Montana’s 2013 Creationism Bill — Tabled

The last time we wrote about this bit of state legislative madness was Montana Creationism Bill Has a Dull Hearing.

The original bill, pre-filed by newly-elected member of the Montana House of Representatives, Republican Clayton Fiscus, would have required public schools to teach intelligent design along with evolution. But it suddenly morphed into a Discovery Institute style “academic freedom” bill.

As you already know, there were two dozen people at the Education Committee hearing who opposed the bill, and the only supporter was Fiscus himself. You can watch the hearing in the video above. We don’t know who is speaking during the introduction, but that only lasts for a minute. Then you can see Fiscus speaking in favor of his bill. He’s stumbling, bumbling, rambling, and babbling — for all we know he was also soiling his trousers. He told the committee that everyone believed the Earth was flat until Columbus proved it was round. The man knows absolutely nothing, and everything he thinks he knows is wrong.

After that you get to see the opposition speakers. Each of them speaks for only a minute or so, and they’re all good. The last one is a theology professor who also opposes the bill. Then Fiscus speaks again at about twelve and a half minutes into the video. His remarks, about 2 minutes long, are the last. Then the hearing ends.

So what happened? As you can see at this link to the Montana legislature: Bill Draft Number: LC0599, the bill was “Tabled in Committee.” There’s no information about voting. We’re not sure if that means the bill is effectively dead, or if it might be reconsidered at some future date. The Montana legislature isn’t scheduled to adjourn until 27 April.

The National Center for Science Education has posted about about this here: Montana’s antievolution bill tabled.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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26 responses to “Montana’s 2013 Creationism Bill — Tabled

  1. “How insects evolved into trees…”

    Did this f***nut actually say that?

  2. Sorry for the inappropriate context but I can’t figure out how to make a comment/question on the “lessons of Tiktaalik” article under the “Debating Creationists” section. First…I am a STRONGLY supportive evolutionist who gets into debates with ID’ers and I am being told that the Tiktaalik find & story are now “disproven” because some fossilzed tetrapod tracks which date to around 397 million years ago have been found and thus call the whole idea of tiktaalik being a perfect transitional fossil and prediction into question. Here’s the link to a Nature story on this:
    So…my question is…how does one NOW classify Tiktaalik and what to tell the IDiots who gleefully trumpet this find as a victory??
    Please feel free to respond elsewhere to this…and again…apologies for not finding a better way to pose my question! Thanks…

  3. Great video. It’s reassuring to see how many people see through the smoke and mirrors created by the DI.

  4. Cam, no one ever claimed that the first Tiktaalik fossil found was literally the very first vertebrate to climb out of the sea, or that it was the last of its kind. That species could have flourished for millions of years, during which time isolated groups mutated into other species, while the original stock continued to exist in favorable niches. Finding other land-dwelling vertebrates in that general period — within a span of millions of years — doesn’t change anything. In fact it’s expected. Tiktaalik is a transitional species.

  5. Thanks for the response…I am aware of that BUT a big deal was made of “T” being found in the period where it was EXPECTED to be found..the footprints fall outside of this period (older) and are fully formed indicating an even earlier transitional forms range. That said…I found this article which supports exactly what you said and makes sense to me.
    Perhaps it is time to update your Tiktaalik lesson a bit to account for the older footprints and what they really mean. Thanks again…love your stuff!

  6. doodlebugger

    But the IDers are just continuing to show their scientific illiteracy by seizing on a piece of evidence that might contradict some earlier findings.
    Were life forms evolving from sea to land forms around Tiktallik time. Sure.
    Could there have been tetrapods already in existence? Sure.
    Only a creationist would see that as evidence for a failure for science.
    It is, support for the power of the scientific method, which of course creationists detest and cannot comprehend because their brain housing assemblies are formed of one solid block of cement. Not worth arguing or debating ID creationists, I’d mock ’em and walk. They do not deserve debate as they have no alternative evidence or concepts.Let ’em crow.
    They eat enough crow every day such that they ought to be good at crowing. The hub bub about Tiktallik never made me jump up and down anyway. We see evidence that supports our work in geology every single day in everything we do. If it doesn’t fit theory, a better new idea emerges.
    There are no IDers with any science, so their “work” is irrelevant.
    laugh at them. They’re clowns.

  7. @doodles…I agree but am trying to make my arguments from evidence…and there are some “undecideds” in the mix that I’m trying to convince so I’m trying to treat all with respect and let the evidence mock them!

