Teen Activist Continues Fight Against Creationism in La. Classrooms

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By Katherine Weber, Christian Post Reporter
January 16, 2013|3:00 pm

Zack Kopplin, a 19-year-old political activist who for the past five years has combated Louisiana's Science Education Act, recently spoke out on why he believes creationism should not be taught in America's public schools.

"Creationism is not science, and shouldn't be in a public school science class -- it's that simple," said Kopplin, who at age 14 wrote a research paper regarding the 2008 passing of Louisiana's Science Education Act. "Creationism confuses students about the nature of science,."

"If students don't understand the scientific method, and are taught that creationism is science, they will not be prepared to do work in genuine fields, especially not the biological sciences. We are hurting the chances of our students having jobs in science, and making discoveries that will change the world," the 19-year-old added in his interview with io9.com.

Kopplin, who now studies history at Rice University in Houston, Texas, has been an outspoken opponent of the LSEA since it became law in 2008.

The young activist has also composed a letter signed by 78 Nobel laureate scientists urging the state to repeal the law, and also has introduced two bills to repeal the Act, both of which have been defeated by committee votes.

In 2008, Louisiana legislature approved the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA), also known as an "Academic Freedom Law," which allows teachers to "create and foster an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning."

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The text of the Act adds that teachers may teach from the school-supplied text book and use "supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner."

Additionally, the Act states that it does not "promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion."

Teachers then may supplement these controversial topics with additional texts relating to creationism and Intelligent Design.

Critics of the LSEA, some of whom are currently attempting to have the law repealed, argue that it provides teachers with the opportunity to teach creationism in lieu of science in public schools.

According to Joshua Youngkin of the Discovery Institute, a nonprofit think tank which advocates for Intelligent Design, the purpose of the LSEA is to allow teachers with different beliefs to freely discuss scientifically-controversial issues without reprisal.

"The LSEA basically shields teachers who teach critical inquiry into matters of scientific controversy," Youngkin wrote in a Jan. 2 article on the Evolutionnews.org.

"Under the LSEA, items like the creative power of natural selection or the causes of climate change could be put up for discussion in the classroom -- as a learning exercise par excellence -- without fear of reprisal," Youngkin added.

Additionally, those who support the LSEA argue that it respects the constitutional right of religious freedom in the classroom because it allows both teachers and students to discuss their religious beliefs freely.

In Dec. 2012, the Orleans Parish School Board in Louisiana voted to ban any reference to creationism in textbooks.

Kopplin is not the only activist who opposes the teaching of creationism in schools.

In Aug. 2012, television personality and scientist Bill Nye urged U.S. parents to stop teaching their children creationism.

"I say to grown-ups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world where everything is completely inconsistent with the universe, that's fine. But don't make your kids do it, because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and tax payers for the future," Nye said in a BigThink.com video.

In light of this opposition, creationists continue to stand by their conviction, which, in the broadest sense of the term, is the religious belief based on the Bible that God created the entire universe and all human life.

Ken Ham, CEO and founder of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, has spoken about what he believes to be the "present evil age" which Christians must fight through by proclaiming the Gospel message.

In an Oct. 2012 post on the Answers in Genesis blog, Ham announced the theme for his ministry to focus on in the upcoming year: "Standing Our Ground, Rescuing Our Kids."

"Through the apostle Paul in Galatians 1:4, God tells us we live in a 'present evil age,'" wrote Ham, whose nonprofit ministry supports young Earth creationism and a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis.

"But Jesus Christ 'gave himself for our sins so that He might rescue us.' Proclaiming that Gospel message in this evil world is the church's most urgent call. Satan, however, is after the minds of this and future generations, and his key tactic is to deceive our youth [and adults] into believing lies [such as evolution and millions of years] that discredit the Bible's authority and accuracy. It is from the Bible that we get the trustworthy gospel message, and so God's Word needs to be upheld," Ham added.

Although Kopplin's two repeal attempts have failed, the university student announced that he will introduce a third challenge to repeal the LSEA in spring of this year.

 

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