State Rep. Bill Zedler's Proposed Creationist Legislation is Causing Quite the Big Bang

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Two weeks ago Bill Zedler, state rep for District 96 in Arlington, tossed into the legislative heap House Bill 2454, which would prohibit "discrimination by public institutions of higher education against faculty members and students based on their conduct of research relating to intelligent design." It was referred to the Dan Branch-chaired Higher Education Committee last week and has since gone on to get quite a bit of pub outside of the state -- like this piece from Saturday's Christian Post, in which Casey Luskin of the anti-Darwinism Discovery Institute in Seattle says that "without academic freedom to follow the evidence where it leads, science cannot progress."

Yesterday, Zedler spoke at length with Mother Jones's Josh Harkinson about his proposed legislation. I am thinking of staging the back-and-forth as a one-act; perhaps Kevin Moriarty's interested. An excerpt:
MJ: I thought people doing work on the science of evolution typically don't weigh in on what caused the beginning of life.

BZ: I wonder why?

MJ: They say they don't know the answer.

BZ: If somebody does decide to weigh in, why should they be discriminated against?

MJ: Because they don't have the scientific evidence to substantiate their views.

BZ: The debate ought to be: "How did it happen?" But we're not gonna allow that one to be brought up! I don't think they oughta be thrown off campus if they come up with it.

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34 comments
JohnC
JohnC

Regarding the "beginning of life" BZ says "the debate ought to be 'how did it happen?' ". What makes him think that this is not a current and exciting field of scientific investigation? Before authoring and submitting Texas legislation to allow this question to be asked, he should go to Wikipedia and type "abiogenesis" and maybe read one of the 100+ references they have cited. Spoiler ... neither the bible, nor any paper from the Discovery Institute appear on this list. His MJ interview also displays gross ignorance in equating evolution with "chance".

Dallas Diner
Dallas Diner

Oh for the good old days when people could believe in the scientific method and then go to church on Sunday withour feeling conflicted. In my 1966 rural Georgia high school biology class, teaching evolution was not a problem.

Doug in DFW
Doug in DFW

Since Zedler failed to fulfill the prophecy & stop the Hooters assault on South Arlington how is anyone even alive to read this?

abuckley1970
abuckley1970

Darwin called it his 'theory' of evolution and if you read his comments in his notes he says as much. It is pure arrogance for humans to say definitively one way or another how the universe/world/people were created. None of us can recall watching it being done. How do you 'prove' how God did it? We see the 'effect' not the 'cause.' All we can do is theorize and make educated guesses using math and science. Bible says God created all things but doesn't specify how. Nothing wrong with letting the mind 'wonder.'

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

At the rate Zedler and his gang are gutting education spending, most Texas students won't be able to spell evolution, let alone understand it.

Lakewooder
Lakewooder

If you want to hang out with Jesus when you die, you gotta follow the rules.

1. Never let irrefutable proof of evolution get between you and your bible.

2. Give 10% of your earnings to the church.

(Many pastors will give you an exemption from # 1)

Pretty simple stuff.

Thelisma Partridge
Thelisma Partridge

I wonder, did Zedler write HB2454 in a single sitting, or did it evolve through several editing sessions to reach it's current state?

I'm just askin'....

G_David
G_David

After reading this post and all the comments, I'm on life support with an acute case of tired-head.

Montemalone
Montemalone

Does this mean all the bibleschools have to teach both sides? I wanna see evolution in teh sundayschool curricula as well.

Guest
Guest

Today's Lesson:

Adam and Eve rode a dinosaur to Church on Sundays.

Tad Banyon
Tad Banyon

"Students could be counted as committing academic suicide for not subscribing to a neo-Darwinian evolution viewpoint."

Next we're going to fail students who don't subscribe to the idea of a round earth. Then what? Require history students to give up their belief that the holocaust never happened?I tell you, higher education is out of control!

richard schumacher
richard schumacher

That Jesus-on-a-tyrannosaur graphic is better than any comment I could make, unless I could think of a way to make Zedler see what an ignorant ass he is.

Jay
Jay

Zedler is looking for proof of intelligent design in the universe. I would settle for proof of intelligent life in the legislature.

Larry
Larry

Ironically, the popular criticism of this legislation has been far more opportunistically vicious and malignant than the legislation itself which, as Blerg notes, in the end is little more than an personal anti-discrimination resolution to protect creationist believers from the backstabbing rat cannibalism typical of academic politics.

Oh, I suppose some creationist could try to leverage this, claiming he was "discriminated" against because his desired research wasn't internally funded by a university, but then so could any given women's studies professor, claiming her proposed cervical neck meditation symposium was discriminated against, etc.

In the end, maybe taxpayer money wasted on a particular political base, but if we're going to audit Zedler for that, he's going to have to stand at the back of a very long line.

MushMouth1
MushMouth1

Freshman level Logic class might be a nice first step for Mr. Zedler

Hannibal_Lecter
Hannibal_Lecter

He needs to add an amendment to prohibit medical schools from discriminating against advocates of bloodletting and mercury elixirs.

