Louisiana needs our help! NOW!

By Phil Plait | June 18, 2008 1:36 pm

I just received an urgent email from Barbara Forrest on behalf of the Louisiana Coalition for Science: the education bill that will allow creationism to be taught in public schools has now passed both the House and the Senate in the state government. In other words, if Governor Bobby Jindal signs it, it becomes law. And then Louisiana is doomed.

It’s almost a foregone conclusion that Jindal will sign it; oddly enough a man who is both a creationist and thinks exorcisms can cure cancer may not have a very good grasp on reality.

However, that doesn’t mean our voices shouldn’t be heard. He needs to hear that the reality-based community of his state is against this bill! And since passing the bill will make Louisiana a laughing stock across the planet, it can’t hurt to have everyone’s voice heard.

There are three points to be made (shamelessly taken from Barbara’s email, with my comments italicized):

Point 1: The Louisiana law, SB 733, the LA Science Education Act, has national implications. So far, this legislation has failed in every other state where it was proposed, except in Michigan, where it remains in committee. By passing SB 733, Louisiana has set a dangerous precedent that will benefit the Discovery Institute by helping them to advance their strategy to get intelligent design creationism into public schools. Louisiana is only the beginning. Other states will now be encouraged to pass such legislation, and the Discovery Institute has already said that they will continue their push to get such legislation passed. [In other words, we’re talking domino effect here. If the Disco ‘tute gets confident, we’ll be fighting this battle over and over again.]

Point 2: Since Gov. Jindal’s support for teaching ID clearly helped to get this bill passed in the first place, his decision to veto it will stick if he lets the legislature know that he wants it to stick.

Point 3: Simply allowing the bill to become law without his signature, which is one of the governor’s options, does not absolve him of the responsibility for protecting the public school science classes of Louisiana. He must veto the bill to show that he is serious about improving Louisiana by improving education. Anything less than a veto means that the governor is giving a green light to creationists to undermine the education of Louisiana children. [In other words, he might take a coward’s way out and not sign it, and it’ll pass. So we have to make sure he actually does veto the bill. This is unlikely, given his predilection for fantasy, but we have to try.]

You can contact Jindal’s office here. Remember, be polite, but be firm. A rude message will get nowhere. But a passionate one that’s polite can make a big difference. In your comments, tell him that this bill will set the state backwards, not forwards, in science education, and that he must veto it.

You can contact the Coalition for Science and lend them your support as well. They could use it.

This is very serious. Louisiana is on the brink of passing an unconstitutional law, one that is unneeded, and indeed will undermine scientific teaching in that state. We must let this be known. Tell everyone you know. Send them the link to the LACS. Do whatever you can, but do it now.


Comments (75)

  1. Lawrence

    Wow – I can’t believe the bill would have made it so far, so fast…but then again….maybe I can believe it.

    Darn – ok, off to write my letter.

  2. There’s little doubt the Governor will sign this bill into law. Then it becomes a waiting game. We wait and see what “alternate” materials will be introduced into the classroom to demonstrate the “weaknesses” of evolution. These will most likely come from the Discovery Institute (I can’t imagine they will be so brazen as to reintroduce Of Pandas and People – that’s too transparent). The materials will probably originate from some 2nd or 3rd party, but there’s no doubt they will be influenced by the Discovery Institute. Then it’s a matter of determining whether or not those materials advocate for intelligent design. If they do, then it’s time to sue because ID has been declared to be warmed-over religion by Judge Jones in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case.

    ID = Religion – not ifs, ands, or buts about it.

    However, school districts should keep in mind that the Dover school district was liable for $2 million in attorney fees (reduced to $1 million by Pepper Hamilton). Are they willing to risk that financial burden? You can bet that the Discovery Institute won’t be anywhere near the court when that suit goes down.

  3. Michelle

    I got a bad feeling about this. Sorry for being pessimistic guys but….

    It’s Jindal. It’s over.

  4. Ryan

    This will go into law, no question there. The real issue will be when the subsequent court case challenging it as an unconstitutional law comes into play. The vice chair of the Texas BOE made it very clear this past week at the Texas republican convention that he wants God taught in science classrooms.

    Not ID, God.

    I’m sure that there will be similar quotes that can be brought up in Louisiana. This will get defeated as unconstitutional, it will just take a little longer.

  5. I did one extra – I just sent an email to the three vendors I have in Louisiana and informed them that I cannot, in good conscience, support the economy of a state that will allow this and should it be signed into law I will be using other vendors.

    In other words, the actions of their politicians are costing their state (and their firms) business.

    I encouraged them to make their governor aware of this.

  6. Michelle

    @Christopher: Isn’t that like… I dunno… blackmail?

  7. Calli Arcale

    I think the usual term is “boycott”.

  8. MH

    I submitted the following, and quite glad to help:

    SB 733, otherwise known as the Louisiana Science Education Act, is an outrage. If it passes, the great state of Louisiana is likely to become the laughing stock of the United States.

    We moved out of Louisiana a few years back, but as a former citizen I still care about the state and wish it well. You may think you’re doing a good thing with this bill, but you’re not.

