Dismissing Darwin

Apr 28, 2015

Photo illustration by Juliana Jiménez Jaramillo

By Zack Kopplin

When I was a high school senior in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 2010, I began a campaign to repeal my state’s “creationism law,” which allows teachers to sneak religion into public school science classes by using materials that criticize evolution. Seventy-eight Nobel laureates and many other prominent scientists and educators have joined me in calling for the repeal of this law, officially known as the Louisiana Science Education Act, and tens of thousands of people have signed petitions against it over the past four years, but so far we’ve failed. Louisiana teachers can still bring religion into public school science classrooms, legally.

The Louisiana State Legislature has voted to keep this law despite repeated challenges, in part because it has a fig leaf: No one has managed to demonstrate what is going on inside Louisiana classrooms. In 2013, as I was testifying before the Louisiana Senate Education Committee in support of a bill to repeal the law, Sen. Conrad Appel, the committee chairman, asked me, “Do you have any evidence of school districts or individual schools that are physically teaching creationism?”

There has been plenty of evidence, but it hasn’t been direct. For example, in Tangipahoa Parish, in 2011, school board member Brett Duncan requested that guidelines be developed “for the review of supplemental materials to be used by teachers for discussing evolution, creationism, and intelligent design.” That same year a pupil progression plan (an outline of what a school district intends to do that year) for Terrebonne Parish said that under the creationism law, teachers will “deliver facts for both arguments”—both evolution and creationism.

Gov. Bobby Jindal was asked about this law by NBC’s Education Nation and said, “I’ve got no problem if a school board, a local school board, says we want to teach our kids about creationism.” That is in fact why he signed the law.


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30 comments on “Dismissing Darwin

  • Like I’ve said before – we at 11 year old were shown a copy of “On the origin of species” – and told by our delightful biology teacher, that it was one of the most important books ever written (if not THE most important) – of course I bought it immediately – I just cannot image some pretend biology teacher – attempting to suggest that since it was just a theory – here is the real reason we are here, the Christian god created us in his own image about 6000 years ago. We would have all laughed till we pissed our pants! – It’s about time that the US of A was dragged screaming into the 21st century….



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  • officially known as the Louisiana Science Education Act, and tens of thousands of people have signed petitions against it over the past four years, but so far we’ve failed.

    Prominent scientists need to make public statements accurately describing the “Louisiana PSEUDO-Science Education Act” as what it is.



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  • I suppose these Christian YEC hypocrites are happy to use their phones and computers whist dissing biological, cosmological, astronomical, geological sciences , and of course physics and chemistry.

    If they get ill, no doubt they don’t rely on snake oil either ?



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  • The Louisiana state legislature has voted to keep this law despite repeated challenges, not because there’s no glaringly obvious instances of creationism being taught, but because they’re all evangelical pander-bears themselves, voted into office by moronic masses who do nothing except vote for whoever their pastor or priest tells them to vote for. Don’t expect the situation to change until non-deluded, intelligent Louisianians outvote the ignorant Bible-bangin’ swamp-dwellers.



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  • No one has managed to demonstrate what is going on inside Louisiana classrooms.

    Evidence shouldn’t be hard to procure. In an age of recording device, aural as well as visual, it is time for the students and parents of Louisiana to step up and start collecting the evidence. I would encourage Zack Kopplin to be the focal point for collection of this evidence for use in a future hearing or trial. I would encourage Mr Kopplin to seek legal advice so that the collection of evidence is done in such a way that it passes the admissibility court tests.

    Or the other tactic would be to collect the material, do a bit of media editing and get in run in news and media across America. There is nothing like an adverse media campaign to focus the mind of a politician reliant on the votes of the sheeple.

    p.s. Check out the photo above. Why do all christians have this same smile. Are they Sci Fi clones. Are they puppets controlled from heaven. I wouldn’t buy a used car from this guy. And what’s with Jesus holding a T-Rex. Cringe.