Blerg
Blerg

Even if this law passes, it will have little effect on academic institutions since the path to tenure for creation "scientists" will be blocked due to no major sources of funding for their "research" and because no major journals will accept papers on this topic. In other words, intelligent design papers will never be published in any credible peer reviewed journal.

Jay
Jay

Religion is based solely on faith and philosophy, not tangible evidence. Let's teach faith on Sundays to those who want to support that teaching with their tithes. Monday through Friday, on the public dime, lets stick to math, science, languages, history and other subjects that have some basis in logic, reasoning and tangible facts.

TimCov
TimCov

That's right. I saw a documentary on it. The documentary was titled "The Flintstones."

Tad Banyon
Tad Banyon

Larry, for a man who claims to be making an argument about scientific rigor and the scientific method, your argument boils down to little more than a series of unprovoked juvenile insults. The only point it seems you try to make, between the name-calling, is that scientists are all hacks whose minds have been made up withour regard to the physical evidence. Curiously, though, you offer absolutely no evidence to support this bizarre claim. Is that the way you conducted your own research, or is it only everybody else who is completely incompetent and intellectually dishonest? If you were an evolutionary biologist, and you don't believe that evolution is a fact (regardless of the mechanism), then you either weren't a very good one, or your personal faith is getting in the way of objectivty (that's my guess). If you have something to publish to take down evolution, by all means, publish it. Let's get the peer review process started. Otherwise, you're just whining and talking a lot of shit.

Nobody is arguing that refinements in evolutionary theory won't come from people trying to challenge existing assumptions and theories. That's kinda what science is. The point you can't seem (or don't want) to grasp is that whatever refinements are made, whatever discoveries are found, will be refinements to the mechanism, the 'HOW', not the 'whether'. The 'whether' is settled. Get over it. Creationists aren't merely arguing that Darwinism isn't complete, they're aguing that evolution isn't even firmly established as fact. That's like saying because we don't know exactly how gravity works that there might be nothing holding us to the earth after all.

Personally I consider a God creating an amazing process like evolution to populate the earth with an incredible array of life forms to be far more impressive than simply zapping completely intact, complex creatures into existence with the twitch of his nose. Evolution isn't incompatible with God, unless you have an extremely small-minded view of his abilities. Does the idea of God creating life through a process of evolution bother you? Sounds like the perfect marriage to me; you get to keep God and you don't have to ignore an overwhelming body of evidence that grows stronger every day. My guess is that you still wouldn't be comfortable with that, though. Most anti-evolutionists appear to need to believe they aren't descended from any "lower" life form. Why is that? Is it an ego thing? Enlighten me.

scottindallas
scottindallas

Yeah, it's not like schools are suffering from a shortage of time, or resources. Let's just add this politically correct logical absurdity on top of the burden.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

While I agree with what you say , I am going to gut your reasoning and show you how wrong you might be .Sorry .

We are ripe for the PURGE of ideas and those who think them when it comes to Higher education and Tenure in Texas

We truly have the been overtaken by the

GOD SAID IT

I BELIEVE IT THAT SETTLES IT

Crowd in Austin Texas.

While it might be foolhardy for them to take on the educational establishment head on about this one subject .

I am sure the Tactics used to degrade and vilify the local school teachers and curry resentment against them will work quite well in Austin when this group decides to start asking the "WHY? & HOW? " of TENURE ( not sure that exists anymore )and OVER COMPENSATED educators Living the GRAND LIFE on their dime. And omG the time off they take for the paychecks they get.

Wait till these folks start to take the Money saving Budget ax to Certain Departments In our university systems oddly enough with the surgical precision that it takes just enough of the Darwin folks out to make the Point .Bend with the Creationist Winds of change or face the fate of the others . Now departed .

"In other words, intelligent design papers will never be published in any credible peer reviewed journal. "

That's easy they will open their bag of tricks and attack the what exists .

Then create their own .

abuckley1970
abuckley1970

agreed...though I don't see history as completely tangible. to add to that, when science is taught and children go to church on Sunday, it is natural for them to wonder how it was all accomplished. nothing wrong with them asking questions and seeking answers. that's all I'm saying.

richard schumacher
richard schumacher

That must have been the False Larry posting above. An actual retired scientist of any sort would know the difference between a set of facts and the theories which attempt to unify and explain those facts. For example there are the facts of gravity and evolution; there are the theories of Newton, Einstein, Brans-Dicke and others to explain gravity, and the theories of Darwin, Gould, and others to explain evolution.

Larry
Larry

I'm with your idea to cancel the politically correct logical absurdities of "women's studies" and "black studies", and all other such vanity programs 100%, scottindallas.

The funny thing is, though, any advance in the theories of evolution are not going to come from the true believers who have already staked out their intellectual political turf and are ready to defend it to the death, scientific method be damned. Those advances are going to come from people trying to disprove evolution who end up not being able to prove creationism but instead provoke new, far more refined evolutionary theory that satisfactorily answers far more questions with fewer logical problems than the old theory did.

thefncrow
thefncrow

Except, of course, that there's nothing even the slightest bit scientific about any bit of Creationism. Nothing it posits is going to lead us any closer to scientific discovery.

