Tennessee: The state that never gives up

Readers will recall that Dayton, TN was where the celebrated Scopes trial on the teaching of evolution was held back in 1925. Well, that state is still fighting against the teaching of evolution.

The latest effort is chronicled in the newspaper the Nashville Postwhich reports on a resolution proposed by State Sen. Raymond Finney (R-Maryville). The senator, a retired physician, clearly thinks he has come up with a clever way of putting the state’s Department of Education on the spot, presumably because they teach evolution without mentioning god. So Finney is asking the Senate to endorse certain questions that he would like to pose to the Department of Education. The department has to provide a response by January 15, 2008.

A Tennessee State Senate member has filed a resolution asking the Tennessee Department of Education to address a few basic questions about life, the universe and all that:

(1) Is the Universe and all that is within it, including human beings, created through purposeful, intelligent design by a Supreme Being, that is a Creator?

Understand that this question does not ask that the Creator be given a name. To name the Creator is a matter of faith. The question simply asks whether the Universe has been created or has merely happened by random, unplanned, and purposeless occurrences.

Further understand that this question asks that the latest advances in multiple scientific disciplines –such as physics, astronomy, molecular biology, DNA studies, physiology, paleontology, mathematics, and statistics – be considered, rather than relying solely on descriptive and hypothetical suppositions.

If the answer to Question 1 is “Yes,” please answer Question 2:

(2) Since the Universe, including human beings, is created by a Supreme Being (a Creator), why is creationism not taught in Tennessee public schools?

If the answer to Question 1 is “This question cannot be proved or disproved,” please answer Question 3:

(3) Since it cannot be determined whether the Universe, including human beings, is created by a Supreme Being (a Creator), why is creationism not taught as an alternative concept, explanation, or theory, along with the theory of evolution in Tennessee public schools?

If the answer to Question 1 is “No” please accept the General Assembly’s admiration for being able to decide conclusively a question that has long perplexed and occupied the attention of scientists, philosophers, theologians, educators, and others.

I am always happy to help out people. So in the spirit of pure charity, I offer free-of charge to the Tennessee Department of Education, the answers to the senator’s questions.

1. This is a question that cannot be answered scientifically. (This answer corresponds to his option of “This question cannot be proved or disproved” but I changed it slightly because his wording is awkward since you cannot prove or disprove a question.) So following the senator’s flow chart, we move on to question 3.

2. Not applicable

3. Because creationism is not science, it should not be taught in science classes.

No need to thank me, Senator Finney and the Tennessee Department of Education. I am happy to oblige.

This has been an edition of simple answers to questions.

POST SCRIPT: Editorial cartoons

Bob Geiger has the latest roundup.


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