Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

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Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools
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By Robert Bernstein

Eugenie Scott – Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools – Humanist Society of Santa Barbara talk.

Humanist Society President Judy Flattery began her introduction by noting the relevance of this issue to the Affirmations of Humanism by Paul Kurtz. Four Affirmations are relevant:

    • We are committed to the application of reason and science to the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems.
    • We deplore efforts to denigrate human intelligence, to seek to explain the world in supernatural terms, and to look outside nature for salvation.
    • We are committed to the principle of the separation of church and state.
    • We are deeply concerned with the moral education of our children. We want to nourish reason and compassion.

Eugenie Scott was named one of the Scientific American 10, a select group of leaders in science, politics, business, and philanthropy, who are building a better future with their ingenious approaches to solving global problems.

Scott also received the first annual Stephen Jay Gould prize from the Society for the Study of Evolution, among many other prizes and awards.

Scott was the executive director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), a nonprofit organization that seeks to keep evolution in the school curriculum, and to provide resources and accurate information about evolution.

Notably, Asteroid 249530 Eugeniescott was named for her!

Eugenie Scott began her talk noting that, while she was writing her talk, the New York Times published an article "How Montana Took a Hard Right Turn Toward Christian Nationalism".

Montana Governor Gianforte belongs to Grace Bible Church in Bozeman that excludes women from leadership roles, rejects evolution and considers homosexuality a sin. He has contributed to the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum. Which promotes the idea that the entire universe was created in its present form a few thousand years ago.It has the second largest collection of dinosaur fossils in Montana. This fits with the Answers in Genesis (AIG) Creation Museum fake science museum in northern Kentucky. Complete with planetarium and petting zoo. AIG is also connected with the Ark Encounter replica of Noah's Ark.

AIG plans to add a "Plagues of Egypt" amusement park ride! Really.

The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) in Dallas opened in 2019. They paid cash to build their museum. Wikipedia lists 13 Creation museums. These people have money.

But not many legislatures are trying to pass Creation legislation now. One notable exception is in Arkansas with HB 1701, 2021 that allows teaching Creationism in science class.

Antievolution has gone through three phases:
Ban, Balance, Belittle

The heyday of Ban was the Scopes Trial era 1919-1927. Remember that Scopes lost and that law was on the books in Tennessee until the 1970s.

Evolution quietly slipped out of the books. The Sputnik era of the late 50s and early 60s brought money into science education. Evolution reentered the science curriculum. But Arkansas still had Scopes era laws. Susan Epperson was the plaintiff to challenge the law. She thought it would be trivial, but it went to the Supreme Court! Fortunately, she won.

"Balance" was the idea that if you taught evolution, then you should also teach some form of creationism for "balance".

The First Amendment has two clauses regarding religion: Establishment and Free Exercise. Teaching the Bible clearly violates the Establishment clause. This led in the early 60s to "Creation Science".

Creation Science offered no evidence for Creation. Instead, they used a "contrived dualism" to argue that if evolution is wrong, then Creationism must be true. It was then a matter of creating doubt about evolution. The same strategy used by the tobacco industry and the fossil fuel industry to create the illusion of doubt where the science was solid.

In the 70s-80s many laws were introduced to teach Creation Science. But the 1987 Edwards v Aguillard Supreme Court decision struck this down.

The Creation crowd came back with "Intelligent Design" (ID). But ID is just a subset of Creation Science. It argues that some things are just too complex to have formed unless some intelligence designed them. Of course, that intelligence is the God of the Bible.

ID succeeded in the 1990s – 2000s. But Kitzmiller v Dover ended its reign. The Nova program "Judgment Day" covered this notable 2005 six week trial. Scott's National Center for Science Education organization was one of the organizations on the side of the teachers, suing to end teaching ID. The Thomas More Law Center was on the other side.

Teaching bad science is not illegal. The Establishment Clause is the issue. They had to show that ID is about advocating religion. Which they did in multiple ways.

There have been no more Creation or ID lawsuits since Dover. But there is that 2021 Arkansas law.

