Missouri Creationism: You Won’t Believe It!

MISSOURI now joins the sad company of Alabama, Iowa, and New Mexico in actively considering an anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism bill modeled after the misleadingly-named Academic Freedom Act, promoted by the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids).

Elsewhere this year, Oklahoma’s legislature had the good sense to kill their state’s version of such a bill in committee, and Mississippi briefly considered a silly “warning sticker” bill for biology texts, but that too died in committee. Last year, only Louisiana enacted an “Academic Freedom” law, although Texas has its own problems caused by its creationist state Board of Education.

As reported in this article: Antievolution legislation in Missouri at the site of the National Center for Science Education, HOUSE BILL NO. 656 was introduced into the Missouri state House by Representatives COOPER (Sponsor), SUTHERLAND, EMERY, SANDER, NIEVES AND COX (Co-sponsors). Verily, a legion of geniuses. Cooper was active — but unsuccessful — in promoting such legislation in Missouri last year.

Curiously, and we’ll highlight the odd parts in red, the text of this bill says:

3. This section only protects the teaching of scientific information and this section shall not be construed to promote philosophical naturalism or biblical theology, promote natural cause or intelligent cause, promote undirected change or purposeful design, promote atheistic or theistic belief, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or ideas, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion. Scientific information includes physical evidence and logical inferences based upon evidence.

That’s very strange, at least to us. The bill says that it “shall not be construed to promote” either “natural cause or intelligent cause.” Are you reading that the same way we’re reading it? Also we note another bizarre contradiction, because the bill can’t be construed to promote “undirected change or purposeful design.”

Only a genuine maniac could have drafted this bill. We predict that if it doesn’t die a natural death in some committee, it’ll get amended to … well, we can’t imagine what’s going to happen.

This link allows you to track the status of the bill in the Missouri House: HB 656 . There’s been no activity yet. The bill’s description there is: “Protects teacher academic freedom to teach scientific evidence regarding biological and chemical evolution.”

This link is to the official page at the Missouri House for the bill’s chief sponsor, Robert Cooper. It doesn’t tell you much, but his phone number and email address are given. Wait, there’s a “biography” button. Would you believe it — Cooper is a physician!

So that’s where we’ll leave this situation for the moment. However, as we’ve done with our reports about other states, we recommend that the rational members of the legislature should give serious consideration to The Curmudgeon’s Amendment. It’s designed to nullify legislation like this.

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9 responses to “Missouri Creationism: You Won’t Believe It!

  1. The only thing that reassures me is that this kind of legislation has died in committee in 2008 (even after a visit from Ben Stein), 2006, 2005, and 2004.

    Let’s look at who sponsored the 2004 bill:

    INTRODUCED BY REPRESENTATIVES COOPER (155) (Sponsor), REINHART, DAVIS (19), NIEVES, PHILLIPS, EMERY AND HUNTER (Co-sponsors).

    I hope the result of this one will also be a case of déjà vu all over again!

  2. James, I just tweaked my post to highlight the bill’s contradictory parts in red. This is truly the craziest bill we’ve yet seen in the whole sad series of creationist legislation.

  3. mightyfrijoles

    I don’t know Curmy. It may be a new effort. Since it can’t be construed to teach anything, I guess it can be construed to teach nothing, i.e. it’s a Luddite Special. Just kill all science and evolution will go away.

  4. MF says: “… it’s a Luddite Special.”

    I think a state can constitutionally ban the teaching of both evolution and creationism, which is what this bill would do. But it’s much simpler to just flat-out say so. I don’t think the sponsors of this bill understand what their bill says.

  5. Think of it this way: if you are forbidden to ascribe the diversity of life to anything, who benefits?

    The theory of Evolution is a complex scientific idea, backed up by complicated analysis of geologic, fossil, genetic, and other information. Creationism, OTOH, is a simple idea that even a child or fool can grasp.

    Some ideas flourish the more evidence and inspection you give them, others flourish in darkness, in an absence of evidence..

    I leave it as an exercise to the reader to decide which one benefits more from deafening silence that would envelope the classroom if this bill were to pass.

  6. Longie says: “Think of it this way: if you are forbidden to ascribe the diversity of life to anything, who benefits?”

    Fear not! Your Curmudgeon has found a loophole. If this bill becomes law, they can’t teach natural cause or intelligent cause, and they can’t teach undirected change or purposeful design. However, they can teach evolution as an un-natural, un-intelligent, directed but non-purposeful process. Problem solved!

  7. “…The bill’s description there is: “Protects teacher academic freedom to teach scientific evidence regarding biological and chemical evolution.””

    The other bills also mention “chemical evolution”. What’s that? I don’t recall seeing the term anywhere besides these Discoveroid-crafted bills. Am I correct in guessing it’s just Discoveroid-speak, like “macro-evolution” or “irreducible complexity”?

  8. retiredsciguy says: “The other bills also mention ‘chemical evolution’. What’s that?”

    It’s probably a reference to the Miller–Urey experiment, about which creationists are obsessed. It’s not evolution, but creationists don’t know the difference between chemistry and biology.

  9. retiredsciguy

    SC says,
    ‘It’s probably a reference to the Miller–Urey experiment…” (referring to “chemical evolution”).

    OK, thanks. In a sense, though, there may not be much difference between chemistry and biology. One could view “life” as being a self-perpetuating chemical reaction. We (the “we” being all living things) eat, we breathe, we react chemicals within our cells to get the energy to pursue more food, avoid threats, and create more “eater/breather/reactors”, and life goes on. (Same basic idea for plants and other kingdoms.)

    I guess my point is that there is just “Science”. The division of science into chemistry, biology, physics, etc. is really a man-made artifice, making it easier to understand the whole by dividing All of Reality into smaller, more easily studied parts.

    OK. I’m done.