Academic Freedom Legislation: The Creationists Back Door? genre: Hip-Gnosis

While I despise the efforts of fundies to push their ideology, I have to give them credit for being so persistent. When the Bible speaks of a great pestilence, who new it could have its origin in the pews of the pious. Yes, I know that's a harsh assessment of those who believe they are simply pursuing their beliefs...but when those beliefs are in direct opposition to scientific evidence, they can be nothing less than a menacing manifestation.

The following video discusses the latest efforts to promote intelligent design as a scientific theory, which is frankly little more than deliberate deception...and that seems to me to be contradictory to fundamental Christian values. Unfortunately, many of these zealots believe the end justifies the means. I doubt their creator sees it that way. Then again, I'm of the opinion that they created god in their own likeness so I'm sure they can give him any of the attributes they need to justify their actions.

Funny how that works...when they need a compassionate god, they cite the good works and kindness of Jesus...and when they need fire and brimstone, they conveniently pull from the Old Testament. Perhaps that's the beauty of the's malleable enough such that most actions can be justified.

Anyway, the latest effort is a two pronged attack. The first, as discussed in the video is to argue that the academic freedoms of instructors are impinged when they are prohibited from teaching "the controversy". In other words, since science, by its construct, is rarely offered as an absolute certainty, the creationists argue that the debate remains open as to the origins of the universe and should therefore be a legitimate component of science education. The following excerpt is an explanation of the issue from the religious perspective.

From Baptist Press:

BATON ROUGE, La. (BP)--In a first for any state, Louisiana has adopted an academic freedom law giving teachers greater protection and freedom in teaching the strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian evolution, something supporters of academic freedom in science call a significant step forward.

The law allows "open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied, including but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming and human cloning." A statement on Jindal's website June 26 said he had signed it along with dozens of other bills.

Robert Crowther, a spokesman for the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, cited two reasons the law is needed.

"First, around the country, science teachers are being harassed, intimidated and sometimes fired for trying to present scientific evidence critical of Darwinian theory along with the evidence that supports it," Crowther wrote on Discovery's science and culture blog June 27.

"Second, many school administrators and teachers are fearful or confused about what is legally allowed when teaching about controversial scientific issues like evolution. The Louisiana Science Education Act clarifies what teachers may be allowed to do," Crowther wrote.

Yes, proponents of these bills are careful to avoid any discussion of creationism or intelligent design as religious concepts in conflict with evolution. Instead, they want to open the door to teaching them by contending that evolution is just one theory. That brings us to the second component of their argument...which contends that the fundamental issue is a question of "strengths and weaknesses". The New York Times provides a good explanation in the following excerpts.

From The New York Times:

Now a battle looms in Texas over science textbooks that teach evolution, and the wrestle for control seizes on three words. None of them are "creationism" or "intelligent design" or even "creator."

The words are "strengths and weaknesses."

Starting this summer, the state education board will determine the curriculum for the next decade and decide whether the "strengths and weaknesses" of evolution should be taught. The benign-sounding phrase, some argue, is a reasonable effort at balance. But critics say it is a new strategy taking shape across the nation to undermine the teaching of evolution, a way for students to hear religious objections under the heading of scientific discourse.

Already, legislators in a half-dozen states -- Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri and South Carolina -- have tried to require that classrooms be open to "views about the scientific strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian theory," according to a petition from the Discovery Institute, the Seattle-based strategic center of the intelligent design movement.

" 'Strengths and weaknesses' are regular words that have now been drafted into the rhetorical arsenal of creationists," said Kathy Miller, director of the Texas Freedom Network, a group that promotes religious freedom.

The Discovery Institute has provided a template for legislators to file "academic freedom" bills, and they have been popping up with increasing frequency in statehouses across the country.

As you can see, there is no limit to the effort to undermine science and substitute Biblical doctrine. If these folks can't succeed in the courts, they try the legislature. If they can't succeed in the legislature, they seek to stack the school boards. Regardless, at each juncture, they refine their arguments to overcome the obstacles that have previously precluded the implementation of their absolutist ideology.

Sadly, those who are promoting a literal interpretation of the Bible are willing to exploit the uncertainty that comes from a commitment to scientific integrity...a commitment that is clearly the backbone upon which academia has been structured. Instead, those who believe they already have all the answers are not constrained by humility and frequently demonstrate a disregard for the complexity of all that exists. Such is the nature of absolute intransigence.

Below the video, I've included a graphic I found on the web a while back. I'm posting it because it provides a level of reason and rationality that is so often absent in the efforts of those who are intent on undermining science. Please click on the image to view it full size.


Tagged as: Church & State, Creationism, Education, Evangelicals, Evolution, Intelligent Design, Religion

Daniel DiRito | July 3, 2008 | 1:31 PM
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» Academic Freedom Legislation: The Creationists Back Door? from
Creationists may not be able to walk in the front door of academia to push their ideology…but that hasn’t stopped them from trying every other means of entry. Academic freedom legislation and a “strengths and weaknesses” argument are the latest weapons... [Read More]

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