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, which invalidated creationism and intelligent design in the US. Instead, what it
does is it allows supplemental materials to be brought into public school science classes to,
quote, “critique” evolution because it’s controversial.
Evolution, climate change, cloning – these are all controversial to Louisiana
politicians. And so it sounds pretty reasonable. The defenders of this law all say this is about
critical thinking, academic freedom. Again, this all sounds reasonable.
The problem is you don’t actually need more critical thinking. You don’t need to
legislate critical thinking into science classes. That’s the nature of science by itself. That’s the
nature of the scientific method, and you only need a law if you want to sneak something
that’s not actually science into these classes, because a good teacher can supplement
evolution with good materials if they want to. They don’t need a law to allow them to do this.
You only need a law when you want to sneak in “The Earth is 6,000 years old, humans lived
with dinosaurs,” stuff like that. It becomes even more clear what this law is for when you
listen to the backers of the law when they get off-message.
Senator Ben Nevers in Louisiana, who sponsored this law, said that it was created by
the Louisiana Family Forum. That’s a local religious rights group who drafted and promoted
this law, and he said they wanted it so that evolution and Darwinism would be taught
alongside creationism.
More recently, Governor Jindal was asked by NBC News about creationism in our
public schools and said: “We have what’s called the Science Education Act that says if a
teacher wants to supplement those materials” – he’s talking about evolution – “if the state
school board’s okay with that, they can supplement those materials. I’ve got no problem if a
local school board says, ‘We want to teach our kids about creationism, that some people have
these beliefs as well. Let’s teach them about intelligent design.’” He told national TV that this
was about creationism, so it really doesn’t get any more clear what this law’s about when you
listen to the sponsor of this law and the governor who signed it.
Despite all this talk about promoting critical thinking, promoting academic freedom, it
becomes quite clear that this is really just about sneaking religion into the public school
science class.
To make it clear that this is wrong, creationism is not science, because science is
simply an explanation for the natural world. We can test this explanation. We can repeat
these tests. There are specific conditions that would prove our explanation false – if we got
them we’d have to go back to the drawing board. If we found rabbits in the wrong rock
layers, we’d have to find a new explanation for that. That’s a pretty common given for a
potential failure of evolution if it happened, but we have to have all these conditions for
something to be science.
You can’t test creationism. If you can’t test it you can’t repeat the tests, and there’s
really nothing you can do to make creationism falsifiable. Take the order in which things
were created. The sun came on the third day, say the creationists. That’s already false in the
way we know things, but even if that still stands it’s not falsifiable. It’s a supernatural