The Political Fate of Proposals to Teach Creation Science

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The Political Fate of Proposals to Teach Creation Science

Posted: Thu May 01, 2014 9:02 pm



Ryan Cox
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The Political Fate of Proposals to Teach Creation Science in American Public Schools

Since its inception in the early 1900’s, a number of attempts have been made to introduce the teaching of religious creationism, or “creation science,” to the classrooms of American public schools. Each attempt has been made by a religious organization, and to date, despite intermittent successes at the state level, each attempt has been rejected by federal courts, who rule that teaching creation science in schools would promote specific religious belief, and in as much, violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution. In response, creation science has diversified as a political movement, being explicitly religious in its earliest iterations and becoming more ostensibly scientific with time. But, while this shift in appearance has garnered its acceptance by a handful of individual state legislatures, federal courts have remained affirmative that all variations of creationism are, at their core, religious enterprises, and therefore unfit for public school instruction. Simply put, creation science is rejected by the American political system because the public teaching of creationism violates the Constitution.

In 1968, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in the case of Epperson v. Arkansas, that an Arkansas statute prohibiting the teaching of human evolution violated the First Amendment. The statute stated that, “[it] shall be unlawful for any teacher or other instructor in any University, College, Normal, Public School, or other institution of the State … to teach the theory or doctrine that mankind ascended or descended from a lower order of animals” [Initiated Act No. 1, Ark. Acts 1929], and openly prohibited the teaching of any theory of human origins which contradicted the creation account found in the biblical book of Genesis. In his individual ruling, Justice Potter Stewart summarized his sentiments, and the concurring sentiments of Justices Hugo Black and John Harlan, saying, “It is one thing for a State to determine that 'the subject of higher mathematics, or astronomy, or biology' shall or shall not be included in its public school curriculum. It is quite another thing for a State to make it a criminal offense for a public school teacher so much as to mention the very existence of an entire system of respected human thought. That kind of criminal law, I think, would clearly impinge upon the guarantees of free communication contained in the First Amendment, and made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth” [Stewart, 393 U.S. 97].

In the years following Epperson, with some exceptions, creation science proponents shifted their emphasis from legislating against the teaching of evolution to legislating for the simultaneous teaching of evolution and creationism. In 1969, the California State Board of Education enacted The Science Framework for California Public Schools, which asserted the equal scientific standing of evolution and "creation theory,” mandating that the two be taught together. In 1972, the mother of a Texas high school student filed suit to contest the constitutionality of teaching evolution as a fact without giving time to alternative explanations. In 1973, the cases of Willoughby v. National Science Foundation and Crowley v. Smithsonian Institution, heard in Washington, D.C., challenged the constitutionality of federal support for evolutionary education in the form of federally funded text book publishing and federally funded exhibits at the Smithsonian Institution. Also in 1973, a bill was presented by the Tennessee Senate which required that evolution be described in text books as "a theory" and that other “theories” be given equal space in biology books, openly citing the Genesis creation story as one of them. The bill, with a number of amendments, became law without the Governor's signature. [www.antievolution.org]

In 1976, Kentucky passed legislation allowing teachers to instruct students already believing in Biblical creation the tenets of Biblical creationism, and allowing students to earn credit for learning the material. In 1981, Arkansas state legislator James L. Holstead introduced Act 590 "Equal-Time" legislation, which aimed to divide classroom instruction evenly between evolution and creationism, to the Arkansas state Senate, late in the legislative session. After quickly passing the Senate, Act 590 passed the Arkansas House with little discussion. A week later, it was signed in to law by Governor Frank White. [Science, Technology, & Human Values; Vol. 7, No. 40 (Summer, 1982), pp. 11-13]

In 2001, Montana House Bill 588 was proposed by Representative Joe Balyeat, (R-Bozeman); a bill which would have directed the approval of evolution and creationism materials by an appointed six-member committee. The bill failed in committee, by a 14-4 vote. Later in 2001, Arkansas Representative Jim Holt proposed Arkansas House Bill 2548. According to antievolution.org, “A list of putative, false or fraudulent items was included in the text of the bill. These items were apparently produced by Holt going over anti-evolutionary literature in a series of short skips and hops.” HB2548 failed in a House vote with 45 yes votes, 36 no votes, and the rest either absent or not voting. [antievolution.org]

