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Sneaking God Into Science Classes: The Rise Of The ‘Academic Freedom' Bill

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Sneaking God Into Science Classes: The Rise Of The ‘Academic Freedom' Bill

February 21, 2013 By 110 Comments

Right-wing religious groups are fighting harder than ever to bring Christianity into the classroom, and in some states, they're actually winning.

 

Since 2004, militant Christians in various states have pushed for legislators to pass "academic freedom" bills. According to the National Center for Science Education, these bills permit, but do not require, teachers to include Creationist material in science classes:

 

 

There are two main strains of "academic freedom" bills. The first mandates that teachers be able to discuss "the full range of scientific views regarding biological and chemical evolution," and offers students "protection for subscribing to a particular position on views regarding biological or chemical evolution."

 

The second strain does not purport to be concerned with student rights, and cites the need to help students develop "critical thinking skills" on "controversial issues." To this end, it permits teachers to discuss "the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories."

 

Writing in February for The Week, Dana Liebelson called the bill "Creationism in sheep's clothing." It's trickier to navigate than your average Intelligent Design bill, she wrote, because it technically doesn't mandate religious curriculum. Instead, it advocated for students to consider different "perspectives" when it came to science education.

 

A U.S. district court ruled in 2005 that teaching Intelligent Design in public schools is unconstitutional, but this type of bill might be a way for Christian zealots to sidestep that hurdle. And now that activists have discovered the loophole, academic freedom bills are showing up in more legislatures than ever before:

 

In the last few years, the number of these bills has skyrocketed, with 51 proposed since 2004, and twice as many proposed this year than in all of 2012. (Remember, it's only February).

 

According to Liebelson, academic freedom bills specifically target science education, encouraging students to explore "alternative theories" to well-established scientific principles like climate change and evolution (apparently you can get away with anything if it's in the name of creative exchange):

 

The secret weapon in these bills is the idea that pupils should understand the "strengths and weaknesses" of different scientific theories. Which theories? Well, as a bill proposed by four Republican state senators in Arizona makes clear, that would be "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning." Coincidentally, these are the exact same theories that House Bill 1674 in Oklahoma, proposed by GOP state Rep. Gus Blackwell, considers controversial. His legislation even prevents teachers from flunking students who write papers debunking their textbook material. Seriously.

 

Thankfully, scientists don't exactly agree with Blackwell's proposal:

 

Teachers and scientists say they're all for scientific questioning - when it's actually about science. "Teaching about the existence of genuine scientific controversy is educationally valuable, but it must be genuine controversy, with serious scientists lining up on both sides," says Richard Dawkins of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. "Intelligent design is not a scientific theory."

 

Because an academic freedom bill can, in some ways, seem less threatening than a bill mandating religious curriculum, provisions for anything-goes science education can go virtually undetected:

 

The language in most of these bills is so obtuse that you might not even know if you live in one of the six states considering them (Montana, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arizona, Missouri, and Indiana).

 

In most states, academic freedom bills have failed - but they're gaining momentum. In 2008 Louisiana became the first state to successfully pass one. In 2011, another passed in Tennessee. Colorado rejected an academic freedom bill in early February, while bills have been tabled in several other states.

 

But it's a slippery slope from so-called academic freedom to outright evangelizing in schools, and that might be where we're headed if the trend keeps up. As Liebelson writes of one politician:

 

Rick Brattin, a Republican state representative in Missouri, went so far as to propose a bill late last month that actually requires Missouri public school teachers to devote equal time and space to the teaching of intelligent design, "destiny," and any other creation theory a teacher might want to rustle up. "I've had numerous college professors within biology, school science teachers... who say they are not allowed to teach any type of theory [like Intelligent Design]... They are banned from the science community," he tells The Riverfront Times.

 

Ironically, the state rep's frustration says it all. We've reached a point where elected officials are disgusted that science classes teach, well, science. Politicians may hold whatever beliefs they choose, but hijacking a student's education in the name of religion is more offensive than anything.

 

by on Feb. 24, 2013 at 12:04 PM
Replies (31-40):
jhslove
by Bronze Member on Feb. 25, 2013 at 5:29 AM

This is so irritating......the primary argument for this seems to be "Evolution is a theory, and creationism is another theory, so you should teach both".

The problem, though, is that creationism really isn't a THEORY. As was pointed out in a previous discussion, a scientific THEORY (the term that a lot of people mistakenly use when they mean a HYPOTHESIS) has been repeatedly tested and, though it can never be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, has ample scientific evidence to support it. Using this definition, evolution is in fact a theory. So is gravity--but you don't see anyone arguing that gravity doesn't actually exist.

Creationism, however, is NOT a theory. It hasn't been scientifically tested, at least not on anything more than a minimal scale, and there isn't ample scientific evidence to support it. Creationism is a matter of faith, which is fine. If you believe in creationism, hey--have at it. But you do not get to alter the public-school curriculum at will to fit your religious beliefs and try to pass it off as "science". If creationism is going to be taught, it should be taught in a comparative-religion course as part of the unit on Christianity.

romalove
by Roma on Feb. 25, 2013 at 5:48 AM
2 moms liked this


Quoting rayroe2:

 The human body is science and God created us so therefor ladies it is in science deal with it. Get you're simple minds to expand.

