Iowa Has a Creationism Bill for 2017

The state of Iowa hasn’t had a creationism bill since 2009, when we wrote Iowa Creationism: Another “Freedom” Bill. It died in committee. The thing was based on the anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism Academic Freedom Act promoted by the Discovery Institute. We’ve critiqued their model bill here: Curmudgeon’s Guide to “Academic Freedom” Laws.

It appears that they’ve still got creationists in Iowa, so they’re at it again. Our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) have just reported Antiscience bill in Iowa. Here are some excerpts:

Iowa’s House File 480, introduced and referred to the House Education Committee on March 1, 2017, would, if enacted, require teachers in Iowa’s public schools to include “opposing points of view or beliefs” to accompany any instruction relating to evolution, the origins of life, global warming, or human cloning.

This is the text of the bill, with the familiar Discoveroid code words and phrases highlighted in bold font:

Section 1. NEW SECTION . 279.54 Science education. 1. The board of directors of each school district shall authorize and assist teachers, principals, and other school administrators to create and foster an environment within the school district’s elementary and secondary schools that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories. If a teacher provides instruction relating to evolution, the origins of life, global warming, or human cloning, the teacher shall include opposing points of view or beliefs relating to the instruction.

2. A teacher employed by the school district shall use textbooks adopted by the school district, but may supplement the information in those textbooks with other instructional materials, including other textbooks, as permitted by the board of directors of the school district, to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner.

3. This section shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.

EXPLANATION

This bill creates new Code section 279.54 directing the board of directors of each school district to authorize and assist the district’s teachers and administrators to create and foster an environment within the district’s elementary and secondary schools that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories. If a teacher provides instruction relating to evolution, the origins of life, global warming, or human cloning, the teacher must include opposing points of view or beliefs relating to the instruction.

A teacher shall use textbooks adopted by the school district, but may supplement the information in those textbooks with other instructional materials, as permitted by the board of directors of the school district. The bill provides that new Code section 279.54 shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.

Nothing new there; it’s a typical Discoveroid bill. NCSE says:

There is no requirement that those “points of view or beliefs” have any scientific credibility — only that they are opposed to whatever material is presented in the classroom. In 2015, Iowa adopted the Next Generation Science Standards, so presumably evolution and global warming are presented in the state’s classrooms.

That’s a reasonable assumption. After that they tell us:

Echoing the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act of 2008, the bill also provides that teachers may use supplementary instructional materials “to help understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner” with the approval of the board of directors of their school district.

One last excerpt:

The bill is sponsored by Skyler Wheeler (R-District 4), Larry Sheets (R-District 80), Ralph C. Watts (R-District 19), Rob Taylor (R-District 44), Sandy Salmon (R-District 63) — the sponsor of House File 140, which aims to undermine Iowa’s adoption of the NGSS — Tedd Gassman (R-District 7), and Terry C. Baxter (R-District 8).

The legislature’s website doesn’t give much biographical information, so the only one of those we Googled for was Skyler Wheeler, because he’s the lead sponsor. This seems to be his campaign website: State Representative Skyler Wheeler. The “About” page says that he has a Bachelors Degree in Political Science, and he’s working “off-and-on” for a masters degree in American Government from Regent University. That’s a bible college founded by Pat Robertson.

Regarding his occupation, all we’re told is this:

Skyler’s work ethic is unquestionable. He has worked since he was 15 years old, holding nine different jobs over eight years, including a month-long stint where he held three at the same time. As one of 10 children of his parents Marcus and Dana, Skyler had to work to earn everything he received growing up, and believes he is better off for it!

Skyler is exactly the kind of legislator we’d expect to be sponsoring a bill like this. Will it get anywhere? Who knows? The Iowa legislature is scheduled to adjourn on 28 April.

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

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

29 responses to “Iowa Has a Creationism Bill for 2017

  1. Michael Fugate

    Tedd Gassman Insurance Salesman, Farmer, and Former Teacher (what he taught?, but hasn’t taught since 1975)
    http://www.bleedingheartland.com/2015/11/18/preview-of-an-iowa-house-district-7-rematch-tedd-gassman-vs-dave-grussing/

    Terry Baxter Pastor Founder of GoServe Global
    http://goservglobal.org/informational-materials/
    Creationist – without a doubt.

