Rick Perry’s Problem with Science Education

The culture wars will feature prominently in Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. The Texas Freedom Network has put together a primer on Gov. Perry’s record in the culture wars at www.tfn.org/rickperry. Here, for example, is what the governor says about teaching “intelligent design”/creationism in public school science classes. From a letter to a Texas constituent:

“Recognizing that evolution is a theory, and not claimed by anyone to be more than that, the governor believes it would be a disservice to our children to teach them only one theory on the origin of our existence without recognizing other scientific theories worth consideration. Intelligent design is a concept that is gaining greater traction because it points to a notion that most people believe to be true: that we were created by an intelligent being who designed the human race with great detail and complexity….”

From a newspaper interview:

“I am a firm believer in intelligent design as a matter of faith and intellect, and I believe it should be presented in schools alongside the theories of evolution.”

The governor has also appointed — in 2007, 2009 and this year — three creationists in a row to chair the State Board of Education, which guides what public schools teach nearly 5 million Texas kids.

Read more about Gov. Perry’s record in the culture wars here.

This article was posted in these categories: creationism, evolution, intelligent design, Rick Perry, science, science and religion. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post. Post a Comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


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34 Comments

  1. Jmaxministries
    Posted August 31, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    No problem. This may make more sense. I abbreviated “biography”.

    It is just giving my background only. Some might say Christian, I say Christ Follower.

  2. Bryan
    Posted August 31, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Jmaxministries,
    If you’re still following the thread, could you define “Bio-Christ”?

  3. Posted August 31, 2011 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Gentlemen,

    Thanks for linking my site, but this JMax is not the same from jmaxministries.com.

    I enjoyed reading your commentary.

  4. Ben
    Posted August 25, 2011 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    JMax , do you recognize your dishonesty?

    I’m not rigid in my think. If legitimate evidence for a creator is found, I will accept it. Implying that I’ve said “end of discussion” and that I won’t accept evidence is inaccurate and dishonest. But that’s what creationists like you do.

    Quoting Collins doesn’t help your case. But as soon as he has evidence for a creator and presents that evidence in a peer-reviewed science journal, let me know. What you’ve quoted are his opinions, not evidence.

    You’ve been dishonest——or at least ignorant——since your first post, and I have no doubt this pattern will continue.

    Why don’t you visit that website I mentioned? It’s right here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/

    There, you will be able to debate working scientists, including biologists. You got the guts to do that? I bet not.

    But I will warn you that they are not very accommodating of dishonesty.

  5. Posted August 24, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Dear Ben,
    I appreciate you responding. So if it exists, no matter what the odds, it’s an accident. Period. End of discussion. Well, at least you’re clear in the rigidity of how you feel. But just for the sake of discussion, I hope you know not all scientists think this way.
    I’ve been reading a book by Francis Collins titled, “The Language of God.” He said he was an atheist, “who felt quite comfortable challenging the spiritual beliefs of anyone who mentioned them in my presence, and discounted such perspectives as sentimentality and outmoded superstition,” but then he became a Christian. How this happened I think is reflected in the words he helped President Clinton’s speechwriter write for a White House ceremony honoring the achievement of the International Human Genome Project he led which finally, after more than a decade, was able to map the human DNA sequence. President Clinton said, “Today, we are learning the language in which God created life. We are gaining ever more awe for the complexity, and beauty, and the wonder of God’s most divine and sacred gift.”
    You might also find amusing a quote Collins used in his book from an astrophysicist, who in his book, “God and the Astronomers,” said “At this moment it seems as though science will never be able to raise the curtain on the mystery of creation. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”
    So, not all “peer-reviewed” minds think alike.

  6. Bryan
    Posted August 24, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Re: JMAX…
    Bio-Christ follower? OhhhhKaaaaaay.

    It would be most helpful (to me, at least) if JMAX and his ID minions would fight it out with the Creationists over the proper interpretation of Genesis. Once they’ve settled the ID/Creationism debate, then (perhaps) we can talk.

  7. Charles
    Posted August 23, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    P.S. If that is indeed you Jmax, there is still time to quit believing in the false gospel of an inerrant Bible and start believing in Jesus. Your whole belief system is oriented towards saving a particular viewpoint about the Bible. It consumes you. Personally, I don’t know why you still keep that cross up there. You could just as easily take it down, coat a big coffee table Bible with about and inch of polyurethane varnish, and stick it up there.

