NTS LogoSkeptical News for 3 April 2011

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Sunday, April 03, 2011

TN bill would let God into science classrooms


Teachers could discuss evolution alternatives

2:00 AM, Apr. 3, 2011

Written by
Julie Hubbard

Most public school science teachers whose students ask whether God created man do what Pamela Sexton does.

"I usually don't go into it … kids will come to a conclusion," she said.

She teaches evolution at Marshall Middle School in Nashville the way the Tennessee Department of Education outlines it for seventh grade — in part through a lesson about the made-up "Geekfeezel" bird. The birds survive the thinning of the ozone layer through evolution, so the Geekfeezels with smaller eyes and camouflage-colored feathers make it because they're the fittest.

The origin of life is left out of the conversation.

A bill that's already cleared a vital House committee would allow science teachers to discuss other possibilities, like intelligent design, without getting into trouble with their school districts.

Bill proponents say it's a critical time for science education in Tennessee, with a new emphasis on the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math curriculum, and students should be able to weigh all sides of issues that arise.

Those who oppose it fear the bill aims to discredit the scientific theory of evolution and open the door for Christian teachers who want to force their religious beliefs onto students.

"Evolution may not be controversial in the scientific community, but may be in our greater community," said bill sponsor Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson. "Questions arise in class about controversies and theory. Teachers should be able to answer those without feeling they violate the curriculum standards."

The state Department of Education hired a science consultant and convened a group of science teachers to design its standards, which were adopted by the state Board of Education.

In high school biology, for example, teachers covering biodiversity and change are to explain how genetic variation in a population and changing environmental conditions cause some species to adapt and others to emerge. They are to summarize supporting evidence for the theory of evolution.

Creationism — God creating the heavens and the Earth and man — is not part of the curriculum standards.

The First Amendment "establishment clause" says public schools can't endorse a religion, although schools can discuss religion as long as it's academic, not devotional. From biomedical researchers to college science professors — all seem to have an opinion about whether the Bible account of creation belongs in public schools.

Creationism comes up

Overton High School geology and chemistry teacher Harold Morrison said students frequently challenge the state curriculum during lessons on genetics and Darwinian evolution.

"I would never try to proselytize any of my students into believing what I think," he said. "But I do believe students should be knowledgeable of sciences that go against conventional thoughts."

He and Robin Zimmer, a Knoxville-based biotechnology consultant on cancer research, testified before a Senate education subcommittee last week in favor of the bill.

Lagging science scores by American students and growing job demands in medical research and technology warrant questioning, Zimmer said.

"People are getting hung up on creationism, Christ and religion that they really think are in this bill. They shouldn't be. It's about needing better-trained people," he said. "The bottom line is critical thinking analysis fosters good science."

But Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, said the bill probably was introduced and is moving its way through the General Assembly in large part because of Republican-led legislative committees. In his opinion, it aims to move Tennessee toward talking about creationism in school instead of science.

"Tennessee needs to be looking forward to producing the best science education possible, not backward talking about issues that don't help us," he said. "At home, we can (teach them) values and thoughts that we as families think are appropriate."

Bill is 'unnecessary'

Molly Miller, a Vanderbilt University geology professor, gave lawmakers a letter signed by her colleagues asking lawmakers not to pass the bill.

"This bill is unnecessary," she testified.

"Teachers are already mandated to teach all sides of scientific controversies. Why should legislators change the science standards, overruling those that worked hard? … And what other standards might they change?"

Watson and state Board of Education Executive Director Gary Nixon said they didn't foresee any curriculum change needed if the bill were to pass.

On Thursday, Sexton closed her class by explaining the bill and asking the students how many believe in things they cannot see or touch.

Half raised their hands.

"It has its place … (creationism) is one of the scientific theories that could happen," said Hosen Josen, a seventh-grader at Marshall Middle.

His classmate, Oronde Pendergrass, said he hoped his teachers wouldn't use a new law to persuade students Christianity is "the right way to go."

"Some are concerned I'm teaching things that may go against their values," Sexton said. "There are people who think we are not teaching enough of the other side of the story."

Reach Julie Hubbard at 615-726-5964 or jshubbard@tennessean.com.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Evolution education update: April 1, 2011

The antievolution bills in Tennessee advance, but the antievolution bill in New Mexico is dead. NCSE presents a preview of Berkman and Plutzer's Evolution, Creationism, and the Battle to Control America's Classrooms, a spokesperson for the Alabama Department of Education claims -- wrongly -- that creationism is included in the Alabama state science standards, and the Indiana Department of Education offers its voice for evolution.


Tennessee's House Bill 368 was passed by the House Education Committee on March 29, 2011, and referred to the House Calendar and Rules Committee, while its counterpart, Senate Bill 893, was discussed but not voted on by the Senate Education Committee on March 30, 2011. These bills, if enacted, would require state and local educational authorities to "assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies" and permit teachers to "help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught." The only examples provided of "controversial" theories are "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning."

Among the opponents of the Tennessee antievolution bills are the Tennessee Science Teachers Association, which described HB 368 as "unnecessary, anti-scientific, and very likely unconstitutional"; the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which explained, "Asserting that there are significant scientific controversies about the overall nature of these concepts [i.e., global warming and evolution] when there are none will only confuse students, not enlighten them"; and the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, which charged, "this legislation is not aimed at developing students' critical thinking skills. Rather, it seeks to subvert scientific principle to religious ideology by granting legal cover to teachers who wish to dress up religious beliefs regarding the origin of life as pseudo-science."

For the text of Tennessee's House Bill 368 and Senate Bill 893, visit:

For the statements in opposition to the bills, visit:

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Tennessee, visit:


New Mexico's House Bill 302 died in committee on March 19, 2011, when the legislative session ended. The bill had been tabled by the Education Commitee of the House of Representatives on a 5-4 vote on February 18, 2011. A version of the currently popular "academic freedom" antievolution strategy, HB 302, if enacted, would have required teachers to be allowed to inform students "about relevant scientific information regarding either the scientific strengths or scientific weaknesses" pertaining to "controversial" scientific topics and would protect teachers from "reassignment, termination, discipline or other discrimination for doing so." Its sponsor, Thomas A. Anderson (R-District 29), claimed that the bill was his own, but a detailed comparison provided by New Mexicans for Science and Reason revealed the similarity of HB 302 to model bills drafted by the Discovery Institute and Intelligent Design Network New Mexico.

For the text of New Mexico's House Bill 302, visit:

For NMSR's analysis of HB 302, visit:

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in New Mexico, visit:


NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview of Michael Berkman and Eric Plutzer's Evolution, Creationism, and the Battle to Control America's Classrooms (Cambridge University Press, 2010). The excerpt is taken from chapter 2 -- "The Public Speaks: 'Teach Both'" -- and discusses "more than a quarter century of surveys of the American public concerning evolution." Berkman and Plutzer summarize, "the majority of Americans favor teaching students a biblical perspective on the origins of life on earth. For most, creationism should be taught alongside evolutionary biology ... However, a fairly sizable minority say they want biblical perspectives to supplant scientific treatments of the origin of species."

Endorsing the book, Francisco J. Ayala wrote, "Who should determine whether evolution is taught in the schools and how it is taught? Evolution, Creationism, and the Battle to Control America's Classrooms is a thorough investigation of the relative roles played by school boards and the political process, by scientists, and by school teachers. You may be surprised by the answers." And NCSE's Glenn Branch described Evolution, Creationism, and the Battle to Control America's Classrooms as "[a] tour de force," adding, "Berkman and Plutzer's analysis of who really decides what is taught about evolution in America's public schools is incisive and insightful, thorough and thoughtful. ... required reading for anyone who wants to understand the evolution wars."

For the preview (PDF), visit:

For information about the book from its publisher, visit:


A spokesperson for the Alabama Department of Education claims that creationism is presented in the state education standards. Michael Sibley, the department's director of communications, told Fox News (March 24, 2011) by e-mail that the Alabama Course of Study, while not addressing creationism individually, "deals with Theories of Evolution," adding, "Creationism is one of those theories. The Alabama Course of Study presents each of these so that students can draw their own conclusion for themselves."

In fact, the Alabama Course of Study: Science for grades 9-12, adopted in 2005, refers (p. 41) to "the theory" -- not "theories" -- of evolution. But the treatment of evolution in the standards is extraordinarily poor, receiving the grade of F in Louise S. Mead and Anton Mates's survey of the treatment of evolution in the science education standards of all fifty states, published in Evolution: Education and Outreach in 2009. Indeed, the word "evolution" itself is explicitly used only once in the Biology Core section of the standards.

Moreover, Alabama is the only state to have a disclaimer about evolution, with three different versions appearing in the 1995, 2001, and 2005 editions of the Alabama Course of Study: Science. Although evolution is no longer described as 'controversial' in the 2005 version of the disclaimer, as it was in the 1995 and the 2001 versions, it is the only area of science explicitly identified (p. v) as facing "unanswered questions and unresolved problems" (although the preface adds, "There are many unanswered questions about the origin of life," a phrase from the earlier versions of the disclaimer).

The Alabama state board of education required the 1996 version and then the 2001 version of the disclaimer to be affixed to biology textbooks in the state; the recent gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne, who served on the board from 1994 to 2002, was presumably referring to them when he proclaimed, "I fought to ensure the teaching of creationism in our school text books" (quoted by CBS News, May 11, 2010). On November 10, 2005, the board voted to continue to require the affixing of the 2001 version of the disclaimer to biology textbooks.

For the Fox News story, visit:

For the ACOSS for grades 9-12 (document), visit:

For NCSE's story about Mead and Mates's survey, visit:

For the ACOSS preface containing the disclaimer (document), visit:

For the CBS News story, visit:

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Alabama, visit:


The Indiana Department of Education explains its position on the teaching of evolution in the Hoosier State. A memorandum on the departmental website explains that evolution is contained in the state science standards. While the department "does not identify science content that should not be taught," the statement continues, "content taught in the area of science must be consistent with the nature of science. ... This means that the explanations for how the world works must be based upon physical evidence and subjected to experimental verification as well as peer review." The memorandum concludes by observing, "The espousing of one faith tradition or set of beliefs over another or others is inappropriate in a public school context." The department's memorandum is now reproduced, by permission, on NCSE's website, and will also be contained in the fourth edition of NCSE's Voices for Evolution.

