Indiana: A New Kind of Creationist Madness

Something new is going around in the bizarre world of anti-evoluition education. Our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) just posted Indiana antiscience resolution passes the Senate. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Indiana’s Senate Resolution 17, which targets the teaching of evolution in Indiana’s public schools, was passed on a 40-9 vote by the Senate on February 27, 2017.

Here’s the text of Senate Resolution 17. We added some bold font to emphasize the madness and some creationist code words. It says:

A SENATE RESOLUTION urging the Department of Education to reinforce support of teachers who choose to teach a diverse curriculum.

Whereas, The Indiana General Assembly understands that an important purpose of science education is to inform students about scientific evidence and to help students develop the critical thinking skills they need in order to become intelligent, productive, and scientifically informed citizens;

Whereas, The Indiana General Assembly further understands the recommendation by the U.S. Congress, as stated in the report language of the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, namely, “Where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), that the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics can generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society”;

Whereas, The Indiana General Assembly further understands that the ACLU and like organizations agree in principle that any genuinely scientific evidence for or against any explanation of life may be taught;

Whereas, The Indiana General Assembly urges in principle the recommendation by U.S. Congress as stated above;

Whereas, The Indiana General Assembly understands that neither recommendations, nor endorsements, nor implications by the courts have the force of law, but to avoid legal or other conflicts, teachers should not be intimidated, fired, or restricted from following the recommendation named herein or students penalized for holding differing positions based on the evidence objectively presented, as long as they meet specified curriculum requirements otherwise;

Whereas, the Indiana General Assembly understands that neither the specified recommendation nor endorsement extends to the promotion of any religious or non-religious doctrine, or to the promotion or discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or non-beliefs, or the promotion or discrimination for or against religion or non-religion; and

Whereas, The Indiana General Assembly urges the Department of Education to notify all public school system superintendents of the provisions herein that they might disseminate copies to all their employees within their district: Therefore,

Be it resolved by the Senate of the General Assembly of the State of Indiana:

SECTION 1. That the Indiana Senate urges the Department of Education to reinforce support of teachers who choose to teach a diverse curriculum.

SECTION 2. The Secretary of the Senate is hereby directed to transmit a copy of this Resolution to the Indiana Department of Education.

Now that is an arkload! NCSE says:

SR 17 ostensibly urges the state department of education “to reinforce support of teachers who choose to teach a diverse curriculum.” But evolution is clearly the target. The language of the resolution repeats the so-called Santorum language from the report to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 — “Where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), that the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics can generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society” — and its initial sponsors, Jeff Raatz (R-District 27) and Dennis Kruse (R-District 14), have a history of introducing antievolution legislation in Indiana, as NCSE previously reported.

Ah yes, the infamous and incredibly stupid Santorum Amendment, about which Wikipedia says:

The Santorum Amendment was a failed proposed amendment to the 2001 education funding bill (which became known as the No Child Left Behind Act), proposed by Republican Rick Santorum (then a United States Senator for Pennsylvania), which promoted the teaching of intelligent design while questioning the academic standing of evolution in US public schools. In response, a coalition of 96 scientific and educational organizations wrote a letter to the conference committee, urging that the amendment be stricken from the final bill, arguing that evolution is, in the scientific fields, regarded as fact and that the amendment creates the misperception that evolution is not fully accepted in the scientific community, and thus weakens science curricula. The words of the amendment survive in modified form in the Bill’s Conference Report and do not carry the weight of law. As one of the Discovery Institute intelligent design campaigns it became a cornerstone in the intelligent design movement’s “Teach the Controversy” campaign.

We discussed the Santorum Amendment here: Klinghoffer’s New Hero — Rick Santorum. Okay, back to NCSE. They tell us:

SR 17 is a non-binding resolution with no legal force; a similar measure, House Joint Resolution 78, is presently under consideration by the Alabama House Rules Committee.

That’s the news. Now what? Are we going to have a bunch of these idiotic resolutions to deal with? Maybe so. The Indiana legislature will be in session until 29 April. Plenty of time.

Even if these things do pass, they’re not binding, so all they do is cause trouble in the classroom and proclaim to the world that a state has a pack of idiots in its legislature. We’ve always suspected that they do, and we don’t need any more evidence.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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30 responses to “Indiana: A New Kind of Creationist Madness

  1. The political winds have shifted and are placing us downwind of the ID/creationist manure pile.

    Or is that the wind coming directly from the southern end of a herd of northbound ID/creationists?