    The Bible is not the word of God. Jesus is. When the “inerrant Bible” no longer exists anywhere on Earth—and that day is fast coming—Jesus himself will still be standing there. That is all you need to know:

    http://www.mainstreambaptists.org/mob1/bible_idolatry.htm

  8. Charles
    Posted August 23, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    Hi Ben. Maybe this is your JMax. I dunno. However, I do know this. Hillsdale College is not exactly the pinnacle of science education in the United States, and I suspect the divinity schools at Harvard University, Vanderbilt University, and Duke University could shred this place in about an hour.

    http://www.jmaxministries.com/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillsdale_Free_Will_Baptist_College

    http://epicchurchpiedmont.com/staff1 (SCROLL DOWN FOR A PHOTO of JMAX)

    The Bible

    II Timothy 3:16-17 II Peter 1:20-21 II Timothy 1:13 Psalm 119:105,160 & 12:6 Proverbs 30:5
    The Bible is God’s Word to all men. It was written by human authors under the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is the supreme source of truth for Christian beliefs and living. Because it is inspired by God, it is truth without any mixture of error.

    JMax Ministries was created to help you gain relevant information at your finger tips. One of our main goals is to create nationwide contacts from guest bloggers, so that you can connect, grow, and develop a strong ministry in your local community.

    Bio-Christ Follower, Husband, Family Man, Pastor, and Worship leader.

    I grew up in the great state of Texas, and moved to Oklahoma in 1997. I graduated from Hillsdale College in Moore, OK with a Bachelor degree in Christian Education and Youth Ministry. In 2001 I married the love of my life, Kimberly, and we currently have 4 amazing kids: Kylie, Jaxon, Grayson, and Sawyer.

    I became involved in ministry while still in high school, and led worship at my first weekend retreat during my junior year. Since then I have sought to develop my passion for ministry and worship, and have spoken and led worship at many weekend retreats, church camps, churches, and colleges.

    Currently I am the associate pastor and worship pastor of Epic church in Piedmont, OK that I helped launch in September of 2008.

  9. Charles
    Posted August 23, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Sigh. Ah-h-h-h-h-h-h-h. I’m gettin’ sleepy.

  10. Ben
    Posted August 23, 2011 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    From talkorigins:

    Claim CB010:

    The proteins necessary for life are very complex. The odds of even one simple protein molecule forming by chance are 1 in 10113, and thousands of different proteins are needed to form life. (See also Primitive cells arising by chance.)
    Source:

    Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. 1985. Life–How Did It Get Here? Brooklyn, NY, pg. 44.
    Response:

    The calculation of odds assumes that the protein molecule formed by chance. However, biochemistry is not chance, making the calculated odds meaningless. Biochemistry produces complex products, and the products themselves interact in complex ways. For example, complex organic molecules are observed to form in the conditions that exist in space, and it is possible that they played a role in the formation of the first life (Spotts 2001).

    The calculation of odds assumes that the protein molecule must take one certain form. However, there are innumerable possible proteins that promote biological activity. Any calculation of odds must take into account all possible molecules (not just proteins) that might function to promote life.

    The calculation of odds assumes the creation of life in its present form. The first life would have been very much simpler.

    The calculation of odds ignores the fact that innumerable trials would have been occurring simultaneously.

  11. Ben
    Posted August 23, 2011 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    JMax:

    Where did life come from? I don’t know. Say it with me: “I don’t know.” You can create a god or gods as an explanation if you want, but don’t pretend there’s any evidence for it. If there was, we wouldn’t call it “faith.” You wouldn’t need faith if there was evidence, would you? Why are people like you constantly searching for evidence, when other Christians seem content in their faith?

    As for the odds, I’m guessing you found those numbers on some creationist site, but it doesn’t matter where you got them. Despite the long odds, here we are. Moreover, I can manufacture a real-life event, all by myself, with no gods involved, that will beat mind-boggling odds.

    Here we go: Take a deck of cards. Shuffle them well. Now deal them out, one by one, and note the order in which all 52 cards are dealt. After you’re done, ask yourself: What are the odds that those 52 cards would fall in exactly that order? Well, there are millions of ways those 52 cards could have been dealt, but of all those possibilities, they fell in just one order. I don’t know the exact odds against that—the numbers don’t really matter, since I’m simply explaining the concept—but still, there they are, in that one order. Want to make the odds much longer? Take one thousand decks of card. Shuffle them well. Now deal all 52,000 cards, one by one. Now, what are the odds that those 52,000 cards would fall in that order? Mind-staggering infinitesimal, yet it happened. Does that mean you or me or whoever deals the cards is a god?