    This bill, no doubt funded largely by the Discovery Institute, a pro-Intelligent Design group is making a mockery of statewide education. Even on their blog they list this new law as a strike against evolution, thus paving the way for intelligent design in schools.

    As a Christian, a Baptist Minister of almost thirty years, I can not stand to see such obvious lies become law. I can not stand to see such obvious liars enjoy their success against evolution while you deny that it’s about intelligent design.

    Regardless of my personal leanings, intelligent design is not scientific. It is not an accepted scientific theory. 99.9% of scientists in valid fields agree with evolution. The other .1% are most likely in disagreement due to personal religious leanings.

    Evolution is a fact. Evolution has been observed in nature. Evolution is also a theory. The theory of evolution is the explanation for the observed fact of evolution. As evolution is a scientific theory, just like gravity, it will never be perfect.

    Theories are always actively being studied and changed as new evidence is found in support or denial of certain aspects of said theories. In this case, most of the evidence supports evolution in every predicted way, including fossils, genetics, and even medicine.

    The theory of evolution has no “holes”, “weakness”, or likewise. As a theory, evolution has parts that are as-yet unexplained, but none of these pose any sort of “threat” to evolutionary theory.

    The discovery institute is a creationist lobbyist group, and nothing more. This is all a part of their plan.

    Get people to point out the so-called holes in evolutionary theory, and people start asking why we’re teaching it or why it’s the only thing taught, and this allows the intelligent design crowd to step in and say, “we have an alternative…” when in reality it’s just another front for religion.

    This is not a valid secular bill, as it has no valid secular purpose. We need you, Governor Jindal, to veto this bill, or Louisiana’s future could be quite disastrous. I do believe in Louisiana, it’s faith in the people controlling Louisiana that I lack. Please, change this, Mr. Jindal.

  9. trueblue99

    “Louisiana is on the brink of passing an unconstitutional law, one that is unneeded, and indeed will undermine scientific teaching in that state.”

    What exactly is the big problem here? This unconstitutional law will be overturned in the courts just as other similar unconstitutional laws have been. The sun will still rise in the morning, the birds will still sing, the teaching of science will continue.

    Apparently the legislature of Louisiana thinks that the state has a lot of unused money lying around and also thinks that squandering it on several years of pointless litigation is a neat idea. It probably is since Louisiana politicians will get to play martyr when the big bad federal courts rule against them; no doubt re-election campaigns for scores of legislator-cum-defenders of the faith are already being mapped out in Baton Rouge. Maybe the people of Louisiana think such political grandstanding is worth millions of their tax dollars. That’s their prerogative in a democracy.

    I likes democracy as it is; I aims to keep it that way.

  10. Duane

    I sent in the following:

    Dear Gov. Jindal,

    SB 733, the LA Science Education Act, a bill to allow the teaching of Intelligent Design in the classroom violates separation between Church and State, does not advocate the teaching of sound science, and will seriously damage any science education your already beleaguered educational system will try to offer.

    Intelligent Design IS NOT SCIENCE. As a college graduate yourself, you should know that.

    I am a very religious person myself, but I know that religion is for the church and the home. The classroom is for science, the arts, mathematics and literature. Attempting to blur the line between religious education and science in your school system will rob your children of the education they deserve, and will cost your state millions of dollars in court.

    Please do the right thing and VETO this legislation. Thank You. — duane

  11. jeff_w

    Isn’t this unconstitutional ? I thought the 1st amendment prohibited that kind of legislation being established at a federal or state level? It’s just sophistry to say the law doesn’t promote a particular religious view… who’s job is it to enforce… does it have to go the the supreme court as the final arbiter ?

  12. ARP1234

    Am I the only one who thinks the North should have let the
    South win the Civil War so they could be their own nation
    and then we wouldn’t have to give a rat’s ass about all their
    stupidities and superstitions, to say nothing of Nascar?

    The South practically is its own country anyway, so let’s make
    it legal and then they can do whatever they please. We’ll just
    keep troops and tanks along the Mason-Dixon Line so that
    they don’t seep in and contaminate the civilized states.

    If I offended any Southerners, I have only these things to say:

    1. I am really just jabbing at the truly ignorant folks down there.

    2. Creationists and other morons do not deserve respect.

    3. I didn’t know you guys could read!

  13. Dagger

    I agree wholeheartedly with Phil and Barbara’s plea for everyone to write in about this abomination, but this battle appears to be already lost.

    Without pointing fingers, this is the result of complacency on the part of the people of the state in which this is occuring. The best you can hope for now is that your efforts will jolt those people into legal, peaceful action against the retardation that has permeated their chosen government Perhaps in your efforts, you can also wake people in other states where this is occuring.

    Let this be a lesson to everyone in the United States who continue to toute the virtues of the Declaration of Independance and the Constitution. Words, even wonderful, insightful, life altering words mean absolutely nothing without the people to back up those words.

    This battle may be lost , for the moment, but the war is far from over…

  14. Doug Little

    Louisiana must have plenty of Katrina dollars left over from the (not so much) rebuilding of New Orleans to blow on a court case that they will eventually lose. It’s almost better this way, get their hopes up and then crush them again in court. Unfortunately the money could be put to better use say rebuilding the wetlands that used to protect New Orleans from storm surge.

