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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What is more of a “fairy tale”? To believe that God created the universe or that it just happened and evolved out of some pre-existing single cell primordial muck?

You all are saying evolution is science, but evolution has yet to be proven or actually observed, so how is evolution considered “scientific fact”?

If you folks are, in fact, open-minded as you like to say, do some research into how the Bible and biblical account of creation jives with the fossil and geological record, and then get back to me.


We do observe evolution directly in natural and laboratory settings. I have collected a list of dozens of published examples of new species directly observed evolving from older species. Use your favorite search engine on “Stones and Bones: Emergence of New Species.”

There are serious Christians that have made the effort to reconcile their faith with modern science. For examples I recommend;

Haught, John F., 2001 “Responses to 101 Questions on God and Evolution” New York: Paulist Press Haught is a Catholic theologian who testified as a plaintiff expert in the Dover, Pa “Intelligent Design” trial.

Hyers, Conrad, 1984 “The Meaning of Creation: Genesis and Modern Science” Atlanta: John Knox Press (Conrad Hyers has served as Professor of the History of Religion and Chair of the Department of Religion at both Beloit College and at Gustavus Adolphus College. He is also an ordained Presbyterian minister)

Roberts, Michael, 2008 “Evangelicals and Science” Greenwood Press (Rev. Dr. Roberts is an Anglican priest, and a professionally certified geologist).

Young, Davis A., Ralf F. Stearley, 2008 “The Bible, Rocks and Time: Geological Evidence for the Age of the Earth” Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press (These authors are Evangelical Christians and professional geologists.

I also found the perspective of an Orthodox Jew, Rabbi Natan Slifkin, particularly interesting, 2006/2008 “The Challenge of Creation: Judaism’s Encounter with Science, Cosmology and Evolution” (New York: Zoo Torah and Yashar Books).


None of those are NEW species.

Microevolution exists, macroevolution does not.


Your response merely tells the educated readers that you have no idea at all about biology. A species is a reproductively isolated population. Any time a prior existing species divided into two isolated populations they formed new species.

That is just how it works.

The creationists stupidly demand freaks that are half bird, and half reptile. In fact, idiots like Ray Comfort want to see impossible chimeras like a “crock-o-duck.” I wish I could show you the stupidity with pictures.

If such a freak as the crock-o-duck existed, it would be the end of evolutionary biology.

Why do creationists need to lie? Because facts are their enemy.


I was just logging on to clarify and saw your response. Yes, what you say about “reproductively isolated” populations being different “species” is true. I think the discussion should center around new “kinds”, not new “species”. There are plenty of different species that evolve within a kind(or family). However, there is no evidence whatsoever that any kind(or family) has ever evolved into a different kind(or family) which would be a necessity to prove your theory. If one species of salamander will no longer reproduce with another species of salamander, how does that prove that men came from monkeys? You scoff at the mere suggestion of “half-bird, half-reptiles”. Why? If it is happening as you say, would they not be in the fossil record at the very least?

“If such a freak as the crock-o-duck existed, it would be the end of evolutionary biology.”

Please elaborate on that statement. I think you unwittingly proved MY point.


The creationists have failed badly trying to deny the fact of evolution. So in desperation they have tried to redefine 300 years of biological classification. They then falsely claim their maimed version could not have happened. We know that their version of magical creation did not happen.

As for the evolutionary transitions of higher order classifications, such as family, order, and even phyla- we have all that as well.

The evolution of the family particularly in the Mammals see;

Carroll, Robert L. 1998 “Patterns and Processes of Vertebrate Evolution” New York: Cambridge University Press

For evolutionary history for non-specialists;

Shubin, Neal 2008 “Your Inner Fish” New York: Pantheon Books

Carroll, Sean B., 2006 “The Making of the Fittest” New York: Norton

For the evolution of the phyla;

Recommended for professional level readers;

Erwin, Douglas H., James W. Valentine, 2013 “The Cambrian Explosion: The Construction of Animal Diversity” New York: Roberts and Company Publishers

Valentine, James W., 2005 “On the Origin of Phyla” University of Chicago Press


If you believe that “research” as proving macroevolution then you have redefined the term “grasping at straws”. Pretty weak.


Since you have never examined any relevant material, your pride in being ignorant is sad. It is also probably irredeemable.

