More than 40 Nobel Prize-winning scientists have signed onto an open letter to the Louisiana Legislature urging lawmakers to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act, a 2008 law that ostensibly allows biology teachers in state public high schools to “supplement” the standard curriculum with materials that question long-established and widely accepted tenets of evolutionary biology.
Critics of the LSEA characterize it as a Trojan Horse for creationists. The law, signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal, our Ivy League biology major, was vigorously lobbied for by Louisiana Family Forum, a conservative Christian group that seeks to return Louisiana to the halcyon ignorance of yesteryear.
Following is the letter, sans the lengthy amicus brief cited in the third paragraph:
As Nobel Laureates in various scientific fields, we urge you to repeal the misnamed and misguided Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA) of 2008. This law creates a pathway for creationism and other forms of non-scientific instruction to be taught in public school science classrooms.
The warning flags many of us raised about this law have now been proven justified. Members of the Livingston Parish School Board recently announced their desire to include creationism in the science curriculum for the 2011-2012 school year. Clearly, the LSEA is well understood by Louisiana school administrators and public officials as having created an avenue to incorporate the teaching of creationism into science curricula in Louisiana schools.
Louisiana’s students deserve to be taught proper science rather than religion presented as science. Science offers testable, and therefore falsifiable, explanations for natural phenomena. Because it requires supernatural explanations of natural phenomena, creationism does not meet these standards. Seventy-two Nobel Laureates addressed these issues in 1987 in an amicus brief in the Edwards vs. Aguillard U.S. Supreme Court case, which originated in Louisiana after the passage of a 1981 creationist law.
Scientific knowledge is crucial to twenty-first-century life. Biological evolution is foundational in many fields, including biomedical research and agriculture. It aids us in understanding, for example, how to fight diseases like HIV and how to grow plants that will survive in different environments. Because science plays such a large role in today’s world and because our country’s economic future is dependent upon the United States’ retaining its competitiveness in science, it is vital that students have a sound education about major scientific concepts and their applications.
We strongly urge that the Louisiana Legislature repeal this misguided law. Louisiana students deserve an education that will allow them to compete with their peers across the country and the globe.
Read the letter with the amicus brief and see who signed the letter here.