  15. Cameron

    Here’s what I sent-Consider it in the public domain if you want to use bits of it.

    “The LA Science Education Act, SB 733, must be vetoed and prevented from becoming law. I am a high school student in Kansas, and I was taking Honors Biology while the Kansas Board of Education was contemplating a similar measure, and I was fortunate that the issue settled down, and we could continue the unit on evolution while teaching only science, not religion. As the Governor, you now are the only person with the power to stop this bill, and prevent Louisiana schoolchildren from being taught religion instead of science in their science class. Although my efforts are probably futile, I hope that you will actually read this, and prevent this anti-science, anti-education bill from becoming law.”

  16. jeff_w:

    Isn’t this unconstitutional ? I thought the 1st amendment prohibited that kind of legislation being established at a federal or state level?

    Nothing prevents unconstitutional laws from being created. You can’t challenge the constitutionality of something that’s not yet a law.

    (ObNote: IANAL.)

  17. Mike R.

    Here’s a link to the bill: http://www.legis.state.la.us/billdata/streamdocument.asp?did=498719

    Haven’t read it yet, but am curious to see what it really says. Has anyone here actually read it?

  18. Matt Penfold

    I hope that American universities will make it clear that should this become law they will no longer accept students from Louisiana to study science unless and until those students have taken additional tests, set and marked by agencies outside of Louisiana, and achieved a score that indicates they have a satisfactory grasp of basic science.

  19. Tom Pain

    Christopher Ambler,
    Good for you! It’s voting with your dollars, one thing the Rethuglicans DO understand.
    PS Er, you may want to warn your link is mildly NSFW.
    I like it, though!

  20. Mike R.

    Ok, read it. It’s 2 pages.

    Not really seeing how this can epically doom anyone. I don’t really see how it can change anything in the classroom.

  21. Matt Penfold

    “Nothing prevents unconstitutional laws from being created. You can’t challenge the constitutionality of something that’s not yet a law.”

    There probably should be law in place that would send the lawmakers home without pay, and sent to bed without their tea, if a law they passed gets struck down as unconstitutional. After all, one of the main jobs of legislators is to scrutinise potential legislation.

  22. Pisces

    If god was intelligent he would have stopped at marsupials! :)

  23. Dallas

    Thanks for the link to contact Jindal, Phil; I sent the following:

    “Dear Gov. Jindal,

    I am a former student of Airline High School in Bossier Parish and I am now attending Centenary College. When I was in my public high school I was very active in helping with the quality of the education in our biology classes, especially when it came to topics such as evolution. I gave presentations using my bone/fossil collection to display to students how natural selection functions and how organisms evolved their traits. I care very dearly about the education of evolution, because it is one of the strongest facts in all of science, yet is widely dismissed in our religious nation. So far, all other states have dismissed bills like SB 733, because they recognize that allowing intelligent design into the classroom would extensively hinder our already poor biology education. I know plenty of biology teachers who will not even discuss evolution in their classroom, and this new legislation will not only make it easier for them to not teach the topic, but it will also make it easier for them to bring religion, supernatural, and completely non-scientific topics in instead. This certainly is a travesty, because this may induce Louisiana’s next generation of adults to be completely uninformed on one of science’s most important issues. I care about the future of the state of Louisiana, and I would much rather that our state was not at the very bottom in education and intellect compared to the rest of the nation, and this new bill will only sink us further intellectually and will scare off attempts by legitimate academic and science organizations to emigrate to our great state.

    Gov. Jindal, if you care about this state, then veto SB 733 LA Science Education Act, and instead help bring our state out of the educational gutter. Intelligent design (no matter how good the idea may make you feel) is not science and never will be. Science is science, and your administration needs to trust scientists to educate Louisiana’s future scientists. Passing this bill is like giving over-religious biology teacher’s a loaded gun that kills potential critical thinkers.

    Gov. Jindal, please, for the love of all that is good, veto this bill.

    Sincerely, a very concerned Louisiana citizen, future educator, and scientist”

  24. I’m starting to think that we may need to change tactics against the Conservatives pushing this kind of degradation of science education. We need to better explain our position in the global science community then appeal to their nationalist zeal and xenophobia, telling them that “if we don’t focus on top quality science education, then we will lose to the Chinese and .”

  25. David

    Mike R.,
    I just read it myself. On the surface it seems to be a reasonable approach to school subject matter. But look a little deeper, and you will see that it allows approved scientific textbooks to be “supplemented” by material from non-scientific sources. In other words, pamphlets from the Discovery Institute will be passed around in a science class, and the teacher will be free to express his/her own biases. Non-scientists will be deciding what science is for the children of Louisiana. It turns science into a democratic process decided by the ignorant masses, rather than evidence based theories decided by experts. As a Louisiana native, its embarrassing that this not only passed, but passed the house 94-3 and the senate unanimously

  26. bubba

    Beyond being a liar and fool he’s also out of step with the founders of Intelligent Design. There is an interview with Philip Johnson (essentially the founder of the modern ID movement) at the Berkerly Science Review where he says straight out that ID is not ready for the classroom, they dont have a theory and that he hopes they will someday. What more is there to say?

