We recently learned of an article, Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools, by Eugenie Scott, the former director of the National Center for Science Education. The occasion was a talk presented by Dr. Scott to the Humanist Society of Santa Barbara on February 1 and ably reported by Robert Bernstein for Edhat, an online newspaper that covers Santa Barbara County, California.
You may read Mr. Bernstein’s article for yourself; let it suffice to say that Dr. Scott reviews “many decades of cases” regarding the Establishment Clause and discusses why creationism generally fails. Then, she says, we come to the Kennedy case, wherein the Supreme Court overruled lower-court decisions and ruled that an assistant football coach, Joseph Kennedy, will be allowed to pray at the center of the football field with his students. The decision is troubling because the new right-wing Supreme Court has no trouble overruling previously established decisions.
Meanwhile, Jerry Coyne tells us, Montana considers a bill that allows teaching of “scientific facts” but not “scientific theories”. Prof. Coyne is the proprietor of the popular blog Why Evolution Is True and, as they say, has read the bill so you and I do not have to.
The bill in question is Montana Senate Bill 235, introduced by freshman Senator Dan Emrich. Prof. Coyne quotes the bill as saying
WHEREAS, [sic] the purpose of K-12 education is to educate children in the facts of our world to better prepare them for their future and further education in their chosen field of study, and to that end children must know the difference between scientific fact and scientific theory; and
WHEREAS, [sic] a scientific fact is observable and repeatable, and if it does not meet these criteria, it is a theory that is defined as speculation and is for higher education to explore, debate, and test to ultimately reach a scientific conclusion of fact or fiction.
Prof. Coyne adds, ‘They later clarify: “As used in this section, ‘scientific fact’ means an indisputable and repeatable observation of a natural phenomenon.”’
Very little in science can be considered an indisputable fact, so if this bill passes and becomes law, schools will not be allowed to teach, say, the theory of relativity, quantum theory, ideal gas theory, the germ theory of disease, or, for that matter, string theory or the theory of the leisure class. Or, what they are really after, the theory of evolution.
In other words, Sen. Emrich and his cosponsors are a trio of ignoramuses who do not have the foggiest idea what a scientific fact or a scientific theory is. They are very dangerous because, as Dr. Scott shows, they almost certainly have the Supreme Court on their side.