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ID Creationism In Louisiana

The creationists deserve a few props here. Since the Dover loss they’ve switched strategies away from claiming that ID is science and are instead focusing on “academic freedom”. That the concept of academic freedom doesn’t generally apply at the elementary and secondary levels seems to be of no consequence. The Louisiana legislature has passed, by a veto-proof majority, a bill that protects the “academic freedom” of teachers to teach creationism as science:

Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, has introduced the Louisiana Academic Freedom Act in the form of Senate Bill 561. The bill is now in the Senate’s education committee, which Nevers chairs.

The Louisiana Family Forum suggested the bill, Nevers said.

“They believe that scientific data related to creationism should be discussed when dealing with Darwin’s theory. This would allow the discussion of scientific facts,” Nevers said. “I feel the students should know there are weaknesses and strengths in both scientific arguments.”

Opponents, however, maintain that creationism is religion, not science.
“Louisiana is being used as a pawn in the Louisiana Family Forum’s scheme to force a narrow set of religious views on public schools and, indeed, on the entire state,” said Barbara Forrest, Ph.D., a reseacher, author and professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University.

According to the Senate’s digest, Nevers’ bill prohibits the state or any school official from hindering a public school teacher “from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review, in an objective manner, the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories” such as evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning. It also prohibits officials from censoring materials on the topics.

As a soon-to-be-resident of Louisiana, it has me wondering what I’ll be walking into. This will do nothing to help the image of the state, or of the state’s high school graduates. Indeed, I can see it making the more prestigious schools avoid Louisiana graduates and it will probably discourage the best professors from working at Louisiana’s finer schools, such as Tulane and Loyola.

Furthermore, if Governor Jindal signs the bill, as opposed to just letting it become law without his signature, it will reduce his chances of being McCain’s VP pick. It would make McCain have to defend, at least for a time, something he has spoken out against. The choice of Jindal, who otherwise seems like a very fine governor, would also make the ticket look provincial. If you’re trying to shore up the image of the Republican Party, I don’t see how Jindal will help do that if he signs this bill.

BTW, if you want to see Professor Forrest, referenced in the news article, describe the Dover trial, she does so here. The letter from her and the Louisiana group she founded can be seen here.

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About Robert Prather
Robert Prather formerly blogged at the now defunct Insults Unpunished and, unlike his co-blogger Dodd, can not kill a mime using only his thumb. Follow him on Twitter.

Comments

  1. [...] the Beltway’s Robert Prather notes a shift: The creationists deserve a few props here. Since the Dover loss they’ve switched strategies away [...]

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  2. Hal says:

    It would make McCain have to defend, at least for a time, something he has spoken out against.

    Hasn’t hurt McCain wrt his flip flops on Torture, Taxes, Oil Drilling, etc. So, I’m not sure why you’re worried about that.

    McCain/Jindal ’08 – Because We Need an Exorcist In the White House

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  3. Bobxxxx says:

    The Louisiana creationism bill passed their House of Representatives by a vote of 94 to 3, and passed their Senate 36 to 0. This proves beyond any doubt that Louisiana is the most hick infested state in America.

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  4. Dutchgirl says:

    Does this mean history teachers have the ‘freedom’ to teach Holocaust denial? Can chemistry teachers teach the controversy of alchemy? Perhaps physics teachers should let the students decide whether the ‘theory’ of gravity is true, or if Aristotle was right?

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  5. Dutchgirl,

    Yeah, that is kind of what I was getting at, but not as explicitly as you, when I mentioned that primary and secondary teachers don’t have academic freedom; they’re supposed to teach to the curriculum. And, as for the controversy, your example is good: should we teach astrology along with astronomy so the kids can see both sides of the argument and so forth. Your point about what’s a theory is spot on as well.

    Bob,

    Louisiana is a weird state. It has the hicks that you mentioned and it also has New Orleans. Tough to reconcile.

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  6. Michael says:

    Nevers’ bill prohibits the state or any school official from hindering a public school teacher “from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review, in an objective manner, the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories”

    Isn’t this just inviting a lawsuit either by a teacher thinking their beliefs are “objective”, or an administrator thinking that not teaching their beliefs is not “objective”?

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  7. Just so everybody knows what is being discuss as far as Intelligent Design:

    The Video – Louisiana Coalition for Science – is afraid of!

    Nobody is talking about excluding scientific information; well other than Louisiana Coalition for Science. I would of thought that they would want this type of information in a classroom where they could expose any bias … I guess they can learn about it outside the classroom, they way many people have learned about sex.