In the same year, pro-creationism bills were proposed and passed in West Virginia, Georgia, Washington, Michigan and Louisiana. Curiously, Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum’s amendments 798 and 799 to the United States Senate’s “No Child Left Behind” Bill 1, which, as he intimated, “[dealt] with the subject of intellectual freedom with respect to the teaching of science in the classroom” [Santorum, Congressional Record: June 13, 2001 (Senate); Page S6147-S6208], were removed from the bill in conference committee, for reasons not specified. Perhaps their removal serves as an example of the ideological compromises necessitated by government at the federal level, versus the ideological liberties afforded governments at the state level; or perhaps their removal serves as an indicator of the financial pressures already exerted on American schools, which serve to make the specifics of evolutionary biology a somewhat insignificant matter, in the wake of greater education funding issues. Wyoming Senator Craig Thomas described those pressures, saying, “Burdensome regulations, unfunded mandates--talk to anybody who is an administrator at a school and see what they think about unfunded mandates and the burdens of regulation. We do not talk about that very much. We have had 150 amendments that bring about more regulations. We ought to make sure we avoid that” [Thomas, Congressional Record: June 13, 2001 (Senate); Page S6151]. Regardless of the cause, the legislating of creationism curricula in American schools has been repeatedly rejected at the federal level.

In the light of these exchanges, which left some ambiguity to the question of creationist education’s Constitutionality, one ruling gave a distinct and final expression of the American judiciary’s sentiment regarding creationist education: the 1987 ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Edwards v. Aguillard. In Aguillard, the Court ruled that a Louisiana law mandating the teaching of creationism was, in fact, unconstitutional, in that the ultimate purpose of the law was to further the beliefs a particular religion. The standard used to determine creationism’s constitutionality was what has come to be referred to as the Lemon Test, which evaluates the application of the Establishment Clause as follows:

1. The government's action must have a legitimate secular purpose;
2. The government's action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion; and
3. The government's action must not result in an "excessive entanglement" of the government and religion.

In a seven-to-two ruling, the Court declared that Louisiana’s law did not protect free academic inquiry, but instead stifled it, by automatically deferring to the belief that a supernatural being created the human race, which is a conjecture lying outside of the scope of science. All justices, except Justices Scalia and Rehnquist, concluded that creation curricula do not have a legitimate secular purpose, failing the first prong of the Lemon test, and that they do effect the advancement of religion, failing the second.

In response to the failure of their plight in Aguillard, creationist progenitors, who most notably belonged to the Institute for Creation Research, a Fundamentalist Christian ministry located in San Diego, California, who teach, among other things, that the various myths and legends in the Christian Bible are literally true, that the universe is under 10,000 years old, and that the human race started with two fully-formed individuals, began the construction of a new, secular artifice for creation science. They collected all of the references to “God” in a text book which they had attempted to distribute to Louisiana schools, titled Of Pandas and People, deleted them and re-stated them, using the word “creator.” Similarly, they deleted all references to “creation” and re-stated them, using the words “Intelligent Design.” In this manner, the modern creationist movement, titled ID (Intelligent Design), was begun.

Despite the Court’s ruling in Aguillard, the ID community proliferated, proposing and passing pro-creationist legislation, at the state level, in several states. The strongest driving force behind their movement was, and still is, the Discovery Institute, located in Seattle, Washington. The Discovery Institute is a religious policy think-tank which conducts no actual science. The staff of the Institute have no workable theory of human origins, or of the evolutionary processes observed in the material world. They focus instead on altering education policy through a series of political maneuvers, effectively skipping the entire scientific process. They present no scientific papers to established scientific journals, and they have never participated in the process of peer-review. In essence, the Institute’s contribution to science is a collection of critiques of evolutionary theory, offered under the guise that presenting both creationist and evolutionist perspectives on human origins is “fair” and “balanced,” when in reality, many dozens of creation hypotheses could be taught, in the spirit of “fairness.” As Eugenie Scott, Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, states, in her book Evolution vs. Creationism, “We determine curricula based on the best scholarship, not based on political pressure.” [Scott, Evolution vs. Creationism, p. 213] Incidentally, in support of the 1987 Aguillard ruling, seventy-two Nobel prize-winning scientists, seventeen state academies of science, and seven other scientific organizations filed amicus curae briefs, which described creation science as being composed of religious tenets. To date, not one secular scientific society has endorsed creationism, and not one scientific journal has published a paper on the topic of creation science.