You are entitled to this opinion.

You are not entitled to decide that it's science and should be taught as such in a public school.

romalove
by Roma on Feb. 25, 2013 at 5:49 AM


Quoting stormcris:

Developing a testable theory as to where or not god exists and the study of abstracts under the scientific method could prove beneficial. Creationism in sheep's clothing I think is a stretch. If you are giving critical thinking lessons of the idea of intelligence design through hypothesis it could have its place. Critical thinking seems to be a weakness in school studies.

 

How in the world would you give critical thinking lessons of the idea of intelligent design through hypothesis?


stormcris
by Christy on Feb. 25, 2013 at 7:09 AM

There are many schools of intelligent design thinking of which several who do not even involve a deity. The hypothesis would be that beings resulted through purposeful design. However, I would suggest supporting evidence be directed in the form of mathematical probability and quantum physics as it would relate to a universal order rather than perceived chance or happenstance evolution. It is rather easy for someone to take a philosophy book and say well it says this and I feel those people were correct it stretches the ability of critical thought to ignore it and find a sound explanation.

Quoting romalove:


Quoting stormcris:

Developing a testable theory as to where or not god exists and the study of abstracts under the scientific method could prove beneficial. Creationism in sheep's clothing I think is a stretch. If you are giving critical thinking lessons of the idea of intelligence design through hypothesis it could have its place. Critical thinking seems to be a weakness in school studies.

 

How in the world would you give critical thinking lessons of the idea of intelligent design through hypothesis?



romalove
by Roma on Feb. 25, 2013 at 7:41 AM


Quoting stormcris:

There are many schools of intelligent design thinking of which several who do not even involve a deity. The hypothesis would be that beings resulted through purposeful design. However, I would suggest supporting evidence be directed in the form of mathematical probability and quantum physics as it would relate to a universal order rather than perceived chance or happenstance evolution. It is rather easy for someone to take a philosophy book and say well it says this and I feel those people were correct it stretches the ability of critical thought to ignore it and find a sound explanation.

Quoting romalove:


Quoting stormcris:

Developing a testable theory as to where or not god exists and the study of abstracts under the scientific method could prove beneficial. Creationism in sheep's clothing I think is a stretch. If you are giving critical thinking lessons of the idea of intelligence design through hypothesis it could have its place. Critical thinking seems to be a weakness in school studies.

 

How in the world would you give critical thinking lessons of the idea of intelligent design through hypothesis?



I want to discuss the first sentence before anything else.

Please explain to me what that means, an intelligent designer that would not involve a deity.


stormcris
by Christy on Feb. 25, 2013 at 7:54 AM


Quoting romalove:


Quoting stormcris:

There are many schools of intelligent design thinking of which several who do not even involve a deity. The hypothesis would be that beings resulted through purposeful design. However, I would suggest supporting evidence be directed in the form of mathematical probability and quantum physics as it would relate to a universal order rather than perceived chance or happenstance evolution. It is rather easy for someone to take a philosophy book and say well it says this and I feel those people were correct it stretches the ability of critical thought to ignore it and find a sound explanation.

Quoting romalove:


Quoting stormcris:

Developing a testable theory as to where or not god exists and the study of abstracts under the scientific method could prove beneficial. Creationism in sheep's clothing I think is a stretch. If you are giving critical thinking lessons of the idea of intelligence design through hypothesis it could have its place. Critical thinking seems to be a weakness in school studies.

 

How in the world would you give critical thinking lessons of the idea of intelligent design through hypothesis?



I want to discuss the first sentence before anything else.

Please explain to me what that means, an intelligent designer that would not involve a deity.


A cosmic balance or force that exists much like gravity. I sort of went into it with speaking on how to go about the hypothesis in order to use critical thinking. Basically the idea that the universe is ordered not random and creates to keep a set balance.

romalove
by Roma on Feb. 25, 2013 at 7:56 AM


Quoting stormcris:


Quoting romalove:


Quoting stormcris:

There are many schools of intelligent design thinking of which several who do not even involve a deity. The hypothesis would be that beings resulted through purposeful design. However, I would suggest supporting evidence be directed in the form of mathematical probability and quantum physics as it would relate to a universal order rather than perceived chance or happenstance evolution. It is rather easy for someone to take a philosophy book and say well it says this and I feel those people were correct it stretches the ability of critical thought to ignore it and find a sound explanation.

Quoting romalove:


Quoting stormcris:

Developing a testable theory as to where or not god exists and the study of abstracts under the scientific method could prove beneficial. Creationism in sheep's clothing I think is a stretch. If you are giving critical thinking lessons of the idea of intelligence design through hypothesis it could have its place. Critical thinking seems to be a weakness in school studies.

 

How in the world would you give critical thinking lessons of the idea of intelligent design through hypothesis?



