Kansas Creationism Case: The State Strikes Back

The last time we wrote about this litigation was in a post about several court cases: Creationist Litigation Update: 29 Nov 2013. At that time, nothing was happening with any of them.

We’ve been calling this one the Kansas NGSS Case, because suit was filed in the US District Court’s Topeka office (for those who don’t know, that’s in Kansas) to bar the state from implementing the evolution-friendly Next Generation Science Standards (the “NGSS”). The creationist plaintiff has the Orwellian name of “Citizens for Objective Public Education, Inc.” (COPE). You can find generalized links to information at the Justia website: COPE et al v. Kansas State Board of Education et al, but you can’t access the court’s docket, which lists what’s been filed, and you can’t read the pleadings without a PACER subscription.

Our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) do have a subscription, and they’re archiving the pleadings here: COPE v. Kansas State BOE. We always like to call your attention to “Exhibit A” attached to the complaint, which starts at page 37. It’s an astounding collection of mind-numbing creationist arguments.

The news today is that for the first time since the complaint was filed, the case is showing signs of life. NCSE has just posted Kansas answers COPE. They say:

In documents filed on December 5, 2013, the defendants in COPE et al. v. Kansas State Board of Education et al. asked the United States District Court for the District of Kansas to dismiss the suit, saying … that the court lacks jurisdiction over all claims asserted in the complaint and that the complaint fails to state a claim against the defendants.

NCSE (bless ’em and their financial supporters) has already archived the state’s motion: Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss. It’s a two-page pdf file, but most of that is the case heading and the attorney’s signature block (it’s the Kansas Attorney General’s office). The actual substance is quite brief:

COMES NOW, all Defendants, by and through counsel, and pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and (6), move this Court to dismiss Plaintiffs’ claims. This Court lacks jurisdiction over all claims asserted in Plaintiffs’ Complaint (Doc. #1), and the Complaint fails to state a claim against Defendants.

Pursuant to D. Kan. R. 7.1(a), Defendants simultaneously file a memorandum in support of this motion.

Here’s a link to that memorandum, which is archived at the NCSE website. Yowie — it’s a 48 page pdf file. Looking at the Table of Contents, it covers these subjects: the state has sovereign immunity, the plaintiffs have no standing, the science standards (the NGSS) are secular, not religious, and they have nothing to do with Secular Humanism. The standards don’t violate the Constitution’s equal protection clause, nor do they restrict the plaintiffs’ right of free speech.

If you’re addicted to reading documents like that, dig right in and let us know if there are any goodies to be found there. Our only response is a cold shudder. Your Curmudgeon has always avoided debating creationists, because they’re either deliberately lying (and will go on doing so), or else they’re flat-out insane and have no cognitive ability at all. Either way, it’s a waste of lifespan to even talk to them. That’s why the Attorney General’s office has our sympathy. It must be intellectually daunting to be faced with a totally garbage lawsuit that makes all kinds of garbage claims, and to have to draft all this stuff in order to defend against it.

The state also filed this Motion to Stay Discovery, which asks that all discovery be suspended until the court has ruled on the state’s motion to dismiss.

Thus ends today’s episode of the creationist soap opera in Kansas. [*Tear-jerking music swells in the background*] Will the good, god-fearing folks of Kansas triumph against the satanic evolutionists? Will the atheist state force its godless theory of evolution on the innocent children? Stay tuned for the next thrilling episode of Kansas, the Flat Earth State — Rapture or Retribution?

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

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11 responses to “Kansas Creationism Case: The State Strikes Back

  1. I have family roots in Kansas (my great-grandfather homesteaded a farm just south of Topeka in 1857) and grew up in Texas. I’m gratified that my Texas compatriots finally got their head on straight and did the right thing. I also glad the State of Kansas is fighting the creationist attack on the new science standards. Maybe they (the State) will eventually have their head on straight. Kudos to all the “anti-flatearthers”.

  2. Texas did not get off totally free of having to deal with this same kind of nonsense. One of the creationist book reviews wrote a 12-point complaint about the biology text book that will still be reviewed. Of course, it’s 12 points of Discovery Institute mined quotes and other factually incorrect stuff, but amazingly as it may seem, the state STILL has to address them rather than laughing the numbskull out of the room.

