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

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Texas' State Board of Education no longer has the stranglehold on textbooks it did a dozen years ago, when it forced an environmental science textbook to include skeptical language on global warming, or four years ago, when an attempt to slip creationist language into science books sparked a national uproar, or three years ago, when their social studies curriculum stressed the Christian beliefs guiding the Founding Fathers. The textbook market has changed, with local districts now having the freedom to opt out of SBOE-approved textbooks and the Common Core curriculum displacing Texas as the dominant force in deciding what goes into the nation's textbooks.

That's not to say the battle is over. The Texas Freedom Network, the longtime SBOE watchdog, released documents yesterday from the textbook review process showing that social conservatives have not given up on their push to promote creationism and cast doubt on evolution.

The organization predicted that this might happen, ringing alarm bells in July when they noticed that the textbook review panels included a number of avowed creationists.

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

One reviewer, critiquing textbooks from Houghton Mifflin, Harcourt, and Scientific Minds, wrote this:

I understand the National Academy of Science's [sic] strong support of the theory of evolution. At the same time, this is a theory. As an educator, parent, and grandparent, I feel very firmly that 'creation science' based on Biblical principles should be incorporated into every Biology book that is up for adoption.

And this:

While I understand the theory of evolution and its wide acceptance, there should be inclusion of the 'creation model' based on the Biblical view of history.

Another reviewer wrote this in response to a Glencoe/McGraw-Hill text suggesting there is fossil evidence for evolution:

Text neglects to tell students that no transitional fossils have been discovered. The fossil record can be interpreted in other ways than evolutionary with equal justification. Text should ask students to analyze and compare alternative theories. The statement that there are hundreds of thousands of transitional fossils is simply not true. Moreover, those fossils that are considered transitional are often subjects of disagreement among biologists.

And here's reviewer Ray Bohlin objecting to climate change information provided in a Pearson/Prentice-Hall text:

We don't really know that the carbon Cycle [sic] has been altered.

And:

In reality we don't know what climate change will do to species diversity. ... Question seems to imply that ecosystems will be disrupted which qwe [sic] simply don't know yet.

Needless to say, most of their objections are to theories that have wide acceptance among scientists. Their suggested additions do not.

According to the Texas Freedom Network, the Texas Education Agency declined to release documents showing what changes textbook publishers made in response to the critiques until a public hearing scheduled for September 17.

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224 comments
bmarvel
bmarvel

Thanks, rufuslevin. You've given me my first good laugh in days. Your pseudonym should have been the tip-off, but I missed it entirely. I assume we'll be seeing you again here on the blogs.

darrylrs
darrylrs

biblical view of history?? what nonsense. there is no such thing. the bible is not a historical document. it is a collection of "evolved" documents that were written to guide one religious sect. 

bmarvel
bmarvel

rufus--As a Christian -- not an ignorant one, I hope -- I know that the six "days" of creation in Genesis are hardly adequate to account for the billions of years the universe has been in existence and the vast distances spanned, nor to account for the rise of such phenomena as stars, planets, galaxies, clusters of galaxies and black holes. And that therefore Genesis is not, nor was ever intended as, a scientifically reliable account of the evolution of the universe.

But literalist readers of Genesis skirt this uncomfortable fact because to challenge it would require more mathematics and advanced physics than any of them can command, whereas any fool can claim that dinosaurs walked around only a few thousand years ago and another fool will believe him.          

bmarvel
bmarvel

"The problem is, we don't really teach evolution.  We teach the politics of evolution as a rebuttal of creationism,"

Oh, hogwash, Phelps. Do you actually know how evolution is taught in high school science classrooms -- when it is allowed to be taught? Where did you get this bogus claptrap? From an actual classroom, a real teacher? It is curiously parallel to a common argument being pushed by creationists -- that evolution in the classroom is being used to put down religion.

And where did you come by your statement that "evolution as we currently envision it is almost certainly wrong"?  The creationists? Since you seem so conversant with the subject, would you please indicate the main errors being made by evolutionary scientists? (You say "wrong"; do you perhaps mean imperfectly understood -- a big difference?) Who are you reading? Most of your vague complaints about evolutionary science comes straight out of the creationists' handbook.what can you tell us about the"math that just plain doesn't work for observed mutation rates vs the amount of time evolution has had to work." Are you relying on the words of the evolutionary scientists? Or their critics?