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  • No matter that the supreme court says, if the teachers are creationists, if the parents are creationists, if the students are taught to disrupt with pro-evolutionist taunts, even evolutionist teachers can easily be cowed.



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  • 10
    Pinball1970 says:

    M27Holts
    Apr 28, 2015 at 1:40 pm
    “It’s about time that the US of A was dragged screaming into the 21st century….”

    This is the same USA that is making the Bible its state book for Tennessee yes?

    I would not expect a change anytime soon.

    Reply Report comment



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  • Every time these illegal activities are challenged in US courts, the court rules that, yes, they’re illegal. The perpetrators are not acting in good faith. They’re taking advantage of how long it takes to put a stop to their activities. As soon as one of their policies is overturned, they try to get another back in. They’ve no respect for precedent.



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  • 12
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    And what’s with Jesus holding a T-Rex. Cringe.

    I know right? But it’s a perfectly accurate representation of these people’s asinine, laughable worldview, down to the last detail…

    The lamb with the dreamy expression on its face, probably in awe of Jesus’ new haircut (Southerners never liked the hippie look anyway…) Wow! who knew they had hairstylists with 19th century Dandy fashion sense back in the Iron age… Sooo educational.

    But the clincher is indeed this New and Improved American Jesus® wading through the beautiful swamps of Jackson Mississipi, holding a baby T-Rex (aaawwww…) in his arms. Meanwhile, the diminutive dinosaur looks as if it’s about to burst into sardonic laughter. It’s so heart warming… (makes me want to go watch re-runs of The Flintstones).

    The whole thing is an improbable mix of gaudy Americana at his lowest common denominator and Bronze age myth laced with a hefty dose of scientific illiteracy (plenty of that in America the Beautiful) and historical ignorance. It goes way beyond the usual anthropocentrism, it’s a kind of cheap 1950’s nostalgia inspired AmericanaMomApplePie-o-centrism.



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  • It all comes down to ignorance. I used to say similar things, when I was much younger. “Teach the controversy!” I cried. I said this because I genuinely was not aware of the mountain of evidence that was stacked against me. I simply did not know that there WAS no controversy. Eventually (though it took longer than I care to admit) I found the evidence and promptly changed sides.

    There are certainly those that will cling to Creationism no matter what, but I would like to hope there are at least as many who are more like me. Hopefully, if we can keep good science in our schools we can cure this particular societal ill.



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  • I thought the most effective counter was to initiate a law suit (for violation of the US constitution ?), similar to what they did in Dover, Pennsylvania. Once the school board sees the cost of defending against such a suit, their behaviour changes rather quickly. Howcum this is not being considered in this case ?



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  • rod-the-farmer
    Apr 29, 2015 at 11:21 am

    I thought the most effective counter was to initiate a law suit (for violation of the US constitution ?), similar to what they did in Dover, Pennsylvania. Once the school board sees the cost of defending against such a suit, their behaviour changes rather quickly. Howcum this is not being considered in this case ?

    Hi Rod,

    I would suspect that quite often the anti-science silliness is being sponsored by some wealthy faith-head “for the good of their souls”, and for improving their standing in the cretinist community!

    There may also be instances of elected people, abusing locally accessible public funds over which they have jurisdiction.



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  • It is no wonder that creationists fight so hard for teaching their nonsensical, faith based ideas into the schools. It is a problem of ambiguity. To say “I BELIEVE in THE theory of evolution” is the same as saying to a creationist that “I believe in God.” When one says “I believe in the theory of evolution’, the word belief has a faith based definition to the ignorant. When one says “believe” that means to the ignorant that one needs no observable evidence in the natural universe.

    To say THE theory of evolution implies that there is one and only one theory and that is very wrong. There are many theories in evolutionary biology, some of which have been falsified and others may never be shown to be incorrect.

    Then there is the term theory…theory is a well documented hypothesis by the available evidence. (Not “JUST” a theory as creationists love to say.) Just try and falsify Darwin’s theories of variation in a species and natural selection and one will look like an idiot. It would be like attempting to disprove the theory of existance.



