Louisiana: Repeal the Creationism Law

| 212 Comments

There is a grassroots movement afoot to repeal the Louisiana law privileging creationism and other dreck under a false banner of “academic freedom”. Check out the site and lend what aid you can.

212 Comments

Huzzah - and the High School Senior who is leading that Grass Roots campaign is a credit the the Lousiana Public School system -

Too bad most biology teachers couldn’t teach ID/creationism as it really is. Today we’re going to contrast evolution and creationism. 1. How does ID/creation work? We don’t know. There is no testable hypothesis for ID/creationism. The designer did it.…somehow. 2. When did it happen? We don’t know but the creationists do think all the dating methods are wrong but provide no scientific evidence to that effect. 3. What is the evidence? There isn’t any because ID/creationists can’t even tell you how to design an experiment to test it.

There that lesson took 20 minutes

Now on to evolution where we’ll spend this week talking about the history and the evidence and next week talking about the mechanisms and the experiments. (wish I could spend more time on it but 2 weeks is all we can manage in the curriculum)

The proponents of ID/c don’t really want them taught along side evolution because then the students would actually see how poor the comparison is.

The problem with today’s biology courses boils down to: 1. Too many biology teachers are afraid of the controversy. (I got preached against in one of the local churches every year when evolution came up) 2. The drive to composite science is short changing the ability of science teachers to really focus on their specialty. This means new science teachers will have a few biology, chemistry and physics courses with no focus on any one thing. 3. Sorry to insult some of you, but far too many biology teachers are coaches whose biology training consists of physiology and kinesiology courses. I could tell multiple horror stories about this form of student abuse. I will say I have met a few coach/teachers who really did know their stuff but most were clueless and knew little more than what was in the same text the students used. Case in point I taught with a coach who didn’t know mitochondria and mitochondrion were simply two forms of the same word and marked mitochondrion wrong when the answer given in the text was mitochondria. Can you imagine how this teacher handled evolution? I just wish teachers were free to tell the truth about ID/c.

Mary H said:

Too bad most biology teachers couldn’t teach ID/creationism as it really is…There that lesson took 20 minutes

I’d argue that was still 20 minutes poorly spent. There is some pedagogical value in going over failed/bad/alternate scientific theories. But if you’re going to do so, you’re much better off spending class time discussing a real historical example. Such as geocentrism, ether theory, N-rays, plum pudding atomic models, etc… Or you might have kids study the 1850’s tracking of cholera and how it changed ideas about how disease was transmitted.

These are ideas scientists actually believed based on limited evidence, but change their minds about through additional observation and experimentation. Modern creationism is not like that; there never was any evidence for it and the people who believe it do so based on religious ideology, not faulty or limited observation. It does not provide a very good contrast to modern theories because it is simply religion - and not some scientific error from which we learned lessons about how to do science better.

and the High School Senior who is leading that Grass Roots campaign is a credit the the Lousiana Public School system

I’d say that the student gets it right not because of the Louisiana Public School system but in spite of it.

It used to be the ICR’s idea that teaching anything that took time away from the teaching of evolution was a leg up, and if you taught 20 different views on the same subject, leaving only 5% of the time for real science, so be it, for it diluted teaching evolution. The dishonesty institute only wants to teach it’s brand of creationism, but it’s pure nonsense as we all know.

The dishonesty institute is currently applauding, and I’m sure back-door supporting, the efforts in five states, where there are so-called “academic freedom of speech” working their way through the legislatures: Oklahoma, Tennessee, New Mexico, Kentucky, and Missouri.

The dishonesty institute is currently applauding, and I’m sure back-door supporting, the efforts in five states, where there are so-called “academic freedom of speech” working their way through the legislatures: Oklahoma, Tennessee, New Mexico, Kentucky, and Missouri.

backwards we go into the future.

eric said:

Mary H said:

Too bad most biology teachers couldn’t teach ID/creationism as it really is…There that lesson took 20 minutes

I’d argue that was still 20 minutes poorly spent. There is some pedagogical value in going over failed/bad/alternate scientific theories. But if you’re going to do so, you’re much better off spending class time discussing a real historical example. Such as geocentrism, ether theory, N-rays, plum pudding atomic models, etc… Or you might have kids study the 1850’s tracking of cholera and how it changed ideas about how disease was transmitted.

