New Hampshire Lawmakers Revive the Evolution Wars

| Tue Jan. 3, 2012 4:58 PM EST

New Hampshire kicks off the year with the presidential primaries, but also with a round of anti-evolution bills. The National Center for Science Education reports that there are two different proposed laws making their way through the state legislature:

House Bill 1148, introduced by Jerry Bergevin (R-District 17), would charge the state board of education to "[r]equire evolution to be taught in the public schools of this state as a theory, including the theorists' political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism," while House Bill 1457, introduced by Gary Hopper (R-District 7) and John Burt (R-District 7), would charge the state board of education to "[r]equire science teachers to instruct pupils that proper scientific inquire [sic] results from not committing to any one theory or hypothesis, no matter how firmly it appears to be established, and that scientific and technological innovations based on new evidence can challenge accepted scientific theories or modes."

In an article in the Concord Monitor last week, Bergevin, the author of the first bill, blamed both the rise of Nazis in Germany in the early 20th Century and the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School on the teaching of evolution:

Bergevin is less interested in the science of evolution than he is in the political and religious views of Darwin and his disciples. His bill would require schools to teach evolution as a theory, and include "the theorists' political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism."
"I want the full portrait of evolution and the people who came up with the ideas to be presented. It's a worldview and it's godless. Atheism has been tried in various societies, and they've been pretty criminal domestically and internationally. The Soviet Union, Cuba, the Nazis, China today: they don't respect human rights," he said.
"As a general court we should be concerned with criminal ideas like this and how we are teaching it. . . . Columbine, remember that? They were believers in evolution. That's evidence right there," he said.

His comments make those from Hopper—the sponsor of the second measure—seem pretty reasonable by comparison. Hopper's measure would force teachers to also include "intelligent design" in their science curriculum because, he argues, scientists are "just guessing" and "science is a creative process, not an absolute thing" anyway.

The newspaper notes that these are the first anti-evolution bills introduced in the state since the late 1990s. They've been referred to the House Education Committee, and hearings are scheduled for early February.

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