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Opponents of Academic Freedom on Teaching Evolution Using Outlandish Rhetoric

Casey Luskin

A modified version of the Louisiana Academic Freedom Bill moved out of the Louisiana Senate Education Committee on Thursday, following testimony from both proponents and opponents of the bill. I recently predicted that, “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, consider the latest testimony from Darwinists encouraging legislators to oppose the bill yesterday before the Louisiana Senate Education Committee:

  • One Darwinist appealed to bleak fear, arguing that if the bill passes, Louisiana will suffer “lost industries and jobs from companies who want their students to learn science.” This person went on to attack the bill because he felt it would permit the teaching of “primitive religious perspectives.” These attacks were oddly vague; he gave no names of any companies that were actually threatening to leave Louisiana, and all the bill permits is the objective teaching of science.
  • Another Darwinist claimed that the bill might permit the teaching of “skinhead theory” (which sounds quite sick, although the person never elaborated on exactly what that was). One evolutionary biologist bluffed that among professional biologists “there is absolutely no debate about whether evolution occurs.” (Of course, he probably would define evolution as uncontroversial change over time, while ignoring the Dissent from Darwinism list.)
  • One Darwinist used the classic New Yorkers will mock us argument, stating that he opposed the bill because “we need to think about how people in New York will think about this bill.” (Note that this appeal to vanity refuses to consider the validity of Darwinism. For some people, it’s more important to be accepted in fashionable circles than it is to equip students to make informed judgments based on the scientific evidence.)
  • But the shining moment for the Louisiana Darwinist lobby came when Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy exclaimed “Praise God!” when endorsing the suggestion of a Darwinist speaker (who I’m told is with the ACLU) to amend the bill to delete any explicit references to biological evolution or chemical evolution from the bill.

Unfortunately, Senator Cassidy’s amendment seems to have passed into the revised version of the bill; however, the bill still contains good language encouraging school boards “to create and foster an environment … that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories” and also sanctioning the rights of teachers to “help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner.”

Florida Darwinist Scientist appeals to Emotions and “Enlightenment” to Oppose Academic Freedom
Meanwhile in Florida, Darwinists are promoting similarly outlandish opposition to the Florida Academic Freedom Bill. Earlier this week, a prominent chemist, Harold Kroto, opposed Florida’s Academic Freedom bill because of the fact that humans and fruit flies share some of the same genes. No, I’m really not kidding you. This was printed in the Herald Tribune:

Humans and fruit flies share the same genes.

“You may not like that but it’s not my fault,” Kroto, 68, said in front of the state Capitol on Monday.

“It’s the way it actually is.”

Brilliant. Case closed. Evolution is a fact, right? Not necessarily. As discussed in the book Explore Evolution, critics of neo-Darwinism believe that such similarities are easily explained as the result of functional requirements, not because humans and fruit flies necessarily share a common ancestor or because they evolved by random mutation and natural selection.

But don’t worry, Kroto has a backup argument to oppose academic freedom in Florida: Like the Louisiana Darwinist who feared the opinion of New Yorkers, Kroto makes the enlightened British will laugh at us argument. Again, this is not a joke:

His friends back home in England, where he was a professor in Sussex, have been sending him e-mails asking why he stays, he said.

“We’re the laughingstock of the enlightened world,” Kroto said.

So there you have it: we shouldn’t protect the academic freedom of teachers in Florida to challenge evolution because humans share genes with fruit flies and because the British will laugh at us. I’m sure glad that people like Kroto weren’t the ones fighting for freedom during the American Revolutionary War.

(Note: Kroto seems to have his own materialist motives in this debate. He was one of the 39 Darwinists who wrote the Kansas State Board of Education back in 2005 to tell them that evolution is “the result of an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection.”)

Given all of the outlandish arguments that Darwinists are making to oppose these bills, it seems that my prediction was correct: “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.”


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.