The danger there is that you have to be careful to distinguish between those ideas and the popular argument “SCIENCE USED TO SAY THE EARTH WAS FLAT! SCIENCE USED TO SAY THE SUN WENT AROUND IT! SCIENCE USED TO SAY ______, AND IT WAS WRONG! SCIENCE IS ALWAYS CHANGING THEREFORE IT’S NEVER RIGHT!” I think there could be a value to contrasting the “limited evidence” wrong answers with pseudoscientific non-answers. But at the same time there’s often not enough room to cover the materials as-is, let alone throw in nuanced discussions of disproven science vs. pseudoscience. The time crunch is a killer to comprehensive education.

Wheels said: The danger there is that you have to be careful to distinguish between those ideas and the popular argument “SCIENCE USED TO SAY THE EARTH WAS FLAT! SCIENCE USED TO SAY THE SUN WENT AROUND IT! SCIENCE USED TO SAY ______, AND IT WAS WRONG! SCIENCE IS ALWAYS CHANGING THEREFORE IT’S NEVER RIGHT!”

Well, at that point you assign “The Relativity of Wrong” as homework reading. :)

I feel it is a good development, a high school student is taking on the fundies. It seems to be a good solution for a vexing problem. The fundies do all sorts of things like quote mining, lying, claiming false equivalences, argument from ignorance, appeal to authority etc etc. But if a serious scientists sets down to refute them, the very act is used to argue, “look, look some real dyed-in-the-wool scientist is actually taking us seriously! So there must be something in what we say”.

Since most of the argument does not really need a serious scientist to refute, it is quite a nice solution to get a high school student to take them on. There will not be any “credential inflation” by being challenged by such a student.

This student Zack Kopplin also seems to be doing somethings right, by keeping all the real scientific arguments in a separate page, provide a link to it, and come back and keep the main argument readable and comprehensible to people of general background.

So it is nice to hear a positive story from that part of America.

Zack Kopplin said: Thanks everyone!

Hi Zack, Congratulations. Active in NFL or CFL? Will you be coming to DC or Dallas?

It’s like Bobby Jindal realized Sarah Palin was looking even crazier than he is, and he had to catch up.

I’d love to see a teacher try to teach evolution, for and against, and Genesis or ID, for and against. But if any teacher tried the latter in a fundamentalist community, he’d be tarred and feathered. And they’d be the first to invoke the First Amendment to stop him. So much for “teach the controversy”.

**Prognostications de Kopplin**

The Sensuous Curmudgeon says of Mr. Kopplin, “he’s formidable”, but I don’t think he’s reached that point yet, not at all.

When challenged, he still seems VERY heavily dependent on the usual evo-suspects to deflect (not necessarily refute, nor even necessarily answer, but merely deflect) a given challenge.

At this time, imo, Kopplin would NOT be ready to participate in a televised debate or a cross-examination legislative public hearing about the specific merits/demerits of the LSEA law that he passionately seeks to repeal.

He has done some homework on the standard evo-talking points and on which evo-website offers what, but that seems to be all. If you asked Kopplin, for example, to show you the SPECIFIC words or phrases wherein LSEA itself is unconstitutional, or even the SPECIFIC words or phrases in the LSEA law that permits teaching Dembski’s Intelligent Design hypothesis in the schools, Kopplin would be lost. Quickly.

(But that’s not to dump on nor belittle him. You can look at this thread alone, and actually see that the grown-up evolutionists are totally UNABLE to address the same two specific issues as well!!)

The fact is that the usual, “standard” evolutionist talking points (and websites) will only take you so far on certain issues. The LSEA law itself (and the zero court challenges of that law so far) provides the proof of that pudding.

***

But, Kopplin does have one domino in his pack: the “high school taking on the fundies” angle does play to some of the Net media. David vs. Goliath imagery always sells to a degree, especially when “the fundies” are painted as Goliath and a young passionate firebrand is painted as David.

So there’ll be a bit more good publicity for awhile from evolution-sympathetic media sources–especially since the NCSE and other grown-up Darwinists have simply run out of gas in Louisiana–no joke–and are now looking for ANY news to cheer them up. Kopplin is the only cheerio they can look to at this time.

But what happens after this run of publicity? Well, I don’t think it’ll result in any repeals. But it may serve as a wake-up call to complacent non-Darwinists down South. Eternal vigilance and all that. The war never stops. Especially when you see passion like that of Kopplin’s.

A bit of speculation: Kopplin may well have a bright future ahead working for the NCSE, or as a pro-evolution politician or administrator or writer. He might be a possible leading light of the next evo-generation if all goes well, and if he doesn’t accidently get converted to ID or something while in college. (Mwahahahah!!)

