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Academic Bias, Recent News, U.S. Politics

Creationism “Creep” in Louisiana

Intelligent design is just another form of creationism, creationism is profoundly unscientific, and such unscientific views do not belong in public classrooms. This, in a nutshell, is the argument of activist Zack Kopplin, a student at Rice University who began his battle against a Louisiana academic freedom law (the Louisiana Science Education Act) while in high school. He is the 2012 winner of the “Troublemaker of the Year Award.”

“Well, this law allows supplemental materials into our school biology classrooms to ‘critique controversial theories like evolution and climate change,’” said Kopplin in a March interview on the Bill Moyers show. “Now, evolution and climate change aren’t scientifically controversial, but they are controversial to Louisiana legislators, and, basically, everyone who looked at this law knew it was just a back door to sneak creationism into public school science classes,” he continues  (emphasis added).

As discussed in a previous blog entry, the media likes to condemn as right-wing and fundamentalist the crowd that prefers creationism to evolution.  Through the course of an article by the UK’s The Guardian we learn that such laws as those proposed in Colorado, Missouri, Montana, and Oklahoma are the product of a religious lobby, further the creationist agenda, and would be a feather in the caps of these two interest groups if these laws were to pass. Readers also learn that these states could be boycotted for their creationist educational laws. Kopplin, of course, is cited in the article for his opposition to the Louisiana law mentioned above. “It can be embarrassing to be from a state which has become a laughing stock in this area,” asserted Kopplin to the UK Guardian this January.

This month the media celebrates Kopplin’s “anti-creationism” activism with a full interview on the Bill Moyers show and an interview for the Washington Post. “Today’s fundamentalists, with political support from the Right-wing, are more aggressive than ever in crusading to challenge evolution with the dogma of creationism,” asserted Moyers in his introduction. “But they didn’t reckon on Zack Kopplin.”

“Going to college is tough enough without leading a campaign to stop creationism from being taught in school as an alternative to evolution, but that’s what Zach Kopplin, 19, has been doing for several years,” praises Valerie Strauss in her March 17 article.

“Evolution is, of course, the central principle around which all of the biological sciences revolve, and creationism is not a scientific alternative,” writes Strauss. “But religious fundamentalists continue to push for creationism to be taught in schools,” she continues (emphasis added.)

In the interview with Moyers, Kopplin rejects several forms of creationism, saying that “Intelligent design specifically rejects evolution, especially on a large scale.”

“Creationists like to break it up into micro/macro evolution. That’s not a legitimate thing,” he asserts. As for creationism, “Essentially, it’s a denial of evolution mainly based off a literal interpretation of Genesis.” Kopplin’s latest vendetta? Voucher programs. ““And so it’s become pretty clear: if you create a voucher program, you’re just going to be funding creationism through the back door,” he said to Moyers. You can real the CATO Institute’s Neal McCluskey’s response to Kopplin here.

“No, potentially serious, negative, unintended consequences could accompany freezing people out of religiously based education,” writes McCluskey. “For instance, traditional Christian morality calls for married, two-parent families, and one of the few things in social science that one would call pretty firmly established is that coming from such a family gives a child a significant leg up. Religious people also tend to have much greater stocks of social capital than the nonreligious, also generally a plus.”

“In light of those things, would it be worth undermining religion because you think creationism is nonsense?”

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