The beast stirs in Lousiana

July 24, 2010 • 5:56 pm

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.

44 thoughts on “The beast stirs in Lousiana

  1. 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?

    1. 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.

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

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

        1. “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.

    2. 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!

      1. 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…

  3. [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.

  4. 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.


    Constitution. Meh.

    This is all your fault. You and PZ.


    Chris Mooney
    Science Communicator

  5. 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.

    Tom Johnson

    in case you wonder, I AM am an atheist.

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

    2. 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.

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

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

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

  9. “…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.

    1. …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.

  10. 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.

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

  12. “. . . 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.

  13. 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).

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

      1. 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.

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