Oklahoma Creationism: It’s Back!

As reported by Eugenie Scott’s National Center for Science Education (NCSE) in this informative article: Antievolution legislation in Oklahoma, an anti-science, anti-evolution, creationism-friendly bill has been pre-filed with the Oklahoma legislature.

The bill’s sponsor is State Senator Randy Brogdon, a former air conditioning contractor, who “attended” Oklahoma State University School of Technology, where he studied air conditioning. The link we just gave was to Brogdon’s own website. This is his official page at the Oklahoma Senate site: Senator Randy Brogdon – District 34.

The bill is SB 320 (a Microsoft Word document). Brogdon co-sponsored a creationism bill last year, which passed, but it was vetoed by the governor. See: Oklahoma Creationist Bill — It’s Dead!

Not surprisingly, Brodgon’s latest bill has certain similarities to the so-called Academic Freedom Act, promoted by the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids).

Why would anyone go to the Discoveroids for advice about science education? Well, why would anyone go to Bernie Madoff for investment advice?

Here are the important provisions of Brogdon’s bill, with bold added by us, and we’ve added comparisons to the Discoveroid bill:

SECTION I. A. This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act”.

Translation: This is the “Affirmative Action for Creationism” Act. As misleading as the title is, the bill goes downhill from there:

B. The Oklahoma Legislature finds that an important purpose of science education is to inform students about scientific evidence and to help students develop critical thinking skills they need in order to become intelligent, productive, and scientifically informed citizens. The Legislature further finds that the teaching of some scientific subjects, such as biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning, can cause controversy, and that some teachers may be unsure of the expectations concerning how they should present information on such subjects.

Compare that with the Discoveroid bill:

Section 2. … The Legislature further finds that the topic of evolution has generated intense controversy, lawsuits and threats of lawsuits, where some lower courts such as Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School Board, have created confusion about the rights of teachers and students to hold differing views about scientific controversies and express those views without fear of adverse employment or academic consequences.

Back to Brogdon’s bill:

C. The State Board of Education, district boards of education, district superintendents and administrators, and public school principals and administrators shall endeavor to create an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues. Such educational authorities in this state shall also endeavor to assist teachers to find more effective ways to present the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies. Toward this end, teachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught.

Ah yes, “strengths and weaknesses.” We’ve seen that phrase before. (Hint: Texas.) Continuing:

D. Neither the State Board of Education, nor any district board of education, district superintendent or administrator, or public school principal or administrator shall prohibit any teacher in a school district in this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught.

Compare that with the Discoveroid bill:

Section 4. No K-12 public school teacher or teacher or instructor in any two-year or four-year public institution of higher education, or in any graduate or adult program thereof, in the State of ___________, shall be terminated, disciplined, denied tenure, or otherwise discriminated against for presenting scientific information pertaining to the full range of scientific views regarding biological or chemical evolution in any curricula or course of learning …

Back to Brogdon’s bill:

E. Students may be evaluated based upon their understanding of course materials, but no student in any public school or institution shall be penalized in any way because the student may subscribe to a particular position on scientific theories.

Compare that with the Discoveroid bill:

Section 5. Students may be evaluated based upon their understanding of course materials, but no student in any public school or institution of higher education shall be penalized in any way because he or she may subscribe to a particular position on any views regarding biological or chemical evolution.

Back to Brogdon’s bill:

F. This act only protects the teaching of scientific information, and this act shall not be construed to promote any religious or non-religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or non-beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or non-religion. On the contrary, the intent is to create an environment in which both the teacher and students can openly and objectively discuss the facts and observations of science, and the assumptions that underlie their interpretation.

Compare that with the Discoveroid bill:

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.

As we’ve said before in connection with the Louisiana creationism law, it’s silly to say how the bill should be construed, especially when everyone knows the purpose of the bill. If you really don’t want religion to be taught in government schools, then say so, clearly, in language that won’t be misconstrued. Say something like: “This act doesn’t authorize, indeed it prohibits, the teaching of creationism, creation science, or intelligent design as if they were valid scientific theories.”

Back to Brogdon’s bill — hey, check this out:

SECTION 3. It being immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety, an emergency is hereby declared to exist, by reason whereof this act shall take effect and be in full force from and after its passage and approval.

That’s a new one. Teaching creationism is an emergency! Who knew?

The NCSE article also gives us a link to Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education, a citizens group that promotes excellence in the science curriculum, and which has been active in the ongoing struggle to keep creationism out of science classes.

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

5 responses to “Oklahoma Creationism: It’s Back!

  1. mightyfrijoles

    It is an emergency. It’s been 150 years and Darwinism still isn’t dead like it’s supposed to be. If it keeps going the way it is, it may become FACT.

  2. MF says: “It is an emergency.”

    Yes. Never mind that we’re at war. Never mind the economy. Never mind that Obama wants a political clerk to head the CIA. Creationism is an emergency! I sense a new Buffoon Award in the making.

  3. Behold, the Creatioinoid Battle Cry:

    It’s an emergency!

    Diabolical evilootionaries are threatening to corrupt the purity of our precious bodily fluids by teaching Dreaded Darwinism!

    Batten the hatches! All hands on deck! Fly the Royals and skyscrapers! Powder the cannon; ram home the grape-shot! Push back the Devious Darwinists before the Fabric of the Universe is ripped asunder! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

    I wonder how they feel about fluoridation…..

  4. Longie says: “I wonder how they feel about fluoridation…..”

    All they really need to do is withhold their essence from the Darwinists.

  5. On a more important note, what ever happened with that Tortoise egg you sponsored?