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  8. Michael says:

    Nobody is talking about excluding scientific information; well other than Louisiana Coalition for Science. I would of thought that they would want this type of information in a classroom where they could expose any bias …

    The problem most people have is presenting hypotheses and skepticism on equal footing as verifiable theories. The “engine and gun” metaphor is not scientific evidence. Presenting such an argument as scientific evidence against the theory of evolution would be a problem. We don’t need straw man arguments in our science classes.

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  9. Wayne,

    The problem is that it has nothing to do with science; that’s why it’s not wanted in a science classroom. They could stick it in a comparative religion class and very few would object.

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  10. The reason scientist believed the earth was flat for so long is because when evidence came up that suggested it was not they rejected … they did not practice science:

    What defines Objective Science and Subjective Opinion?

    There is nothing new about atheist being involved in the “science” of evolution. In fact there are documentaries about it. You may wish to attribute these videos with the involvement of the church today, and the involvement of Louisiana Family Forum.

    The church today is interested in the truth … “Action Institute “Science or Religion? A False Choice

    Discovery Institute actually does research they are also involved in the bill.

    A search of “Louisiana Coalition for Science” the site your linked to “here” shows that they emailed devote and active atheist.

    June 12th The Ethical Atheist
    June 13th Mississippi Atheists
    June 12th Pharyngula “ejaculations from a godless liberal”

    I have read your blog for some time, Yes it is true that people of faith, maybe inspired by Focus on the Family’s truth project or other works even our own are on one side of the debate … It is also true that atheist are on the other side.

    The question is do you let either side burn books or censor research. Do you block information to the next generation of scientist because it fits a politically correct agenda.

    If the cure to cancer lies in a gene that prevents Darwin evolution do we exclude it because that may suggest to somebody that there is a God.

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  11. Michael says:

    The reason scientist believed the earth was flat for so long is because when evidence came up that suggested it was not they rejected … they did not practice science:

    The earth was known to be a sphere, and even the size was known and widely accepted before 200 BC, long before the scientific method was established. Scientists never believed in a flat earth.

    I have read your blog for some time, Yes it is true that people of faith, maybe inspired by Focus on the Family’s truth project or other works even our own are on one side of the debate … It is also true that atheist are on the other side.

    To be fair, a good many christian scientists are on the atheist’s side of the debate as well. So its not “Christians vs. Atheists”, it’s “you vs. everyone else”.

    The question is do you let either side burn books or censor research. Do you block information to the next generation of scientist because it fits a politically correct agenda.

    The Louisiana bill is not providing any new research of evidence, it’s just opening up the teaching standards to subjective opinions and unfounded criticism, and is only likely to get people fired and sued before the courts ultimately overturn it. If you have actual scientific information, you wouldn’t need a legislative bill to have it taught.

    If the cure to cancer lies in a gene that prevents Darwin evolution do we exclude it because that may suggest to somebody that there is a God.

    There is no “gene that prevents Darwin evolution”. If there were such a gene, and you could prove that it existed, they any outcome of its existance, be it a cure for cancer or a killer plague, must be accepted as fact. Science isn’t in the emotions industry, we don’t care if the things we observe makes us feel good or bad, because all that matters is the objective data. If today you can prove that God exists, then tomorrow every worthwhile scientist will believe that God exists, not because they would want to, but because they would have to.

    If anybody, at any time, proves that Evolution could not or did not happen, scientifically proves it, then it will be accepted as fact by the scientific community. The problem you have is that of the hundreds of thousands of times evolution theory is tested, it has never once been proven wrong. Inaccurate or incomplete, yes, but never outright wrong.

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  12. it’s “you vs. everyone else”

    I did not realize I was so powerful :) I guess I should invent Global Cooling.

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  13. Michael says:

    I did not realize I was so powerful :) I guess I should invent Global Cooling.

    By “you” I meant people who don’t like a certain set of scientific facts, who instead of accepting facts and adjusting their beliefs, have decided to not only deny those facts, but will attempt to keep others from acknowledging those facts. Unfortunately, that group of people is large and vocal enough to actually push crap like that though school boards and state legislatures.

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  14. Maybe we define science differently?

    I maintain that when something is considered a scientific fact, then it is a physical law, it is no longer a theory.

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  15. Michael says:

    I maintain that when something is considered a scientific fact, then it is a physical law, it is no longer a theory.

    Then you really have no idea what science is, or how it works. Let me try to inform you:

    Facts tell you what is, an object or action that is known, cannot be denied, and will never be disproven. Facts don’t make prediction or give explanations, they just exist.

