Atheists protest teaching creationism at Arroyo Grande High School

April 25, 2015

creationismAmid several complaints about an Arroyo Grande High School science educator allegedly teaching creationism, the principal said he would put an end to it and the school district is planning to investigate, according to a Atheists United of San Luis Obispo press release.

The teacher, Brandon Pettenger, has allegedly been discussing creationism as an alternative to evolution and recently devoted three days of class time to watching the Bill Nye – Ken Ham debate “Is Creation A Viable Model of Origins?” In addition, Pettenger allegedly asked the students to summarize a pro-creationist blog posting as homework.

One concerned mother contacted both the district and Principal Conan Bowers.

“This isn’t an anti-religious stance, this is about my son learning science,” said the mother who does not want to disclose her identity. “My son has been upset and frustrated about this since day one. He loves school but he hasn’t wanted to be in this class.”

In 1987, the Supreme Court struck down teaching “scientific creationism” in public schools and in 2005, a federal court ruled that creationism and intelligent design were religious views and did not qualify as scientific theories.

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We’re all going to be kneeling and facing Mecca soon enough, let’s not rush it.


No, not going to happen. Not in SLO county, not in California, etc



I can’t believe that creationism is on our curriculum. Who did that? Is this backwoods Tennessee or something? I thought we dropped the invisible sky dictator stuff about 100 years ago.

“Hey I can’t figure out how our world works so let’s just say God did it. And oh, by the way since God did it let’s make it the one God that I believe in, K?”

I mean can it get any more ignorant and pathetic than that?


“invisible sky dictator stuff”

Thank you for that.

Sarah Bellem

I’ve heard that Duck Dynasty writes the curriculum for the Arroyo Grande HS each year. They won’t be able to get good science jobs but they will be able to work in a duck call factory somewhere that’s for sure.


Critical thinking is a great thing to learn. Over our history, scientific theories have been supported, updated, revised, enhanced, and in many cases disproven, with new theories rising that are more accurate or entirely different.

There are so many theories that must be looked at including evolution, relativity, and the more recent anthropogenic climate change. Unlike how some would like to believe, science is not settled. Consensus is a tool, but the consensus is not always right. It matters that we get results that are verifiable by reference to the real world.

When science and religion or science and politics come together, we should have a heightened skepticism and look for the evidence, the ability to predict, and the accuracy of models to observations. We must question if something is a cause, a correlation, or even related. We must be careful of bias, and challenge models, methods, assumptions, measurements, and data.

How old is the earth? How did it form? What is the cause of AIDS? How do we know the age of fossils? Is there a link between vaccines and certain diseases or conditions? Is that food or supplement healthy? Will doing X result in Y? Does a medical procedure cause more harm then good? What causes cancer? Is there life on other planets? Does dark matter exist? What evidence would be needed to support or refute any given theory?

If anything, hopefully the students learned that there are alternate points of view. And often, what has believed to be fact isn’t.

Ted Slanders


As a true Christian, I can help you with some of your questions relative to the earth, whereas we don’t know how old it is in man’s time because we’re told in the bible that it was without form and was void before our Christian Hebrew God decided that He needed some entertainment, therefore He created man.

Relative to man’s age on earth, we do know that answer because in Luke 3:23-38 it specifically states that the chronological order of man existing on earth, from Jesus back to Adam, is approximately 4000 years old, and hence, another 2000 years until today. Furthermore, every true Christian realizes that man was made from dirt (Genesis 2:7) and woman from Adam’s rib (Genesis 2:22), plus we had a talking snake in the Garden of Eden to prove the validity of this narrative.

Most importantly, Eve was cursed with severe pain in future child birth because she transgressed our God’s command not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, therefore passing this “original sin” to the remainder of women until the end. Barring the fact that another part of her punishment from our God was that she was to be ruled over by her husband, and this edict continues today with further chapter and verse within the scriptures. So many Christian women are inept of this biblical fact.

To answer a few other questions that you’ve posed, in that who created AIDES, cancer, medical procedures being good or bad, etc., it all deduces to the biblical fact that our Christian Hebrew God is totally responsible for these and other acts.

“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16 )

God, not chance, decides what happens in human affairs (Proverbs 16:33)

Behind every circumstance is the Lord (Amos 3:6).

Do you see why Christians are so upset that the bible is not taught within the public school system? If it was, the Christian’s Occam’s Razor could cut right though these alleged and insidious complicated scientific facts, and our children subsequently would be better prepared to enter the real world, praise!


While this is well written from an English composition

perspective, it fails from a science, or legal one. Evolution,

relativity, and climate change are facts that have successfully

passed innumerable empirical tests.

The writer, mikeGB, failed to grasp the difference between

a guess, and a scientific theory. It is easiest to quote the US

National Academy of Science,

“In everyday usage, “theory” often refers to a hunch or a

speculation. When people say, “I have a theory about why

that happened,” they are often drawing a conclusion based

on fragmentary or inconclusive evidence.