By the mid 2000s there was a new strategy. In the 1987 Edwards case, Scalia wrote a dissent suggesting it was OK to teach evidence against evolution. Allowing the unscientific "contrived dualism" approach. The Institute for Creation Research seized on this opening. Which leads to the "Belittle" phase.

"Teach the Controversy" where there is no such controversy among actual scientists.

We may be on the precipice of a major change with the new right wing Supreme Court. Those on the right have argued that the Establishment Clause referred only to establishing a single state religion. Which gives primacy to the Free Exercise Clause.

Many decades of cases have dealt with the Establishment Clause:
School prayer. Religious displays. Funding of religion by the public in other ways. Textbooks for private schools. School buses for church schools. Curriculum content. Lemon v Kurtzman in 1971 established what came to be known as the "Lemon Test". It was devised by Justice Brennan and had three parts. A government activity in question:
    1) Must have a secular purpose
    2) Must have a principal or primary effect that does not advance or inhibit religion
    3) Cannot foster an excessive government entanglement with religion.

Most Lemon cases deal with Entanglement.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor noted in the case of Lynch v Donnelly that government endorsement sends a message that non-adherents to the religion are outsiders and adherents are insiders.

Creationism fails the Lemon test on multiple counts. It only needs to fail on one count.

Now we come to Kennedy v Bremerton. Bremerton is a city near Seattle. Joseph Kennedy was an assistant football coach at Bremerton High School. The work was part time and seasonal and he was not dependent on the income.

He would pray at the center of the field, at the 50-yard line, along with his students. He had been doing this for many years before the school board or the principal learned about it. It started with his watching the movie "Facing the Giants". Kennedy promised God that he would pray, win or lose.

On September 11, 2015 the principal asked him to stop. The School District tried to work with him to find another time and place. He wanted to pray publicly. The District put him on paid administrative leave. The head coach resigned, fearing being shot by people in the stands.

Kennedy sued on free speech grounds. He lost at every round. Free speech does not apply when on a job. It went to the Supreme Court. Richard Katskee of Americans United for Separation of Church and State argued against Kennedy. The Court got facts wrong. Claiming Kennedy was fired. Gorsuch claimed Kennedy's prayers were "private, personal and quiet", which was totally untrue. Notably, when Kennedy was suspended, the students had no interest in praying on their own.

Justice Sotomayor included photos of the chaotic public prayer in her dissent; almost unheard of in Supreme Court cases. She noted that overruling Lemon calls into question decades of precedent.

Gorsuch appealed to "History and Tradition". Utterly inappropriate. There were no public schools in the 1700s. And there was no evolution science then. Facts are essential for interpretation and the facts in Kennedy were ignored.

This change in the Supreme Court means that teaching Creationism in science classes may yet be approved there.

Attendees then had a chance to ask questions.

Judy Flattery asked what is to be done. Scott said that it all starts at the local school board. You have to nip it in the bud. It is not much of a problem in California as the State Legislature is unlikely to allow teaching Creationism in science classes.

Judy noted that we already have "Good News" clubs in our local schools. Scott noted that a student club that is student led is OK. Some schools have started Humanist clubs, which is one way to counter it.

It is hard to keep up, because local newspapers are dying. I will note that locally we have the Edhat News Service!

Daniel asked why there is so much money going to Creation museums. The answer: Museums really are popular. More Americans go to museums than to baseball games. Kids like dinosaurs!

Scott said it is unlikely in the US to have a national law on teaching evolution or Creationism. The US treats education as a state matter. But Scott also reminded us that she is not a lawyer!

Daniel also asked if other countries are having this battle. Scott said that the creationism/evolution controversy has indeed been "transplanted" from the US. In the 90s and 2000s people in the former Soviet Union wanted to learn English. US Christian missionaries smuggled the Creationism stuff in with teaching English.

There are strong evangelical movements growing in Brazil and the rest of Latin America.

But Putin is Russian Orthodox. This may not fit so well with these ideas of conservative Protestantism.

Judy Flattery asked about Islam. Scott noted there is no Muslim pope. Individual imams decide what are accepted beliefs, so there is much variation. Many Muslim scientists are fine with evolution. But some imams reject it because it conflicts with the Koran and Bible stories.