  27. davidlpf

    from Brando

    “We need to better explain our position in the global science community then appeal to their nationalist zeal and xenophobia, telling them that “if we don’t focus on top quality science education, then we will lose to the Chinese and .””
    It is not like the us ahead of the pack to begin with, ok Canada is not at the top either but we are doing slightly better.

  28. infidel

    Doomed? Really? Is the FSM going to rain flaming meatballs on them?


    Sure its disappointing, even disgraceful, but I’m having a really hard time mustering any emotion over it. It certainly isn’t surprising. Actually I’m surprised its taken this long for them to get traction.

    You do realize that every letter Jindal gets urging a veto is just going to confirm in his own mind that he’s doing the right thing. If the godless heathens (and we must all be godless heathens if we support evolution) are against him then he must be doing the Good Work.

    Ultimately that’s how religious people see this. They’re doing what Jesus told them to do ergo any opposition is of the Devil, and will more than likely just make them push harder. Couching this in terms of battles and wars just plays into their illusion

  29. justcorbly

    Christopher Ambler is right. Money talks. Don’t spend your dollars — tourist or otherwise — in Louisiana, and tell Jindal and the world about it. If your organization or business has a convention coming up, amke some noise about taking it somewhere besides New Orleans. (Yes, New Orleans needs the money, but it needs educated kids more.) Mere protest messages from people who don’t vote in Louisiana will have no effect on Jindal.

    I have no idea if Jindal really believes this stuff or if he is just crassly appealing to the nutters that make up his base. In either case, the result is the same.

    And, as pointed out above, Louisiana’s public schools are disasters. Jindal and the legislature should be publicly shamed for ignoring their responsibilities to children while they peddle this snake oil.

  30. Gary F

    I sent the governor an email, for what it’s worth. I suspect the bill will be passed, but I figure at this point being totally pessimistic and ignoring it won’t do any good.

  31. Darth Robo

    Dover II, the sequel?

  32. Ralf

    Maybe he thinks making Louisiana the laughing stock of the world will improve tourism or something like that. Hey, Kansas was on every international news channel regularly for a while.

  33. Tim

    Phil – You keep using the word “doomed” to describe these states. Can you unroll that a bit for us? What are the specific, real-world consequences of being doomed?

  34. Eric H.

    This has me wondering about something. I know that states aren’t really allowed to cede from the union, however if 49 other states voted to have one of the 50 states forcefully removed from the union, would that be possible? I mean, I know that it isnt actually possible, but does US law allow for something like that?

    I think it would be kinda funny if one or more states brought up legislation to force Louisiana out of the union for making such a horrible decision. I mean, If I was in a group of 50 friends and one of them was stupid enough to do something like this, I would set up a vote to kick that friend out of the circle.

    If we wanted to keep 50 states we could always make Puerto Rico into a full state after kicking Louisiana out.

  35. BaldApe

    You can’t challenge the constitutionality of something that’s not yet a law.

    Right. So the correct thing to do is let them do some stupid thing and then the courts will slice and dice their silly arguments and send them home, once more, to come up with yet another pack of lies-for-Jebus.

    There’s a heck of a lot of water headed down the Mississippi by way of Iowa, and I believe it’s hurricane season. Maybe Pat Robertson got it backwards about Dover?

  36. sent my 2 cents million dollars. also sent this email to everyone in my contact list. feel free to critique/copy/modify

    Hello All,

    I am reluctant to send an email to so many people, many of whom I do not know, but for one reason or another have found their way into my address book. However, I feel so strongly about this issue that I cannot, in good conscience, restrain myself because this issue requires national attention.

    Just recently, a bill in the Louisiana state legislature called Senate Bill 733, “Louisiana Science Education Act” passed both the House and the Senate and is awaiting Governor Bobby Jindal’s signature or veto. He has indicated that he will sign the bill into law.

    This seemingly noble bill is a veiled attempt to insert religion, specifically Intelligent Design, into the science curricula of public schools as a scientific alternative to the Theory of Evolution. This “theory”, which is the same as Creationism, the literal interpretation of the book of Genesis as scientific fact, has been rejected by the scientific consensus ( American Association for the Advancement of Science, National Center for Science Education, National Academy of Sciences, etc.).

    Science is the use of evidence to construct testable explanations and predictions of natural phenomena, as well as the knowledge generated through this process. Religion is based in faith, which is fine, but it does not belong in a discipline driven by evidence and testable hypotheses. To introduce religion into science classes is to stifle scientific progress. Look around you right now and take note of all the objects that are owed to scientific advancement and understanding.

    The Louisiana Coalition for Science has much more information here.

    This bill affects not just the the state of Louisiana, but the entire country in the precedent it sets and the precedents it ignores.

    Please let the Governor know your feelings on this matter of national import before he takes action. Below is the open letter from the LA Coalition for Science.

    As I said, this is an extremely important issue to me, and I believe it should be to everyone who values the Separation of Church and State. Government should not impose on religion and religion should not impose on government.

    Thanks for your time.