Sarah Bellem

The whole notion of macro vs micro evolution is just an invention by Creationists to try to discredit evolution.

We now have a huge lineage of human-like apes to ape-like humans to modern humans There are hundreds of fossils that show feathered dinosaurs, dinosaurs with partial feathered wing that were likely used for display, keeping warm, gliding etc. There is now a complete lineage of the progress from a wolf-like land mamal to whales

There is even an intermediate halibut with its eye only partially rotated to the other side of his body.

You can’t learn if you don’t try.

Chevron or Shell among many other companies will never hire people who don’t believe in evolution. Call them up sometime. I have.


Yes perspicacious, the Bible and biblical accounts are indeed jive.


I meant “jibe”, not “jive”. :)

Ted Slanders


QUIET!!! Please do not land these haymakers against our Christian faith!

As a true Christian, one has to learn that even though our Bronze Age Bible is not up to today’s knowledge and understanding in certain areas, one does not put it upon a slipperier slope than it’s already on! If you’re going to bring in fossils, which some Christians believe that our God placed here to test our faith, and the geological record, then you’re opening up the floodgates for our faith to be ridiculed.

Please learn that a Christian doesn’t need no ‘stinkin’ geographical records or fossils because our Hebrew-Christian God states with specificity in chronological order in Luke 3: 23-38, that man and animals are approximately four-thousand years old going from Jesus back to Adam. Then subsequent to Jesus’ birth in 4BC until today is approximately 2000 years, hence the logical reasoning of man and animals being around 6000 years old on the planet earth. This is not Rocket Science. We agree that it is NOT hundreds of thousands of years through EVILution as the Satanic Scientists try to make us Christians believe. We laugh.

Therefore, without any fossils or geographical records, and being that man’s time on earth is short-lived, then he had to walk with the dinosaurs as any reputable Creation Museum poses, and Atheists be damned!


“jibe”, not “jive”


The actual intent of the Arroyo Grande High School teacher, Brandon Pettenger, may not have been to present creationism dogmas as if they were true. However, there was a recent legal battle over a high school teacher who was sued because he called creationism “stupid.”

This was claimed to be an illegal suppression of the student’s religion by the student’s parents. Several lower courts found for the student. The California Supreme Court narrowly found for the teacher on a minor technical issue.

Sarah Bellem

Your facts are all wrong.

A Creationist teacher (Roarke) in Louisiana was found guilty of calling a young Buddhist and his religion “stupid” because he refused to answer a question that implied that “the Lord makes wonderful things”. She had been pressuring her students to agree with that religious statement. The courts ruled against the teacher and the school

The other case was in Southern California. A teacher (Corbett) was exonerated by SCOTUS when he called Creationism, “religious, superstitious nonsense” It was the decision that the teacher could ridicule those types of issues. He still teaches to this day.

Better not to spread false information


Actually, you have not quite got it correct. There were quite a lot of statements secretly recorded by the student, Chad Farnan. The only one considered by the CSUC was; The full statement by Corbett was,

Corbett, “At that point, I stood up and said, “I’ll tell you what. I will sign a statement giving you — you do not have to defend me, but I will not leave John [Peloza] alone to propagandize kids with this religious, superstitious nonsense… John wanted to talk about creation as a science and all that stuff, but you get involved in that argument, you just lose because it’s just nonsense. . . .”

And, Corbett is not a public school teacher. He teaches history in a private school. The court documents are available on this link:


Here is a good write-up of the Louisiana case. I had not followed that one, so thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Ted Slanders


It is beyond the eyes of the Christian elect in how anyone can call the contradicting Creation narratives in Genesis 1 and 2 “stupid!” As true Christians are aware, our default to the scientists Satanic EVILution is our Christian-Hebrew God’s Creationism, praise!

What Christian in their right mind could ever call our God’s Creation “stupid” when the following biblical facts present themselves. Adam, the first man, was created from “dirt” whereas his life began with his first breath (Genesis 2:7), instead of inception like most pseudo-christians want to deceitfully believe. It is not stupid for our Christian faith to believe in a talking snake (Genesis 3:1), a Tree of Knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17), or a flashing sword at the edge of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23-24).

Furthermore, Eve was cursed by our God because of her transgression of going against Him and creating the “original sin.” Because of this willful slap to our Hebrew God’s face, He found it fit to curse her with severe pain in childbirth, and passed this along to future women, notwithstanding that now her husband shall rule over her in every way, which is also passed to future married women as well (Genesis 3:16).