For the Indiana DOE statement (PDF), visit:

For Voices for Evolution, visit:

Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- http://ncse.com -- where you can always find the latest news on evolution education and threats to it.

Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x310
fax: 510-601-7204

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Friday, April 01, 2011

"Boy, were we wrong!"

Special April 1 installment of Evolution News


Evolution News & Views April 1, 2011 8:28 AM | Permalink

So says a highly placed spokesman inside the Discovery Institute who prefers to remain anonymous.

"We now know beyond a shadow of a doubt," says the spokesman, "that Darwinian evolution is a fact. There is overwhelming evidence that all living things are descended from a common ancestor by accidental mutations and unguided natural selection. Intelligent design is wrong, wrong, wrong!"

The anonymous spokesman says that this remarkable turn of events is due to recent scientific breakthroughs in paleontology, embryology, experimental selection, evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo), and molecular phylogeny.

First, paleontology: Berkeley dino-bird expert Kevin Padian has just purchased the last missing link from a Chinese fossil dealer--thereby providing us with an unbroken record of ancestors and descendants from the Big Bang to the present.

Second, embryology: University of Chicago fruit fly geneticist Jerry Coyne and his colleague, historian Robert Richards, have declared a Scientific Consensus that vertebrate embryos really are most similar in their earliest stages--thereby proving once and for all that human embryos are just fish.

Third, experimental selection: Distinguished bacteriologist Richard Lenski of Michigan State University has observed after more than fifty thousand rounds of artificial selection that E. coli are still E. coli--thereby convincing himself and Even-More-Distinguished philosopher Robert Pennock that natural selection has the unlimited power to create new species, organs and body plans.

Fourth, evo-devo: Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) researcher Sean B. Carroll has announced that mutations affecting insect wing patterns account for all human diseases--thereby persuading HHMI that his research actually has something to do with medicine.

Finally, molecular phylogeny: Retired Oxford bird behaviorist (and living legend) Richard Dawkins has asserted yet again that all molecules yield the same evolutionary tree--thereby earning himself a place in Guinness World Records for denying reality more times than Baghdad Bob.

The final triumph of Darwinism will be officially celebrated at the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC, on April 27, 2011--the 140th anniversary of Charles Darwin's historic Nature article on "Pangenesis." In that work, Mr. Darwin defended his theory that "gemmules" scattered throughout the body explain the inheritance of acquired characteristics. Although long derided by religiously motivated followers of Roman Catholic priest Gregor Mendel, pangenesis is currently enjoying a renaissance among Darwinists, who are confident that everything written by The Greatest Scientist Who Ever Lived will ultimately be proven true.

Meanwhile, there are rumors that the National Center for Science Education and the American Civil Liberties Union will share the Nobel Peace Prize later this year for promoting Darwin-only education and thereby saving civilization from the forces of darkness.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Creationism Makes a Comeback


March 30th, 2011 at 5:00 am Noah Kristula-Green

The wave of Republican victories in state legislatures has led to a more favorable environment for creationist friendly legislation to advance. Most of those bills will die in committee but one that has the best chance of passing is an "Academic Freedom" bill currently being debated in the Tennessee legislature. The bill will empower and protect teachers who want to go off their curriculum and teach creationism or intelligent design in their classrooms.

Tennessee House Bill 368 is similar to a Louisiana "Academic Freedom Act" that became law in 2008. It passed out of the Tennessee General Sub-committee on Education on March 16th with a near party line vote, with eight Republicans and one Democrat voting for and four Democrats voting against. The bill was also approved in the House Education Committee on March 29th. Observers are concerned that the bill could become law if it continues gaining support along party lines.

The bill works on the assumption that teachers who want to explain the controversies in topics such as evolution are being bullied or suppressed. The bill's main sponsor, Representative Bill Dunn told FrumForum:

"It says to teachers, 'if there are strengths and weakness in the theory or hypothesis you are teaching, and the weaknesses are based on scientific facts, you don't deserve to be bullied because you present them."

This is the key language from the bill which allows creationists to go off-curriculum:

Toward this end, teachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught. …

Neither the state board of education, nor any public elementary or secondary school governing authority, director of schools, school system administrator, or any public elementary or secondary school principal or administrator shall prohibit any teacher in a public school system of this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.

Steven Newton, a Policy Director for the National Center for Science Education believes that teachers sympathetic to creationism will learn of this law and use it as cover to bring creationist material in their classrooms: "Imagine a teacher who tells their class, 'This textbook we've been using discussed the strengths of evolution, now we will discuss the weaknesses of evolution with the help of this video from the Discovery Institute.'"

For anyone who cares about teaching good science in schools, this law is obviously troubling but the real outrage is that Tennessee currently has an awful science curriculum. According to a study by NCSE, Tennessee gets a "D" grade for the quality of its science curriculum. The study notes that the Tennessee curriculum has an "improved treatment of evolution" (in 2000, the state received a grade of "F" when the Fordham Foundation measured it) but the study also adds that the state currently teaches "no human evolution."

The irony is that in the past, creationist institutions and advocates used to be allies of laws and reforms which would give a stronger role for a parents choice in their child's education, whether through voucher programs, charter schools, or even homeschooling. There is a logic to this approach: rather than tear towns and communities apart over protracted and agonizing legal battles, simply give parents the power to choose what education their child can have.

Laws such as HB 368, and other "academic freedom" bills are not about giving parents more options about where they can get their children educated. They are about empowering and protecting those creationists who are already in the public education system and are waiting to be given the legal cover to evangelize and teach bad science.

Bill to protect teachers' allowing students' critique of evolution advances in House


First Posted: March 29, 2011 - 7:10 pm
Last Updated: March 29, 2011 - 7:11 pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A proposal that protects teachers in Tennessee from being disciplined for allowing students to critique scientific theories — such as evolution — is headed for a full House vote.

The measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Bill Dunn of Knoxville passed the House Education Committee on a voice vote Tuesday and will now be scheduled for a vote on the House floor.

Geology professor Molly Miller of Vanderbilt University said the proposal is unnecessary and would "hurt ... students who need to learn science if they're going to be able to compete."

Rep. John Deberry, a Memphis Democrat and minister, took offense at Miller's comments, saying it was "totally anti-American" for her "to make a determination to what everybody else thinks."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Alternative medicine treatment



This is in reference to a photo published in your newspaper on bloodletting (Jan. 2). The ancient traditional medical practice of bloodletting, also known as wet cupping or hijamah, is gaining popularity worldwide. Many hijamah therapists work in the Middle East, and some of them have even posted videos of the procedure on YouTube. It is recognized, regulated and practiced in many Western countries such as England, some parts of Canada and the US as an effective alternative medicine treatment.

Saudi Arabia has a good number of people who want to get hijamah done as a Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and/or as a therapy for many ailments such as migraine, backaches and other pains. In this part of the world, there are some makeshift clinics operating in homes where trained or untrained, skilled or unskilled workers are charging vulnerable and desperate patients anything from SR150 to SR700 and more. Disposable cupping kits are available at medical supply stores for as low as SR20, but some of the therapists might even ignore basic hygiene practices and reuse equipment on several patients, putting them at risk of catching diseases such as AIDS and Hepatitis B and C, etc.

It is time hijamah is regulated in the Kingdom. I suggest the Saudi government takes appropriate steps in regulating this amazing Sunnah, which can be very beneficial if performed correctly. To ensure the safety of patients, hijamah therapists must be properly trained and licensed, use sterilized disposable tools and equipment, and adopt aseptic techniques, just like any other invasive medical procedure. It should be made available at a reasonable and affordable cost so people seeking cupping are encouraged to go to government approved hospitals and clinics. Special cupping camps can be set up at hospitals during the Sunnah dates of the 17th, 19th and 21st of the lunar month. Training courses can be conducted to train medical professionals to perform hijamah. A research department can also eventually be set up to study the mechanism of healing by bloodletting.

Homeopathy prospers even as skeptics stay on the attack


BY JULIE DEARDORFF - Chicago Tribune

A popular homeopathic flu remedy boasts that it comes with no side effects, no drug interactions and won't make you drowsy. But the product also lacks something most people expect to find in their medicine: active ingredients.

Oscillococcinum (O-sill-o-cox-see-num), a tongue-twisting concoction used to treat flulike symptoms, is a staple in many European homes. Sales are growing in the U.S., where it can be found everywhere from storefronts to major stores.

Homeopathy critics, however, derisively call the product "oh-silly-no-see-um," a reference to the absence of active ingredients. It's products such as Oscillococcinum that have placed homeopathy in an awkward position: popular among holistic-minded consumers but scorned by scientists and most Western-trained doctors.

But fans of homeopathy, a form of alternative medicine in which patients are given highly diluted and vigorously shaken preparations to trigger the body's natural healing ability, defend it vehemently.

The British Medical Association vehemently objects to national funding for homeopathy treatment, considering any effect to be placebo.

Around the world, activists have staged mass public "overdose" events outside pharmacies to demonstrate there's nothing inside the small white pills. One U.S. group, meanwhile, has offered $1 million to anyone who can prove homeopathy works and has challenged major drug retailers such as CVS, Rite-Aid and Walgreens to stop selling the products.

"Nobody, not even homeopaths have an idea how the remedies work," said Dr. Edzard Ernst, a longtime critic of homeopathy and professor of Complementary Medicine at Peninsula Medical School at the University of Exeter in the U.K.

Few things rile scientific skeptics more than homeopathy. Though it has been used for centuries and some studies reported positive findings, most analyses have concluded there's no evidence it works any better than a sugar pill.

Sales are booming

Yet homeopathy hasn't just survived the criticism; it's prospering. In the U.S., consumer sales of homeopathic treatments reached $870 million in 2009, growing 10 percent over the previous year, according to Nutrition Business Journal estimates.

For Oscillococcinum, sold in 60 countries, estimated annual retail sales in the U.S. are more than $20 million, according to the manufacturer, Boiron. It ranks 49th out of 318 cold and flu brand products that do more than $1 million in sales. Other popular homeopathic products include arnica gel for bruises and strains and diluted zinc remedies for colds.