  8. Christine Janis


    Talking with my paleontologist friends who work on this issue (I won’t name drop, but it’s an easy guess), these tracks are thought by many people to be to be probably made by fish. Science and Nature have become the publishers of sensationalism, which might be good for Press, but not for the science. Not that it makes any real difference to the arguments (as Curmie notes), but this whole thing may be refuted at some point in the future.

  9. Christine Janis

    Re the excellent comments of Doodlebugger

    There were many fish in the middle Devonian that were evolving limbs with “digits” of some sort. They were part of an adaptive radiation going on at that time. Only one lineage then went on to give rise to the later radiation of tetrapods. So, more “tetrapod-like fish” is actually an argument *for* evolutionary processes, not against them.

  10. If you teach what you teach, the result is what you come up with.

    That’s the best line since the creationist dentist said that someone needs to stand up to experts.

  11. Thanks Christine and all…very helpful. I now yield this thread to the great state of Montana!
    Way to go Montana!! 😀

  12. The trackways are conjectured to have been made by something resembling Ichthyostega, a very early tetrapod. The research is by Per Ahlberg, a very good fish-to-tetrapod expert who used to post on Internet Infidels Discussion Board and is a sharp guy.

    From the linked Nature note: “The finds suggests that the elpistostegids that we know were late-surviving relics rather than direct transitional forms, …”. That is, critters like Tiktaalik may well have preceded and have been ancestors of Ichthyostega and also survived into later times alongside the evolving tetrapods. Remember, most speciation is allopatric: the parent species isn’t replaced by the daughter species, especially in this case when a daughter species (Ichthyostega) inhabits a very different environment (shallow water mud flats and land) than the parent species (shallow water).

    I should note that I no longer have an institutional subscription to Nature since my retirement, and so haven’t read the full paper yet.

  13. Regarding Tiktaalik and the tracks, all creationists lie. Every one of them. Can’t trust a single word. The tracks were made by some creature but what kind is highly speculative at the time.

    However, something like a dozen Tiktaalik specimens have been recovered and they show significant anatomical features transitional between fish and amphibians: neck bones, position of the eyes, arm and wrist bones, and fishy bits.

    In this “debate” the lying, stinking creationists ignore all the evidence Tiktaalik provides as if it doesn’t exist, and base their “arguments” on a paper they don’t understand. Typical.

  14. Ficus:

    Teach what we don’t know. The “Crusteegian Age, I remember that and nobody knows how it came or went. No trail. That’s a loop in the evolutionary process.

    The guy’s a total moron. I’m sure he meant the Cambrian Explosion and I’m also sure he remembers the “Crusteegian Age” because he was there! Nobody knew how it came and went? Not true! It came in like a lion and went out like a lamb. Everybody knows that!

  15. If there are any new readers here, we’d like you to know how incredibly hard we’ve been working to pull Doc Bill out of his shell. Even though (as you can obviously tell) he still holds back on his feelings and disguises his thoughts with much ambiguity, please bear with us. It’s a work in progress.
    /end sarcasm

  16. Doc Bill….Fiscus is a rancher. His knowledge of the Crustacean Period is
    based on his last visit to a seafood restaurant in Billings named Benthic Invertebrate.’s (or Benny’s Spineless Oyster Bar as its more commonly known.) I think I detected some ketchup stains on old Clayton ‘s tie related to the violent demise of a defenseless bivalve during his eloquent speech about insects evolving into trees. Makes me feel good about America again…………..I feel like rappin’ about it. Speaking of which, I rapped the trunk of a ficus tree recently and a beetle popped out. Coin idence or proof that Clayton is right.
    ..Bravo Montana. Casey and crew where were you in Clayton.’s Hour of Need? Rolling a drunk out back for airfare (oops busfare) home? Trailways is having a special this week for creationists. Bring a friend and get a free Slurpee at the bus depot in Minnesota.
    We all look forward to the next comedy hour you sponsor! 🙂

  17. Hey, I’d be GREAT at teaching what I don’t know. Just ask me.

    I have my resume already written for the Montana Sheep Institute and Dating Emporium. Their motto is “The World is Full of Sheep, but Love Will Find Ewe.”

  18. Doc Bill comes out of his shell (sorta)

    Whelks in France

  19. Cam –

    I also suggest that you ask the ID/creationists how they explain the Tiktaalik find, rather than granting them the default position.

    It’s easy to see why Tiktaalik supports the theory of evolution. First, the theory of evolution predicts early tetrapods with transitional features. Second, it predicts that such fossils should fall broadly within a certain age range. They shouldn’t be 1,000,000 years old, and they should’t be one billion years old, for example. Tiktaalik and similar fossils fall in the right age range.

    Now ask the ID/creationists how they interpret the finding.