We true Christians laugh at Satanic scientists and their gobbledygook notions!


Teddy, you really should include a link to the definition of a “Poe Troll” to all of your posts. Here is a good one:


It’s a parody of extremism. You two are allies.


A “Poe Troll” is someone posting exaggerated versions of creationist arguments pretending to be creationists.

Poe’s Law: “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is uttrerly impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won’t mistake for the genuine article.” (Nathan Poe, 2005)


Like I said. A parody of extremism. Now I know that while I agree with your arguments on this thread, you are an ivory tower cunt.

Ted Slanders


You are correct in your thinking that the United States was founded upon Christian godly principles, praise! We can only longfully look back at our Christian beginnings, where in part, the Salem Witch Trials promoted the killing of witches that was backed up with godly biblical verse, praise!

“You shall not permit a sorceress to live.” (Exodus 22:18)

“A man or a woman who is a medium or a necromancer SHALL SURELY BE PUT TO DEATH. They shall be stoned with stones; their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:27)

Lest we forget what happens to the Sabbath breakers in our early Pilgrim Christian history, to wit: The Vermont “Blue Book” contained equally sharp “Sunday laws.” Whoever was guilty of any rude, profane, or unlawful conduct on the Lord’s Day, in words or action, by clamorous discourses, shouting, hallooing, screaming, running, riding, dancing, jumping, was to be fined forty shillings and whipped upon the naked back not to exceed ten stripes. The New Haven code of laws, more severe still, ordered that “Profanation of the Lord’s Day shall be punished by fine, imprisonment, or corporeal punishment; and if proudly, and with a high hand against the authority of God, WITH DEATH.”

“Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it SHALL SURELY BE PUT TO DEATH.” (Exodus 31:14)

There’re more horrific examples of this time period when the Christian bible principles were being followed, but I am sure that TRUE Christians long for the bible being followed to the letter like it was in our Puritan and Pilgrim beginnings.

Sarah Bellem

Excellent Ted!


Interestingly enough, this teaching methodology is most commonly utilized at the university level, designed to encourage debate, and promote critical thinking on behalf of the students. In this case creationism offers one of many explanations of life. Why not openly discuss all the possible pathways to where we are today…and let the kids decide for themselves?


Pelican1 says: “creationism offers one of many explanations of life.”

No, not many explanations, not made by the hands of a fictional being. Thats as ridiculous as saying there are many explanations of how Pelican1 was created.

Sarah Bellem

Creationism is not science. If schools were to teach creationsm, what about the thousand other creation myths that have existed. Should public schools have to teach them all?


In various legal cases, the fact that college students are generally adults and are not legally mandated to attend college as are k-12 students opens a wider range of topics and teaching methods.

The “let the kids decide” argument is just stupid. Why not let them decide if they want to go to bed, or go to school, or do what every they like? Why not teach the “stork theory of baby making?”


Can the religion of global warming also be omitted from the curriculum?


So you are saying that belief in global warming, is just as ridiculous as the belief of fictional being creating the earth?

Sarah Bellem

Global warming is actually happening and it is observable. It is a fact.


If there were any such “religion” it would be illegal to teach in American public schools.

It is interesting that you would attempt to insult science by comparing it to religion.


In this day and age, Pettenger should know better. The foolhardy attempt to equate

unsubstantiated belief with science is an indication of his gross incompetence.

He should be fired and any teaching credentials he may have stripped of him.


“and any teaching credentials…stripped of him.” -ironyman2000

I guess you’ll brook no quarter for teaching anything besides the standard lib drivel that controls our public education system. You’d remove a lifetime of education and achievement and credentials to silence this infidel? You absolutely MUST be an educator or card carrying Socialist.

What do you so viciously fear in his exposing students to other views besides the lib channel?


“standard lib drivel”

“card carrying Socialist”

“other views besides the lib channel?”

Science is not a popularity contest or a “lib channel”, gravity is not a belief, opinions and feelings are not facts.


California educators, by Ed Code, are not allowed to be members of the communist party.

Jeanne Kohlbush

Teacher can and should teach Creationism. In the 1987 Supreme Court ruling it did not ban the teaching of Creationism. Go read the Court case yourself. It struck down the Louisiana legislature’s mandating the forced teaching of Creationism. Big difference.