And she said that there is a strong anti-evolution movement in Iran. Mostly because evolution is seen as a symbol of the hated West!

As we think about these issues, I want to make the point that science matters. We are facing global threats from the Climate Crisis, running out of resources, pandemics and more.

For a democracy to face these challenges, we need people to understand basic facts about how old the Earth is, where our resources come from and how biological change and adaptation occur. Thanks to Eugenie Scott and others for fighting the good fight for keeping scientific disinformation out of our schools.

For more information about upcoming events with the Humanist Society of Santa Barbara or to become a member, please go to https://www.sbhumanists.org/

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sacjon Feb 01, 2023 02:02 PM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

ZERO - maybe not here in CA, but think of the kids in places like Florida, where teaching about certain aspects of black history is banned. We have a resurgence of well educated, but racist and religious, leaders trying to shove the USA back into the 1950s or earlier. We need to stay vigilant against the wave of idiocy and racism that is trying to swamp our country again.

Voice of Reason Feb 02, 2023 08:52 AM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

The propoganda is strong in you. It's amazing people just swallow whatever headline is posted without any further investigations as long as it knocks someone that displeases them or they don't agree with. This won't be taught in any public school, including Florida.

sacjon Feb 02, 2023 09:29 AM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

You seriously saying DeSantis didn't ban the AP class from Florida? Sure, the original curriculum won't be taught now that the cowardly College Board caved to his crying (he's a lot like you) and watered down the course requirements. He has banned teaching about: Topics that were originally required material, but got taken off of the coursework completely include:

Black queer studies
Intersectionality and activism
The reparations movement
Black scholars associated with critical race theory, or CRT

Read for yourself https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/3839792-here-are-the-key-changes-the-college-board-is-making-to-its-ap-african-american-studies-course/

Voice of Reason Feb 02, 2023 10:20 AM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

"At the College Board, we can’t look to statements of political leaders," he said. Instead Coleman insisted the changes were in response to "the input of professors" and "longstanding A.P. principals." - David Coleman, head of the College Board who submitted the AP course to the DOE.

sacjon Feb 02, 2023 10:42 AM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

VOICE - are you saying DeSantis never banned teaching about these topics in Florida high schools? yes or no? Th original point I was making is that "freedom" and education don't belong in the same sentence when referring to Florida. Before this AP class came along, did DeSantis limit what could be taught about black history in America? Yes or no?

Voice of Reason Feb 02, 2023 11:01 AM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

You're spinning words again. The Florida DOE or DeSantis never banned teaching black history. Again, you should read the article you yourself posted.

sacjon Feb 02, 2023 11:07 AM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools


sacjon Feb 02, 2023 11:12 AM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools



How many times do I need to prove you wrong before you accept that DeSantis has, in fact, been banning certain subjects within African American history/studies?

Stop defending racists. Or not.... eff it. We all know what you are.

sacjon Feb 02, 2023 11:09 AM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools


Voice of Reason Feb 02, 2023 11:16 AM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

You should read those links you posted too Sacjon. Try and separate the spin (opinion/agenda) from the facts of what actually happened.

Voice of Reason Feb 02, 2023 12:14 PM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

I did, and didn't find any facts that showed Florida banned teaching black history. Do you even realize you're moving the goal posts? It went from banning AP African American history to "banning certain subjects within African American history/studies". In the very articles you posted, take a look at the actual items the Florida DOE took issue with - (hint: it was't facts about African American history but opinions and agenda).

sacjon Feb 02, 2023 12:50 PM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

I never said he "banned teaching black history." Show us where I said that. My original comment (which you began trolling) was "teaching about certain aspects of black history is banned." And yes, he DID ban the AP African American Studies class. That is a cold hard fact. The College Board caved to his bigoted "concerns" and shame on them.

"opinions and agenda" - like reparations? like black queer studies? like how different people have their own individual experiences with discrimination? like how racism played a part in our nation's history (basic "crt")?

