The beast stirs in Lousiana

The benighted school board of Livingston Parish is looking into teaching creationism in public school science classes.

During the board’s meeting Thursday, several board members expressed an interest in the teaching of creationism, an alternative to the study of the theory of evolution, in Livingston Parish public school classrooms.

. . . Benton said that under provisions of the Science Education Act enacted last year by the Louisiana Legislature, schools can present what she termed “critical thinking and creationism” in science classes.

Board Member David Tate quickly responded: “We let them teach evolution to our children, but I think all of us sitting up here on this School Board believe in creationism. Why can’t we get someone with religious beliefs to teach creationism?”

Because the Supreme Court told Louisiana in 1987 that you couldn’t do that, morons!

For more on the two-year-old Louisiana Science Education Act, a typical “teach the controversy” bill that was written with the help of the Discovery Institute, see Barbara Forrest’s critique.

43 Comments

  1. Posted July 24, 2010 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Loosiana might just be the epicenter of the virulent mental disease of which I spoke of in an earlier post.
    ~Rev. El

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted July 25, 2010 at 4:19 am | Permalink

      No, its not a disease, just stupidity, arrogance and bible humping…I mean thumping.

  2. Sili
    Posted July 24, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    Oh. Beast!

    I read “Best” and thought this was another food post …

  3. Jacobus van Beverningk
    Posted July 24, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    IF there’s something to creationism that warrants teaching, then WHY should it be taught by someone with “religious beliefs”? What does THAT have to do with anything?

    • articulett
      Posted July 24, 2010 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      I think “teaching the controversy” should include showing Nova’s Judgment Day.

    • CW
      Posted July 25, 2010 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      I would say the difference is that someone without religious belief would/might teach creationism in a “some folks believe” manner instead of taking the “this is Truth” approach the LFF would prefer.

  4. Insightful Ape
    Posted July 24, 2010 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    I just saw the PBS product “Judgment Day” about the Dover trial. It is absolutely fascinating.
    As for Lousiana, I am sure that is not where I’ll be spending my next vacation.

    • Jacobus van Beverningk
      Posted July 25, 2010 at 6:18 am | Permalink

      And WHY wouldn’t you be spending your vacation in Louisiana?
      I HOPE it’s got nothing to do with people there having unscientific views, because that means you have NO place on earth to spend your vacations! Not even at an average college campus.

      • Insightful Ape
        Posted July 25, 2010 at 7:41 am | Permalink

        I could go to any number of nations without that backward thinking: Iceland, France, the Netherlands etc.

        • Kirth Gersen
          Posted August 2, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

          “I could go to any number of nations without that backward thinking: Iceland, France, the Netherlands, etc.”

          I just got back from Vienna, which in 2010 is positively overrun with black-robed Islamic “ninjas” with only the eyeslit visible — they may be fewer in number than the Austrian women not so attired, but not by too large a margin. If that’s “forward” thinking, I’ll stay in the U.S., where most Muslim women at least stop at the headscarf.

      • Notagod
        Posted July 26, 2010 at 9:32 am | Permalink

        A trickle is less devastating than a flood.

    • Posted July 25, 2010 at 7:10 am | Permalink

      I’m from Louisiana, and I can assure you that it’s always been this backwards. It’s not going downhill, at least not intellectually.

      It’s not making much progress uphill, either.

      Anyway, it’s still the home of great food, interesting wildlife, bad French (in the south) and lots of mosquitos. Enjoy your visit!

      • Paul
        Posted July 25, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

        Also being from Louisiana …I can shamefully attest to your claim of backwardness…

        Unfortunately, attending graduate school in Texas hasn’t faired me any better…

        Maybe post-doc work in Boston will be uplifting…

        • Posted July 25, 2010 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

          Moving to Chicago, and much later Europe, helped me a bit.

