Indiana Creationism: Plan B

We recently wrote about an expected creationism bill that will be introduced in that state’s legislature in the 2013 session. See Discoveroids & Indiana’s 2013 Creationism Bill. The idiocy was expected to be introduced by Indiana Senator Dennis Kruse, and he’s supported by the Discovery Institute.

But there seems to be a change in plans. In the Indianapolis Star we read Indiana senator has plans other than creationism bill. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Sen. Dennis Kruse said today he has no plans to refile a bill allowing schools to teach creationism along with evolution in science classes.

But, Kruse added, he plans instead to pursue legislation that allows students to challenge teachers on issues, forcing them to provide evidence to back up their lessons.

What kind of madness is this? Doesn’t Indiana already have a procedure for selecting textbooks? The story continues:

“I would call it ‘truth in education’ to make sure that what is being taught is true,” Kruse said. “And if a student thinks something isn’t true, then they can question the teacher and the teacher would have to come up with some kind of research to support that what they are teaching is true or not true.”

Won’t that be fun? Let’s read on:

Nate Schnellenberger, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association and a former biology teacher, said he expected that if a student challenged the truth of evolution, a teacher could simply “turn to the textbook and use fossils as an example.”

That won’t satisfy a creationist kid. No amount of evidence ever satisfies a creationist. The kid can just keep demanding more, and more, and more. The class will grind to a halt and the idiot student will think he’s won a great victory. One last excerpt:

Schnellenberger said teachers could be faced with students who don’t believe the United States ever landed on the moon and demand proof. “How would a teacher prove that you did? I just think that it’s not workable,” he said.

It’s definitely not workable. But it just might be constitutional. This is an interesting tactic. Schoolbooks are selected by some presumably knowledgeable process, but now the kiddies will become the final authority. It’ll be a creationist Children’s Crusade.

If the theocrats can’t get things their way, then they’ll just destroy the whole system. The result is the same — a new generation of students with with the minds of Dark Age flat-Earthers.

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

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18 responses to “Indiana Creationism: Plan B

  1. Am I glad I’m a retired science teacher! Of course, the teacher should ask the student for the student’s evidence that leads the student to contradict the approved curriculum. If the student brings up a bible passage, the teacher would just need to point out that “This is a science class, not a theology class, so the evidence would need to be based on observational data.” Another approach would be to assign the questioning student a very thick, very detailed book to read that lays out all the evidence supporting evolution. If such a book doesn’t exist at present, I’m sure one will be published if Kruse’s bill becomes law. Hell, I’ll write it myself and make a fortune! Well, I guess I wouldn’t make a fortune after all, because once word is out that asking for evidence in science class will just land you a huge reading assignment, the kiddies will keep things to themselves.

    Schnellenberger’s comment about moon landing denial is well-taken. After the Fox network ran its inexorable program “proving” the moon landing was a hoax, I had several students that just wouldn’t let it go, no matter what evidence I brought up.

  2. doodlebugger

    The moon landings were a hoax?
    Next, there won’t be an Easter Bunny !!
    No more Peeps ! No more Cadbury Eggs.

  3. “I would call it ‘truth in education’

    I would call it marching orders from the DI. “Dennis, please, we already told you, stop mentioning the c-word or your re-election financing walks out.”

  4. This could back fire on them. I’d like to see the response the first time a creationist teacher is asked for proof.

    @RSG: Fox news, the biggest tabloid on the air… unfair and completely unbalanced.

  5. but than a creationist teacher would be allowed to discuss creationism because a student asked. Long story short this will lead to a DI marketing campaign pushing students to hassle there teachers with the usual assortment of trick questions. It would also open the door for creationist teachers to spout there stuff as well.

  6. Personally, I think any student who wants to question the teacher should have to provide evidence countering what the teacher is saying. And, of course, using the bible as evidence shouldn’t count.

  7. “It’ll be a creationist Children’s Crusade.”
    Score one for the Sensuous Curmudgeon.

    @TJW: Fox News is not the same thing as Fox Network and Fox News is in no way responsible for whatever happens to be on Fox Network, so save your rant for something meaningful.

  8. @Paul Bruggink:

    I see that RSG did not mention Fox NEWS but the network, and while you are correct they are not one and the same, I stand by my comment about the news station. Not to excuse bias on other networks either, some just seem a little more so than others, but we digress from the point of Curmudgeon’s article.

    It will be very interesting to see how this plays out in Indiana.

  9. “If the theocrats can’t get things their way, then they’ll just destroy the whole system.”

    But isn’t this the strategy of creationists and Christians, to destroy the public school system and replace it with parochial nonsense.

    But let me add a thought. If a student challenges a teacher on say, evolution, the teacher might respond with the question, “on what do you base your challenge?” thus necessitating the student provide the basis for the challenge, whereby the teacher can challenge the student’s assertion, which is likely to be creationist and meritless.

