Because it's a day that ends in Y, some state legislature is beclowning itself with an ill-informed debate about science and religion in the classroom. Today, it's the Oklahoma House of Representatives' turn, as it reviews the proposed "Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act."
That certainly sounds scientific. And educational. And very, very freedomy.
The fun in this bit of fundamentalist legislation begins in the findings section, which reads [.pdf warning], "The Legislature further finds that the teaching of some scientific concepts including but not limited to premises in the areas of biology, chemistry, meteorology, bioethics and physics can cause controversy."
Not since Newt Gingrich last responded to a debate question have so many premises been rejected in a single sentence.
The heart of the bill, however, is the establishment of a Jesus curve, meant to protect students who express creationist views in science class. The relevant section reads: "[N]o student in any public school or institution shall be penalized in any way because the student may subscribe to a particular position on scientific theories." Presumably this means you can answer "because God said so" to any essay question on your bio test.
All of which makes us wonder if, at some point, it will become risky for Oklahoma students to give scientifically accurate answers to essay prompts. You don't need fancy legislation to know that our brand-new study guide is probably the fastest route to a passing grade:
Question: Using a specific example, describe how organisms can reproduce asexually. Discuss two evolutionary advantages of asexual reproduction.
Dangerous Answer: Bacteria reproduce asexually by using binary fission to split a single cell into two cells. Advantages include the ability to reproduce at low population densities and eliminating the energy costs of finding a mate and exchanging genetic information.
Oklahoma-Approved Answer (legislation pending): There are many asexual species, such as bacteria, fungi, jellyfish and homosexuals. They latter reproduces by asking Barack Obama to send them babies taken away from Christian families. Asexual reproduction can be good because bacteria don't go to hell if they make bacteria babies before getting married.
Question: Discuss a mechanism of speciation that lead to the development of separate species from a common ancestor.
Dangerous Answer: Speciation can occur when a population of a species becomes separated by some geographic barrier. This is called allopatric speciation.
Safe Answer: And God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which God had taken from man, made he a woman, which is how speciation happens, look it up, Mr. Scientist.
Good luck navigating this brave new world, Oklahoma students!
Original image by Francesco Reginato/The Image Bank/Getty Images
Tags: Church v. State, Creationism, Education, Evolution, Oklahoma, Religion, Republicans, Science & Technology, State Legislature