Creationists Urge Texas Ed Board to "Strike the Final Blow to the Teaching of Evolution" with Biology Textbooks

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Texas Freedom Network
Big Tex and his pal, T rex, making a cameo outside yesterday's hearing.
Don McLeroy, a Bryan dentist and former Texas State Board of Education Chairman who made a star turn as the anti-science Sunday school teacher in last year's "The Revisionaries", was unseated from the board in the 2010 Republican primary. Yet his crusade, to use science textbooks to explain the full wonder of God's creation to the state's impressionable young school children, has never really ended..

Yesterday, he showed up at a tense SBOE public hearing in Austin on the proposed adoption of biology textbooks, into which McLeroy's ideological allies are trying to slip in language friendly to creationism. He came out, guns blazing, urging the board to "strike the final blow to the teaching of evolution, support the Bible, and adopt these books."

McLeroy's position is a head-scratcher. The proposed texts have the endorsement of groups like the National Center for Science Education, the Texas Freedom Network, and the ACLU because of their evolution-is-fact approach. Mavis Knight, a Democratic board member from Dallas, had to ask McLeroy if he was being facetious.

See also: Religious Right Still Trying to Push Creationism Into Texas' Science Textbooks

He wasn't. The books' dogmatic language contained "hidden gems just waiting to be mined by inquisitive students" who would see through the liberal propaganda.

"Ironically, evolutionists argue that creationists want to force their religious views on the text, but just the teaching of biology does that, and teaching evolution demonstrates that's not how God did it, since true testable science trumps dogmatism," he explained to the board.

The parade of others peddling creationism science, including Ide Trotter, who TFN describes in its live-blog of the hearing as "one of the state's most strident creationists"; Discovery Institute fellow Ray Bohlin; the Liberty Institute's David Walls -- took the opposite approach, arguing for the inclusion of language casting doubt on evolution.

See also: The Texas Board of Ed Chair is Upset Schools Aren't Teaching Evolution "Alternatives"

They were countered by an equally lengthy parade of science professors, educators and other people who believe in science. The board did not take a final vote, but TFN declared the hearing a "lopsided victory for science."

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64 comments
DeathBreath
DeathBreath

Creationism cannot be studied as a science because of the presence of metaphysical elements.  In science, you answer empirical questions with empirical answers.  Also, the so-called study of Creationism would fail to find itself in error, I'm sure.  Texas is an international joke when it comes to public education. 

dregstudios1
dregstudios1

Here in TN, they have taken steps though new legislation to allow creationism back into the classroom.  This law turns the clock back nearly 100 years here in the seemingly unprogressive South and is simply embarrassing. There is no argument against the Theory of Evolution other than that of religious doctrine. The Monkey Law only opens the door for fanatic Christianity to creep its way back into our classrooms. You can see my visual response as a Tennessean to this absurd law on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2012/04/pulpit-in-classroom-biblical-agenda-in.html with some evolutionary art and a little bit of simple logic.

rusknative
rusknative

this is dumber than a brick. God is God. Creationism is an explanation of the God made earth, universe, etc.  It is a means of explaining the mostly unexplainable for those that want an answer unencumbered with atoms and chemicals.  God belongs at home, in religion, in spiritual faith venues.  Science textbooks in school need to get on about explaining our known theories of how the world and universe operates.   Until the schools succeed at teaching math, English, science, and History where the kids actually LEARN and Understand the classwork anyway.....I do not believe that they would especially benefit from a public school teacher "teaching" (attempting to do do) creationism.

roo_ster
roo_ster

As fine an argument to demolish the crumbling edifice of government-run education as can be made.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

So, effectively, his position amounts to this: Creationism will be proved because the complex biological structures and processes as they are presented and described by modern science couldn't possibly be true because they are just so darn . . . complex.

In a nutshell: Read your Bible, science is hard!

CitzenKim
CitzenKim

Would you really want this guy working on your teeth?  Does he treat your cavity by invoking God to heal it?

