Creationists Launch First Strike against Evolution in Texas Science Standards

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UPDATE: TFN Insider has been getting heavy traffic from folks looking to read more about the battle over teaching evolution in Texas public schools. Why does this debate over public school science curriculum standards matter outside Texas? Publishers will use the new standards to create new textbooks. Because Texas is such a large market for textbook sales, publishers typically craft their textbooks for this state and then sell those books to other schools across the country. So the results of this curriculum process could have consequences for far more than just the 4.6 million children in Texas public schools.

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Creationists who control the Texas State Board of Education have now taken a critical step in their crusade to water down instruction on evolution in public school science classrooms. As we told you last month, teacher and academic work groups have proposed strong new science curriculum standards regarding evolution, a concept that provides the foundation for the study of all the biological sciences. Now, however, the state board’s creationist faction is moving to undermine that proposal.

The Texas Freedom Network has learned that evolution opponents on the state board are trying to pack a formal curriculum review panel with supporters of teaching “intelligent design”/creationism. The panel was supposed to include science experts, yet three of the six appointed by the state board are strident evolution critics. In fact, two are authors of an anti-evolution textbook, Explore Evolution, that the state board could consider approving for Texas public schools in 2011. See today’s TFN press release for more on this stunning development:

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller today sharply criticized the inclusion of three strident evolution opponents, including two authors of an anti-evolution textbook, on a panel that will review proposed new science curriculum standards for Texas public schools. The inclusion of the two textbook authors raises serious questions about conflicts of interest and whether political agendas took priority over giving Texas students a 21st-century science education, Miller said.

“It’s simply stunning that any state board members would even consider appointing authors of an anti-evolution textbook to a panel of scientists,” she said. “Are they coming here to help write good science standards or to drum up a market for their lousy textbook?”

The textbook, Explore Evolution, is intended for secondary schools and colleges, according to its U.S. distributor, the anti-evolution Discovery Institute in Seattle. Because of that, the State Board of Education could consider it for the state’s approved list of science textbooks in 2011.

The two authors are Stephen Meyer, who is vice president of the Discovery Institute, and Ralph Seelke, a professor of the department of biology and earth sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. A third panel member, Charles Garner, is a professor of chemistry at Baylor University in Waco.

Click here for the rest of the press release.

The battle has clearly begun over whether Texas students get a 21st-century science education that prepares them to succeed in college and the jobs of the future. Don’t stay on the sidelines at this critical time. Sign on to the Texas Freedom Network’s Stand Up for Science petition and campaign here. Texas scientists can sign on to the 21st-Century Science Coalition’s petition here.

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25 Responses to “Creationists Launch First Strike against Evolution in Texas Science Standards”

  1. Can You Define a Conflict of Interest? | Dangerous Intersection Says:

    [...] more detailed information from Texas and from [...]

  2. Stan Yoder Says:

    Aw, lay off the poor creationists already. See, the Rapture will happen before we get too deeply into the 21st Century anyway, so what difference does it make what Texas students learn or don’t learn in science class? It’s just a trick of the devil to distract the righteous from what really matters: Christ reigning over the earth for a thousand years from Washington. Or Texas, if it is deemed righteous enough. Or wherever.

    Science textbooks? Who cares if they’re accurate? Praise Jesus and full speed ahead with “strengths and weaknesses!”

    /sarcasm

  3. Florida Citizens for Science » Blog Archive » A mess in Texas Says:

    [...] Network (a Citizens for Science type of organization) announced that the Texas board of education padded a curriculum review panel with a few well known creationists. That panel will be reviewing the new proposed state science curriculum. Texas Freedom Network [...]

  4. Cytocop Says:

    Have any scientists scrutinized Genesis for its “strenghts and weaknesses”? Or is that criteria reserved for evolution ony? You know, it’s funny that I’ve never read anything from a creationist regarding “strengths and weaknesses.” They claim the cute catch phrase but offer no meat. (Could it be they HAVE no meat?) Let’s put Genesis to the same scientific scrutiny creationists insist for evolution. I wonder how well Genesis would hold up to unbiased analysis. Is their faith so fragile that they are too afraid to study it under the same criteria they demand for evolution? Do they have the chutzpah to put their God in so narrow, so little a box as a few words in Genesis?

    And if these creationists want to teach religion instead of science, why not go all the way and teach religion instead of math, religion instead of geography, religion instead of English, etc. etc.? Why stop at science?

    And if they insist on bringing Bibles into the science classroom, I see no reason why biology textbooks shouldn’t be installed in church pew racks. Fair is fair except that there is no level playing field between evolution and science. Science has facts and evidence; religion has nothing but faith. Nothing wrong with faith but how do you prove it? How do you reproduce it?