I want to discuss the first sentence before anything else.

Please explain to me what that means, an intelligent designer that would not involve a deity.


A cosmic balance or force that exists much like gravity. I sort of went into it with speaking on how to go about the hypothesis in order to use critical thinking. Basically the idea that the universe is ordered not random and creates to keep a set balance.

I don't know what that means.

When people say "intelligent design" they are positing a designer.

What sort of "balance or force" could there be that exists to design without purpose or mindfulness about it?

Gravity has no mind to it at all, matter acts as it does, unthinking.

stormcris
by Christy on Feb. 25, 2013 at 8:09 AM


Quoting romalove:


Quoting stormcris:


Quoting romalove:


Quoting stormcris:

There are many schools of intelligent design thinking of which several who do not even involve a deity. The hypothesis would be that beings resulted through purposeful design. However, I would suggest supporting evidence be directed in the form of mathematical probability and quantum physics as it would relate to a universal order rather than perceived chance or happenstance evolution. It is rather easy for someone to take a philosophy book and say well it says this and I feel those people were correct it stretches the ability of critical thought to ignore it and find a sound explanation.

Quoting romalove:


Quoting stormcris:

Developing a testable theory as to where or not god exists and the study of abstracts under the scientific method could prove beneficial. Creationism in sheep's clothing I think is a stretch. If you are giving critical thinking lessons of the idea of intelligence design through hypothesis it could have its place. Critical thinking seems to be a weakness in school studies.

 

How in the world would you give critical thinking lessons of the idea of intelligent design through hypothesis?



I want to discuss the first sentence before anything else.

Please explain to me what that means, an intelligent designer that would not involve a deity.


A cosmic balance or force that exists much like gravity. I sort of went into it with speaking on how to go about the hypothesis in order to use critical thinking. Basically the idea that the universe is ordered not random and creates to keep a set balance.

I don't know what that means.

When people say "intelligent design" they are positing a designer.

What sort of "balance or force" could there be that exists to design without purpose or mindfulness about it?

Gravity has no mind to it at all, matter acts as it does, unthinking.

Not everyone who says intelligent design posits a designer.

If you contend the universe has a purpose to its design it is therefore intelligent. It becomes the designer. The universe is not a deity. There is also the intelligent design idea that concious thought from another universe created this universe which would likes be intelligent.

The student would most likely have to use the Theory of Everything and its corresponding conditions via String Theory, Guage Theory and M-Theory in conducting a proof but they could choose another route. 

romalove
by Roma on Feb. 25, 2013 at 8:12 AM


Quoting stormcris:


Quoting romalove:


Quoting stormcris:


Quoting romalove:


Quoting stormcris:

There are many schools of intelligent design thinking of which several who do not even involve a deity. The hypothesis would be that beings resulted through purposeful design. However, I would suggest supporting evidence be directed in the form of mathematical probability and quantum physics as it would relate to a universal order rather than perceived chance or happenstance evolution. It is rather easy for someone to take a philosophy book and say well it says this and I feel those people were correct it stretches the ability of critical thought to ignore it and find a sound explanation.

Quoting romalove:


Quoting stormcris:

Developing a testable theory as to where or not god exists and the study of abstracts under the scientific method could prove beneficial. Creationism in sheep's clothing I think is a stretch. If you are giving critical thinking lessons of the idea of intelligence design through hypothesis it could have its place. Critical thinking seems to be a weakness in school studies.

 

How in the world would you give critical thinking lessons of the idea of intelligent design through hypothesis?



I want to discuss the first sentence before anything else.

Please explain to me what that means, an intelligent designer that would not involve a deity.


A cosmic balance or force that exists much like gravity. I sort of went into it with speaking on how to go about the hypothesis in order to use critical thinking. Basically the idea that the universe is ordered not random and creates to keep a set balance.

I don't know what that means.

When people say "intelligent design" they are positing a designer.

What sort of "balance or force" could there be that exists to design without purpose or mindfulness about it?

Gravity has no mind to it at all, matter acts as it does, unthinking.

Not everyone who says intelligent design posits a designer.

If you contend the universe has a purpose to its design it is therefore intelligent. It becomes the designer. The universe is not a deity. There is also the intelligent design idea that concious thought from another universe created this universe which would likes be intelligent.

The student would most likely have to use the Theory of Everything and its corresponding conditions via String Theory, Guage Theory and M-Theory in conducting a proof but they could choose another route. 

Everything in your middle paragraph is just supposition.  There is nothing remotely scientific about it.  If a person supposes an intelligent designer or posits that conscious thought from another universe created this universe, they should be prepared to have some evidence.  

I don't even know how you'd test such a thing.

And....realistically, this is really all about making non-science scientific so we can add in everything but the kitchen sink God.

Sekirei
by Nari Trickster on Feb. 25, 2013 at 8:16 AM


Quoting rayroe2:

 The human body is science and God created us so therefor ladies it is in science deal with it. Get you're simple minds to expand.

Which god are you speaking of? I believe that the christian deity is a false god... so, why should only that deity perspective be taught?

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