DavyCrockett
DavyCrockett

I wouldn't have given my life for this place if I knew it would turn out like this.

Daniel
Daniel

"Ironically, evolutionists argue that creationists want to force their religious views on the text, but just the teaching of biology does that, and teaching evolution demonstrates that's not how God did it, since true testable science trumps dogmatism"

I'm struck dumb.


marc.sheldon67
marc.sheldon67

I'm a little confused. So he wants books to contain the possibility that god may have created heaven and earth and the schools want evolution taught as fact?

Am I reading that right?

sstrong421
sstrong421

The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.

americanvalues
americanvalues

@roo_ster your right only the rich should have education....those poor bastard children should be earning their keep in workhouses like the good old days of the 1870s

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@roo_ster   It affirms the need for gov't education.  You can't say "God did it" and call that science.  I don't care what you believe, you just can't call that science, no one can call it science.  Even if you wanna homeschool, you can't call that science.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@DavyCrockett I'm assuming you are playing the role of Davy Crockett, as your name suggests.  Ironic that your line could also be performed as coming from the mouth of Jesus Christ, considering the story it follows.

Daniel
Daniel

Surely you put the quote marks too late, Eric, and that last phrase is your sarcastic commentary? Is the guy unapologetically demanding that religious dogma replace testable science in the biology classroom?

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@marc.sheldon67 The schools want their science books to contain and teach science, not faith.  Even to a staunch believer, the difference should be obvious.  Creationism is an article of faith.  It cannot be observed, tested or measured.  Science deals with things that can be observed, tested and measured. 

Daniel
Daniel

@marc.sheldon67 Because it is a fact. See also: gravity, DNA, heliocentric solar system.

d-may
d-may

@sstrong421 Correction:The problem with science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it. 

roo_ster
roo_ster

@scottindallas Bullhockey.  

You can say God, aliens, or anthropomorphic turtles did it in the gov't education system, as it does not much matter because the gov't education system is turning out illiterate, innumerate troglodytes for whom any theory of evolution is of zero use.

"Johnny can't read and Johnny can't write, but at least he left school with faith in evolution."  Of course Johnny can not explain it, other than grunting the words "fossils," "genes" and waving his hands about to indicate time and magic.

DavyCrockett
DavyCrockett

@RTGolden1 Welp, you got me. I'm not really Davy Crockett. I think what's really ironic is that ol' JC, if he were around in these times, would be the GOP's Public Enemy #1.
 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@RTGolden1 @marc.sheldon67 And, Science has it's limitations, and shortcomings.  I DO think it would be fruitful to address those in Science class.  As I've said, offer a hattip to the creationists, after teaching the limitations of science to measure the intangible and the mysterious, that some like to fill these gaps by crediting them to God.  This amounts to a God that is vanishing like air in a sinking car that crashed into some river/lake.

roo_ster
roo_ster

@Daniel As a physicist, I take issue with your lumping of biological evolution with other concepts that can be empirically proved with repeatable experiments.

Biological evolution has some things going for it, but also quite a few gaping holes that undermine it. 

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum @roo_ster @scottindallas 

roo is right in as much as, it really doesn't matter what we are teaching if nobody is learning, anyway. Before we can even argue about what we are teaching, we need to have students that are ready and willing to learn.

In my own opinion, the education model we are now using is a 19th century relic. We spent the 20th century driving a Model-T into the space-age.

Something needs to change.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@roo_ster @scottindallas All or nothing arguments are typically simple-minded and lacking nuance. I know it's easier to say: "It's broken, let's ditch it," rather than, "It's broken - how can we fix it," but the more difficult path may yield better results.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum @scottindallas @RTGolden1 @marc.sheldon67what I wrote is about the total sum of words and time I'd dedicate to it.  But, the limitations of science are important--not that faith is the answer to all that it misses.  But, how much does love weigh?  What's the density of patriotism?  Science is well suited to study somethings, and not well suited to study others.  Take climate "science"  You can't put the biome in the lab, with the sun and seas, and then let it run. 

