Here We Go Again

The National Center for Science Education reports that there is a definite move afoot to introduce bills in various state legislatures with the intention of requiring the teaching of “alternative theories” to evolution. The Louisiana Science Education Act is the first in a a number of bills, embellished by The Discovery Institute, that paragon of intellectual and scientific credibility, to be introduced.

On May 21, 2008, Senate Bill 733 (PDF), the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act, was unanimously passed by the Louisiana House Education Committee. Before passage, the bill was amended slightly from the form which passed the Senate on April 29, 2008, as previously reported by NCSE. It now moves to the full House.

Other states contemplating a similar bill are Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico.

The bill singles evolution out from other scientific theories, and states that a teacher “may use supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner.”

This sounds suspiciously innocuous, but in reality, it will open the classrooms up to whatever teachers want to use, and in the hands of the religious, that will be anything the Discovery Institute puts in their hands. The sponsor of the Louisiana bill has made it clear what his motives are.

Senator Ben Nevers (D-Bogalusa) insisted to the AP on May 21 that “I plainly state in this bill that no religion will be taught,” he previously told the Hammond Daily Star (April 6, 2008 ) that the bill was drafted by a group which “believe[s] that scientific data related to creationism should be discussed.” Similarly, bill supporter David Tate, a member of the Livingston Parish School Board, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune (April 18, 2008 ), “I believe that both sides — the creationism side and the evolution side — should be presented and let students decide what they believe,” adding that the bill is needed because “teachers are scared to talk about” creationism.

[On a side note, it’s always comforting when the proponents of clearly unconstitutional legislation, offered in a constitutional guise, talk openly on the record about their motivations. It provides good evidence when the case ends up in court, as it did in the Dover decision.]

Informed readers will see the similarities in previous legislation, morphing from the legislation of Arkansas that was declared unconstitutional in Epperson v. Arkansas (1968 ) ( which banned outright the teaching of evolution), through Tennessee’s “equal time’ bill struck down in Daniel v. Waters (1975) (by the 6th Circuit), then the Louisiana law (what’s with Louisiana?) requiring the teaching of the newly named “creation science” that was ultimately struck down by the US Supreme Court in Edwards v. Aguillard (1987), up through the most recent decision in Dover (2005).

The editorial writer for the Baton Rouge Advocate got it exactly right.

The bill will “provide a full-time living for dozens of lawyers in the American Civil Liberties Union. They will have a field day suing taxpayer-funded schools as groups use Nevers’ language to push Bible-based texts in the schools. That’s unconstitutional, and we can see the taxpayer paying — and paying, and paying — for this policy in the future.”

One of the admirable characteristics about America is that everyone is entitled to equal access to the courts, and to our legislators. Unfortunately, in the hands of agenda driven theocrats, our system of government gets abused. It seems that the people, the religious nut cases if you will, behind this constant, never relenting push to impose their religious fantasies on the rest of the population have figured that a combination of changing the tenor and tone of the argument, while keeping it front and center in the public consciousness, combined with the knowledge that a large portion of the rank and file who actually teach science to our children are in agreement with them, or worse, don’t care, will produce a society in which science will lose and religion will win.

The only remedy for this is eternal vigilance and good lawyers.

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12 thoughts on “Here We Go Again

  1. The only remedy for this is eternal vigilance and good lawyers.
    Oh, f’Chrissake. Why didn’t you warn us that this post was an ad?

    All kidding aside, the “argument” against evolution is going to keep cropping up as long as states allow unqualified ignoramuses to influence public education. The solution: “No one who cannot demonstrate that he or she is educated in a wide variety of standard academic subjects may vote on education matters nor serve on any state or local School Board.”

  2. Ex

    I thought about that, and realized it did seem like a plug for lawyers, but that Dover case was won, in my opinion, not only because of great facts and a miscalculation on the part of the Defendants, but also because of the quality of the lawyers. The ACLU attorneys and the private counsel who volunteered from Pepper Hamilton were top notch.

    And don’t forget Judge Jones. He was a lawyer too. 8)

  3. Wake me up when these boneheads actually win a case, win on appeal, win at the Supreme Court and the policy becomes law. Until then, like you said, it’s a great country. Everyone can stake a claim. Some claims just have a whole lot more credibility than others.

  4. bill was drafted by a group which “believe[s] that scientific data related to creationism should be discussed.”

    Now that’s going to be one of the shortest discussions in the history of mankind.

    Oh, wait, maybe they’re talking about the genuine scientific data that works against them? Now that’s a long discussion.

    Are these people still allowed to breed?

  5. Ric asked, “Are these people still allowed to breed?”

    Since a number of them don’t believe in sex education, yeah, the breeding thing gets out of control pretty easily. 😦

  6. “I believe that both sides — the creationism side and the evolution side — should be presented and let students decide what they believe,” adding that the bill is needed because “teachers are scared to talk about” creationism.

    So, how crappy are their Sunday schools and preaching if they can’t get their flocks convinced nor their children inoculated against science on their own? They need to move their nonsense to schools because….

    they want to preach to kids that don’t go to their schools and increase the flock by demonstrating that science backs up their church’s teaching.

    Except that it doesn’t.

  7. They are persistent. What really bugs me is how ID and creationism try to bypass the rigorous process that science passes through in order to be admitted into classroom textbooks. But these alternative theories don’t want to be peer-reviewed and tested by the scientific community, they just want in.

    Expelled failed to mention this. I’m guessing everyone here is familiar with the movie.

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  9. What annoys me is their constant cloaking of their agenda under the guise of “balance”. “Well, shouldn’t the children get to hear both sides?”

    Sorry, but there aren’t always two sides to every story. Some racist nitwits think that slavery was a good thing for African-Americans. Does that obligate the schools to teach a “balanced” view of slavery?

  10. If we change this mans quote a little, lets see if it seems like a valid argument,

    Similarly, bill supporter David Tate, a member of the Livingston Parish School Board, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune (April 18, 2008 ), “I believe that both sides — the flat earth theory side and the round earth theory side — should be presented and let students decide what they believe,” adding that the bill is needed because “teachers are scared to talk about” flat earth theory.

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