Good News and Bad News in Indiana’s New Creation Science Law

Good News and Bad News in Indiana’s New Creation Science Law February 1, 2012

The news is circulating that Senate Bill 89, which allows for the teaching of “creation science,” has passed the senate and now awaits approval from the house.

There is at least some good news. On the one hand, the proposed law makes no mention of science classrooms, and so there is nothing that directly encourages schools to engage in the unconstitutional and unscientific activity of promoting religion in science classrooms.

As a result of an amendment, however, the proposed law now requires that if a school teaches about religious theories of origins that it must do so fairly and provide a representative survey of a variety of religions. Here is how it is now worded:

Sec. 18. The governing body of a school corporation may offer instruction on various theories of the origin of life. The curriculum for the course must include theories from multiple religions, which may include, but is not limited to, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Scientology.

And so perhaps one can look on the bright side. The law, if it passes, will not legally enable schools to inject religion into science classes, since it is still unconstitutional to do so and the law does not change that. On the other hand, if a school teaches about religion, it needs to cover a variety of religions and not focus all its attention on one. And so the law cannot be used to do any real harm to science education, and might represent a step forward for education about world religions!

Of course, this doesn’t mean that someone won’t be able to try to appeal to this law to justify injecting creationism into the science classroom. But I don’t see that this law as now worded will in any way get such a person off the hook when they are taken to court for doing so.

What do others think?  In its present form, is the law still dangerous to science education? And with respect to teaching about religion, is the law merely redundant or an actual step in the right direction?

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