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Darwinist Objections to Louisiana Academic Freedom Bill Based (Predictably) upon Misinformation

Casey Luskin

An academic freedom bill has been submitted in the state of Louisiana, and Darwinists have been quick to claim that the bill promotes religion. Columnist James Gill followed the Darwinist talking points perfectly in his editorial in The Times-Picayune, using the fear-mongering tactic of claiming that this bill is part of a “creationist attack” and that “[t]he bill is of no conceivable benefit to anyone but Christian proselytizers.”

So what exactly does this bill’s dangerous “attack” say? The language of the bill simply states that “teachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught.” The only people who would find such language threatening are those who would oppose an objective discussion of the scientific strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories like neo-Darwinism.

Moreover, the bill expressly states that it “only protects the teaching of scientific information” and that it “shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or non-religion.” How this bill only benefits “Christian proselytizers” is beyond me–it should benefit anyone who truly cares about objective scientific inquiry, regardless of their religious beliefs. James Gill dismisses the actual text of the bill because his reasons for opposing this legislation are clear: what he finds objectionable about this bill is that it makes it very difficult to suppress the teaching of scientific information that is critical of Darwinism.

The debate over academic freedom legislation is predictably political, and it nearly always goes something like this:

  • First, Darwin-skeptics submit legislation that does NOT protect the teaching of religion and ONLY protects the teaching of scientific information, even if it is critical of Darwinian evolution. This is a perfectly reasonable proposition.
  • Next, dogmatic Darwinists in the media and the educational establishment get scared that teachers might actually start giving scientific criticisms of Darwinism in schools, so they scramble to respond. They dogmatically try to shut down dissent from Darwinism by claiming (wrongly) that there are no scientific critiques of Darwinism. But they realize that the text of the bill is completely reasonable, so the only way to combat the bill is to resort to fear-mongering tactics and misrepresent what it says.
  • Thus, as a last-resort strategy, these Darwinists make baseless accusations that academic freedom legislation will promote “religion” or “creationism” in the classroom. To do so they completely ignore or dismiss the actual text of the bill, which could never sanction such a thing. Or, in James Gill’s case, he employs the genetic fallacy, attacking the bill because it is supported by some Christian groups that he apparently does not like.

Those who are interested in academic freedom legislation should have no misconceptions about what is really happening here: For the Darwin-skeptics, this is about upholding the important value of academic freedom and the freedom to pursue legitimate scientific inquiry. For the Darwinists who oppose the bill, this battle is about falsely appealing to people’s emotions and fears in order to suppress the teaching of scientific information that challenges evolution. If you don’t believe me, read the text of the bill and ask yourself if the attacks of the Darwinists bear any relation to the reality of what the bill actually says.


Casey Luskin

Associate Director, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.



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