***

On the other hand, The 2011 CSC Summer Seminars for college juniors, seniors and graduate students is already cranking up for the Seattle summertime.

So, while older evolutionists will naturally want to acclaim the young evo-warrior Kopplin, I believe there will be some well-prepared, youthful, and equally professional and passionate non-Darwinists waiting for Kopplin someday.

FL

Hey, Zack! You rock! Keep up the good work.

So, tell us again, FL, how and why is Intelligent Design supposed to be a science?

FL is building muscle carrying around strawmen and nonsense. Zach’s fact sheet doesn’t say that the LSEA is facially unconstituational, but rather that its intent is to permit the teaching of creationism (under its various disguises). Dembski doesn’t have a hypothesis of “intelligent design”, and referencing a non-existent concept within the text of the LSEA is a level of stupid that even its authors seem to have eschewed rather than embraced. However, the text isn’t that much better than specifically listing non-existent bafflegab:

C. A teacher shall teach the material presented in the standard textbook 6 supplied by the school system and thereafter may use supplemental textbooks 7 and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, 8 and review scientific theories in an objective manner, as permitted by the city, 9 parish, or other local public school board unless otherwise prohibited by the 10 State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

So long as the administrative strata above doesn’t object, a Louisiana teacher could teach whatever they want of Dembski or even Kent Hovind, so long as they are willing to lie to themselves that that crud can be called “science”.

LSEA hasn’t been in court so far because it is the implementation and not the language of the law itself that will be unconstitutional. And even when someone decides to sneak Hovind or any other instance of the ensemble of religious antievolution arguments in, you still have to find someone with standing who is willing to put up with the harassment that FL’s comrades are just waiting to dish out. It is an unfortunate fact of life that people willing to take a stand in protection of either religious freedom or science uniformly get badly treated by the dogmatists who want their narrow sectarian viewpoint to be stated as truth by secular authority.

…if he doesn’t accidently get converted to ID or something while in college.

Not likely. He’s highly Intelligent and has personal and intellectual integrity.

…The(sic) 2011 CSC Summer Seminars for college juniors, seniors and graduate students is already cranking up for the Seattle summertime.

Sometimes the jokes write themselves folks.

Because the argument is used that a mousetrap is an example of “irreducibile complexity,” I was curious as I’ve heard that there are some 4000 plus types of mousetraps. So I started to search the web, I’ve found many mouse trap inventions, etc., but haven’t yet been able to verify the number of patents, U.S. patents that is, for I’m sure there are unique foreign inventions as well. Anyway, I ran across this article: http://www.madehow.com/Volume-5/Mou[…]omments_form

What struck me is how ID terminology has snuck into this article, wherein it begins with the statement:

Scientists describe the mousetrap as a device that is “irreducibly complex.” The mousetrap cannot be made more simply and still function, and, at the same time, it is so simple and does its job so well that it gives the illusion of being a profound achievement.

Scientists? You’re kidding me. Which scientists use this term? I only know of creationists/id’ers who use it.

What is it with FREEDOM that evolutionists so dislike? its the most reasonable and winning stance to be for freedom in all things of disagreement in America?! I welcome any so-called grassroots move here. The attention is more valuable to the issue then some minor details in a small state. Its about truth, discovery of truth, and throwing over error. Creationism being censored is silly. Anyways as i’ve said before here to censor an opinion on matters dealing with conclusions and discovering conclusions is saying there is a official state opinion on what is not the right conclusion. In this case therefore the state is saying religious doctrines are false. In fact the censorship is based on the matter of religion. Time has come today.

Dear Mr. Byers,

The “state” has never said that religious doctrines are false. The Constitution prohibits that. In fact, the Constitution also prohibits the “state” from saying that religious doctrines are true. The Constitution says that the “state” can not teach religious doctrines in public schools as if they were scientific facts. That’s it.

What part of that is difficult to understand?

Conflict only comes about when Creationists lie, and claim that their religious doctrines are scientific facts, or are “supported” by scientific facts, when in truth they are not. Freedom and censorship have nothing to do with it. Beyond the Constitutional requirement to avoid religious entanglements, it’s merely a waste of time and tax payer money for the “state” to lie to students.

But perhaps by “FREEDOM”, you are arguing that the “state” has the freedom to lie to students? You’re several years behind the times. Fox News already argued that case in federal court, and won. The Constitution does not require anyone, even the “state”, to tell the truth. The freedom of speech means that you, yes even you, have the Constitutional right to lie as much as you want.

