Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The creationists target Indiana

Well, here we go again.

Dr. Eugenie C. Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education, has once again put rationalist Americans on high alert that a state legislator is planning to give a go to at undermining public schools' teaching of biology.

Dennis Kruse (R-Indiana) has announced plans to introduce a bill into legislation drafted by none other than our friends in the Discovery Institute, who have listed amongst their stated goals:
Scientific research and experimentation have produced staggering advances in our knowledge about the natural world, but they have also led to increasing abuse of science as the so-called “new atheists” have enlisted science to promote a materialistic worldview, to deny human freedom and dignity and to smother free inquiry. Our Center for Science and Culture works to defend free inquiry. It also seeks to counter the materialistic interpretation of science by demonstrating that life and the universe are the products of intelligent design and by challenging the materialistic conception of a self-existent, self-organizing universe and the Darwinian view that life developed through a blind and purposeless process.
Lest my more optimistic (and scientific) readers think this won't have a chance, such efforts have already been successful in Louisiana (2008) and Tennessee (2012).  Inevitably it takes the form of some sort of "teach the controversy" argument -- as if instructing students in the findings of valid, peer-reviewed, evidence-supported science represents some kind of satanic indoctrination.  Interesting, too, that no one ever suggests "teaching the controversy" in, for example, chemistry, inducing chemistry teachers to spend a few weeks discussing alchemy -- despite the fact that the findings of evolutionary biologists are no more controversial in scientific circles than those of the chemists.  Oh, and isn't it odd that it seems to be only people who are poorly educated in biological science who think there's a controversy?  (Wait, that's probably just because we biologists were "indoctrinated" ourselves.  Never mind.)

Kruse, for his part, is serious about this.  He pledged when elected to remove evolution from state science standards, and publicly stated, "I'd guess that 80% of Indiana would be oriented with the bible and creation."  No equivocation there, is there?  No mealy-mouthed "teach the controversy" nonsense.  Nope,  just good, old-fashioned young-earth literalism, designed to further hack away at the state of science education in the United States.  It's no wonder there are so many international students in US college science programs, given our determination as a nation to destroy the underpinnings of science teaching in American high schools.

It's to be hoped that the legislators will handle this sensibly (well, in my opinion, "sensibly" would include laughing directly in Kruse's face, but I'm not optimistic enough to hope for that).  Kruse has attempted this sort of thing before, and failed, the last time because the legislature refused to vote and the bill died when they adjourned -- a remarkably spineless way to handle things, and one which doesn't bode well for the future.

The whole thing makes me despair a little.  Of course, that's what Kruse et al. want; to wear down the opposition, to make them give up out of sheer exhaustion.  I don't think they reckon with the likes of Dr. Scott, however, who doesn't strike me as the capitulating sort.  I think her attitude can much better be summed up in the immortal words of Captain Mathazar from Galaxy Quest:  "Never give up, never surrender."


  1. I'm not sure what's meant by the phrase "so-called 'new atheists'". The use of the term "so-called" suggests that there are people who think of themselves as "new atheists" but in fact they are nothing of the sort. But I've never heard anyone referred to in that way. All the atheists I know are just atheists, reflecting the fact that there's really been no need to, say, discard all the atheist ideas of the past and come up with an all new set of atheist principles. The reference is obviously intended as a put-down, but it's a little as if I started tearing into the so-called "clowns with guns." Who the heck is that?

  2. God. God. God. God. GOD!

    Starts prayer:

    God. Please, I pray you... deliver us from God. People are confused about the teachings of God and God has left too much for us humans to interpret. Attempting to please God is causing a great deal of conflict for humans, God.

    God, please cast God away from us for a time... that we may find clarity about how to be the most gracious servants of God's confusing interpretation of God's desires. We humans only wish to please God... So please, God, I beg you to give us humans a chance to surprise God by asking God to step back a bit and give us room to decide what's best for us. We are all grown up now. Give us a chance, we won't let you down!

    1. Now THERE'S a prayer that even I could be in favor of saying....