  2. It’s much bigger than a pack of idiots in a state legislature here & there. It’s an epidemic of idiocy afflicting a whole nation, and yet another idiocy that’s gotten an implied boost from the ominous new order put in place by the last general election.

  3. Michael Fugate

    How is this going to bring jobs to Indiana?

  4. Holding The Line In Florida

    What else would you expect from Pence Land? Sanity? I have always regarded Indiana as the Mississippi of Yankee land. Well perhaps that it stretching it a bit.

  5. Don`t you think it ironic that Sen. Res. 17 refers to ‘critical thinking’? Have they redefined the term? Does crit think refer to thinking–um–critically?

  6. Another Dover Trap. Let it pass. In fact, encourage it passing. Then, hopefully, some hapless school district will end up losing in federal court and slapped with millions of dollars in legal fees! Whoooooo, education winning in Indiana!

  7. Docbill1351, don’t forget that Sessions is the AG and creationism and religious “freedom” are right up his alley (or whatever).

  8. Dave Luckett

    This is plainly written to take advantage of an unfortunate and inadvertent fact: that there exists a scattering of persons teaching something like “general science”, probably in elementary or middle school who are fiat creationists (as opposed to theistic evolutionists). The figure I have seen for flyover territory in the US is as high as one in six. These people usually have a teaching qualification, but no scientific one. The aim of this legislation is to give them licence to teach antiscience. They have no such licence.

    Their proportion decreases markedly in upper school biology, because secondary school science teachers generally do have a relevant college degree, and thus have at least been brought into contact with the real evidence.

    Section 1, the “diverse curriculum” doubletalk, is a left-handed method of giving licence not to teach evolution at all. For a further population of teachers, weary to death of the waste of time and energy involved in fielding parental objections to evolution, it will be a valuable escape.

    Why should the legislators care? Some teachers will be pleased, some parents will be pleased, most won’t notice. The only losers are school students, and they don’t have a vote.

    And that will hold true right up to the moment when a parent brings suit in Federal Court against a teacher or school or board or district that has violated their child’s constitutional rights by teaching a religious doctrine – fiat creationism – in the public school. The defendants will then find that this piece of prose is utterly valueless. And even then, the State Legislature can shrug its collective shoulders, mumble something about activist judges, and leave the defendants to stew in their own juice.

  9. @docbill1351
    But we cannot expect that every judge can save us. We cannot expect that a majority of the Supreme Court will be diligent in protecting us against government promoting a particular religious sect.

  10. Funny how something as objectively clear as the FACT that blind mechanical forces HAVE BEEN SHOWN to explain all biological phenomena can’t be understood by so many people who rise to significance in our society. But the article has it right, they must be all idiots full of stupid ideas. Yep, that’s gotta be it. Now I feel better.

  11. Unless I’m mistaken, PSYPAUL, your professional field is Psychology. Perhaps, for those of us whom you deem unsophisticated, you could clarify your comment. We welcome your input.

  12. I should have held my tongue – this isn’t my community. But I just couldn’t help pointing out the idea that perhaps there would be some value to trying to understand what these lawmakers (none of which I know or am in any way connected) are doing. I find it interesting how certain we can be about the world – and yet also see us as on the “critical thinking” side of things. How about some self-criticism? I mean even a cursory review of the history of science shows the invaluable (necessary?) role that a particular religious worldview played in the development of what we now call the scientific method. And if you look at what happened at Dover (for instance), the mere reading of a short phrase suggesting to those that might be interested that other people (with Ph.D.’s and are unquestionably not idiots) have some other thoughts about this very critical issue and that they could go outside of class to look at it was treated as a scientific sin worthy of sever punishment and public humiliation. Among other things I study the history of scientific thought emerging out of the 1800’s and some of the stuff I’m reading today reminds me of the stuff that was published by so many of our scientific forbearers from the 1910’s and 20’s. You know, the era of eugenics, social Darwinism, etc. OK – as I see it, a fundamental question here is “does the data of nature point beyond itself?” – and “will we even allow the possibility that it points beyond itself?” These are important questions (how can anyone argue that they are not?!) that transcend any particular classroom – and wouldn’t our students benefit from being allowed to think about these things? I mean why is religion (or I would prefer questions of purposes and meaning) being singled out here? Do we keep politics out of the science classroom? (That’s laughable.) Aesthetics? No – only religion. I mean I might think differently if the science classroom only dealt with raw data, graphs, etc. – but it doesn’t. It proports to shed light on these questions of how to understand nature. Who decided this is merely the domain of a particular philosophical viewpoint (naturalism)? I contest we have a Jim Crowe-like system here. This idea that we can keep religion and science separate – and somehow claim we are being fair to both sides. But what we are really doing, I contend, is creating a separate but not equal system where naturalists control the means of education and theists (for lack of a better term) are told to sit in the back of the bus and be happy about it. But a funny thing is happening on the way to certainty, the data of nature isn’t playing along nicely. Ok – I’ve said my peace. Thanks for the opportunity. I’ll bow out now.

