Texas State Board of Education member Terri Leo, R-Spring, isn’t happy about an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle charging that board creationists (like Ms. Leo) are promoting a “narrow theological debate about the validity of evolution.” State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and state Rep. Patrick Rose, D-Dripping Springs, authored the op-ed, in which they warned that the state board must be held accountable for politicizing the education of Texas schoolchildren.
In a counter opinion piece, Ms. Leo claims that no board member is trying to remove evolution from the public school science curriculum. “There is also no Board member who is seeking to implement religious beliefs into public school science curricula,” she writes.
For the past twenty years, students in Texas have been required “to analyze, review, and critique scientific explanations, including hypotheses and theories, as to the strengths and weaknesses using scientific evidence and information.” This standard has been applied to all scientific theories. Pro-Evolution Advocates, however, want evolution to be singled out and taught differently from the other theories. They want evolution to be taught without including the weaknesses of this theory.
The evolutionists want the time-tested standard to be removed from our Texas standards and, hence, from our textbooks and teaching materials. The twenty-year old standard does not state nor imply the teaching of religion, just “scientific explanations and scientific evidence.” If a teacher in our state had used this twenty-year-old standard as a “backdoor vehicle” through which to teach students religion, the ACLU most certainly would have sued by now.
There’s plenty more in the rest of her screed, but we’ll focus right now on the dishonesty in just those two paragraphs above.
Ms. Leo falsely claims that the “strengths and weaknesses” standard has been applied to all scientific theories. In fact, Ms. Leo was one of four creationist board members in 2003 who voted to reject proposed new biology textbooks because they didn’t include phony “weaknesses” of evolution promoted by creationists organizations like the Discovery Institute (and any number of evangelical Christian churches). They didn’t vote to reject any textbooks because they didn’t include “weaknesses” of other scientific theories. Not one. They singled out evolution.
Then when a majority of board members voted last month to keep the “strengths and weaknesses” language out of a new standards draft, creationists on the board offered a series of amendments targeting one theory — evolution. In fact, they succeeded in getting two of those amendments adopted, both challenging a core concept of evolution, common descent.
The only people singling out evolution and wanting it taught differently than other scientific theories are those in the creationist bloc. They claim that the “strengths and weaknesses” language has caused no problems in the past, but their own actions prove that’s a lie. They didn’t have the votes on the board to prevail in their war against evolution in 2003. They hope to have enough votes in 2011, when publishers submit new biology textbooks for adoption. In fact, members of the creationist bloc have already said they will insist that those new textbooks include phony “weaknesses” of evolution. If the textbooks don’t include that nonsence, the creationist bloc will move to reject them regardless of what they hear from real scientists.
Ms. Leo goes on, arguing that creationists are just trying to “broaden horizons and enhance thinking” about “varying scientific viewpoints.”
No. They are trying to twist the public school science curriculum into a vehicle for promoting their own narrow religious beliefs over everyone else’s. That’s what Sen. Ellis and Rep. Rose were rightly criticizing in their op-ed.
The truth is that creationists can’t provide a shred of scientific evidence against evolution. Every argument they have made about alleged “weaknesses” of evolution has been debunked by scientific research. Until that changes, their attacks against evolution have no place in a 21st-century science classroom.