The hallmark ruling on the constitutionality of the ID creationist movement came in the 2005 case of Kitzmiller v. the Dover Area School Board. The case was brought to court following the Dover (Pennsylvania) Area School District’s decision to change its biology teaching curriculum, so that it required the presentation of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution theory, with Of Pandas and People being used for reference. Over the course of more than a month’s testimony, star ID witness and prolific ID progenitor, Dr. Michael Behe, was presented with fifty-six peer-review articles on the scientific tenability of Darwinian evolution, which he simply refused to read. The Intelligent Design litigants were presented with evidence for evolution, ranging from the location of telomeres in the center of human chromosome number two to the full functionality of intermediate cellular micro-machinery, which ID proponents claimed was “irreducibly complex,” or too sophisticated to have been generated solely by natural forces. Upon receiving this pro-evolution evidence, ID supporters had no defense. Star witness for the prosecution, Dr. Kenneth Miller, later stated that he was asked no questions in cross-examination about the structure of human chromosome number two or about the evolutionary explanation for various cellular organelles. As Miller put it, “we saw the virtual collapse of Intelligent Design.” [Miller, “The Collapse of Intelligent Design,” Case Western Reserve University, 2005]

As an aside, Dr. Michael Behe, who on inquiry admitted that he believed astrology to have contributed valuable insight to the lexicon of science, admitted that the teaching of Intelligent Design in America’s schools, under the guise of fairness, would relegate virtually any “alternative” scientific hypothesis teachable, so that even astrology could be taught in public school science classes.

While it has not been the untenability of creation science which has kept it out of American schools, but the non-constitutionality, its tenability is relevant to the question of whether or not Americans should endorse it, which is what America’s gubernatorial representatives are elected to discern. Science is often misunderstood to be a body of information, in much the same way that other subjects of study are bodies of information. However, science is not a collection of facts; rather, it is a process of using large bodies of facts to make predictions. As Eugenie Scott puts it, “In science, facts are not particularly interesting; facts are a dime a dozen” [Scott, “Listen to the Scientists,” YouTube.com]. Science is a method of understanding the natural world. To conduct science is to follow the scientific method, which is a series of steps, performed in necessary order, that arrive at the most logical conclusion about a given hypothesis. Science starts with facts, but ends with theories. Theories are valuable, because they help scientists make predictions about objects and events in the universe. Predictions are valuable because they enable us to adapt to life in an always changing world.

Religion, on the other hand, conducts its affairs in reverse order, starting with its conclusions already drawn. It then seeks out facts to support its conclusions. Creationism, then, is not religion merely in name, but in actual function. Creation science starts with an assumption; it begins its inquiry by assuming that a supernatural being exists outside of the natural world. It also assumes that this being created the world and either continues to directly dictate the world’s affairs or indirectly dictate them. And while it may be true that a supernatural being exists and does these things, the assertion that such a supernatural force exacts creative genesis in our universe is not science; it is the reverse of science. It is religion.

In order for a hypothesis to qualify as science, it must meet four criteria: 1.) It must be testable, meaning that any claim made about the natural world must be available for reconstruction and analysis in the real world by individuals conducting experiment; 2.) It must be falsifiable; meaning that a hypothesis must possess the possibility of being proven wrong; 3.) It must make predictions, because events in the natural world will always occur in the same manner, meaning that, provided the same, exact conditions, a scientific hypothesis must predict specific outcomes to a given test; 4.) It must apply to the natural world, meaning that conjectures about the events in any non-material world are irrelevant to science. Necessarily, then, creation science is not only religion, but fails as science. And it fails as science in not just one sense, or in two senses, but in all four senses. It is impossible to test for the intervention of a god in the natural world; no test could be constructed to verify such a claim. It is impossible to prove false the claim that a god created the world; by definition, a god cannot be analyzed using the tools of rational empiricism. It is impossible to predict the intervention of a god in the natural world; we cannot know when such an event will occur and what circumstances will prompt it. It is impossible to apply the claims of supernatural intervention to the real world; we cannot harness the interventionary force of a god in the universe.

