Indiana creationist bill inches along

Christina here…

For the love of science, Indiana, how did this creationist bill pass committee?

Indiana’s Senate Bill 89, which if enacted would allow local school districts to “require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science,” was passed by the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development on January 25, 2012. The vote was 8-2, with the bill’s sponsor and committee chair Dennis Kruse (R-District 14), Carlin Yoder (R-District 12), Jim Banks (R-District 17), Jim Buck (R-District 17), Luke Kenley (R-District 20), Jean Leising (R-District 42), Scott Schneider (R-District 30), and Frank Mrvan Jr. (D-District 1) voting for and Earline S. Rogers (D-District 3) and Tim Skinner (D-District 38) voting against the bill.

Testimony against the bill stressed the unconstitutionality of teaching creation science, established by the Supreme Court in 1987. Among those testifying against the bill were John Staver, professor of chemistry and science education at Purdue University; Chuck Little, executive director of the Indiana Urban Schools Association; David Sklar, the Director of Government Relations for the Jewish Community Relations Council; the Reverend Charles Allen, a chaplain for Grace Unlimited, a campus ministry in the Indianapolis area; Reba Boyd Wooden, executive director of the Indiana Center for Inquiry; and Chuck Little, executive director of the Indiana Urban Schools Association.

I checked out Senate Bill 89. The bill’s test is simple and says exactly what the above report says.

I’ll predict this bill does not become law. As I read about this bill, I got to thinking, “oh hey, I know I learned how a bill becomes a law like… 12 years ago, but I’ve long since forgotten the process” – so I looked it up. Here, have a nice graphic:

This bill only passed the committee stage of the Indiana senate, so the people who want to make this bill law have a long road of unconstitutionality to travel on. Most of these attempts to stick religion into public school classrooms die along the road, like a worm trying to cross a summer sidewalk.

Maybe we should teach “various theories of women’s health” in health class and require all students hear about how weaknesses exist in the theory of menstruation and alternative theories claim woman are unclean and should not be touched for seven days while menstruating. Or we could teach various theories concerning germs, and require students hear that prayers are superior to physicians in curing disease.

If you want to indoctrinate your kids into your mythology, send them to a private Christian school.

Learn more about Christina and follow her @ziztur.

About christinastephens
  • Makoto

    When are we going to teach the alternative theory of flight, also known as “falling at the ground and missing”. It’s a perfectly valid theory, and I swear that birds are only “in flight” so long as they keep missing the ground as they fall.

    At least I have observational evidence of birds either in flight or on the ground (or other perches) to support my hypothesis.

  • RH

    Found this brief essay via inadvertent link; would read more since I am always in search of further enlightenment based on fact…but you obviously are such an ideologue that it would be a waste of time.

    I was privileged years ago to hear Stephen Gould, venerable Harvard paleontologist now deceased, rebuke a national conference of his peers for continuing to promote the Darwinian model of evolution when the evidence gap Darwin decried in his Origin of Species has not only yet to be discovered, but has in fact been further exacerbated. He was more inclined to the theory of “punctuated equilibrium” a theory philosophically compatible with creationism, although of course his worldview did not allow for that mechanism.

    Those who write derisive comments about teaching “alternative theories of flight” are simply revealing their complete ignorance and lack of intellectual sagacity. Many mainstream and credible scientist (e.g. Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box) write compelling cases for creationism. Or try The Devil’s Delusion by Berlinski (PhD Princeton) or Signature in the Cell by Meyer (PhD Cambridge) or many more well reviewed and received in their peer scientific communities where intellectual honest people search for truth.

    If you came across any previously unknown “thing” with half the sophistication, complexity, integration and interdependence of a human, to say nothing of a single cell, you would assume without exception intelligent design, but deductive reasoning is cast aside due to your a priori assumptions?

    If you want to have an intellectually open and mature pursuit of truth, great, people like me (department head in graduate business school) will engage with you, because we also are in search of truth. Neither one of us has any empirical evidence relative to metaphysical foundations, so quit acting like you are some intellectual giants and those of us on the other side are midgets. Or keeping acting that way if you just want to keep talking to yourselves with your conveniently reinforcing and humorous delusions.

    The rest of us will remain in pursuit of honest intellectual dialogue about an issue whose importance and diversity demands it.

    • Lee

      Behe is not a very well respected scientist, but even he admitted, during the Dover v Kitzmiller trial, that “intelligent design” is as scientific as astrology. There are no current alternative theories to evolution with a single shred of evidence, and teaching an untestable alternative, such as ID, is not only bad science, but is unconstitutional due to its religious nature. YouTube search the nova special “Darwin on Trial” for an expose on the Dover trial which spells all of this out.

