These Dallas-area Creationists Might Just Be Shaping High School Biology Textbooks

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The culture war for young Texan minds is kicking back into high gear. The State Board of Education sent 28 invites to experts around the state to review high school biology textbooks. About a dozen showed up in Austin this week for the final phase of the review. They'll make their recommendations to the SBOE, set to decide in November which textbooks will find their way into classrooms. But in the meantime, textbook publishers may make changes based on the objections they hear from the reviewers. And, according to Texas Freedom Network, about half of them are creationists, some from North Texas.

There's Dr. Raymond Bohlin, VP of Vision Outreach in Plano. He's got a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Dallas in molecular and cell biology, says his website. But he hasn't entirely resolved for himself whether or not the Grand Canyon was carved by the raging flood upon which Noah's Ark surfed. For more than 30 years, he says, he's been making a "scientific case" against Darwinism and for Intelligent Design.

There's Ide Trotter, spokesperson for the inaptly named Texans for Better Science Education and a former dean at Dallas Baptist University, who has worked dutifully to include discussion in science textbooks about evolution's "weaknesses." These weaknesses consist of long-discredited ideas like irreducible complexity. That's the one that boils down to a shrug at certain of life's incredible intricacies like, say, the human eye, followed by the conclusion that only a divine hand could have crafted it.

For those unfamiliar with the reasons why they'd be tapped as expert reviewers by the SBOE, it's important to understand that the fight to insert religion into textbooks is a longstanding one, waged by evangelicals who believe public-school education these days is secular indoctrination. Members of the SBOE are usually elected during off years, when nobody votes. That's why Texas ends up with a former chairperson, a dentist from Bryan, who once famously declared that evolution was "hooey."

Among the occasional goals of the SBOE: Burnishing Joseph McCarthy's legacy and scrubbing slavery and segregation from social studies textbooks.

Clearly, nothing can go wrong with the selection of high school biology texts.


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69 comments
monitorplace
monitorplace

sigh...what's more realistic here - a) A vast network of evil, zealous atheists, perhaps led by the spirit of Madalyn Murray O'Hair are taking over the world (all the media outlets including Fox News and the worldwide scientific community) and trying to turn everyone into immoral pedophiles and nazis and the only way we can stop them is to start teaching a Bronze Age narrative in science classes or shake our heads at the enormous mountain of evidence of evolution and say "it must be the work of aliens" - OR b) A few non-denominational churches who recklessly abuse their tax-exempt status and a Seattle-based think-tank whose "scientific discoveries" coincide with the Tea Party agenda (particularly global warming denial) and see a common goal in getting evolution taken out of classrooms - teach kids to be God-fearing people who will vote for their candidates and indoctrinating them to the degree that they won't have the ability to think critically, much less a shot at a scientific profession - and therefore allowing outsourcing to most of our medical and engineering professions?

doodlebugger
doodlebugger

johnferrer!

 Sir,

  If you have data or research disproving evolution, you  need to write that down, submit it to a peer reviewed science journal for publication and collect your Nobel Prize. Creationism is not  belief in a creator, all religions believe that. It is "scientific" fraud.Its okay if you want your children to be scientifically illiterate like you, but keep your hands off other childrens lives.

    When you visit the NCSE website you find  mainstream Christian denominations, ALL accreditted universities and credible science organizations AND the Supreme  and Federal Courts have denounced creationism for what it is, misinformation, fraud and deceit.

    NCSE website can't miss it ferrer. Until then, the rest of us Chritsians would appreciate it if you keep stupid and  fraudulent creationist trash "science" out of our classrooms.

