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December 3, 2006

Creationists target Louisiana

After a quiet hurricane season, an unnatural disaster is about to hit the Pelican State:

The new science policy for public schools in one north Louisiana parish is “an underhanded way to undercut the theory of evolution” now that courts have barred both creationism and intelligent design from school courses, says the head of a national group.
“This is, I think, the next wave of attack by anti-evolution forces to get their materials into public schools,” Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said Friday.
The policy adopted Wednesday night for Ouachita Parish was enthusiastically backed by officials with the Louisiana Family Forum, which gives its mission as “to persuasively present biblical principles in the centers of influence on issues affecting the family through research, communication and networking.”
It does not mention either creationism, which holds that God created life, or intelligent design, which accepts evolution as a source of variety in life but contends that life itself is too complex to be anything but the creation of some vast intelligence.
What it does, said Lynn, is open the way for teachers to discuss them as reasonable alternatives to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
The policy states that the district “understands that the teaching of some scientific subjects such as biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning, can cause controversy and that some teachers may be unsure of the district’s expectations concerning how they should present information on such subjects.”
To that end, it says, “teachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught.”
… “Where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution),” it says, “the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society.”

There are three big problems with this statement. First, as Barry Lynn points out, there is no scientific controversy about evolution, just a religious one. Second, creationism and ID come about as close to a “scientific view” as the Book of Job. Third, since when were there any “scientific discoveries” that supported either creationism or ID?

Of course, none of this really matters if your imaginary friend tells you the Earth was created last Friday.

Posted by Stephen at 12:15 AM in Education | Evolution | Religion + cults | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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