    Here’s what you are doing: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Argument_from_incredulity

    I imagine you regularly use a lot of these claims, too: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html

  12. Posted August 22, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    Dear Ben,

    You said I’m conflating evolution and origins, but I was reporting what I’ve heard many times from those who believe it somehow explains everything. I think they do this because of pride. To contemplate otherwise is to suggest we’re not merely a product of chance, which implies an accountability they may find irritating.
    On the other hand, there is a quote from Darwin speculating on life’s origin. He said, “But if (and Oh! What a big if!) we could conceive in some warm little pond, with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, lights, heat, electricity etc., present that a protein compound was chemically formed ready to undergo still more complex changes.”
    Insprired by this, I’ve read that some scientists in the 19th century, actually did try to animate chemicals in mud, and apparently, 150 years later, this same primodial-soup-zapped-by-lightening scenario is still the only explanation considered. So perhaps this is where these people got this idea. Then again, maybe it’s just too much Star Wars/Star Trek.
    What I was merely trying to ask you, as a rational person, in my own clumsy way, is simply this, is their a point when the odds against accident become so staggeringly high that your commitment to reason forces you to at least etertain the possibility of something else going on, or will you always believe in chance no matter how high the odd? Thats it. A personal question to you Ben, and you don’t need a peer reviewed paper to answer. I’ll understand if you think it’s too beneath you to reply.

  13. Ben
    Posted August 21, 2011 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Not to slight the working scientists who post here, by the way…

  14. Ben
    Posted August 21, 2011 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    JMax, pointing out that I was being sarcastic is not an argument. Besides, I’ve learned that there is no point in arguing with creationists. Might as well argue with Holocaust deniers. I settle instead for light mockery. Creationists attempt to argue their “points” in forums such as this, rather than in the world of science and peer-reviewed journals, because, well, you have no choice. You have nothing that would withstand peer review.

    However, if you are still interested in argument, I can steer you toward a web site that is frequented by working scientists. They love arguing with people like you. Are you interested? If you are actually interested in argument (for whatever strange reason drives you), you’ll say yes. On the other hand, if you simply want to troll and whine, because you don’t like the way TFN has defended public schools from nonsense, you’ll find some way to deflect or refuse my offer.

  15. Posted August 20, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    Dear Ben,
    “did you just assume it?” “Need a fire extinquisher?” “Don’t you know the difference?
    Sarcasm is not an argument.

  16. Ben
    Posted August 20, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    “the progressive secularist crowd like the ones I’ve seen at the SBOE hearings ”

    How do you know those people are progressive and secular? Do you just assume it?

    “who insist that it is the absolute last word in science, in that it explains everything”

    Show me someone knowledgeable about science who holds that position.

    “spontaneous combustion of life”

    Need a fire extinguisher?

    “I’ve read that the odds of amino acids accidentally forming themselves into just a simple protein is 1/10 to the 65th over a period of time of 100 billion years.”

    Did you read this in a peer-reviewed science journal? And why are you still conflating evolution and origins? Is that intentional? Don’t you know the difference?

    “There is scientist Hugh Ross”

    Please point us toward some of his contributions to respected, peer-reviewed science journals.

    “I guess what I’m saying is if you come across a Mt. Rushmore, you shouldn’t automatically assume it was formed by lightning strikes”

    Who WOULD assume it was formed by lightning strikes? I’m sure Hartmut wouldn’t? Would you?

  17. Anonymous
    Posted August 20, 2011 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    It could be used when compiling a list of comments cementing his lack of knowledge of facts..or does he just not give a damn??

  18. Posted August 19, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    Dear Hartmut, we conservative-Christian Intelligent Design believers certainly accept the theory of evolution as I (and you) have described. We’re just puzzled by the progressive secularist crowd like the ones I’ve seen at the SBOE hearings in Austin dressed in costumes, who insist that it is the absolute last word in science, in that it explains everything. As far as a hypothesis, supporting Intelligent Design, may I suggest there is limit to randomness in explaining a phenomena. As our scientific knowledge grows so does our realization of the improbability of a spontaneous combustion of life. I’ve read that the odds of amino acids accidentally forming themselves into just a simple protein is 1/10 to the 65th over a period of time of 100 billion years. And this is just a tiny part of what had to occur, including just the right type of star, planet, moon. There is scientist Hugh Ross, that you might check out if your curious. I saw him at a atheist vs. believer debate at U.T. Austin’s Gregory Gym a couple of years back
    I guess what I’m saying is if you come across a Mt. Rushmore, you shouldn’t automatically assume it was formed by lightning strikes. In other words, does faith in accidentalism have a limit, or is it a blind faith?

