Creating Controversy: Misguided Indiana Creationism Bill Advances In State Senate

If some lawmakers would spend as much time studying their constitutional responsibilities as they do promoting their personal understanding of the Bible, creationism bills would probably disappear.

A bill is advancing in the Indiana Senate that would “require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science” in public schools.

Similar versions of SB 89 have been tried before and always died in committee. This time, though, a longtime creationism advocate – Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn) – is chair of the Senate Education Committee. He also authored the legislation.

Kruse is just another politician who doesn’t get it, and he and his colleagues seem deaf to all the criticism this legislation has received. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette published an editorial today that slammed the proposal on several counts.

The newspaper called the bill “scientifically unsound,” “theologically unsound,” “bad for business” and unconstitutional. It is most certainly all four of those things, but let’s focus on the last two.

As the editorial stated, “Good schools are a key to drawing economic investment because employers want a well-educated workforce and they need strong schools as an incentive to lure the best employees. How can a state positioning itself as a leader in the life sciences expect to recruit and retain top researchers in that field and others if it is perceived as an intellectual backwater?”

Silly me, I thought politicians wanted to create jobs. Maybe Kruse should spend time on legislation that would actually help prepare students to join the workforce as adults rather than indoctrinating them with his theological beliefs.

As for the Journal Gazette’s point that this bill is unconstitutional, that is absolutely true. The U.S. Supreme Court has been very clear on “creation science.” In 1987 in the case of Edwards v. Aguillard, the justices struck down a Louisiana law requiring the public schools to teach creationism alongside evolution. The law’s intent, the court said, was to promote the teachings of certain religious denominations.

And that’s why Kruse’s crusade is such a waste of time. As Josh Rosenau, programs and policy director of the National Center for Science and Education, told me recently, “If [Kruse’s] bill is passed, expect to see a challenge.”

The law isn’t on creationism’s side, and Kruse’s bill could never hold up in court.

Unfortunately this creationism foolishness isn’t limited to Indiana. Similarly batty bills are being considered in Missouri, Oklahoma and New Hampshire. They aren’t identical to the Indiana bill, but no matter how lawmakers try to frame these things, they all have a common denominator – they’re constitutionally problematic.

If some lawmakers would spend as much time studying their constitutional responsibilities as they do promoting their personal understanding of the Bible, creationism bills would probably disappear.