Skip to comments.Senate sends Jindal bill on evolution
Posted on 06/17/2008 8:57:19 AM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
A bill to overhaul the way evolution is taught in Louisiana public schools easily cleared its final legislative hurdle Monday despite threats of a lawsuit.
Opponents, mostly outside the State Capitol, contend the legislation would inject creationism and other religious themes into public schools.
However, the Senate voted 36-0 without debate to go along with the same version of the proposal that the House passed last week 94-3.
The measure, Senate Bill 733, now goes to Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is expected to sign it.
Backers said the bill is needed to give science teachers more freedom to hold discussions that challenge traditional theories, including Charles Darwins theory of evolution.
It provides assurances to both teachers and students that academic inquiries are welcome and appropriate in the science classroom, said Gene Mills, executive director of the Louisiana Family Forum.
Mills group touts itself as one that promotes traditional family values. It was called an influential mover behind the bill.
However, officials of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana and Americans United for Separation of Church and State in Washington, D.C., said the bill represents an intrusion of religion into public schools that may warrant a lawsuit.
It is the ACLUs position that we intend to do whatever is necessary to keep religion out of our science classrooms. said Marjorie R. Esman, executive director of the group in New Orleans.
The legislation is called the Louisiana Science Education Act.
It would allow science teachers to use supplemental materials, in addition to state-issued textbooks, on issues like evolution, global warming and human cloning.
The aim of such materials, the bill says, is to promote critical thinking skills, logical analysis and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied, including evolution.
I just believe that it is important that supplemental scientific information be able to be brought into the school system, state Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa and sponsor of the bill, said after the vote.
Nevers said that, despite the rapid pace of changes in science, textbooks are only updated every seven years.
Critics said DVDs and other supplemental materials with religious themes will be added to classrooms to try to undercut widely accepted scientific views.
The bill cleared its final legislative hurdle in less than five minutes.
Nevers noted that the key change made in the House would allow the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to toss out science supplemental materials that it considers inappropriate.
Opponents contend the bill is a bid to allow the teaching of creationism and intelligent design. Christian creationism is the view that life began 6,000 years ago in a process described in the Bibles Book of Genesis.
Intelligent design advocates believe that the universe stems from an intelligent designer rather than chance.
The Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said in a prepared statement that the bill is clearly designed to smuggle religion into the science classroom, and thats unwise and unconstitutional. Joe Conn, a spokesman for the group, said attorneys will review the bill.
Lynns group calls itself a national watchdog organization to prevent government-backed religious teaching.
Barbara Forrest, of Holden, a member of the groups board of trustees and a professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, also criticized passage of the measure.
I think what the Legislature has done is an embarrassment to the state in the eyes of the entire country, Forrest said.
Nevers downplayed talk of legal action against his bill.
I dont think any lawsuits will be brought because of this act, he said.
Mills predicted that the bill will survive any legal challenge.
In 1987 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 1981 state law that required equal time on creationism when evolution was taught in public schools.
Not completely accurate. There are many shades of Christian creationism, from young earthers they are describing here to those who believe in Theistic evolution. I wouldn't be surprised if the 'young earthers' are actually a minority of Christian creationists, but because what they believe in parts so far from current scientific knowledge, it is the one that gets the airtime.
And when a science teacher tells a class that creationism and intelligent design are religion and have absolutely no place in a science classroom, and uses "critical thinking skills and logical analysis" to show why, the creationists are going to have a cow.
But there will be absolutely nothing they can do about it short of repeal this silly law.
(The law of unintended consequences tends to rear up and bite one on the behind when you least expect it.)
You are so right! The irony here is that it takes as much “faith” (if not more!) to believe in evolution as it does to believe in a creator. Since neither can be proved by traditional scientific method (observation, testing of hypotheses, and ability to re-create the conditions to verify results), some have seen fit to re-define the term “science” in an attempt to promote their particular theory. Evolution is just that - a theory. Why should it be given more prestige than it deserves?
"Critical thinking" is a creationist propaganda line designed to sneak a narrow fundamentalist view of religion into science classes.
Real critical thinking is absolutely the last thing creationists want applied to their beliefs. But under this new law, look for exactly this to happen -- and there is nothing they can do about it.
That’s cool. Now science teachers in Louisiana are free to say that creationism is b.s. and they’re protected by the law.
And given the political slant of teachers — teachers’ union and all that — I’ll bet that happens more often than creationism or ID being taught.
Not completely accurate. There are many shades of Christian creationism, from young earthers they are describing here to those who believe in Theistic evolution. I wouldn't be surprised if the 'young earthers' are actually a minority of Christian creationists
Exactly. I believe that God created mankind, but that "days" in the Old Testament are not representative of 24-hour periods. Am I disqualified as a "creationist"?