    Sandy Salmon, ex-Marine Homeschool mom
    https://caffeinatedthoughts.com/2016/05/candidate-interview-sandy-salmon-iowa-house-district-63/

    the usual suspects

  2. What does “human cloning” belong in the usual list?
    Are they saying that they don’t think that human cloning happens? Are they saying that K-12 students shouldn’t be experimenting with it? Is there much time spend in K-12 classes on human cloning?

  3. docbill1351

    “Are they saying that they don’t think that human cloning happens? ”

    It’s a vague right wing meme. It certainly doesn’t stand up to Eve cloned from Adam’s rib.

    Oops!

  4. “Nothing new there; it’s a typical Discoveroid bill.” — Au contraire! It’s very unusual these days for such a bill to require, rather than to allow, teaching “alternative theories” or “strengths and weaknesses” or (as here) “opposing points of view or beliefs.”

  5. Ross Cameron

    ‘Skyler’s work ethic is unquestionable. He has worked since he was 15 years old, holding nine different jobs over eight years, including a month-long stint where he held three at the same time. As one of 10 children of his parents Marcus and Dana, Skyler had to work to earn everything he received growing up, and believes he is better off for it!’
    O.k., he`s a hard worker. Is he a hard thinker?

  6. If a teacher provides instruction relating to evolution, the origins of life, global warming, or human cloning, the teacher must include opposing points of view or beliefs relating to the instruction.”
    Yes, a pretty blatant statement, the legislature now dictating what should be taught, or are they? For example, an opposing religious perspective on evolution – Wiccan viewpoint, or is it inclusive of all religious viewpoints, etc.
    But here’s an example of some of the educational credentials of Iowa legislators who will vote on such bills:
    http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/iowa-pol-s-bio-changed-after-sizzler-u-discrepancy-emerges-n726961

  7. …or is it inclusive of all religious viewpoints, etc.

    Not a chance.

    The sole purpose of these creationist bills is to sneak fundamentalist biblical religion into public schools.

    The odds against the “Old Man Coyote” stories of the Native Americans showing up are too high to measure.

  8. “holding nine different jobs over eight years, including a month-long stint where he held three at the same time.”

    “O.k., he`s a hard worker.”

    My take on that is that he could not hold a job for very long. I would also like to point out that I met a “very hard working carpenter” (his description) many years ago and he claimed to have been working as a professional carpenter for 25 years. More than one person quickly commented that since he was 28 he must have started being a professional carpenter rather early. The moral being don’t assume that everyone tells the truth, and this especially applies to creationists.

  9. Glenn Branch points out my error in saying “it’s a typical Discoveroid bill.”

    Quite right. As he says: It’s very unusual these days for such a bill to require, rather than to allow, teaching “alternative theories” or “strengths and weaknesses” or (as here) “opposing points of view or beliefs.”

  10. Why duck a bill? Isn’t it viable?

  11. Zetopan notes of Wheeler’s employment history, viz., “nine different jobs over eight years”:

    My take on that is that he could not hold a job for very long.

    That was my take on that as well. In my career in IT I must have read several thousand job applicants’ CV’s and conducted several hundred interviews. Even allowing that IT is a sector with an above average rate of job churning (particularly for developers, who often move companies in order to secure training in next generation coding), 9 jobs over 8 years in a resume would certainly raise some questions to put at interview about ability to work with others &c.

  12. If I were a job interviewer in IT, I would wonder, “if we hire this guy, is he going to move on just when he is just becoming productive?” But if he is an unskilled laborer, seeking temporary work, it would not be remarkable. What kind of skills does he call for in his latest job?

  13. TomS notes on Wheeler’s employment:

    What kind of skills does he call for in his latest job?

    That raises a question almost suitable for a Curmudgeonly Creative Competition, viz.:

    If you were recruiting people for the job of promoting Creationism, what background experience would you be looking for, and what set of skills?

    Off the top of my head, I’d suggest that someone home-schooled, who subsequently went on to drop out of law school and became instead an Amway salesman would be about optimal…

  14. “If a teacher provides instruction relating to ….., the teacher must include opposing points of view or beliefs relating to the instruction.”
    I propose two mutually exclusive amendments.

