Holy Crap!

big bang

Artist’s rendition of the Big Bang (Photo: NASA)

STOP THE PRESSES: Noah’s Ark has been found and rock circles prove God created the Earth.

The idea that the Ark and rock circles prove the literal six-day creation cycle is just some of the “evidence” that Louisiana State Senator John Milkovich, a Democrat by the way, recently offered to support his unconstitutional law that would mandate creationism be taught in Louisiana public schools. Louisiana State Senator Dan Claitor sponsored a bill to repeal one of Louisiana’s two creationism laws – the Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act – which was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1987. The other Louisiana law, the Louisiana Science Education Act, allows teachers to supplement their biology curriculum with materials that “critique” evolution. This law is being used by some teachers to teach creationism. For example, students from the Bossier Parish School District, in north Louisiana are learning the “Creation point of view” by reading Genesis and being given “supplemental material debunking various aspects of evolution.”

Milkovich asked Claitor during the senate committee hearing on his law if Claitor was aware of the “abundance of recent science” Milkovitch had either imagined or misinterpreted scientific support of creationism. He asked: “Are you aware that there is an abundance of recent science that actually confirms the Genesis account of Creation? The notion of instantaneous Creation has been validated by the scientific study of heliocentric circles in rocks.”

One assumes the “heliocentric circles in rocks” Milkovich is talking about are actually polonium radiohalos, which have been a creationist talking point since the 1970s, when young Earth advocate, Robert Gentry found them.

Robert V. Gentry studied halos – microscopic, spherical shells of discoloration within minerals such as biotite that occur in granite and other igneous rocks. The shells are zones of radiation damage caused by the inclusion of minute radioactive crystals within the host crystal structure. Gentry concluded that solid rock must have been created with these polonium inclusions, which decayed with a half-life of three minutes. They could not have been formed from molten rock which took many millennia to cool (the standard theory) because polonium decays in a few minutes. This conclusion is taken by creationists as evidence that the Earth was formed instantaneously.

But Claitor was not anymore swayed than I am, so Milkovich then turned from geology to archaeology, claiming explorers had “validated the Biblical story of Creation by the archeological discovery of civilizations in the Mideast that seculars said did not exist” and that there was “published research” on the discovery of an “ark or large boat” that had beached itself on Mount Ararat in Turkey. This, supposedly, was where Noah’s Ark landed after the flood, as proof of creationism. (No such research exists.)

I would like to point out here that Noah is not the only person in the business of building large boats. Utanapishtim also built a large boat after Ea/Enki warned him that the gods were going to wipe out humanity for being too noisy. Never heard of Utanapishtim? Utanapishtim is a character in the  Akkadian epic poem of Gilgamesh who is tasked by Enki (Ea) to abandon his worldly possessions and create a giant ship to be called The Preserver of Life. He was also tasked with bringing his wife, family, and relatives along with the craftsmen of his village, baby animals and grains. The oncoming flood would wipe out all animals and humans that were not on the ship. Sound familiar? After twelve days on the water, Utanapishtim opened the hatch of his ship to look around and saw the slopes of Mount Nisir, where he rested his ship for seven days. On the seventh day, he sent a dove out to see if the water had receded, and the dove could find nothing but water, so it returned. Then he sent out a swallow, and just as before, it returned, having found nothing. Finally, Utanapishtim sent out a raven, and the raven saw that the waters had receded, so it circled around, but did not return. Utanapishtim then set all the animals free, and made a sacrifice to the gods. The gods came, and because he had preserved the seed of man while remaining loyal and trusting of his gods, Utanapishtim and his wife were given immortality, as well as a place among the heavenly gods. Any resemblance to the biblical story of Noah’s Ark is purely intentional.

So a big boat was found. Great. Assuming that any of the above is true, can it be proven that it is not Utanapishtim’s boat, since no one is sure where Mount Nisir is and the Ark and Utanapishtim’s boat were roughly the same size?

Even if all this so-called “evidence” were true, it would not be enough to sway the Supreme Court, which has held that teaching creationism in public schools violates the First Amendment’s doctrine of separation of church and state.

But Milkovich was not finished with his argument. “At one point, it was constitutional for people to be owned,” he said. “Looking back on history, what the courts deemed to be constitutional or unconstitutional is…something that changes.”

Thus Milkovich, in his best impression of the worst law professor in the country, criticized Claitor’s bill by comparing it to laws against slavery. There was merit in keeping dead letter statutes on the books, he implied, because the Supreme Court may one day decide to reverse itself or overturn laws that had been passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. The only example he could muster was the infamous 1857 case Dred Scott v. Sandford, in which the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the federal government could not regulate or prohibit slavery in any territory that joined the country after its initial formation. Put another way, Milkovich compared Edwards v. Aguillard, a case that protected public school students from religious indoctrination under the pretense of science, with Dred Scott v, Sandford, a case universally regarded as the worst stain in the history of the Supreme Court and one that declared that a black man, even if he were free, can always be considered a slave.

Milkovich also said that taking “God out of schools” and teaching children that humans are “evolved from gorillas” leads to “immoral behavior” like premarital sex. Well, it is quite a leap to believe that “taking God out of schools” leads to premarital sex. Where is the evidence for such a claim? Perhaps Milkovich can explain how “putting God in schools” will cause a decrease in abortions, premarital sex, and disrespect towards parents and teachers. While he is at it, possibly he can specify which religion’s version of God would do the best job in this role. Personally, I view blaming the lack of God in public schools as a HUGE copout for parents. “Well if they only had God in our schools then my children would do better.” WRONG! If parents teach their children to be respectful, stop having premarital sex, etc., then things would be better. Also, just to be clear, humans did not evolve from gorillas, and gorillas and humans did not evolve from Old World monkeys. Old World monkeys, humans, and gorillas evolved from the common ancestors  Nsungwepithecus gunnelli and Rukwapithecus fleaglei around twenty-five to thirty million years ago. To my mind, creationism is just a collection of inconsistencies and contradictory fantasies.

Milkovich is just the latest in a long line of crazy and outrageous Louisiana politicians. For example, former state Senator Elbert Guillory voiced support for creationism based on an experience he had with a shoeless, bone shaking, and “semi-clothed” witch doctor!

Another Louisiana politico, Senator Mike Walsworth, who also voted against Claitor’s bill, made a name for himself opposing evolution. During a 2012 education committee hearing, Walsworth demanded evolution supporters provide him with an experiment that “proved evolution.” When a local science teacher began to explain an experiment conducted by University of Michigan professor Richard Lenski, who froze thousands of generations of E. coli bacteria to analyze how they changed and evolved, Walsworth asked: “They evolve into a person?” 

In his final plea for his bill, Claitor pointed out that the state already had one creationism law, and creationists did not need to keep a second unconstitutional one on the books. But, for Louisiana’s “perspicacious” politicians, two laws are better than one – just like the animals Noah brought on his Ark.

Oh . . . and here is a depressing note on which to end this piece. Senator Claitor’s bill to repeal one of Louisiana’s two creationism laws  failed by a 4-2 vote in  Louisiana’s  Senate Education Committee. Why am I not surprised. Congratulations, Louisiana! I suspect that is your reward for bordering on Mississippi.

 

 

 

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