      • RH

        Behe never came close to saying that ID is “as scientific as astrology” or anything remotely similar, though of course he has been conveniently and widely misquoted beginning with John Wise (who has since removed the quotation marks that were originally there). The accurate quote taken directly from the transcript is in fact very benign and uninteresting:

        Q. Under that same definition astrology is a scientific theory under your definition, correct?

        A. Under my definition, a scientific theory is a proposed explanation which focuses or points to physical, observable data and logical inferences. There are many things throughout the history of science which we now think to be incorrect which nonetheless would fit that — which would fit that definition. Yes, astrology is in fact one and so is the ether theory of the propagation of light, and many other — many other theories as well.

        You state that there are “no” alternatives to evolution with a “single shred of evidence.” You state it as fact, yet it’s just your opinion. Write your own list of how you conclude ID is present in anything, and then decide for yourself if there is any evidence for it in creation. I’ve done the same and come to a different conclusion; so have many of my associates with PhD and years of rigorous and critical thought.

        Of course there could not be any tested and observable evidence for ID by its very nature, so I concur it should not be taught as “science” in a science class. Nor is there any evidence beyond that threshold beyond micro evolution within a species, but you are welcome to believe it if it passes your “scientific” threshold.

        The constitution is equally misquoted; it does nothing but preclude the government from establishing a religion or impinging on the free practice of religion.

        The Biblical phrase defining the Greek word for faith characterizes it as the “evidence” of things unseen; a legal term used for evidence that would be compelling in a court case. There are plenty of logically and philosophically rigorous arguments for ID in the opinion of many who have researched and studied the field for decades. To be definitive and dismissive on either side, and to mischaracterize and misquote, does nothing to advance either the scientific or the philosophical.

        • Lee

          As long as we agree ID doesn’t belong in the science class, I’m satisfied. But “evidence of things unseen” is essentially meaningless because one could have faith in any crazy idea – but that doesn’t somehow constitute evidence. I’ll stick with the standard definition of faith: belief despite lack of evidence.

        • Lee

          Speaking of mischaracterizing, Stephen Gould never meant to imply that punctuated equilibrium was compatible with creationism. He just meant that evolution occasionally sped up, due to environmental pressures. This process still took many, many generations and in no way supports the magic idea of creationism.

          • RH

            Nice we agree on something Lee, but I think this forum is not a good place for the dialogue required by this subject. For example, I did not mischaracterize Gould, as I specifically stated his worldview precluded creationism. What I said was that his theory was much closer to ID than Darwin’s model, certainly potential movement in that direction, that is all. That’s a subject that would take hours to fully explore. His exact quote is that Punctuated Equilibria calls for a “jerky, or episodic, rather than a smoothly gradual, pace of change” in evolution. Creation would certainly qualify as an “episode” no matter whether you believe it happened or not.

            As for faith, the standard definition is believing in something that cannot be “proved,” which is entirely different from believing in something that has no “evidence.” Yes, the latter would be crazy! Neither one of us is ever going to have any “proof” in the true scientific sense, at least not in this life.

            If you wish to recommend some reading for me I continually explore both sides, and decide for today which evidence seems weightier, more logical and compelling. I’ve already mentioned some books by strong scholars you might enjoy, even only to sharpen your arguments. Wish you the best.

          • Lee

            Berlinksi, Meyer and Behe are all fellows of the Discovery Institute, a notorious creationism/intelligent design think tank (and none of whom are biologists) so I am a little skeptical of their credentials with regards to biological evolution. I should brush up on Gould, though.

            A book I would recommend about evolution is “Finding Darwin’s God” by cell biologist Ken Miller (who testified opposite Behe in the Diver trial). Another would be “The Greatest Show on Earth” by Richard Dawkins. Don’t worry, he keeps the gloves up on God and only discusses evolution, and the evidence for it, in this book. Cheers

          • Lee

            Berlinksi, Meyer and Behe are all fellows of the Discovery Institute, a notorious creationism/intelligent design think tank (and none of whom are biologists) so I am a little skeptical of their credentials with regards to biological evolution. I should brush up on Gould, though.

            A book I would recommend about evolution is “Finding Darwin’s God” by cell biologist Ken Miller (who testified opposite Behe in the Dover trial). Another would be “The Greatest Show on Earth” by Richard Dawkins. Don’t worry, he keeps the gloves up on God and only discusses evolution, and the evidence for it, in this book. Cheers

          • Chris from Europe

            You are the one who needs to sharpen his arguments. Citing people’s PhD is an attempt to make an argument from authority, a logical fallacy.