But then, you already knew that, didn’t you.

Wesley R. Elsberry said:

Zach’s fact sheet doesn’t say that the LSEA is facially unconstituational, but rather that its intent is to permit the teaching of creationism (under its various disguises). Dembski doesn’t have a hypothesis of “intelligent design”, and referencing a non-existent concept within the text of the LSEA is a level of stupid that even its authors seem to have eschewed rather than embraced. However, the text isn’t that much better than specifically listing non-existent bafflegab:

As many people have noted, the law is a perfectly innocuous statement that one ought to teach about scientific controversies … until the list of examples is given:

from the Louisiana law:

scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.

which gives the game away. The list is entirely composed of science that is denied by the Religious Right. What, nothing about debates over string theory? Punctuated equilibrium? Whether metazoan phyla diverged before the Cambrian?

And it gets completely crazy on the last item. Sure, they don’t want people to clone whole humans (a lot of non-Religious-Right people are in agreement with them on that). But that is an ethical/political/moral/legal/religious issue, not a debate about what science says can and can’t be done. Very few scientists doubt that we could clone whole humans, if we tried to. There is no scientific debate on that – we can clone cows, after all. And we certainly can grow human stem cells. Whether we should is simply not an issue of science.

The fact that the text of the law can’t even keep straight what is and what isn’t an issue of science is laughable.

I put this on the Bathroom Wall by mistake instead of here. Sorry!

FL barged into this blog, http://www.repealcreationism.com/ , to say the following: http://www.repealcreationism.com/24[…]/#comment-62

Floyd A. Lee says: February 17, 2011 at 4:34 PM Sincere thanks to Mr. Kopplin for allowing comments and responses.

(1) If the Louisiana Science Education Act violates any Supreme Court rulings (including “Edwards”), it seems very odd that evolutionists haven’t filed suit already.

(2) Multiple major incompatibilities exist between evolution and Christianity. While giving due respect to previous Supreme Court decisions, the existence of such incompatibilities would naturally be of interest and importance. Here’s a summary:

http://cjonline.com/interact/blog/c[…]ons_part_two

Well, at least he is consistent, even if he is an idiot.

http://www.repealcreationism.com/24[…]/#comment-63

Zack Kopplin says: February 17, 2011 at 5:27 PM A couple things.

There must be a plaintiff brave enough to come out, and put their name on the legal papers. Once they do that, they will face threats and harassment, and their kids in school may face even worse. Court cases take time, if we cannot succeed with the repeal, the law will eventually be declared unconstitutional, it just may take years and years.

Second, evolution and Christianity are not incompatible. I would suggest you visit the NCSE’s list of religious organizations endorsing evolution, http://ncse.com/media/voices/religion.

FL said: …I believe there will be some well-prepared, youthful, and equally professional and passionate non-Darwinists waiting for Kopplin someday.

Waiting with what? Reasoned discourse and actual scientific research disproving evolution and proving intelligent design creationism? Or the more customary “Southern hospitality” of tar and feathers, axe handles and burning crosses and worse? Which would you advocate, Floyd?

Paul Burnett said:

FL said: …I believe there will be some well-prepared, youthful, and equally professional and passionate non-Darwinists waiting for Kopplin someday.

Waiting with what? Reasoned discourse and actual scientific research disproving evolution and proving intelligent design creationism? Or the more customary “Southern hospitality” of tar and feathers, axe handles and burning crosses and worse? Which would you advocate, Floyd?

Floyd advocates infinite torture (he calls it hell) for anyone who disagrees that he is the sole legitimate interpreter of the bible. According to him, the fact that his bible disagrees with reality means that reality is wrong and anyone who chooses to live in reality instead of his loony fantasy world is teh evil and should suffer forever in fire or whatever he hallucinates hell is like. In other words, he’s an evil deranged moron who should be ignored.

What is it with FREEDOM that creationists so dislike? its the most reasonable and winning stance to be for freedom in all things of disagreement in America?! I welcome any so-called grassroots move here. The attention is more valuable to the issue then some minor details in a small state. Its about truth, discovery of truth, and throwing over error. Evolution or ignored being censored is silly. Anyways as i’ve said before here to not censor the facts on matters dealing with conclusions and discovering conclusions is saying there is a official state opinion on what is the right scientific conclusion, just as there should be with all matters of science. In this case therefore the state is saying religious doctrines are not science. In fact the censorship creationists advocate is based solely on the matter of religion not science. Time has come today (for what no one knows).