    Same here. Old Calvert is still up to his decades old tricks with nothing but creationist talking points and factually incorrect statements. If Calvert prevailed then it would be possible for Deepak Chopra to teach Cosmic Consciousness right in physics class. Yes, it’s total woo and BS, but as a non-material explanation that requires no evidence (basically that’s Calvert’s argument) it could be taught as equivalent to anything in science.

    And, just think, there’s an infinite amount of woo because it’s all made up.

  3. From the complaint:
    “These questions are ultimate religious questions because answers to them profoundly relate the life of man to the world in which he lives.”

    This pretty well shuts the door on the Enlightenment, for now science can no longer ask questions about man and the universe. Strictly verboten!

    Let’s see now children, what were the Four Body Fluids or Humours Proper?
    1. The sanguineous humour
    2. The serous humour
    3. The bilous humour
    4. The atribilious humour

  4. @docbill1351there’s an infinite amount of woo because it’s all made up.
    Just like the products of unfettered design.

  5. Kansas was one of the Lead State Partners in developing the NGSS. They have skin in the game, so to speak.

  6. Sensuous Curmudgeon recommended that we read the Krazy Kansas Kreationist Komplaint starting at page 37, so I did so.

    A few points stand out:

    1. The creationists say Intelligent Design must be taught [p. 38, 39, 41, 47], even though it was defeated at Dover, but they don’t call it “Intelligent Design”. Instead, they have coined still new phrases to describe ID. This is their “Plan B” as you predicted. For examples, see my Appendix, below.

    2. They several times oppose teaching evolution or environmental issues because critical thinking by students is bad and they should not be allowed to make up their own minds [p. 43-4, 47, 51], but in at least one instance, demand teaching the “weakness” of TOE because critical thinking is good and students should be allowed to make up their own minds [p.37].

    3. They say evolution is a religious belief of the religion of what they consistently call ‘Religious (“Secular”) Humanism‘, which is an oxymoron, as “secular” by definition means not religious. However, as Josh Rosenau of NCSE documents, John Calvert, the litigious head of IDnet, has in the past written in his legal claims, and used as a legal argument, that secular humanism is NOT a religion. Rosenau, helpfully, also tots up previous court decisions where judges explicitly rejected the argument that evolution is a religion.

    Calvert of IDnet, 2005: “secular humanism and other broad concepts that generate religious implications have been held to not constitute a ‘religion’ for establishment clause purposes. Furthermore, the courts have ruled that the establishment clause is not violated simply ‘because the material to be taught happens to coincide or harmonize with the tenets of some or all religions.’” [John Calvert, in his 2005 “legal opinion” to the Kansas Board of Education]

    So secular humanism is a religion when that means you have to give equal time to creationism, and secular humanism is not a religion when that means you have to give equal time to creationism.

    4. Demand a McCarthy-like list of the religious identity of everyone who worked on the standards in any capacity, and they attack the whole National Academy of Science [NAS] and Eugenie Scott in particular as damn atheists:

    The religious beliefs of the Committee are not disclosed. Given the religious nature of the Framework and Standards it would be helpful to children, parents and taxpayers to know more about the religious beliefs of the Framework Committee and those who assisted with its development. …a number of the members of the committee are members of the [National] Academy [of Science]. A study …shows that ninety-three percent of Academy respondents disbelieved (72.2%) or doubted (20.8%) the existence of a “personal god.”4 Thus, nearly 92% of the Academy might be classified as sympathetic to the tenets of Religious (“Secular”) Humanism. Indeed, one of the major contributors to the Framework, Eugenie Scott, who is the CEO of the National Center for Science Education, is a signatory to Manifesto III and has been listed among the top 50 Atheists in the country.” [p. 43]

    5. Say that not indoctrinating kids into their religion is the same as attacking their religion and promoting atheism:

    “A word search of both the Framework and the Standards for the word “religion” results in a “not found” response. …Thus, the Framework and Standards studiously ignore the religious rights of parents, children and taxpayers. Instead, the document explicitly and implicitly promotes an atheistic worldview. [p. 43]

    6. They define Methodological Naturalism [MN] as mandating by definition that only atheistic or unintelligent cause explanations are permitted. MN requires that all evidence of an intelligent cause be ignored or somehow attributed to a natural cause” (p. 39), an outright lie, since archaeologists and anthropologists can attribute artifacts to intelligent human creators using conventional (non-ooga booga) methodology.