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  • Remember: God said “Let ‘us’ make man in ‘our’ own image…..” He was obviously speaking to someone else, perhaps another god? Funny, I don’t ever remember this coming up as an issue when I was in junior or senior high school in the 60’s and 70’s. I’m sure there were people discussing it in various areas of the country, but it didn’t ever seem to come up as an alternative to science. That would have seemed really daft to most people I knew.



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  • cbrown
    Apr 29, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    It is no wonder that creationists fight so hard for teaching their nonsensical, faith based ideas into the schools. It is a problem of ambiguity. To say “I BELIEVE in THE theory of evolution” is the same as saying to a creationist that “I believe in God.” When one says “I believe in the theory of evolution’, the word belief has a faith based definition to the ignorant. When one says “believe” that means to the ignorant that one needs no observable evidence in the natural universe.

    The core problem of confusion is, that while biologists have confidence in the the solid evidence for the scientific theory of evolution by way of natural selection, organisations like the Catholic church “believe” in evolution – or at least their pseudo-science version of it.

    This is of course a deception, because the “Theistic evolution” they “believe in is not the scientific theory, but is the scientific theory subjugated to the doctrine and dogmas cobbled into it, under the pretence that the science and creation dogmas are compatible.



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  • I use the argument that “evolution is a fact”. The THEORY part of it comes in when we describe how/why it happens. Evolution is not a theory, evidence is all around us. It is the “THEORY of Natural Selection”, not the Theory of Evolution. This is opposed to HUMAN selection, which is how we got so many different breeds of pigeons, chickens, pigs, dogs, horses, sheep, cows, etc. etc.

    Go ahead and dispute the Natural Selection part, but propose a testable alternative if you can.

    I apologise in advance, but looking at the article photo, I can’t help thinking of Alfred E. Neuman.



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  • 20
    TwoReplies says:

    Terrebonne Parish said that under the creationism law, teachers will
    “deliver facts for both arguments”—both evolution and creationism.

    So… since there are no FACTS in regards to religion, according to “creationism law” they shouldn’t teach creationism.
    Self solving problem, apparently.



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  • TwoReplies
    Apr 29, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    So… since there are no FACTS in regards to religion, according to “creationism law” they shouldn’t teach creationism.

    The problem is, that those who would teach creationism in science lessons, don’t know fact from delusional beliefs – and frequently can’t tell logical reasoning from fallacies either!



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  • Someone mentioned teachers being creationists. This would be solved with more rigorous coursework for Biology teachers. While new teachers should hold a degree in a Biology discipline, this is not always the case and there are many who just do not have the coursework and depth of understanding to adequately address the topic. I know that some teachers in my building just avoid the topic to avoid the problems. This is actually a much bigger problem in that the brightest minds in the Biological sciences are NOT signing up to teach. There are some, but who would willing sign up to teach in a science field when there are many other science professions that offer a better salary structure, better hours (or more pay for longer hours), and more respect?
    As a Louisiana Biology teacher, I hope Zack continues to push for the repeal of this law.



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  • Some two thousand years ago or more, some elderly men wrote the Bible and claimed that God made MAN (not woman) in his own image. Is it possible that these elderly bearded men wanted those who listened to believe they were created in the image of a bearded God, or perhaps they wanted people to think they were gods (or almost gods)?



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  • Is that Alfred E Newman up there with European Jesus with his clean cut modern haircut. Looks like the baby T.Rex has lamb for dinner. That photo is a part of their propaganda to convince everyone that creationism is real. Well if thats the best they can do, next stop in the shrink’s office, with many years of medication. But we all know that ridiculous beliefs stand for religion these days.



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  • Selection is of two types: Natural Selection and Human Selection. Artificial selection by people on plants and animals is very similar to natural selection. Then two are not “opposed” to each other. Artificial selection contributes to our understanding of natural selection. The botanist Joseph Hooker once said to Darwin that natural selection sounded contradictory in the 1800’s.



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