- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 1, 2007

M?D1/4Mq?E, Tenn. — A Tennessee lawmaker is demanding answers about the creation of the universe from the state education commissioner.

State Sen. Raymond Finney sponsored a resolution to ask Education Commissioner Lana Seivers whether the universe “has been created or has merely happened by random, unplanned and purposeless occurrences.”

Mr. Finney, a Republican, said he wants the department to say there’s no scientific proof for the theory of evolution and to let schools teach creationism or intelligent design.

“Is there a creator? If yes, why are we afraid to teach creationism?” Mr. Finney said Tuesday. “And if the answer is ‘well, we can’t tell,’ then why are we prohibiting an alternative theory?”

Creationism is not part of the state’s biology curriculum, said Education Department spokeswoman Rachel Woods, but schools can include it in elective religious studies, social studies and humanities courses.

The state Board of Education — not the Department of Education — oversees any changes to the curriculum, Miss Woods said.

Still, the department would work to formulate answers to Mr. Finney’s resolution if it passes, Miss Woods said.

Mr. Finney’s resolution would not need approval from the Democrat-controlled House or the Democratic governor. Republicans hold a one-seat advantage in the Senate.

Mr. Finney, 65, a retired physician, said he has found no scientific proof of evolution. “We’ve hunted for almost 150 years and not found supporting evidence,” he said.

Scientists consider evolution a well-established theory. A federal judge barred the Dover, Pa., school system from teaching intelligent design, saying it was religion masquerading as science.

The senator said he doesn’t want to ban the instruction of evolution or to include religion in the curriculum.

“I don’t want them getting into teaching religion. That’s faith. We go to church for that,” he said. “But let’s don’t teach something that’s not supported by evidence as truth, as the only idea.”

Mr. Finney said he just wants students to evaluate evolution and creationism side by side.

“That’s what education is,” he said, “To take competing ideas and come to a conclusion.”

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