The formal scientific definition of theory is quite different from

the everyday meaning of the word. It refers to a

comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is

supported by a vast body of evidence.


Weird formating above. Sorry about that.

mikeGB asked a number of questions in a context that indicated he did not know the answer, or even that the answer could not be known. This is in most of his questions an absurdity.

“How old is the earth?”

The Solar System formed (within statistical parameters) 4.6 billion years ago. This is known from the spectra of the Sun, and the ratios of various fusion products. The age of the Earth/Moon pair is known to be 4.47 billion years ago (most publications round up to 4.5 Ga). This is known by directly analyzing heat shocked meteorites generated by the oblique collision between the proto-Earth, and a Mars sized planetoid. See: “Dating the Moon-forming impact event with asteroidal meteorites” Bottke et al, Science 17 April 2015: 321-323. A good book is G. Brent Dalrymple, “Ancient Earth, Ancient Skies: The Age of Earth and its Cosmic Surroundings” (2004 Stanford University Press).

“How did it form?”

See above.

“What is the cause of AIDS?”

Infection with HIV is the essential event. (In medicine, we distinguish between a ‘”primary event,” and a “proximal event” when thinking about disease etiology. There are emerging genetic mutations to HIV, and in humans that can minimize or delay the actual illness.

“How do we know the age of fossils?”

There are multiple ways we can date fossils depending on their general age. Historically the deposition, or geological sequence was used to at least provide an ordering in time for fossils. This was not a “dating” as 200 years ago geologists had no means to directly date strata. Since the 1980s we have had available many direct dating methods. The two most often used are radioisotope measurement, and magnetic polarity calibration. By fixing absolute dates to biological assemblages the original sequences based on stratification can be used to date other locations by bio-stratigraphy. More recent materials, say the last 60,000 years are also dated by methods such as thermoluminescence, electron spin resonance, and others.

“Is there a link between vaccines and certain diseases or conditions?”

There is the obvious link between being vaccinated and not getting sick from the disease. Using live virus vaccines entails a small risk that some people will get sick, although less severely than when infected with the wild virus. The falsehood that vaccines cause sterility, or autism have been exposed as frauds over and over. These lies do live on in internet chat-rooms.

“Does a medical procedure cause more harm then good?”

This is always a question asked in medical practice. The answer is that it always depends on the procedure and the health of the patient. It does no good to cure a disease and kill the patient. However, this is rarely a “scientific” question.

“What causes cancer?”

First, there are many kinds of cancer. The question as stated is absurd. Cancers are the result of unregulated cell growth. They are caused by several types of mutations acting together; turning off genes that regulate cell type, turning off genes that regulate cell division, turning on genes that “hide” cancer cells from the immune system, and turning on genes that promote metastasis. These mutations can be inherited, or triggered by environmental features such as ionizing radiation, or chemicals. se

“Is there life on other planets?”

We don’t know. There is no evidence to suggest that life must be unique to Earth. We know that complex “organic” molecules are wide spread. I suggest reading the NASA literature on Astrobiology.

“Does dark matter exist?”



Scientific evidence SUPPORTS creationism much more thoroughly than it supports it all being happenstance. In fact, teaching that life came from some primordial muck is not supported at all. Kudos to this teacher for trying to be balanced instead of regurgitating the evolutionist propaganda which CANNOT be supported by science.


For a good review of origin of life research, see:

Deamer, David W. 2011 “First Life: Discovering the Connections between Stars, Cel

The general situation is that we know with certainty that all the necesssary componets of life were available naturally.We also know that these were available in many otehr star systems. See: NASA Program for Astrobiology.

We also know that life on Earth appeared ~3.8 billion years ago;

Manfred Schidlowski, Peter W. U. Appel, Rudolf Eichmann and Christian E. Junge 1979 “Carbon isotope geochemistry of the 3.7 × 109-yr-old Isua sediments, West Greenland: implications for the Archaean carbon and oxygen cycles” Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 43, 189-199

Rosing, Minik T. and Robert Frei 2004 “U-rich Archaean sea-floor sediments from Greenland – indications of >3700 Ma oxygenic photosynthesis” Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 217 237-244

There is nothing to indicate a need for magic, or space aliens.


Perspicacious says:”Scientific evidence SUPPORTS creationism much more thoroughly than it supports it all being happenstance. ”

What “evidence”, dinosaur fossils? A book?

fishing village

Good response by the parent! Yippy, someone is alert , aware of what their child is learning!


Separation of church and state. Let’s teach critical thinking and science, not religious mythology…..sorry if the truth offends.

Ted Slanders


I take exception to your ungodly statements! What is wrong in teaching the doctrine of a brutal serial killing Hebrew Bronze Age tribal war God named Yahweh, to our children going into the 21st Century? Does it really matter that the “plethora” of other God’s of this time period have been shown to be a myth, whereas, our Yahweh has not because we don’t want Him too?

