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Louisiana, Intelligent Design, and Science Classes 989

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the oil-already-seeped-into-brain dept.
rollcall writes "The Livingston, Louisiana public school district is considering introducing intelligent design into its science curriculum. During the board's meeting Thursday, several board members expressed an interest in the teaching of creationism. 'Benton said that under provisions of the Science Education Act enacted last year by the Louisiana Legislature, schools can present what she termed "critical thinking and creationism" in science classes. Board Member David Tate quickly responded: "We let them teach evolution to our children, but I think all of us sitting up here on this School Board believe in creationism. Why can't we get someone with religious beliefs to teach creationism?" Fellow board member Clint Mitchell responded, "I agree...you don't have to be afraid to point out some of the fallacies with the theory of evolution. Teachers should have the freedom to look at creationism and find a way to get it into the classroom."'"
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Louisiana, Intelligent Design, and Science Classes

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  • Nope. (Score:5, Informative)

    by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:31AM (#33029656)

    I'll assume you meant there's no way to prove any of its claims. The same is true for vertical evolution.

    Nope. I mean that there is no way to set up an experiment to show that its claims are false.

    And you're going to have to define "vertical evolution" if you want to start making claims about it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:31AM (#33029658)

    you must have been educated in LA (and I don't mean los angeles california)

    Falsifiability is a very important concept to science, closely related to testability.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsifiability

  • by bsDaemon (87307) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:32AM (#33029660)

    No, he means falisfy, as in you can't disprove the opposite. Science doesn't really work on proving a hypothesis, but on disproving enough alternative hypothesis that you can be fairly sure you're close to the truth. As is my understanding, having gone to a school where we didn't have to deal with this bullshit.

  • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:40AM (#33029786)

    The first amendment? Free speech? ????

    Also a few other things, such as freedom of religion.

    (But cue discussion about the viability of stapling amendments to people as a constitutionally protected form of speech anyway, because it's funny.)

  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:41AM (#33029804) Homepage Journal

    I only hope you are still in school and as such have not taken the appropriate History or Government classes that cover the first amendment. Let me give you a head start, it reads:

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    Let me give you a hint here: the FIRST TEN WORDS might be of interest to you.

  • by canajin56 (660655) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:46AM (#33029884)
    Wrong. Please stop spreading misinformation. Falsifiable means you can't disprove the thing, not that you can't disprove the opposites. Science doesn't work by that trite little Holmes saying, "Eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbably, is the truth." It works by finding the simplest explanation for all observations, making predictions with that model, and confirming those predictions until you falsify your current rules and need new ones. If a hypothesis cannot be falsified, it is useless because it is the end. If it's impossible to find a contradiction, it's impossible to refine the model.
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:49AM (#33029960) Homepage
    Now, now, let's not resort to reductio ad absurdum here. There's a whole spectrum of crazy out there.

    There are the Young Earth And Nothing Changed Since (Yes God Buried Dinosaur Skeletons) creationists which you note. Then there are the wishy washy liberal Young Earth With Subsequent Minor Evolution (Just Not For People (Unless You Want To Argue Africans Are Less Evolved in Which Case I Ain't Going to Argue)) branch. After that, you've got the Old Earth But Time Began With Its Creationists, and I think there's even a few pinko Old Universe But All The Parameters Were Pre-Set So It Really Is All Designed Except For Human Free Will Of Course (And Exception Again For Me When The Devil Makes Me Drive Drunk) recidivists.

  • Re:Yes, please. (Score:2, Informative)

    by fropenn (1116699) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:50AM (#33029970)
    Apes, actually, not monkeys.
  • Re:Yes, please. (Score:4, Informative)

    by edremy (36408) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:03AM (#33030194) Journal
    I know you're pseudo-trolling, but this always struck me as the stupidest argument of all time. (And that's really saying something)

    If I descended from my great grandmother, why do I still have cousins?

  • Re:Yes, please. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Yosho (135835) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:11AM (#33030326) Homepage

    You don't understand how evolution works. Read this: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/07/its_more_than_genes_its_networ.php [scienceblogs.com]

    It's a lot more complex than "monkeys turned into people."

  • Re:I'm okay with it. (Score:2, Informative)

    by c0y (169660) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:24AM (#33030562) Homepage

    As long as they also include every other creation story. There should be text from scientology, islam, hinduism, buddhism, and thousands of other creation myths from all over the world, in a separate book called "Creationism".

