‘Creationism’ Measure Tabled in New Mexico - One Down, Three to Go

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No fewer than four Intelligent Design Creationism measures have been introduced in the current 60-day 2007 session of the State Legislature of New Mexico. There are two pairs of measures, with corresponding actions before the Senate and the House.

The Senate sponsor is State Sen. Steve Komadina, who has introduced both Senate Bill 371, “SCHOOL SCIENCE CONTENT STANDARDS,” and Senate Joint Memorial 9, “OBJECTIVE TEACHING OF BIOLOGICAL ORIGINS.”

The House sponsor is State Rep. W. C. “Dub” Williams, who has introduced identical resolutions House Bill 506 and House Joint Memorial 14

While the House and Senate Bills explicity avoid the E-word (evolution), the Joint Memorials attack evolution four times each.

On Monday, January 29th, House Joint Memorial 14 was considered by the House Judiciary committee, and was tabled after a lengthy discussion.

Trip Jennings of the Albuquerque Journal reports that

Intelligent design was on the legislative agenda Monday, but it might not be there long. The House Judiciary Committee voted 7-4 along party lines to table a resolution saying public school teachers would have “the right and freedom to objectively inform students of any scientific information that is relevant to both strengths and weaknesses” of the evolutionary theory. Opponents of the resolution argued that language such as “teaching of biological origins” and the resolution’s reference to “weaknesses” of evolutionary theory signaled an attempt to inject “creationism” into the classroom. Rep. W.C. “Dub” Williams, R-Glencoe, the sponsor and a former teacher, said the resolution appropriately questioned the efficacy of the theory of evolution. Williams did not conceal his religious beliefs. “However we evolved, we’re here. What we evolved from we will never figure out,” Williams said. “There are many people who are absolutely convinced God did all of this and if you have the faith I have, God did it all.” But several scientists, teachers and others testifying against the measure said the resolution would embarrass the state and would redefine the very work of science. “This … resolution attempts to shoehorn creationism, or intelligent design, which is creationism in a tux, under the guise of science, into science classrooms,” said Harry Murphy, a retired physicist who worked at Kirtland Air Force Base. “Teaching religious dogma as science is clearly a violation of the United States Constitution.”

New Mexico’s scientific community is actively opposing these measures, charging that they are totally unnecessary additions to our excellent state science standards. The Bill would give teachers the “right and freedom” to present supposed “weaknesses” of evolutionary science, but the only “weaknesses” under consideration here are the hackneyed and oft-refuted arguments of Intelligent Design Creationism: molecules are too complex to have evolved, evolution science can’t explain the Cambrian Explosion, and so forth and so on ad infinitum.

These bills are supposedly about “Academic Freedom,” but are really about providing teachers cover to present trumped-up “Evidence Against Evolution” in order to establish a reasonable doubt in the minds of students about the core of biological science. Indeed, several teachers testified against the bills yesterday, just as teachers in Dover and Rio Rancho opposed similarly-worded policies. Not one proponent of the resolution showed up to defend it.

The DIscovery Institute Ministry of Disinformation has weighed in, with Casey Luskin pronouncing

New Mexico State Senator Steve Komadina has introduced a bill into the New Mexico Senate which would protect the academic freedom of teachers to discuss scientific strengths and weaknesses of evolution. … Who would oppose such legislative protections? I will make a prediction: many Darwinists will vehemently oppose this bill, exposing that it isn’t the teaching of science they care about, but the teaching of a particular brand of pro-Darwin-only science.

Sorry, Casey, it’s not Darwinists opposing the bill, but Scientists, including the New Mexico Academy of Science and the National Academy of Science.

Teachers also opposed the bill in Santa Fe. Consider the wording of Senate Bill 371:

… encourage students to critically analyze scientific information, give them the right and freedom to reach their own conclusions about biological origins and provide that no student shall be penalized in any way because the student subscribes to a particular position on biological origins.

