Saturday, July 12, 2008

Jindal Creationist or Crass Opportunist?

In The Scientist; When the press refer to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, they inevitably mention that he is the youngest current governor (at 37), and the first Indian-American to serve the post. By all accounts the former Rhodes Scholar with a BS in biology from Brown University is an extraordinary individual. So, it was not surprising that his name appeared on John McCain's short list for potential Vice Presidential running mates. However, on June 27, he signed a bill that will turn Louisiana into an educational laughing stock for allowing the intelligent design brand of creationism to worm its way into science classes under the guise of academic freedom.

The Louisiana Science Education Act is yet another attempt to place creationism into science classes, orchestrated by the marketing geniuses behind the intelligent design movement. The bill, which easily passed both the state House and Senate, at first glance seems benign or even progressive: It allows teachers to use "supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials" to "create and foster an environment...that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied." Other than the false notion that the lack of supplemental materials in classrooms is hindering the state education system, what could be wrong with that?

The bill is derived from a model bill put forward by the Discovery Institute (yes, those guys again), and encourages examination of, you guessed it, "evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning." Louisiana is now the first state to pass the new generation creationist bill under the guise of academic freedom. Five other states have similar bills pending, including Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, and South Carolina.

Unfortunately, Louisiana is no stranger to urine in the education pool. The legal case that forced creationists to rethink their strategy of ramming religion into science classes, Edwards v. Aguillard, started in the Bayou State. That case ended with the Supreme Court ruling in 1987 that Louisiana's Creationism Act was unconstitutional because it specifically forbade the teaching of evolution in public schools unless "creation science" was also taught. In other words, it openly pushed religion into science classrooms. As a direct result of that case, the intelligent design movement was born to manufacture support for the phony science of intelligent design creationism.