Academic Freedom Bills Under Siege

Can students question explanations based on evolution in public schools? Does this imply that public schools would be teaching creationism or intelligent design alongside evolution? Back when the Louisiana Academic Freedom Act,” was filed on March 21, 2008, and then modified into the “Louisiana Science Education Act” which included all areas of science. A storm of protests from special interests like the NCSE, and militant atheists alike in their blogs were all claiming the bill would teach creationism to the students!

Almost five years later, we are observing some of the same attacks with the latest Academic Freedom Bills! Some of which are more bizarre this time around along with lying about its contents…

Consider this example coming from the guardian

“Four US states are considering new legislation about teaching science in schools, allowing pupils to be taught religious versions of how life on earth developed in what critics say would establish a backdoor way of questioning the theory of evolution.”

“A watchdog group, the National Center for Science Education, said that the proposed laws were framed around the concept of “academic freedom”. It argues that religious motives are disguised by the language of encouraging more open debate in school classrooms. However, the areas of the curriculum highlighted in the bills tend to focus on the teaching of evolution or other areas of science that clash with traditionally religious interpretations of the world.”

Exactly what “religious versions” are they talking about? They didn’t specify on how they came to such a bizarre conclusion! They have excellent first hand information now as other states have passed bills similar to this one and it’s been a few years or so since passage, like Texas which is another example to the “Louisiana Science Education Act”, perhaps the best example so far!

Texas science standards have been a pleasant surprise to say the least because its standards changed for the better, with stronger language than ever before! It was a huge victory for empirical science and a stunning loss for the opposition who almost had a heart attack! lol  So again I ask, where are those religious versions being taught in those schools as mentioned by the guardian? They know fully well that it’s against the law to teach creationism in the public schools.

In Texas, their legislation says this…

“In all fields of science, analyze, evaluate and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations so as to encourage critical thinking by the student.”

“Analyze and evaluate the evidence regarding formation of simple organic molecules and their organization into long complex molecules having information such as the DNA molecule for self-replicating life…analyze and evaluate scientific explanations concerning the complexity of the cell.”

What does this new legislation say? Let’s take a look!

“Public school authorities and administrators must permit teachers to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in a given course.

We know that militant Darwinists have elevated evolution to a cult rather than science. Why? They want to formulate the students opinions which favor evolution, the last thing they want is students doubting evolution while learning about it.

Live Science, Larry O’Hanlon called the new legislation anti-science! He writes

“Anti-science bills are popping up like daisies after a spring shower. Five bills in four states have been introduced with the opening of state legislatures across the United States. All of the bills are aimed at undermining the teaching of biology and physical science — specifically, evolution and climate change — in public schools.” 

Where in the bill does it target specifically, evolution and global warming? Any fair-minded reader can acknowledge when reading the wording in the new legislation that it contains nothing about the Bible, evolution, creation, or “climate change.”  

Like the guardian, Larry O’Hanlon lies and then turns into a conspiracy…

“It is almost identical language in all of the bills,” said Rosenau. “It’s a package of bills that we’ve been tracking since the 2004 ‘Academic Freedom’ bill.” That bill, which was passed into law, was based on language generated by the Discovery Institute, which has long pushed for the inclusion of biblical creationism and pseudo-scientific “intelligent design” into science classes in public schools.”

The Discovery Institute? They didn’t write the bills! They endorse the bills no question about that, and they also give legal advice to lawmakers (when asked) in order to avoid legal challenges. The Discovery Institute doesn’t endorse using the Bible in public schools either. The modern intelligent movement is more like theistic evolution than creationism but does have valid scientific arguments against evolution. Also, The Discovery Institute doesn’t even endorse intelligent design being taught in the public schools!

Larry O’Hanlon and others who concoct a conspiracy story by using fallacies is because creationism cannot be taught legally in public schools so therefore they lie about objective critical thinking legislation, creationism, and intelligent design teaching concepts from the Bible.

What about this whole concept of having students having the option of objectively questioning all theories which includes evolution? Paleoanthropology like cosmology is riddled with an enormous amount of speculation. Take Neandertal man, evolutionists painted a picture of this ancient tribe as being sub-human, communicated with grunts, spent most of his time sitting in a cave with not much talent to speak of but showcased him as being “so-dimwitted.”. Creationists for years challenged that idea. It lacked scientific evidence while mainly relying on speculation for its facts.

But new discoveries have put Paleoanthropology to shame and confirmed creationists arguments!

