The Central Community School Board in Louisiana has adopted a new policy that will allow, and even encourage, teachers to use creationist materials in science classrooms — under the guise of “academic freedom” to “teach the controversy,” of course.
The Central Community School Board approved a policy Monday that supports its science teachers if they decide to wade into scientific controversies, including teaching students about alternatives to the theory of evolution.
“We believe this resolution will give teachers the academic freedom they deserve to teach the controversy where appropriate,” said Board member Jim Lloyd, who made the motion to approve the new policy.
Barbara Forrest, a founder of the Louisiana Coalition for Science and a philosophy professor who has written about clashes between religion and science, said the new policy is unnecessary and includes telling phrases such as a call to teach the “strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories.”
“It’s absolutely creationist code language that we’ve seen come up again and again in other states,” Forrest said.
Of course it is. Anyone who has been paying attention to the strategies of the creationists for the last few decades knows that. This is what I discussed in a talk I gave a few years ago (see it on Youtube) as phase four of the anti-evolution movement. Phase one was to ban the teaching of evolution (struck down by the courts in Epperson v Arkansas). Phase two was to demand equal time for the teaching of “creation science” along with evolution (struck down in Edwards v Aguillard). Phase three was to change “creation science” to “intelligent design” and demand that this be taught along with evolution (struck down in Kitzmiller v Dover).
So now we have phase four, which uses liberal-sounding phrases like “academic freedom,” “teach the controversy,” “critical thinking about evolution,” “teaching the strengths and weaknesses about evolution” and so forth. But just as intelligent design was just a semantic restatement of creation science, these are just new forms of intelligent design. When they say they want the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution taught, what they mean is that they want to teach the arguments against evolution found in the ID literature.
The Louisiana legislature sent an engraved invitation to local school boards to do this; it’s what we have been calling for the last few years the “Dover trap.” And it will inevitably lead to an expensive loss in court.