Pharyngula

The miseducation committee of the Indiana legislature recently approved a bill to allow the teaching of creationism in the schools, and now the Indianapolis newspaper approves, with the usual tepid and illegitimate arguments.

Much would depend on how teachers handle the origins of life in a biology or science class.

No, it doesn’t. A bill that inserts garbage into the curriculum is a bill that inserts garbage; it doesn’t matter if you think it could be used to make a lovely collage, or as an exercise in recycling, it’s still garbage. And if you trust teachers to do their job, let them do it without boneheaded cretins in the legislature telling them how.

And there is no provision in the bill that states creationism must be taught as a science subject.

Let me guess: it would be OK to teach it as “philosophy”. How much disrespect are you willing to give to that field? It’s bad philosophy, too. What disciplines is Indiana willing to poison with nonsense? Be specific. English? History? I know — how about relegating creationism to the football team.

Courts have ruled that using the Bible as an educational tool is permissible. We see nothing that would change that here, and note the bill stresses “theories” on the origins of life.

Uh-oh. I know what’s coming next. I cringe in anticipation.

The march down the slippery slope occurs when theories are presented as facts.

YEEEAAARGH. HULK SMASH!

Scientific theories are explanatory frameworks for integrating a body of facts. Evolutionary theory, cell theory, germ theory, quantum theory, electromagnetic theory, transition state theory, the theory of relativity — these are all theories, and they also represent accurate and useful descriptions of how the universe works. They should be and are taught as facts, provisional explanations that have been tested and evaluated and found successful. “Theory” means something very specific and powerful to a scientist — there is no creation theory to be taught or used, and especially, no creation story that has survived any scientific test.

This bill could act as a safeguard against an educator mentioning creationism, and then possibly getting sued for promoting religion in the classroom. The American Civil Liberties Union has jumped into the fray and says this bill is unconstitutional, and that courts have overturned similar bills from other states.

This makes no sense. Yes, if a teacher peddles creationism in the classroom, they are using a state-supported, public facility to promote a purely religious idea. If a legislator peddles creationism in a bill, they are using the resources of goverment to promote a sectarian religious idea. This is wrong whether it’s a teacher or a state rep doing it, it is unconstitutional, and most importantly, it is bad science being used to corrupt education.

Certainly, there is much empirical scientific evidence to support evolution, and some pretty good philosophical arguments to support creationism. It’s unfortunate, though, that the latter has to be tagged as a science.

“Pretty good philosophical arguments for creationism”? Name one. Most philosophers are cleverer than that.

We think a thorough education exposes students to different theories, and if schools have done a good job of developing a student’s critical thinking skills, there is no harm done.

Oh, great. This is going to be fun. So if they’ve learned how to fall safely in gym class, I can punch little kids in the nose, and no harm done. If they’ve learned basic logic in grade school, we can do a crappy job teaching them trigonometry and calculus — they’ll be able to derive them for themselves, and no harm will be done. If they’ve learned playground safety rules, we can turn them loose with random chemicals in the chemistry lab, and no harm done.

This moron is basically saying that if most of the kids’ education is decently done, then they can afford to throw a few state-mandated lies at them. Once upon a time, I thought the goal was to excel and provide the best education possible; in Indiana, the dream is a school system that is less than half shitty.

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(Also on FtB)