Deja vu — it used to be called “teach the controversy”


Classic foot-in-the-door technique, just picture them wearing ragged dirty clodhoppers

You all remember Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, the court case that decided that no, teachers couldn’t smuggle creationism into the classroom by pretending they were teaching reasonable alternatives? This story about a West Virginia law even references it.

In 2005, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled that it was unconstitutional to present intelligent design as an alternative to evolution because it advanced a Christian viewpoint and is not legitimate science.

Well, it’s baaaack!

A bill that could permit teachers to discuss and answer questions from students about theories, including intelligent design, will head to the House of Delegates for a vote after a tweak Tuesday morning.

Senators already approved the bill, Senate Bill 280, early in the legislative session, saying it protected teachers who may face legal challenges when discussing theories outside of evolution.

A Democrat member of the House Committee on the Judiciary argued that the bill didn’t explicitly permit intelligent design in classroom teaching — despite what was discussed as a possible intent of the legislation in the Senate.

During debate, Republicans emphasized that the bill wouldn’t be a mandate of what to teach; rather, they said the legislation ensured that students could have wide-ranging discussions on theories.

“This bill doesn’t require a teacher to teach creationism,” said Del. Andy Shamblin, R-Kanawha, who is a public school teacher. “All this bill does is say if the subject is brought up, the teacher can discuss that subject.”

While voicing support of the legislation, Del. Scot Heckert, R-Wood, said that the bill could result in more students being interested in science or “simply [keep] them from getting involved in drugs, playing on the computer all the time or eating Tide Pods.”

Teachers have not been prohibited from having a conversation about a topic not in the curriculum (unless, of course, it’s mentioning that they’re happily gay-married, in which case fundamentalists will storm the school with pitchforks and torches.) They can say, “I believe in the book of Genesis” and then move on — what they can’t do is derail the whole curriculum by spending class time going over the begats or treating the bullshit peddled by the Discovery Institute as science. Public schools are supposed to have science standards, a set of things the teachers are obligated to teach, because they are supposed to be preparing them for college, or for life as an educated citizen. Teach those religious ‘alternatives’ in Sunday School, where you’re not constrained by the shackles of reality or practicality.

Naturally, the Bible thumpers make the same arguments they always have.

Del. Todd Kirby, R-Raleigh, said that he didn’t see how the legislation introduced religion to students in the sciences classes.

“Just because you believe we came from something greater than a mere chance or an instance when everything happened to come together in our universe and solar system … it doesn’t mean you’re pushing religion. It just means you have a different theory than what’s taught in school,” he said.

Another ignorant yahoo who thinks evolution equals chance, and that any old tall tale you can babble about is a “theory”. What he’s talking about is a peculiar religious myth that he wants taught alongside natural selection and the periodic table and Newton’s laws of motion. He just wants the schools to pretend that Adam & Eve have equal explanatory power to common descent.

No one is fooled. I know and he knows that he is pushing religion, he’s just the one lying about it.

Meanwhile, the state of Kentucky is likewise investing large amounts of money into promoting faith-based bologna, as the FFRF points out.

The Northern Kentucky Convention & Visitors Bureau’s new Kentucky Faith Trail program has received a $305,000 grant from the state. The Faith Trail is a self-guided tour through 11 sites of “faith, culture, and history,” as a Bureau press release states. Even though the trail “is designed to be inclusive, welcoming people of all faiths and backgrounds to embark on a shared journey of discovery and reflection,” all 11 sites are Christian. To belabor the obvious, this makes the trail the opposite of “inclusive” and welcoming to people of “all faiths and backgrounds.”

Two of the sites, the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum, are well known for spreading misinformation and promoting anti-science worldviews, FFRF points out. The Ark Encounter purports to be an accurate replica of the mythical ark from the biblical story of Noah and claims that the Christian story of a worldwide flood actually happened. Similarly, the Creation Museum promotes scientifically disproven myths of how the universe came to be and promotes inaccurate information, such as teaching guests that humans and dinosaurs once co-existed on Earth. Both the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum are owned by Answers in Genesis, an extreme evangelical Christian organization that spreads misinformation and scientifically inaccurate teachings about our world.

The Bureau must cease using taxpayer money to promote a Faith Trail that includes the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum, FFRF stresses.

Gullibility, unfortunately, does not disqualify one for running for high office.

Comments

  1. imback says

    …the bill wouldn’t be a mandate of what to teach; rather, they said the legislation ensured that students could have wide-ranging discussions on theories.

    Sounds like wide-ranging discussions on gender theory and the like will be allowed in the classroom in West Virginia.

  2. raven says

    A bill that could permit teachers to discuss and answer questions from students about theories, including intelligent design, will head to the House of Delegates for a vote after a tweak Tuesday morning.

    Is this going to cover Critical Race Theory as well?

    How about Same Sex Marriage?

    How about Atheism, the No Gods Theory?

    Does this cover the theory that In Vitro Fertilized zygotes sitting in a tank of liquid nitrogen at -320 F aren’t really people?
    How about the theory that women are really people with all the rights of anyone who is a citizen of the USA?

    Unless this bill is very narrowly written, these kooky xian legislators are going to be sorry to get what they wished for.

  3. acroyear says

    Pretty sure that some of the supporters of this are hoping for a decision in the 3rd district that contradicts Kitzmiller (decided in the 4th, though not appealed) and forces a SCOTUS resolution, which in light of Thomas and Alito’s total rewrite of the 14th, is dangerous.

  4. muttpupdad says

    I remember long before Dover when the question was brought up in Biology class that my very Catholic teacher started laughing and when he had to stop to catch his breath , He said that the Comparative Religion class was down the hall. That was the only time it ever got brought up.