Thanks

:)

johnferrer42
johnferrer42

This article reeks of anti-christian bigotry, shows a glaring ignorance of what Intelligent Design (ID) even is, and is uninformed about how actual textbooks are peer reviewed. If all the reviewers were of the same (broad) secularist worldview, or same religious worldview, both scenarios are liable to bias the established curriculum towards some mischaracterization of alternative views. No one is an expert in everything, hence broad diversity of expertise and worldviews is a general benefit, and so we have the liberal arts tradition and a conscious effort at diversity in higher education. Moreover, this article reflects the same incessant habit of thinking all things compatible with God-belief are religious, and assuming that secular scientists are somehow likely to be less biased than religious people doing science. One is just as liable to do bad science, biased against Design theory as one is to do bad science baised IN FAVOR of design theory. Moreover, if "separation of church and state" means keeping out of the schools all theories compatible with God and all mention of God  then that means the declaration of independence is unconstitutional (i.e., "All men are CREATED equal . . . endowed by their CREATOR with certain inalienable rights"). Some groups might be perfectly fine with that progressivist and humanist move, but of course, that's because it would leave all educational and public office positions for only atheists and neutered theists. The writer of this article needs to follow through on the consequence of his ideas to see how radical, and ridiculous, it is in the bigger picture.

rrrosco
rrrosco

I'd laugh if I wasn't too busy crying.  Why can't the zealots understand that the scientific method is simply a set of rules to collect verifiable evidence about the physical world.  It makes no  arguments for or against God's handiwork.  The creationists, on the other hand, are in blatant violation of the 1st amendment but that's never stopped them before, cuz  "god's word trumps the constitution," right?  

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

Quite frankly, I can't see why anyone would want the public schools system in this country teaching their kids anything having to do with religion, values or morality.  Let the schools teach science, math, reading and writing.  If they show they can handle that (which they haven't been able to do for the last 20 or so years), then we'll let them move on to other stuff.  If parents want their kids to follow down their own religious path, let the parents teach that in the home.  As a plus, maybe mom and dad can spend some quality time with junior and juniorette in the process.

IgnatiusJ
IgnatiusJ

HOLD ON, people!!!  Rightwing, Fundamentalist Christians INFLUENCING Texas Education????!!!  They have been since the beginning of mankind!!! (5K years ago apx.)

russell.allison1
russell.allison1

Can we maybe get a persuasive person with a degree from a religious school to see about proposing that "Adam" was an ancient translation of "Australopithicene" ?  Think they'd buy it?   

jamessavik
jamessavik

It's always stunning to me when I hear creationists talk. I was always taught That its better to remain silent and only thought to be a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

The real science doesn't lie. The earth is much older than 10,000 years and there's nothing that suggests otherwise. Maybe its time to put the science in the text books and the myths in the comic books.

ebailey75057
ebailey75057

Brought to you by The Texas Taliban!  The same clowns who teach our children that abstinance is the only form of birth control.  Wonderful.

LeroyJenkem
LeroyJenkem

Am I the only one who's hearing Bill Hicks in the background, especially his crack about the number of young-earth creationists that look kinda, well, un-evolved? "Well, I believe that God created me in a single day." "Yeah, looks like He rushed it."

Michael TruckMonth Ricker
Michael TruckMonth Ricker

Yeah man! When's Texas's enormous, horribly obnoxious Islamic population gonna be represented, huh?

Melissa Tillotson
Melissa Tillotson

We did this graphic thing where the kids had to depict historical events that shaped the world we live in. I tried to help some brainstorm what to include (there were 12 events they had to pick) and when they wanted to draw the world with the hand of God, they didn't think they were allowed to. I asked them who said they weren't? They were surprised and seemed to appreciate me for it. Who am I to tell them their parents are blinded by their religion? I imagine that if it came up, they probably appreciated me too, but probably thought I agreed with them. This is TX and I need my job.

Dave Ybanez
Dave Ybanez

Hmm so when will Mohammed be made fun of? Frankly I don't think your rag has the balls to.

Jason Harris
Jason Harris

Raptor Jesus died for our small mammal sins.

Despina Karintis
Despina Karintis

just when Texas education couldn't go any lower, the creationists come to prove us all wrong. sigh.