  37. Rick

    Here’s the text of the bill, if you’re interested: http://www.legis.state.la.us/billdata/streamdocument.asp?did=498719

    It’s not going to be a clear-cut challenge, to be sure – the drafters have apparently learned from years of litigation and made the thing facially neutral.

  38. Adam

    I sent an email, though I don’t know how much good it’ll do since I’m not even American.

    Scary stuff. :

  39. They’re considering it in Michigan? Hey, that’s where i keep my stuff. Now i’ll have to track down who to send what to.

  40. man on the moon

    That was actually one of the longer, better composed emails I’ve written in a while.

    I was rather passionate and tried to appeal to family and statehood, and concerns about teachers, their jobs, and how as Americans we try to relate differently on a private vs. public level. I skipped the ID is religious bit, I figure he’ll get enough of that anyway and probably also knows that–even if he ignores it. I sort of went for a kidney jab, so to speak, of sending my children to a school where I can not be sure what the teacher is teaching (that could be real scary in California). Of having to potentially deprogram a myriad of world views and not just one or two (if evolution were a concern, which to me it’s not). And of using churches or vacation bible school for teaching “alternate views”.

    And made a point to mention schools do not require students to be a-religous, but for the curriculum to be as free from it as possible.

    I also explained I’m not Louisian-ian (?) but that this will make my job as an American teacher harder.

    Wow, this post is WAY harder to read (and feels more awkward) than my letter. I was actually proud of the letter, not so much the post. Whatever.

    It’s off, so let’s hope…

  41. And what about South Carolina? My reading of the PDF suggests that they’re still at risk.

  42. Ronn Blankenship


    Not only kin sum uv us’n read, but sum uv us’n teach astronomy down ta th’ yoo-nee-versity . . .

  43. alfaniner

    Just curious. Does a well-written physical (i.e. “snail”) mail letter have more impact than an email? I suppose if this is a timely matter, an email is faster, but you can’t delete a letter. As easily.

  44. Ronn Blankenship

    Just a note:

    Not all believers are believers in ID or want it taught in science class. However, many believers, including those, are offended by references to the Lord as “Jebus” or to God as “dog” about as much as you would be if someone called your mother a “b*tch” or a “ho,” and so are less likely to consider your remarks worthy of consideration if you use such references. You may indeed believe that there is no evidence that they are anything but imaginary beings, but by offending all believers rather than just ID supporters you are driving away a large fraction of the populace who agree with you that ID should not be taught in school and suggest that those who get the impression that you are attacking all religious believers rather than just those who want their particular beliefs taught in public schools are correct in that impression.

  45. geomaniac

    The post below argues from an environmental education perspective why these kinds of laws are bad for those who try to use science and logic to convince those who refuse to be swayed by mere facts.


  46. madge

    While I often agree/disagree with another countries laws I wouldn’t normally get involved. But as you said this particular piece of excrement will make Louisiana the laughing stock of the Planet so as a fully paid up member thereof I have sent them my tuppence worth. I just hope they are ready for the barrage of law suits as every Jedi, Satan, celestial teapot and FSM worshipper declares THEIR belief system has a place in the science classroom too. Not to mention all the students who find their hard earned degrees to be worthless.

  47. quasidog
  48. Bonogamy

    MY little city of Lethbridge, Alberta, came very close to electing a fundamentalist Christian creationist to the public school board.

    My letter to him, and I would have reproduced it as a letter to the editor of the local paper if he was elected, appealed to the pride Albertans feel in turning out quality high school graduates. ID/creationism/whatever is laughed out of the room at any quality university and I said we would be handicapping Lethbridge’s children if we even “taught the controversy”, for reasons I’ll make clear further on.

    I appealed to his (hopefully, but not likely) sense of religious freedom not to presume to make the decision for others and their children that Christian ID/creationism/whatever is the right ID/creationism/whatever.

    Lethbridge is quickly becoming a diverse community, in the sense that the UK already is, with Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews etc. I said that he should not take it upon himself to decide that Christianity should be the religion of record in public schools. I said that this approach does not work any place in the world, and never has, unless you use a machine gun to enforce it. A majority of people of one religion cannot presume to make the law for every other religious group without enforcing it at the point of a gun.

    I said that he is compelled as a Christian to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ, not the holiness of the Koran or the Gurmat of Sikhism, so it is hypocritical of him to suggest that he has all these religions in mind when he talks about ID. He cannot claim to be tolerant of other religions. Most religions have conflicting creation stories and they cannot all be right.

    Most politicians cannot fathom the kind of problem Israel has (i.e. can it be democratic or Jewish) because they are not elected to understand problems or make tough decisions. They are good ‘ol boys and girls elected on a wave of emotional and familial sentiment.

    However, I’m assuming that Louisiana as a whole is still too prejudice to consider any other religion but fundamentalist Christianity when passing such a law, so an appeal to religious freedom many not work even though it is demanded by the US Constitution. Do other religions even factor into this horrid ramming down of fundamentalist dogma at all?

    I also suggested that he put his efforts into private Christian schools if he is so adamant about teaching ID/creationism/whatever or even about “teaching the controversy.” In my opinion “teaching the controversy” is a specialized sub-section of science that should be available to second-year university students at the earliest, because of the sensitive scientific, sociological, religious and political factors they have to consider.