A) Research has shown that stone tool technologies invented by modern humans from the past were no more efficient than the ones produced by Neanderthal man.

B) Broad use of land resources with scheduling resource use by the seasons.

C) Neandertal’s genome showed modern humans and Neanderthals have very little differences. “…new research published online May 6 (2010) in the journalScience reveals that we differ hardly at all.”

D) Europeans and Asians share about 1% to 4% of their nuclear DNA with Neanderthals, indicating that there was substantial interbreeding that went on between modern man and Neanderthals. This is very important evidence which blows away the story used within evolution because when species can interbreed then they are the same species!

E) A research team back in 2008, had examined shells that were used as containers to mix and store pigments. Black sticks of the pigment manganese, which may have been used as body paint by Neanderthals, have previously been discovered in Africa. The discovery lead researchers to think that Neanderthal man is not “so-dimwitted” as previously suggested.

Even gravity is questioned because of dark matter! One scientist told me, of course, questioning is allowed. However, just by looking at the fight that is going on with these various bills over the years, any fair-minded reader would know, questioning explanations based on evolution is not allowed but rather discouraged.

Scientists are not infallible, planetary scientists predict a whole bunch of things in our solar system but when directly observed from a space craft, their predictions are way off! Is it good for science to hold on to theories without questioning like a cult? No! Science progresses, evolution digresses which taints the practice of the scientific method!

Centralizing Science In Public Education

Back in March 2012,  Tennessee State Senate voted 25-8,  which passed an academic freedom bill, SB 893.  This trend was not isolated, other states like Texas in 2009, which 15 member panel omitted the language of students being able to critiquestrengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories, such as evolution, inserted into the science standards a requisite for students to critically analyze and evaluate “all sides of scientific evidence” which was even better language to have the students follow than before!

Texas Science Standards since 2009, go by this philosophy…

“In all fields of science, analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental observation and testing, including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those explanations so as to encourage critical thinking by the students.”

Opponents for academic freedom were shocked and dismayed because they are very concerned about how creationists and intelligent design proponents expose Darwinian evolution’s weaknesses. But isn’t analyzing and evaluating what science is all about? Yes, in most other theories this is a common practice, but not Darwinian evolution nor climate change as we will get into further detail in just a moment.

Other states like Mississippi and Louisiana, have passed their versions of the academic freedom bill for teachers and students to discuss scientific evidence critical to Darwinism.  Seven states in total, so with these major loses (but not for science) the opposition has embraced centralizing science into their fold of standards rather than leaving up to the states to decide.

In world magazine, James Devine writes…

“As kindergartners and high-school students return to public schools this fall, a team of 41 writers will be busy editing national curriculum standards that, as early as next year, could change how science teachers instruct their classes. The so-called “Next Generation Science Standards,” which all 50 states will have the option of adopting or not, are intended to provide a universal framework for science education. They explicitly emphasize Darwinism and climate change.”

So not only do opponents of academic freedom want teachers to indoctrinate evolution to the students but also have teachers indoctrinate students with the view that man is solely responsible for any warming trend that is currently happened or happening on the planet in modern times.

However, there has been interesting publications about climate change in the last couple of years, even last week. For example, in the Journal of Science, Luke Skinner in his article, “A Long View on Climate Change” writes about political ramifications using short-term graphs, he draws his reader’s attention using evolution’s time frame that several major climate swings over long periods before humans appeared in the standard geological timeline.  He then questions scientists’ ability for understanding all what goes on like the mechanisms and the uncertainties in proxy estimates; for instance, what factors are nonlinear?

He writes…

“If the goal of climate science is not just to predict the next 50 to 100 years of climate change, but also ‘to tackle the more general question of climate maintenance and sensitivity’, then arguably we must do so within a conceptual framework that augments the notion of climate sensitivity as a straightforward linear calibration of climate gain, with the possibility of nonlinear feedbacks and irreversible transitions in the climate system,” he explained.”  

“An exclusive consideration of the highest (e.g., decadal) register of climate variability might be adequate for most political time frames and may suit the urgency of immediate mitigation and adaptation challenges,” he ended. “However, it falls short of the wider scientific challenge that faces humanity, as well as a moral horizon that extends much farther into the future.”

A few days ago in Nature,  five scientists were critical of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which is where the opponents of academic freedom rely on to make a case for centralizing a certain viewpoint about climate change to the students.