Chad Aldridge
Chad Aldridge

Reality doesn't give a damn what anyone thinks. I smell fear on these fools.

skottyj
skottyj

@johnferrer42 How can the Declaration of Independence be unconstitutional?  It was written before the Constitution and has no legal standing whatsoever.  I was going to hone in on your concept of science and peer review and objective evidence and all that, but your poor grasp of what it means to be constitutional seriously tells me that would be a pointless endeavor.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@johnferrer42 John, I know at least one committed, church-going, Bible reading, Creed-confessing Christian who knows what ID is and says, Bogus! It's not good science, and it's even worse theology. God is not a "designer." Creation was not tinkered up in some heavenly workshop, human beings were not slathered out of mud like neolithic water jugs. Creation did not end after six days, of any length, but continues right in our midst (read Paul). And this is what you want taught in high school science classes? No wonder so many people think "Christians" of your sort are jibbering dolts. (Your appeal to the constitution was particularly contemptible.)


CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

@johnferrer42 ID is not science my friend. Science, when done properly, starts with evidence and progresses toward a theory to explain that evidence. ID starts with the Bible (a conclusion -- not even a theory) and bends over backwards to drum up "evidence." ID has been discredited, debunked and disallowed in public schools on countless occasions over the years.

Please keep your junk science to yourself. It's a disservice to children to teach them anything other than true science (evidence -->testable theory), lest they arrive in their first college biology course fully unequipped with an understanding of the baseline theory from which all natural sciences draw upon.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@RTGolden1 Golden -- we've had this argument before. And you were wrong then, as you are wrong now. A school -- any school -- that fails to teach values or morality is a mistake on its way to a disaster. And please don't use that old whine, "Whose values? Whose morality?" It just feeds that old cavil that religion is necessary to moral behavior. Even you know better than that. 

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@RTGolden1 Because what the world really needs is scientists, engineers, and technocrats with no sense of values or morality.

LeroyJenkem
LeroyJenkem

Any church that doesn't feature Anomalocaris Peter and Troodon Judas isn't worth tithing.

montre_bible
montre_bible

@Michael TruckMonth Ricker I think Islam believes in Adam and Eve too... theyre all abrahamic religions primarily

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

That's ignorance talking, isn't it? Not all, or even most, Christians are young earth creationists. Get over your persecution complex, dummy.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

Oh, they've been at it for years. Thankfully, their willful ignorance seems to be going the way of the dinosaurs, which of course they believe lived alongside humans.

NewsDog
NewsDog

@Chantal Chanshort   Who remembers The Reverend Bob Dobbs, and the funnest cult of all time? Praise Bob.   

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@bmarvel @RTGolden1 And whose values and morality should we teach then Marvel?  Christian, Judaic, Hindu, Muslim, American (good luck narrowing that down), European, African (Sub-saharan or saharan? Is there a difference? Can you clarify it?), Communal, Individual, Global.......

To try to narrow down and teach values and morals would be the perfect example of herding cats.  Unless, of course, you mean our schools should teach YOUR values and morals, exclusive of all others.  That's been tried, throughout history, with less than desirable results.  Theocracy, Aristocracy or Despotism are where that path leads.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum"Not all, or even most, Christians are young earth creationists."

Hardest thing to get across to the tub-thumping atheists, whose idea of religion is a least as uninformed as the creationsts' view of science.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

@bmarvel @CogitoErgoSum Who says morality is purely subjective? I did not. Clearly there are morals we all share which are, at the very least, biological imperatives. Why else would we have evolved something like empathy?

doodlebugger
doodlebugger

Science is logic reason and the scientific mehtod. IT IS critical thinking about the natural world.

  Teach your kids religion in church ...

Its ILLEGAL in public schools. Thanks

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@bmarvel @CogitoErgoSum "Where DO we find shelter"  The word 'do' is at least as important as a comma, Marvel.

You bring up good points, and I may have been a bit too exclusionary in my original statements.  Societal norms can be reinforced in schools, and are reinforced when we enforce the law of the land and common ethical principles.  That is not so much something that is taught in the sense that we are talking about in this article.  Bereft of your vastly greater years of experience and not having gained the lifelong journalist's disdain for the general public, I just sort of assumed you might have gotten that.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum But what in the world would  ethics be based upon if not shared moral values? Why is it unethical for an accountant to fudge the books, for a teacher to take advantage of a student? Aren't these at their root moral questions? Ethics deals with the application of moral values to specific situations, but cannot itself derive moral values.