            Berlinski and Behe aren’t empirical scientists, but mathematicians. Meyer is not a biologists. Their positions are not accepted by the experts of the field for good reasons.

            What I said was that his theory was much closer to ID than Darwin’s model

            And that’s what I would call a lie. The central elements of his theory are still based on evolution. You should also note that Darwin’s model is one theory of evolution, a demonstrated process.

            There’s no scientific evidence for faith or Intelligent Design. Any other definition of “evidence” is meaningless for this purpose and most that matter in our society.

          • Chris from Europe

            That was a reply to RH, not to Lee.

          • RH

            A reply to Chris then I will get to reading Lee’s recommendations. First, your assumption is incorrect. I did not argue from their credentials, I only stated them for what should be obvious reasons. The arguments are in the books.

            Second,if you cannot see how radical episodic “events” moves closer philosophically to ID than classical Darwinism, IMHO you are so prejudicial as to force any new info into your current paradigm. I said nothing about Gould, or evolution, true science evolves based on new or more prescient information, and I observed the philosophical movement with none of the inferences you claim I made.

            Third, this has become futile, there is a very long list of credible biologists, chemists, physicists, etc. on the side of creationism. Try Melvin Alonzo Cook, PhD Yale (chemist) and nominated for the Nobel Prize.

            “Scientists who utterly reject Evolution may be one of our fastest-growing controversial minorities… Many of the scientists supporting this position hold impressive credentials in science.” A quote from Science Digest in 1979! Among them people like Dr. Arthur Wilder-Smith, 3 earned doctorates in all the fields you require, and there are plenty of list available to you with many, many more.

            There is no “proof” of either of our theories, but there is plenty of compelling evidence for creationism in the opinion of many respected scientist…you apparently just don’t bother with them. Most “evidence” on which you base your theory is circular and deeply flawed in my opinion, and it is certainly not a “demonstrated process” as you claim. You would be well served to stop making such closed and grandiose statements and be open to a little learning, no matter where it leads you. I will stick with the imminent Gould of Harvard about the “demonstrated” process, and his precise words were:

            “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persist as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils ….We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life’s history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study.” – Stephen J. Gould – “Evolution’s Erratic Pace,” Natural History, vol. 86 (May 1987), p. 14.

            I write too much so I’m out and remain in search of truth. Please don’t reply with some comment about misuse of Gould; I simply present his words as an intellectually honest scientist in reply to your contentions that all is settled and has been clearly demonstrated. Or perhaps you have observed or know of demonstrated proof for an instance of “punctuated equilibrium” that the rest of the scientific community needs to know about?

          • Chris from Europe

            Second,if you cannot see how radical episodic “events” moves closer philosophically to ID than classical Darwinism

            That’s only possible with a huge amount of wishful thinking and staying superficial. Or does “philosophically” express that? I understand that you could twist your religious claims to fit a given theory. Given that such claims often are untestable (omphalos …), that doesn’t matter for science as we cannot find which one of such contradicting claims could be true. Gould only modified parts of the theory of evolution which makes his model a variant of it. Both “microevolution” and “macroevolution” can occur at any time in Gould’s model. How is that compatible with ID?

            You also aren’t honest at all (not even about the content of your quotes). Furthermore, Gould is only one scientist. His model isn’t absolute and other scientists disagree at least partially. You argument seems to be that you have one actually respected guy that seems to support your faith. It seems, because the quote doesn’t do much more than to argue for Gould’s model of evolution.

            There is no “proof” of either of our theories, but there is plenty of compelling evidence for creationism in the opinion of many respected scientist …you apparently just don’t bother with them

            I don’t matter. This kind of arguments have been refuted multiple times. There is certainly multiple empirical evidence supporting the modern neo-Darwinian theory of evolution. You can try to talk nonsense about evidence all you want. Creationism hasn’t just weaknesses, it has actual counter-evidence (look it up, there are FAQs for this topic) to many specific claims. More abstract creationism becomes untestable, but that just means it can’t be a scientific theory at all. That there are respected scientists (likely in other fields) making ridiculous claims is nothing new. And then there are the scientists that have their quotes abused by fundamentalists to woo the impressible.

            To claim that evolution isn’t a demonstrated process is just ridiculous. Evolution itself is fact and a few quotes by Gould could do nothing about it. Quotes by a respected person don’t matter, but the data supporting them do. You can argue about details of model, but not about the occuring process.