  19. Hartmut
    Posted August 19, 2011 at 3:52 am | Permalink

    The theory of evolution has nothing to say about the ORIGIN. It is the provable mechanism of how EXISTING life develops and changes. The origin of life on Earth is still an open question and there are several hypotheses about it, all of which could be wrong. Religious believers are free to join THAT discussion and present the G*d hypothesis. The only way to deny evolution from a religious POV would be to claim that G*d is a deceitful entity that planted false evidence all over the place to falsely give the impression that there was evolution before some humans got the idea and checked (since then it must exist since it is observable unless the whole world is an illusion).
    Caveat: there is a rather old tradition in parts of Christianity to believe exactly that: observable facts contradicting doctrine are planted either by the devil to deceive or be G*d to test us.

  20. Posted August 19, 2011 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    Evolution is based on the random mutation of chromosomes, which, on extremely rare occasions, are able to produce beneficial mutations. Since it involves living matter, evolution cannot be applied to inert chemicals, which is what you would have to do in order to explain how sterile matter was somehow able to assemble itself into extremely complex proteins, come alive and be able to reproduce. Attacking religion by attempting to apply this rather simple, self-evident theory to the origin of life is more wishful thinking than thinking. Trying to dismiss intelligent design as a form of creationism is just as silly.

  21. Ben
    Posted August 18, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    “In Texas we teach both round-earth and flat earth theories,” Perry said. “Because I figure you’re smart enough to figure out which one is right.”

  22. Will Fraser
    Posted August 18, 2011 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Today in NH Governor perry said the following;Among the protestors at this morning’s meet and greet in Portsmouth, N.H., a mother used her child as a prop to confront Rick Perry about his beliefs on evolution and science.

    The mother pushed her son towards Perry and insisted he ask the governor about the age of the earth.

    “How old do I think the earth is? You know what, I don’t have any idea,” Perry said. “I know it’s pretty old so it goes back a long long way. I’m not sure anybody actually knows completely and absolutely how long, how old the earth is.”

    While Perry was answering the child’s question, the mother continued to loudly whisper in the child’s ear to ask him about evolution and why he doesn’t believe in science.

    “Here your mom was asking about evolution, and you know it’s a theory that’s out there, and it’s got some gas in it. In Texas we teach both creationsim and evolution in our public schools,” Perry said. “Because I figure you’re smart enough to figure out which one is right.”

  23. Anonymous
    Posted August 18, 2011 at 4:53 am | Permalink

    science is ALWAYS questioning itself.Each answer presented and published by one scientist is open to immediate and sometimes hostile examination by others. This is not true of religion. Religion bears no examination and tolerates none. What a lazy way to view the world.

  24. Posted August 18, 2011 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    It comes down to interpretation. There is a great deal of wisdom in the Bible, but it remains hidden from people like Perry who are too lazy and arrogant to look. As with science, such wisdom requires humility, not a “know-it-all” attitude.

    One good question to ask a creationist who gets too rowdy for their own britches, “Is your interpretation of the Bible equal to that of God?” If they answer “no,” then ask, “So, why are you acting like it is?”

    In our schools, I would teach that “creationism” exists as a viewpoint. I wouldn’t even ridicule it. I would merely lay out the facts and let it ridicule itself.

    There is one interpretation of Genesis which yields a timeline compatible with those of science. Imagine that! (http://www.genesiscode.net) No need to distort science in order to make biblical misinterpretation seem pretty.

    Science studies reality. Science is batting close to a thousand, otherwise we would not have our modern civilization. To ignore reality (science) is to court delusion. Is anyone around here deluded? Case closed!

  25. Posted August 17, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    When ‘Intelligent Design’ is pretty much ‘Why? Because God made it that way.’ – what is there to study in the classroom? What can be recreated in the lab? At least evolution explores patterns in which we have a significant chunk of the pieces. We can see similarities in structure and form. Skeletal and musculature systems show parallels with similar species. Even the concept of selection, even if not by Divine intervention, makes sense when you think that the only traits of the surviving organisms can pass on their traits. Traits, of course, exist. We can empirically experience different hair and skin color, facial features, etc. Theory is a hypothesis that is tested by the data. When not enough data is there to support it or when collected data contradicts/conflicts with it – the theory is revised…or abandoned. It may still be studies to help understand how the thought around a concept develops. The push for intelligent design is simply an end run for Christianity to make it into the classrooms. Please note the stunning absence of other creation beliefs of other religious beliefs. Those who complain of religious freedom in the classroom, I’d speculate that they don’t want equality for ALL faiths…just theirs.