"Some people feel these products shouldn't work due to the dilution level," said pharmacist Christophe Merville, director of education and pharmacy development for Boiron, the world's leading manufacturer of homeopathic medicines. But he said basic science studies have shown "that highly diluted solutions have biological properties that are different than water."

Ernst, who calls homeopathy the "worst example of faith-based medicine," said that even if the solution is structurally different, it doesn't matter. "After doing my washing up, the water in my sink is very different from pure water," he said. "Yet it would be silly to claim it had therapeutic effects."

Homeopathy is one of the most polarizing forms of complementary and alternative medicine in part because it's based on principles that defy the laws of chemistry and physics. One pillar is the assumption that "like cures like." Chopping a red onion, for example, can make your eyes tear and nose run. Seasonal rhinitis can trigger the same symptoms, so a homeopathic treatment derived from a red onion - Allium cepa - may be a possible remedy.

The second assumption proposes that diluting and violently shaking (or "succussing") the remedies makes them more effective, even if - and this is the part most scientists find hard to swallow - the final preparation no longer contains a single molecule of the original ingredient. The final product usually is a tiny ball of sugar the patient swallows, though homeopathic products also are sold as gels.

The mechanism behind the diluting and shaking remains a mystery. Some say homeopathic medicine may stimulate the body's natural defenses; others suggest homeopathic medicine retains a "memory" of the original substance in the water and the effect is due to nanoparticles.

Regardless, proponents say it shouldn't be discounted simply because it can't be explained. For years, no one knew how aspirin worked. And scientists still don't fully understand the mechanism behind a conventional drug such as Ritalin, argued Dr. Tim Fior, director of the Center for Integral Health in Lombard, Ill.

"Homeopathy challenges the belief in the molecular paradigm of medicines," Fior said. "Conventional pharmacology is based on - and profits immensely from - the idea that you can synthesize a molecule, patent it and produce it in bulk and then have a monopoly selling it. Homeopathic medicines are so diluted that they work more according to a biophysical or energetic paradigm."

People often use homeopathy to treat chronic pain, digestive issues, colds, influenza and allergies when they're not getting relief from conventional medicine. Homeopathic practitioners tend to spend more time with patients than regular doctors. The products also appeal to those looking for a "natural" or holistic product or who can't tolerate the side effects of conventional drugs.

Noted Creationist Disinvited From National Home School Conference Itinerary


Written by Dave Bohon
Monday, 28 March 2011 23:00

The founder of the creationist group Answers in Genesis (AIG) and one of the chief architects of the planned "Ark Encounter" creationist museum in Kentucky, has been un-invited from two important home school conferences because of controversial comments he made about another conference speaker. As reported by OneNewsNow.com, the sponsor of the conferences, Great Homeschool Conventions, e-mailed noted creationist Dr. Ken Ham to inform him that he was no longer welcome at scheduled or future events because of "ungodly" and "mean-spirited" statements he had made about the convention and other speakers.

"We believe that what Ken has said and done is un-Christian and sinful," the event organizers said in their e-mail to Ham, and his "public criticism of the convention itself and other speakers at our convention require him to surrender the spiritual privilege of addressing our home school audience."

At issue is Ham's criticism of another regular home school conference speaker, Dr. Peter Enns, whose organization BioLogos Foundation seeks to promote harmony between science and the Christian faith. As opposed to Ham and his organization, Enns and BioLogos do not promote a "young earth" interpretation of the Genesis creation account, which posits that God created the Earth in six 24-hour days, but believe that "evolution, properly understood, best describes God's work of creation." The group's stated mission is to help "the church — and students, in part — develop worldviews ... that allow science and faith to co-exist peacefully."

Ham, however, believes that Enns' teachings boil down to a compromise of the scriptural account of creation, and has been openly critical of Enns, even at public presentations. "Ham, who spoke at the Great Homeschool Conventions' earlier events in Greenville, S.C. and in Memphis, Tenn., had made presentations on how Enns was promoting unbiblical teachings and compromising the faith," reported the Christian Post. "The AIG founder also took to Facebook to criticize Enns, who was also invited to speak at the conventions to promote a Bible curriculum for home schoolers."

In a recent posting on his blog, Ham took issue with the Great Homeschool Conferences for inviting Dr. Enns to speak at their events, writing that Enns "does not believe in a historical Adam or historical Fall.... In fact, what he teaches about Genesis is not just compromising Genesis with evolution, it is outright liberal theology that totally undermines the authority of the Word of God. It is an attack on the Word — on Christ."

As proof of his colleague's liberal leanings, Ham quoted Enns directly from the BioLogos website as suggesting that "the Adam story could be viewed symbolically as a story of Israel's beginnings, not as the story of humanity from ground zero." In one of his own blog postings, Enns writes: "The biblical depiction of human origins, if taken literally, presents Adam as the very first human being ever created. He was not the product of an evolutionary process, but a special creation of God a few thousand years before Jesus — roughly speaking, about 6000 years ago. Every single human being that has ever lived can trace his/her genetic history to that one person." Enns views such a belief as problematic, "because it is at odds with everything else we know about the past from the natural sciences and cultural remains."

Ham argued that Enns' writing and presentations prove that he "accepts what the secular world teaches concerning evolution and millions of years, and it is so obvious this determines how he approaches the Bible." He concluded that Enns "does not have the same view of inspiration as I do. In fact, he doesn't have the biblical view of inspiration," which he said was defined by the biblical admonition that all Scripture "is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness' (2 Timothy 3:16)."

On Facebook Ham warned that home-schooled children were in danger of being exposed to Enns' erroneous teaching through a curriculum he was selling at the conferences. "Someone needs to stand against the compromise that is pouring into the church from many directions," he said. He also complained about the decision of the convention's organizers to pull him and his group from their conferences, noting, "Because we publicly exposed one of their speakers and his curriculum because his beliefs clearly undermine the authority of Scripture, we apparently come under the heading of 'anti-Christian' in our actions."

Ham isn't the only conservative evangelical leader to challenge the opinions of Enns and BioLogos. Over the past year the Rev. Albert Mohler, head of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, has repeatedly sparred with the group over its apparent compromise on the Genesis account. In November 2010, Mohler accused BioLogos of attempting to "persuade evangelical Christians to embrace some form of evolutionary theory," and attempting to "convince the evangelical public that an acceptance of evolution is a means of furthering the gospel."

Mohler charged the group's spokesmen with leveling their guns "at the Intelligent Design movement, at young earth creationism, and against virtually all resistance to the embrace of evolution," and with insisting that "the embrace of evolution is necessary if evangelicalism is not to be intellectually marginalized in the larger culture." The conservative Baptist theologian argued that writers for BioLogos "have repeatedly made the case that we must relinquish the inerrancy of the Bible and accept that the biblical writers worked from a defective understanding of the world and its origins."

Officials with the home-school conference insisted that like the majority of the attendees at their convention, they agree with Ham and AIG on the biblical account of creation, explaining that Ham was removed as a speaker "for his spirit, not for his message." Noting the importance of Christian unity in their home school conferences, the event officials explained, "As an invited guest, Dr. Ham's spirit toward our convention was unkind. Dr. Ham's spirit toward our attendees was not gracious. Dr. Ham's spirit toward other speakers was unprofessional. In short, a proud, ungrateful and divisive spirit was projected from Dr. Ham. Regardless of the message, Dr. Ham's approach sullied the atmosphere of the convention."

In defending their decision to welcome Dr. Enns and BioLogos Fondation despite their apparent disagreement with the group's stand on the inerrancy of Scripture, the conference organizers expressed their belief that "Christian scholars should be heard without the fear of ostracism or ad hominem attacks." They emphasized that "a well-rounded education is not possible without knowing and understanding all sides of an issue. Such a process will, understandably, confirm one in their conviction or persuade them to make a change."

The convention organizers also announced that they had replaced Ham and AIG with Dr. Jonathan D. Sarfati of Creation Ministries International, an organization that, like AIG, promotes a biblical view of the Earth's creation.

Leaving creationism


Category: Creationism
Posted on: March 29, 2011 8:20 AM, by PZ Myers

We occasionally get threads full of deconversion stories here: atheists arrive at their conclusions by some very different paths, where sometimes it was an easy and natural transition, and sometimes it was painful, agonizing, and there are still deep wounds left from parting the ways with religion. Today, though, I'd like to ask a narrower question: How did you come to accept evolution?

Some of you will find the problem odd, because you've never believed in anything else. I know when I was growing up, despite going to Sunday School and all that nonsense, my church never mentioned the subject of evolution, either to approve or disapprove; my public school classes never discussed it, either, to their disgrace. I grew up devouring books on natural history at my local library, and absorbed the evolutionary explanations within them, only getting formal training when I entered college. It was quite a shock to me to discover what kind of absurd twaddle other people thought was real science!

But others may have been instructed early on in creationism as part of their religious upbringing, and the process of learning had to involve a lot of unlearning as well. Where were you on the continuum? Was your childhood science untainted by religious dogma, or were you a full-on bible-thumping young earth creationist, or something in between? How did you wrestle the myth to the ground and drop-kick it into the local lake?

Ken MacLeod was a youthful creationist who got better, if you need an example. He brings up another interesting point, a perspective that I share: once you recognize the fallacies behind creationism, you also realize that creationism's promoters are not simply deluded folk — they are monsters of malice who are intentionally trying to undermine science education because it conflicts with their religious values, and they are perfectly willing to lie and slander to achieve their goals.

What quote-mining shows is that some people who produce creationist material are conscious liars. Behind these pseudo-science hacks are worse people yet. These are theologians who have the education to understand the conflict precisely. It's not one between 'science and the Bible'. It's a lot more stark than that. It's a conflict between a particular way of reading the Bible (what is loosely called 'literalism') and normal scientific method. There would be a certain integrity in acknowledging the conflict, admitting that there was no obvious resolution, and pointing out that we are not always given to comprehend the intent of the Ancient of Days. That at least would allow young people from these traditions to study biology and geology and astronomy without the constant arguments at home interrupting their thoughts like a buzz of static across their brains.