            Given how you focus on authority and connections to respectible institution instead of the status of peer-reviewed science, you are certainly guilty of appeals to authority. Creationism will not advance because some guy nominated for the Nobel prize supports it. Science doesn’t work that way. He has to demonstrate why his theory (and creationism isn’t one) fits the data (both repeatable experiment and historical record) better than the currently accepted ones.

            Or perhaps you have observed or know of demonstrated proof for an instance of “punctuated equilibrium” that the rest of the scientific community needs to know about?

            Well, with that sentence I have evidence that you don’t know what you are talking about.

          • RH

            Lee and I could have a productive conversation; you and I Chris could not, so this is my last reply.

            You are the one twisting my arguments to make your answers easy and convenient. I said explicitly creationism and Gould are not compatible; I was simply referring to the direction in which science is moving. Here is a link to a presentation by another Noble prize nominated scientist, and the 3rd most quoted in he world which speaks to Hawking and this momentum:
   You have to continue to part 2 at the end of this page to see the relevant info

            This speech shows how absurd your assertion that I have “one respected” scientist in my corner. Once again, how many times do I have to say Gould obviously was not in my corner, but there are over 600 PhD chemists, biologists, and quantum physicists in just one organization that supports creationism. That doesn’t make them right of course, but it makes the debate worthy of honest exploration, rather than your definitive conclusion.

            Evolution is a “fact” and my claim it has not been demonstrated (across species lines) is ridiculous? OK, I’ll stick with the assessment of the greatest paleontologist of our time and hundreds of other credible scientist, and you cling to your opinion, which I would never call “ridiculous” because I am still interested in learning…but not from someone like you who is not. Wish you the best.

          • Lee

            RH does have a fondness for scientists who doubt evolution. Here is a tongue in cheek response from the national center for science education:

          • Lee

            Evolution has, in fact, been demonstrated across species lines, both in a lab and in nature.


            You speak of evidence for creationism. I would be interested to see that since, as far as I’ve seen, there is none. Creationists always come up with some claim that evolution is not possible, therefore by default creationism is right. They fail to understand that even if evolution were somehow disproven, they still have all of their work ahead of them before they can begin to be taken seriously.

  • Mark

    Creationism isn’t exclusive to a single religion. What are the evolutionists so afraid of? That their theory won’t hold up in the minds of the students?

    • Chris from Europe

      Creationism is entirely religious, it’s not a scientific theory. Students shouldn’t be thought religious theories in science class.

      Especially bad and preconditioned students may indeed fail to understand the real scientific theory and choose a fairy tale instead. It is clearly not in the interest of the country to have a large number of people that don’t understand basics.

      • Mark

        Chris, you are “from Europe,” yet you think you know what should or shouldn’t be taught in American schools?

        This issue touches on the demarcation problem, what is or is not science. Sure, it could be argued that creationism is not science because it was not observed and cannot be reproduced, but if you are going to go that route, evolution-based origins cannot be considered science either. Perhaps origins should be avoided altogether as covered in science courses. I found this paper to be very informative:

        Finally, whether creation is religious or not is besides the point. The Crusades were religious, should we delete that from our history books?

        • Lee

          Should we give up on a murder investigation because we can’t reproduce the murder? Of course not, because there is evidence that we can use to deduce how the murder happened. Similarly, we can study comparative anatomy, the extensive fossil record, geographical distribution and most recently and importantly, DNA evidence that all converges on the side of evolution. Evolution has evidence. Creationism does not. We can’t just insert unsupported supernatural claims into the science curriculum because if you can do that, what’s to stop us from teaching astrology or alchemy?

          Your crusades analogy fails because there is evidence for the crusades. And rhythmically are taught as an event in history, not a justified command from god or something. Creation has no evidence to support it and is pure magic, which is why it isn’t taken seriously.

          • Lee

            Don’t know how the word rhythmically got in there… Damn auto-correct on my phone! I think what I was going for was “they usually”. My point stands though.

          • Mark

            Lee, my understanding of Chris (from Europe)’s comment is that since creationism is not a scientific theory, that it should not be included in a science class. A murder investigation is not a scientific theory, and it is not generally the topic in science class, so I am missing the relevance. Scientific evidence is not the only way that murders are investigated. It is also investigated through testimony. It can be argued that all of creation is testimony to creation.