If you knowledge of evolutionary science is anything like your knowledge of what goes on in  actual classrooms, then I'd say you're whistling in the dark, about as reliable a guide to the subject as the creationists.


bmarvel
bmarvel

What kind of "-ism" are you pushing, Phelps? 

You want the kids to get back to reading, but you're not at all clear on what you want them to read, except that it should not be right-wing or left-wing or feminist or creationist or environmentalist. You want doctrine-free schooling, which is a contradiction inasmuch as "docrtrine" means, literally, a teaching. (Perhaps you meant "indoctrination.") You want to "go back to" a system that was not compulsory, which would mean going back to 1917, the year Mississippi  became the last state to make education compulsory. How many school-age kids could read in 1916 compared to now? (Hint: the literacy rate has been rising steadily ever since compulsory schooling was introduced.)

But then your whole comment is so vague and hysterical, it's hard to say just what you want or what you think might put public education right. I'm guessing school was not a happy experience for you.


 


RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

"While I understand the theory of evolution and its wide acceptance, there should be inclusion of the 'creation model' based on the Biblical view of history."

This has to be the most idiotic statement I've seen in this debate thus far.  On the one hand the reviewer is acknowledging scientific acceptance for principles taught in a science class, then argues that an article of faith, having to do with a particular interpretation of history, should be taught as science as well.

I myself, believe in creation in the abstract. (More to the point I believe in intelligent design).  I understand that a lot of the old testament writings for why things are the way they are comes from the primitive thinking of the time not being able to grasp much of what science has learned in the intervening several thousand years.  I also understand that my belief in the origins of humankind are a matter of faith and has no relationship to science and has no business being taught in a science classroom.

Warren Johnson
Warren Johnson

Well, Mr Ricker. Seems like you need those science classes since you are not familiar with what every 7th grader learns of which is the Law of Gravity. A fact proven by fact. The Theory of evolution is known world wide as a theory, not a law. Gravity, on the other hand , is accepted as law and can be proven.

Michael TruckMonth Ricker
Michael TruckMonth Ricker

"Theory" doesn't change into "law" when backed up by facts. That's not how it works. There is a theory of gravity. Do you doubt that as well? Go ahead, jump out the window.

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

PROGRESSIVES ARE TERRIFIED OF MORAL VALUES AND RULES FOR LIVING HANDED DOWN BY NON-PROGRESSIVES....SUCH AS THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF THE JUDEO-CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY.  THEY BELIEVE ONLY IN MAN MADE RULES THAT CAN BE BENT ACCORDING TO EMOTIONAL FEELINGS AT A GIVEN MOMENT IN TIME, AND AS LONG AS SOMEONE ELSE PAYS FOR THE CONSEQUENCES.

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

HO HUM....MORE LIBERAL PRATTLE....TEACH KIDS TO THINK FOR THEMSELVES, AND PRESENT THE CASE FOR ALTERNATIVE IDEAS....THAT IS HOW THEY GROW UP TO BECOME INFORMED VOTERS INSTEAD OF ROBOTS VOTING BY PARTY OR RHETORICAL LIES.

T_S_
T_S_

"This is rather as if you imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for."  Douglas Adams

Johnny Horton
Johnny Horton

The Observer is on a roll tonight. Creationism and religion bad, gay pride and electric cars great.

Warren Johnson
Warren Johnson

soooooooooooooo what is your proof that creationism is rooted in superstition? just askin'

Benny Ray
Benny Ray

So you believe a rock from outer space landed in a pool of muck that caused a fish to grow legs and crawl out onto land then turned into every other species that walks until we evolved from apes. Right and you think we are nuts. LMAO

Gary_Hurd
Gary_Hurd

@RTGolden1

Intelligent design creationism tries to claim that there is scientific 'proof' for the existence of a supernatural creator. This fails. Some very measured, and thorough books on how and why ID fails have been published; 

Robert T. Pennock (Editor) 2001 "Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics: Philosophical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives" MIT Press

Matt Young, Taner Edis (Editors), 2004 "Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism" Rutgers University Press (Look for the 2005 paperback).