There's one further ironic revenge visited on all this. A frequent complaint against the New Atheists is that they're only arguing against fundamentalism, and ignoring the broader and more accommodating forms of religious belief. This isn't exactly true, but to the extent that it is, they've hit a sweet spot in the market. When I rejected fundamentalism I didn't turn to broader and more accommodating forms of religious belief. I didn't start wondering if maybe there was something to be said for Anglicanism. I just went straight over to atheism. If this is typical, and I think it is, then there must be many for whom the New Atheist books are like water in the desert. We need no condescension from those who have already found an oasis.

I've interacted with a lot of creationists over the years, and one thing I've learned is that they aren't necessarily stupid people: they are often accomplished, literate, successful in fields that aren't science, and entirely capable of following some of the most byzantine threads of logic. And yet, when they are confronted with the logic of evolution, which is relatively simple and clear and also backed by impressive amounts of empirical evidence, they balk and begin to reach desperately for the worst arguments, striving to debunk the truth with dishonesty to an exceptional degree.

It's one of the reasons I encourage students to listen to the other side. If the student has any knowledge of biology at all, they find the lies they use appalling and horrifying. And I do not hesitate to call them lies: they know better. Anyone who can ferret their way through the chaos of the Bible is smart enough to understand how to read a lucid Charles Darwin for meaning.

MacLeod's last point about the New Atheists is also valid. Encountering fundamentalism was the trigger that woke me up to the follies and fallacies of creationism, but it also made the conscious blindness of less toxic religions obvious. Over and over again, I have witnessed the silence of the churches. Over and over again, a creationist rides into town, spouts his lies and nonsense, and who rebuts them? Usually, only the atheists. Even the liberal church congregations sit quietly, many of their members even attend these talks with muted assent, and the general attitude even from sects that don't demand adherence to beliefs in a young earth is…let them abide.

I often hear the argument that not only is creationism bad science, it is bad theology. I don't accept that argument at all. In part, it's because all theology is bad, and if we're going to start winnowing out particular religious beliefs on the basis of their nonsensical nature, we can't stop with Genesis literalism — Jesus and Mohammed and Vishnu are all going to have to go, no matter how socially progressive their advocates might be. And it's also because I see all those churches, each with their brand of theology, all almost entirely silent on the theological errors of their neighbors. Bad theology apparently doesn't matter that much.

The Fall of the Evolution Theory


Posted on 28 March 2011.

There has been an article that says "Herman Cummings Challenges the World". If so, then consider this my " Indigenous Galactic Network Challenge" ("Local Group" of galaxies). I hereby give advance notice to all living entities that the monopoly of the evolution theory in our culture is coming to an end. Be advised that the arrival of the second to last phase of the era of modern mankind is at hand. It is well past the time for all that (think they) believe the Bible, to accept the whole truth, whether it be of Creation, salvation, or final disposition.

In the Holy Bible, the book of 1st Kings chapter 18, starting with verse 21, Elijah asks the people this question:" How long halt ye between two opinions?". There was a public challenge given to the "prophets" of the false god named Baal, to have a face-off at Mt. Carmel, to see which deity would respond to the animal sacrifice put on an altar. Each deity had their own designated altar, which they were to respond with fire from above, in front of the people. To make a long story short, the 450 prophets of Baal lost, and were killed.

In the arena of origins, you usually find (at the start) the atheists, creationists, education systems, scientists (evolution & Big Bang theories), and the world of Theology. The battle often gets too intense for Theology, and they quickly run for cover under the umbrella of "faith in Christ", along with many of those of Creationism. The worlds of Creationism and Theology have had about 150 years to come up with an answer to the evolution theory, and have failed to do so. Therefore what they teach is false doctrine, because the truth of God's Word conquers all, and never runs away. It is the adversary that flees.

Current creationism has three players. The "young Earth", the "old Earth", and Intelligent Design ("ID"). I invite you to first read my previous articles named "The Hypocrisy of Young Earth Creationism", "The Infidelity of Old Earth Creationism", and " A Public Letter to the Discovery Institute". Each of those three were asked to unite with me in the effort to correct the false conclusions of science concerning our origins and ancient history. None were willing to repent and learn the truth. Neither could they correctly answer my points of scripture (the "first day", the Fourth Day, the "fifth day", and the "sixth day").

Both "young Earth" and "ID" have had their day in court, and have lost. The truth of God's Word never loses. If they had the truth, the doctrine of Creation Science would not have suffered defeat in the case of "Edwards vs Aguillard, U.S. Supreme Court, 482 U.S. 578?. The Court ruled that Creation Science should not be required to be taught, whenever and where ever the evolution theory was taught. The Court did not say that Creationism could not be taught in public schools. It was Creation Science that lost the case (a slap in their face), not Creationism as a whole. Therefore it is legal for Creationism to be taught, but there isn't anyone qualified in any school system to teach it. It would amount more to foolishness, than the actual facts of our origins.

In the "Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District" lawsuit, leading to the trial, I pleaded with the school board and their attorneys to: 1) drop the inept doctrine of "ID", 2) allow me to train their teachers the correct way to teach Genesis to the students ("Observations of Moses"), and 3) let me be on the defense team to help them win the case. As did the Cobb County school board ("Pulling the Covers Off of Cobb County(GA)"), they ignored me, and they lost both the case and their jobs.

Creationism can hardly be taught in any school system, because currently no instructor understands the material, and unless it's a high level theoretical theology class, creationism would not be applicable to any (secular) education system. Creationism is not the opposing view to evolution. If anything, it would be the opposing view to the Big Bang theory. There is no creation/evolution contest. If you hear or read of someone comparing the two against each other, ignore them, for they are speaking from ignorance, and do not know the facts. One particular fact is that there are no "creation accounts" in Genesis. So what study material would be used?

Finishing up on Creationism, it appears that "old Earth" Creationism has avoided embarrassment in court. But they defame the Word of God, in an effort to compromise with scientific reality. I again ask that all people stop sending your support to all creationist groups. They don't understand the Genesis text, and they refuse to learn what the truth is. I question whether or not their goal is to advance the truth of Genesis, or just to advance their own enterprises.

Let's not allow the world of Theology, and the Clergy in general, to escape. Theology has never understood the first two chapters of Genesis. It is so sad that pastors, priests, and rabbis have misrepresented the text of Genesis. I detest the gentile clergy that just "throws up their hands and capitulates", saying that the Bible is (just) a book of redemption, and not a book of science. How so? The Superior Alien Intelligence that conveyed the Bible to about 40 people of Israel, over a span 1600 years, created science and the laws of our existence. That alone makes the Bible different and superior to any other written document on Earth.

I am ashamed of the Jewish rabbinical regime, that has forsaken the truth of Bereshit (Genesis), and succumbed to the infidelity of calling the scriptures "allegorical", or being borrowed from other ancient Mesopotamian cultures. They are shamefully ignorant of the writings of Moses. In 1598 BC, at Mt. Sinai, the Super Alien Intelligence that created this universe revealed Himself to Israel, as a husband reveals himself to his new bride. Israel was to convey the One true Deity to the rest of the world. But they fell short of doing so.

Even now, the Sanhedrin in modern day Israel, fails to embrace the truth of scripture. They have chosen to "protect" the false teachings of rabbinical patriarchs, that never understood the writings of Moses, conveying their ignorance in their Torah and Talmud commentaries. The Sanhedrin was stunned that literal interpretation could be used, and STILL be reconciled with the discoveries of science. They were confounded, and wanted time to "study the concept". Did they repent from their former position? No!!

The Sanhedrin viewed the "Observations of Moses" over a year ago. But just like the gentile Clergy, Genesis is "out of their comfort zone", and they'd rather spend their time preparing for rituals and sacrifices for the coming new Temple. But if the evolution theory is true, then the whole Jewish heritage is a lie, and they don't have a valid claim to the Holy Land.

Public education systems are supposed to be neutral, and should not teach the facets of any religion, using public funds. But atheists control our public schools. Most of academia are atheists, and whenever the monopoly of evolution encounters even a small hint of a challenge, the atheists come out of the woodwork to strong arm the system "back into purity", using the ACLU as their "hired gun".

Well, that too is coming to an end. First, there are only two major views of prehistoric history, It is the secular scientific view, and the correct biblical view. Forget the others. The atheists want to use them to confuse the issue at hand. Second, the only way for the public school system to remain neutral is for the same teachers that teach the evolution theory, to also teach the correct biblical view, which is the "Observations of Moses". Evolution is mainly derived from the observations of Charles Darwin, so present both observations (views) with equal enthusiasm.

Is that a repeat of the " Edwards vs Aguillard" argument? No, it is not. The actual issue in that case was that the apparent progression of prehistoric life forms on Earth, through 700 million years of history, was the topic in science classes. Scientific (young Earth) Creationism did not address that issue, but rather denied that there even was a 700 million year fossil and geologic history of record. They foolishly teach that the Earth and universe are only 10,000 years old, and that mankind began with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (7200 BC). The Louisiana "Creationism Act", as it came to be known, allowed an inequity, which the high court correctly resolved.

The Atheists say that they don't want "religion" taught in public schools. But don't believe that falsehood. They want to maintain the monopoly of evolution in schools, which fosters recruits for the religion of Atheism. Again, Atheism is a religion of denial. Not only does it deny the existence of a Creator (Lord God of Israel), but also denies the existence of Satan, demons, angels, Heaven, Hell, and the whole supernatural realm. It teaches that mankind has no "soul", and is no different than the animals, only that we humans have developed more intelligence. So you see, the doctrine of evolution falls right in line with the teachings of Atheism.

Even the Supreme Court has concluded that Atheism is a religion. In the case of "Torcaso vs Watkins, 347 U.S. 488 (1961)", the Court said "We repeat and again reaffirm, that neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally force a person to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. Neither can they constitutionally pass laws or impose requirements which aid all religions as against non-believers, and neither can aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of God, as against those religions founded on different beliefs".

Atheism is a religion (of denial) that has its own doctrines, publications, and websites., which are used to convert and draw others into their belief system. Membership dues and donations to the entity called "American Atheists" are tax deductible. They proudly proclaim their agenda in what's called their "Statement of Aims and Purposes". Just like other religious organizations, they have their conferences and conventions.

How much influence does the idealism of Atheism have in our public school systems? How much does it have in our courts of law, our executive and legislative branches, at all levels of government? After many years of allowing only the evolution theory to be taught, those students are now in positions of power, making ungodly decisions for our country.