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@scottindallas @RTGolden1 @marc.sheldon67 Sorry, faith is not at all a credible alternative theory. It's not a theory at all and therefore deserves no time in a science classroom. If we started introducing every non-scientific explanation for the observable universe, the students would die of old age in their classrooms learning about crystals and astrology. Leave the creationism to Sunday school.

wasabi1
wasabi1

@roo_ster @TheCredibleHulk The process of evolution itself, that replication, mutation, and environment, can result in extreme complexity, is directly testable: using computative simulations. This cannot really be considered in doubt, as there's a whole industry that relies on this actually working... genetic algorithms, aerospace, etc. I've written them myself.

Second question is whether this is what caused the diversity of life.

So like most science, you make predictions of the characteristics you'd expect reality to have if it was the case, and seek to disprove those predictions.

And as it stands now, it's not been proven false, repeatedly. With every observation ever made.

We call that science. Good science.


observist
observist topcommenter

@roo_ster @Montemalone @Daniel Actually there's a sterling example of demonstrated, proven and repeated evolution right here in the news this week: 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/17/health/cdc-report-finds-23000-deaths-a-year-from-antibiotic-resistant-infections.html?_r=0

Why don't you give us some examples of the "gaps" you're referring to.  Accounting for 100% of the evolutionary history of every species is something like accounting for the movement in space of every creature. If no one observed it moving from point A to point B, then it's a "gap" in the "theory" of inertia?  And school kids should be taught that, for example, every time a moving object is obscured by another object, it might just turn in an angel and fly to the point where it reemerges?  Bullshit.  Evolution is the reasonable explanation for the huge variety of life over time.  The only competing explanation is magic.  Or do you have one of you own that is somehow more empirical?

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@roo_ster @observist @TheCredibleHulk No one is asking for faith here, rooster. That's not science. Evolution via natural selection is the best working theory we have to explain the observable facts. Until someone finds a better one, science goes with the one that passes the most tests. Therefore, into the textbooks of the day it goes. As others have pointed out, physical laws/theories are not 100% explainable either -- they are the best we have.

roo_ster
roo_ster

@scottindallas The influence of the supernatural is not amenable to examination by the scientific method, as faith and the method rely on different epistemological mechanisms (revelation vs empiricism).  IOW, you will get no where trying to prove or disprove God via the scientific method.

On the other hand, biological evolution makes claims as to being in the realm of the material world and can be examined with the method. 

Go ahead, fill your gaps with faith spackling.  But don't think yourself any more sophisticated than the gap-toothed hayseeds who insist doing the same.

roo_ster
roo_ster

@Montemalone @roo_ster @Daniel I can perform experiments that confirm gravity or some phenomenon we label "gravity."  Those experiments can be repeated by others and achieve the same results.  You can attribute the "cause" of gravity to particles' mass or pixies, but the effects of it on the world around us is demonstrable, proved, and repeatable.

Not so much with evolution, where there are still serious questions and semi-truck-sized gaps in evidence.  One still has to swallow a tale based on faith to spackle over those gaps.  At this point in time, the acceptance of that tale is less a mark of rationality and more a social status marker.

roo_ster
roo_ster

@jodomez1 @roo_ster I would suggest you re-read my posts, as their relatively simple and straightforward point has eluded you.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

You  don't understand science either Rooster.  Science have very few facts.  You get degrees of certainty on many issues and evolution is the least contentious.  We have fossil evidence, we have genetic evidence.  No, we don't know every single last process and variable, but nor do I have to know what an EGR valve is to know how a car works.  You've grossly overstated the doubts here.  I admit there are some gaps, there might be some first mover issues, but focusing on that falls into the genetic fallacy.  Is it possible God ordered the universe created, and then, the laws of physics, chemistry, thermodynamics and biology were created?  Perhaps they radiate from a divine source.  