“This IPCC-like focus might be attractive to ‘elite actors’, from natural scientists to national governments, but it omits many other important stakeholders and knowledge-holders, including indigenous people, businesses, farmers, community partnerships and fishers,” they said.  “What counts as legitimate knowledge, and how it is generated, influences its practical effectiveness.”

Switching gears now to Darwinian evolution, where not even other natural causes cannot be considered under this “Next Generation Science Standards” because they fear it might lead them to creationism or intelligent design. Which is interesting considering, in a 2008 poll where it discovered only a quarter of public high-school biology teachers claim to be strong advocates of Darwinism. This is another reason opponents of academic freedom want centralization of science standards. If these centralized science standards get passed by the states it will then supercede existing state laws on science standards.

Totalitarianism in the form of centralization of public school science standards would be disastrous! Rather these things belong on the local level where has been for so many years. The proposed national standards reflect another push by leftist elitists to squelch independent thinking and force the unwashed masses into uncritical acceptance or in another words, blind faith.

The states who refuse to pass such standards may be pressured into it by federal money being withheld, perhaps some Universities will not accept students from those states.  A requisite for students to critically analyze and evaluate “all sides of scientific evidence” is what science is all about!  

“Academic Freedom” Bills Continue to Be Causing A Stir

In June of 2008, the first “Academic Freedom” bill was passed by Louisiana lawmakers and then signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal.  Special interests where beside themselves, claiming this bill would allow creationism to be taught in the public schools. What is their definition of creationism? Here is a typical example

“Unfortunately, it’s remarkably selective in its suggestion of topics that need critical thinking, as it cites scientific subjects “including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”

“As we noted last month, a number of states have been considering laws that, under the guise of “academic freedom,” single out evolution for special criticism. Most of them haven’t made it out of the state legislatures, and one that did was promptly vetoed.”

Notice the intended exaggeration in order to attempt to discredit the bill which came out of desperation and frustration.  It’s a theme that gets repeated many times over by those who opposed the bill. So creation to them is teaching critical thinking skills that includes evolution rather than exempts it.  Since that time, we haven’t heard much from these groups about creationism being taught there.

But last month an “Academic Freedom” Bill was passed in New Mexico which caused quite a stir…Here is what the NCSE had to say…

“Before the vote, the sponsor of the bill, Thomas A. Anderson (R-District 29), rejected a characterization of HB 302 as an “evolution bill,” telling The New Mexican (February 8, 2011), “I’m just trying to protect teachers.” Dave Thomas of New Mexicans for Science and Reason countered, “This is really just a ploy to get creationism in the classroom,” to which NCSE’s Steven Newton added, “Allowing creationist teachers to attack evolution is an injustice to the education of their students, who will live and work in a world increasingly dependent on understanding science and technology.”

So if a teacher who is a creationist that is teaching evolution it would be considered an injustice that would invoke creationism in the classroom according to Steven.  It’s basically the same rhetoric from 2008 with a variant twist to it. These bills were partly inspired by the Kitzmiller v. Dover decision where it said…

“We will enter an order permanently enjoining Defendants from maintaining the ID Policy in any school within the Dover Area School District, from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution, and from requiring teachers to refer to a religious, alternative theory known as ID.”

Here was what the school was teaching…

1) “The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin’s theory of evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.”

2) “Because Darwin’s Theory is a theory, it is still being tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.”

3) Intelligent design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students to see if they would like to explore this view in an effort to gain an understanding of what intelligent design actually involves.

4) “As is true with any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the origins of life to individual students and their families. As a standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency on standards-based assessments.”

The school itself wasn’t teaching intelligent design principles during classroom time rather it made known to the students there was a viewpoint opposing evolution and if they wanted to know more there was one book in the library they could read. The other one watered down the idea and treated evolution as a hypothesis rather than a theory with its ever-growing complexity with new discoveries.  It could have went further using an example like this, discovering organic material on a fossil assumed to be 417 million years old is not a gap instead it’s a clear falsification of old earth ‘theories’.  Even though this particular example is fairly recent, there were other examples during that time to make the same statement.

The court’s ruling had no outlawed “Academic Freedom” Bills but guidelines that would required the teacher to criticize evolution. So how could a teacher then teach “critical thinking” skills? Every scientific theory has strengths and weaknesses. Evolution is no different. In fact excluding it from how students can learn critical thinking skills would make it a religion unto itself. Students should be taught about observations that are not matching up with its explanation such as the supposed 417 million year old fossil with organic elements still preserved in it which are normally broken down pretty efficiently by things like micro-organisms.