Louisiana’s misleadingly-named “Science Education Act” has now been passed by both houses of the state legislature and awaits Governor Bobby Jindal’s signature. The act opens the door to the teaching of creationism in Louisiana public schools.
The Louisiana Coalition for Science has published an open letter to Gov. Jindal, laying out the facts, and urging him not to sign the bill. The letter is here. Some extracts:
SB 733 is a thinly disguised attempt to advance the “Wedge Strategy” of the Discovery Institute (DI), a creationist think tank … John West, associate director of DI’s Center for Science and Culture … indicated that DI hopes to see its own creationist textbook … used in our science classes as one of the supplements that SB 733 will permit teachers to use (Opelousas Daily World, 6/16/08). DI apparently has a financial as well as a religious and political interest in this legislation …
Since you hold a biology degree from Brown University, one of the nation’s most prestigious schools, you certainly appreciate Theodosius Dobzhansky’s famous insight, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” You also surely understand that there is no scientific controversy over the fact of evolution …
If SB 733 becomes law, we can anticipate the embarrassment it will bring to the state, not to mention the prospect of spending millions of taxpayer dollars defending the inevitable federal court challenge. Consider also that federal courts have uniformly invalidated every effort to attack the teaching of evolution in public schools …
The Coalition website also links to a press release (in PDF format, at the top there) well worth reading. The press release includes a plea from the guy who taught genetics to Gov. Jindal at Brown:
Arthur Landy, Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology and Biochemistry in the Division of Biology and Medicine at Brown University, taught Jindal genetics in college. “Without evolution, modern biology, including medicine and biotechnology, wouldn’t make sense,” says Professor Landy. “In order for today’s students in Louisiana to succeed in college and beyond, in order for them to take the fullest advantages of all that the 21st century will offer, they need a solid grounding in genetics and evolution. Governor Jindal was a good student in my class when he was thinking about becoming a doctor, and I hope he doesn’t do anything that would hold back the next generation of Louisiana’s doctors.” Landy is a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Academy of Microbiology.
The entire effect of this law, if Gov. Jindal signs it, will be that one cartload of Louisiana taxpayers’ money will go to the Discovery Institute for their mendacious “textbooks,” then another cartload will go into the pockets of lawyers to defend the inevitable challenge to the law in federal courts, which will inevitably be successful, as they always are, and should be.
Any Louisianian who wants his kids to have a religious education can send them to parochial schools; although if the parochial school is Roman Catholic, the kids will learn standard biology (“Darwinism”) in science classes, since the RC Church — Gov. Jindal’s church — approves it. Or they can home school them. Everybody’s fine with this. I’m fine with it. Louisiana Coalition for Science is fine with it. Raise you kids the way you want to. You may not, though — you constitutionally may not — oblige taxpayers to fund your religious beliefs.
Veto this bill, Gov. Jindal, or explain to Louisiana taxpayers the pointless waste of public money that will inevitably ensue from your signing it.