    1) How old are Tiktaalik fossil remains and how do you know?

    2) Do they represent the remains of an animal, and how do you know?

    3) If they represent the remains of an animal, is that species still part of the contemporary biosphere, and if not, precisely why not – was their extinction due to a global flood described in the Biblical story of Noah, and if so, when did that flood happen? (Make sure to be specific or you’ll get a weasel answer that might or might not imply the Flood).

    4) If Tiktaalik was an animal, did it evolve from earlier species, and how do you know?

    5) If Tiktaalik was an animal that did not or might not have evolved from earlier species, then who “designed” it, when was it “designed”, how was it “designed”, and how do you know?

    NOTE: I realize that these questions are very easy for an honest YEC creationist or a theistic evolutionist who doesn’t deny science to answer. People, please do not fill in your own reasonable answers and project them onto ID/creationist types. Let them give their own answers. They generally won’t be willing to, because the whole point of ID is to express straight creationism in a coded, disguised manner, for political and legal reasons. They will try to ignore the questions, and if you keep repeating the questions, they will try flippant, sarcastic, uninformative answers.

    Nothing is more convincing to “fence-sitting” third parties than seeing ID/creationists reaction to straight, simple, civil, honest questions about their point of view.

    No preview – apologies for any typos.

  20. Christine Janis

    Oh, you haven’t met the creationist who argues with me that Tiktaalik is just the skull of an alligator, with the so-called “fish fins” being superimposed from real fish lying in the upper strata (a slight improvement from his previous hypothesis that the fins represented a fish that the alligator had been eating, and then choked on, which is why the fins appeared to be coming of its neck).

  21. I would add to Harold’s list of questions the basic question of “Why?”

    ID creationists, YECs, OECs, and all other creationists share one common trait – that is, all of life was created with a purpose. It was deliberate. Even the ID advocates, as cagey as they try to be about the religious underpinnings of their creationism, use purpose as a characteristic of design. Most importantly, all of them believe that we humans are the ultimate purpose of creation.

    So, if that is the case, why Tiktaalik? Why trilobites and dinosaurs and all the other wonderful extinct creatures? Why not create the modern ecosystem all at one go and be done with it?

    If God created us all with just his word, he rattled on a long time before he got to humans. If the intelligent designer could create life and imbue it with all the information necessary from the beginning – why sit around and wait for billions of years to get what he wanted?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  22. Christine Janis says: “Oh, you haven’t met the creationist who argues with me that Tiktaalik is just the skull of an alligator”

    I’m waiting to meet the one who argues that Tiktaalik is Eve’s alligator handbag, with decorative limbs attached because they looked so stylish.

  23. @harold – I agree, and I think that it is a neglected question for evolution deniers –
    Whenever someone brings up a “difficulty” with evolution, of course it is always appropriate to explain how evolutionary biology treats the issue. But it is also appropriate to ask “what is the alternative?”
    To add to your list of questions, among the many possibilities, I think of something like:
    If you went on a fossil-hunting expedition with the people who found Tiktaalik, what would you expect to find? Why didn’t they find a fossil hominid or a fossil whale?

  24. Christine Janis –

    ‘Oh, you haven’t met the creationist who argues with me that Tiktaalik is just the skull of an alligator, with the so-called “fish fins”’

    You can’t convince that person, the questions are designed to clarify their views for third party observers.

    If the person is an open YEC, then they will be able to answer the questions honestly. However, open YEC creationism can’t be taught in public high school as science, and is not embraced by the majority of the public. So right off the bat, a set of questions like mine, if answered honestly by a YEC, show third party observers that someone who may have been using “ID” as a euphemism is actually endorsing YEC.

    However, they usually won’t answer honestly. They’ve been taught to use ID code, as an underhanded (albeit ineffective) way to keep open the possibility of sneaking creationism into science class. Thus, in my experience, they’ll usually evade the questions, first by trying to ignore them, and then by trying to get away with flippant, meaningless answers (often using the tone of a defiant child trying to provoke an adult into losing their temper). This is very effective in helping third parties see what’s going on. Repeated refusal to answer simple, civil, obvious questions is a powerful statement.

  25. Thanks again to all who have commented…Harold…some great ideas there for me…to the rest of you…I’m still laughing over the alligator handbag and Benny’s Spineless Oyster Bar.

  26. Christine Janis

    “(often using the tone of a defiant child trying to provoke an adult into losing their temper).”

    Yes indeed. This particular charmer, when he can’t win an argument with me, will then resort to insults related to his imaginary notions that I’m a hugely fat person who quaffs junk food incessantly. Talk about the “Descent of Man” (well, this one, anyway).