Creation science has been seen in this light by the American judiciary. In his Kitzmiller ruling, Judge John E. Jones, III, who is himself a conservative Christian, and who was appointed by President George Bush, learned of the edits performed by creationist publishers on Of Pandas and People, witnessed the ID camp’s unwillingness to so much as explore evolutionary explanations for the diversity of life on Earth, and stated the following, “This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard.” [Jones, Kitzmiller v. Dover: Intelligent Design on Trial". National Center for Science Education. October 17, 2008. Retrieved 21 June 2011]. In effect, all attempts to legislate the teaching of creation science in American schools have been struck down, at the federal level. This fact owes to the foresight of the men who penned the American Constitution, who themselves had seen the consequences of combining religion with government.

It remains to be seen if the American people will acquire an education in political science enlightening enough to maintain the neutrality of American government toward issues of religion.


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Re: The Political Fate of Proposals to Teach Creation Scienc

Posted: Thu May 01, 2014 10:18 pm



... Why? That, sir, is my only question pertaining to this post.
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Re: The Political Fate of Proposals to Teach Creation Scienc

Posted: Thu May 01, 2014 10:40 pm



TheKingofNone wrote:... Why? That, sir, is my only question pertaining to this post.
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Re: The Political Fate of Proposals to Teach Creation Scienc

Posted: Fri May 02, 2014 5:33 am



Maybe it's just me, but it seems like that article only talks about Microevolution, which isn't even a debatable topic. Everyone believes in that.

Also that 'creationist' was probably an idiot creationist? (You'll say those two words are synonymous).
But really, i don't know why that guy did it, or even if the story is real. Because yes creationists believe all creatures were created in their present forms (Microevolutionary changes aside), but that doesn't mean they think no creature is any more closer to human than another. I'm not saying i completely don't believe that story, but they're using the example of one idiot man who doesn't even represent creationists. You don't even need to believe in macroevolution (one species evolving to another) to know that chimps are closer to humans than baboons.

That's like a man going outside in 20 degree weather with shorts and a t-shirt on because he believes in "human-affected global warming", and then someone seeing him and saying "wow, global warming advocates are all so dumb."
No they're not, that guy is though.

The media does that all the time. If someone who is an advocate of something does something idiotic, they'll paint te face of all the people who believe in the same stuff he does.

I'm NOT hopping on the creationism v. evolution debate. I don't want to start that.
I'm just wondering a few things.
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Re: The Political Fate of Proposals to Teach Creation Scienc

Posted: Fri May 02, 2014 8:41 am



Nathan Aaron wrote:Maybe it's just me, but it seems like that article only talks about Microevolution, which isn't even a debatable topic. Everyone believes in that.

Also that 'creationist' was probably an idiot creationist? (You'll say those two words are synonymous).
But really, i don't know why that guy did it, or even if the story is real. Because yes creationists believe all creatures were created in their present forms (Microevolutionary changes aside), but that doesn't mean they think no creature is any more closer to human than another. I'm not saying i completely don't believe that story, but they're using the example of one idiot man who doesn't even represent creationists. You don't even need to believe in macroevolution (one species evolving to another) to know that chimps are closer to humans than baboons.

That's like a man going outside in 20 degree weather with shorts and a t-shirt on because he believes in "human-affected global warming", and then someone seeing him and saying "wow, global warming advocates are all so dumb."
No they're not, that guy is though.

The media does that all the time. If someone who is an advocate of something does something idiotic, they'll paint te face of all the people who believe in the same stuff he does.

I'm NOT hopping on the creationism v. evolution debate. I don't want to start that.
I'm just wondering a few things.
"Microevolution" and "macroevolution" are nonsense terms; there's just evolution. (Actually, they do have meaning, and those meanings are important, but in the context of your use, they're completely irrelevant). And one species evolving in to another? Not sure what you're saying. If one species evolved in to another, it would be a miracle. In fact, it would be evidence of creation, which is exactly what we don't see.

