Journalistic Derangement in Indiana

In the Star Press of Muncie, Indiana we encountered this pathetic editorial: What’s so bad about creationism in public schools?

They’re talking about the stunningly stupid bill working its way through the Indiana Senate, about which we last wrote a couple of days ago (see Indiana Creationism Bill Moves Forward).

First they discuss some other bills in the legislature, and then they say:

The Republican-controlled Senate Education Committee voted 8-2 Wednesday to allow creationism to be taught in the state’s public schools. The bill now goes to the full Senate.

What does the esteemed editorial board think of that? Here are some excerpts from the editorial, with bold font added by us:

Opponents will argue this bill chips away at the separation of church and state and brings an unwelcome mixing of theocracy and scientific theory into the classroom. Not necessarily.

Oh really? Let’s read on:

Much would depend on how teachers handle the origins of life in a biology or science class. And there is no provision in the bill that states creationism must be taught as a science subject. Courts have ruled that using the Bible as an educational tool is permissible. We see nothing that would change that here, and note the bill stresses “theories” on the origins of life.

How can they say that creationism won’t be taught as a science subject when the proposed law — Senate Bill 0089 — provides:

The governing body of a school corporation may require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation.

Where else will “theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science” be taught — in algebra class? And the editorial mentions that the bill stresses “theories” on the origins of life. Do the esteemed editors know what a scientific theory is? Apparently not. We continue:

The march down the slippery slope occurs when theories are presented as facts.

Scientific theories are just that, and they should be taught as theories — which are both testable and supported by facts. Creationism isn’t a theory — it’s a religious doctrine supported by faith. There’s nothing scientific about it. Here’s more:

This bill could act as a safeguard against an educator mentioning creationism, and then possibly getting sued for promoting religion in the classroom.

Indeed. That’s one of the reasons why it’s a bad bill. Moving along:

Certainly, there is much empirical scientific evidence to support evolution, and some pretty good philosophical arguments to support creationism. It’s unfortunate, though, that the latter has to be tagged as a science.

What are these people saying? No one in his right mind says a philosophy is a science. Well, there’s that stuff called social science, but that’s a different topic. Here’s another excerpt:

We think a thorough education exposes students to different theories, and if schools have done a good job of developing a student’s critical thinking skills, there is no harm done.

We think the editorial board of this newspaper is totally lacking in critical thinking skills, and there’s a great deal of harm being done as a result. One more excerpt from the editorial:

Presenting theories in an educational setting is not an endorsement of religion, but an acknowledgment there are other ways of looking at an issue.

Again, it’s obvious that these journalists haven’t a clue as to the meaning of “theory” in science. Indeed, it’s apparent to us that they haven’t a clue about anything.

People of Muncie, heed the Curmudgeon: Your newspaper is written by fools!

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

23 responses to “Journalistic Derangement in Indiana

  1. This bill could act as a safeguard against an educator mentioning creationism, and then possibly getting sued for promoting religion in the classroom.

    Nope, this is the Dover Trap. Suppose the legislature passed a bill exempting Indiana residents from paying federal income tax. Would such a bill shield you from the IRS? Nope.

    Same here. The legislature can pass any fool bill it wants to, but public school employees violating the establishment clause will find themselves in federal court, sued and lose. And that’s a fact, Jack, not a theory.

  2. So far most of the comments to that article are encouraging.

    IIRC, the “trick” in this bill seems to be “origin of life”, which the ToE does not address. Seems if abiogenesis is “taught” the cretards want creationism and/or ID taught as an equally plausible “theory”.

  3. Jack Hogan says: “So far most of the comments to that article are encouraging.”

    Right. I didn’t notice the comments before. They’re surprisingly good.

  4. Looking at the committee vote, it was dominated by Republicans, of course.

    But a Democrat on the committee also voted for it.

    Frank Mrvan Jr. (D-District 1)

  5. Ceteris Paribus

    The Curmudgeon states: “People of Muncie, heed the Curmudgeon: Your newspaper is written by fools!”