  5. mike m
    Posted July 24, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    [We let them teach evolution to our children, but I think all of us sitting up here on this School Board believe in creationism. Why can’t we get someone with religious beliefs to teach creationism]

    This is such an annoying argument. Don’t their kids go to sundie school!! Why not have evolution arguments presented in sundie school. I teach my daughter all sorts of things at home she takes this to school. She gets her intellectual argument with me from school, the additional material makes her more interesting to me.

  6. scott
    Posted July 24, 2010 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    Coyne, you did this. The ignorance of these children is on your hands. It is all well and good that you should write a book saying “WEIT”, but you had to go one bone more, you had to say, evolution MEANS something.

    You’ve overstepped your warrant my friend, and you were MEAN about it too. You and all the other new atheists. Many patient people work tirelessly to convince these school boards that they can safely learn biology without the green light from the Southern Baptist Convention. ANd their plan would have worked too if it wasn’t for your meddling.

    Happy?

    Constitution. Meh.

    This is all your fault. You and PZ.

    Sincerely,

    Chris Mooney
    Science Communicator

    • Ken Pidcock
      Posted July 25, 2010 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      Indisputable, Chris. Jerry Coyne said morons.

  7. scott
    Posted July 24, 2010 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    this is really exhibit A.

    a bunch of religious people in Louisiana, carefully deliberating with an open mind how to set science standards, and people you have radicalized, go rushing in and LAUGH, LAUGH, LAUGH. Calling them Morons just like you told them to. They are NEVER going to learn meiosis and mitosis with your mockery. You have radicalized the South, I see the effects on otherwise normal people who quote you and PZ all the time.

    Believe me.

    Sincerely,
    Tom Johnson

    in case you wonder, I AM am an atheist.

    • Insightful Ape
      Posted July 24, 2010 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

      Ooh, radicalized the south? I always wondered whose fault the civil war was, now I get it: those uppity new atheists.

    • Ian
      Posted July 25, 2010 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      Are you really saying that the creationists in Louisiana have read WEIT and are regular readers of this blog and Pharyngula.

      If that is true then perhaps there is hope after all.

      • scott
        Posted July 25, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

        The creationists in TX have. The use it as a source book to ask about the devils manufactured fossils

  8. KP
    Posted July 24, 2010 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Jerry, for boiling my blood on a Saturday evening.

  9. Andrew B.
    Posted July 24, 2010 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    Since we know that compromise is always the best solution, why don’t we let creation be taught in school but teach it as the discredited fantasy that it is? The school could create a new elective course titled “The history of discredited hypothesis and other pseudo-science”, and Biblical creationism could be one of the units, along with the four humors, the flat-earth theory and the “it’s turtles all the way down” theory. It’s important to put creationism in its proper setting.

    • Marella
      Posted July 24, 2010 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

      Don’t forget astrology.

  10. Posted July 24, 2010 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

    Board Member David Tate is a creationist? Why are we not surprised? Everyone knows that:

    He who has a Tate is lost.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted July 25, 2010 at 5:51 am | Permalink

      You, sir, are going to hell.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted July 25, 2010 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      ROTFL! I initially thought that was a religious proverb that I would have to go to hell great lengths to understand. Doubled the fun.

    • Posted July 25, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      Brilliant!

    • Posted July 25, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      Forgive me, all; I could not help but pun-ish others along with myself. It’s a sickness.

  11. Stephen P
    Posted July 25, 2010 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    The software behind that website is nearly as benighted as the school board, but I managed to post a comment eventually.

  12. Pete Moulton
    Posted July 25, 2010 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    “…schools can present what she termed ‘critical thinking and creationism’ in science classes.”

    Yikes! Her connection of critical thinking and creationism blew up my irony meter. If creationists were capable of critical thinking there’d be no need to fight this battle every day of our lives.

  13. ubernerd
    Posted July 25, 2010 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    My son is a high schooler in that parish. This is depressing and enraging.