  13. Thanks for the clarification, PSYPAUL. Speaking only for myself, the problem is inherent in the different processes of science and theology. Theological explanations are inherently supernatural, and are therefore untestable and literally incomprehensible. Even if true — although that couldn’t be demonstrated — there is no way for science to deal with such things. Therefore the methodology of science is to avoid such “explanations.” It’s not atheism. Rather, it’s because there are no tests or observations that could be applied to supernatural phenomena.

    It’s certainly true that science doesn’t have all the answers, and probably never will — but those it does have are supported by verifiable evidence; and if new evidence comes along, old theories will be revised or even discarded. Meanwhile, the lack of a verified scientific explanation for some phenomenon doesn’t mean — at least to a scientist — that a supernatural cause is therefore implied. It means only that more research is necessary. Science is all about evidence, and theological descriptions of the world are not.

  14. with Ph.D.’s and are unquestionably not idiots
    No comment on this.

    But on the question of how to understand nature, let me point out that when we are speaking of the facets of nature which evolutionary biology offers understanding, there is no alternative understanding being offered.
    Yes, the only game in town is evolution. No one has suggested an alternative for the “tree of life” aka “nested hierarchy”, one which does not involve “descent with modification”. We cannot, with all fairness, consider something which doesn’t exist.
    For example, a suggested definition of “Intelligent Design” is “there is an explanation better than naturalistic evolution”. Note that this “definition” does not say what that better explanation is, it only says that there is such an explanation. Are we supposed to tell the kids, after talking about evolution, “But some people say that there is a better explanation. No questions.”

  15. Michael Fugate

    Maybe not idiots, but ignorant nonetheless.

    Paul how would you put religion in the science classroom? Would you teach every creation story from every religion? Or just the one you believe?

  16. Thanks Curmudgeon, but with all due respect, I couldn’t disagree more. I would encourage anyone interested to try and understand theological epistemology – the queen of the sciences. Read a bit about it – these are serious thinkers (of course there are also quacks just like in any other area of inquiry). Just as in the scientific method, you have ideas that work down from theories or presuppositions and then are reflected upon with data – and you have the gathering of data which sometimes leads to theory construction. “Scientific” thinking is not unique to those who call themselves scientists. And science is not always self-correcting and does not always limit itself to theorizing in areas that are falsifiable (e.g., the theory that each of our former choices, past and future, are actually predetermined by a combination of our DNA and previous experiences could hardly be considered ‘scientific.’ How exactly would one go about testing this? And chiefly, how exactly could one conclusively falsify it? Yet, I would contend that most people who self-identify as scientists hold it propositionally as part of the standard “scientific” armament of beliefs). I think Popper and others clearly demonstrated that falsifiability may be a good PR move, but it clearly is not adhered to within scientific communities. The fallibility of human thinking is present in every human endeavor – even the scientific enterprise (e.g., the current replication problem in the medical and social sciences). By the way, a great book to get started on would be Matthew Stanley’s (as far as I know he has no axe to grind – I honestly don’t know if he’s a theist or not) “Huxley’s Church and Maxwell’s Demon” (U of Chicago Press, 2015). Ok – stepping out now. Got tests to score, papers to grade, lectures to give. Peace out –

  17. @Michael Fugate
    There are other possibilities for why someone tells another something which is grossly wrong. Alternative explanations could include “the intention is not to tell the truth”, such as “you can’t handle the truth”, or “I do not want to believe this”.

  18. theological epistemology – the queen of the sciences…

    “Theology is never any help; it is searching in a dark cellar at midnight for a black cat that isn’t there. Theologians can persuade themselves of anything.”

    Robert A. Heinlein

  19. psypaul; What theory are you referring to here: “the theory that each of our former choices, past and future, are actually predetermined by a combination of our DNA and previous experiences could hardly be considered ‘scientific.”

    This is not theory I’ve ever heard, nor does it fit the definition of determinism.