    AFAIK, Buddhism has no creation myth of its own. In some particular cultures it may have adopted the prevailing local myths as metaphors, much like the local gods and goddesses were adopted as representative of aspects of the human psyche.

    Theologists debate whether Buddhism can even be considered a religion because there is no belief in god. It slides in when you widen the scope to include a "belief in salvation" which in the case of Buddhists, is enlightenment and nirvana (non-existence).

  • Re:Let them?! (Score:3, Informative)

    by jitterman (987991) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:25AM (#33030580)
    Yeah. You know, I send my kid to a Catholic private school here in southern Louisiana, and they teach evolution. I don't know why the school board in Livingston Parish fears this - it doesn't seem to have eroded the faith/beliefs of the Catholics who live here, which is what it seems they believe is happening in the public system.
  • by AndersOSU (873247) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:33AM (#33030726)

    That was basically my experience in Catholic School in the United States.

  • Re:You know... (Score:2, Informative)

    by jbssm (961115) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:33AM (#33030748)
    LOL
  • by AndersOSU (873247) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:42AM (#33030892)

    What is this, civics class on /.? Refer to the fourteenth amendment and Everson V. Board of Education. [wikipedia.org]

  • by jfengel (409917) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:56AM (#33031150) Homepage Journal

    And falsifiability isn't just an arbitrary criterion. It's the essence of why science is relevant.

    Falsifiability means that you can do things with the information: it makes a prediction that if you do X, Y will happen. If Y doesn't happen, you know X was wrong.

    If Y does happen, it doesn't actually prove X, but if Y was something you wanted, you've created something of value. Something you couldn't have gotten without the theory.

    Not every prediction is immediately useful, but it's all part of the enterprise of science. If it weren't involved in making useful predictions, there would be no point in learning science.

  • by DriedClexler (814907) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:06PM (#33031340)

    It's good to criticize ID advocates. But I really hate when people try to deny them even a *term* for those they disagree with, which you do when you say that there's no such thing as "evolutionists".

    They can't use the term "biologists" because there are people (though not many) who study biology but agree with the IDers. Claiming that they have to refer to their opponents as "biologists" is like saying you can't have different terms for "physicist" and "proponent of the theory of quantum mechanics".

    It's an attempt to deny, not just the validity of someone's arguments, but their ability to express them. Which is really petty.

  • by naasking (94116) <naasking@@@gmail...com> on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:08PM (#33031384) Homepage

    Why can't we get someone with religious beliefs to teach creationism?

    You can. In a religion class. Creationism is not science however, so it cannot be taught in a science class. Why is this so difficult to grasp?

  • by easterberry (1826250) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:29PM (#33031856)
    I believe what I am saying is that anyone who claims to be a "biologist" but doesn't understand that evolution is an irrefutable fact isn't really studying biology. the more appropriate analogy would be someone claiming to be a physicist who doesn't believe in the laws of thermodynamics.
  • by DJRumpy (1345787) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:46PM (#33032218)

    Why not? What makes the federal government immune to pressure from creationist groups? Isn't that a case of putting all your eggs in one basket?

    Nothing to prevent it other than the courts. If each state has it's own 'agenda', you'd end up with every schools students learning different subjects, with differing standards applied to them. This is not putting all of your eggs in one basket, as you are implying if it should break, everything breaks. Obviously not the case as there is nothing to break. The government sets the standard according to the voters and that standard is then applied evenly throughout all school districts.

    This will be struck down (and rightly so), by the supreme court, as they have already decided this very case:

