink coffee, much of anything with caffeine, nor do I drink alcohol. That would usually prompt a flurry of speculation, but I always told them it was possible I was just not a very good Mormon, Muslim, etc. lol Who said all Mormons obey all the rules? It used to drive them crazy.

    I know this strategy may not work well with all teachers in all places, but it generally worked well with me. One negative aspect was that some students simply decided you were the “other”, whatever the “other” was to them, so I had students who assumed I was Jewish, Mormon, atheist, etc, and then distrusted me on that basis. But that was very, very few students over a decade, and in the community in which I taught, openly declaring atheism probably would have guaranteed that a very large number of students would not take anything I said seriously again, and cause a lot of headaches with parents.

  15. Lou Jost says:

    What a funny bill. Darwin had been a divinity student, and his intention was to take a country parsonage and study nature. His theory of evolution did not arise out of his atheism, but rather the opposite, his atheism arose from the theory— the more he developed his theory and saw that no god was needed, the less he believed in one, until by the end of his life he became essentially an atheist. It was a logical conclusion, not a presumption.

  16. rtmillic says:

    WTF is wrong with New Hampshire? First they try to reverse marriage equality, and now they try this? Don’t they also have a sitting legislator still promoting Obama’s “non-citizenship?”

    Live free (of logic) and die.

  17. Reginald Selkirk says:

    but it will be taken up in the upcoming 2012 session of the New Hampshire legislature.

    Most likely not. This looks like the sort of thing that would be quietly buried in the dark by a committee.

  18. Reginald Selkirk says:

    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.

    This could as easily be applied to heliocentrism or round-Earthism as to evolution.

  19. Uzza says:

    Well Greg, you might think this, but apparently it is open to question.

  20. Michael Davidson says:

    New Hampshire has an amateur legislature (amateur in the sense that virtually no pay is involved). It is also the fourth largest law-making body in the world, serving a population of just 1.3 million. In light of these facts, I am proud that the loony ideas percolating out of the State House are only this loony. Consider that less than a generation ago, Louisiana drafted, passed, and signed a law mandating creationism in science classes. It took the U.S. Supreme Court to rebuff this cajun lunacy. This watered-down assault on science will meet with much less success than earlier, bolder ones.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwards_v._Aguillard
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dover_v._Kitzmiller

  21. Greg Laden says:

    Uzza, thanks, I gagged on that.

  22. Adam says:

    So when exactly has evolution NOT been taught as a theory? The title of the study is “Theory of Evolution”, it’s not different from “Theory of Gravitation”. I think people should spend their time learning the definition of theory as it applies to the sciences. I think that generates WAY more confusion than is necessary. Clearly the person who wrote the bill doesn’t understand what this word means, or they do and are banking on others not knowing it.

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