Mississippi Creationism Bill Doomed by Its Author

We’ve been writing about creationist legislation for a few years now, but this is the funniest thing we’ve ever seen.

Yesterday we wrote Mississippi Creationism: New Bill for 2016. It’s one of those typical attempts to sneak creationism into the public schools, based on the Discovery Institute’s Academic Freedom bill. We’ve critiqued their model bill here: Curmudgeon’s Guide to “Academic Freedom” Laws.

The legislative genius who gets credit for being the lead author of the bill is real estate salesman Mark Formby. That’s his page at the Mississippi legislature’s website. Formby probably doesn’t realize it yet, but he has already destroyed his bill with a single press interview.

We present to you, dear reader, some excerpts from Bill would allow teachers to promote creationism, which appears in the Hattiesburg American, located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The bold font was added by us:

Rep. Mark Formby, R-Picayune, said a constituent told him a teacher had been questioned after bringing up the theory of creationism, or the religious belief that the universe originated from acts of divine creation.

“I just don’t want my teachers punished in any form or fashion for bringing creationism into the debate. Lots of us believe in creationism,” Formby, the chairman of the House Revenue and Expenditure committee, said. “To say that creationism as a theory is any less valuable than any other theory that nobody can scientifically prove I just think is being close-minded.”

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Formby’s version of the Discoveroid bill has the same misleading language we’ve seen so many times before, about teaching “critical thinking skills” and the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of theories like evolution. And it has the foolish cover-language that despite its obvious purpose — which Formby has just admitted — it “shall not be construed” to promote any religious doctrine.

Those bills have never fooled anyone. Even Formby knows what it is, but creationism is such a common belief in Mississippi that it doesn’t occur to him that he’s supposed to lie about it. The newspaper says:

While the bill states objective debates should be allowed, Formby said he hopes the bill would allow teachers to express their opinions as well.

Hey — why not? Who needs objectivity in a science class? Let’s read on:

“If a teacher believes in global warming, she should be able to say ‘I believe in global warming,’ then if she believes the Earth was created by a Supreme Being, that maybe there are other theories than the big bang theory where there was nothing, then nothing exploded and created something.”

Yeah — anything goes! We continue:

There are no punishments laid out in the bill for administrators or school board members who interfere with a teacher’s discussion of these topics, but Formby’s hope is that if the bill becomes law, teachers could point to it to challenge any complaints.

Right — creationist teachers need academic freedom.

Aside from Formby’s catastrophically honest interview — which will surely kill his creationist legislation — his bill may have other problems: The Hattiesburg American tells us:

The bill was referred to the House Education Committee, which Rep. John Moore, R-Brandon, chairs. Moore, who is listed as a co-author on the bill but has not carefully reviewed it, said it is unlikely he will bring it up. “We’re very limited on the amount of legislation we move forward,” Moore said. “This has a long way to go to make it through the process, if I even bring it up.”

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The bill is likely to die in committee, even without Formby’s interview. Then the newspaper quotes some remarks by Glenn Branch of the National Center for Science Education. That’s good stuff, and you’ll want to click over there to read it. Well, here’s one quote. He said that under Formby’s proposal:

“There’s no reason a teacher couldn’t say that women or blacks are inferior, or … that the Earth was flat or the sun goes around the Earth, and then couldn’t be shut down by the administration.”

Glenn can probably stop worrying about Mississippi — at least this time around. But there’s always next year.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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11 responses to “Mississippi Creationism Bill Doomed by Its Author

  1. Our esteemed Curmudgeon observes: “Glenn can probably stop worrying about Mississippi — at least this time around. But there’s always next year.”
    Which, in Mississippi, means when the sun goes around the earth 365 more times.

  2. Sometimes nobody can derail creationist goals better than — a creationist.

  3. “he hopes the bill would allow teachers to express their opinions as well”
    Great! So when I teach math and physics in Mississippi I can tell my pupils that resurrections and ascensions to heaven are physically impossible, so that they never happened – and when I get criticized Formby will defend me?

  4. @mnb0: Well, Fromby probably wouldn’t object if you said it was unlikely that Mohamad’s horse leaped into heaven with him.

  5. And if I were to teach in math class that pi is exactly three, as is indicated in the Bible, he’d defend my right to say that, too?

    With a twenty-first-century American educational system like that, we’d never make it to the twenty-second as a functioning nation.

  6. Teaching creationism? But… but… but… Sarah Chaffee of the Discovery Institute said that exactly that would not happen:

    I don’t see how that could be clearer. Promoting a religious idea such as creationism is not protected under this law. As Casey Luskin has pointed out, “[I]f you’re teaching religion, then you’re not protected by an academic freedom bill. Since creationism has been ruled a religious belief by the Supreme Court, teachers who teach it would not be protected.”

    You just have to read the bill – Mark Formby must be part of NCSE’s disinformation campaign!

  7. Holding the Line in Florida

    (wiping a tear from my eye) Gosh!!! This is one of my proudest moments as an Expatriate Mississippian! This will teach them durn Evilutionists!! You can always count on Mississippi to lead the way into the 18th Century!!!

  8. Academic freedom. Teach both sides. Critical thinking. But only in your public schools, not in our churches and parochial schools.

    What hypocrites.

  9. SC: “Those bills have never fooled anyone.”

    And yet, in a way, they all fool everyone. Even before they die they waste time and money that could better be spent helping the people who voted for their authors.

    More importantly, they have all succeded in allowing the anti-science side to control the terms the debate even when they eventually lose. By that I mean that they claim that our (pro science) side “censors” and we show that that’s not so. So what’s wrong wih that? Plenty. Because in fact it’s the anti-science side that effectively promotes censorship, but we almost never take that important next to show why that’s the case. That’s especially unfortunate because it’s counterintuitive to most people how adding “alternatives” censors anything. But in fact, what is “added” is something that has not earned the right to be taught, and displaces some of what has earned that right, and misrepresents all of it.

  10. Matt: “Academic freedom. Teach both sides. Critical thinking. But only in your public schools, not in our churches and parochial schools.”

    Actually few churches misrepresent evolution. If they teach Genesis-as-fact, half the students read between the lines and take it allegorically – as I did 50 years ago. As for parochial schools, I read that most today teach evolution only, and more effectively than public schools on average.

    The hypocrisy thus is entirely within public schools. Note how activists demand a (bogus) “critical analysis” of only evolution, but never of any of the alternatives. The latest scam is to avoid even mentioning pseudoscientific alternatives, and just let the student infer one as the default, after they have been taught unreasonable doubt of evolution. So they never get to considering any weaknesses withing “creationism”, much less the embarrassing contreadictions among young-earth and old-earth versions.

    A common objection is that, since “Edwards v Aguillard” forbids teaching the common pseudoscientic alternatives, it also ironically forbids critically analyzing them. But those alternatives, unlile the “don’t ask, don;t tell what happened when” ID scam, make testable claims (e.g. fixed kinds, young earth) that can be stated and tested with no referenve to creators, designers or anything else that violates the Establishment clause. But for 30 years anti-evoltion activists have known better than to publicly demand that they be taught, let alone citically analyzed.

  11. Frank J., to clarify, they keep fighting for public school to teach god-based ideas but they don’t fight for churches and parochial schools to teach atheistic ideas. Religious types are not interested in fighting for everyone’s right to hear all ideas; they are interested in spreading their faith.