For the fourth consecutive year, Louisiana State Senator Karen Carter-Peterson filed a bill to repeal the unconstitutional, misguided, and misnamed Louisiana Science Education Act (the LSEA), a law that allows public school science teachers the ability to introduce New Earth Creationism and “Intelligent Design” Creationism as valid alternatives to the fact and the scientific theory of evolution. The repeal effort, which has been spearheaded by science education advocate Zack Kopplin, is endorsed by 78 Nobel laureates, nearly 100,000 petition signatories, and the world’s leading scientific organizations, including “the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the American Ornithologists Union, the American Society of Mammalogists, the Botanical Society of America, the Natural Science Collections Alliance, the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, the Society of Systematic Biologists, and the Society for the Study of Evolution.” Collectively, these organizations represent more than 10 million members.
Since its passage and enactment in 2008, the LSEA has been the subject of international attention, controversy, and ridicule. As a direct result of the LSEA, the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology canceled a planned international conference in New Orleans in 2011, resulting in more than $2 million in lost revenue. More recently, the law has provided cover for teachers in Sabine and Caddo Parishes who bully and belittle students for not believing in New Earth Creationism.
When Senator Carter-Peterson first introduced a repeal bill four years ago, now former State Senator Julie Quinn ridiculed Nobel laureates as people with “little letters behind their names.” The next year, State Senator Mike Walsworth, who also supports the law, demonstrated his scientific ignorance by butchering his pronunciation of the word “molecular” and then suggesting, absurdly, that supporters of evolution believed that E. Coli could “evolve into humans.” Last year, State Senator Elbert Guillory defended the law based on his experience with a witch doctor in rural Africa.
There is no rational justification for a law that allows public school science teachers to tell students that the universe is only 6,000 years old; New Earth Creationism and Intelligent Design are narrowly-held religious beliefs, not scientific fact. Indeed, this issue was already settled nearly thirty years ago by the United States Supreme Court in Edwards v. Aguillard, a case that, ironically enough, involved a similar Louisiana statute titled “The Balanced Treatment Act.”
This year, Zack Kopplin is quick and to the point. “I have a question for Louisiana’s legislators,” he says. “Will you be on the right side of history? If you vote against the repeal of the Louisiana Science Education Act, you are hurting our students.”