  20. Coyote;
    theological epistemology – the queen of the sciences.. and the comment about grading papers and giving lectures makes me wonder just where and what psypaul teaches.

  21. Paul S wonders “just where and what psypaul teaches.”

    I’m pretty sure I know, but I’ll let him disclose that if he wants to.

  22. “the invaluable (necessary?) role that a particular religious worldview played in the development of what we now call the scientific method”
    You mean hinduism I suppose?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_science_and_technology_in_the_Indian_subcontinent

    “Who decided this is merely the domain of a particular philosophical viewpoint (naturalism)?”
    When you mean methodological naturalism – scientists around 1800 CE. If you “had studied the history of scientific thought emerging out of the 1800’s” indeed you would have known. Oh irony – many of the scientists involved with that decision were christians.

    “I mean why is religion (or I would prefer questions of purposes and meaning) being singled out here?”
    In my class (I teach math and physics) it isn’t. However I keep it (and also politics) out of math and physics. When I test my pupils I don’t ask questions about purpose, meaning, god, religion, socialism etc. etc. They can write “Jesus is my Lord and Saviour” on their tests as often as they like – it will have exactly zero impact on their grade.
    However for a total outsider like me – I even never even set foot in the USA – it’s obvious that religious folks like you have an agenda. You want to pretend that science supports your particular religious views. It doesn’t.

    “theological epistemology”
    If there is such a thing it doesn’t belong in science class, because science doesn’t use such epistemology. Thanks for effectively demonstrating what you argued against in your previous comment.
    Still I’m curious. Teach us. I have a simple example for you.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacobus_Capitein

    No doubt you can find yourself a theologian who thinks with the Bible in his/her hand that christians cannot have slaves. So we have two contradicing claims. Tell us how theological epistemology decides which one is incorrect (or perhaps both). Explain us with this example how that theological epistemology works. Because remember: Capitein and co were certainly no idiots. He wrote a frigging dissertation about the topic, using your favourite Holy Book.

  23. Michael Fugate

    I been trying to understand theological epistemology for decades – perhaps Paul has a good source? Reading the Bible and assuming it true – is not much of an epistemology.

  24. @Michael Fugate
    I can understand if someone reads the Bible and assumes that it is true. But such people are rare. They would be believers in a solid firmament holding back the waters of the heavens. They would believe that the Sun travels underground at night. They would have no opinion on evolution (the Bible says nothing about the hereditary traits of populations).

  25. Michael Fugate

    No, those are not the core beliefs. There is a God and Jesus is his Son yadda, yadda, yadda is the meat. It is the Nicene Creed. That is what is assumed by almost every Christian. How one would know this is true is where theological epistemology should be starting, but it just assumes that without question.

  26. @Michael Fugate
    I’m interested in those who tell us that things like Noah’s Flood being worldwide are critical to Christianity, enough to determine immediate dismissal for a star faculty member. Somehow to doubt the literal truth of the Flood undermines belief in salvation.
    As far as the epistemology of the Nicene Creed, it’s been a while since I studied the Council – were Bible proof-texts the starting point for the debate?

  27. PhD as ‘Piled High and Deep’ is not that far off! PhD does NOT mean he aint stoopid! It means that at some point the PhD satisfied a set of criteria. It does not mean the PhD is smart. You must ask WHERE did the PhD come from…Liberty U in theology gotten in a 2yr coarse does not mean very much!!!

  28. Michael Fugate

    Savvy Sarah has a post up praising the Indiana legislature – surprised?

  29. PSYPAUL claims:
    “theological epistemology – the queen of the sciences”

    Theology was expelled from science some *four* centuries ago. You have a lot of catching up to do since that is pure creationist talk. And since there are hundreds of thousands of differing theologies that are fact free and most often untestable, with the testable parts having a distressing habit of failing, how do you even test your preferred version for accuracy?

  30. docbill1351

    Theological epistemology has added nothing, zero, nada or zippo to the canon of human knowledge about the world. Not a jot.

    Theological epistemology is to knowledge about the world as Harry Potter is to knowledge about the wizarding world. It may be fun to let the imagination soar in fiction, but as a “serious” discipline, well, we all knew that guy in college majoring in philosophy who was destined by the stars to always have a second job.

    But, enough about the Queen of Science when we could admire the King of Science – analytical chemistry. Yes, analytical chemistry, bringing together all the sciences into one spot of elegance and precision, the mastery of which is reserved for the talented few, some of whom, I humbly suggest, are quite studly, too.