    In 1968, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Epperson v. Arkansas that Arkansas's law prohibiting the teaching of evolution was in violation of the First Amendment. The Supreme Court held that the Establishment Clause prohibits the state from advancing any religion, and determined that the Arkansas law which allowed the teaching of creation while disallowing the teaching of evolution advanced a religion, and was therefore in violation of the 1st amendment Establishment clause. This holding reflected a broader understanding of the Establishment Clause: instead of just prohibiting laws that established a state religion, the Clause was interpreted to prohibit laws that furthered religion. Opponents, pointing to the previous decision, argued that this amounted to judicial activism.
    In reaction to the Epperson case, creationists in Louisiana passed a law requiring that public schools should give "equal time" to "alternative theories" of origin. The Supreme Court ruled in Edwards v. Aguillard that the Louisiana statute, which required creation to be taught alongside evolution every time evolution was taught, was unconstitutional.
    The Court laid out its rule as follows:
    "The Establishment Clause forbids the enactment of any law 'respecting an establishment of religion.' The Court has applied a three-pronged test to determine whether legislation comports with the Establishment Clause. First, the legislature must have adopted the law with a secular purpose. Second, the statute's principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion. Third, the statute must not result in an excessive entanglement of government with religion. Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 612-613, 91 S.Ct. 2105, 2111, 29 L.Ed.2d 745 (1971). State action violates the Establishment Clause if it fails to satisfy any of these prongs." Edwards v. Aguillard 482 U.S. 578, *582-583, 107 S.Ct. 2573, 2577 (U.S.La.,1987).
    The Court held that the law was not adopted with a secular purpose, because its purported purpose of "protecting academic freedom" was not furthered by limiting the freedom of teachers to teach what they thought appropriate; ruled that the act was discriminatory because it provided certain resources and guarantees to "creation scientists" which were not provided to those who taught evolution; and ruled that the law was intended to advance a particular religion because several state senators that had supported the bill stated that their support for the bill stemmed from their religious beliefs.
    While the Court held that creationism is an inherently religious belief, it did not hold that every mention of creationism in a public school is unconstitutional:
    "We do not imply that a legislature could never require that scientific critiques of prevailing scientific theories be taught. Indeed, the Court acknowledged in Stone that its decision forbidding the posting of the Ten Commandments did not mean that no use could ever be made of the Ten Commandments, or that the Ten Commandments played an exclusively religious role in the history of Western Civilization. 449 U.S., at 42, 101 S.Ct., at 194. In a similar way, teaching a variety of scientific theories about the origins of humankind to schoolchildren

  • by icebraining (1313345) on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:14PM (#33032728) Homepage

    nd for what it's worth, if every one were truly practicing Christians, we wouldn't need much in the way of law enforcement.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_terrorism [wikipedia.org]

    In 1929, the Fascist regime gained the political support and blessing of the Roman Catholic Church after the regime signed a concordat with the Church, known as the Lateran Treaty, which gave the papacy state sovereignty and financial compensation for the seizure of Church lands by the liberal state in the nineteenth century.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism#Rise_to_power_and_initial_international_spread_of_fascism_.281922.E2.80.931929.29 [wikipedia.org]

    In April 1941, multi-ethnic Yugoslavia fell to the Nazis who wasted no time in installing the fanatical Ante Pavlics Catholic Ustashe in power in Croatia. With the blessing of the Roman Catholic Church and the active participation of clergy, especially Franciscan monks, the Ustashe killed 750,000 Serbs, Jews, and Roma in an orgy of violence that shocked even some of the Germans and revolted their Italian allies.

    http://www.fantompowa.net/Flame/the_vatican.htm [fantompowa.net]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:37PM (#33033174)

    Good answer. Science in fact proves nothing. It is always tentative. The strongest form of science is deductive in nature, supported by experimentation that can be replicated by others. The weakest is inductive in nature, supported by inference from observations that we make of the natural world, but that are not replicable. Think of forensics, and you know what I mean.

    The folks in Louisiana are confusing science and religion, but science and religion, particularly Christianity, are indeed quite compatible with one another. Virtually all modern branches of science were founded by devout Christians, not by coincidence, but because they believed in a rational, caring creator who wanted us to know Him and observe and understand His creation. Now, of course, one does not need to believe this to do good science, but consider alternative beliefs regarding the origin of the universe and life and you find that they do not encourage science but instead discourage it.

  • by Schadrach (1042952) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:04PM (#33033730)

    Amusingly, much like the "under God" in the Pledge, "In God We Trust" had no official status until the mid 20th century. Without bringing "Communists are atheists and we need to prove we're nothing like them" into it, neither would have likely happened.

  • by Binkleyz (175773) on Monday July 26, 2010 @04:10PM (#33035820) Journal

    It was a case in Dover, PA.

    The "Intelligent Design" folks had their collective [pbs.org] asses [cupolitics.org] kicked [wikipedia.org].

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