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Louisiana House Education Committee Unanimously Passes Academic Freedom Bill

Baton Rouge, LA — Yesterday the Louisiana House Education Committee unanimously passed SB 733, an academic freedom bill. The bill requires that Louisiana schools shall “create and foster an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.” The passage followed testimony from four Ph.D. scientists, including three biologists, who testified in favor of the bill.

One biology professor from Louisiana College, Dr. Wade Warren, testified about how during his graduate studies at Texas A & M, the dean ordered him cease discussing scientific problems with students. Another biochemist, Dr. Brenda Peirson, testified about how random mutation and natural selection cannot produce many of the complex biological systems we see in the cell.

One of those scientists, Dr. Caroline Crocker, testified about her experience losing her job at George Mason University after she taught students about scientific arguments against neo-Darwinism. Southern University law professor and constitutional law expert Michelle Ghetti also testified that the bill was “perfectly constitutional.”

After the scientists and other educators testified about the scientific problems with neo-Darwinism and the need to protect academic freedom, one LSU Darwinist biologist, Dr. Bryan Carstens, who opposed the bill had the temerity to claim: “let us be clear that there is no controversy among professional biologists about fact of evolution.” The glaring weakness in his false argument was not lost upon members of the legislature: he was immediately pressed by one legislator on the committee who asked the following:

In the document you just read and gave to us, in bold print it says, ‘let us be clear there is no controversy among biologists about the fact of evolution.’ Did you hear the testimony of the other professors we had here that were speaking before this committee?

Dr. Carstens then showed his intolerance towards professional biologists who were Darwin-skeptics. Carstens refused to admit their existence and in fact only admitted that faculty who testified against evolution had Ph.D.’s in “chemistry.” Of course only one of the Ph.D.’s was a chemist, and three of them were professional biologists.

The truth of the matter is that Dr. Carstens’ entire statement shows the intolerance towards Darwin-skeptics in the scientific community: Not only was he unable and unwilling to admit, under oath, the existence of the three professional biologists who had just testified against evolution before the committee, but his statement asserted the blatantly false claim that “there is no controversy among professional biologists about fact of evolution.” It’s tough to convince people of that claim when three professional biologists testified otherwise.

Of course Dr. Carstens has every right to testify in favor of evolution (and against academic freedom). But to testify that there is “no controversy” among “professional biologists” implies that scientists who doubt Darwinism do not exist. Imagine you are an LSU biologist with fundamental doubts about Darwinism and you see your colleagues signing a statement asserting that your views don’t exist. Would the declaration of the LSU biologists that there is “no controversy” over evolution make you confident that you have the academic freedom to express such dissenting views in the laboratory or the classroom? Of course not. Thus Dr. Carstens’ testimony, and his intolerant behavior, validate the need for this academic freedom bill.

It was clear from the hearing that Louisiana Darwinists are growing more and more desperate. Like their dogmatic compatriots in Florida who still proudly proclaim that academic freedom is “smelly crap” Darwinists are making absurd claims in their desperation to keep anyone from questioning Darwinian evolution as taught in public schools. American’s United for Separation of Church & State (AUSCS) is now attacking home-schoolers:

Yesterday’s hearing was packed with home-schoolers wearing stickers in support of the bill. Home schoolers won’t be affected by the measure, of course, so it doesn’t take much analysis to see what’s going on here. (Kids, you may have learned something about politics, but you flunked science. Be sure to tell your momma when you get home so she can change your report cards.)

AUSCS then concludes:

SB 733 is a step backward, dragging science education in Louisiana toward the medieval swamp of theocracy.

Theocracy? We shouldn’t be too surprised, by their own admission their testimony to the Louisiana State House Committee on Education was “frantic.” Yet ironically, Barbara Forrest’s testimony was especially conspiratorial when she warned legislators that “Discovery Institute is watching your every move“! What Darwinists always fail to point out is that the testimony legislators heard supporting the evolution academic freedom view was from scientists, including professional biologists, not-home schoolers.


Casey Luskin

Associate Director and Senior Fellow, 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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