You say my "facts" are twisted, but you're the one making up words I said and then denying actual, verifiable facts.

Voice of Reason Feb 02, 2023 02:01 PM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

Well your words are written here on this page so I don't see why you would argue the contrary. You are also wrong in thinking he banned the AP AA studies class, the curriculum was submitted to the DOE, like all other AP classes, it was rejected for very specific reasons, the curriculum was adjusted and resubmitted and I believe it's now an approved class. But keep spinning into something it isn't....

sacjon Feb 02, 2023 02:06 PM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

"You are also wrong in thinking he banned the AP AA studies class" - utter bullshit.

"DeSantis said his administration rejected the College Board’s Advanced Placement African American Studies course because “we want education, not indoctrination.” https://apnews.com/article/ron-desantis-florida-education-6603c0aa4de0098423eb7b6c04846d0c

Rejected, didn't allow, refused to let happen, etc etc all mean the same thing as BANNED. He STOPPED it from being taught. You couldn't hold up an argument with a child, Voice. I'm done here.

sacjon Feb 02, 2023 02:14 PM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

VOICE - yes or no, final answer - is the statement "teaching about certain aspects of black history is banned" true or false?

YOU are the one filling up this page claiming it's "propaganda" and "opinion," and whatever else you're saying. Can you, without lying, state that the claim is true?

sacjon Feb 02, 2023 03:56 PM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

The statement to which you took opposition and began your troll session has not changed: "places like Florida, where teaching about certain aspects of black history is banned." FEB 01, 2023 02:02 PM

"I wasn't aware reparations, CRT, and transgenderism are considered a part of history." - Maybe not YOUR history, but again, this isn't about you or your white ancestors. Also, you conveniently cherry-picked and word twisted (where does it say anything about "transgenderism") to avoid "intersectionality and activism."

We're done here. You've outed yourself again.

Voice of Reason Feb 02, 2023 04:10 PM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

Ummm a key CRT concept is "intersectionality", a key part of queer theory is "transgenderism". But wow, we've really come a long way from CRT isn't a thing, to it isn't taught in public schools, to Florida / DeSantis is racists because they wanted CRT concepts removed from an AP history class. It's like the goalposts are on wheels.

sacjon Feb 02, 2023 05:20 PM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

......and before you think you have an "ah ha" moment - My claim was that CRT is an advanced topic and not taught in elementary schools. An AP high school class is exactly where it should be taught.

The question you need to ask yourself is - why am I so adamantly against kids being taught that racism played an integral role in our nation's history and development? You scared your kids might be empathetic towards others? God forbid.

edney Feb 01, 2023 03:14 PM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

I'm ok with teaching controversial and/or out of mainstream ideas as long as its taught as opinionated belief in context.
Nearly every population group has a creation mysticism. I am fine with teaching creationism within that comparative context. Some of the creation stories told are quite interesting and entertaining.

It could also be taught in philosophical discussions because creationist of the strictest stripe believe everything was created in 7 human earth days, but what do we know about restrictions of time, space, and do those things apply outside our cozy little solar system.?

x01660 Feb 02, 2023 06:30 AM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

EDNEY: we know that the rules of physics apply across the observable universe because of science. Specifically a dude you may have heard of, named Einstein. See, this Einstein fella figured out this thing called general relativity. And here's the REALLY cool part; unlike religion where the experience is subjective, YOU can prove general relativity yourself! Here's how:


Unlike religion, if ANYONE goes through those steps, they can prove the science on their own.

I'm sick and tired of pandering to these religious people....

Channelfog Feb 02, 2023 08:13 AM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

In his day, Nicola Tesla was well educated but not encumbered by established scientific notions which gave him a freedom of perception to create his own version of science. A version that includes the entire polyphase electrical system that we still use today, exactly as we did then. Freedom of thought includes the freedom to entertain the absurd, the "misinformation" and all other possible brain storming. Educate, present all sides in a balanced fashion, and then let people form their own opinions.

