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Ohio Bill Protects Student’s Right to Religious Expression – Will Teaching Creationism Be Next?


Last week, the Ohio House of Representatives passed HB 164, the “Ohio Student Religious Liberties Act of 2019.  The purpose of the bill is to protect the rights of students to religious expressions without penalty in the public school classroom.  Under this bill, a student cannot be given a punative grade for simply expressing their religious views as part of a class assignment. 

The bill sounds sensible enough, given the many documented instances of students receiving poor grades on otherwise well written assignments merely because a teacher disagreed with the student’s religious views of the subject.  A key part of the bill says that no school…

shall prohibit a student from engaging in religious expression in the completion of homework, artwork, or other written or oral assignments. Assignment grades and scores shall be calculated using ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance, including any legitimate pedagogical concerns, and shall not penalize or reward a student based on the religious content of a student’s work.” 

Naturally, the wording of the bill has many fretting that a student could state on a biology paper that the earth is only 6000 years old and the teacher would be prohibited from marking the grade down for that.  However, that doesn’t seem to be a realistic scenario given that the bill mentions “legitimate pedagogical concerns.”  If the assignment is for the student to correctly explain what the theory of evolution says regarding the development of a certain biological structure, then it doesn’t seem realistic to worry that this bill would protect a student who might write that theory of evolution is satanic and doesn’t explain anything. 

Such a worry seems overwrought, but that doesn’t seem to stop opponents from naysaying it anyways.  The bill’s sponsors say the “…bill is not an expansion but a clarification (of) what students can and cannot do in religious expression.” Regardless, the bill is now on its way to the Ohio Senate.  If it passes there, it will be up to the Ohio Governor to sign it or veto it. 