    With abortion, for example, if you “teach the controversy” at a high school level all you’ll get are students whose opinions are set in stone with a high level of ideological stubbornness, and you have to answer to parents directly if you try to teach a distinct pro-choice or pro-life viewpoint. In other words, if you talk about abortion with high school students, be prepared to take a poll and leave it at that. You don’t have the time, the freedom or the resources to “teach the controversy” properly and change minds.

    In university “teaching the controversy” can mean getting the student when he/she is ready to be swayed by sound, falsifiable reasoning and scientific evidence. He/she is away from home and ready to think for themselves. They have the freedom to come to the right answer, away from the meddling of ignorant school boards and their good ‘ol boys.


  49. Done.

    I tried talking about inserting religion into school is a violation of the first amendment and what the psychological ramifications may be — but I don’t know… I have no idea how effective it will be against someone who seems to have already made up his mind.

    I am hoping that if he receives a large amount of letters saying, “VETO!” he might read some of them, maybe see the implications of such a bill… and veto.

    I sincerely hope that this is not simply wishful thinking.

  50. The Yorkshire Sceptic

    I gave an outsider’s viewpoint:

    I’m told that you’re planning on replacing science teaching with lessons in creationism, or as we call it in Britain, mythology.

    Thank you so much. If the rest of the US follows suit, this can only be good for Britain and the rest of Europe which will then take the lead in scientific excellence.

    Go for it! Ignore the scientists! The rest of the world will love you for it!

  51. Daniel

    Phil, I never thought I’d say this about you, but if you think there’s even a fools chance that Jindal won’t approve this bill (he orchestrated the whole thing for godsake), than you sir need to go outside and take a deep breath, and just let it go.

    Let the anger out of your system Phil, then come back in and help us save some of the states that we actually can save (i.e. the ones that don’t have a collective I.Q. suicide note already scribbled) from this nonsense.

    Louisiana however, is a lost cause.

    Like the Beck song.

  52. Celtic_Evolution

    @ Daniel

    Did you read Phil’s entire post? You know… the part where he addresses your point?

    You know.. .the part where he says this is an attempt to force him to veto the bill, but: “This is unlikely, given his predilection for fantasy, but we have to try.”

    So yeah, Phil knows, and we know, that this is likely an exercise in futility… but the effort to make it known that there are those of us… MANY of us, who vehemently oppose this is really important. To not do so is to allow him to think his viewpoint is unopposed.

  53. Andres Villarreal

    To help with this cause, I wrote this letter to the Governor. My point is “who cares about ID or creationism being right or not, Louisiana needs students going to good universities”. Of course, creationism and ID are wrong, but I do not want to argue that with a believer.

    “I am writing to ask you to consider vetoing SB 733.

    “I am a Fulbright scholar who received one of the best opportunities that U.S. education has to offer, and will be forever grateful. This is the reason why I feel some responsibility towards the continued excellence of an education system that is a great asset for humankind. I got my MEE from Rice University in Texas, so I have some insight into the southern U.S. culture.

    “The best universities in the world, some of them in the U.S., live in a global community and admit the best students in the world. If they are not from Louisiana, it is Louisiana’s loss. And those universities use the best scientists available to select their admissions policies. Those scientists do not accept ID or creationism as valid science, and will not consider creationist students as well prepared.

    “Please let the best scientists fulfill their responsibility to prepare the Louisiana students for the best universities, so they can eventually bring progress to Louisiana.

    “The better educated two percent of the world that makes the decisions to buy goods and services from the U.S. is laughing at the “fundamentalist bible belt creationists”. Louisiana can fight the battle against the scientists of the whole world or it can bring progress to its people. You decide.

    “If you want to fight the fight to get ID and/or creationism accepted as science, the right place is at scientific forums, not at the expense of your children.”

  54. JTC

    You know people, these “Louisiana = doomed” blogs are, for the most part, not really helping your cause. Don’t get me wrong. They start out fine, but quickly spiral out into some pretty ugly and twisted BS. Some of you honestly have a handle on what needs to be said, who it needs to be said to, and how to say it effectively.
    Unfortunately, the people at BA who make their case well, won’t be taken very seriously in this and similar articles here. I plucked several “winners” from just this thread because I really wonder sometimes if people realize how damaging they can be to the things they believe are important.

    “…they could be their own nation
    and then we wouldn’t have to give a rat’s ass about all their
    stupidities and superstitions, to say nothing of Nascar?

    “We’ll just keep troops and tanks along the Mason-Dixon Line so that they don’t seep in and contaminate the civilized states.”

    “Creationists and other morons do not deserve respect.”

    “I hope that American universities will make it clear that should this become law they will no longer accept students from Louisiana to study science…”

    “one thing the Rethuglicans DO understand.”

    “We need to better explain our position in the global science community then appeal to their nationalist zeal and xenophobia…”

    “If the godless heathens (and we must all be godless heathens if we support evolution) are against him then he must be doing the Good Work.”

    ”I think it would be kinda funny if one or more states brought up legislation to force Louisiana out of the union for making such a horrible decision.”

