By Alexander Reed Kelly
Eons ago, something crept out of the world’s oceans and made its home on land. All of us living today are descendants of that organism; we owe our existence to its victory in the struggle to adapt to its new, terrestrial surroundings.
Today, slimier creatures are dragging themselves up from the depths of nearby swamps, and they’re attempting to reshape the legislative and educational environments to suit themselves. A mix of religious zealots and political opportunists are waging a campaign to roll back the findings of biology and indoctrinate American students with unsubstantiated dogma. Their lobbies at the state level are powerful, especially in the heartlands of American conservatism, and their efforts have moved some who would otherwise passively oppose them to action.
Zack Kopplin was a sophomore in high school when his state passed the Louisiana Science Education Act in 2008. Masquerading behind the language of “academic freedom,” the law made Louisiana the first state to allow taxpayer-funded public schools to teach creationism and the more insidiously labeled “intelligent design.” Being so obviously inconsistent with the federal policy of separation of church and state, and posing a threat to science students whose education in religious ideology may hinder their access to college and jobs, Kopplin assumed someone from the scientific community would take action. He was “baffled” as the months passed and no one did, and in 2010, he dedicated his senior-year project to building a campaign to repeal the rule.
Kopplin began by contacting Dr. Barbara Forrest, a Southeastern Louisiana University philosopher and a key expert witness in the 2005 case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. The trial resulted in a federal court ruling that found teaching intelligent design in public biology classes to be inconsistent with the First Amendment because the subject is not scientific and “cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.” Forrest and Kopplin enlisted the help of 78 Nobel laureate scientists who publicly endorsed the repeal of the law. The New Orleans City Council, an association of clergy members and various educational and scientific organizations also lent their weight.
Kopplin’s campaign persuaded state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, a Democrat from New Orleans, to sponsor a repeal bill, and in April 2011, she introduced SB 70.
Within a month, the state Senate heard a debate over the bill. A 5-1 vote to defer action on the legislation effectively killed the group’s effort. Disappointed but not undaunted, the members revived the push the following spring, but lost again. This time, however, defeat came via a much narrower vote of 2-1, as some of the group’s previous opponents abstained. The campaign has promised to continue pressing the legislature until the teaching of creationism in public classrooms is illegal in the state.
Read the rest here.
I see something like the above and I can sustain the idea that there is a future for Homo sapiens on this planet. Zach Kopplin has clearly perceived the threat of pseudo-science in an age where arguments about evolution vs. creationism are less scientific than they are political. In the accompanying video, he states that there are no creationist jobs in the private sector, yet plenty of positions for those who understand the dynamics of evolution, and he backs his arguments with multiple Nobel laureates and members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
I don't know whether Zack is one of us or not. The point is that there are those out there who see the crap coming in and are not willing to tolerate it. Indeed, they're willing to go to the mat and fight to put a stop to it because ultimately, It Hurts US.
Bravo, Zack. Damned well done!
One step at a time!
Perhaps this Zach fellow (if he is still in school) should bypass the state courts and take the case to Federal court (with the support of such groups as American Atheists, the American Civil Liberties Union, &c). The law clearly violates Federal standards vis. the separation of church and state.
He also has a horse in the race (he has standing) if he is still in school. Louisiana schools receive Federal funding. Bypassing the state courts and state legislature seems to be the way to go.
Loren! Powerful stuff; may I quote you on Facebook?
Be my guest, Joan!