State Rep Wants to Force Universities to Allow Faculty to Research Intelligent Design, Thousand-Head Giants and Earth-Creating Ravens

Categories: Education

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Bill Zedler may be the best evidence we have that there's no such thing as intelligent design.
The current legislative session has been, as far as we can tell at Hair Balls, a series of marginal victories for the state's education system. The voucher system state Sen. Dan Patrick attempted to create -- the same kind that's beset Georgia with corrupt conflicts; the same sort that's hollowed Louisiana's public education system -- looks dead in the water. A healthy chunk of the $5.4 billion cut from public coffers in 2011 looks to be reinstated. The state's charter system, which has gathered bipartisan support behind it, seems set for an expansion. And those who have begun opposing the state's CSCOPE system -- the kind that only atheistic, Islamic communists would find enjoyable -- have been mocked and derided from all sides of the political spectrum.

It's been a good few weeks for education in Texas. Fortunately, we have state Rep. Bill Zedler to make sure that swaths of our House of Representatives remain the laughingstock of those who've spent their days reading more than just the first few verses of the Book of Genesis.

Zedler, representing Fort Worth's southern suburbs, couldn't let this legislative session escape without reminding us just how strong his biblical backbone is. Per House Bill 285, which he filed in February, Zedler wanted to make sure that no public institution of higher education could possibly reprimand any faculty members researching the nonscientific notion of "intelligent design" -- or any other theory about the creation of life.

As the bill reads,

An institution of higher education may not discriminate against or penalize in any manner, especially with regard to employment or academic support, a faculty member or student based on the faculty member's or student's conduct of research relating to the theory of intelligent design or other alternate theories of the origination and development of organisms.
For the sake of our sanity, we're going to ignore detailing every possible implication of this bill. We're going to ignore that Zedler wants to prohibit public universities from chastising, or worse, any faculty member who would waste taxpayer dollars attempting to locate something to back up the claim that a Sky Spirit deemed it worthwhile to spend 13.7 billion years of universal evolution to result in the world we see today. We're going to let Zedler and his backers sit and think about the handcuffs they're placing on a university when a faculty member decides that his or her time is best spent looking for proof that said Sky Spirit boiled a primordial soup; that It sent Its message to a band of roving Middle Eastern shepherds, ignoring any method of communication to, say, the millions of Native Americans forced to spend thousands of years without any idea of Its presence; that It deemed that the best method of transcribing Its message is through a book that bars homosexuality, mixed-cloth clothing, tattoos and lobsters. We're going to assume Zedler has thought all this through already and that he's found evidence to point that these aren't all failures of his own mental acuity.

It is only through ignoring Zedler's failed attempts at mere intelligence that we can remind you that he's the very same legislator who believes that evolution is akin to a tornado somehow creating a watch. Likewise, he's also the one who filed a bill with identical language in 2011. This time around, though, is a bit different -- in 2013, this bill has finally reached a committee. According to the Texas Freedom Network, the Texas House Higher Education Committee will begin debating the bill Wednesday. While this remains a far cry from its passage, it is still an unnecessary step forward for a bill as idiotic, as backward and as puerile as HB 285.

To sum: Zedler is attempting to force universities to allow faculty members to research the supernatural and scientifically farcical. He's trying to inject faith into the world of fact. With this bill, universities would be forced to allow faculty members to research whether the Raven of Kamchatkha, the thousand-eyed Purusha of the Rig Veda, or the incestuous lineage of Adam and Eve stand correct. Or if it's another "theory" that I've just now thought up, and that is just as scientifically valid.

Zedler's attempting to turn Texas's educational system, which had made such strides this year, into once more the target of mockery and derision for most anyone with a basic concept of scientific principle. And with this bill, he's succeeding.



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6 comments
claiborne
claiborne

Let's just make science into a faith-based exercise like religion, and include all sorts of unscientific stuff in the classroom. Eventually, then, we can call science garbage and be correct about it, and go back to the flat-earther theories on even par with science. It's a bad conspiracy; shut it down.

alberteinstein
alberteinstein

Shouldn't scientists be allowed the academic freedom to challenge commonly-held beliefs, no matter how utterly farcical said challenge might be? In my mind, the aim of this bill is within the spirit of academic freedom. My problem with the bill lies not in the fact that it's protecting people studying "alternative theories of human origins"--scientists should be allowed to challenge the status quo without fear of retribution--but that it protects said research irrespective of its quality.

If recollection serves me correctly, a couple of papers in 1905 turned the scientific world upside down, shaking the bedrock of Newtonian dynamics in a way no one could have imagined.

johnnybench
johnnybench topcommenter

Don't most schools offer some sort of comparative religion class?  Just as long as they're not polluting science with superstition, there seems to me to be plenty of room in academia for teaching various cultures' origination mythology.  

casey.michel
casey.michel

@alberteinstein Absolutely. Don't think you'll find much disagreement among the education -- the freedom to research those topics deemed worthwhile should be encouraged. This, however, inhibits the university's ability to monitor and facilitate the research at hand, wasting dollars and time alongside.

johnnybench
johnnybench topcommenter

@alberteinstein Well put.  The source of the bill is stupidity, but it does touch on legitimate issues of academic freedom.  Of course, criticism of academic analysis - which is what the bill focuses on - should be encouraged, not diminished.  

casey.michel
casey.michel

@johnnybench Many schools do offer such courses -- within the School of Humanities. And that's fine. But if such study is shifted to the School of Natural Sciences, though, Texas public universities will be forced to allow any faculty member to research the scientific merit of the how Xenu forced billions of people to Earth on DC-8-style ships, packed them near volcanoes, and destroyed them via hydrogen bombs. This is what Zedler is attempting to pass.

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