So what if the Greek God’s of Zeus and Hermes are mentioned within our Judeo-Christian bible as being real along with our Jesus character? (Acts 14: 11-13) Conversly, we have faith that Jesus is truly real, whereas we Christians have to presume that Zeus and Hermes are considered myths through the same faith that we hold so dear. We rely upon Christian logic 101 to get us through situations like this, praise!


Instead of Atheism or Christianity, why don’t we let these kids in on the truth which is that no one, not even the greatest minds in history, has figured out a damn thing. Let’s teach them to embrace that uncertainty and live with until such time comes that we get things figured out. Maybe a little less Nietzsche and Jesus, and a little more Camus.


Actually, let me substitute Richard Dawkins for Nietzsche as my representative for Atheism. If I remember correctly, Nietzsche too came to know how little he knew.


slophocles says:”no one, not even the greatest minds in history, has figured out a damn thing.”

Your dislike of the answers, has no effect on science.


Science knows the Why (we are here)? As far as I know, science doesn’t even tackle the Why. And as far as the How (exactly we got here) I believe there is still a great deal of disagreement. I neither like nor dislike answers, just haven’t heard any yet.


Here they go again. 73% of Americans identify themselves as Christian. Let’s not teach any of that. Let’s burn books. Let’s censor learning.

It’s a good thing I was taught to forgive.


“… Let’s burn books. Let’s censor learning.”

“It’s a good thing I was taught to forgive.”

It really doesn’t look like you are actually very forgiving ….


TaxMeAgain says:”73% of Americans” 73% of 2000 in a small, hand chosen area of middle America perhaps.

73% of all of America? No. Also no link to fictional 73% anything.


There are ~42% of Americans who report that they believe that humans were suddenly created by god(s). There are another `31% who say they think that their god(s) used evolution to create humans.

This widely reported in the religious press as “73% of Americans are Christian.” If you merely ask, “Are you a Christain?” nearly 75% of Americans will answer “Yes.”

(All data are from the most recent relevant Gallop Poll).


Great, now my tax dollars are being spent while this “science” teacher preaches religion to a bunch of students in a public school. Good on the principal for putting an end to it, and the school district for investigating.

BTW, for anyone who hasn’t watched the Bill Nye / Ken Ham debate, you should. Bill Nye destroys creationism.


So is the teacher “preaching” or is Bill Nye “destroying” creationism? This teacher brings up one fiction (creationism) vs. the “accepted” fiction (evolution) and then plays a video, which in your words, destroys creationism. So I ask again, what was taught?

If people weren’t so easily bent out of shape for the simple things, likely due to overly-comfortable lives, this is hardly an issue. By the way, the people that founded this country, won two world wars and put a man on the moon were also taught creationism. Some were taught both. Go figure.


Was the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate shown in school?

You can read about Thomas Jefferson’s religion here:

Please cite your references on the people who put a man on the moon and their educations.

There is a difference between teaching morality and religious beliefs.


Well, if you can’t even read the article, I highly doubt you’d read any sources cited.


While I think that a teacher who has done a good job of teaching critical thinking could be OK using the video to demonstrate logic as applied to the scientific method, I don’t know whether this teacher meets that criteria. I can understand the school’s reluctance to allow it under those circumstances. However, the debate is not going away anytime soon and it wouldn’t hurt for high school kids to be exposed to the thought processes involved in a critical manner. Of course that would invite criticism from the biblical literalists/creationists and they probably don’t want to deal with that either.

By the way, their was little evidence about human origins when our founding fathers were around — modern science was still in the “toddler” stage. And creationism vs. evolution has nothing direct to do with winning wars or putting a man on the moon. (The science behind nuclear reaction also contributes to evolutionary theory though.)


You are correct in that modern science was still in the toddler stage at our country’s founding; it may still be, we don’t know, as we only have one point of reference (present day) to know how far we’ve come.

As far as the winning wars / man-on-the-moon bit, I was not suggesting that creationism vs. “evolutionism” (both theories in my book) had anything to do with it; rather, that education included morals based on judeo-christian teachings. If you went back to the 40’s, 50’s or even 60’s, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who did not have a religious / quasi-religious upbringing that emphasized morality. Meaning, religion and morality WERE taught, both in schools and homes, and it was the recipients (and educators) of said morals and religious teachings that “won wars” and “put a man on the moon” as it were.

In short, it is like much of today’s America: you’re blessed with the freedom to dissent, so people dissent against that which gives them the freedom to do so.


This teacher brings up one fiction (creationism) vs. the “accepted” fiction (evolution) and then plays a video, which in your words, destroys creationism.


Roy walk–no run to get an education. Your God hides at all times while the most ignorant, the most uneducated and the most mentally deluded do Its bidding.

By the way, the people that founded this country, won two world wars and put a man on the moon were also taught creationism. Some were taught both. Go figure.


Outright lie. The writer of the declaration of independence and most of the constitution Thomas Jefferson thought the bible was pathetic myth.

And in reality, the people who founded this country were slave owners and couldn’t even see that their beliefs should apply to black people or women so you might not want to go there.


You might want to re-read the comment, as you have utterly missed the point.

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