I live in Ohio so I have been involved in some of these debates in the past. For example, in the late 1990’s I had several of my letters to the editor published in a local newspaper defending the student led “see you at the pole” campaign, which was (and still is) a student led movement where students regularly or occasionally meet for prayer before school on school grounds at its flagpole. At the time I wrote my letters atheists were trying to suppress the practice as unconstitutional. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/See_You_at_the_Pole Hypocritical atheists, of course, believe in “free speech for me but not for thee.” The logical contradictions and double standard doesn’t bother them. People motivated intolerance and hate are never bothered by logic. john_a_designer
Won't make any difference. Lawsuits on this subject are never started in state courts. They're always in Federal district "courts", which are completely unaffected by state laws. Schools will continue to avoid endless unwinnable litigation. School boards don't want to explain why they're spending 100% of their budget on lawyers. It's a strictly rational decision. polistra
This is good as long as students can ask the science teachers the hard questions that will prove some of the "science" lessons aren't really science. And that is only good if said nonsense is then removed from science classes. ET
I don’t have a problem with this. Given the impact that it has had over the centuries I believe that religion should be part of the required curriculum. Ed George
So the religion of evolution will still remain unchallenged in science classrooms? Post from this morning:
Darwinian evolution simply fails to qualify as a rigorous and testable science by any reasonable measure one may wish to invoke and is therefore more properly classified as a pseudoscience, even as a religion for atheists, rather than being classified as a real and testable science. https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/intelligent-design/jon-harvey-hump-of-the-camel-weighs-in-on-the-late-phillip-johnson/#comment-688180
Further notes on the fact that Darwinian evolution is more properly classified as a pseudoscience and/or a religion for atheists
"Why Bad Science Is Like Bad Religion" by Rupert Sheldrake: – Dec. 1, 2012 "Bad religion is arrogant, self-righteous, dogmatic and intolerant. And so is bad science. But unlike religious fundamentalists, scientific fundamentalists do not realize that their opinions are based on faith. They think they know the truth. They believe that science has already solved the fundamental questions, Committed materialists have made science into a kind of religion. They believe that there is no reality but material or physical reality. Consciousness is a by-product of the physical activity of the brain. Matter is unconscious. Nature is mechanical. Evolution is purposeless. God exists only as an idea in human minds, and hence in human heads. These materialist beliefs are often taken for granted by scientists, not because they have thought about them critically, but because they haven't. To deviate from them is heresy, and heresy harms careers....Science is being held back by centuries-old assumptions that have hardened into dogmas." http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-rupert-sheldrake/why-bad-science-is-like-bad-religion_b_2200597.html?utm_hp_ref=religion "Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit that in this one complaint, and Mr. Gish is but one of many to make it, the literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today." Ruse, M., How evolution became a religion: creationists correct? Darwinians wrongly mix science with morality, politics, National Post, pp. B1, B3, B7 (May 13, 2000) Methodological Naturalism: A Rule That No One Needs or Obeys - Paul Nelson - September 22, 2014 Excerpt: It is a little-remarked but nonetheless deeply significant irony that evolutionary biology is the most theologically entangled science going. Open a book like Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True (2009) or John Avise's Inside the Human Genome (2010), and the theology leaps off the page. A wise creator, say Coyne, Avise, and many other evolutionary biologists, would not have made this or that structure; therefore, the structure evolved by undirected processes. Coyne and Avise, like many other evolutionary theorists going back to Darwin himself, make numerous "God-wouldn't-have-done-it-that-way" arguments, thus predicating their arguments for the creative power of natural selection and random mutation on implicit theological assumptions about the character of God and what such an agent (if He existed) would or would not be likely to do.,,, ,,,with respect to one of the most famous texts in 20th-century biology, Theodosius Dobzhansky's essay "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution" (1973). Although its title is widely cited as an aphorism, the text of Dobzhansky's essay is rarely read. It is, in fact, a theological treatise. As Dilley (2013, p. 774) observes: "Strikingly, all seven of Dobzhansky's arguments hinge upon claims about God's nature, actions, purposes, or duties. In fact, without God-talk, the geneticist's arguments for evolution are logically invalid. In short, theology is essential to Dobzhansky's arguments.",, http://www.evolutionnews.org/2014/09/methodological_1089971.html Damned if You Do and Damned if You Don't - Published - 2019-06-02 The Problem of God-talk in Biology Textbooks Abstract: We argue that a number of biology (and evolution) textbooks face a crippling dilemma. On the one hand, significant difficulties arise if textbooks include theological claims in their case for evolution. (Such claims include, for example, ‘God would never design a suboptimal panda’s thumb, but an imperfect structure is just what we’d expect on natural selection.’) On the other hand, significant difficulties arise if textbooks exclude theological claims in their case for evolution. So, whether textbooks include or exclude theological claims, they face debilitating problems. We attempt to establish this thesis by examining 32 biology (and evolution) textbooks, including the Big 12—that is, the top four in each of the key undergraduate categories (biology majors, non-majors, and evolution courses). In Section 2 of our article, we analyze three specific types of theology these texts use to justify evolutionary theory. We argue that all face significant difficulties. In Section 3, we step back from concrete cases and, instead, explore broader problems created by having theology in general in biology textbooks. We argue that the presence of theology—of whatever kind—comes at a significant cost, one that some textbook authors are likely unwilling to pay. In Section 4, we consider the alternative: Why not simply get rid of theology? Why not just ignore it? In reply, we marshal a range of arguments why avoiding God-talk raises troubles of its own. Finally, in Section 5, we bring together the collective arguments in Sections 2-4 to argue that biology textbooks face an intractable dilemma. We underscore this difficulty by examining a common approach that some textbooks use to solve this predicament. We argue that this approach turns out to be incoherent and self-serving. The poor performance of textbooks on this point highlights just how deep the difficulty is. In the end, the overall dilemma remains. https://journals.blythinstitute.org/ojs/index.php/cbi/article/view/44 Charles Darwin, Theologian: Major New Article on Darwin's Use of Theology in the Origin of Species - May 2011 Excerpt: The Origin supplies abundant evidence of theology in action; as Dilley observes: I have argued that, in the first edition of the Origin, Darwin drew upon at least the following positiva theological claims in his case for descent with modification (and against special creation): 1. Human beings are not justified in believing that God creates in ways analogous to the intellectual powers of the human mind. 2. A God who is free to create as He wishes would create new biological limbs de novo rather than from a common pattern. 3. A respectable deity would create biological structures in accord with a human conception of the 'simplest mode' to accomplish the functions of these structures. 4. God would only create the minimum structure required for a given part's function. 5. God does not provide false empirical information about the origins of organisms. 6. God impressed the laws of nature on matter. 7. God directly created the first 'primordial' life. 8. God did not perform miracles within organic history subsequent to the creation of the first life. 9. A 'distant' God is not morally culpable for natural pain and suffering. 10. The God of special creation, who allegedly performed miracles in organic history, is not plausible given the presence of natural pain and suffering. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/05/charles_darwin_theologian_majo046391.html
Darwinian atheists, with their vital dependence on bad liberal theology, instead of any real time substantiating scientific evidence, in order to try to make their case for Darwinian evolution are, as Cornelius Van Til put it, like the child who must climb up onto his father’s lap into order to slap his face.
“In other words, the non-Christian needs the truth of the Christian religion in order to attack it. As a child needs to sit on the lap of its father in order to slap the father’s face, so the unbeliever, as a creature, needs God the Creator and providential controller of the universe in order to oppose this God. Without this God, the place on which he stands does not exist. He cannot stand in a vacuum.” Cornelius Van Til, Essays on Christian Education (The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company: Phillipsburg, NJ, 1979).

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