BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — Noah’s Ark has been found and rock circles prove God created the Earth.
That’s just some of the “proof” Democratic state Sen. John Milkovich offered up on Tuesday to support an unconstitutional law that mandates teaching creationism in public school. (Full disclosure: I was sitting at the witness table for several earlier testimonies.) State Sen. 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. That hasn’t stopped Louisiana lawmakers like Milkovich from supporting the ideas behind it.
“Are you aware that there is an abundance of recent science that actually confirms the Genesis account of Creation?” Milkovich asked Claitor during the Senate committee hearing on his law. “The notion of instantaneous Creation has been validated by the scientific study of heliocentric circles in rocks.”
If geology wasn’t enough to sway Claitor, maybe archeology would.
Milkovich said explorers had “validated the Biblical story of Creation by the archeological discovery of civilizations in the Mideast that seculars said did not exist.” Milkovich claimed there is “published research” on the discovery of a “ark or large boat” on Mt. Ararat in Turkey, where Noah’s Ark was said to have landed after The Flood, as proof of creationism. (No such evidence exists.)
Even if all this “evidence” were true, it wouldn’t be enough to sway the Supreme Court, which holds that teaching creationism in public schools violates the FIrst Amendment’s doctrine of separation of church and state.
Milkovich has an answer for that though.
“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.”
Then Milkovich went further, suggesting the Supreme Court’s decision to remove creationism from classrooms was similar to upholding “separate but equal” discrimination in 1896’s Plessy v. Ferguson (overturned by 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education).
He also said taking “God out of schools” and teaching children that humans are “evolved from gorillas” leads to “immoral behavior” like premarital sex.
(Claitor’s bill failed by a 4-2 vote in Louisiana’s Senate Education Committee.)
Milkovich is just the latest in a long line of crazy Louisiana politicians. Former state Sen. Elbert Guillory voiced support for creationism based off an experience he had with a shoeless, bone shaking, “semi-clothed” witch doctor.
Another committee member, Sen. Mike Walsworth, who also voted against Claitor’s bill on Tuesday, has 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 run 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?”
Even if Claitor had succeeded in passing his bill, it wouldn’t change the fact that another Louisiana law, the Louisiana Science Education Act, allows teachers to supplement their biology curriculum with materials that “critique” evolution.
The Daily Beast has already covered emails that show that this law is being used by some teachers to teach creationism. According to one email I obtained from the Bossier Parish School District, in north Louisiana, students are learning the “Creation point of view” by reading the Book of Genesis and being given “supplemental material debunking various aspects of evolution.”
In his final plea for the bill, Claitor pointed out that the state already had one creationism law, and creationists didn’t need to keep a second unconstitutional one on the books.
But, for Louisiana’s politicians, two laws are better than one—just like the animals Noah brought on his ark.