    It was not always so. In the early 1920’s a Muncie newspaper editor began editorializing against the growing influence of the KKK in Indiana, which eventually elected a KKK member as governor, along with a majority of the legislature. In the later 1920’s another Indiana newspaper won a Pulitzer prize for its exposure of the wholesale corruption of state government while in the hands of the KKK.

    The era of explosive growth of the KKK was contemporary with the explosive growth of Christian fundamentalist creationism, but whether that is coincidence or correlation I will leave to historians. But it is reasonable to assert that the acceptance of one world view made safe harbor for acceptance of the other. Cognitive dissonance loves company.

    So I don’t think it is mere coincidence that today a different Indiana newspaper sees no harm to our society by the injection of theocracy into the science curriculum of public schools. That blatantly unconstitutional position has found a safe harbor in the continuous stream of absurd news releases put out by religious fundamentalist organizations such as the DI and ICR, and the re-writing of the history of church and state separation by such as David Barton and Glenn Beck.

  6. What the _____ is going on with my beloved home state?!?! I’m heartened by the comments to the article, but the fact that it was written to begin with gives me pause.

  7. I just sent the following e-mail to Sen Kruse:

    I was born and raised in Indiana. I’m very proud of that fact. My family, including both of my parents and all four of my siblings, along with their families, are still there.
    I just finished reading your “creation science” bill (Senate Bill 0089). At least you didn’t try to hide behind the pretense of “academic freedom” as have bills in Louisiana and elsewhere. You’re very forthright about your wanting to teach creationism in the science class of Indiana’s schools.
    Except understand what you’re doing to those students. Creationism is not science. Therefore, what will happen is that those students from Indiana will have a more difficult time getting into first-rate universities that require a strong grounding in science. Technology and science companies (think Eli Lilly and Dow, two companies who have made large investments in Indiana) will think twice before choosing to invest in facilities or people in the state if it cannot provide a qualified workforce. Bills such as yours will ensure that Indiana’s workforce drops to the level of the most backward, third-world countries.

    Finally, as a colleague reminded me, you made an oath when taking office to support the Constitution. The US Supreme Court has explicitly ruled that teaching creationism is unconstitutional. Therefore, remember your oath, if nothing else.


    I’m giving a H/T to RetiredSciGuy for the “oath of office” aspect above.
    I’ll be sending something similar, but with a slightly different slant, to Governor Daniels.

  8. Excellent letter, Gary.

  9. @Gary

    I’ll be sending something similar, but with a slightly different slant, to Governor Daniels.

    I’m assuming Gov Daniels would veto this if it came to that.

    But my guess is it won’t pass the senate. One of the R’s on the committee stated he did not like the wording of the bill (not that there is much there to change) but voted for it anyway. I’ll go out on a limb and guess this is an election year pander to a minority voting block and that there are enough R’s with safe seats who will vote against it. A quick bit of research showed that of the 50 state senators 37 were R’s and 13 were D’s. So if only the one D votes for it 14 R’s would have to vote against it. My guess is that at least 14 of the 37 are reasonably educated, sane, and safe.

    Too bad it got out of committee, but then creationists flock to education committees like flies to turds.

  10. Thanks, SC.
    @Jack: I’m also hopeful that Daniels will veto it, but I’d rather not give him the chance, if you know what I mean. I just finished my letter to Daniels, and will follow up with letters to as many of the other senators as I can. Even though I sent an e-mail to Kruse, I’m sending actual letters to the rest. I’m hoping physical paper is harder to ignore than pixels on a screen. Kruse is obviously hopeless, but perhaps there’s still a semblance of sense in the rest.