Barbara Carroll Forrest, Paul R. Gross, 2004 "Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design" Oxford University Press

For a condensed version, read the Court Decision in the Dover, Pa "Panda's trial available at: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/kitzmiller_v_dover.html

There is an alternate position commonly called "theistic evolution." Some excellent presentations are;

Ayala, Francisco, 2007 "Darwin’s Gift: To Science and Religion" (Washington DC: Joseph Henry Press- National Academies Press

Miller, Keith B. (editor) 2003 “Perspectives on an Evolving Creation” Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing

And, you might also like a study by an Orthodox Jew, Rabbi Natan Slifkin, 2008 “The Challenge of Creation: Judaism’s Encounter with Science, Cosmology and Evolution” New York: Zoo Torah and Yashar Books.

bmarvel
bmarvel

@rufuslevin  Rufus - You can put in CAPITAL LETTERS. It's still nonsense. What in the world do you man by "progressives"? Who are these mythical people whose beliefs and moral values you presume to describe?


JohnSmallBerries
JohnSmallBerries

@rufuslevin Are you terrified of buying a computer newer than the Commodore 64? Srsly!

I thought your argument was weak but then I noticed it was all Caps. Well, that made the difference! It all makes sense now! 

Gary_Hurd
Gary_Hurd

@rufuslevin  

The Ten Commandments are found in the Code of Hammurabi, as well as in Exodus. They are also given in other texts. 

The hypocrisy of so-called conservative Christians is obvious. They ignore Mark 12:31, and take no warning from Matthew 7:21-23. While you prattle on about carving the Decalogue on walls, you deny Matthew 25:34-40. 

plainsman1
plainsman1

@rufuslevin 

If I were you Rufus, I would start by reviewing the results of Edwards v. Aguillard and Kitzmiller v. Dover.

bmarvel
bmarvel

@rufuslevin Teachng them that dinosaurs wandered the earth in the time of the prophets will make them informed voters? What do you imagine they'd be voting on? 

(And by the way, rufus, A fundamental rule of blogging etiquette: Use of ALL CAPS is not only rude -- like continually shouting in ordinary conversation -- it's also the sign of the kind of childish mentality that is always screaming "Look at ME! Look at ME!" 

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@rufuslevin Not all ideas deserve equal time. Creationism is not science and, as such, deserves no time in a science classroom.

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

@Warren Johnson VALUES AND MORALITY....THE REST WILL OUT OVER THEIR LIFETIME IF THEY LIVE GOOD AND RESPONSIBLE LIVES....THEY WILL SEE FOOLS AND HEROS ACCORDING TO THEIR OWN OBSERVATION, NOT BECAUSE OF PROPAGANDA.

bmarvel
bmarvel

@Warren Johnson Well, I think we can safely say it's not rooted in science. And the idea that one can educe scientific proof of the existence of a supernatural, transcendent God is not rooted in any consistent theology. What would that leave??

Oh, I know. Creationism is rooted in politics, in the desire to game the public school system in favor of a narrow fringe belief. 

Just sayin'

bmarvel
bmarvel

@Benny Ray I don't now of anybody who believes that, Benny. But I do know of a very fine writer of science fiction who wrote a hilarious story along just those lines -- Stanislaw Lem. It's collected in "the Cyberiad."

CSP986
CSP986

@Benny Ray The fact that that ignorant a statement  is YOUR concept of what evolution entails...is glaring evidence that Texas needs to DRASTICALLY improve its science standards....

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

@Benny Ray I WAS THERE...AND I SAW IT.....SIGNED, JOHN KERRY

Gary_Hurd
Gary_Hurd

@Benny Ray 

No Benny. Scientists do not believe that, " a rock from outer space landed in a pool of muck that caused a fish to grow legs and crawl out onto land then turned into every other species that walks until we evolved from apes."

That would be stupid. That is why scientists don't like creationists. We don't like stupid.

Stupid hurts.

If you would like to know about the origin of life, see:

Deamer, David W. 2011 “First Life: Discovering the Connections between Stars, Cells, and How Life Began” University of California Press

bmarvel
bmarvel

@Gary_Hurd There can be - by definition - no scientific proof of the existence of a supernatural creator. Intelligent design fails on both scientific and theological grounds..

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum @rufuslevin It could not be stated any clearer than this.  Nobody, especially Christians, should want or tolerate the idea of creation being taught in a science class.  Hard science should be taught in science in schools.  Religious doctrine should be taught at home or church.  Where is the disconnect?