The term "science" can be defined as an act, method, or result of obtaining correct (or most reliable) knowledge about anything or everything in our natural realm. It includes decryptions of what happened in the prehistoric past, what is happening now, and explanations of why it happens or has come into being. The influence of Atheism forces modern science to only look for natural causes for any phenomena. If none can be found, then a fictional cause is invented or theorized, in order to deny any supernatural involvement.

So, what happened to the "quest for true knowledge"? Denying a scenario, just because it doesn't agree with your ideology doesn't address the issue, nor changes the facts of history. Just ask secular science how Earth obtained the Moon. Their "impact theory" is even more ridiculous than the evolution theory. It's a classic example of denial. They conveniently avoid explaining how the planet Jupiter obtained it's moons, and how several of them can remain in orbit so close to Jupiter, without being overcome by the planet's massive pull of gravity.

If mankind has enough intelligence to land on the Moon, and return safely, then he ought to have enough intelligence to learn, and pass on to our children, the truth of our origins without bias. Atheism zealously embraces the evolution theory because evolution denies the existence of God, and would show the Bible to be man made (pagan) literature. There are even some infidels that call themselves "church goers" that capitulate and say that God "used evolution". In the concept of denial, if there is no Creator, then there is no final judgment. It is the atheist's agenda to keep the knowledge of God (the Creator) away from others, forcing their ideology (religion) upon our education system.

The evolution theory is the blinded, biased view of the history of life (death) on Earth during the latter part of its history. Evolutionists, such as the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), don't want to entertain any other explanation. There was an article written named "An Open Letter to the National Center for Science Education". In it, I challenged them on points of the evolution theory, and to be more mindful of teaching students the truth, and not to exist just to keep evolution as an unopposed dogma. They did not accept my challenge. So far, all of my opposition has been rather quiet. Why?

It is despicable that "so called" intelligent people would believe, pass on, and support such foolish conclusions as the "Big Bang" and evolution theories. It shows how susceptible people can be to the religion of denial (Atheism). Common sense should dictate that as precise as our existence is, that it could never have just "appeared" by random chance, even if its origins could never be explained, and we had no extra celestial document to enlighten us. There has never been any "proof" for evolution, or the Big Bang theory. It's only been biased blind conclusions, tainted with belligerent denial.

Finally, we come to the ACLU. I welcome the opportunity to oppose them in open court. If academia and the Clergy continue to hide the truth of Genesis from the people, it would be a pleasure to reveal it in a court of law, dealing them a final and lasting crushing setback. With the fear of a lawsuit removed, school districts can then begin to give our children a balanced education, which presents both the secular science view (which will lose most all of its credibility), and the Genesis view (which correctly explains the history of our universe).

So here it is, the Notice of Termination for the reign of the evolution theory. Bring on the fossil and geologic evidence of ancient Earth. I will bring the "Observations of Moses", which conveys the correct literal interpretation of Genesis, and reveals the truth about that same evidence, proving the authenticity of God's Word.

I loved the 1997 movie "The Titanic". But every time I see it, I am brought to tears, seeing how the foolishness of one man brought suffering and a horrible death to hundreds of men, women, and even little children. Have you ever held large pieces of ice in your hands? It gets mighty uncomfortable in seconds. Imagine your whole body being thrown into ice water, with no protection, in the sub-freezing dead of night, and no rescue. That is the foolishness of Atheism, being forced upon the rest of us. If they want to believe such foolishness, be my guest. But for the love of humanity, I'd rather learn, and abide by, and pass on the truth.

Monday, March 28, 2011

'Proof of Creation' Dino Drawing Just a Mud Stain


Creationists have claimed this petroglyph was proof that humans and dinosaurs coexisted

By Eric Niiler
Fri Mar 25, 2011 07:00 AM ET

A petroglpyh on an ancient cave in Utah has been used as evidence by creationists that humans and dinosaurs coexisted.

Researchers have found that the painting is actually two non-dino drawings plus a mud stain.

One creationist has questioned the findings of the researchers, however, based on their methodology.

Dinosaur or mud stain? An ancient cave drawing high on a rock formation in southeastern Utah has stirred a skirmish of sorts between creationists who believe it's proof that humans and dinosaurs lived together, and scientists who say no way.

A new research paper out on the subject probably won't change too many minds, but it is giving food for thought to those who wonder what the fuss is about.

The petroglyph at the Kachina Bridge formation in Natural Bridges Natural Monument has drawn curious visitors for years. By many accounts, it appears to be a hand-drawn plant-eating dino, like the happy green diplodocus that was the old Sinclair oil logo.

Phil Senter, a biology professor at Fayetteville State University, hiked the region with his fiancé two summers ago. "We got there and I couldn't believe it," Senter said. "It looked just like a sauropod."

Petroglyphs are common throughout parts of Colorado, Utah and New Mexico, drawn several thousand years ago by early Native Americans. The drawings represent deer and many other animals, but this was one of a few depicting prehistoric animals.

Senter found that the petroglyph had been adopted by creationist groups as proof that the human artist coexisted with dinosaurs. The image can be found on several creationist websites and is part of an exhibit at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky.

Intrigued by the drawing, Senter contacted Sally J. Cole, a Basalt, Colo., based author and archaeologist who has written extensively on petroglyphs of the west. Cole examined the drawing and declared that it was actually a composite of two separate petroglyphs, one being a snake or serpent. The dinosaur "legs" were actually natural mineral or mud stains.

Senter and Cole published their findings in Palaeontologia Electronica, a peer-reviewed online journal. But that's not likely the end of the story.

Contacted by Discovery News, officials at the Creationist Museum criticized the report. They noted that Cole examined the drawing with binoculars rather than getting close up.

"I'm prepared to accept that the petroglyph as being a dinosaur," said David Menton, a biologist at the Creation Museum. "I'm prepared that it is some other creature. What I'm not prepared to accept is that the artist climbed up there but the authors didn't climb up. They came to the conclusion that it was nothing."

Cole was not available for comment and her email is not listed on the paper. The paper states that the area is too rugged to bring in a ladder. Senter and Cole say the dinosaur drawing is a form of "paraeidolia, the psychological phenomenon of perceiving significance in vague or random stimuli, e.g., seeing animals in clouds or the face of a religious figure in a food item."

But Menton says he wishes the paper's authors would have provided a better explanation of what they found.

"I would say the illustration is consistent with a sauropod in general appearance," Menton said. "I reject the hypothesis that it has no meaning at all. I'd rather hear the authors say: 'Here's a better possibility.'"

There are actually several dino-looking drawings at Kachina Bridge, including one that some say resembles a three-horned Triceratops and another of a one-horned Monoclonius. The paper says they, too, are either composite drawings or resemble "no specifically identifiable quadrupedal animal."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

To: Discovery Institute; Re: Creationist Tactics Pre-Dating the Exposure of ID as a Fraud


March 25, 2011 10:50AM Post by Lauri Lebo

The folks at the Discovery Institute have been expending a lot of energy responding to a blog post I recently wroteabout a record number of creationist bills introduced in state legislatures since January. I write numerous posts about intelligent design and the Discovery Institute's disingenuous attacks on evolution education, so I'm not sure why this particular post has gotten them so hot and bothered.

First, David Klinghoffer had a bit of a snit on DI's Evolution News last week over the issue of peer-reviewed intelligent design research—a topic I'll revisit soon.

This week, DI fellow and spokesman John West is upset over the fact that I didn't appropriately credit those at Discovery for their creationist tactics.

West objects to this paragraph:

As always, since intelligent design was ruled unconstitutional in Kitzmiller v. Dover, the introduced bills rely on such creationist code words as "teaching the controversy," "academic freedom," or "critical analysis."

His argument is that the Discovery Institute was promoting "critical analysis" long before intelligent design was exposed as nothing but revamped creationism.

(One of the most problematic elements of intelligent design is its proponents' argument that those searching for proof of God's existence no longer need faith, since ID provides scientific evidence. But, as ID defender and scientist Michael Behe testified during the Dover trial, the evidence only takes one so far and, in the end, one really does need faith.)

Still, West is correct. Discovery Institute folks had long been promoting critical analysis – when they weren't busy also promoting intelligent design. As is their modus operandi, they switch between intelligent design and coded phrases like "teach the controversy" when it serves their purposes.

For an example of their promotion of intelligent design in public school science class, see their 1999 booklet Intelligent Design in Public School Science Curricula: A Legal Guidebook.

Also, in the case of Dover, Discovery initially sent pro-ID DVDs, such as Signature in the Cell, to school board members. But when it looked like the case was headed for a First Amendment trial that they would inevitably lose, they dropped back to urging board members to adopt "teach the controversy" language.

Still, I never wrote that the critical analysis strategy was invented in the wake of Kitzmiller. What I wrote was that the proposed "critical analysis" and "academic freedom" legislation emerged after Dover; in other words, legislation after Kitzmiller now featured these code words prominently. Even West has to admit this is true, because the bills are based on sample legislation that the Discovery Institute wrote in 2008.

West's post opens with a few recollections of my coverage of the Dover trial commenting that, "it was pretty clear what side of the controversy she was rooting for," demonstrating just how trapped he is in his own hype. After all, you can't be on any side of a controversy when there really is no controversy to begin with—not for the roughly 99.95% of scientists with relevant expertise, anyway. That's in fact the whole point.

In any case, he then recounts a rather nasty disagreement that we had on the phone during the Dover trial back in 2005. I have to admit his recollection is pretty accurate. At one point he said, "How dare you say that we're stupid."

I told him that I wasn't calling him stupid. Not at all. I was calling him dishonest.

With regard to that account, he and I are in agreement.

Creationism in the Alabama standards?


March 25th, 2011

A spokesperson for the Alabama Department of Education claims that creationism is presented in the state education standards. Michael Sibley, the department's director of communications, told Fox News (March 24, 2011) by e-mail that the Alabama Course of Study, while not addressing creationism individually, "deals with Theories of Evolution," adding, "Creationism is one of those theories. The Alabama Course of Study presents each of these so that students can draw their own conclusion for themselves."

