Louisiana Creationism Update (15 Jan ‘09)

BACKGROUND: Louisiana is the only state, so far, that has enacted an anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism “Academic Freedom” bill modeled after the Academic Freedom Act promoted by the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids). The Louisiana statute permits unspecified “supplemental materials” to be used in science classes. The future of creationism in Louisiana’s public schools has been placed into the hands of the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE).

As we reported here, a BESE committee deleted language which would have specifically excluded materials promoting “creationism or intelligent design or that advance the religious belief that a supernatural being created humankind.” They then provided flimsy cover for themselves when they approved a provision providing: “The materials shall not promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion” This deliberately ambiguous policy was then scheduled to be voted on by the entire board today.

The board has made its decision. We present to you, dear reader, some excerpts from BESE approves guidelines for science teaching, which appears at the website of WDAM-TV. The bold font was added by us:

The state education board has adopted guidelines on what types of “supplemental materials” public school science teachers can use in their classes.

[…]

The guidelines adopted by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education include language banning promotion of any religious doctrine and requiring that information presented by teachers be “scientifically sound and supported by empirical evidence.”

That sounds good. But how will the teachers figure out if a pseudo-science “theory” is really a religious doctrine? Let’s read on:

But the board didn’t include a specific ban on the teaching of creationism or intelligent design, as had been requested by some opponents of the new law.

In other words, the most specific and necessary part of the proposed guidelines was deleted. This ratifies the decision of the committee yesterday. The door to the school house is now wide open. The creationists are lining up with their intelligent design tracts. The game’s afoot!

We note that the Discoveroids in Seattle are celebrating this as a victory. See their blog article: Louisiana Passes Rules Implementing Historic Academic Freedom Act, which says:

The rules approved by the BESE effectuate the academic freedom bill’s purpose to allow teachers to use supplementary materials to teach controversial scientific theories without threat of recrimination.

[…]

According to Discovery Institute education policy analyst Casey Luskin, “This is another victory for Louisiana students and teachers to have a climate of academic freedom to learn about scientific controversies over evolution and other topics in the curriculum.”

If Casey thinks this is a victory, that’s all we need to know. The Discoveroid blog article also says:

Several Louisiana scientists testified in favor of academic freedom of evolution, including biologist Wade Warren, biochemist Brenda Peirson, and chemistry professor Joshua Williams.

It’s perhaps of interest that all three of those are on the faculty of Louisiana College, about which we’ve written here: Louisiana Legislature Used Creation Science Witnesses. That’s where Louisiana gets its experts for this purpose.

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One response to “Louisiana Creationism Update (15 Jan ‘09)

  1. This is not the sort of news one wants in the run-up to celebrating the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and 150th anniversary of his publication of the seminal Origin of Species