New Jersey Rejects Creationism

The Courier-Post, located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, reports Teaching of evolution to continue.

That’s a welcome headline, especially considering our last post about that state from a bit more than nine months ago. That was New Jersey: A Creationist Education Commissioner? We had written about the news that newly-elected Governor Chris Christie (Republican) was appointing Bret Schundler to be that state’s commissioner of education, and Schundler had previously said that schools should be allowed to teach “intelligent design” alongside evolution.

Because of that, which we haven’t posted about since, we were very interested in today’s news from the Courier-Post. One excerpt is sufficient, with bold added by us:

A Camden [New Jersey] minister has been rebuffed in his effort to halt the teaching of evolution and to require a daily moment of silence in city schools.

The state’s top education official on Friday denied a request by the Rev. Edward D. Torres to order referenda questions on those issues to appear on Camden’s school election ballot. Both the city’s school board and Mayor Dana Redd opposed Torres’ request.

That’s great, but whatever happened to Bret Schundler? We looked around and found this article from almost four months ago: Gov. Chris Christie fires N.J. schools chief Bret Schundler. It tells a long, tangled, and essentially boring story, and the details don’t concern us. The bottom line is that Schundler is toast, and New Jersey is unlikely to be a creationist fairyland in the near future.

That’s yet another cause for celebration on Kitzmas.

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13 responses to “New Jersey Rejects Creationism

  1. Any info from Oklahoma? I think they have a creationist or at least a ‘teach all options’ Education supervisor now. I know the people in the state science department there and it will be very, very hard to get creationism into OK.

  2. OgreMkV asks: “Any info from Oklahoma?”

    My last post on that state was about their July 2010 Primary Results. I haven’t heard of any problems, but I really don’t know.

  3. What could evolution possibly have to fear from Creationists? If the theory has merit it should stand up to scrutiny from any quarter, whether it be from ID or anyone else more closely resembling a biblical viewpoint.

  4. I agree than an easy fix is to reject (fire, not hire, vote out, etc.) anyone who makes breathtakingly inane statements avout how evolution ought to be taught. I did too in the 90s, and thus was not qualified to hold a position with influence on science education (though I probably would have learned my mistake before the opportinity to help the scammers). But I recall you defending Sarah Palin, who seems to have corrected some of her misconceptions and/or shown that she would not approve of misleading students even if “in her heart” she still believes scientific conclusions that can be shown to be false.

    Schundler made some breathtakingly inane comments, but that was in 2001, well before Dover, and he was probably just parroting what “felt good” and probably didn’t have a clue about what ID was (a scam to mislead students, not educate them or help them “make up their own mind”). So has anyone bothered to correct him or at least determine a more recent position? I don’t have to tell you that the “easy fix” increases the supply of liberals in public office.

  5. @Lance Ponder.

    That’s what I thought in the 90s. And indeed evolution has nothing to fear from Biblical creationism (all mutually contradictory versions) or the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ID in the science arena. Peddlers of those pseudosciences don’t even try to compete there, and then have the chutzpah to whine about being “expelled.”

    But in science education it’s a big threat. Disreagarding the church/state issues, peddlers of those pseudosciences have shown beyond doubt that they would replace much or all of what little real science is taught with misleading statements deliberately “designed” to promote unreasonable doubt of evolution. Most of those activists know better than to call attention to the real weaknesses in ID/creationism, so they conveniently omit them. I have to admit it’s a clever, if simple tactic. Too often I hear from scammed fans “they’re not teaching creationism, only a critical analysis of evolution,” as if thats some how better for students. If anything it’s more misleading.

    Another fallout from this “competition” is that it forces us to devote more efforts to defending the status quo, when we would rather students learn more science, including, where feasible, a real critical analysis of evolution. Not a barrage of misrepresentations, with all refutations to those misrepresentations effectively censored, if only due to insufficient class time to cover them.

  6. @Lance: Welcome to the discussion! What evolution has to “fear” from ID and creationists is not whether the theory holds up under scrutiny. The theory has. Multiple times. Creationists / ID have had multiple opportunities to discredit evolution. But they’ve failed. What we fear, what I personally fear, is the “fear” itself. The fear that creationists / IDers have for science. The fear they have that is so deep that they are doing everything in their power, including lie and deny reality, to get rid of that which they fear. Now, let me say I’m not a scientist; I’m an engineer. But if Creationists / IDers succeed, what next? By denying evolution, by trying to discredit evolution in the way they are doing, they are showing to me how irrational they are. Which means I could be next if they succeed. So they’ll get evolution first, then what? Standard Newtonian physics? (There go the mechanical engineers.) Maxwell & Hertz & Faraday? (There goes my job.) Then… what? Standard biology. The medical field would just love that.
    But let’s put that aside for the moment. We (those who believe in evolution) have been waiting… and waiting… and waiting for the actual scientific evidence pointing towards the strengths of creationism / ID over evolution. It has yet to appear. Now, I imagine you’re going to say, “There’s a TON of such evidence!” But here’s the catch. Show me evidence for ID / creationism that doesn’t mention evolution. Did you ever notice that, in all of the scientific papers supporting and providing more evidence for evolution that creationism / ID is never mentioned? All I’m asking is that you live by the same rule. Provide scientific evidence but don’t mention evolution. Can you do that?
    Go ahead. We’ll wait.