    1. add “spherical Earth, Moon Landing, and Belgium. Specifically this opposing point of view should be presented in American classroom:

    http://zapatopi.net/belgium/

    It also should be presented when the (American – I can’t stress that enough) teacher talks about sprouts and chocolate.

    2. add to “opposing points of view of beliefs” “endorsed by the scientific method”.

  15. Let’s not dwell on trivialities. Let’s allow opposing points of view on baseball and football.
    Should the team with the greater score be called the winner? Or – as in golf and swimming – is the smaller score the winner?

  16. Retired Prof

    On my way to a college degree I held at least nine jobs during summers and one year off from classes. I was either saving up or paying off loans for tuition, books, and lodging. So Tom S’s comment about temporary jobs is apropos; maybe Skyler was paying his own way toward his degrees in political science and American government. Nothing to be scorned there.

    The question is, why didn’t he learn about keeping government out of religion and religion out of government on his way to getting those degrees? That lack is what deserves scorn.

  17. docbill1351

    It’s a pretty thin resumé when you have to boast about a one-month stretch.

    That said, I remember spending a month putting together a plastic model kit of the USS Constitution, including painting the little sailors. I was in a labor union at the time and on strike. In addition to model building I also worked as a cashier and dishwasher at a local restaurant. I’m convinced it was my diligence during that one-month period that got me into graduate school. There’s no other explanation!

  18. “Skyler Wheeler”: did anyone else think of Ezekiel’s wheel in the sky?

    http://www.openbible.info/topics/ezekiel_saw_a_wheel_in_the_sky

  19. Great news, Glenn. And good work!

  20. JESSE DUFFY

    Let’s hope this passes. It’s about time that a conceivable opposing view is heard. Evolution in itself is not science. It uses scientific techniques but it is not science. Teach the fossil record oh yeah we don’t want to do that cause then no one will believe in evolution. It is a religion! As admitted by a leading anti-creationist philosopher. Ruse, M., How evolution became a religion: creationists correct? National Post, pp. B1,B3,B7 May 13, 2000. So if evolution is a religion, why is this being taught in our children’s schools. Teach both or non at all.

  21. Jesse, the definition of religion: “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.” So no evolution is not a religion. You are correct that evolution is not science; it is a theory. However, virtually all of science, including the examination of the fossil record, is consistent with the theory.

  22. Michael Fugate

    Did you read Ruse’s paper or just the title?

  23. Mark Germano

    Here’s what Ruse wrote a few years back:

    “So the answer to the question “Is Darwinism a religion?” is varied, interesting and insightful. But I bet a million dollars that for the next 10 years it will be the first paragraph and only the first paragraph of this piece that will be quoted and requoted by those who are more interested in using my words for their own ends rather than for understanding what I am really trying to say.”

    He’s talking ’bout you, Jesse.

  24. 9 jobs in 8 years but the legislator is just 23 years old. What kind jobs do you suppose they were? They were the kind of jobs that the minimum wage allegedly shouldn’t be raised for because “high school kids do them and they don’t need a living wage.” My guess on the one month where he worked 3 jobs is that one of them was door-knocking/phone-banking for some other legislator trying to get elected.

  25. @JESSE DUFFY |”It’s about time that a conceivable opposing view is heard.”

    I agree. If only somebody could come up with a conceivable opposing view, not only scientific community but most of the interested laypersons on this site would be excited and happy to hear it. If somebody could come up with a more convincing explanation of all the evidence than current evolutionary theory provides, while being incompatible with it, they would become the great hero of biologists and Darwin would be reduced to a historical footnote.
    Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to happen. It would be like the shock to physics and chemistry if water were found to have a memory of long gone substances.
    Whatever happens, a conceivable opposing view will not be based on a story in which a rather stupid god makes a man to act as gardener, because, although he likes the idea of strolling in his garden in the evening, he doesn’t want to do the necessary work.

  26. “Who is foolish enough to believe that, like a human gardener, God planted a garden in Eden” Origen (3rd century), On First Principles.

    About the lack of an alternative, see the 1852 (sic!) essay by Herbert Spencer

    The Development Hypothesis

  27. TomS “Who is foolish enough …?”
    Ken Ham?

Make a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s