  5. robro says

    If I remember correctly, the issue with Dover was teaching creationism as a legitimate alternative to evolution in science classes, “teach the controversy” as you said. That’s not true. However, there are plenty of areas of education where you will almost certainly need to include religion and discuss its role…so often disastrous. You can’t teach the history of human civilization without talking about religion. In fact, if more people understood the history of the religious wars in Europe, they might better understand why the Founders, most of whom would at least say they were “Christian” and many of whom were refugees of those wars, avoided religion and god in the Constitution except for the Establishment clause which prevents having a national religion.

    I think if education delved into the historical origins of modern religions honestly then more people might see that these “faiths” are not only based on cultural myths and fantasies, but might well have been assembled for use as propaganda to justify and rationalize the authoritarian regimes of the day. That would be enlightening about the current crisis we are facing.

  6. raven says

    While voicing support of the legislation, Del. Scot Heckert, R-Wood, said that the bill could result in more students being interested in science or “simply [keep] them from getting involved in drugs, playing on the computer all the time or eating Tide Pods.”

    This doesn’t make any sense.

    How is calling science Fake and wrong going to make “more students being interested in science”?
    It would do the opposite.

    How is calling science Fake and wrong going to “keep kids from getting involved in drugs”?
    It wouldn’t do anything one way or another.

    This guy is an idiot and he is just babbling without caring whether it makes any sense or not.
    He sounds like a high school dropout who is barely literate.

  7. billseymour says

    I imagine a discussion of what “theory” means in science and whether creationism is one.  That could make fundies’ heads explode.

  8. Akira MacKenzie says

    Once again, scientific reality is being denied by a latter-day Bronze Age savage who doesn’t belong in a civilized society in a society that legally protects such filthy superstitions and their believers.

    Surprise, surprise, surprise.

  9. stuffin says

    With the number of church goers dropping and the number non-religious people rising, this is nothing more than a desperate attempt to groom children and bring them into the Christian fold. If they can get enough red states to adopt any religious teaching in schools, like posting the ten commandments in the classrooms, or whatever tactic they use, they will not stop until they can mandate religion to all. They have already taken over parts of the government and the Supreme court with religious fanatics.

    PS: Is intelligent design even mentioned in their bible?

  10. imback says

    Kitzmiller 2: The Cdesign Proponentsists Strike Back. Coming soon to a school board near you.

  11. seachange says

    @robro #6

    Nope. Most of the founding fathers would not say they were christian. Pretty much the only one was Alexander Hamilton.
    One of the first treaties that the new nation of the US entered into said that the US was not a christian nation.

  12. hzcummi says

    Over two weeks ago, I wrote to the Honorable Reginald Thomas, the senate and house education committees, and the State Board of Education. I never got a response. Those in positions of influence think this is a big joke and continue to teach Atheism in our schools.
    I can agree with not teaching the foolishness of “Young Earth”, and the infidelity of “old Earth” creationism. I even frown upon the inept teaching of Intelligent Design. But when people that claim to have the wellbeing of students in mind, refuse to listen when the truth is available, the student suffers. I offered to show my PowerPoint presentation, which reveals that evolution is the ridiculous myth, and an outside Entity is the reason for our existence.
    Back in 2005, I wrote the Dover Area School Board, and asked them to the drop Intelligent Design, and teach the “Observations of Moses”, and I would help defend them in court. But they ignored me. They lost the case, lost their jobs, and had to pay over a million dollars. So, let us see what happens in Kentucky.

  13. chrislawson says

    @6 and @16–

    seachange is correct. Many of the so-called Founding Fathers were self-described Deists, not Christians, and even the Christians among them were often heterodox (e.g. Thomas Jefferson who printed his own edition of the New Testament with all the miracles edited out). And Christian, agnostic, and deist alike, they all agreed on the importance of separating church and state. When contemporary evangelists say America was founded as a Christian nation, they are lying.

  14. John Morales says

    Many of the so-called Founding Fathers were self-described Deists, not Christians

    Also, smart people.

    See, there’s ‘theism’, then there’s ‘deism’, then there’s ‘agnoscisism’, then there’s theism.

    Goddism, that is.

    So, various ways of manifesting as non-goddists (a-goddism) with various depth of ostensibility.

    (Can’t burn someone at the stake if they don’t outright deny the Goddishness, right?)

  15. Silentbob says

    @ 20 John Morales

    See, there’s ‘theism’, then there’s ‘deism’, then there’s ‘agnoscisism’, then there’s theism.

    Goddism, that is.

    So, various ways of manifesting as non-goddists (a-goddism) with various depth of ostensibility.

    I’m assuming the first one was meant to be “atheism”? You’re reliably an idiot but you usually make marginally more sense than this.

  16. John Morales says

    [erratum]

    Nope, Silentbob. But close. The last one was meant to be ‘atheism’. Goddism, that is.

    (Most to least)

  17. rrutis1 says

    This sounds like the slippery slope the rethugs are always caterwalling about. First it’s “teach the contraversy”,s then it’s the Alabama Supreme Court declaring that made up stories are scientifically the same as theorie and so on.

    But more seriously this is really part of the ongoing effort to keep the rubes too dumb to look out for themselves and more easy to control and grift off of.

  18. Pierce R. Butler says

    seachange @ # 16: Most of the founding fathers would not say they were christian. Pretty much the only one was Alexander Hamilton.

    Not according to my readings (though it depends on your definition of “founding father”, among other things). Samuel Adams, f’rinstance, was so publicly pious many called him “Psalm-singing Sam”. Patrick Henry declined an opportunity to join the Constitutional Convention because he knew they would not accept his insistence on producing a Christian document.

    chrislawson @ # 18: … Jefferson who printed his own edition of the New Testament with all the miracles edited out…

    No, he cut ‘n’ pasted such a version (~1820), but kept it as a private document; first publication came in 1904.

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