Mary H said:

Too bad most biology teachers couldn’t teach ID/creationism as it really is. [edit…] I just wish teachers were free to tell the truth about ID/c.

Mary,

Unfortunately the True Believers™ wont give a rat’s ass about the evidence supporting evolutionary theory or the lack of evidence in opposition (or hypothesis, or data, or…). They believe and that is all that matters. I don’t teach biology, instead I teach social studies. Every time the issue comes up, 1st amendment, 19th century intellectual thought, etc., the creationists make unfounded arguments based upon their beliefs and use a shotgun approach to try to discredit evolution. Piltdown, giraffes, carbon dating of coal, half dog half dolphins, the list of idiocy seems never ending after nearly a decade of teaching in a conservative area. Where I used to live and work, it never was an issue, where I’ve lived and worked for the last decade, always an issue, always a major argument, always a mountain of idiocy. If you allot twenty minutes to the “debate” you’ll find that a week has gone by and students are still making idiotic, unfounded arguments that they firmly believe utterly and completely refute evolution. Disproving one leads to the next, and the next, and the next. Repeat until the end of the unit, semester, school year…

Zach’s fact sheet doesn’t say that the LSEA is facially unconstituational, but rather that its intent is to permit the teaching of creationism (under its various disguises).

Yeah, he “says” intent, but he doesn’t prove intent. And you and I both know that both the NSCE and the ACLU would have camped out at the nearest courthouse if they even had a smidgen of evidence to establish any such intent. So no use pretending, hm?

Simply stated, if the grown-ups can’t line up the crosshairs on LSEA after all this time, you know the young Mr. Kopplin ain’t there yet. Imo, he needs to acknowledge the strengths of LSEA–for they do exist–as well as discuss what he believes are its weaknesses.

***

Dembski doesn’t have a hypothesis of “intelligent design”…

Oh yes he does, and it’s a good one. (See the 1999 book Intelligent Design, published by IVP). And although LSEA does NOT go there, (hence its current survival), the fact is that thorough knowledge of the ID hypothesis will help Mr. Kopplin even as an evolutionist.

(Otherwise he get snapped up like catfish bait when he does his first TV debate.)

FL

FL barged into this blog

Yeah, though not “barging”. (I was wondering if you amigos might catch my little reply.)

I figured that if it was okay for Les Lane to offer response, then maybe it would be worth a brief response of my own, even though I’m not an evolutionist.

As I mentioned elsewhere,

There is no state, country, or school board that has a law that says Newton must be taught and teachers are free to mention alternatives to Newton (which surprisingly actually exist).

There is no state, country, or school board that has a law that says that the pros and cons of redox reactions must be taught.

There is no state, country, or school board that has a law that says teachers have the academic freedom to teach the argument against volleyball.

So, why are things like sex education, evolution, AGW, and cloning different?

Because these topics offend a miniscule (but annoyingly vocal) segment of the population.

FL, to answer you questions (which I shouldn’t have to do, as you have been educated in the US and I was taught this in government)…

To bring suit, one must have standing. The ACLU and similar organizations are SUPPORTING organizations. Unless there is an actual person that is ‘harmed’ in the area that the law exists, then there is no standing to bring suit. If the law isn’t used, then no one will ever have standing to bring suit. Duh…

As far as the rest, there still is no science of ID.

John_S said: When you believe God gives you permission to lie (or fly planes into buildings), you’re free to do it.

Permission? They are not lying because they are incapable of understanding the notion of a fact. They are simply playing a word game whose only objective is to win, and all rules are adjusted to that end.

As the saying goes: “A liar knows the facts in order to misrepresent them. A bullshitter doesn’t care about the facts.”

mrg said:

John_S said: When you believe God gives you permission to lie (or fly planes into buildings), you’re free to do it.

Permission? They are not lying because they are incapable of understanding the notion of a fact. They are simply playing a word game whose only objective is to win, and all rules are adjusted to that end.

As the saying goes: “A liar knows the facts in order to misrepresent them. A bullshitter doesn’t care about the facts.”

I should have said “Once you believe God has given you permission to lie (or fly planes into buildings) in the furtherance of what you believe is His will, you probably also believe you have a moral, God-ordered obligation to lie (or fly planes into buildings) in the furtherance of what you believe is His will.”

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This page contains a single entry by Wesley R. Elsberry published on February 17, 2011 6:57 AM.

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