Rooster, I can better disprove the God that intervenes in the world against the laws of nature, and natures god, than you can find doubt for evolution.  Sorry I can't stay on these boards to keep you clowns honest


scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@roo_ster @TheCredibleHulk Bullshit Rooster, the gaps in the DNA are tiny at this point.  While there are still gaps, it's far from what you'd suggest, and they're far smaller than when you learned, studied this stuff.  Thought you were an interstate entrepreneur, not a scientist 

observist
observist topcommenter

@roo_ster @TheCredibleHulk  I think the universe is expanding because 5,000 years ago God took his big omnipotent finger and gave every object in the universe a little shove to set it moving on its current trajectory.  If you can't prove that's not true, then Physics is just a "theory" with "gaps".

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@roo_ster @Daniel Gaps like what causes gravity? Gaps like what is dark matter? Dark energy?

We're fairly certain these things exist, but there are questions. 

Evolution has been explained through observation (Darwin, Wallace) and through the fossil record. And yes, for some odd reason there is not a perfect chain of fossilized remains from the first protocell that appeared in the muck however many billions of years ago through man, but I'm sure as scientists continue to dig and explore more and more interesting items will surface, thought I'm not holding my breath for fossilized protozoa.

BigTexBoy
BigTexBoy

@roo_ster I have to make this ad hominem attack, if only to "inject skepticism" into your supposed qualifications. First, you make the petty comment "As fine an argument to demolish the crumbling edifice of government-run education as can be made." Second, your profile pic is of a shooting practice target. You state that you're a physicist, but... I just don't know.
Of course, we do have plenty of petulant scientists out there (see Richard Dawkins, et al.), so I can't disprove what you say. But the fact that you have to state that you're a physicist in the first place to reinforce the validation of your counter-argument (which is kind of pointless because your argument is a philosophical one and not a scientific one) is a bit like having to say "I'm not racist. I hang out with black people."

Final point: Having to forcibly inject the argument that there are scientific alternatives that can contend with evolution into science textbooks because a portion of the population believes that a 1,900 page text holds all the answers to life's most profound mysteries is tantamount to having to rewrite history textbooks concerning the construction of the great pyramids of Giza because "lot's o folk believe that them's was built by aliens".

roo_ster
roo_ster

@TheCredibleHulk The gaps are unknowns.  I can not say if they are deal breakers or not.  If future data trends one way, no; if another way, yes.  If no data ever comes in, yes, they are deal breakers.  Sticking with an unproved model in perpetuity with the current levels of enforced orthodoxy is worse than entertaining new models.

Frankly, the burden of proof is on those who would put forward an explanation.  Empiricism works best when the faith component is removed, be that faith in Almighty God or Almighty Darwin...or fear of The Other (godless pinko or ignorant thumper).  These days, evolution is less a theory and more a club & shield used to fight ideological opponents .  Also, as a status marker.

As it stands, there is some goodly bit of evidence supporting evolution, but it surely is not proved.  My empiricist side gets its back up when folks go on about it being a fact, as facts can be proved true or false. Fact?  Prove it, beyotch.  Replicate it while you're at it.  Don't invoke the magic of time and don't claim that in every case your subject wandered off the stage to do its evolving.

The Intelligent Designers I find annoying, as they are doing more philosophizing than science(1).  But, they are to be commended for injecting skepticism into the argument and pointing out the serious flaws.  That, and _not_ their alternate hypotheses, is the actual science for which they can be thanked.

.

(1) Many of their opponents are doing the same: too much philosophizing requiring a leap of faith and too little science.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@roo_ster @Daniel 

It does make a difference where you stand on the gaps themselves, though.

Do you see these gaps as deal breakers for the overall theory? Or do you see them more like open areas of a puzzle that we have just not found the correct pieces for?

I find it hard to take folks in the first camp seriously.

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