Finally, there is no creation vs. evolution debate. Nobody in the global scientific community disputes evolution. The only "debate" happening is on TV, where anyone can say anything about anything.


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Re: The Political Fate of Proposals to Teach Creation Scienc

Posted: Fri May 02, 2014 10:07 am



Oprah Winfrey wrote:
Nathan Aaron wrote:Maybe it's just me, but it seems like that article only talks about Microevolution, which isn't even a debatable topic. Everyone believes in that.

Also that 'creationist' was probably an idiot creationist? (You'll say those two words are synonymous).
But really, i don't know why that guy did it, or even if the story is real. Because yes creationists believe all creatures were created in their present forms (Microevolutionary changes aside), but that doesn't mean they think no creature is any more closer to human than another. I'm not saying i completely don't believe that story, but they're using the example of one idiot man who doesn't even represent creationists. You don't even need to believe in macroevolution (one species evolving to another) to know that chimps are closer to humans than baboons.

That's like a man going outside in 20 degree weather with shorts and a t-shirt on because he believes in "human-affected global warming", and then someone seeing him and saying "wow, global warming advocates are all so dumb."
No they're not, that guy is though.

The media does that all the time. If someone who is an advocate of something does something idiotic, they'll paint te face of all the people who believe in the same stuff he does.

I'm NOT hopping on the creationism v. evolution debate. I don't want to start that.
I'm just wondering a few things.
"Microevolution" and "macroevolution" are nonsense terms; there's just evolution. (Actually, they do have meaning, and those meanings are important, but in the context of your use, they're completely irrelevant). And one species evolving in to another? Not sure what you're saying. If one species evolved in to another, it would be a miracle. In fact, it would be evidence of creation, which is exactly what we don't see.

Finally, there is no creation vs. evolution debate. Nobody in the global scientific community disputes evolution. The only "debate" happening is on TV, where anyone can say anything about anything.
How could you say there is no creation vs evolution debate? Wasn't that the reasoning behind the Bill Nye-Ken Ham debate?
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Re: The Political Fate of Proposals to Teach Creation Scienc

Posted: Fri May 02, 2014 10:08 am



Oprah Winfrey wrote:
TheKingofNone wrote:... Why? That, sir, is my only question pertaining to this post.
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Re: The Political Fate of Proposals to Teach Creation Scienc

Posted: Fri May 02, 2014 11:11 am



hurt-a wrote:
Oprah Winfrey wrote:
Nathan Aaron wrote:Maybe it's just me, but it seems like that article only talks about Microevolution, which isn't even a debatable topic. Everyone believes in that.

Also that 'creationist' was probably an idiot creationist? (You'll say those two words are synonymous).
But really, i don't know why that guy did it, or even if the story is real. Because yes creationists believe all creatures were created in their present forms (Microevolutionary changes aside), but that doesn't mean they think no creature is any more closer to human than another. I'm not saying i completely don't believe that story, but they're using the example of one idiot man who doesn't even represent creationists. You don't even need to believe in macroevolution (one species evolving to another) to know that chimps are closer to humans than baboons.

That's like a man going outside in 20 degree weather with shorts and a t-shirt on because he believes in "human-affected global warming", and then someone seeing him and saying "wow, global warming advocates are all so dumb."
No they're not, that guy is though.

The media does that all the time. If someone who is an advocate of something does something idiotic, they'll paint te face of all the people who believe in the same stuff he does.

I'm NOT hopping on the creationism v. evolution debate. I don't want to start that.
I'm just wondering a few things.
"Microevolution" and "macroevolution" are nonsense terms; there's just evolution. (Actually, they do have meaning, and those meanings are important, but in the context of your use, they're completely irrelevant). And one species evolving in to another? Not sure what you're saying. If one species evolved in to another, it would be a miracle. In fact, it would be evidence of creation, which is exactly what we don't see.