If people would just free themselves of those stereotypes of Christians, discussion on this topic would not be so idiotic. The Genesis literalists and the militant atheists who go and make douchey FR spinoff sites are a microcosm of maybe 15% of the population. Meanwhile, us normal people are able to think critically enough not to have our entire reality shattered when someone happens to disagree with us.
Absolutely right. bttt
Looks like I’m repeating stuff already said. But, hey, I’m enthusiastic about this law.
Students must be indoctrinated in Darwinist dogma by the state! No critical thinking allowed in our government schools!
If the book is unclear about the definition a day, how can you be so sure about the rest of the contents?
“Critical thinking” is a creationist propaganda line designed to sneak a narrow fundamentalist view of religion into science classes.” ~ Coyoteman
Fundamentalist creationists - aka YECs (Young earth creationists) and the “ID Movement” present themselves as the only ones who can both be called, “creationists”, and believers in “intelligent design”. Of course, this opens the whole of Christianity up to ridicule where everyone gets painted with the same “Liars for Jesus” brush by atheists and non-YEC Christians alike.
Here’s one of the latest examples:
There is no direct poll data, but I've studied this sort of thing for years. As a rule only Christians with significant academic influence (secular or secular-leaning Christian schools) "reinterpret" Scripture to believe in long ages. I'd estimate the number is around 1/4 of creationists, the remainder being straightforward biblical (i.e., 'recent') creationists.
In one poll an aquaintance did back in the 90's I recall he got a fairly even split between evolutionists, old-earth and young-earth creationists. At that early date most people on the internet were more educated than normal, so it was not surprising that the majority of respondents in all three categories reported at least some college education. But what was striking was that while a substantial minority of the evolutionists and recent creationists did not report college education, _every_ single old-earth creationist did.
One might be tempted to cite this as evidence of intellectual superiority, but as I mentioned, most of the respondents in the other categories were well-educated. Instead, a more likely interpretation of the data is that no one 'naturally' reads millions of years into the Bible; one needs to have external conditioning and social pressures to feel forced to 'reinterpret' it.
I have a very very hard time believing this. I was raised in a fairly conservative Lutheran congregation, and our pastor taught the whole "day doesn't necessarily mean day" concept to us in Confirmation Class, and it did not come off as at all controversial, in fact, it made perfect logical sense.
I think I'm going to do an unscientific poll of Christian acquaintances on this. I never thought to bring this up, I always just assumed they agreed with me.
This law will have unintended consequences. Now, science teachers can present an honest view of evolution: a scientific explanation for the diversity of life. And they can also teach that creationism and/or ID is not science and is not supported by any evidence. Teachers can now teach, without fear of reprisal, that the book of Genesis is not scientifically substatiated and is not literally true. Genesis is quite thoroughly scientifically refuted and that evolution does not have, at this time, any competing theories.
Creationists will be, IMHO, the first scream to the courts when they see their Biblical world views torn apart in the school system. Creationists hoisted up on their own petards.
From my personal view, I see exactly the opposite. Almost every Christian I know fall somewhere between ID and Theistic Evolution.
Instead, a more likely interpretation of the data is that no one 'naturally' reads millions of years into the Bible; one needs to have external conditioning and social pressures to feel forced to 'reinterpret' it.
For me, the 'external conditioning' is God's creation, nature. The God I believe in didn't create a universe that purposefully tricks man into not believing in Him. The heavens declare the glory of God. They are a reflection of the creator. IMHO, it is man that is flawed, especially with our arrogance that our interpretation is perfect. The church went through this centuries ago when having to reconsider their 'Biblically sound' geocentric, then later heliocentric theory. They knew with out a shadow of a doubt that the earth (and later the sun) was the center of the universe, as proven in the Bible (Psalms 93, 96, 104; I Chronicles 16; Ecclesiastes 1). The Church did not need to reinterpret the Bible, all they had to do was realize that their human interpretation was wrong. The Bible wasn't changed, man was.
Here's a novel idea. Since respective positions on this topic are so seemingly important on this issue and considering that public schools do a lousy job of teaching things anyway, and that regardless of what is taught, there are going to be pissed off people regardless, why not just not address this in public schools, from any perspective? Why do people trust the public schooling system to teach these things but then turn around and bash them (rightfully) for everything else?
It seems to me that regardless of what my position on this was, I would prefer to teach my own kids about this, take them to museums, purchase them documentaries, have good dinner-table conversations about this, etc, rather than have them being bored to tears in some public classroom where they'll forget what was taught them in a week anyway.
Then again, personal responsibility is so passe these days. We'd much rather dump our kids off with the government and let them "educate" our kids.
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