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explanation, and it doesn’t fit into the explanation for the natural world and it doesn’t belong
in science class. Things are as simple as that.
This isn’t actually a debate over science, and it’s not one we should waste our time
exposing students to. And if we don’t teach our kids evolution, if we don’t teach them
science, if we don’t teach them the scientific method, that’s really going to harm them,
because this is fundamentally what this is about. If we teach our kids that evolution and
creationism are equally valid, we’re going to confuse them in their chemistry class, their
geology class, because if suddenly you can throw out the scientific method for one thing, why
does the scientific method apply to any science? Of course, there’ll be some kids who make it
through this quite well, and be great chemists even though they may not understand biology.
Others will fail, and that’s where the real threat lies.
When I was in high school I launched a campaign to repeal this bad law, the
Louisiana Science Education Act. At the time it passed there were only three legislators in
the entire state who had voted against it, which leaves us with a bit of a challenge, but for me
the larger challenge actually was myself – I was extremely shy. I couldn’t even send an email
to a stranger, much less call them.
Beyond this, for my entire life my dad had been involved with the top levels of
Louisiana politics. He was the chief of staff for two different governors from two different
parties, and when I was 13, when Hurricane Katrina happened, my dad was all over the
national news because he stood up to the President. I don’t know if any of you remember
President George Bush’s words about Katrina. He said he’d be there as long as it took, stay as
long as it took, no matter what. Despite this, he didn’t want to pay for any wind damage
during a hurricane, and so my dad stood up to him in Congress and said: “When the President
said he would do what it takes and stay as long as it takes, he didn’t say ‘except if due to
wind damage.’” His face was all over national TV for a month for having called out the
President on something ridiculous.
The next year my dad actually ran for Congress to be in that body so we wouldn’t be
fighting as much stupidity there, and I just hated that. I couldn’t stand it, because I was shy,
and when my dad ran for Congress, when my dad was on the news, it sacrificed my
anonymity, and it was horrifying to me.
At the time I didn’t understand public service. I didn’t understand what it meant to
stand up and speak out for what was right, and that was something over the next few years I’d
have to overcome, and that really is thanks to this law, because I leapt without thinking. It
was a simple calculation. The Louisiana Science Education Act is wrong. Creationism is not
science. It doesn’t belong in our classes. Without really understanding what it would mean to
take on this law, I took it on and through that I grew up.
The first step for me was to find a mentor, and through sheer luck one of the foremost
experts in the world on creationism happened to live down the road, about 25 minutes from
me. Dr. Barbara Forest was an expert witness at the
Kitzmiller vs. Dover
trial in
Pennsylvania, which invalidated intelligent design in the United States, and she was
instrumental in exposing that intelligent design was basically creationism dressed up to make