CSP986
CSP986

@rufuslevin I would prefer that I be the one teaching my kids "values and morality"...I would rather schools focus on Reading, Math, and Science. Leave the Theology at home or in Sunday school.


bmarvel
bmarvel

@CogitoErgoSum Here, again, Cogito, just when you seem to be a fair-minded and reasonable voice, you reveal your anti-religious bigotry. It is as a moral compass and a source of spiritual meaning and religious faith that millions of perfectly reasonable people who have no problem with science or Darwin turn to the Bible

If you don't share their religious faith, fine. But how does insisting that the Bible must only be accepted as you accept it make you any less narrow, any less arrogantly ignorant than those who insist it must be taken their way?

Gary_Hurd
Gary_Hurd

@CogitoErgoSum  

I don't think that the men (and an occasional woman) that produced the Bible were stupid, or evil. And I don't think that humans have changed all that much in the last 3.5 thousand years. So there are real lessons to be learned from biblical religion.

What has changed is the magnitude of our actions whether measured in megatons of TNT, or the megatons of rock and soil we are moving around, or the megatons of gases we are adding to the atmosphere and oceans. The only scientific approach to behavior will come from psychology and math, esp. game theory. But, we will still need to fit it within some sort of religious context, because too few people will accept anything else.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@Gary_Hurd Oh, sure -- it should be studied as the cultural touchstone it is, but as for consideration as a moral compass, cosmological reference or basis in historicity, not so much.

Gary_Hurd
Gary_Hurd

@TheCredibleHulk@everlastingphelps@Gary_Hurd@rufuslevin

If you meant @everlastingphelps,he is just a bad example to be used as a foil. The Bible has shaped human events as much as any text ever written, and more than most. As such it deserves considerable attention. Obviously as my primary interest is in the earlier portions, I have spent more time on the Hebrew than the later parts.

Gary_Hurd
Gary_Hurd

@everlastingphelps@Gary_Hurd@rufuslevin

So, you poked your eyes out lately? I think I'll take the advice of the Apostle Paul,

Titus 3:9. But avoid foolish controversies, and genealogies, and strife, and disputes about the Law (Torah), for they are unprofitable and worthless.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

 @CogitoErgoSum @everlastingphelps @Gary_Hurd I'm a "evolution doesn't work and we need a lot more certainty before we start excluding other mechanisms" hardliner.  

Because of the political fight against creationism, Political Evolution (which is fairly distinct from the actual research) is presented as Hard Fact and Absolute Truth.  Natural selection is self-evident.  It's plain logic, unless you are a hereditary trait denier.  That natural selection can lead to species changes is fairly straightforward.

Where the problems come up is the "Evolution is the answer, it is the ONLY answer, and there can be no other answer from this point further" crowd.  That, frankly, is a religious statement.

Evolution, as a scientific theory, has a terrible track record.  It makes very few predictions, and the few that it has have often been falsified.  (Think of how many "this came from that" predictions have been shown wrong over and over in the history of the theory).  I think that when we achieve the actual answer to how we got the diversity of life, it will have a mechanical mechanism (meaning, it stems from cause and effect, and no some extranatural mover) and it will make falsifiable predictions.  The problem is, while it remains a point of Faith for anti-creationists, we can't make any real scientific progress.

bmarvel
bmarvel

Look around, rufus. You are witnessing this evolution every day.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@rufuslevin @Gary_Hurd Rufus, Rufus, Rufus.  Arguing against the fact of evolution as a process is an  exercise in ignorance.  There may not be credible evidence of a 'missing link', but there is evidence of the evolutionary process within the fossil record and even within the human species.  God gave us a brain, I would think He meant for us to use it.  I suggest that you start.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

 @Gary_Hurd @everlastingphelps OH NOES!  GARY SAYS I LOSTED!

I guess I have to get off the internet now because a guy misusing the AAAS logo schooled me by not actually arguing anything and certainly not addressing my argument!

Oh, the burn, someone get me some unguent!

Gary_Hurd
Gary_Hurd

@everlastingphelps @Gary_Hurd 

B.S. 

All this tells me is that your grasp of evolutionary theory is as weak as your social awareness. If you had actually bothered to read the text, you might have noticed that various selective pressures were identified. If you had bothered to read the referenced material, you would have learned that in several cases, the effective mutations have also be identified. 

That is Game, Set, Match. You lost.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

 @Gary_Hurd Hardly.  It proved speciation, which just part of evolution.  To say that observed speciation proves evolution is about the same as saying that the existence of epicycles proves geocentrism.  That speciation happens does nothing to prove that evolution via natural selection is the mechanism.

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