Discovery Institute –Spinning Louisiana’s Anti-Evolution Law

HAVING WON a temporary victory in Louisiana, the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids) are now doing what they do best — public relations. They’re trying to spin the news about the legislation to convince people that this new law really isn’t what everyone — including its fervent supporters — knows that it really is.

In attempting to accomplish that impossible goal, they’ve written this blog article: What Part of “shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine” does the Darwin only lobby not understand? Here are some excerpts, with bold added for emphasis:

A slew of articles have been running in which activists like Barbara Forrest make the false claim that the LSEA [Louisiana Science Education Act] opens the door to religion in the classroom. Not so.

Right. We believe you Discoveroids, because you’ve always been so honest and trustworthy. This misguided legislation is not intended to help you in furthering your insidious Wedge strategy, a blueprint for establishing theocracy in America. Right. That’s why you supported it. That’s why you’re wildly celebrating the law’s passage. It has nothing to do with pushing Intelligent Design creationism in the schools, destroying science education, and repealing the hard-won benefits of the Enlightenment. Right. We believe you.

More from the Discoveroid blog, as they try to reassure us about the Louisiana law:

Section 1D of the bill clearly states that it

“shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or non-religion.”

Yes, that’s what it says. Knowing the Discoveroids’ reputation for veracity, we checked for ourselves. The Louisiana legislature’s website has the text here: SENATE BILL NO. 733.

We’re not surprised that this “shall not be construed” language is virtually the same as section 7 of the Academic Freedom Act, which the Discoveroids have been feverishly promoting. The Discoveroids’ model law says:

Section 7. Nothing in this act shall be construed as promoting any religious doctrine, promoting discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promoting discrimination for or against religion or non-religion.

But what does “shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine” really mean? It’s a self-referential statement, and in this case the statute appears to contradict itself. It’s rather like “This sentence is false,” an example of the Liar paradox.

Suppose a white supremacist with a machine gun bursts into a black church on Sunday morning and starts killing everyone in sight, and all the while he’s screaming: “This is not a hate crime!” Does that self-serving and obviously false disclaimer have any meaning?

If a freak is molesting children, will anyone be impressed if he insists that he’s not a pedophile? What if he actually told his victims that his actions “shall not be construed” to be pedophilia? Well, we may be impressed by the absurdity of his legalistic gyrations, but that wouldn’t matter — he did what he did. It’s not up to him to tell us how to construe his actions.

[Addendum: We came up with another analogy, which we’ll copy here for completeness: It’s comparable to a suicide-bomber’s explosive-laden vest being sewn with a tag saying: “Attention Bomb Squad Coroner: The deceased wearer of this garment should not be construed to be a suicide bomber.”]

Now then, if a creationist legislator, inspired by creationist pressure groups, adopts a model law promoted by a creationist website and gets a law passed saying that: “A teacher shall teach the material presented in the standard textbook supplied by the school system and thereafter may use supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials …” does anyone imagine that this doesn’t open the door for creationist texts to be used? Well, what we’ve quoted is from the new law in Louisiana, so now you know.

The Discoveroids’ insistence that this legislation has any purpose other than sneaking creationism into science class is just as truthful as the claim that their “theory” of Intelligent Design is scientific.

And if we may recommend some further reading, even if we wrote it ourselves, check this out: Discovery Institute’s “Academic Freedom Act” — Presumptively Void.

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4 responses to “Discovery Institute –Spinning Louisiana’s Anti-Evolution Law

  1. Rene Magritte, studying the Louisiana legislation, set the match to his bowlful of tobacco and began to puff. “Ceci n’est pas une pipe,” he declared.

  2. The nine year old Wedge document has been relegated to obscurity, although it was never at the purported level of promoting theocracy, or promote religious orthodoxy within science, as Barbara Forrest et al has asserted.

    “The Wedge Document makes clear that we are advancing an intellectual challenge to

    “But what does “shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine” really mean? It’s a self-referential statement, and in this case the statute appears to contradict itself.”

    “Provides that proposed law shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.”

    The exclusionary statement is clear and unambiguous.

  3. Regarding the bill:

    “But what does “shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine” really mean? It’s a self-referential statement, and in this case the statute appears to contradict itself.”

    “Provides that proposed law shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.”

    The exclusionary statement is clear and unambiguous.

  4. Pingback: Jack Chick on Louisiana’s Creationism Law « The Sensuous Curmudgeon