    Laws tell you what will be, they are derived from things common to all known facts. Laws predict the existence of facts, but they don’t give explanations.

    Theories offer an explanation for why certain facts exist, and why certain laws are followed.

    Any aspect of science will have all three of these. Evolution, for example, contains both facts (DNA), laws (heredity) and theories (natural selection).

    If you want to argue that a theory is wrong, you must either provide facts that couldn’t exist if the theory is right or show that the laws it depends upon can be violated. If your can’t do that, then don’t expect anybody to treat your argument as a reason to drop the existing theory.

    If you want to push a different theory, it must agree with the facts and laws at least as well as the current theory, and with no more assumptions than the current theory. If your idea doesn’t accomplish that, don’t expect anybody to treat it with the same credibility as the currently established theory.

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  16. “There never comes a point where a theory can be said to be true. The most that one can claim for any theory is that it has shared the successes of all its rivals and that it has passed at least one test which they have failed.” – Sir Alfred Jules Ayer

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  17. Michael says:

    Wayne, that is pretty much what I was saying. A theory will only ever be a theory, it will never be a law or a fact because they are different things, not different degrees of the same thing. Your claim that a proven theory becomes a law was the misconception I was trying to correct.

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  18. If you believe that the theory of evolution is fact, truth and complete … I can accept that if you can accept that I do not share your belief.

    People can look up natural law and theory themselves

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  19. Michael says:

    If you believe that the theory of evolution is fact, truth and complete … I can accept that if you can accept that I do not share your belief.

    It is a fact that species evolve, it is a theory that explains why. I can accept that you do not believe the theory, but I can’t accept that you do not believe the fact that species evolve anymore than I could accept you believing that the earth is flat.

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  20. It is a theory that man evolved from apes.

    Selective breeding is a fact. If you agree that the theory of evolution is limited to variations withing a species then that is a fact we could agree the evidence supports it.

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  21. Michael says:

    It is a theory that man evolved from apes.

    How and when we evolved from apes is the theory. By the way, humans are technically one species in the “ape” family, so it’s not so much that we’re not longer apes, just that we’re different apes.

    Selective breeding is a fact. If you agree that the theory of evolution is limited to variations withing a species then that is a fact we could agree the evidence supports it.

    There is no natural biological distinction between species, the term “species” is a somewhat fuzzy classification we’ve invented that represents a degree of separation, not an actual physical trait. You can take a single species, separate them physically so that the two groups no longer interbreed, and you would technically have created separate species even if they are still identical genetically. You’re hanging your entire argument on semantics that don’t really mean what you think they mean.

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  22. There is no natural biological distinction between species, the term “species” is a somewhat fuzzy classification we’ve invented that represents a degree of separation, not an actual physical trait.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimpanzee_genome_project

    One could say there is little different between the content between what you are suggesting and what I am suggesting. Both consist of Unicode characters on an Internet web site. A fuzzy difference without a inspection. Or look at the little difference (seen from the screens) between Mac OS, uniq and Windows 98 (same origin?). Little difference between LCD displays and TVs (same origin?). When one looks at Fibonacci number and the Golden ratio, One could go wild finding similarities in nature and life – same origin or are we just looking at a basic building block. All life has DNA, same origin? Likely life has the same origin, one can not deny similarities if one looks for, is open to the truth, and allowed to pursue it.

    What would you suggest is the proof, the missing link, for the theory (as suggested by Darwin) that man evolved from ape?

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  23. Michael says:

    What would you suggest is the proof, the missing link, for the theory (as suggested by Darwin) that man evolved from ape?

    There are more than enough “missing links” to establish our lineage by physical features alone. On top of that, we can read our genetic differences like an ice-core or tree-rings, that gives us an even better picture of our evolution throughout history.

    As for proof of Natural Selection (Darwin’s theory), all you need is a colony of bacteria and a year of exposure to antibiotics to prove that it happens exactly as Darwin proposed.

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  24. There are more than enough “missing links”

    care to link to one?

    As for proof of Natural Selection (Darwin’s theory), all you need is a colony of bacteria and a year of exposure to antibiotics to prove that it happens exactly as Darwin proposed.

    Sound easy, Why don’t they just prove it then? And develop a new type of bacteria or fruit fly or something. They seem to keep stopping before the have anything that could not be described as selective breeding, which predates Darwin. Keep breeding cats and selecting out the black ones and breeding those cats you get black cats … how do you get from a cat to a dog!

    Interesting about the bacteria that they can also mutate back to being sensitive to antibiotics though. Breeds of cats can return, seems once they are pure bread they stay.