In fact, the Alabama Course of Study: Science for grades 9-12, adopted in 2005, refers (document, p. 41) to "the theory" — not "theories" — of evolution. But the treatment of evolution in the standards is extraordinarily poor, receiving the grade of F in Louise S. Mead and Anton Mates's survey of the treatment of evolution in the science education standards of all fifty states, published in Evolution: Education and Outreach in 2009. Indeed, the word "evolution" itself is explicitly used only once in the Biology Core section of the standards.

Moreover, Alabama is the only state to have a disclaimer about evolution, with three different versions appearing in the 1995, 2001, and 2005 editions of the Alabama Course of Study: Science. Although evolution is no longer described as controversial in the 2005 version of the disclaimer, as it was in the 1995 and the 2001 versions, it is the only area of science explicitly identified (document, p. v) as facing "unanswered questions and unresolved problems" (although the preface adds, "There are many unanswered questions about the origin of life," a phrase from the earlier versions of the disclaimer).

The Alabama state board of education required the 1996 version and then the 2001 version of the disclaimer to be affixed to biology textbooks in the state; the recent gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne, who served on the board from 1994 to 2002, was presumably referring to them when he proclaimed, "I fought to ensure the teaching of creationism in our school text books" (quoted by CBS News, May 11, 2010). On November 10, 2005, the board voted to continue to require the affixing of the 2001 version of the disclaimer to biology textbooks.

Evolution education update: March 25, 2011

A Friend of Darwin award for Niles Eldredge. Plus the latest poll on creationism in Canada, reactions to the antievolution bill in Florida, and a new issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach.


NCSE is pleased to announce the winner of the Friend of Darwin award for 2011: Niles Eldredge. In a March 21, 2011, press release announcing the award, NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott explained, "Niles was there before there was an NCSE and he has never flagged in his support for NCSE over the many decades. Just as important: Niles has been a devoted advocate for evolution education and for keeping the creationists out of the science class." Eldredge received his award at a gala dinner in New York City on March 22, 2011.

Curator of the Division of Paleontology at American Museum of Natural History, Eldredge is renowned for his development, with Stephen Jay Gould, of the idea of punctuated equilibrium. But his contributions to the cause of evolution education -- including organizing the AMNH's acclaimed exhibit celebrating the bicentennial of Darwin's birth and the sesquicentennial of the publication of On the Origin of Species, writing the impassioned The Triumph of Evolution: And the Failure of Creationism (2000), and serving as the founding co-editor-in-chief of the journal Evolution: Education and Outreach -- are also immense.

Eldredge joins Bruce Alberts, Susan Epperson, Robert T. Pennock, Randy Moore, Brandon Haught, Steve Rissing, Howard Van Till, Philip Appleman, Patricia Princehouse, Betty McCollister, Michael Zimmerman, and the eleven plaintiffs of Kitzmiller v. Dover, to name a few, as NCSE's Friends of Darwin. The Friend of Darwin award is presented annually to a select few whose efforts to support NCSE and advance its goal of defending the teaching of evolution in the public schools have been truly outstanding.

For the press release, visit:

For the list of Friends of Darwin recipients, visit:


A new national poll discussed in the Toronto Globe and Mail (March 21, 2011) indicates that 14 percent of Canadians think that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years, while 19 percent think that humans evolved over time but through divine guidance and 58 percent think that humans evolved through natural selection. The poll, conducted by Ekos Research Associates, surveyed 984 Canadians from March 15 to March 17, 2011; the medium in which the poll was conducted and the margin of error were not provided.

According to Ekos's data tables (pp. 77-79), creationism was strongest in the Atlantic provinces (25.1 percent) and Alberta (18.8 percent), stronger among women (18.8 percent) than men (9.5 percent), stronger among those with "right" ideology (22.4 percent), and stronger with those who attended religious services more than once in the past three months (38.4 percent). The "natural selection" option was particularly popular among respondents in Quebec (67.6 percent), less than twenty-five years old (73.9 percent), with university education (72.8 percent), and with "left" ideology (74.2 percent).

A previous national poll in Canada, conducted by Angus Reid Strategies in 2008, indicated that 58 percent of Canadians preferred "Human beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years," with 22 percent preferring "God created human beings in their present form within the last 10,000 years" and 20 percent not sure. As the political scientist and polling expert George Bishop observed, however, minor changes in the wording of poll questions about creationism and evolution can make a substantial difference in poll results.

Ekos compared its results with the latest Gallup poll on evolution, conducted in December 2010, in which 40 percent of Americans preferred "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so," 38% preferred "Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process," and 16% preferred "Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process" -- although Bishop's observation applies here as well.

For the article in the Toronto Globe and Mail, visit:

For Ekos's data tables (PDF), visit:

For NCSE's article on the Angus Reid poll, visit:

For George Bishop's "Polls Apart on Human Origins," visit:

For Ekos's comparison of Canada and the United States (PDF, p. 16), visit:


Florida organizations concerned about the integrity of science education are expressing their opposition to Senate Bill 1854, which would, if enacted, amend a section of Florida law to require "[a] thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution" in the state's public schools. Introduced in the Florida Senate on March 5, 2011, by Stephen R. Wise (R-District 5), SB 1854 was subsequently referred to the Senate Committee on Education Pre-K-12 -- of which Wise is the chair -- and to the Senate Budget Committee.

In 2009, before introducing a similar bill, Wise announced his intention to introduce a bill requiring "intelligent design" to be taught in Florida's public schools. Now, discussing SB 1854 with a reporter for the Tampa Tribune (March 13, 2011), he asked, "Why would you not teach both theories at the same time?" According to the Tribune, he was referring to evolution and what he called "non-evolution." Wise further explained, "I think it's a way in which people can have critical thinking ... what we're saying is here's a theory, a theory of evolution, a theory of whatever, and you decide."

"You can have critical analysis of everything, but the idea that you should single out evolution for critical analysis is problematic," NCSE's Joshua Rosenau told the St. Augustine Record (March 17, 2011). "It's recognized by the scientific community as the foundation of modern biology." Rosenau also emphasized that, according to Florida's state science standards, adopted in 2008, "evolution is the fundamental concept underlying all of biology and is supported by multiple forms of scientific evidence."

Howard Simon of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida told the Record, "The mischief that this legislation does is that it tries to entice local county school boards into violating the [C]onstitution," adding, "Wise is trying to entice county school boards and he's putting the liability on them." Simon previously predicted to the Tampa Tribune (March 13, 2011) that his organization would file a lawsuit over the bill "were some county school district to be silly enough to be enticed by the legislation to teach religion instead of science."

Florida Citizens for Science, in a March 13, 2011, press release, expressed its opposition to SB 1854, writing, "it is clearly unnecessary, harmful to science education, and sends a negative message to science-based industries that would otherwise consider setting up shop in our state." Comparing Wise's previous advocacy of "intelligent design" with his present espousal of "non-evolution" or "a theory of whatever," FCFS wondered, "What kind of 'critical analysis' is he really wanting?" and urged Florida's legislators "to send a clear message that sound science education is important to our state."

Similarly, the Florida Academy of Sciences, in a March 11, 2011, statement, expressed its opposition to SB 1854, writing, "SB 1854, in effect, leaves the door open for the introduction in the public school curriculum of nonscientific and covertly religious doctrines. The proposed bill would be damaging to the quality of science education of Florida's children and the scientific literacy of our citizens. It would further undermine the reputation of our state and adversely affect our economic future as we try to attract new high tech and biomedical jobs to Florida."

Florida's newspapers have taken heed. Most recently, the Orlando Sentinel (March 18, 2011) editorially observed, "Among scientists, the idea of teaching "nonevolution" in public schools would be dismissed as nonsense. But in Tallahassee, just such a bill sponsored by ... Stephen Wise has its supporters. This is, after all, a state that only three years ago started officially referring to 'evolution' instead of 'biological change over time,'" adding, "Florida has enough challenges getting its kids educated. It doesn't need another one -- this one -- from Wise."

For the text of Florida's Senate Bill 1854, visit:

For the article in the Tampa Tribune, visit:

For the article in the St. Augustine Record, visit:

For Florida Citizens for Science's press release, visit:

For the statement of the Florida Academy of Sciences (PDF), visit:

For the Orlando Sentinel's editorial, visit:

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Florida, visit:


The latest issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach -- the new journal promoting the accurate understanding and comprehensive teaching of evolutionary theory for a wide audience -- is now published. The theme for the issue (volume 4, number 1) is the Evolutionary Studies (EvoS) Consortium, a program that seeks to catalyze evolutionary training across the university curriculum. As David Sloan Wilson, Glenn Geher, Jennifer Waldo, and Rosemarie Sokol Chang explain in their introduction, "This special issue of EEO provides a glimpse of what it means to take Dobzhansky's dictum seriously across the entire college curriculum -- including mainstream evolutionary biology (Halverson), premedical education (Waldo and Greagor), psychology (Geher, Crosier, Dillon, and Chang), family studies and human development (King and deBaca), childhood education (Gray), environmental studies and literature (Hart and Long), the mass media (Fisher, Kruger, and Garcia) nutrition and physical fitness (Platek, Geher, Heywood, Stapell, Porter, and Waters), general education pedagogy (O'Brien and Gallup; Price), and involving undergraduate students in the peer-review process (Chang)."

Also included is the latest installment of NCSE's regular column, Overcoming Obstacles to Evolution Education. In "Why Bother Teaching Evolution in High School?" NCSE's Louise S. Mead (now Education Director at the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action) and Glenn Branch address the suggestion that evolution should be taught only in college on the grounds that it's not necessary, too controversial, or too difficult to teach evolution in high school. Mead and Branch argue, "there are good responses to these three concerns, all centering on the crucial point that -- as Theodosius Dobzhansky (1973) rightly stated -- 'nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.'" They conclude, "Leaving evolution out of the high school biology curriculum is as unacceptable as leaving algebra out of the mathematics curriculum or the Civil Rights Movement out of the social studies curriculum. Evolution is the organizing principle of biology, the study of life, and should be taught, not only in high schools but also, at a suitably age-appropriate level, throughout the K-12 science curriculum -- and certainly not deferred to college."

For Evolution: Education and Outreach, visit:

For information on the Evolutionary Studies (EvoS) Consortium, visit:

For Mead and Branch's column (subscription required), visit:

Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- http://ncse.com -- where you can always find the latest news on evolution education and threats to it.

Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x310
fax: 510-601-7204

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Reiki's benefits are limited, unproven


Published 07:35 p.m., Monday, March 21, 2011

Q: "My grandmother suffers from advanced dementia. My mom is the main person in the family taking care of her. Recently she has been really exhausted and discouraged. Then one day I overheard her talking with my dad about taking my grandmother to a "Reiki" practitioner. It is my understanding that this is some ancient form of healing. She is pretty set on doing at least a few sessions. It is supposed to help with my grandma's anxiety and strange behavior she sometimes gets. I am pretty skeptical, but at the same time I have not seen my mom so elated for months. Should I share my doubts with her? It is only a question of time before she asks me my opinion. Have you ever seen a patient helped by this? Should we do it? Is it dangerous? I really appreciate your advice.


A: After all these years it never ceases to amaze me how we can still find intriguing topics to discuss. I will try to share with you my view of Reiki and other alternative approaches to medicine. If practices such as Reiki or acupuncture are performed together with mainstream medical treatment, they are called complementary medicine. Many hospitals and even the National Institutes of Health have complementary alternative medicine institutes and practitioners.

Now forgive the skeptic in me, but I tend to believe in only two types of medicine: proven and unproven. Proven means tested in a strict way in rigorous blinded studies as free of bias as possible. Reports of healing, testimonials of very famous people (think Oprah Winfrey!) are just those. They do not constitute any truth beyond that individual's experience. Given that half of what I practice every day in my office has never been truly proven, one has to stay open-minded about these things. I believe, however, that Reiki's successes are yet another example of the power of placebo medicine.

Yes, I know, half of you are upset with me already and the other half is getting there. Before you stop reading, though, let's review what Reiki is and what, if any, are the dangers of using Reiki and other forms of alternative medicine.

Reiki, according to Wikipedia, is a spiritual practice developed in 1922 by a Japanese Buddhist, Mikao Usui. It uses a technique called palm healing to transfer healing energy to a sick person. This is all under the assumption that the Universe is permeated by an invisible form of energy, "ki," and that we all are connected through it somehow. The Reiki therapists channel this energy by lightly touching or nearly touching the person they want to help. There is an assumption that by doing so, the "energy balance" is "restored," since illness according to this philosophy is secondary to energy "distortion."

The founder of this movement acquired his ability to teach others how to channel the energy through his many days of fasting, meditation and chanting. He apparently taught more than 2,000 students, with only 16 of them reaching the highest level of Reiki skills. Usui died of stroke in 1926.

From the earliest years Reiki practitioners followed five major principles they call precepts. The first two are the secret art of inviting happiness, followed by the miraculous medicine for all diseases. Next comes the third one dealing with daily practices. It asks of the Reiki apprentice to not be angry, not worry, be grateful, work with diligence and be kind to people every single day (sounds like a very good mantra for all of us).

The fourth one is asking for meditation using hands every morning and evening. The last one defines the goal of Reiki -- for improvement of the mind and body. The two major branches of Reiki are traditional Japanese and the Western one. The best was for me to describe the difference between the two is to say that they differ in the way the hands of the practitioner are applied over the body of the person they want to heal. Outside Japan, teaching of Reiki is commonly divided into three levels, from the one who can treat him/herself and others through the ability to channel energy without being physically present, to the last level when one becomes a Reiki Master able to teach others.

In 2008 a systematic review of the best-quality nine randomized clinical trials evaluating the effectiveness of Reiki concluded that they have NOT been shown to have any additional effect over placebo. Overall, the quality of the evidence was poor due to low numbers of patients involved in each study and the problem with designing realistic placebo techniques. In March of 2009 the Committee on Doctrine of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a decree (Guidelines for Evaluating Reiki as an Alternative Therapy) halting the practice of Reiki by Catholics used in some Catholic retreat centers and hospitals.

Does Reiki work? Well it can give a person or a family a feeling of hope and connection with a bigger entity. It can improve symptoms through self-suggestion and belief. There are countless numbers of reports from people who think that it was helpful to them. In that sense it can be beneficial. It also gives families a certain sense of regaining control, ESPECIALLY in situations for which mainstream medicine seems to have no answers or very limited treatment (like dementia).

There are two major issues with using Reiki. One is cost, and it is not trivial in the current climate of tight budgets and expensive medications. The other one is distancing or foregoing completely the regular established ways of conventional medicine. Although Reiki practitioners do encourage not abandoning "regular" medicine for certain conditions, like cancer patients will sometimes choose to do. In the case of your grandmother, the sessions may be helpful by relaxing both her and your mom. The failing brain, however, will continue with its struggles, so I would encourage working with the doctor who is dealing with your grandma's dementia.

You may also try to think of other ways to help your mom. Perhaps you and your dad could pitch in and, for example, buy her a monthly massage subscription. Best of luck.

Dr. Beata Skudlarska is a Bridgeport geriatrician. Send questions to Bridgeport Hospital Center for Geriatrics, 95 Armory Road, Stratford CT 06614 or geriatricmd@aol.com.

9 Bills That Would Put Creationism in the Classroom


— By Josh Harkinson

| Wed Mar. 23, 2011 3:00 AM PDT. Flickr/Ken's Oven.State governments are grappling with massive budget deficits, overburdened social programs, and mountains of deferred spending. But never mind all that. For some conservative lawmakers, it's the perfect time to legislate the promotion of creationism in the classroom. In the first three months of 2011, nine creationism-related bills have been introduced in seven states—that's more than in any year in recent memory:

1. Texas

Legislation: HB 2454 would ban discrimination against creationists, for instance, biology professors who believe in intelligent design. Defending his bill, Texas state Rep. Bill Zedler told Mother Jones, "When was the last time we've seen someone go into a windstorm or a tornado or any other kind of natural disaster, and say, 'Guess what? That windstorm just created a watch'?"

Status: Referred to Higher Education Committee.

2. Kentucky

Legislation: The Kentucky Science Education and Intellectual Freedom Act (HB 169) would have allowed teachers to use "other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner." Kentucky already authorizes public schools to teach "the theory of creation as presented in the Bible" and to "read such passages in the Bible as are deemed necessary for instruction on the theory of creation." The state is home to the world-renowned Creation Museum and it may soon build the Ark Encounter, the world's first creationist theme park.

Status: Died in committee.

3. Florida

Legislation: SB 1854 would amend Florida law to require a "thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution." In 2009, Florida state Sen. Stephen Wise, the bill's sponsor, rhetorically asked a Tampa radio host: "Why do we still have apes if we came from them?"

Status: Referred to Senate Committee on Education Pre-K-12, which Wise chairs.

4. Tennessee

Legislation: HB 368 and SB 893 would require educators to "assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies." The bills list four "controversies" ripe for pedagogical tinkering: biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning. Modeled on Louisiana's Science Education Act (which became law in 2008), the bills are believed to have a good shot at passing. Steven Newton of the National Center for Science Education, which promotes teaching evolution in public schools, worries that the legislation "will allow teachers to bring this culture war into the classroom in a way that is going to leave students very confused about what science is and isn't."

Status: HB 368 was passed by the House General Subcommittee on Education on March 16.

5. Oklahoma

Legislation: The Sooner State kicked off its creationism legislation season early with the January 19 pre-filing of SB 554, a bill that would have ensured that teachers could present "relevant scientific information" about "controversial topics in the sciences" including "biological origins of life and biological evolution." It also would have required Oklahoma to adopt science standards echoing those passed by in 2009 by the Texas state board of education. "Using your tax dollars to teach the unknown, without disclosing the entire scientific findings is incomplete and unacceptable," wrote the bill's sponsor, state Sen. Josh Brecheen, in the Durant Daily Democrat. A second bill introduced in February, the Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act, resembled Louisiana's Science Education Act.

Status: Both bills died in committee.

6. New Mexico

Legislation: HB 302, another bill modeled on Louisiana's Science Education Act. Sponsor Kent Cravens, a state senator from Albuquerque, told the Santa Fe New Mexican that the bill wasn't anti-Darwinian, but rather was "intended to give the teacher the ability to disclose that there may be another way to think about this, whatever subject they are talking about."

Status: Died in committee.

7. Missouri

Legislation: HB 195 would permit teachers "to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of the theory of biological and hypotheses of chemical evolution." Missouri is the site of the newly opened Creation Museum of the Ozarks.

Status: Not yet referred to a committee.

Josh Harkinson is a staff reporter at Mother Jones. For more of his stories, click here. Email him with tips at jharkinson (at) motherjones (dot) com. To follow him on Twitter, click here. Get Josh Harkinson's RSS feed.

District: Teacher creationism 'remediable'


Published: March. 23, 2011 at 4:16 PM

LIBERTYVILLE, Ill., March 23 (UPI) -- A suburban Chicago school district has decided against dismissing a science teacher for instructing students in creationism, calling his behavior "remediable."

The decision by the Community Public High School District 128 board was announced after an emotional public meeting Tuesday night at Vernon Hills High School, the Chicago Tribune reported. Beau Schaefer, the teacher, did not attend the meeting.

Parents weighed in on both sides. School officials took the position that legally the issue is settled, with Libertyville Superintendent Prentiss Lea reading a statement that U.S. Supreme Court decisions have decided creationism cannot be taught as science.

"Regardless of our professional or personal opinions, in this area, there is no gray area," Lea said. "The teacher in question is a longstanding D128 instructor. We will not be recommending his termination as this is remediable behavior."

Kurt Close, a 2008 graduate of Libertyville High, told the Chicago Sun-Times he thinks teaching creationism is a waste of time and taxpayer dollars. But Greg Krause of Grayslake, who has a daughter in the district, told the Tribune evolution is "more or less the dominant religion in education these days."

© 2011 United Press International, Inc.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How You Can Join the Fight Against Creationism in Louisiana


Michael Zimmerman, Ph.D..Founder, The Clergy Letter Project Posted: March 22, 2011 11:38 AM Zack Kopplin is one of those all-too-rare individuals who is willing to spend time and energy to make a difference. As a Baton Rouge high school student, he recognized that the recently passed Louisiana Science Education Act constituted terrible educational policy. His conclusion was certainly not unique in that a host of scientific organizations have made exactly the same determination. The difference between Zack and so many others, though, was his desire to take productive action. I told his impressive story in a recent Huffington Post essay.

