Senators file bill critic says permits teaching creationism

Indiana Statehouse, Indianapolis (File Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Two Republican state senators have introduced a bill that a critic says would allow the teaching of creationism in Indiana’s public schools.

The bill sponsored by Sen. Jeff Raatz of Connersville and Senate Education Committee Chairman Dennis Kruse of Auburn calls for school administrators to create an environment for students to learn about differing “conclusions and theories concerning controversial scientific subjects.”

Raatz told the Journal & Courier he wanted to open the door for topics such as intelligent design — the theory that life on Earth is so complex it was guided by an intelligent higher power.

A provision of the bill says it pertains only to the teaching of scientific information and “may not be construed to promote any religious or nonreligious doctrine.” The bill has been assigned to the Senate Education Committee, which hasn’t yet scheduled it for a hearing.

“Could it be seen as an anti-evolution bill? Could be,” Raatz said. “That doesn’t bother me at all. Essentially, we’re saying there are competing theories and we should allow the discussion in the classroom. Not to promote anything or one over another. But that we should have the ability to discuss.”

The state Senate approved a Kruse-sponsored bill in 2012 to allow teaching of creationism alongside evolution in science classes, but leaders of the Republican-led House declined to take action on it.

Glenn Branch, deputy director of the California-based National Center for Science Education, said the new bill would allow a few teachers to misrepresent the state of the scientific consensus.

“Bills like these are basically designed to free the hands of those few teachers who have funny ideas — funny ideas about evolution, such as creationism; funny ideas about climate change and climate change denial,” Branch said. “So if you look at the bill, it basically says is that when it comes to socially controversial issues like these, teachers can teach them as though they’re scientifically controversial.”
Information from: Journal and Courier,

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