    “the courts will slice and dice their silly arguments and send them home, once more, to come up with yet another pack of lies-for-Jebus.”

    “Not only kin sum uv us’n read, but sum uv us’n teach astronomy down ta th’ yoo-nee-versity . . .”

    “However, I’m assuming that Louisiana as a whole is still too prejudice to consider any other religion but fundamentalist Christianity when passing such a law..”

    I found it quite impressive that some people were able to sail right through some of those quotes and then create their own post about how Christian fundamentalists and/or Southerners are just so intolerant and uncivilized. Well I say..bravo. That must surely have showed them just who wears the “civilized” pants in this society.
    Seriously though, a lot of people visit blogs without ever posting on one. If this is important to you, then it might be wise to understand that you are going to need all the help you can get. There are a great number of Christians and Jews in every State (North and South) who are in complete agreement with you on this subject. Being intentionally offensive, intolerant, and condescending might not be the best way to prove how intelligent, enlightened, and rational your positions are.

  55. ARP1234

    Said Ronn Blankenshipon 18 Jun 2008 at 9:21 pm
    to @ARP1234:

    “Not only kin sum uv us’n read, but sum uv us’n teach astronomy down ta th’ yoo-nee-versity . . .”

    Now how can you possibly drive to the university when all
    your cars are up on cement blocks in the front yard?

    Then you have to get around all those jugs with the XXX on them.

    And doesn’t the bald kid playing banjo on the front porch keep
    you up all night?


    Don’t worry, I think Southern women are hotter than Georgia asphalt.

    And honestly, while I admire Phil’s efforts to combat stupidity, I
    feel it is worse than using a bucket to drain the ocean.

    Go see the movie Idiocracy, folks, if you want an idea of where
    we are all probably headed.

  56. Daniel

    @ Celtic…

    1. I did read the whole post.
    2. ARP1234 has it right. Idiocracy for those wanna see the future.

    But, hey man far be it from me to not let you get your aggression on this out.

    It makes me pretty upset too.


    but this is a very idealist point of view for the majority of you to be taking. Siding on the “it might make difference” is incredibly un-skeptical of you all to be honest, the truth is, the state is a lost cause and this is a waste of time. If you feel it is neccessary or vital for you to execute your right as a free man to express your opinion on this, by all means don’t let reality stop you.

    But please do not sit here and fool yourselves into believing that the Republican Governor of Louisiana, who very much believes the earth was made out of fairy dust and Leah Thompson’s (circa back to the future) used underwear, is even going to read or bother with any of your opinions on this. He chose to live in this fantasy world long before any of you even knew he was governor of Louisiana and he ain’t leaving it simply because you decided to write a letter based on something truthful, honest, and umm, real.

    Because my friend, real to him is “the hand of God smiting the terroist threat to America”, and “where he will be when the rapture finally comes to take him away to the shining palace in the sky and leaving us unwashed heathens on the ground, repenting but to no avail.

    They aren’t all like this mongrel idiot of a governor mind you (religious people) but this one certainly is about as bad as they get.

    Vent if you wish, but my advice is to choose a winnable battle to throw your best words down in letters that will inevitably wind up in a smoldering pile of garbage unopened and unread.

    That is all.

  57. Melusine

    It’s an embarrassment for Louisiana in the same way it was looking that way for Florida. The people elected him. Louisiana has so many other problems that it’s a shame these controversial issues get more attention than their real problems. Exorcisms can cure cancer? Crikes, what a leader. Seems like Jindal is only concerned with economics. From his inaugural address:

    You have often heard me say that we do not have a poor state, but a state with poor leadership. That we do not have a state stuck in the past, but leaders who were unconcerned with the future.

    Twenty-first century schools and colleges.

    Curricula linked to our new economy.

    Quality teachers.

    Accountability for results.

    A modern health care system that provides for all.

    Silicon Valley will take notice too? Here is more about his beacon of light to other states. How are exorcisms modern health?

  58. Andres Villarreal

    @Ronn Blankenship:

    As a complete atheist I have to concur with you: any derogatory comment about God, Jesus, Allah or Buddha, just to mention a few, is a useless insult that diverts the attention from the issue of science and education and inflames religious people and many atheists for no good reason.

    There is an enormous difference between asking for a clear separation of church and science and requiring people to not believe in a God (or more).

  59. Deepak

    Why are we behind Bobby Jindal and the ID teachings at Schools? We still have so many basic questions to answer. Can we focus our attention dark matter, dark energy, expanding universe etc. These ID teachings will have no impact on the students. They are smart enough to differentiate between right and wrong. Students will listen to ID as just an other interesting story and then switch over to the science books.

    But is science any different from an interesting story? We have said missing mass is dark matter and dark energy and everyone should buy that theory…!! (Whatever for?) But ID is a clear no no..!! Pls……Let us find the right answers first….Only then we have a face to show to the students and tell them not to listen to ID. Till then we have no right to stop ID teachings.

  60. LaCreption

    Says it all.



    Fight intended ignorance. These frauds should be exposed over and over. They’re like damn politicians. The damn ones.

