BY Beth Comery
Here we are inside the Brown University Sciences Library, a building so resolutely dedicated to rational thinking that it has a thirteenth floor . . . no room for silly superstition here. It seems likely that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (Class of ‘91, B.S. Biology) spent many hours in this library studying in the stacks, surrounded by volumes of research papers and monographs. Yet he somehow graduated — with honors no less — without understanding the difference between scientific works of data-gathering, experimentation, and analysis . . . and the stories of the Old Testament.
At the other end of the critical thinking spectrum (and in no way to blame) is Kenneth R. Miller, author of “Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul” and professor of biology at Brown University. With Jindal now being considered as a vice-presidential candidate, Miller felt the need show what kind of a president this man might make. In a piece for Slate magazine Miller exposes Jindal’s benighted policies as Governor of Louisiana.
In fact, Jindal’s actions at one point persuaded leading scientific organizations, including the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, to cross New Orleans off their list of future meeting sites (PDF). What did Jindal do to produce a hornet’s nest of “mad scientists,” as Times-Picayune writer James Gill described them? He signed into law, in Gill’s words, the “Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA), which is named for what it is designed to destroy.” The act allows “supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials” to be brought into classrooms to support the “open and objective discussion” of certain “scientific theories,” including, of course, evolution.
So the Bible will be a supplemental textbook for biology teachers. Why stop there? It could just as easily supplement the teaching of algebra, or French.
Professor Miller famously testified in the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover case in which it was decided that intelligent design was just relabeled creationism and had no place in the classroom. Miller is himself a Catholic as he discussed on Stephen Colbert back in June of 2008. And while I usually end these pieces by demanding that everyone join me in the modern, secular, rational world, Colbert and Miller can remain Catholics if they want. They’ve earned it. (But only them.)
The south-facing side of the Sciences Library was wired into a giant game of Tetris several years ago — a record for biggest Tetris at the time.