    7. They repeatedly demand that their false definition of Methodological Naturalism be clearly defined exactly the way they demand it be defined, in the text and in a Glossary (the demand for a Glossary is key), and that “students must also be informed of the evidence and alternative explanations that are excluded by the assumption [of MN] so that they acquire a genuine appreciation and understanding of its [MN’s] overall effect.” [p.39] This is code-speak meaning that children must be taught that evolution is supported by no evidence, only by the assumption that supernatural explanations are not permitted: “MN rules out the competition by assumption rather than by the evidence [p.41].

  7. Here are examples of the new, 2013 code words for creationism, used in the Krazy Kansas Kreationist Komplaint:

    1. Creationism Code Word #1: “evidence that leads to a logical inference of purposeful design in nature”

    “The [Framework and Standards] omit evidence that conflicts with the materialistic assumption of methodological naturalism, including evidence that leads to a logical inference of purposeful design in nature. [p. 47]

    2. Creationism Code Word #2: “Evidence which is inconsistent with the unguided materialistic assumption of MN and which supports the idea that the apparent design of many aspects of the natural world may be real”

    “Evidence which is inconsistent with the unguided materialistic assumption of MN and which supports the idea that the apparent design of many aspects of the natural world may be real is not included [in the NGSS]. Some of this evidence (none of which appears in the Framework or Standards) is summarized below:…

    …This phenomenon [Fine Tuning of laws of physics] suggests that the universe itself and its matter, energy and forces have been “fine-tuned” or “designed” for life. [p. 41]

    There then follows the usual crea$h!t arguments: mutations are always harmful, bullprob (Hoyle’s fallacy), genetic code is a language, macroevolution is controversial, fine tuning, etc.

    3. Creationism Code Word #3: “evidence that would be considered but for the use of MN”; or “evidence and alternative explanations that are excluded by the assumption” of Methodological Naturalism.

    “…we believe the Framework and Standards must (1) describe methods of testing historical hypotheses in historical sciences by seeking the best of competing explanations, (2) state the fact that this method is not generally used in the development of unguided evolutionary explanations about the origin of life and its diversity, as MN rules out the competition by assumption rather than by the evidence, and (3) include a showing of the evidence that would be considered but for the use of MN, and (4) describe how that evidence would affect the plausibility of the evolutionary explanations. Unless this kind of objectivity is required, then the effect of the NGSS will… inexorably lead children… to accept the atheistic view of how life is related to the world in which it is lived.” [p.40-41]

    “Children should be informed that MN [Methodological Naturalism] is being used in the historical and life sciences and that there is a significant body of evidence that conflicts with its materialistic assumption. Many recognized scientists believe it should be abandoned in certain areas of historical science, where it impedes rather than aids open-minded inquiry.

    The assumption of materialism (MN) is incompatible with science education that must respect the religious rights of children, parents and taxpayers. The effect of MN is to lead children to accept atheistic explanations of the origin and nature of life, rather than to question them.

    Not only must use of this assumption be explained, students must also be informed of the evidence and alternative explanations that are excluded by the assumption so that they acquire a genuine appreciation and understanding of its [MN’s] overall effect. The Framework and Standards do none of this. Instead, while using the assumption, they effectively hide its use.” [p.39]

    4. Creationism Code Word #4: “competing or alternative viewpoints that lead to differing religious implications and inferences”

    “The State may satisfy its First Amendment obligations by excluding religious subject matter from the curriculum. It can also include the [religious] subject matter if it does so objectively and in a neutral manner… This may be accomplished… [through] programs that inform students of the competing or alternative viewpoints that lead to differing religious implications and inferences. Neutrality may also be achieved through an objective consideration of the strengths and weaknesses of explanations that support a particular religious viewpoint… the Framework and Standards address religious questions and then provide Atheistic/materialistic explanations in a manner that is not likely to produce a religiously neutral effect.” [p. 38]

    Here they concede that Intelligent Design is a religious belief.

  8. Curm, if you’re free I’d be obliged if you got my comment out of moderation. Thnx.

  9. Diogenes, I retrieved your comment, and doctored it up a tad.

  10. Richard Olson

    Thanks for all that effort, Diogenes. I cringe every time anyone from the reality community uses “design” to describe a natural process, which is often. As with careless use of “theory”, this seems to me intellectual sloppiness that plays to the interests of anti-science zealotry.