  61. Don Healy

    While it won’t help with this piece of legislation, perhaps we should be more proactive in facing down groups like the Discovery Institute et.al. by insisting that if they wish to have ID taught in public schools as an “alternative to evolution”, they first need to allow qualified individuals to come into their churches and Sunday schools to teach the Theory of Evolution to their young folks. Isn’t turnabout fair play?

  62. Darth Robo

    Deepak, I’m afraid you’re being incredibly naive. ID is an indoctrination tool, nothing more. THIS is how it will affect students. As a theory, ID has none and makes no testable predictions. As for Dark Matter, it DOES make testable predictions, and also is not generally taught in school science classes.

    >>>”They are smart enough to differentiate between right and wrong.”

    If that’s the case, why is it that I see so many vainly arguing for ID on many blogs and forums? And that even people working ON SCHOOL BOARDS are actively pushing for a non-scientific apologetics course for public school science class? Since it DOES violate the Separation of Church and State, people have EVERY right to stop ID teachings in publically funded establishments. If IDer’s want ID taught, they can fund it themselves or do it in a church, where it belongs.

  63. nolachief

    As just submitted to the Governor:

    Dear Governor Jindal,

    I am writing to strongly urge you to veto SB733, the Louisiana Science Education Act. This attempt to bring Creationism under the guise of Intelligent Design into Louisiana’s science classrooms is misguided and runs contrary to the critical and scientific thought that this bill purports to encourage. It does not even represent mainstream religious thought. Your own denomination, Roman Catholicism, which represents the single largest church body in the state, has deemed evolutionary theory as not contrary to biblical teachings, as have many moderate Protestant denominations.

    Our state is in the midst of a struggle for its survival. Decades of political mismanagement, most recently by Governor Blanco, have damaged our reputation nationwide. You campaigned on promises to restore Louisiana’s credibility on the national stage. We need this credibility in order to recover from the hurricanes and attract new businesses, particularly in high tech fields, to the state. The passage of SB733 will result in numerous costly court battles, diverting precious state resources from other important issues (and the outcome will find its precedent in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District). Technology-based industries will seek to establish themselves in science-friendly climes in other states, taking their tax revenue with them. And what happens when the next hurricane comes? When other states open their schools to our children, will they be the ones “left behind”?

    Please do not misunderstand me. I am not trying to make a case against God or any other divine creator. Placing Him in a science classroom, however, represents the logical fallacy known as “God in the Gaps”, i.e. “I don’t understand this, so God must have done it.” This leads to lazy thinking. Instead of a child seeing a phenomenon he or she does not understand and seeking to know more about it, expanding her knowledge and that of society in the process, she attributes the phenomenon to God and pays it no further thought. What societal benefit does this engender? Would only Judeo-Christian alternatives to evolution be allowed if you sign this bill? Or would you allow Native American beliefs? Brahma’s propagation of life within the universe? Who gets taught? Who doesn’t?

    If there is a creator, I feel that the best way to honor Him or Her or It is to seek to fully understand his creation. We do no less of artists, sculptors, or authors. This understanding is best accomplished through allowing science to proceed unhindered. Please preserve this ability within our children by vetoing SB733.

    Thank you for your time.



  64. anon

    Why is this being called ‘fear-mongering’ on another blog? I think this is a sensible, straight-forward request of a political figure. Good work, all.

  65. Dom

    Louisiana’s got electrolytes.

  66. bubba

    But what are electrolytes?

    What Louisana has!

  67. Dov Henis

    It’s The AAAS That Promotes Religion In Science And In Law
    Whereas Religion Is But A Legitimate Virtual Reality Tool

    A. “Protest Louisiana creationism law”

    B. From a Dec 03 2008 posting

    “If “god” is defined/understood to be a human artifact – regardless of reasons, purposes, implications, consequences – the subject “god-science” is scientifically discussable.

    If “god” is not defined/understood to be a human artifact, its concept is a human virtual reality artifact experienced only through sensory stimuli, and “god-science” is not scientifically discussable. Furthermore, in this case preoccupation with this subject within a scientific frameworks contributes to corrosion and corruption of science and scientism by manifesting or implying acceptance of virtual reality as reality.”

    C. It’s The AAAS That Promotes Religion In Science And In Law

    The AAAS and its affiliates and equivalent organizations, i.e. all the Science Establishment Guilds, loudly and pseudoscientifically promote and “profoundly respect” the “spiritual religious domain” as A REAL domain, a domain separate from the REAL, science, domain. They do this both because, unbelievably, they actually believe it and as a politically powerful tool in promoting their power and state-public support.

    Dov Henis

    (Comments From The 22nd Century)

  68. Lary9

    Not to worry. We will win this. Do you remember when we were kids? (I was born Jan. 1947) Were you ever taught anything which you subsequently discovered was complete and thorough B.S.? Well…? We found out about it inevitably and changed the paradigm, didn’t we? Just because they’re teaching nonsense doesn’t mean they’re actually reconstructing reality. Wrong doctrine doesn’t make it so. Nor does it innoculate the young against the onslaught of Truth…especially in science. And it’s not even covert propaganda. This nonsense will be in the public POV incessantly.


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