    The role of government when it comes to faith or religious beliefs is presented in many of the documents of our founding fathers…..Thomas Jefferson, himself, points out that while it’s important to believe in the divine – it’s also important not to expect or force it upon the citizenry. Skepticism, to him, is healthy and encouraged. Religion and science are not in competition with each other…they are two different ways to view the world/universe. We need to understand that they can be held together. Scientifically looking closely, I’ve found that the subtle complexity I find makes me appreciate the power of the divine for creating such magnificent work

  26. Posted August 17, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear God…once again ignorant individuals are pouncing on the “theory” of Evolution. Hasn’t anybody bothered to tell Perry and the rest of his Wrong Wing Christians that is is no longer a theory; it is a FACT?

    The story of Adam and Eve is finally being dismissed by Christian theologians. Human life began in Africa. Methinks that Perry would rather die than admit that all human beings have black blood flowing through their veins. If you’ve ever seen a person with a gap between their front teeth, that is a carry-over from our African ancestors. I had one before my teeth were cracked an broken during a grand mal seizure following a stroke. That gap was useful when drinking water from a water fountain or a hand, I’m going to have that gap back when I can afford dentures.

    We EVOLVED from Apes into human beings. That is just a fact. So why are there still apes? Because mutation after mutation created humans. The ignorant belief that the Earth is 6K years old is ludicrous! Teaching the biblical version of how we got here puts our kids to shame once they get to a college or university. Teaching “intelligent design” is simply by-stepping the word “biblical” creation.

    One last thought, Lay people often misinterpret the language used by scientists. And for that reason, they sometimes draw the wrong conclusions as to what the scientific terms mean. Three such terms that are often used interchangeably are “scientific law,” “hypothesis,” and “theory.” In layman’s terms, if something is said to be “just a theory,” it usually means that it is a mere guess, or is unproved. It might even lack credibility. But in scientific terms, a theory implies that something has been proven and is generally accepted as being true. (http://wilstar.com/theories.htm)

  27. Posted August 17, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Evolution is a theory like gravity is a theory. Please … what an insult to the intelligence of our children. We are the laughing stocks of the western world.

  28. Paen
    Posted August 17, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Yes most people have religious beliefs but that doesn’t mean were all flat Earthers or that we believe in the easter bunny.

  29. Posted August 17, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Dear TFN blog,

    Thank you for existing. That is all.

  30. Charles
    Posted August 16, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    There is only one way to deal with Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann. That is to use their own past words and actions to paint them to the American people as the Christine O’Donnells that they actually are. One reason the Democratic Party and Obama are laying low on criticizing these two is because they need Tea Party Republicans and Christian fundamentalists to herd them towards the narrow end of the funnel so one of them will end up as the nominee. With that achieved, the Democratic machine will be able to demonstrate to the American people that they really are nutcases that should never be placed in the White House—and it will be so easy—so incredibly easy—because these idiots have left behind a gold mine of self destructive words, photographs, and video clips. Just one dangle of the Don McLeroy puppet in front of the American people, and Perry is finished.

  31. JamesBreck
    Posted August 16, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    Yesterday Rick [Perry] had the audacity to accuse Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke of treason. This from a parasite who thinks the government should be in the religion business.

    I’m not a fan of Fed policy over the past few years, I think Bernanke has overreached, but at least he not trying to jam his perverted intrepretation of the Bible down my throat, which is a blatant violation of the Constitution. Perry is totally unfit to serve as president.

  32. Posted August 16, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    “without recognizing other scientific theories worth consideration.”
    That would of course be true, except that in the case of evolution there aren’t any.

  33. Posted August 16, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    We have been “teaching both sides” [sic] since 2003.
    http://www.physics.smu.edu/pseudo/ID/
    But ours is a debunking pseudoscience course.

  34. al_biglan
    Posted August 16, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    I too believe intelligent design should be presented alongside the theories of evolution, as a comic comparison between a belief and a testable hypothesis. Or as two testable hypothesis that outline the evidence for and against each and any predictions each might make in terms of new discoveries or new understandings. Seems like a splendid way to kill intelligent design once and for all.

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