In this passage, the peculiar singling-out of evolution alone is quite evident. What teacher would want students to have similar “freedom” regarding, say, addition of fractions?

… encourage students to critically analyze methods of addition, give them the right and freedom to reach their own conclusions about adding fractions and provide that no student shall be penalized in any way because the student subscribes to a particular position on adding fractions.

The Bottom Line: the only purpose for all of these resolutions is to single out evolution science for special criticism, and to provide legal cover for teachers who want to present creationist “evidences against evolution” in science classes.

Get to know some of the players on NMSR’s “Know Your New Mexican Creationists” page.

IDnet-NM’s own Rebecca Keller has put up a Blog about the bills, New Mexicans for Intellectual Freedom.

The complete Religious Right Agenda for the New Mexico Legislature is available via a pro-Creationist home-schooling site.

You can bet that the supportes of these creationist bills won’t be for giving students more “academic freedom” to learn about, say, contraceptives as well as abstinence.

As of January 30th, one bill down, three to go.

Kudos to the Albuquerque Journal for getting it right:

‘Creationism’ Measure Tabled … Intelligent design was on the legislative agenda Monday, but it might not be there long. …

And, don’t forget this important admission by House sponsor “Dub” Williams:

“However we evolved, we’re here. What we evolved from we will never figure out,” Williams said. “There are many people who are absolutely convinced God did all of this and if you have the faith I have, God did it all.”

Let the Spin Begin!

14 Comments

The House Judiciary Committee voted 7-4 along party lines to table a resolution saying public school teachers would have “the right and freedom to objectively inform students of any scientific information that is relevant to both strengths and weaknesses” of the evolutionary theory.

The resolution is lame because it’s unnecessary. Science teachers already have “the right and freedom to objectively inform students of any scientific information” of their choosing. Once somebody comes up with scientific information demonstrating ID, it’ll get taught along with the rest of science.

Yeesh. Why do they always have to turn this into a persecution-party?

I subscribe to the position that Argon and Helium spontaneously bond to form Unobtanium molecules at all temperatures and pressures. I shouldn’t be penalized for my position in this matter, regardless of whether or not it contradicts material that the mainstream liberal atheist academia taught me in class and tested me on! I mean, can’t have those Darwinists going around persecuting others for their beliefs, can we? Oh, us poor poor Cdesign proponentsists are so being crushed under the intolerant heel of Big Brother! ‘Elp ‘elp, I’m bein’ oppressed! You guys think you’re so hot, well you won’t be laughing when we overturn your atheistic scientific materialism and subvert society to its proper theistic roots! And also when you die you’ll be in Hell! FREEEEEEEEEDOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!

Actually this stuff really brings to mind a lab instructor I had back in college. Not Creationist as far as I know, but he did say that neutrinos travel faster than light and that there was unexplainable pillow lava on Mt. Ararat. He also claimed that one of his professors had debunked dire global warming predictions and promptly had all his work confiscated and hushed-up by either the NAS or NSF (can’t remember which). He worked for NASA, too.

It seems like the one table resolution saying “the right and freedom to objectively inform students of any scientific information that is relevant to both strengths and weaknesses” is not all that bad. Evolution is a wonderful theory, but of course it’s not perfect- we’re still working on it to improve it constantly. Such is the nature of science. So therefore one could say it has weaknesses. This resolution only gives teachers the right to teach scientific information. Since ID and Literal Creationism aren’t scientific, they wouldn’t have any rights under this bill that they didn’t have before. Yes, certainly, the bill is probably proposed to shoe-horn in ID, but since ID and Literal Creationism have been consistently shown to not be science but religion in the courts, any teacher trying to use this bill would be in trouble in the courts.

Indeed, it could perhaps be argued that, legally, this bill which supposedly lays out rights and freedoms would explicitly lay down what a biology teacher can teach- only science, and not any pet ideas about the creation of the world that they might have.