You are guilty of the same fallacy that many here have condemned: The confusion of religion and moral codes. Is it possible for a person who is not religious to act morally? Of course it is, unless one denies, as you do, the existence of a moral code apart from religious belief.

The trouble with all arguments that morality is purely subjective -- yours, Golden's, others-- is that they open the door to any kind of behavior at all, rape, racism,ethnic cleansing. What sort of argument can possibly be used against these evils if we deny basic moral values? Paraphrasing Sir Thomas More, if we cut down the tree of moral values, where we find shelter?   

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

@bmarvel @RTGolden1 Ethics in a particular field is one thing. Teaching morality is another. I'm all for a comparative overview of morals according to different world religions, but as soon as we enter into a prescriptive mode, no thanks. Leave that to the family, church and community, not the publicly funded schools. 

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@RTGolden1"And whose values and morality should we teach then Marvel?"

 I don't particularly care whose values and morality you teach Marvel, Golden. (Commas are important.)

But your argument that NO moral values should be taught in school because human societies are unable to arrive at commonly accepted moral values is not only an ancient piece of sophistry but manifestly false. It also seems strange in light of the point made by so many here that one need not be religious in order to recognize, honor and observe moral values. 

But let's give your argument against teaching moral values in the classroom a fair trial. If a student is caught cheating on a test, stealing from another student's locker, bullying a weaker student; if a teacher is caught having sex with a student; if the administrators are found to be rigging test grades to favor certain students, what should be our reaction, and why? If we punish and correct, aren't we just falling into the trap of enforcing a highly subjective and personal moral code? Can't we argue that in certain societies, it's acceptable for adults to have sex with children, that cheating is a matter of definition, that theft can be justified on economic principles (the Marxist argument)? 

But we DO punish these things because they are against OUR shared moral principles, and schools are one of the first and most important places where a child encounters those principles.

Moreover that moral teaching is continued on into higher education, so gthat there are required classes in, for example, journalism ethics, medical ethics, accounting ethics and so forth. 

The notion that schools should teach "only the facts" -- put forth here by you and a few others -- is not just laughable (as though the "facts" were any more agreed upon than  moral values). It's downright dangerous. Do you want to live in a world or even a country in which scientists, politicians, captains of industry, judges observe no particular moral values because, in fact, there are none? 

But, then, perhaps you do.       

doodlebugger
doodlebugger

But creation science is deceit and trash science taught as science. It weakens Christianity and it turns children into scientific illiterates. If creationism wasn't a body of misinformation, miseducation and fraud it would qualify maybe as religion. Creationism is not bellief in  a creator, all religions believe that.

  But more importantly the US Constitution is clear, the state WILL NOT sponsor any religious view, and that INCLUDES evangelical fundamentalism.
 NCSE website. Read learn. Start with  the church statements then  go to the science organization statements then read Kitzmiller vs Dover 2005 and Aguilard vs LA 1987.

  Creationism ain't science and its bad theology dressed up in a lab coat. You're not doing that to my kid sorry.

russell.allison1
russell.allison1

@thatmaceguy @bmarvel Religion and its teaching have a very important place in schools.  The history of the world has been heavily impacted by many religions and not to objectively cover the role of religions in the history of the world is a shameful omission.  Also of value is a comparative survey of the worlds major religions.  If you are going to understand and accept people of other nationalities it's important to understand the factors that mold those cultures and religion would high on that list. 

thatmaceguy
thatmaceguy

@bmarvel I think you need to go back and read both comments again. Schools have no business pushing a particular view on morality or values. They should be teaching facts, and encouraging non-biased discussions of the implications of those facts. Those discussions amongst students and their peers and family are what forms the basis of our developing system of morality and values. Religion is not necessary, but if it's part of family life then it will have an influence. My point is, morality and values are learned through social interactions, they cannot and should not be put into a textbook.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@CornyDoggy Go back, Doggy, and read RTGolden's comment. He's against schools teaching religion, values OR morality. Conjunctions are important.

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