Finally, there is no creation vs. evolution debate. Nobody in the global scientific community disputes evolution. The only "debate" happening is on TV, where anyone can say anything about anything.
How could you say there is no creation vs evolution debate? Wasn't that the reasoning behind the Bill Nye-Ken Ham debate?
Including Ken Ham in the "scientific community" is a bit generous. The debate was more an open dialogue between the scientific community and the religious one, with Ken Ham being chosen since he is a Creationist who actually (although futilely, it seems) attempts to bridge the religious community to the scientific one.
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Re: The Political Fate of Proposals to Teach Creation Scienc

Posted: Fri May 02, 2014 12:45 pm



ottomagne wrote:
hurt-a wrote:
Oprah Winfrey wrote: "Microevolution" and "macroevolution" are nonsense terms; there's just evolution. (Actually, they do have meaning, and those meanings are important, but in the context of your use, they're completely irrelevant). And one species evolving in to another? Not sure what you're saying. If one species evolved in to another, it would be a miracle. In fact, it would be evidence of creation, which is exactly what we don't see.

Finally, there is no creation vs. evolution debate. Nobody in the global scientific community disputes evolution. The only "debate" happening is on TV, where anyone can say anything about anything.
How could you say there is no creation vs evolution debate? Wasn't that the reasoning behind the Bill Nye-Ken Ham debate?
Including Ken Ham in the "scientific community" is a bit generous. The debate was more an open dialogue between the scientific community and the religious one, with Ken Ham being chosen since he is a Creationist who actually (although futilely, it seems) attempts to bridge the religious community to the scientific one.
Fair enough
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Re: The Political Fate of Proposals to Teach Creation Scienc

Posted: Fri May 02, 2014 2:25 pm



I understand that evolution is a thing, I just don''t understand why you are posting a random, seemingly irrelevant to drumming, essay. Just an interesting conversation to start on a drum site, though there are many (very) intelligent people here. I think it's ridiculous that evolution isn't taught, especially in a high school setting where most (ok, well, at least some) are mature enough to realize that it is a scientific matter and not a religious one. In an advanced physics class we are allowed to discuss scientific theories, such as string theory, the multiverse theory, among others, and many of these theories all but disprove any God; how is that situation any different?
EDIT: Having realized that the essay was about creationism and not evolution, I adhere to my original statement and add, Why is there so much push for something that has no scientific credibility? And I also feel really stupid... Ah, well. Just disregard everything I post, ever.
Last edited by TheKingofNone on Fri May 02, 2014 8:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Political Fate of Proposals to Teach Creation Scienc

Posted: Fri May 02, 2014 7:16 pm



TheKingofNone wrote:I understand that evolution is a thing, I just don''t understand why you are posting a random, seemingly irrelevant to drumming, essay. Just an interesting conversation to start on a drum site, though there are many (very) intelligent people here. I think it's ridiculous that evolution isn't taught, especially in a high school setting where most (ok, well, at least some) are mature enough to realize that it is a scientific matter and not a religious one. In an advanced physics class we are allowed to discuss scientific theories, such as string theory, the multiverse theory, among others, and many of these theories all but disprove any God; how is that situation any different?
The "essay" is my political science paper from three days ago. And I've posted it in the RELIGION/POLITICS forum. While I have no delusions that I'm in a position to direct your behavior on this website, or anyone else's behavior on any website, my understanding is that, if you want to discuss drumming, you should go to the drumming forum.


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Re: The Political Fate of Proposals to Teach Creation Scienc

Posted: Fri May 02, 2014 7:48 pm



So, it's an essay you wrote for a college class. I wasn't trying to be rude, and I did at least attempt to contribute to the conversation. And it is a very well written paper. Not exactly up my ally for light reading, but still, if the opinion of a 16 year old means anything, there ya go.
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Re: The Political Fate of Proposals to Teach Creation Scienc

Posted: Fri May 02, 2014 8:09 pm



TheKingofNone wrote:So, it's an essay you wrote for a college class. I wasn't trying to be rude, and I did at least attempt to contribute to the conversation. And it is a very well written paper. Not exactly up my ally for light reading, but still, if the opinion of a 16 year old means anything, there ya go.
It means a lot.

Thanks, bud.


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