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.
Yeah, but we’ll damn well be sure to teach Secular Humanism and Atheism in the classroom contrary to the wishes of the parents, right?
But shouldn't it be taught? As one of the 'academic inquiries' that are are welcome and appropriate in the science classroom of course.
Flight is a scientific theory. Gravity is a scientific theory. Most of physics is scientific theory. If you do away with anything labeled 'theory' then you depopulate the science curriculum. Whatever's left will certainly be prestigious though, won't it?
I didn’t say it shouldn’t be taught. I think all ideas should be explored in a scientific fashion. Some will immediately be discarded, others may survive for further debate. My challenge was the article’s classification of Creationists as being only young-earthers.
And what will be used to discard those ideas? Science?
If we believe in creation, we should be willing and able to have our belief stand up to scientific scrutiny and challenge the scientific scrutiny if we feel it is addressing our belief incorrectly.
If we are unable or unwilling to defend our belief in the scientific world, what point is there?
Schools would be sued out of existence if this were to happen. I still like my idea in post 20 the best.
Why? If a child was raised in a Native American household and had this belief, why should he not be allowed to bring up his belief. At the same time, why should the teacher not also be allowed to explore and challenge this based on science? If we expect pro-creation teachers to be able to challenge evolution, we should also expect the freedom for the same challenge. We should never hide behind the 'its religion, therefore it can't be challenged'. How many people call evolution religion? If our belief is strong, having to respond to the challenge will strengthen our belief.
The problem I have with your post 20 is two fold. First, if we follow this path, then it could get to the point where nothing could be taught because it offends or challenges the belief of someone else. Secondly, faith (or science) is not strengthened by avoiding challenges to it. It is strengthened by facing those challenges and hashing them out.
Like I said before, people are not going to be happy regardless of what you do, so as far as I'm concerned, the heck with it. They should be teaching more practical things during school. I look around at all of these obese ankle-biters these days and can't help but think that a bit more phys-ed would be more beneficial to them than a science lesson they'll forget by the end of the day anyway.
The difference between the examples you have chosen and evolution is that the others can be proven. Evolution cannot. There is no way to re-create evolution in a lab - or to demonstrate such using the traditional scientific method. There is a great difference. Evolution is a non-provable theory. There are (at least to my knowledge) no transformational fossils.
I agree with you on that 100%. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people on both sides of this are not nearly as sensible as you and I. Just look at how most of these threads here on FR get gayed up. You know me, I usually couldn't care less whether people get offended or not, but in this case, I really just don't see a practical way to accomplish this. And I'm usually not a quitter either. This one particular issue stumps me.
Oh, and if I don’t get back to you right away, I’m not ignoring you. I’m leaving the office now, getting dinner, and then I’m going to be playing with my about:config settings in my Firefox 3 (the new love of my life). I’m enjoying this discussion though and shall return.
No theory in science can be proved; in this, the theory of evolution is equivalent to the theory of gravitation and germ theory. It has been better substantiated than almost any other theory, but it has not been proved as that is impossible in science.
See my FR home page for some definitions of "theory" and other pertinent terms.
As for transitional fossils, your understanding is incorrect. There are lots of them. What we don't have is the strawman fossils demanded by creationists, with something half formed, such as a half fish/half bird. Rather than supporting the theory of evolution, such a fossil, if shown to be reliable, would call much of what we have learned into question.
As for transitionals--here's one. Note its position in the chart which follows (hint--in the right center):
Site: Koobi Fora (Upper KBS tuff, area 104), Lake Turkana, Kenya (4, 1)
Discovered By: B. Ngeneo, 1975 (1)
Estimated Age of Fossil: 1.75 mya * determined by Stratigraphic, faunal, paleomagnetic & radiometric data (1, 4)
Species Name: Homo ergaster (1, 7, 8), Homo erectus (3, 4, 7), Homo erectus ergaster (25)
Gender: Female (species presumed to be sexually dimorphic) (1, 8)
Cranial Capacity: 850 cc (1, 3, 4)
Information: Tools found in same layer (8, 9). Found with KNM-ER 406 A. boisei (effectively eliminating single species hypothesis) (1)
Interpretation: Adult (based on cranial sutures, molar eruption and dental wear) (1)
See original source for notes:
With all due respect, gravity can certainly be demonstrated in a lab, as can most other scientific discoveries. Re-creating evolution in a lab cannot be done. As for the “transformational fossils” - no, as such, they do not exist. If, in fact, a completely different species is “born” through adaptation, fossils demonstrating this gradual change should exist. To my knowledge, they do not. Having fossils which supposedly demonstrate an earlier form of man, and then - oops, a later form of man - is not transitional. Furthermore, all the charts and “fossils”, dating, etc... are based on Darwin’s THEORY - and, as such, should not be taught as provable fact in a classroom (i.e. science). That is my point and I stand by it.
Much of it can't. Much of what is taught in physics class can't be proven. Geology teaches what happened over millions of years, how do you recreate that in a lab? Science believes that much of evolution can be proven, through a path that can be traced through a series of transitional fossils. You don't need to recreate that in a classroom for it to be true.
There are (at least to my knowledge) no transformational fossils.
There are literally hundreds of them. Link
Because a science class, at least at the primary through high school level, is meant to teach science. If I want to believe in the theology of the Flying Spaghetti Monster then how much time do you devote in a high school class to refuting it? How do you prove that the great snake didn't give birth? What do you use as evidence?