You're not going to see any advances stemming from questioning whether or not evolution has actually occurred. That's as silly as questioning whether gravity really exists. Gravity does exist, and I can actually show you gravity at work. Similarly, evolution is real, and you can observe evolution for yourself if you want to raise a number of generations of fruit flies.

There are actual, legitimate scientific questions about the mechanisms by which evolution occurs, and those questions will continue to advance evolutionary theory. However, at no point are those questions going to ask the question that creationism posits, which is whether evolution has occurred at all. Just as work into the nature of gravity focuses on trying to discover how gravity is exerted, not if gravity really exists at all.

If something drastic comes about, we could have to change our perceptions tomorrow about whether evolution is occurring. It could be that all evolutionary changes have suddenly halted and every creature on the planet will be identical clones of their parent organisms without any further change, but this is as likely as waking up tomorrow and finding that gravity is all of a sudden gone and we are all weightless. It's technically a possibility, but it's not something that anyone with any amount of sense is going to seriously question barring some sort of catastrophic change.

Scientific discovery is not going to be driven in the least by the claims of creationism. Instead, it's going to be driven by the scientists who understand that evolution is a fact of life, and ask the important question, "How does evolution work?"

Larry
Larry

Tad & Crow, the reason I'm laughing at you two bumpkins is that you're not arguing with anything I said, you're just honking your clown horns and arguing with the terrifying voices in your head.

What I said was, "The funny thing is, though, any advance in the theories of evolution are not going to come from the true believers who have already staked out their intellectual political turf and are ready to defend it to the death, scientific method be damned. Those advances are going to come from people trying to disprove evolution who end up not being able to prove creationism but instead provoke new, far more refined evolutionary theory that satisfactorily answers far more questions with fewer logical problems than the old theory did."

What you two goombahs seem to want instead of a continually challenged, continually refined theory of evolution using science to attempt to disprove evolution is an ideologically hidebound faith you don't have to think about anymore. Not that, given the mental effort you've exhibited, I much blame you for wanting to avoid more.

It's pretty obvious you two don't even understand science, much less evolution, or you'd understand the role of science is to continually DISbelieve, not enshrine something as a faith to make hayseeds like you two comfortable.

My point, the one you missed entirely, was that, ironically, the very best place the next advance in evolutionary theory was likely to come from was the FAILURE of creationism.

Without those sorts of challenges, all science degrades into the comfortable sort of faith-based ideology that can stagnate and lie dormant for centuries, until some asshole comes along and starts kicking things ideas in the groin again.

I'm a retired evolutionary biologist, you numbnuts.

Tad Banyon
Tad Banyon

Exactly, thefncrow.gravity is a fact. Evolution is a fact. There is no scientific argument that things evolve. The only disagreement is about HOW they do so.

Tad Banyon
Tad Banyon

Sorry, but I don't have any political enemies, Lar' my good man. All I have-- all anyone can have-- is an intellectually honest view of the physical evidence. Unfortunately for people who need to believe in creation, there is no physical evidence for creationism, and there is no legitimate scientific criticism of evolution. Things evolve. They go from simple things to more complex things. The evidence is so clear, so overwhelming, so convincing, and so well supported, that no one is even looking for evidence to the contrary anymore, save those who desperately need to believe, for reasons of personal faith, that it can't be true. I'm sorry if this upsets your belief in the inerrancy of the bible. On a positive note, evolution doesn't attempt to answer the question of how life began, so its not out of the question that God got the whole ball rolling. But if he did, he did it with simple life. He didn't *poof* a man into existence fully formed. If you have a problem with that, don't blame me, Newton, Einstein, or Stephen Hawking. I'm afraid its all you.

thefncrow
thefncrow

Larry: "Would that be as factual as Newtonian gravity, Tad Banyon, or as factual as Einsteinian gravity?"

Actually, that would be as factual as the concept of gravity itself.

Gravity is actually a great example, because we know that gravity's existence is a fact, but we don't quite know the mechanism by which gravity is exerted, which we are discovering more and more about each day. Newton's theory of gravity and Einstein's theory of gravity don't differ in the slightest when it comes to the actual physical reality of gravity, they differ only in explanation of how gravity works.

Much in the same way, that evolution exists and occurs is a fact, though we don't quite know all the ins and outs of the mechanisms by which evolution works, which we are discovering more and more about as time progresses.

Larry
Larry

Tad Banyon says

"Evolution is as firmly established as fact as gravity. Every discovery made every day only strengthens it. The only people who don't understand this are wishful-thinking creationists and people who just don't understand science and/or evolution."

Would that be as factual as Newtonian gravity, Tad Banyon, or as factual as Einsteinian gravity?

Sounds to me as if any old understanding of evolution, Darwinian, Gouldian, or anything else, hell, not even any understanding at all, just a soundbite called "evolution" you can honk loudly like a clown horn is good enough for you, Tad Banyon, if its main value is to distinguish you from your political enemies.

Tad Banyon
Tad Banyon

Evolution is as firmly established as fact as gravity. Every discovery made every day only strengthens it. The only people who don't understand this are wishful-thinking creationists and people who just don't understand science and/or evolution.

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