In 1925, the landmark legal case of The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes, commonly known as the Scopes Monkey Trial, paved the way for evolutionary science to be taught in American classrooms, effectively signalling the beginning of the end of the anti-evolutionary legislation. Yet, 87 years later, the debate between evolution and creation (or intelligent design) is still hotly contested around the country, and once again Tennessee at the center.
Governor Bill Haslam is set to adopt a law that would protect teachers from discipline should they choose to challenge the ideas of evolution, as well as climate change, in their classrooms. Supporters of the bill see this as a victory for teachers who will be able to introduce alternative ideas about the origins of humans into scientific discussions if they see fit. Critics say that, while there is no problem addressing alternative ideas and challenges from students, discussion of intelligence design in a science classroom setting is akin to the introduction of pseudoscientific ideas.
Back in 2008, biologist and author Kenneth Miller told an audience at the Chautauqua Institution how one of the largest misconceptions about the theory of evolution is how people define the word “theory.” Theories, Miller said, aren’t the opposite of facts.