  11. Thanks, Gary, for writing such an excellent letter. I think the violation of his oath of office is the only thing that would make Sen. Kruse reconsider. Of course, the right thing for him to do would be to withdraw his bill from consideration. He would still get his Brownie points from the fundamentalist evangelicals — all he would need to do is blame it on the “Godless Supreme Court”. Perhaps he would also be swayed by the fact he would be saving the state (or school corporations [districts] therein) millions in legal expenditures.

  12. Jack Hogan writes, “… the “trick” in this bill seems to be “origin of life”, which the ToE does not address.”

    Exactly. This is a crucial point missed by so many who rail against evolution. For some it may be a naive lack of understanding, but for most I think it is a deliberate attempt at obfuscation.

    Perhaps the problem arises from the title of Darwin’s book — “The Origin of Species”, when some confuse “origin of species” with “origin of life”.

    We teachers need to do a better job of emphasizing the fact that Darwin’s theory of evolution speaks only to how different species have evolved from previous species, and says absolutely nothing about how life itself began.

  13. I’m ashamed to live in Muncie. The comments section gives me hope, though.

  14. The editorial board of this Muncie rag has shown itself to be a posse of fools. Meh.

  15. @LadyAtheist: You have nothing of which to be ashamed. Seriously. So some of your fellow citizens are stupid. We all have those. Don’t get down; get organized. Write to Kruse. Write to all of the senators and congressmen / congresswomen in Indiana. Write to Gov Daniels. Let them know how you feel. And keep letting them know. Be respectful, be polite, but be firm.
    Good luck!

  16. @RetiredSciGuy

    Perhaps the problem arises from the title of Darwin’s book — “The Origin of Species”, when some confuse “origin of species” with “origin of life”.

    It seems to me the authors of the bill are trying to be clever, in an Inspector Clouseau kind of way. They may be trying to find an “origin of life” (abiogenesis) loophole. Their bill gives the local school district the green light to offer up “creation science” (or ID) as an alternative “origin of life” *theory* to abiogenesis.

    They can’t be dumb enough to think they could get away with introducing “creation science” into the classroom as an alternative to the ToE, given past SCOTUS decisions, can they? It seems the best they could hope for is preventing science teachers from mentioning abiogenesis, else they would also have to offer up “creation science” as an alternative.

    OTOH, they could just be bumbling Don Quixote-like creationist crusaders vainly and desperately hoping to get a favorable SCOTUS ruling years from now.

  17. Have there been any comments from the usual anti-evolution sources?
    It would be interesting to see what the Discovery Institute has to say about this. They surely can’t be in favor of teaching “creation science”, can they?

  18. @TomS: I believe the answer to your question is, “Yes”, but not directly from those sources. I’m not seeing comments that claim to come from AiG or DI or CSC. However, one of the commenters appeared to have cut & pasted every talking point directly from the AiG web site. Here’s a clear-cut example:

    Evolution fails as a framework because it violates several known laws of the universe we inhabit. In order for evolution and abiogenesis to occur, several “miracles” (violations of natural law) would had to have occurred, thus undermining the very premise of naturalism.

    Laws that naturalism and evolution violate include the following:
    – The law of biogenesis (life only comes from life)
    – The uniformity of nature (uniformity cannot exist or be expected without a creator)
    – The laws of physics (the big bang requires the suspension of the laws of physics, nor could those laws exist without a creator)
    – The laws of probability (the fine tuning of the universe requires a creator)
    – The laws of logic (logic requires a logical source)
    – The laws of chemistry (the logical properties of the elements require intelligence)

    Such a serious “Gish gallop” that it’s breathtaking in its scope. The funny thing (among many!) was that, a few comments before this one, this same person essentially said he would not be swayed by any evidence other than “Goddidit!”

  19. Jack Hogan asks, referring to the Indiana legislature, “They can’t be dumb enough to think they could get away with introducing “creation science” into the classroom as an alternative to the ToE, given past SCOTUS decisions, can they?”

    Oh, yes they can! They already proved that when they passed the law allowing state money to be passed along to religious schools in the form of vouchers. This is the first school year that the law has been in effect; it is being challenged in court.

  20. “Certainly, there is much empirical scientific evidence to support evolution, and some pretty good philosophical arguments to support creationism. It’s unfortunate, though, that the latter has to be tagged as a science.”
    They came so close here to understanding the basis of the problem, and then slid away from it (though the word “much” should have been “overwhelming.”). Yes, it has to be a science to be taught in a science class- what’s “unfortunate” about that? (Please, no shilly-shally about “it doesn’t have to be in science class”- we know that’s what you’re aiming at.)
    I wonder sometimes if the basic confusion (or RetiredSciGuy’s “deliberate attempt at obfuscation”) isn’t something more along the lines of the same thing we see with the word “theory”- only, in this case, it’s with the word “science” itself. My (untested) guess would be that if you asked the average voter for a definition of “science,” he would say, “you know, chemistry, biology, stuff like that”- a colloquial sense of a mere “body of knowledge,” with no reference to the method of thought that accumulated it. Since the average voter won’t know or appreciate the difference between the results of the process and the process itself, it’s easy, and useful to their agenda, for creationists to keep that distinction blurred. As long as they can equate their “science” to actual science by leveling the playing field this way, by treating both as merely “bodies of knowledge,” you can fool the voters into thinking “what’s the harm of teaching both?” If I lived in Indiana, I would avoid the issue of religion as much as possible, and frame the discussion more in terms of what science actually is- I would hammer, hammer, hammer on the real-world usefulness of the process and its results. In this debate, the best question to ask a creationist would be “define science.” I think you’ll get an answer equating quantity of knowldege with the quality of the thought behind it. Then you go from there.

  21. aturingtest, what the professional creationists have been doing IS deliberate obfuscation. Case in point — the term “creation science”. There isn’t a better example of an oxymoron in the English language. The more the term is repeated, the more the general public thinks it actually has something to do with science.

    Another example of creationists’ attempts to fog the dialog is the phrase “it’s just a theory” when refering to evolution. Of course, it is unfortunate that it has become known simply as “Darwin’s Theory of Evolution”. It would be more accurate to say “Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection”, which would avoid the misconception that evolution is a theory, when it is actually observable fact. Strictly speaking, evolution is an observable natural phenomenon; natural selection is the very well-supported theory that explains its cause.

    But I digress. The professional creationists — those making money from their endeavors — deliberately attempt to confuse and mislead. Ken Ham seeks donations for his Ark Park, the “intelligent design” scammers at the DI are trying to sell textbooks, etc.

  22. RSG: “…what the professional creationists have been doing IS deliberate obfuscation.”
    Oh, I have no doubt about that. That’s my point, though- as long as they can get away with obscuring the meaning of the word “science” itself, as they do with “theory,” they can, in the average man-in-the-street’s mind, elevate their “science” to an equality to real science; or at least muddy the basic difference between the two enough to get a shrug and an apathetic “what’s the harm?” from enough voters to support their agenda. The trick is to show that the harm is not in the “bodies of knowledge” (that would be seen as an attack on the bible, and, indirectly, religion itself- and religion is an emotional issue that people who deeply hold it don’t think about, they just react to); the harm is in the difference between the methods of thought and real-world results of the two.
    I’m currently re-reading Dava Sobel’s “Longitude,” and the problem and the solutions to it seem like a good illustration of the point. How, on the open sea, do you know where you are? North vs south, no big problem, big shiny thing in the sky guides you. East vs west- ah, no obvious solution. And the only useful proposals even considered were derived from science, its thought process and its application (unless you count the “wounded-dog” theory, and that sounded like a joke to me). Moral- if you’re a passenger on a ship, you want to know where you are, keeps you from breaking up on the rocks you didn’t know you were so close to. And a chronometer to figure with is a lot more useful than a bible to pray by.

  23. Here is one of the better editorials that I’ve seen about teaching “creation
    science”, from the Fort Wayne, Indiana, Journal Gazette.