    • Kevin
      Posted July 26, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      …and actionable…

      Seriously, report it to the ACLU. They will, free for nothing, write a letter to the school board informing them that it is the Law of the Land that creationism not be taught in public schools.

  14. Ken Pidcock
    Posted July 25, 2010 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    This is exactly what John Derbyshire predicted when Louisiana enacted those science standards: School boards will interpret them as allowing creationism. Those school boards will then find themselves in court, and the precious resources of the state and municipalities will go down the drain.

    This should serve as a lesson to any other state legislatures still considering DI “strengths and weaknesses” proposals.

  15. Graham Martin-Royle
    Posted July 25, 2010 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    I keep hearing the phrase “teach the controversy”. What controversy? Creationism/I.D. is wrong. There’s no controversy.

  16. CTC
    Posted July 25, 2010 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    “. . . Benton said that under provisions of the Science Education Act enacted last year by the Louisiana Legislature, schools can present what she termed “critical thinking and creationism” in science classes.”

    Seems like they have more pressing matters to attend to first, i.e., realizing that ‘and’ and ‘or’ have distinct meanings. Nail that down first, then worry about the science, folks.

  17. Evolution SWAT
    Posted July 25, 2010 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    Why NOT teach the ‘controversy’? If the whole school board is creationist, I think we can safely guess that most of the parents are also creationist too. By not teaching the ‘controversy’, we give students reason to doubt that we are not showing both sides, and they are more likely to dismiss evolution.

    My reasoning is that most students are predisposed to not believe in evolution, and seeing creationism alongside evolution, perhaps in an evolution/creationism workshop, would help them see that evolution was true.

    I grew up believing in Creationism. If I had seen Creationism alongside evolution, I think it would have given up Creationism much earlier. I think that it then would have been clearer that Creationists do not respond to the strongest evidence of evolution.

    If anyone wanted to implement my idea though, I think it would be essential that teachers that support creationism not be allowed to teach the section on evolution, and that all material about evolution be written by biologists who were actively doing research (like Coyne).

    • Evolution SWAT
      Posted July 25, 2010 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      Just to be clear, I don’t think the Creationist material would be factual at all. My argument is that students would be more open to believing in evolution if they were taught both sides in the classroom.

    • Microraptor
      Posted July 26, 2010 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

      Teaching Creationism in public school is a waste of time and resources, not to mention a violation of the Constitution.

      Also, teaching them side-by-side is more likely to make students think that both ideas are equally valid and therefore stick with Creationism.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted July 26, 2010 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

      Um, but most basic biology courses do cover creationism because it is the historical underpinning of the subject.

      I still remember how my biology education started out with that, going over how “spontaneous generation” was eventually rejected, and how diverse observations in geology et cetera led to the first understanding of “deep time” and subsequently rejection of “catastrophism” in many areas.

      Likewise it covered the growing evidence for evolution. So all the scientific background _is_ covered, and in a factual manner on creationist material. If it isn’t, it would be a non-historical and weaker course.

      “Creationists do not respond to the strongest evidence of evolution.”

      That sounds like what a creationist would say. What does that have to do with facts? Creationism doesn’t explain _anything_ in biology, since evolution is the process that governs it.

      It is quite immaterial what creationists say exactly and how they say it, since it is fundamentally wrong. And that is best shown by the historical didactics as per above.

      To go into detail of creationism as if it “responds” to anything real _or_ argumentative, is to wade into the insane world of religion. That has nothing to do with science, and it would both confuse and betray the students.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted July 26, 2010 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

        And of course on detailed creationism, what Microraptor already said on the legality thereof. If you go there, logically then you need to also study FSM, Aesirs, Santa Claus, fairies, and so on.

  18. Posted July 26, 2010 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    creationism, an alternative to the study of the theory of evolution

    In the same way that dog shit is an alternative to eggplant parmesan, yes.

  19. Posted November 12, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Shall I refuse my dinner because I do not fully understand the process of digestion?


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