The debate about evolution versus creationism (or intelligent design) has raged for years and is unlikely to end any time soon.
Tennessee's House of Representatives, however, has embarked on an initiative to overturn the status quo, by voting 70-28 to pass a bill that allows science teachers to cover controversial subjects without the fear of reprimand.
Were the bill to be signed into state law, teachers in Tennessee would have a freer hand to guide students in the review, analysis, critique and understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of scientific theory as long as they do it "in an objective manner."
The areas covered by the bill are chemical origins of life, biological evolution, human cloning and global warming.
As expected, the bill is already attracting sharp criticism from the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Tennessee and the Tennessee Science Teachers Association.
The organizations argue that because the core scientific facts around evolution and global warming are virtually undisputed amongst scientists, granting teachers the leeway to effectively cast doubts on established principles would only serve to confuse students.
The Discovery Institute, a pro-intelligent design organization, adopts a different view, arguing that teachers and students who want to scientifically challenge evolution are currently discriminated against.
Of course, Tennessee is not the first state to formulate legislation encouraging creationism as an alternative to evoloution in the (public) classroom, with Louisiana passing a similar law in 2008.
[Via Science Mag]