    Have you seen Expelled?

    What do you think about Nova Intelligent Design on Trial? http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/id/ Should it be banned from study?

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  25. Michael says:

    care to link to one?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australopithecus

    Sound easy, Why don’t they just prove it then? And develop a new type of bacteria or fruit fly or something.

    It is easy, my high school’s AP Biology class did it every semester. The hard part is getting people like you to believe your own eyes.

    They seem to keep stopping before the have anything that could not be described as selective breeding, which predates Darwin.

    The only difference between Darwin’s Natural Selection and selective breeding is who is controlling the selection criteria, the mechanisms are exactly the same.

    Keep breeding cats and selecting out the black ones and breeding those cats you get black cats … how do you get from a cat to a dog!

    Take a wolf and keep breeding them until you get a dog. We did same thing with wild cats.

    Interesting about the bacteria that they can also mutate back to being sensitive to antibiotics though.

    Interesting that Evolution never said they couldn’t.

    Have you seen Expelled?

    Not my kind of entertainment.

    What do you think about Nova Intelligent Design on Trial? http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/id/ Should it be banned from study?

    If somebody wants to study ID, and somebody else wants to pay for it, then by all means they should. But until they have predictions, tests and proofs, it’s not science, it’s theology.

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  26. The link i provided
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimpanzee_genome_project

    and the one you provided
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australopithecus

    are interlinked on wikipedia. If you remove the Chimpanzee genome information from your link you have evidence of nothing.

    If you add it you get some simulates. But also big differences; one is the number of chromosomes, now if you combine two chromosomes you would get the same number, Lets pause an imagine what that would mean and look like

    If one were to brainstorm that every so often the two chromosomes were to combine (and ignore any of the other differences for the clear view of what the world would look like) as to consider when the chromosomes combine the result is a human who would need the miracle of time to become completely human.

    Then what we are imaging is that every so often a human is born from an ape. Now for humans to get a chance we need both a male and a female (as we already know humans and Chimpanzee can not produce offspring) if it was common for humans to appear out in the wild then they could of started in such a method.

    But it has never been seen, It may be hard to find a scientist who would make such a claim because if it is extremely rare the odds can be established by multiplying the ratios together to determine the odds for both a male and a female.

    an example for 1 in 10 happening twice 1/10 * 1/10 = 1/100 and for one in a million 1/1000000 * 1/10000000 = 1/1000000000000

    There is some point at which the odds against an idea which is one of belief become so high that one needs to look at that belief as faith.

    Although in the case of Australopithecus well it is more want than any kind of link, Been well debunked:
    http://forerunner.com/forerunner/X0714_Lucy_fails_test.html

    The link is still missing.

    You said:

    The only difference between Darwin’s Natural Selection and selective breeding is who is controlling the selection criteria, the mechanisms are exactly the same.

    I am in agreement to the limitation inferred.

    Take a wolf and keep breeding them until you get a dog.

    An example of intelligent design!

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  27. Michael says:

    The link i provided and the one you provided are interlinked on wikipedia. If you remove the Chimpanzee genome information from your link you have evidence of nothing.

    So you’re basically saying that if you discard enough evidence, then I have no evidence. Brilliant! Lets get to work refuting gravity so we can all fly.

    Then what we are imaging is that every so often a human is born from an ape. Now for humans to get a chance we need both a male and a female (as we already know humans and Chimpanzee can not produce offspring) if it was common for humans to appear out in the wild then they could of started in such a method.

    Whomever wrote that has no clear understanding of biology, let alone evolution. Wolves never gave birth to Dachshunds, but they exist none the less.

    Although in the case of Australopithecus well it is more want than any kind of link, Been well debunked:
    http://forerunner.com/forerunner/X0714_Lucy_fails_test.html

    That article is filled with factual errors, completely ignores all Australopithecus specimens except “Lucy”, and then continues to claim that she is the “latest discovery”, even though she was the first discovery of her kind… in 1974. It was a complaint article, not a debunking.

    I am in agreement to the limitation inferred.

    There is no limitiation inferred, selective breeding can produce new species just was well as natural selection can because, wait for it, they use the same mechanism!

    An example of intelligent design!

    Ah yes, but you’re not arguing that “natural” selection isn’t possible, you’re arguing that the “mechanism” isn’t possible, and then simultaneously accepting the mechanism as possible within the context of selective breeding.

    So please clarify for me, are you arguing against the existance of the mechanism, or are you arguing against the mechanism’s ability to function without an intelligent being in control?

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