April 10, 2012
's new academic freedom law is being praised for vindicating the principle of open scientific discussion championed by
. The new academic freedom law protects teachers when they promote critical thinking and objective discussion about controversial science issues such as biological evolution, climate change and human cloning.
"More than 85 years ago,
appealed for the right to teach students all of the scientific evidence," said Dr.
, Associate Director of Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. "This historic new law now secures that right. It's ironic that many of today's defenders of evolution have abandoned Scopes' plea for free discussion and are pushing for censorship and intolerance in the classroom instead. It's also unfortunate that Governor Haslam lacked the political courage to sign the bill."
West noted that the law defends a principle Scopes himself had endorsed in the following statement: "If you limit a teacher to only one side of anything, the whole country will eventually have only one thought... I believe in teaching every aspect of every...theory."
are still required to teach according to state and local science standards. But under the new law, teachers are allowed to objectively present additional scientific evidence, analysis, and critiques regarding topics already in the approved curriculum.
Darwin-only lobbyists launched a misinformation and scare campaign in an effort to encourage Governor
to veto the bill. Critics falsely claimed that the bill promotes religion instead of science, asserted that jobs would be lost due to the law's passage, and threatened costly lawsuits.
"The bill expressly states that it 'shall not be construed to promote any religious or non-religious doctrine,'" explained
an attorney with Discovery Institute's Center for Science & Culture. "Moreover, in places like
that have similar legislation or science standards there has been no negative economic impact at all. And contrary to critics, no lawsuits have materialized in other states or districts with such policies in place."
At least ten states now have statewide science standards or laws that protect or encourage teachers to discuss the scientific evidence for and against Darwinian evolution.