    How do creationists explain the many different formations of human beings over the millenia? If humans were “created” in their present form, we would find only modern man no matter where or how deep we dug. Yet, we don’t. We find different variations of hominids. How can this be so?

    How do creationists explain mutations and the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria? If life is static as creationists say rather than dynamic as evolutionists say, antibiotics would ALWAYS work. Yet, they don’t. I have yet to see a convincing explanation from a creationist as to why this is so. And how do they explain malignancy? Malignancy is based on cell theory. Oh, but wait! Cell theory is JUST a theory, you know; therefore, there is no such thing as cells. Theories are just theories, don’t you know. So likewise, there is no such thing as malignancy. Hooray! The problem of cancer has just been cured: it doesn’t exist!!

  5. News From Around The Blogosphere 10.15.08 « Skepacabra Says:

    [...] battle isn’t over in Texas – The Texas Board of Education has named the 6 people who will be on a committee to review science curriculum standards. And 3 of them are [...]

  6. Stacy S. Says:

    Ugh! Number 11. Make sure you sign the petition!

  7. Vorsprung durch Technik » Blog Archive » Religous Agenda in Texas Science Classes Says:

    [...] reported by the Austin American Statesman and Texas Freedom Network, the religous right have nominated several evolution deniers to a curriculum review panel. [...]

  8. JJ Says:

    Well said, Cytocop. Amen!

  9. Martin Says:

    I suppose the Vatican’s support for the teaching of evolution will only strengthen these folks’ hand. If the Whore of Babylon approves it, it must be wrong. Sigh.

  10. niceskeptic Says:

    Is the myth of the Christian Creation Concept the only creation myth to be included? If THAT is to be included, then it would seem unethical NOT to include those from other ancient cultures. They are just as valid. If these myths aren’t given equal coverage, then perhaps a class-action suit might be needed.

  11. Dr. A.E. Edgeworth Says:

    The current theory of evolution has many scientific flaws. It also contradicts at least four known scientific laws. Why then haven’t more scientists abandoned it (actually over 700 with PhDs have)? Because it is not a scientific choice, it is a philosophical choice. Dr. George Wald (late Professor of Biology, Harvard University) and winner of the Nobel Prize in Science in 1967 said, “I know that spontaneous generation (life from non-life) was proven wrong over 100 years ago. But the only alternative is special creation. Therefore, for philosophical reasons, I choose to believe the impossible.”

  12. James F Says:

    Dr. Edgeworth,

    These claims are nonsensical and fraudulent. The current theory of evolution does not contradict scientific laws (otherwise it wouldn’t be a scientific theory) and it has not been refuted in a single peer-reviewed scientific research paper, nor has any data been presented in peer-reviewed scientific research papers that provide support for so-called “alternatives” like “intelligent design.” The Discovery Institute’s “Dissent from Darwin” list (the “over 700 with PhDs” you cite) is carefully worded so that nowhere does it state that the signers have “abandoned” evolution or even embraced an “alternative theory,” and in any event the opinions of a fringe group have no impact whatsoever on data and evidence.

    As for your shameful quote-mining of Prof. Wald, please read the quote in context: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/quotes/mine/part4-2.html

    I leave you with this query. There are about SEVENTEEN MILLION individual peer-reviewed scientific papers indexed at the National Library of Medicine’s online public database (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez/). Not a single paper refutes evolution, and not a single paper provides data in support of intelligent design or traditional creationism (the list provided by the DI showcases a handful of data-free hypothesis and review papers and a few that are irrelevant to ID). What is the reason for this?

    1. ID/Creationism is based on supernatural (or otherwise untestable) causation, and thus is not science
    2. There is a vast global conspiracy that has prevented even a single piece of data supporting ID/Creationism from being published in peer-reviewed scientific literature
    3. ID/Creationism proponents are utterly incompetent at performing scientific research

  13. Nihao Says:

    Dr. A.E. Edgeworth, would you be so kind as to name these four laws? I’ll be glad to tell you how they aren’t violated by evolution.

    Also, evolution is not abiogenesis. Abiogenesis is the theory of how life is formed. Evolution, to oversimplify it, is how life changes over time.

    Also, spontaneous generation (which is the sudden appearance of life from non-life)is thought to be untrue in the scientific community, and current theories of abiogenesis deal with how life could form over stretches of time.

    And one last thing is that 700 scientists, while nothing to balk at, is an extremely small minority of scientists. I almost guarantee you that these scientists are the kind that have NO KNOWLEDGE WHATSOEVER of evolution. If a mathematician with a PhD told me anything about literature, I would not take what he said as a final source. Likewise, I would not take the word of an astronomist as the final word on evolution.

