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versus trying to explain how science and religion are not necessarily opposed or need to be
mutually exclusive?
Zack Kopplin:
Well, there are two things. The first is interacting with the politicians. It’s
really just a reminder to them that science and religion aren’t necessarily in conflict. By
voting for science that doesn’t mean you’re voting against religion, and we have to do that
every year. They all know that, I think. The creationists often push a narrative of science
versus religion, but we’re arguing on two levels here, one of which is just evolution or
creationism. The bottom level is who has the more powerful lobbying interests. That’s what it
comes down to in many ways, which is the fundamental problem, because the most powerful
lobbying organization in the state is the Louisiana Family Forum, our local religious right,
anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, anti-evolution group. They really can make or break someone’s
primary race, especially in rural parts of the state. They can bring out 1,000 votes and enough
money, and you’ll lose to someone who runs to the right of you in the race. We do what we
can with them. We try and show them the science. We try and help them to understand that
there’s not a conflict between science and religion. We give them the tools to change their
minds and just have to hope they’ll see the evidence. But the rest understand that this isn’t a
vote against religion. They’re not going to upset the majority of their constituents, because
they’re not attacking their religion. What they’re going to do is upset the powerful interests in
the state, and so instead they’ll prefer to sit out or if they’re forced to take a vote they’ll take
it against us.
Excerpts from an article about Zack and Creationism by Michael Hiltzik (2014) of the
LA Times
In a sane world, the ringing denunciation of intelligent design and creationist “science”
delivered by a federal judge in 2005 would have eradicated these concepts from the
schoolroom. District Judge John E. Jones III of Harrisburg, Pa., ruled then that “intelligent
design” is not science, “cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious,
antecedents,” and therefore is unconstitutional as a subject to be taught in a public school.
Zack Kopplin reports, the biology workbook assigned to students in the schools
operated by Responsive Education Solutions is shot through with creationist propaganda.
Among its assertions: “Evolution – which is, after all, an unproved theory – has been treated
as fact. It has reached the level of dogma, widely accepted, but unproven and changing
school of thought that is treated as though it were fact.”
In a reply, Responsive Education Chief Executive Chuck Cook maintained that “the
curriculum was simply providing examples of competing theories on the origin of life.” Jones
took the measure of this “we’re only teaching both sides” attack on evolution. In the case
before him, a disclaimer read to school pupils in Dover, Pa., at the outset of their study of