In a column in Nature (17 May 2012), “Reach out to defend evolution,” palaeontologist Russell Garwood warns, “Creationists seize on any perceived gaps in our knowledge of evolutionary processes. But scientists can and should fight back, … ”
His evidence? The Tennessee schools bill which just gives teachers the right to consider both sides of explicitly science questions. He takes up one such question in his article: Does the fact that some dinosaurs had feathers establish that birds are descended from them? What about convergent evolution of feathers? He is clearly impatient with the scientists who are unconvinced, and would like them to just not be around – visibly failing to join in the consensus.
As further evidence of the evil that is done under the sun, he offers: “The national biology curriculum of Pakistan, for example, dictates that students be taught ‘that Allah … is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.’” So? What possible proposition in real science would that statement prevent anyone from researching? Of course, if one wanted to use the science curriculum to teach atheism, yes, that statement could signal a problem. But whose problem is it, exactly? The parents’? The students’? The atheist’s? Guess!
If the curriculum had said, “It is an article of faith with us that there are 427 gods, and no one knows which one makes the rules on any given day,” yes, one can foresee problems with teaching science. But monotheism has, if anything, always been an incentive to science, not a disincentive.
It goes on. The good news is that some commenters are taking issue with the nonsense underlying of Garwood’s position:
One of our authors, David Tyler notes pacifically there,
:Russell Garwood wrote: “yet good science thrives on unanswered questions. That papers frankly assess and admit shortcomings in current knowledge is vital.”
Yes, this is exactly right.
You also wrote: “the US state of Tennessee passed a creationist bill that encourages teachers to discuss the “weaknesses” of evolution.”
This is misinformation.
The bill reads: “Shall endeavor to assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies. Toward this end, teachers shall be permitted to help 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.”
The bill does not take sides on controversial issues, but legitimises the work of teachers who are helping students develop a critical understanding of the issues.
I think this bill is implementing the ideas expressed in your article!
Yes, but if it weren’t for stuff like misrepresenting the Tennessee bill to Brits, the American Darwin-in-the-schools lobby wouldn’t have much of a strategy left.