  14. Larry Fafarman Says:

    Teaching scientific and pseudoscientific criticisms (or weaknesses) of evolution theory serves the bona fide secular purposes of broadening students’ education, encouraging critical thinking, helping students learn the material, and increasing student interest. For example, I happen to think that the Second Law of Thermodynamics is not a valid criticism of evolution, but analyzing the SLoT as a criticism of evolution would be a very instructive exercise for students. Students should not be brainwashed by spoonfeeding them with Darwinist dogma. Eliminating the “strengths and weaknesses” language is extremely unscientific and anti-intellectual and I am appalled that so many scientists advocate eliminating it.

    Some scientific and pseudoscientific criticisms of evolution — e.g., criticisms concerning (1) the Second Law of Thermodynamics and (2) the genetics of the propagation of beneficial mutations in sexual reproduction — are so technically sophisticated that they can be properly taught only by qualified science teachers and should not be taught by laypeople, e.g., typical parents and non-science schoolteachers. This isn’t just “poof”-type creationism.

  15. Frank Says:

    America has science standards?! You’re kidding me right?

  16. Don Says:

    Dr. Edgeworth is evidently a committed creationist. He uses the their typical tactic of making a blatantly false claim, then “backing it up” with a quote mined out of context. In his brilliant book, “Evolution”, Donald Prothero systematically takes apart these bogus anti-science
    tactics of Creationists, as they apply to literally all aspects of biology and related fields. Finally, perhaps it’s time that Texans become acquainted with the Dover, Pa. School Board trial of 2006, (Kitzmiller v. Dover),and how the Discover Institute and other “leading scholars” of the Creationist movement were shown to be frauds when they actually had to testify under oath in a courtroom. Not to mention the fact that Dover Creationist school board members actually lied in their depositions and when on the stand. Just read the
    Judge’s opinion. So, good luck in Texas beating back these wackos. They’ve intimidated the textbook publishers in other states, and
    Texas is a critical one. And while we’re at it, let’s not put any more of those Creationist leaning/supporting Republicans in power.

  17. kg Says:

    The National Academy of Sciences has a 70+ page pdf document on creationism vs evolution – written for the layman. – free on their web site. You have to register I believe.
    Suggest you all read it.

    http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11876

  18. Edublog Suspended: Politics Around the Web 10/19/2008 | Beyond School Says:

    [...] Creationists Launch First Strike against Evolution in Texas Science Standards « Texas Freedom Netwo… [...]

  19. Defending Science in Texas « Neurognosis Says:

    [...] of amending the state’s science curriculum.  However, the panel assigned to determine this includes those who have actively sought to replace the biological theory with religiously based [...]

  20. Cytocop Says:

    “Students should not be brainwashed by feeding them with Darwinist dogma.”

    I suppose students should be spoonfed with creationist dogma.

    I have yet to have it explained how examining evolution’s “strengths and weaknesses” is supportive of or proof of creationism. Tell me, how does one analyze the “strengths and weaknesses” of creationism? Where is the fossil evidence supporting the theory that God created the universe 6,000 years ago in six days. You’d think this evidence would be all over the headlines, Faux News, CNN,….the works!

    I recommend the creationists read Creationism’s Trojan Horse by Dr. Barbara Forrest.

  21. Blatant Says:

    @Cytocop

    Yeah, it’s called micro evolution and/or degeneration. Bacteria become resistant because of micro evolution (=gods will). Degeneration means that all people started as modern, sophisticated, gentle, god fearing humans (=gods will). You just forgot that your first ancestor was sent out of Eden(=gods will). Well, for the Christians that is. To Islam you forgot Allah(=allahs will).

    Now destroy your PC, dress up and find a church. Otherwise you are doomed to suffer forever because X loves you and you don’t get it.

  22. Darwiniana » Texas case distortions. Why can’t scientists write their own Explore Evolution? Says:

    [...] Texas Board of Education has named the six people who will be on a committee to review science curriculum standards. Texas, you’ve got trouble. [...]

  23. ridiculous Says:

    This is all just ridiculous. Religion requires faith which is the belief in something without any evidence. How can you allow faith into something such as science. Religious people are so delusional.

  24. Ewen Says:

    Dr. A.E. Edgeworth is my new favourite person. For single-handedly shooting himself in the foot more times than I thought was humanly possible in such a short time, and trying to lie his way through his entire support of creationism, he must command more respect than anyone else on this page.

    What did he get his Doctorate in? I’m intrigued…

  25. David Jenks Says:

    I’m a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ and believe in a literal genesis: six day creation, man and women created by God on the sixth literal day of the creation week, and I believe science confirms it. I don’t know how to persue this? I want to fight evolution being taught as fact in public schools. my ten year old daughter goes to public school and is being introduced to evolution, and I teach her what the Bible says, my two younger sons will be homeschooled, but I want to take a stand for God. Does anyone have any suggestions on were I could start?

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