Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Cyber Monday Sale! Courses ranging from coding to project management - all eLearning deals 25% off with coupon code "CYBERMONDAY25". ×

Ken Ham's Ark Torpedoed With Charges of Religious Discrimination 451

McGruber writes: Back on February 4, "Science Guy" Bill Nye debated Creationist Kenneth Alfred "Ken" Ham. That high-profile debate helped boost support for Ham's $73 million "Ark Encounter" project, allowing Ham to announce on February 25 that a municipal bond offering had raised enough money to begin construction. Nye said he was "heartbroken and sickened for the Commonwealth of Kentucky" after learning that the project would move forward. Nye said the ark would eventually draw more attention to the beliefs of Ham's ministry, which preaches that the Bible's creation story is a true account, and as a result, "voters and taxpayers in Kentucky will eventually see that this is not in their best interest."

In July, the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority unanimously approved $18.25 million worth of tax incentives to keep the ark park afloat. The funds are from a state program that allows eligible tourism attractions a rebate of as much as 25 percent of the investment in the project. Since then, the Ark Park's employment application has became public: "Nestled among the requirements for all job applicants were three troubling obligatory documents: 'Salvation testimony,' 'Creation belief statement,' and a 'Confirmation of your agreement with the AiG statement of faith.' (AiG is Answers in Genesis, Ham's ministry and Ark Encounter's parent company.)"

That caused the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet to halt its issuance of tax incentives for the ark park. Bob Stewart, secretary of the cabinet, wrote to Ham that "the Commonwealth does not provide incentives to any company that discriminates on the basis of religion and we will not make any exception for Ark Encounter, LLC." Before funding could proceed, Stewart explained, "the Commonwealth must have the express written assurance from Ark Encounter, LLC that it will not discriminate in any way on the basis of religion in hiring." The ark park has not yet sunk. It is "still pending before the authority" and a date has not yet been set for the meeting where final approval will be considered.

Jewish School Removes Evolution Questions From Exams 431

Alain Williams writes "Religious sponsored ignorance is not just in the USA, a school in Hackney, England is trying to hide the idea of evolution from its pupils. Maybe they fear that their creation story will be seen for what it is if pupils get to learn ideas supported evidence. The girls are also disadvantaged since they can't answer the redacted questions, thus making it harder to get good marks."

Missouri Legislation Redefines Science, Pushes Intelligent Design 813

An anonymous reader writes "Ars reports on new legislation in the Missouri House of Representatives which is seeking equal time in the classroom for Intelligent Design, and to redefine science itself. You can read the text of the bill online. It uses over 600 words to describe Intelligent Design. Scientific theory, the bill says, is 'an inferred explanation of incompletely understood phenomena about the physical universe based on limited knowledge, whose components are data, logic, and faith-based philosophy.' It would require that 'If scientific theory concerning biological origin is taught in a course of study, biological evolution and biological intelligent design shall be taught.' The legislation's references to 'scientific theory' and 'scientific law' make it clear the writers don't have the slightest idea how science actually works. It also has this odd line near the end: 'If biological intelligent design is taught, any proposed identity of the intelligence responsible for earth's biology shall be verifiable by present-day observation or experimentation and teachers shall not question, survey, or otherwise influence student belief in a nonverifiable identity within a science course.'"

Texas School Board Searching For Alternatives To Evolutionary Theory 763

An anonymous reader writes "[Ars Technica] recently reviewed the documentary The Revisionaries, which chronicles the actions of the Texas state school board as it attempted to rewrite the science and history standards that had been prepared by experts in education and the relevant subjects. For biology, the board's revisions meant that textbook publishers were instructed to help teachers and students 'analyze all sides of scientific information' about evolution. Given that ideas only reach the status of theory if they have overwhelming evidence supporting them, it isn't at all clear what 'all sides' would involve."

JPL Employee's Firing Wasn't Due To Intelligent Design Advocacy, Says Judge 477

SternisheFan writes with an update to a story from earlier this year about a lawsuit in which David Coppedge alleged he was fired from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for his advocacy of Intelligent Design. Now, a judge has ruled that Coppedge was legitimately dismissed for performance reasons. From the article: "n 2009, he apparently got a bit aggressive about promoting these ideas at work, leading one employee to complain. The resulting investigation found that he had also aggressively promoted his opinion on California's gay marriage ban, and had attempted to get JPL's holiday party renamed to 'Christmas party.' ... Coppedge was warned about his behavior at work, but he felt it was an infringement of his religious freedom, so he sued. Shortly after, as part of a set of cutbacks on the Cassini staff, he was fired. In court, Coppedge and his lawyer portrayed him as being targeted for promoting an idea that is, to put it mildly, not popular with scientists. But JPL's legal team introduced evidence that his aggressive promotion of it at work was part of a pattern of bad interactions with his fellow employees that dated back at least five years earlier."

