Creationists Score Tentative Victory in Delayed Approval of Biology Text

erasingdarwin.jpg
The creationists didn't win Friday when the State Board of Education took up new biology textbooks in an ideologically fraught, historically contentious adoption process. Most of the materials sailed through.

But they didn't exactly lose, either.

Biology, one of the top two or three most widely used textbooks in the country, authored by Kenneth Miller, a Brown University biologist, and Joseph Levine, a science journalist, was flagged by the board because a panel of reviewers recommended rejection. The criticisms leveled largely belong to Ide Trotter of Duncanville, a chemical engineer by training and avowed denier of evolution. They revolve around whether evolution can explain the proliferation of novel species on the planet. The subtext in his critique is that it can't and, though he would never say it openly, that an intelligent designer who conjured their sudden appearance can.

A second panel of three expert reviewers appointed by the board will now examine his objections and decided whether changes should be made to a book that, according to SBOE vice chair Thomas Ratliff, is already in use in half the classrooms in the state.

Ratliff, who perhaps optimistically predicted that Biology would be adopted without incident, was reportedly incredulous as the SBOE debated the arcana of science far beyond their expertise. "To ask me -- a business degree major from Texas Tech University -- to distinguish whether the Earth cooled 4 billion years ago or 4.2 billion years ago for purposes of approving a textbook at 10:15 on a Thursday night is laughable," he said.

Dan Quinn, spokesman for Texas Freedom Network and a former textbook editor, tells Unfair Park that this is the strategy to seed evolution doubt for a board that no longer has a dominating social-conservative bloc. "Rather than try and win on straight-up votes or ram things through based on voting power, now what they're trying to do is corrupt the entire review process," he said. "They appoint ideologues to the review team, and get ideologues to come in at the last minute to bring up all kinds of objections and use it as a strategy to hijack the process and target specific textbooks.

"They figured that if they can get the review team seeded with ideologues, raising all kinds of objections on the night before the final vote, the [Texas Education Agency] would come up and say that the review team found errors, the publisher said they are not errors, and now y'all need to decide what to do. On the [Pearson Education Biology text, the SBOE] was saying, 'How would we know if they're errors or not? That's what the process is supposed to determine.' But you can't do that if don't have real experts."

With the gears successfully grinding to a halt, a second battery of expert review will begin within a month. And because the new expert reviewers can't have participated in the last panel, Quinn's bet is that SBOE chair Barbara Cargill will appoint Dr. Ray Bohlin, a molecular biology PhD and fellow at the Discovery Institute, a religious think tank whose goal is to beat back secularism in contemporary American society (I interviewed Bohlin for a recent cover story).

See also: Creationists' Last Stand at the State Board of Education

That Biology would be targeted by creationists on the SBOE and in the review panel isn't shocking. Its author, Ken Miller, is a Roman Catholic who has been outspoken in his belief that evolution need not contradict his faith in God.

"The social conservative bloc finds that to be a very dangerous notion," TFN's Quinn said. "They've spent years now trying to convince people that evolution is an atheist lie and that if you accept the science of evolution you can't be a good Christian."

A new expert review panel could finish its work by Christmas. Depending on who's appointed to it, what happens after that is anyone's guess. Pearson Education, however, has given every indication that it won't bend. And as I concluded in my recent feature story, getting excluded from the SBOE's approved list is no longer the fatal blow to a textbook that it once was. School districts can still purchase the book, and many of them have been using Pearson's Biology for years.

My Voice Nation Help
14 comments
willfpetro
willfpetro

Creationists chose this text because Dr Miller its primary author, annihilated them in Kitzmiller vs Dover 2005. The creationists won nothing, have no science and are a buch of science hating fraudulent, bearers of false witness scientific illiterates. 

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

He's just an angry, impotent, old man - trying desperately to be taken seriously.


Catbird
Catbird

This year I give thanks to God for Ide Trotter, amen. 

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

How come the bable doesn't mention the dinosaurs? Seems a big lapse considering humans musta coexisted, eh wot.

Want a funny? Read Feynman on school book evaluation committee. A chapter in "Surely You're Joking..."

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

One step backward, now can we take our two steps forward and approve a Science textbook that deals explicitly with science, without delving into the supernatural?

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Just a reminder, Mr. Darwin's Theory of Evolution is about how life adapts to the environment, it is not about how life began.


The following quote is very appopro to this situation:

"The Bible teaches how to go to Heaven, not how the heavens go." G. Galilee


CoonDog
CoonDog

@Catbird Jesus fucking Christ, Trotter is an idiot.

One more thing...if Jesus comes back, we'll kill him again.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@ozonelarryb 

The Catholics have an explanation for that one.  They say that dinosaurs bones are a trick god played on scientists.

.



ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Just the same level of trick as the earth circling the sun.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@brantley.hargrove1 @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  

Brantley, please examine the logic.

All living organisms contain basic proteins.  Basic proteins do not necessarily contain life.

There has yet to be an accepted theory on what life is; or, its origin.  Just as we are still struggling with what constitutes intelligence and self awareness.  We are still not doing much better than Renee' DesCartes': "I think, therefore I am."


Very nice article.  Thank you for publishing it.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@brantley.hargrove1 @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  

Hello Brantley, the experiments dealing with the random synthesis of proteins is absolutely fascinating and I have followed for years including replicating some of the experiments myself.

When these experiments are performed, adding in the factor of the rock strata and formations (whose elements may have acted as catalysts) that may have been present make the experiments quite fascinating.

I was trying to look at the question of what is life and what is its origin.  It is a very long process from crude proteins to prokaryotic cells much less eukaryotic cells.

 

brantley.hargrove1
brantley.hargrove1

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @brantley.hargrove1 But they were essential to its creation. No RNA without proteins. The Miller-Urey experiment showed that water, ammonia, hydrogen and methane -- the earth's early atmosphere -- and an electrical charge could produce complex organic compounds. Our understanding of the primordial environmental conditions have improved over the years, and the experiment's results continue to bear out the concept.

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...