Ricky Line is – or at least was back in 2011 – superintendent of Hart County’s school in Lexington, Kentucky, a religious fundamentalist extremist and, of course, a creationist, something that predictably led to a bit of conflict with his role as superintendent. For instance, Line sent a number of letters and emails to the state Education Commissioner and Kentucky Board of Education members asking them to reconsider the “Blueprint” for Kentucky’s new end-of-course test in biology, which, he contended, would treat evolution as fact, not theory, and therefore require schools to teach that way. Indeed.
Like most creationists Line, of course, possesses a rather cursory understanding of evolution, arguing that the Blueprint’s treatment of evolution would “require students to believe that humans … evolved from primates such as apes and … were not created by God.” Said Line: “My feeling is if the Commonwealth’s site-based councils, school board members, superintendents and parents were questioned … one would find this teaching contradictory to the majority’s belief systems.” Which, you know, is actually a splendid illustration of why Lexington kids probably need someone to teach them evolution better than they evidently did before.
“I don’t think life on earth began as a one-celled organism. I don’t think that all of us came from a common ancestor … I don’t think the Big Bang theory describes the explanation of the origin of the universe,” said Line. At least he thinks for himself (emphasis on “for himself”, not “thinks”). And as for the fact that virtually every scientist disagrees with him? “It’s interesting that the great majority of scientists felt Pluto was a planet until a short time ago, and now they have totally changed that. There are scientists who don’t believe that evolution happened.” I’d love to hear him spell out the tacit premises here.
What makes the whole thing scary, though, is that several Kentucky legislators took Line’s side! “I would hope that creationism is presented as a theory in the classroom, in a science classroom, alongside evolution,” said Sen. David Givens (R-Greensburg). And Rep. Ben Waide said that he had a problem with evolution being an important part of biology standards at all: “The theory of evolution is a theory, and essentially the theory of evolution is not science – Darwin made it up,” said Waide. “My objection is they should ensure whatever scientific material is being put forth as a standard should at least stand up to scientific method. Under the most rudimentary, basic scientific examination, the theory of evolution has never stood up to scientific scrutiny.” Waide did not elaborate on what he took “scientific method” to mean.
Diagnosis: There are plenty of fundamentalist science deniers out there, and we suspect that many more than Ricky Line are in positions to genuinely do some harm. The really scary thing is that people like him have enough political power to get likeminded anti-scientists elected.