Thursday, July 17, 2008

No word from Louisiana science group on atheist conspiracy

The Louisiana Coalition for Science thinks it has the smoking gun in its case that SB 733's requirement that objectivity characterize science instruction in the state is a creationist plot: that pro-Intelligent Design groups supported it. SB 733 is the Louisiana legislation that has caused Darwinist science groups to come out in public opposition to critical thinking and logical analysis, and that was recently signed into law by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Here is the offending language:
The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, upon request of a city, parish, or other local public school board, shall allow and assist teachers, principals, and other school administrators to create and foster an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning. [Emphasis added]
No comment yet from the organization concerning why documented atheist opposition to the bill doesn't prove that there is a conspiracy to impose atheism on Louisiana students through opposition to the bill.


Anonymous said...

Since Mr Cothran has raised this atheistic conspiracy idea before and it is unlikely anyone else will respond, here is my take.

First, I approve of the concepts highlighted by Mr Cothran. In English classes students write original essays and critique published works as graduates might. In science classes student are principally taught facts and established theories. Even those who get to do labs (I never did) don't really do original research. So anything which might expose students to more of what science graduates do would be a welcome change.

So why doesn't documented atheist opposition (stipulated for this argument) prove there is a conspiracy to impose atheism?
Case 1) If atheism were currently imposed on La students, (Mr Cothran's wording should have been "conspiracy to continue to impose"), then the appropriate response would be to remove the offending material (i.e., whatever promotes atheism) from the classroom, not add another viewpoint. [This is the approach taken when religion is injected into the classroom.]
Case 2) If atheism is not presently imposed on La students, then denying them access to other materials will not affect the amount of atheism, unless the added material is itself religious in nature and converts some pre-existing atheists. But the backers assure us there will be no religious promotion.
Therefore, the only way Mr Cothran's statement makes any sense is to treat it as a mere rhetorical flourish - just as the fact the some atheists oppose the bill does not imply their motives are to promote atheism, so too the fact that almost all the proponents of this bill are religious does not imply their motives are to introduce religion into La classrooms.
Only time will tell for sure, but in the meantime we can examine some of the subjects exemplified for this proposed critical, logical, open approach to scientific theories - human cloning, evolution etc. What aspects of human cloning would be suitable for such a discussion? It is clear that all of the suggested topics are more noted for political, moral, ethical, and social controversy than for scientific controversy. This strongly suggests that motives of the bill's backers are less than pure. Why weren't questions of scientific uncertainty chosen?

More direct evidence can be found in the very article Mr Cothran linked to.
As always, the words of ID promoters themselves have given them away. ...

Sen. Nevers, the Louisiana bill’s sponsor, ... on April 6, 2008, Nevers admitted that the bill was intended to promote creationism:

The Louisiana Family Forum suggested the bill, Nevers said.

“They believe that scientific data related to creationism should be discussed when dealing with Darwin’s theory.

Not to mention Chuck Norris' column (from my earlier response to this subject) and many other responses from those hopeful of using this bill to promote religious ideas in the classroom.

I sincerely hope that all people who think this law is a good idea dig deep into their pockets for the inevitable lawsuits (and not disappear as the DI did at Dover).


Martin Cothran said...

I don't see that your Case #1 and Case #2 has anything to do with my argument.

I pointed out that the Louisiana Coalition for Science makes the argument that since some of the support for SB 773 comes from creationists, that the bill therefore is a creationist plot.

Then I ask why, if the reasoning works on creationism, can't the same reasoning work when it comes to atheism: since some of the opposition to SB 733 comes from athiests, that the opposition to it must be an atheist plot.

All you did was present two scenarios which do not address my argument at all, and then you go on to simply restate the original argument that SB 733 is a creationist plot.

Am I supposed to be impressed?

Anonymous said...

MC:All you did was present two scenarios which do not address my argument at all, and then you go on to simply restate the original argument that SB 733 is a creationist plot.

Huh? Is my writing really that unclear?
1) The two cases are meant to demonstrate that opposition can't be an "atheist" plot since it doesn't accomplish any atheist goal.
2) Then why not address the original or restated argument? For instance, what about examining human cloning creates an environment which "promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories"? Why are evolution, origin of life, etc specifically proposed as examples of topics fostering this goal? Is it mere coincidence that the four examples given all have conclusions/observations/existences which some fundamentalists consider unacceptable?

MC: Am I supposed to be impressed?

In some way, yes, by my persistence in raising inquiries which are either ignored or brushed off with inconsequential replies. If my comment here was unclear, then how about providing more specific information about what isn't getting across?

Mr Cothran earlier wrote that he couldn't quite get what Chuck Norris was saying in "What opponents are up in arms about is that, with SB 733, teachers could supplement evolutionary teachings with materials on Creationism or Intelligent Design."
Chuck Norris is saying that the La law can be used to introduce Creationism and ID, described by courts as religious material, into the classroom. What is there not to get about this? Are Creationism et al not considered religious arguments? Read the rest of his column before stating that he feels they are only science. [N.B. Intuition is not considered a validating technique in science.]

Here's another article about proponents of this kind of bill:

Are there any examples of supplemental materials which school districts are considering, which can be judged for religious content? Are Creationism, Intelligent Design, and young earth valid scientific concepts which can be introduced under this law?

Rephrased again:
1) the law opens a door which allows local selection of supplemental materials
2) this is in itself neither good nor bad
3) many of the organizations backing the bill are known/created for promoting religious goals
4) these organizations have no record of promoting scientific education in scientific fields such as quantum chromodynamics or x-ray crystallography which are not clearly at odds with religious beliefs
5) it does not follow via mathematical logic that this law is a smokescreen to introduce religion into the classroom
6) it does seem probable that this law will be used to introduce religion derived views into the classroom based on the "pater noster" principle


Anonymous said...

PS For anyone unfamiliar with "pater noster", see


Anonymous said...

I am wholly against this bill and I believe that we as a state should be embarrassed about the bill and embarrassed that our state holds so many people who are gullible enough to buy into it. Mainly the LA. State Legislature. And, I am not an Atheist so there goes your ridiculous theory.