  7. Oklahoma, in answer to Ogre: The newly elected Republican Supt. of Education, Janet Barresi, a retired dentist, has not offered anything specific yet on creationism. However, given information from those who know her, we expect more fundie crap. She is big for charter schools (she founded two) and most believe that she is for vouchers. To that end, HB 1079 has been filed and calls for a voucher system, with only a few limitations. We also have concerns now about future appointments to the State Textbook Committee.

    Newly elected Republican Sen. Josh Breechen has written part one of two articles in the Capitol Democrat (weekly paper in Johnson County, no article access on their web site) spouting the usual creationist talking points and stating that he will introduce anti-evolution bills in the upcoming session. An opposition op-ed by a Board member of Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education (OESE, http://www.oklascience.org/ ) will be published in that paper after the second article by Breechen appears and letters to the editor from others is forthcoming. Also the Biology Department at Murray State College in Breechen’s district is drafting an appropriate statement on evolution that the college president has agreed to approve (OESE has an ongoing effort to get more colleges to draft such support of evolution; three more are now in process to add to several that already exist. We hope that such statements at State colleges will have some influence on legislators from local districts.
    Also, HB 1001 (‘Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act’), originally authored by the infamous Rep. Sally Kern, has been carried with a new over with a new from the last session where it did not receive consideration. The same bill was vetoed two years ago by the Democratic Governor. An almost identical bill is now law in Texas, where it is causing confusion in school boards on just how to carry out the provisions.
    We expect more far-right creationist (and other) bills, now that all Oklahoma elected state offices are held by Repugs and there is a super majority in both houses of the state Lege. The continued fight in this reddest of states will continue. We are watching bills as they are filed and will send newsworthy ones to SC, in case he may be interested in posting on them.

  8. vhutchison says:

    We are watching bills as they are filed and will send newsworthy ones to SC, in case he may be interested in posting on them.

    Thank you, Victor. We always appreciate your input. And please give some thought to recommending The Curmudgeon’s Amendment.

    Hey everyone, visit Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education.

  9. @Gary: Thanks for the welcome. Forgive me if I sound flippant when I say this, but you really sound silly about those fears of crazy evil creationists coming after physicists and engineers and stoning them into the dark ages. I mean, really? I can’t imagine anyone thinking there’s a crowd of people out there carrying bibles in one hand and pitchforks and torches in the other. Do you really imagine the same crowd who brought the logic of cause and effect, the very foundation science, would want to end technology? I mean, of all the arguments you could make against creationism, that’s one that would have me howling on the floor laughing if it didn’t concern me that you might actually believe what you said. I’m rather fond of technology. Several of my friends are engineers. I have dabbled a bit in nuclear physics in my day and I know a little about electronics. Having a sense of wonder about creation tends to encourage curiosity and a desire to be creative. I just don’t comprehend how that equates to fear of science or technology. Creationism doesn’t fear science, it simply looks at science through a different lens.

  10. Lance Ponder says:

    Creationism doesn’t fear science, it simply looks at science through a different lens.

    No one here wants to debate that stuff, and no one wants to be told how wonderfully benign creationism is. Check out one of the first posts on this blog: Discovery Institute: Enemies of the Enlightenment. If you can’t handle it, that’s okay, but this isn’t the blog for you.

  11. @Lance Ponder:

    Creationism failed the scientific tests long ago. Creationists seek to use the power of the government to force it to be taught as science to further their religion. That’s all it is. Creation vs evolution is not a scientific question, but a political one.

  12. @Gabriel – I would say that evolution failed the scientific tests long ago so we agree to disagree and leave it at that. But I do agree with you that Creation v evolution is not a scientific question.

    @Curmudgeon – Thank you for the honest assessment that I most likely would not find your views to my taste. You probably wouldn’t be interested in most of mine either. I respect that and appreciate you saying so, so clearly. My apologies if you felt I came here to debate. I enjoy a thoughtful discussion, even in full disagreement. I read sites with opinions I disagree with for a variety of reasons including enlightenment and empathy. I opened my proverbial mouth because I was genuinely curious about the “fear” I sensed. This whole subject is a lightening rod charged with emotion. I am sensitive to that, though my comments sometimes tend to attract the lightening. I appreciate the candid responses even if I am puzzled by a few things. Thank you.

  13. Lance Ponder: “Creationism doesn’t fear science, it simply looks at science through a different lens.”

    Yes, the lens of misrepresentation.

    I for one am very interested in your ideas, and would like to invite you to Talk.Origins, where you can discuss them with people of all sorts of viewpoints, from YEC to OEC to Vedic creationism, theistic evolution (closest to mine), atheistic evolution (accommodationists and non-accommodationists), etc.