An Indiana Senate Education Committee chairman has said that he will not be pushing to introduce creationism in public schools, but is changing his strategy by writing up a proposal to allow students to ask more questions of their teachers on various subjects – including evolution.
"I would refer to it as truth in education, so students could question what teachers are teaching them and try to make sure it's true what they're teaching," Republican Sen. Dennis Kruse said on Tuesday, as reported by The Republic.
During the 2012 campaign season, he proposed that teachers be allowed to teach creationism, a Bible-based theory that God literally created the earth. The bill was not successful, as House Speaker Brian Bosma rejected it, but Kruse is now writing a draft from the state's legislative services agency that would at least allow evolution to be questioned.
Fox News Radio shared that The Discovery Institute, a public policy thinktank that advocates for teaching creationism, is helping Kruse write the new bill.
The Indiana Senate in February initially passed Kruse's creationist bill, which allows "the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science" before Bosma warned that it could result in a costly lawsuit if it was approved.
The U.S. is one of the only western countries where a large section of the population still believes in creationism – 2012 Gallup Poll found that 46 percent of Americans believes that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years. Evolution, however, puts the earth's age closer to 4.5 billion years, and says that humans and other species evolved over millions of years.
"It frees teachers to teach both sides of scientific controversies in an objective fashion," said Josh Youngkin, program officer for public policy and legal affairs for the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, according to The Republic. He explained that it allows students to ask more questions of teachers about facts and evidence that support the theories that they teach.
"The teacher would not be barred from saying 'Let's look at both sides of the evidence and you guys can basically make a judgment,' rather than just accepting passively or memorizing by rote these facts and stating back these arguments on a test which would eventually determine where you go to college," Youngkin added.
Groups strongly opposed to creationism have warned that attempts to undermine the theory of evolution are aimed at trying to promote religious views in public schools, which would be unconstitutional.
"Creationism is not science. The Supreme Court has held the argument that the world was created in seven days is not science; it's religion," said Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana. "Evolution is scientific fact. Teachers can certainly say other people have certain beliefs, but they cannot be taught as fact."
The creationism debate was recently heated up when televangelist Pat Robertson dismissed the Young Earth creation theory that proposes that Earth is only 6,000 years old.
"You go back in time, you have carbon dating, all these things, and you have the carcasses of dinosaurs frozen in time," Robertson said on his show, "The 700 Club." "They are out there. And so there was a time when these giant raptors were on the earth and it was before the time of the Bible. So don't try to cover it up and make like everything was 6,000 years, that's not the Bible."
Creationism proponent Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum responded by calling Robertson's teachings "destructive" in a Facebook post, and said: "Not only do we have to work hard to not let our kids be led astray by the anti-God teaching of the secularists, we have to work hard to not let them be led astray by compromising church leaders like Pat Robertson."