To the Editor:
State Sen. Breechen wrote a defense of his SB 554 (the “teaching evolution controversy” bill) in which he defended the bill as constitutional.
Let us, for the moment, stipulate that the intent of the bill really is to give a voice to those criticisms of evolution that are both under-represented and scientific.
As an example, he offers “the fossil record lacking phylum-level transitional forms”. This is an old creationist argument that has been refuted for years.
It is false.
It has been shown to be false to those making the argument, but they ignore the evidence and keep making the claim anyway. There are, in fact, many “transitional” fossils representing the early splits of modern phyla, as even a cursory internet search or a quick read of a biological history text would reveal.
Really, what bothers me most about Sen. Breechen’s approach is that this is really a bill designed to legislate incompetence.
A biology instructor would be negligent in the extreme to simply bring up the question without answering it with known science.
In this example, the most interesting aspect is that during this Cambrian “explosion” the evolution of hard marine shells began, which greatly increased the chance that an individual organism would be fossilized in the first place.
So we would actually “expect” the fossil record to be rather poor for their common ancestors, though many examples have, in fact, been found.
To use this as a tool of innuendo to imply there’s something wrong with the entire framework of evolution is to simply encourage ignorance.
One might not find that public-school biology teachers are well-versed in modern research enough to counter the false assertions of creationists, so it is all the more important that legislators who are themselves not scientists in the field do not fancy themselves to be content and curriculum experts.