Kentucky Lawmakers Shocked To Find Evolution In Biology Tests 1218

bbianca127 writes "Kentucky mandated that schools include tests that are based on national standards, and contracted test maker ACT to handle them. Legislators were then shocked that evolution was so prominently featured, even though evolution is well-supported and a central tenet of modern biology. One KY Senator said he wanted creationism taught alongside evolution, even though the Supreme Court has ruled that teaching creationism in science classes is a violation of the establishment clause. Representative Ben Wade stated that evolution is just a theory, and that Darwin made it all up. Legislators want ACT to make a Kentucky-specific ACT test, though the test makers say that would be prohibitively expensive. This is just the latest in a round of states' fight against evolution — Louisiana and Tennessee have recently passed laws directed against teaching evolution."

Tennessee Passes Bill That Allows "Teaching the Controversy" of Evolution 1108

Layzej writes "The Tennessee Senate has passed a bill that allows teachers to 'teach the controversy' on evolution, global warming and other scientific subjects. Critics have called it a 'monkey bill' that promotes creationism in classrooms. In a statement sent to legislators, eight members of the National Academy of Science said that, in practice, the bill will likely lead to 'scientifically unwarranted criticisms of evolution.' and that 'By undermining the teaching of evolution in Tennessee's public schools, HB368 and SB893 would miseducate students, harm the state's national reputation, and weaken its efforts to compete in a science-driven global economy.'"

Muslim Medical Students Boycott Darwin Lectures 1319

First time submitter Readycharged writes "The Daily Mail reports on a piece from The Sunday Times revealing that University College London have seen an increasing number of Muslim students boycotting lectures on Evolution due to clashes with the Koran. Steve Jones, Emeritus Professor of Human Genetics, says, 'I've had one or two slightly frisky discussions with kids who belonged to fundamentalist Christian churches, now it's Islamic overwhelmingly.' He adds, 'What they object to — and I don't really understand it, I am not religious — they object to the idea that there is a random process out there which is not directed by God.' The article also reveals that Evolutionary Biologist and former Oxford Professor Richard Dawkins also experienced Muslims walking out of such lectures."

For Texas Textbooks, a Victory For Evolution 626

An anonymous reader writes "The Texas Board of Education has unanimously come down on the side of evolution. In an 8-0 vote, the board today approved scientifically accurate high school biology textbook supplements from established mainstream publishers — and did not approve the creationist-backed supplements from International Databases, LLC."

Evolution Battle Brews In Texas 916

oxide7 writes "In Texas, a battle is brewing over the teaching of evolutionary theory as the Board of Education considers a new set of instructional materials to be used in science classrooms. [Two sections of the new material] deal with the origin of life. Those sections say the 'null hypothesis' is that there had to be some intelligent agency behind the appearance of living things. It is up to the scientists proposing a naturalistic explanation to prove their case."

Tennessee Bill Helps Teachers Challenge Evolution 735

sciencehabit writes "In a 70-28 vote yesterday, the Tennessee House of Representatives passed HB 368 (PDF), a bill that encourages science teachers to explore controversial topics without fear of reprisal. Critics say the measure will enable K-12 teachers to present intelligent design and creationism as acceptable alternatives to evolution in the classroom. If the bill passes, Tennessee would join Louisiana as the second state to have specific 'protection' for the teaching of evolution in the classroom."

Teachers Back Away From Evolution In Class 947

RedEaredSlider writes "A study (abstract) from Penn State shows that a lot of teachers — some 60 percent — are reluctant to teach evolutionary theory in the classroom either because they fear controversy or they just aren't comfortable with the material (as not every biology teacher was a science major). It shows the importance, the authors say, of training teachers well before they step into the class."

Kentucky Announces Creationism Theme Park Screenshot-sm 648

riverat1 writes "On December first, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear announced that a creationism theme park is expected to open in 2014. Park developers are seeking state tourism development incentives and could receive up to $37.5 million over a 10-year period. Gov. Steve Beshear said he does not believe the incentives would violate the principle of church-state separation because the 14-year-old tax incentives law wasn’t approved for the purpose of benefiting the Ark Encounter. The park will have a 500 foot replica of the Ark with live animals on it and a Tower of Babel explaining how races and languages developed. The park will be turned over to Answers in Genesis after it is built. They are a non-profit organization which may allow them to discriminate in hiring on the basis of religion."

Australian Schools To Teach Intelligent Design 714

An anonymous reader writes "It appears that schools within the Australian state of Queensland are going to be required to teach Intelligent Design as part of their Ancient History studies. While it is gratifying to note that it isn't being taught in science classes (since it most certainly isn't a science), one wonders what role a modern controversy can possibly serve within a subject dedicated to a period of history which occurred hundreds of years before Darwin proposed his groundbreaking theory?"

California Moves To Block Texas' Textbook Changes 857

eldavojohn writes "Yesterday the Texas textbook controversy was reported internationally but the news today heats up the debate as California, a state on the other side of the political spectrum, introduces legislation that would block these textbook changes inside California. Democrat Senator Leland Yee (you may know him as a senator often tackling ESRB ratings on video games) introduced SB1451, which would require California's school board to review books for any of Texas' changes and block the material if any such are found. The bill's text alleges that said changes would be 'a sharp departure from widely accepted historical teachings' and 'a threat to the apolitical nature of public school governance and academic content standards in California.'"

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken