The bad news is that Louisiana lawmakers have again shelved a bill to repeal the stealth creationism law that makes the state a laughingstock in science education.
The good news is that we are no longer alone.
Perhaps failing to observe that Louisiana’s misnamed “Science Education Act” has drawn criticism from scientists and science educators, the lawmakers of Tennessee have decided to join us. A version of the Louisiana law has now been passed in Nashville.
It’s been almost a century since the famed “monkey trial” over teaching of evolution in Tennessee schools. Maybe they don’t teach that history to lawmakers, but Tennessee was turned into a national example of narrow-mindedness in the 1920s.
While Gov. Bobby Jindal enthusiastically signed the creationism law in 2008, Gov. Bill Haslam was at least somewhat embarrassed: He allowed the Tennessee bill to become law without his signature.
The Louisiana law pushed by religious fundamentalists authorizes supplemental materials questioning the theory of evolution, the basis of modern biological sciences. Also included are materials on global warming, another subject that is a hot-button for right-wingers.
Unfortunately, reputable scientists do not question the theory of evolution, and indeed it’s not even a “theory” in the ordinary use of the word. Rather, it is the large body of knowledge that explains the origins and development of life on Earth. It is accepted by most mainstream faiths, but those with a narrow conception of the Bible as literal truth frighten legislators into voting for bills like those now law in Louisiana and Tennessee.
The Constitution does not allow religious instruction in public schools, so these laws do not directly mention creationism, but rather seek to create avenues for materials to question evolution. The laws encourage teachers wanting to introduce their own religious views into classrooms to do so.
This law should be repealed in Louisiana, not upheld in the Legislature.
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