Voice of Reason Feb 02, 2023 08:56 AM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

100% X01660. Unfortuanly the "science you can prove on your own" you speak of died out during covid and was replaced with " The Science™ " - but you can't prove on your own, you can't see the data, and you're not allowed to question " The Science™ " because it is "settled".

a-1675364734 Feb 02, 2023 11:05 AM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

Everyone is entitled to have their own opinions. These supposed "free thought" fools want to pick and choose what facts are, and have their own customized set, ignoring inconvenient ones that clash with their opinions and dogma. That's complete idiocy. Just look at all the climate science and vaccine deniers such attitudes have spawned - people with no critical thinking skills whatsoever.

I love that "balanced" garbage. Like we should present the "facts" of the flat-earther types in science classes.

Voice of Reason Feb 02, 2023 12:09 PM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

@ 11:05 are you at all possible of some self reflection and acknowledge that there are several "facts" you've believed to be true over the past 5-10 years that have turned out to be not factual at all? Or do you believe you're batting 1,000?

SBLetsGetAlong Feb 02, 2023 04:58 PM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

Climate change is a no duh!
Pre ice age there were no polar ice caps, confirmed by geologists, scientists.
Today we have polar ice.
Huh, that means the earth is not as warm as it was originally.
So for 4,000,000 years the earth has been warming to get back to her old self.
Humans started tracking temperatures what a hundred years ago or so.
100 years over a 4,000,000 year period.
Why do humans think they know everything?

Chip of SB Feb 02, 2023 05:08 PM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

Good question SB! One of the most important parts of the scientific approach is putting things in context, and 100-200 years of measured temperature data is a very limited context. Science also requires acknowledging uncertainties, being transparent so others can duplicate results, and coming up with theories that can be proven false. After all, if a theory can’t be proven wrong it can’t be proven right either. All of these elements of the scientific process are missing from so-called “climate science” based doomsday predictions. Climate doomsday predictions are faith based, yet they are taught in public schools.

a-1675402519 Feb 02, 2023 09:35 PM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

Climate science has temperature records going back millennia, and basic laws of physics tell you what CO2 in the atmosphere will do. Only someone who ignores facts that don't fit his political agenda would think otherwise.

a-1675402744 Feb 02, 2023 09:39 PM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

4:35 @ - Not that you'll understand, but others will.

Newton came up with his laws of gravitation in the 1600s.
Einstein proved him wrong.
Did gravity cease to exist? Did Newton's laws of gravitation still apply in the everyday world?

Basicinfo805 Feb 01, 2023 06:44 PM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

I think Creationism has an absolute ZERO percent chance of coming back into our schools. Yes, we have some relatively less educated players in the higher ranks of some school districts (which is a shame) but let’s not go crazy with this. I’ll say this - If my kid comes home with anything that sounds like teaching Creationism, we’ll be heading down real quick to the school for a showdown with the principal and then the District out there on Fairview.

a-1675309568 Feb 01, 2023 07:46 PM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

Read the article: Gorsuch claimed Kennedy's prayers were "private, personal and quiet", which was totally untrue.

The Trump Supreme Court has made it clear that they do not care about truth or legalities. They have the power to override our rights in California.

Local321 Feb 02, 2023 06:15 AM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

I thought tfg had an absolute ZERO percent chance of making it to the White House in 2016. I have since learned to be very careful to avoid such dismissive assumptions.

But, yeah, if my kid comes home from school with that superstitious messaging, I’ll be right there with you.

x01660 Feb 02, 2023 05:18 AM
Why Creationism May Come Back to Our Schools

Really? We're really having this debate in 2023?!?

Evolution is a FACT; no different than the FACT that the acceleration due to gravity (on Earth) is 9.8m/s^2

"Freedom is the freedom to say that 2+2=4"; I am SICK AND TIRED of religious people trying to force their superstitious beliefs on us. Pray all you want, delude yourself, whatever. Do NOT force your fairy tales on everyone. This is ridiculous.

I get that societies go through technological and societal ebbs and flows over the ages, but lately, it's really starting to feel like Baghdad has already been sacked, and the rivers are flowing black with the ink of knowledge and truth, flushed away by the Euphrates, only to bring ignorance in its wake. And its sad....


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