HB 1283 – Challenge Your Teacher on Evolution

Rep. Thompson has introduced HB 1283 which is part of the ongoing effort to promote the teaching of creationism as science in public schools and to undermine the legitimacy of evolution. But, since that’s unconstitutional, it’s not an effort to promote the teaching of creationism as science in public schools and to undermine the legitimacy of evolution. [*wink*]

Let’s dissect this thing a little bit.

First, it’s placed in the “mandatory curriculum” chapter of the Indiana Code. Next, it contains a “findings of the General Assembly” section. This is always a red flag to me. When drafting bills, the Legislative Services Agency will never put one of these into the code on their own initiative. A law should tell you what to do or not do on its own. The reasons why are mostly just academic to the functioning of a legal code. Someone asked pretty directly for the findings to be included.

Next it says that school administrators “shall endeavor” to “create an environment” that “encourages” students to “explore” questions and respond “appropriately” and “respectfully” to different conclusions and theories concerning subjects set forth in subsection (a)(2). (emphasis added by me). I suppose “theories” is the tell here. Otherwise, conclusions” would be sufficient as it encompasses theories along with other non-theory conclusions.

And what are the subjects set forth in (a)(2)? (a)(2) reads:

some subjects, including, but not limited to, science, history, and health, have produced differing conclusions and theories on some topics;

The whole thing is just so wishy washy. But why not further elaborate on “some subjects” – religion and politics are notable for producing different conclusions and theories on some topics. But, why even “some topics”? I would contend that all topics have been the subject of differing conclusions.

Facts are unknowable. The scientific method is a poor substitute for anecdotes and strongly held beliefs. Why try? Class dismissed.


  1. Joe says

    So kids can spend their time in school arguing about how many men shot Kennedy or who really won the 2000 election or even if the Holocaust happened? Sounds like a good use of everyone’s time.

  2. varangianguard says

    Surprised they just don’t mandate funding for voluntary “home schooling”. No better way to proselytize to your kids than to do so without pernicious influences.

  3. Freedom says

    Home-schooled kids should get a nice fat rebate of the costs of sending a kid to public schools. We need to starve the public schools, and we need to get the education majors out of the teacher’s desk.

    • Ian says

      Hmm that is an idea. I guess all homeowners with no children or adult children should get a rebate check too. Come to think about it, I have never been in prison so maybe I should have rebate check in the amount of costs it would take to house an inmate. I have also never had to have the fire department come to my house, so I guess I should have a rebate check for the amount it would take to fight a fire.

    • Joe says

      I’m all for giving the kids the money in something like a 529 for college education. Wait, you mean give the money to the parents, don’t you?

      I do know we are all screwed if we continue down this road of starving schools of funding. Exactly who is going to pay the health care costs of the boomers if we don’t have a workforce because some people were more worried about getting meaningless tax refunds?

      I guess I should also mention I’m in my mid-30’s and grew up voting consistently Republican until the recent veer into Mr. Burns land, the “screw the poor” approach to, well, everything is a big turn off.

      If you want your kids to learn about creationism, put your money where your mouth is and send your kids to a private school. I do, but I also recognize that mandating that public schools teach religious beliefs is a hysterically bad idea on multiple levels. Financially, sure, it would be awesome if I got a voucher for a large percentage of that money, but not if it means the schools for everyone else got worse.

  4. Stuart Swenson says

    This is something that could really come back to bite creationists. Let’s say a kid brings up the six-day creation idea (not too likely, in view of the many other topics that need to be discussed). The teacher says, “Very good, John. Let’s look at that idea from the evidence. You lay it out, and then we will take it apart and see whether it stands up to scrutiny. Then we will take the contention that the earth is many billions of years old, and examine that data.” This is unlikely to turn out in the way that creationists are hoping. For that matter, students have been arguing with teachers since before Aristotle.

  5. Stuart Swenson says

    Consider the likelihood that students will have to “challenge” a biology teacher about origins (creation) or Darwinian theory. Let’s say that instructional periods are one hour, the school day is 7.25 hrs. and that a student attends high school for four years at 180 days per year. IF the student takes biology and the teacher dedicates an entire week to this issue (very unlikely), the student will be exposed to the origins and evolution question .01% of his/her total high school career, but probably much less. Is this worth a bill in our legislature that seems to love micromanaging the schools, but cannot manage to fund them?

  6. Craig says

    I’ve often thought that certain members of the Indiana Legislature stand as convincing evidence of biological devolution. Take Bob Morris for instance…

    • Carlito Brigante says


      20,000 years ago, Morris’ utter lack of intellect and judgement would have been selected against. His life would have been nasty brutish and very shortdead before ten or 12 and he would have had no opportunity to contaminate the species with his genetic material.

      But with the end of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, such “dicks” can now propogate and are no longer selected against.

      That line of reasoning would make a good teaching mandate.

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