  10. DavidK says:

    If a student challenges a teacher on say, evolution, the teacher might respond with the question, “on what do you base your challenge?”

    I’d be more ruthless. I’d tell the student to write up a report to support his position, with solid, respectable references to accepted science, and I’d promise to discuss it with him privately, after school. Let’s see how eager he’ll be to challenge me again.

  11. So we’ve gone from “creationism” to “creation science” to “intelligent design” to “strengths and weaknesses” to “academic freedom” to “truth in education”.
    This is just another way of saying “academic freedom”. That’s what we’re going to see, except everywhere we used to see “academic freedom”, they’ll now use “truth in education”. I’ll bet that, at some point, we can find drafts in Sen Kruse’s trash bin that has the words “tracademic freedomcation”.

  12. AlpsStranger


    Why did I even bother to check which party he was part of?

    I swear, I hope the Democrats turn out to be worthy of one-party rule. I doubt it, but it seems to be a better alternative than giving Republicans any power.

  13. doodlebugger

    What if its a leading question for a teacher who is a creationist. Then its off to the races with the horse manure.
    Incidentaly, Esquire magazibne says Bobby Jindal “took one in the chops” when the voucher plan got shut down. Gooo Bobby..I hope Kruse..manhoofman..berger is taking notes…ok, of course not.
    Anyone this oblivious doesn’t bother with notes. Hes geeting lots of attention. Texas Freedom Network published a piece on him.

  14. After reading all the suggestions for classroom management from the commenters above, I’m revising my suggestions for the beleaguered science teacher.

    As soon as one student challenges the teaching of evolution, the teacher should assign the entire class the project of doing the research to find the evidence that supports evolution. Actually, this is the best way for students to learn anything, as opposed to sitting passively listening to a teacher lecture. If they do the research themselves and write a detailed, footnoted report citing all their references (in other words, a term paper), they will come away with a much better understanding of evolution than if they just listened to a lecture or read a textbook.

    Of course, the desirable side-effect will be the peer pressure that will befall the wise-ass challenging student.

    No student will be asked to give up his or her religious views. They will, however, come to understand what evolution actually is, as opposed to the cartoon view they might be getting in their Sunday school class.

    It would be wonderful if we could make Kruse complete the same assignment.

  15. After a bit of research, we need to shift focus for this. The DI may be providing strategic guidance, but the people pulling Kruse’s strings belong to the Indiana Family Institute. Kruse is an advisor to this group, a position he’s held since 1994. And as SC has pointed out multiple times, any time you’re dealing with a group with the word “family” in it, you’re dealing with a group whose sole purpose in life is to control the sexual activities of others when they’re not pushing religion back into government. The IFI is affiliated with one of SC’s favorite groups, the Family Research Council. The IFI (if my information is correct) also strongly backed Mike Pence’s run for governor. In 2005, the IFI gave Mike Pence it’s “Friend of the Family” award. In my opinion, that means that, if a bill passes both the House and Senate, it’s pretty much a done deal that Pence will sign it.
    More to come…

  16. doodlebugger bewails the prospect:

    Next, there won’t be an Easter Bunny !!
    No more Peeps ! No more Cadbury Eggs.

    Being every bit as ineffable and magic as the Intelligent Designer his/her/it self, the Easter Bunny cannont be destroyed. Nor, at least according to a “study” at Emory, are Peeps anything less than eternally immortal and imperishable.

    But Cadbury, alas, went the way of all flesh when it was acquired by Kraft Foods in 2010. Ain’t been the same chocolate since it came under the same umbrella as the (vastly inferior) Hersey brand…

  17. A small point, but it struck me that the “president of the Indiana State Teachers Association and a former biology teacher” suggested fossils as the example of evolution. Most people, I guess, think that fossils are the primary evidence for evolution. Rather than something like the tree of life or the evolution of resistance in diseases.

  18. Retired Prof

    rttiredsciguy’s suggestion for dealing with student challenges sounds good; it seizes the opportunity

    I never taught biology except when we were homeschooling our son; professionally, I taught composition, literature, and linguistics to college undergraduates So my perspective may be skewed.

    Let me say, though, that it was always a good thing when students challenged me or the textbook. Some of the most stimulating and enlightening discussions (for both the students and me) followed. I never turned such challenges into a paper topic for the whole class, but I did invite students with contrarian ideas to clarify them by phrasing a clear question, answering it tentatively, and devising an investigation to test the hypothesis they had produced. Naturally, the result was a lot more sciency in linguistics than in literature, but both areas developed the critical thinking task of assembling and evaluating evidence. (For what it’s worth, I always avoided such touchy-feely assignments as “How does Marc Antony’s eulogy for Caesar make you feel?” Bleaah)

    As I said, my perspective may be skewed, but it seems to me that encouraging students to challenge what they are taught is a good way to enhance their education.

    However, as others have pointed out, if the teacher is a closet creationist, the challenge could lead to a degradation of students’ education. I lack a solution for that problem.