Politics

TN State Rep. Argues Einstein Would Teach Creationism

Armed with fantasy and lies, Tennessee legislators are attempting to dismantle science education in their state’s public schools. Last week, the Tennessee House voted by an overwhelming 70-23 margin in favor of a radical bill to teach the “controversy” about scientific subjects “including, but not limited to, biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.” During the debate on HB 368, introduced by Rep. Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville), anti-science conservative Rep. Frank Nicely (R-Strawberry Plains) argued that the “critical thinker” Albert Einstein would have wanted public schools to teach creationism alongside the science of biological evolution:

I think that if there’s one thing that everyone in this room could agree on, that would be that Albert Einstein was a critical thinker. He was a scientist. I think that we probably could agree that Albert Einstein was smarter than any of our science teachers in our high schools or colleges. And Albert Einstein said that a little knowledge would turn your head toward atheism, while a broader knowledge would turn your head toward Christianity.

Watch it:

In fact, Nicely falsely attributed his quotation to Einstein, a Jewish humanist and professed agnostic, who never argued that scientific knowledge leads one to Jesus Christ. The statement is actually a mangled paraphrase of the 16th century philosopher Francis Bacon, who argued that “a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.”

“Why do we spend so much time arguing two theories, the theory of creationism and the theory of evolution, when neither side can prove without a doubt that they are right?” Nicely concluded. Nicely and climate-denier Rep. Sheila Butt (R-Columbia) are trying to reconcile their evangelical Christianity with science and democracy by perverting all three — trying to wrap the lessons of faith in pseudoscientific garb, reinterpreting lessons of the observed world to fit a preconceived fantasy, and then breaking down the walls between religion and the state that protect them both.

There is another pathway to reconcile religious faith and scientific knowledge. Religious leaders like Malcolm Brown understand that natural selection does not refute “the human capacity for love, for altruism, and for self-sacrifice.” Evolutionary biologists like Kenneth Miller see the miracle in a “vision of life that spreads across the planet with endless variety and intricate beauty.”

As Albert Einstein actually said, “To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms — this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness.”

(HT: Dean’s Corner)

Transcript:

Rep. FRANK NICELEY (R-Strawberry Fields): I think that if there’s one thing that everyone in this room could agree on, that would be that Albert Einstein was a critical thinker. He was a scientist. I think that we probably could agree that Albert Enstein was smarter than any of our science teachers in our high schools or colleges. And Albert Einstein said that a little knowledge would turn your head toward atheism, while a broader knowledge would turn your head toward Christianity.

Now I want to quote one other person: Thomas Sowell. In my opinion, the smartest man in America today. I’ve read him for twenty years. He’s a genius, and he is a critical thinker. And he says, why in our colleges and in our high school, why do we spend so much time arguing two theories, the theory of creationism and the theory of evolution, when neither side can prove without a doubt that they are right, when there are so many cold hard facts that our children need to know that we could be spending that time teaching? So if I was a teacher, I would teach them both as theories, and let the child as he grows up make up his own mind. And I’d spend my time teaching them cold hard facts like two and two is four and pi r squared.