As I read this article, I noticed the claim that many fossils haven’t been found yet. A nice disclaimer, but really....!! Again, with all due respect, evolution is premised on something which cannot be proven unless one accepts a whole litany of unproven and unprovable assumptions. Scientists have largely found things they cannot explain (or which have turned out to be clever hoaxes) and have attached meaning to them with no independent scientific testing to verify that those basic premises are even correct. In fact, the whole idea of the “something from nothing” theory has been dis-proven time and again by actual science (such as the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.) While this may seem like a separate problem, it is not. None of the fossils found actually “prove” that man evolved from lower forms of life - and that that life evolved from nothing. There are no fossils to support that. Yes, old fossils of apes exist, and yes, older forms of what looks to be man (but is it really?) exist, but where is the link? I feel certain that if the link existed it would be shouted from the rooftops - but maybe they haven’t been “found” yet...
I showed you an example of a transitional fossil ("missing link" is a newspaper term, not a scientific term). There has been a lot of argument as how to classify this specimen precisely because it has earlier (more ape-like) and later (more human-like) traits. Even creationists can't agree where to classify this, with some holding for ape and others for human. That's part of what makes this such a good example of a transitional!
And please tell me you are not bringing up the 2nd law of thermodynamics to claim that evolution is not possible. Please!
What would you expect such a link to look like?
A good idea in the abstract, but we see in these discussion why it wouldn't work in practice. The teacher presents the theory of evolution, and Johnny raises his hand and asks why there aren't any transitional fossils. So then there's a whole lesson on what a transitional fossil would be and why, yes, there are too transitional fossils. Then Carmen asks why you never see a chicken evolve from a lizard, and there goes another week on how speciation actually works and the concept of clades and ring species and all the rest. Then Antwan says his daddy said all the fossils were deposited by the Flood, and there's another week gone talking about stratification and mineralization and tree rings and the rest. And then Sanjay asks... and then Sacheen asks... and then Tomiko asks... and bam, your school year is over.
And don't forget, this would have to occur again in geology, when Robert asks about the fountains of the deep and where all the water went. And in astronomy, when Felipe wants to talk about how the Earth is the center of the universe and the speed of light used to be different. And, and.
And then in physics class, little smartass Billy wants to know how gravity isn't just invisible pixies pushing down apples and holding up airplanes. What do you tell him? How much time do you spend on that? Don't get me wrong: I think these would all be fruitful discussions. But we're talking about middle school science class. Frankly, I want my kid to come out with a basic understanding of how science thinks the world works. If anyone can guarantee that the amount of time spent on these alternative theories is proportional to the number of real scientists that hold them, then fine--we'll dispense with all of them in a couple of days. But that's not what's going to happen.
See post 20. Why should it be the government's job to teach any of this?
Yes, much like in Dover where the Science teachers were so “limited” by only teaching Science, that when they were “allowed” to read the Incompetent Design statement they all declined to do so. The statement had to be read by a School board member or something because none of the Science teachers wanted to read the drivel they were promulgating.
How can you be so sure the definition of a “day” holds true when there is no Sun?
Morning and evening the first day was apparently a morning and an evening and a day without a Sun.
MUST have been exactly 24 hours some six thousand years ago!!!! It is the only thing that makes sense! A day without a Sun MUST be 24 hours! I INSIST UPON IT!!! I BASE MY AND YOUR SALVATION ON IT!!!! If a day without a Sun isn’t 24 hours the entire edifice comes crashing down!!!! /s
And not to speak for Mr. Nehrling, m, correct me if I’m mistaken, but what I think he is saying is that a classroom which welcomes debate and discussion on issues is a more dynamic, intellectually stimulating experience. And I agree with that on principle. Where we disagree is on practicality. NS, you brought up some good points of why that would (sadly IMO) not be practical.
Not to kiss your butt, but on an unrelated note, if people simply threw these four words into FR threads of this nature every now and then, these threads would be a lot more peaceful and productive. Kudos to everyone on this thread for keeping it cool so far.
The existence of gravity can be demonstrated in the lab, just as the existence of evolution can be demonstrated by measuring endogenous retroviruses.
But the analogy to "Re-creating evolution" is creating a significant gravitational anomaly (without using megatons of mass) - hasn't been done, because we know even less about gravitational theory than evolutionary theory.
Well... evolution cannot be proven scientifically, but the law of thermodynamics has been accepted (to my knowledge) as scientific. You decide. Which is more likely? Admittedly, there are those “theistic evolutionists” who would claim that God intervened along the way, but there is no proof for that either. My original point was - and still is - that it takes as much faith (if not more!) to accept evolution than to accept any other origin of man explanation. Why, then, should evolution alone rule the classroom and get the only hearing - much less why should it be tagged as “science”??
Correct in that the exact sequence of events where an environment led to selective pressure on the genetic variation of a population cannot be recreated.
But evolution can be done in the lab. Many thousands of experiments on selective pressure have demonstrated the principles of the theory of evolution through natural selection.
Also like a forensic Science, the past can be seen (through a prism darkly) in the relics of our past that DNA contains like old retroviral infections from when we shared ancestors with other species, and identical mutations in genes not under selective pressure (vitamin C synthase Gulo gene), and a pattern of similarity and divergence such that the relationship of species can be discerned.
Moreover the idea that you have that something is missing in the fossil record is only correct in that a lot of things are missing. What is there shows that what species inhabit the earth has been a varied and changing thing in our long and storied past. It seems that you are looking for some sort of clean line of demarcation, something that you will not see in nature- when you walk from a forest into a marsh there isn't a clean line of separation, the forest just gets marshier and marshier.