“The Act does not grant teachers the flexibility that they do not already possess to supplant the present science curriculum with the presentation of theories, besides evolution, about the origin of life. Indeed, the Court of Appeals found that no law prohibited Louisiana public school teachers from teaching any scientific theory. … As the President of the Louisiana Science Teachers Association testified, ?[a]ny scientific concept that’s based on established fact can be included in our curriculum already, and no legislation allowing this is necessary.? . . . The Act provides Louisiana school teachers with no new authority.

Id. at 587.

One of the reasons the Court struck down the Act was that it required curriculum guides to be developed for creation science but had no comparable requirement for evolution. The Court observed the following:

If the Louisiana legislature’s purpose was solely to maximize the comprehensiveness and effectiveness of science instruction, it would have encouraged the teaching of all scientific theories about the origins of humankind. But under the Act’s requirements, teachers who were once free to teach any and all facets of this subject are now unable to do so.

Id. at 588.

The Court also observed the following with regard to the teaching of various origin theories:

We do not imply that a legislature could never require that scientific critiques of prevailing scientific theories be taught. Indeed, the Court acknowledged in Stone [v. Graham, 449 U.S. 39 (1980)] that its decision forbidding the posting of the Ten Commandments did not mean that no use could ever be made of the Ten Commandments, or that the Ten Commandments played an exclusive religious role in the history of Western Civilization. In a similar way, teaching a variety of scientific theories about the origins of humankind to school children might be validly done with the clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction.

Edwards, 482 U.S. at 594.

A clear reading of Edwards v. Aguillard indicates that the Court stuck down the specific statute in question, in part, because of the stated intent by the statute’s sponsor, Senator Keith. Additionally, the Act did not foster academic freedom because it required the development of guidelines only for creation science but not for evolution. The Court clearly acknowledged that teachers have the right to teach various theories about the origins of life, whether those origins be deemed evolution or creation science. Indeed, a secular purpose of teaching would be to promote academic freedom or the enhancement of science instruction by allowing teachers to teach various origins of life, and even critique various theories. A broad objective overview of the subject matter of origins is certainly constitutional.”


Maybe creationism can be taught in fictional literature class.

Sarah Bellem

It was deemed by the Supreme unconstitutional to teach Creationism AS SCIENCE in the United States public schools. Creationism is not science and therefore may not be taught in public school Science classes.

Valid SCIENTIFIC criticisms of evolution may be taught in science classes. So far there are none.

The “Lemon Test’ by SCOTUS among other things, protects non-believers from being discriminated against. Most non-believers would consider the teaching of creationism as discriminatory.


The website you copied this from has selectively taken portions of the 1987 Edwards v. Aguillard decision out of context misrepresenting the actual finding.

In fact, the teaching of creationism is illegal. The direct debunking of creationism is strangely also illegal. In either case, Arroyo Grande High School teacher, Brandon Pettenger is in the wrong.

Bummer dude.


The great thing about science is that science doesn’t care if you believe in it


Seeing no one has ever modified gravity with prayer or “moved the heavens” with words……

This checks out, lets hear it for reproducible results.

Sarah Bellem

Isn’t it amazing that most Christians believe in miracles. Why is it that no one has ever regrown a leg or an arm. Does god hate amputees?. All miracles happen to people with mental disorders or other issues that have clear possible natural explanations


The lowest common denominator! That is all the atheists are asking for. US was built on a Christian belief and became the most advanced country in the world. Now that atheist have taken charge, the US has plummeted to the lower half of the developed world in all academic areas.

Coincidental? I don’t think so.

Sarah Bellem

The US was built on the laws and technology of Classic Rome. Our philosophy and rights come right from The Enlightenment. If you have read the Old Testament, who would ever want a country based on that barbarism. Half of members of Congress would have been stoned to death if that were true


A measure of government anxiety about America’s “technological preparedness” massive programs of school testing were initiated. The tests are created, and evaluated by private companies that just happen to be affiliated with textbook publishing companies. Nearly 6 billion dollars, and 20% of classroom time were wasted last year by “standardized testing” in California alone. It is in the best interests of the publishing and testing companies for students to fail these tests. The manufactured “crisis” enables them to charge more for new books, and more testing.