Thursday, November 3, 2016
Kentucky Has Some Strange Laws – Biblical Genesis Is Just As Good as Scientific Evolution
Kentucky Has Some Strange Laws –
Biblical Genesis Is Just As Good as Scientific Evolution
Kentucky has some strange laws, for example those defining the official drink (milk) and the official dance (clogging) of Kentucky. Kentucky has other strange laws such as that prohibiting the renting of a room to an unmarried man and woman. But perhaps the most curious of these laws is one which, by statute, seeks to impose an alternative world view from that of science and specifically the theory of evolution.
KRS § 158.177, which it titled “Teaching of evolution -- Right to include Bible theory of creation,” provides:
(1) In any public school instruction concerning the theories of the creation of man and the earth, and which involves the theory thereon commonly known as evolution, any teacher so desiring may include as a portion of such instruction the theory of creation as presented in the Bible, and may accordingly read such passages in the Bible as are deemed necessary for instruction on the theory of creation, thereby affording students a choice as to which such theory to accept.
(2) For those students receiving such instruction, and who accept the Bible theory of creation, credit shall be permitted on any examination in which adherence to such theory is propounded, provided the response is correct according to the instruction received.
(3) No teacher in a public school may stress any particular denominational religious belief.
(4) This section is not to be construed as being adverse to any decision which has been rendered by any court of competent jurisdiction.
Lets break this down, shall we. A student is in a “science” class when the scientific method of systematic observation, measurement and experimentation for the purpose of formulating and modifying a hypothesis, and they are being told that a non-observable, non-measureable and not subject to experimentation story may be substituted as an answer. The consequent negative impact upon scientific literacy is obvious.
Next, how does a teacher both “read such passages from the Bible” while not “stress[ing] any particular religious belief. The Bible is a particular religious belief. Reading from the Bible (and only the Bible) necessary excludes all religions not based thereon. Why isn’t the Enûma Eliš, a Babylonian creation myth, given equal weight? The Zoroastrians are being given short treatment.
Third, the standard of “provided the response is correct according to the instruction given” may be inconsistent with the view of the students “who accept the Bible theory of creation.” The teacher will be called upon to grade a student’s application of the instruction given even if that instruction departs from the student’s interpretation.
Last (at least for now), the assertion that this statute “is not to be construed as being adverse to any [court] decision” is little more than wasted ink – the courts decide whether a statute is inconsistent with the law.
Ultimately it does not matter; this statute violates the Establishment Clause of the Federal Constitution and is a dead letter.