            While there is evidence of evolution, in that it has been witnessed to a certain extent in modern science, it still does not prove it is the mechanism of origins. Take the analogy of the crusades, yes there is physical evidence that it occurred but we have a very full understanding of how that physical evidence found its way to its current state through written records. Similarly, a strength of the creation story is a written record. The fact that there is a written record (several in fact) in itself is an evidence.

          • Lee

            If you consider the biblical creation myth to be evidence for itself, then how do you differentiate between that and the Greek or Egyptian creation myths? How do you know that Jack and the Beanstock is only a tale? The way we can safely say these are all man-made myth is that there is no external evidence for the supernatural claims.

            “It can be argued that all of creation is testimony to creation.” No, it can’t. This is the definition of circular logic.

          • Mark

            Lee, note that I said “The fact that there is a written record (several in fact) in itself is an evidence.”

            Yes, there is a Greek account and a Sumerian account and a biblical account, etc, etc, etc. Back to your murder analogy, there may be different accounts regarding specifics, but conflicting stories does not discount the fact that it did happened, but rather the fact that there are several stories should put the question more toward which one (or which parts of which ones)is more accurate, not whether it happened at all. In terms of creation, you have a body, now who’s story do you believe? There is a difference between circular reasoning and iterative analysis.

            Now whether this should be considered a study of science or of history is up for debate, but ignoring creationism all together in a school setting leaves a significant gap in understanding of society development. While not an expert on any one account (though most familiar with the one I believe), I can proudly say that I was exposed to several different creation “myths” in primary and secondary school (some in science classes, some in history/social studies, and some in literature) which has been extremely useful in formation of my understanding of diverse cultures world wide. I don’t see how excluding the Christian brand of creationism from a proper survey of origin theories would be of any service to someone who will have to interact in a culture where it is the predominate (alternative) belief.

  • N. Nescio

    “For the love of science, Indiana, how did this creationist bill pass committee?”

    As a native Hoosier, not surprised in the slightest. There’s a whole lot of stupid in that State. KKK 2.0 had the greatest influence there, of all places. Hell, there’s still places bearing the influence in their very names – Knightstown, Whitestown, and Lynchburg to name a few. On the way back from deer hunting I once stopped for hot beverages at the Kouts Koffee Kup.

    The West coast is far from perfect, but it sure is a breath of fresh air. Speaking literally here – there’s much less coal dust in the air.

  • Rikc

    For me, the fact of the matter is creationism like homophobia is only meant to splinter Labor, that’s all. It is a divisive and inflationary act. You can’t prove ‘creationism’, you can only undermine society for not believing it. It is the same for homophobia…who can prove the ‘specter’ of proper sex, one can only break down society for not excepting it. All of this formulaic.
    What the religious right is doing is simply plundering, which is actually a pro-banking narrative; a woman’s right to choose, marriage for all, deregulating banks even further, etc. When this happens it leads to the mismanagement of natural resources including Labor itself. This is probably why their aren’t many pro-life/pro-union Christians, each stance is the opposite of the other.
    Many atheist/secularists can’t grasp this concept. Some prefer to simply ‘fear’ the church instead. It is very difficult to explain plunder to most people–especially those who don’t except religion. The one thing people have to understand about plunder is that it is groundless and only leads to further ‘breaking’. You can’t break anything to prove anything, this has never happened in human history up until this very moment that you read my speech.
    I ask name one thing that was broken to prove anything. Example; the demolition of a dam proves nothing, it is actually done in recognition of something that is already true! You can’t break a chair, if you will, to prove your strength…why, because you ‘broke’ the chair, which isn’t meant to be broken.
    The outcome of breaking, the justification of it is simply more breaking. This is why the planet is melting, yes.

  • Rikc

    …you can’t break anything to prove anything, you can only break something else as evidence. It is like breaking into an evidence room, destroying evidence to build a case. This is joke maybe for us.

  • somerville

    An update to the Indiana Senate bill


    A proposal aimed at allowing Indiana’s public schools to teach creationism in science classes has been broadened to include origin of life theories from multiple religions.

    The Senate approved the change Monday to a bill that critics had said was unconstitutional because federal courts have repeatedly found that teaching creationism violates church-state separation because of its reliance on the Bible’s book of Genesis.

    The change proposed by Democratic Sen. Vi Simpson of Bloomington says that any course offered by public schools teaching creationism must include origin theories from multiple religions, among them Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Scientology.

    Bill sponsor Sen. Dennis Kruse of Auburn supported the change, saying it makes the proposal acceptable to more senators.

    Does anybody think the fundies will approve of this addenda?