And it may be that the tabeling of this resolution is not a good sign, as the wording of this is more helpful, whereas the wording of 371, as stated in the post here, is quite obviously designed for students to learn pretty much whatever they feel like about science, rather than science itself. Perhaps it is the ID/Literal Creationists who are behind the tabeling of 506, in order to move forward with the more heinous 371?

I think the probability of any of these bills seeing the light of day is slim. After all, if one has absolutely no ability to read between the lines, these bills grant teachers and students absolutely nothing they currently lack. It has always been the responsibility of the teachers to show that testability is inherent in science, and the responsibility of the students to understand that.

But of course, what these bills *mean* (as opposed to what they say) is that creationist teachers shall henceforth be permitted to preach their faith in science classes, and students cannot be given poor grades for providing creationist “answers” on tests.

As ever, in practice these bills aren’t intended for actual passage, they are intended to pander to the constituencies of those districts with the most knuckle-draggers.

After all, if one has absolutely no ability to read between the lines, these bills grant teachers and students absolutely nothing they currently lack.

which means it has no secular purpose, and

“However we evolved, we’re here. What we evolved from we will never figure out,” Williams said. “There are many people who are absolutely convinced God did all of this and if you have the faith I have, God did it all.”

which is appeasement of one religious group, so that’s two out of three prongs of Lemon to me. I hope this passes…

I love the appeal to openmindedness. But to quote Bertrand Russell (or maybe paraphrase): “Let us not be so open-minded that our brains fall out.”

I agree with secondclass and GuyeFaux. This point of view would seem to be logical and sound, to wit: That the fundamentals of actually doing actual science include the imperative that current knowledge (of anything) is necessarily incomplete. In some cases indistinct. Therefore before one forges ahead on even a well known trail, one is advised to review the map and the location of passages and obstacles. Memory and assumption are not sufficient.

The IDots are in true form, though I get the impression that the “duly elected and sworn representatives of the people” in New Mexico are just a bit behind the curve in this case. By introducing four (four!) bills, they are not providing more cogent and persuasive arguments, they are simply crying LOUDER!

sheesh …

“I believe in an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.” –Arthur Hays Sulzberger –publisher of The New York Times

What is a “House Joint Memorial” in New Mexico?

Re “There are many people who are absolutely convinced God did all of this and if you have the faith I have, God did it all.”

Which doesn’t contradict the theory anyway, unless one has some reason why a God couldn’t use evolution as a method.

Henry

New Mexico Makes Panda’s Thumb

Seems making the Panda’s Thumb has become a ‘badge of honor’ :-)

Written by John Fleck Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Trip Jennings in this morning’s paper detailed the fate of the latest “intelligent design” bill in the New Mexico legilsature:

Intelligent design was on the legislative agenda Monday, but it might not be there long. The House Judiciary Committee voted 7-4 along party lines to table a resolution saying public school teachers would have “the right and freedom to objectively inform students of any scientific information that is relevant to both strengths and weaknesses” of the evolutionary theory.

The folks at Panda’s Thumb, a science blog, gave Trip a solid thumbs up for his work:

Kudos to the Albuquerque Journal for getting it right:

BTW, ‘komadina’ mean Big Piece or Huge Chunk.

I used to work for the New Mexico legislature about 5 years ago and worked with Rep. Williams. I distinctly remember Rep. Williams arguing during an interim Indian Affairs Committee session in 2002 that the endangered Rio Grande Silvery Minnow should not be protected from human overuse of water resources because its demise was simply part of what he claimed to be the evolutionary process of ‘survival of the fittest’. It seems that he was more than happy to misuse his personal interpretation of evolutionary theory to argue against environmental issues. I should note that I found Rep. Williams to be an incredibly kind and decent man on a personal level regardless of his political views.

This morning, noted earth-scientist and attorney Casey Luskin of the famed Discovery Institute, whose writings span almost the entire spectrum from inanity to idiocy, has opined upon this matter.

Whether you love idiocy or inanity, or maybe just down-home drivel, Casey’s always a good read.

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This page contains a single entry by Dave Thomas published on January 30, 2007 2:43 PM.

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