Zack's efforts deserve widespread attention and I can think of no better way to help than by providing Zack with a forum to share his thoughts directly with readers. Here's what Zack has to say:

My state is addicted to creationism!

Louisiana doesn't remember the lesson it was taught back in 1987 when the U.S. Supreme Court, in Edwards vs. Aguillard, invalidated a Louisiana law requiring creationism be taught alongside evolution and ruled that it was unconstitutional to teach creationism in public school science classes.

In 2008, the Louisiana Legislature passed a new creationism law, making us second-time offenders. We are the only state with a creationism law on the books.

Named the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA), the law pretends to promote critical thinking. In reality, though, it is stealth legislation designed to sneak the unconstitutional and unscientific teaching of creationism or its offshoot, intelligent design, into public school science classes.

Because the Edwards decision established that creationists cannot legally foist their religious views on public school students directly, the creationist zealots are now trying misdirection. Their new legislation employs code language like "critical thinking" and "teaching the alternatives" in order to pretend to be promoting something noble. But creative language doesn't change the fact that they are simply pushing their religious agenda into the science classroom.

And LSEA doesn't change educational and scientific realities.

• Teachers are already supposed to teach critical thinking.

• There are no scientific alternatives to evolution.

The sole purpose for the Louisiana Science Education Act is to insert creationism into a public school science classroom.

Even as the bill's proponents toss around their education-friendly phrases like "critical thinking," they have on numerous occasions openly identified the true aim of the law: to teach creationism as science.

Senator Ben Nevers, the sponsor of the Senate version of the LSEA said,

The Louisiana Family Forum suggested the bill ... They believe that scientific data related to creationism should be discussed when dealing with Darwin's theory.

Jan Benton, the Livingston Parish School Board Director of Curriculum, also openly admitted to her board that the law's purpose was to allow "critical thinking and creationism" in science classes.

If these so-called "leaders" were serious about academic freedom, they would not have scrapped the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education's original rules about implementing the LSEA which expressly prohibited the teaching of creationism because it lacks scientific merit.

The true intent of this law, rather than the rhetoric associated with it, is clear; sneaking unconstitutional and unscientific creationism into public school science classrooms.

This hurts Louisiana kids. We want jobs, but if we are taught creationism, we will not get them. There are no creationist jobs. Check any major job finding sites like Monster or CareerBuilder, and they will tell you, sorry, there are zero creationist jobs. On the other hand, if you search those sites for biology, you will find over a thousand jobs. Louisiana students need to be taught evolution, not creationism, to get jobs.

This law is also hurting Louisiana tourism, which is one of Louisiana's most important industries. Louisiana's anti-science reputation is scaring away major science conventions which bring thousands of people and millions of dollars to our state. One organization, the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology actually pulled a convention that was scheduled for 2011 as a protest. Others are simply looking elsewhere when they're considering locations.

Louisiana wants to develop a 21st century biomedical industry through the New Orleans Bio District and the Shreveport Biomedical Research Foundation. But Louisiana's reputation has created a negative business environment that is chasing away scientists and entrepreneurs. Louisiana won't be able take a place at the forefront of the biomedical industry if we don't repeal this law.

Louisiana's creationism law must go. It is killing Louisiana jobs and hurting Louisiana kids.

I'm a senior at Baton Rouge Magnet High and I'm leading an effort to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act. I encourage everyone who cares about education to help out by joining the repeal's Facebook page and by going to www.repealcreationism.com to get involved. Invite your friends to join us.

If enough of us care, we can help Louisiana kick its addiction and join the modern world.

As I wrote at the outset, Zack Kopplin is an impressive individual. I hope his passion resonates with many of you and that his words spur you to action. Although Zack's battle is over one awful Louisiana law, he is fighting for all of us who care about high quality science education. As amazing as it might seem in this, the second decade of the 21 century, nine creationist bills have already been introduced in various U.S. state legislatures. Help fight this madness.

Teacher who taught creationism keeps job


BY STEPHANIE KOHL AND DAN ROZEK Sun-Times Media Mar 23, 2011 11:43AM

A Libertyville High School science teacher who referenced creationism in a biology class will not be fired, school officials announced Tuesday night.

Teacher Beau Schaefer, described as a "longstanding District 128 educator,'' discussed creationism in a classroom lesson about evolution, officials said, but he has been instructed not to do so in the future and he will not lose his job.

In a statement read at school board meeting Tuesday, Libertyville Supt. Prentiss Lea said "the United States Supreme Court and several other federal court decisions have found that creationism may not be referenced or taught in public school science classrooms.''

Lea said the teacher "cooperated fully'' with officials investigating the allegations, and he has been told not to discuss creationism in the future.

"We will not be recommending his termination as this is remediable behavior," Lea said.

Dozens of students, parents and residents attended Tuesday night's meeting after atheist activist Rob Sherman, of Buffalo Grove, originally brought the incident to the board's attention last month.

Duncan Millar, a Libertyville High School parent, said the teacher violated several codes and laws and called for his firing.

Kurt Close, a 2008 Libertyville High School graduate, said not only is the teaching of creationism unacceptable, so is the time that was lost while creationism was discussed.

"Even if it's about a debate between the two [creationism and evolution], I think it complicates what should be conveyed with taxpayer dollars," Close said.

But Greg and Kathy Krause, who are also parents of students in the district, said they have no problem with the mention of creationism in the classroom.

The students "can make their own decision," said Kathy Krause. "Why can't they make their own decision? What is the big fear?''

One student in Schaefer's class, who asked not to be named, said Schaefer explained creationism was not a scientific theory.

"Mr. Schaefer is my teacher, and I don't think it's right that people should be mad at him," the student said, adding she did not want to see him lose his job.

Sherman said he wasn't seeking to have Schaefer fired, but said he wanted the science instructor barred from teaching creationism in his biology classes.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled creationism is a religious, not a scientific theory, and shouldn't be taught alongside evolutionary theory in science classrooms.

"Creationism isn't science. You don't teach it in a science class," Sherman said.

Lauri Lebo's Amnesia


John G. West March 23, 2011 4:00 AM | Permalink

I first came to know Lauri Lebo when she was a local reporter for the York Daily Record in Pennsylvania, for which she covered the now infamous Kitzmiller v. Dover court case. Lauri was not the absolutely worst reporter I have encountered, but it was pretty clear what side of the controversy she was rooting for. She certainly was not a disinterested observer. Although most of our conversations were at least civil, I still remember one that turned into a shouting match after she repeatedly berated me as "dishonest" because I wouldn't agree with her that a point made by biologist Jonathan Wells in the Icons of Evolution documentary was wrong. (Wells wasn't wrong.) Lauri also liked to defend the mangled definitions of intelligent design she offered in her stories by lecturing me that she knew more about intelligent design than I did. Impartial she was not.

After Lauri left the world of mainstream reporting, whatever quality controls that may have been imposed on her reporting by her editors were obviously lifted. Styling herself a latter-day H.L. Mencken, she tried to cash in on the Dover case by writing a book about it that was lauded by one reviewer not only for its "unapologetic indictment of intelligent design" but also for its indictment of "American journalism's insistence on objectivity"! Lauri continues to offer herself as an expert on the debate over Darwinism and intelligent design. In her latest article, she insists that "there is no such thing as ID research, which has not yet produced one single legitimate peer reviewed paper." David Klinghoffer deftly disposes of that false claim. Lauri also rewrites history by suggesting that the focus on the critical analysis of Darwin's theory (rather than the teaching of intelligent design) is somehow a post-Dover development:

As always, since intelligent design was ruled unconstitutional in Kitzmiller v. Dover, the introduced bills rely on such creationist code words as "teaching the controversy," "academic freedom," or "critical analysis."

Actually, the focus on the critical analysis of Darwinian theory was the educational policy supported by most members of the intelligent design community well before Dover, especially those at Discovery Institute.

Consider the following press release issued by Discovery Institute in early 2004 (well before Dover was even a blip on journalists' radar):

Discovery Institute called it a victory for students, academic freedom, and common sense when the Ohio state board of education today voted 13-5 to adopt a model lesson plan on the "Critical Analysis of Evolution."

"The board's decision is a significant victory for students and their academic freedom to study all sides of current scientific debates over evolutionary theory," said Bruce Chapman, president of Discovery Institute. "It's also a victory for common sense against the scientific dogmatism of those who think evolution should be protected from any critical examination."

Chapman added that the lesson plan is exactly the approach to teaching evolution that Discovery Institute has advocated all along, helping students learn both the scientific strengths and weaknesses of Darwin's theory...

The lesson plan does not discuss religion or alternative scientific theories such as intelligent design...[emphasis added]

"Ohio's science standards and this lesson will stand as a beacon to other states as they review their own approach to how evolution is presented in the classroom," said Chapman. "This is a common-sense approach that avoids the extremes and focuses on teaching students about the scientific debates over evolution."

Discovery Institute articulated the same critical analysis approach two years earlier in Ohio, and it did the same in Minnesota, Wisconsin, New Mexico, and other states... all before the Dover lawsuit.

Nor did Discovery Institute change its tune when Dover adopted its intelligent design policy. Instead of supporting the policy, the Institute made clear that it disagreed with it. This disagreement was made known as soon as the policy was adopted, well before the lawsuit against Dover was filed. As an article in the York Daily Record stated on October 20, 2004:

John West, Discovery's associate director for science and culture, said intelligent design is still a fairly new concept. Consequently, he said, his organization prefers that school districts require the full, fair teaching of evolution, including the flaws.

"We don't endorse or support what the Dover School District has done," West said. "This is not what we recommend."

["Dover curriculum move likely a first; Even some supporters of intelligent design suggest the board might have overstepped," York Daily Record, October 20, 2004, emphasis added]

Who happened to be the lead author of the above article? None other than the illustrious Ms. Lebo herself. In other words, although she now insists that the "teach the controversy" and "critical analysis" of Darwinism approach was developed after the Dover case, in 2004 -- before the lawsuit against Dover was even filed -- she reported otherwise.

She seems to have a very selective case of amnesia.

Lauri Lebo takes re-writing history to a whole new level. She even rewrites herself.