Last December, Baton Rouge Magnet High School senior Zack Kopplin helped defeat efforts to add creationism to Louisiana science textbooks. Now, he is spearheading a campaign to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA), stealth legislation which opens the door for Louisiana public schools to teach creationism and intelligent design in science classrooms through the use of supplemental materials. Unfortunately, the bill passed almost unanimously in 2008 despite concerns voiced by national scientific organizations. Two years later, however, Kopplin is hoping to repeal the law with support from State Senator Karen Carter Peterson, (D-New Orleans), who plans to introduce the repeal legislation later this year.
Public schools have a duty to provide students with a high quality education based on facts. This means teaching science (evolution), not theology (creationism); as Kopplin points out, scientific theories like evolution are “hardly unproven conjectures–they are the basic building blocks of modern physics and biology.” The purpose of teaching evolution in the science classroom is to educate and inform students of the best scientific research. If Louisiana compromises its educational standards by presenting unscientific “alternatives” to evolution in its science classes, its students will be at a disadvantage later when pursuing a college degree or employment in the sciences.
Furthermore, creationism and intelligent design are based on religious doctrine, not science, and to introduce creationism and intelligent design into the science classroom would undermine both science and religion. Religion looks ignorant when arguing against thoroughly tested scientific theories, and science addresses only what can be observed and tested, so it cannot argue religious beliefs, which are outside its domain. Teaching evolution in the public schools is essential to teaching good science, and it does not require students to accept it or to compromise their religious beliefs; it simply requires them to understand it.
Click here to listen to High School student Zack Kopplin talk to Welton about his activism on the February 12, 2011 edition of State of Belief Radio. You’ll also hear Dr. Barbara Forrest, co-founder of the Louisiana Coalition for Science, on that group’s efforts to support Zack’s work. (Please note, these are extended versions of the interviews originally broadcast nationwide.) -Ed.